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  • "Hitler won" fiction

    I have a small collection, I realized recently, of "Hitler won" WWII novels, and most of it is relatively recent. None of it is scifi --- suddenly time-displaced futurians and suchlike. They are all true alternate history novels, with very plausible tiny changes that make all the difference. All of them I've read so far have the change occurring early in the war -- 1940 or 1941. And so far they are all set in Britain and the point seems to be that England drifts into fascism with ease and alacrity once it doesn't have to combat Hitler and even has his Germany to emulate. There was, of course, considerable sympathy with Hitler and fascism in the real life timeline, so it's a plausible plot.

    I think the recent publishing of this kind of fiction is happening because it is now possible to treat WWII as ancient history of a sort, not recent events one cannot contemplate without shuddering. The idea of Hitler winning used to be taboo; now it can be novelized.

    There is "SS-GB: Nazi-Occupied Britain, 1941" by Len Deighton, the earliest. A detective novel set in a London (they are nearly all set in London, for some reason) that was surrendered to the Germans in Feb. 1941, and Churchill executed. Germany occupies Britain. Still, life goes on and so do crimes to be investigated. But this is odd: Himmler himself is coming over to "help" with this murder investigation: why?

    There is the new one out by C.J. Sansom, Dominion. This is excellent and the what-if is subtle: Lord Halifax DOES take the job offered him as Prime Minister instead of passing it on to the energetic warrior, Churchill, as happened in real life. But Lord Halifax is worn out, and also ill (in real time and the novel he dies within two years). Disheartened by the Dunkirk evacuation, he interacts with France to join in an Armistice with Germany. Britain maintains an uneasy independence, but how long will it last? There is an active Resistance: guess what our protagonist belongs to.

    There are three novels in a trilogy by Jo Walton, the Small Change trilogy, titled "Farthing," "Ha'Penny," and "Half a Crown." The what-if is particularly fine in these: simply, the flight of Rudolf Hess into Scotland was exactly what we have always suspected, a backdoor peace negotiation, and some high-level noblemen manage to overwhelm Churchill's objections and after talking to Hess in London, fly to Berlin (reminiscent of another Chamberlain flight) and negotiate the end of the war in the West. The war between Germany and Russia goes on for many years. These three are the most brilliant of all the alternate histories I've read, but warning: they are probably for women. There is a consistent male protagonist thru the books who trades off alternate chapters with changing women leads, and he is homosexual, a considerable danger for him. Homosexuality and anti-Semitism play a major role in these novels, though they cannot be said to be niche plots, all the same. The female characterization in the middle of the trilogy, Ha'Penny, is breath-taking: it's a clear take-off from the real Mitford sisters who got into WWII in such a strange and terrible way. The ease with which Britain slides into fascism is particularly well written in these novels.

    Two more are "Fatherland" by the wonderful Robert Harris, who just now came out with a novelization of the Dreyfus affair. Fatherland has not been especially well reviewed, but I recall enjoying it earlier, and I learned on another thread here that there is a movie out from the book. It is almost unobtainable, but it stars Rutger Hauer! So I mean to keep trying to get it.

    The last I know about and have is Guy Saville's "Afrika Reich," a Hitler-won novel about 1952 German colonies in Africa as Germany plans to take over all the Dark Continent and threatens Britain's colonies. Our hero flees German assassins and enters the Heart of Darkness, the Congo --- something a little different there. This one I haven't read yet.


    Does anyone have any other titles in Hitler-won fiction?

  • #3

    Aaaahhhh, yes --- Philip Dick. I never read much of him, but that is a famous "Hitler won" book, and set in America, too.

    "As the novel begins, Führer Bormann dies, initiating an internal power struggle between Joseph Goebbels, Reinhard Heydrich, Hermann Göring, and other top Nazis to succeed him as Reichskanzler."
    This very cast of characters having a power struggle, incl. Bormann as the replacement Führer, is in one of the novels I refer to above, I think the third Jo Walton. I suppose it's a sort of homage.

    Comment


    • #4
      Originally posted by Phebe View Post
      I have a small collection, I realized recently, of "Hitler won" WWII novels, and most of it is relatively recent. None of it is scifi --- suddenly time-displaced futurians and suchlike. They are all true alternate history novels, with very plausible tiny changes that make all the difference. All of them I've read so far have the change occurring early in the war -- 1940 or 1941. And so far they are all set in Britain and the point seems to be that England drifts into fascism with ease and alacrity once it doesn't have to combat Hitler and even has his Germany to emulate. There was, of course, considerable sympathy with Hitler and fascism in the real life timeline, so it's a plausible plot.

      I think the recent publishing of this kind of fiction is happening because it is now possible to treat WWII as ancient history of a sort, not recent events one cannot contemplate without shuddering. The idea of Hitler winning used to be taboo; now it can be novelized.

      There is "SS-GB: Nazi-Occupied Britain, 1941" by Len Deighton, the earliest. A detective novel set in a London (they are nearly all set in London, for some reason) that was surrendered to the Germans in Feb. 1941, and Churchill executed. Germany occupies Britain. Still, life goes on and so do crimes to be investigated. But this is odd: Himmler himself is coming over to "help" with this murder investigation: why?

      There is the new one out by C.J. Sansom, Dominion. This is excellent and the what-if is subtle: Lord Halifax DOES take the job offered him as Prime Minister instead of passing it on to the energetic warrior, Churchill, as happened in real life. But Lord Halifax is worn out, and also ill (in real time and the novel he dies within two years). Disheartened by the Dunkirk evacuation, he interacts with France to join in an Armistice with Germany. Britain maintains an uneasy independence, but how long will it last? There is an active Resistance: guess what our protagonist belongs to.

      There are three novels in a trilogy by Jo Walton, the Small Change trilogy, titled "Farthing," "Ha'Penny," and "Half a Crown." The what-if is particularly fine in these: simply, the flight of Rudolf Hess into Scotland was exactly what we have always suspected, a backdoor peace negotiation, and some high-level noblemen manage to overwhelm Churchill's objections and after talking to Hess in London, fly to Berlin (reminiscent of another Chamberlain flight) and negotiate the end of the war in the West. The war between Germany and Russia goes on for many years. These three are the most brilliant of all the alternate histories I've read, but warning: they are probably for women. There is a consistent male protagonist thru the books who trades off alternate chapters with changing women leads, and he is homosexual, a considerable danger for him. Homosexuality and anti-Semitism play a major role in these novels, though they cannot be said to be niche plots, all the same. The female characterization in the middle of the trilogy, Ha'Penny, is breath-taking: it's a clear take-off from the real Mitford sisters who got into WWII in such a strange and terrible way. The ease with which Britain slides into fascism is particularly well written in these novels.

      Two more are "Fatherland" by the wonderful Robert Harris, who just now came out with a novelization of the Dreyfus affair. Fatherland has not been especially well reviewed, but I recall enjoying it earlier, and I learned on another thread here that there is a movie out from the book. It is almost unobtainable, but it stars Rutger Hauer! So I mean to keep trying to get it.

      The last I know about and have is Guy Saville's "Afrika Reich," a Hitler-won novel about 1952 German colonies in Africa as Germany plans to take over all the Dark Continent and threatens Britain's colonies. Our hero flees German assassins and enters the Heart of Darkness, the Congo --- something a little different there. This one I haven't read yet.


      Does anyone have any other titles in Hitler-won fiction?
      Interesting, as luck would have it I'm halfway through Afrika Reich. A half British/ half German ex-Foreign Legionnaire survives the disaster that was Dunkirk ( where the British army was effectively eliminated) and is peacefully engaged in producing quinces at his farm in Southern England after the peace,before being persuaded to lead a team to assassinate the Governor- General of German Mittel Afrika.

      The overall scenario is quite believable.

      The plot has several twists,and it's quite intriguing but gruesome at times.
      Watch for the chilli powder !
      "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
      Samuel Johnson.

      Comment


      • #5
        Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post
        Interesting, as luck would have it I'm halfway through Afrika Reich. A half British/ half German ex-Foreign Legionnaire survives the disaster that was Dunkirk ( where the British army was effectively eliminated) and is peacefully engaged in producing quinces at his farm in Southern England after the peace,before being persuaded to lead a team to assassinate the Governor- General of German Mittel Afrika.

        The overall scenario is quite believable.

        The plot has several twists,and it's quite intriguing but gruesome at times.
        Watch for the chilli powder !
        Wonderful, so the what-if change is that the British army WAS eliminated at Dunkirk, the crucial issue that England well understood would determine whether it would go on fighting or not: can't fight without an army. I like that idea as a classic tiny change (I don't like the idea in reality, of course, the Dunkirk evacuation being one of the most dramatic and important events in modern history!), because to this day nobody can understand why Hitler stopped the German advance on those troops ------ so what if he simply....didn't? It totally works.

        I'm only interested in horseshoe nails in alternate history. Huge giant changes that involve millions of people postulated, such as "Suppose Japan didn't invade China in the 1930s??" don't interest me. Because they are impossible. But one man making one apparently small decision in the course of many other decisions he has to make in a rapidly changing situation --- it shows me what I really believe, that history is fragile.

        The wonderful Connie Willis WWII novels, I don't know how to characterize them as they follow real history very closely indeed, has the time-travelling Oxford historians unable to get close in time or space to some events, presumably delicate. They can't get anywhere/when near Hitler, or within three weeks and several miles of Waterloo. There are other time/space situations in the past they can't get near, but they don't know why: apparently someone could change something that would change everything, but it's not obvious what. I love it.

        Comment


        • #6
          The Trial Of Adolph Hitler
          Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

          Comment


          • #7
            Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
            The Trial Of Adolph Hitler
            1978: only five reviews on Amazon, but all enthusiastic. From the first:

            Adolf Hitler survived the war and stays in hiding for years. He quietly builds the foundation for the fourth Reich, his final act? To appear before the world and stand trial for his actions. The novel was very realistic, and with the same thoughtful insight that went into stories such as "Inherit the Wind". The Fuehrer's defense was very intelligently presented. This book really makes you approach the events of the Nazi era with a different perspective.
            The plot brought to mind the wonderful Ira Levin "The Boys from Brazil" book and movie. Not really a Hitler-won what-if..............exactly. [:-)

            Comment


            • #8
              Originally posted by Phebe View Post
              Wonderful, so the what-if change is that the British army WAS eliminated at Dunkirk, the crucial issue that England well understood would determine whether it would go on fighting or not: can't fight without an army. I like that idea as a classic tiny change (I don't like the idea in reality, of course, the Dunkirk evacuation being one of the most dramatic and important events in modern history!), because to this day nobody can understand why Hitler stopped the German advance on those troops ------ so what if he simply....didn't? It totally works.

              I'm only interested in horseshoe nails in alternate history. Huge giant changes that involve millions of people postulated, such as "Suppose Japan didn't invade China in the 1930s??" don't interest me. Because they are impossible. But one man making one apparently small decision in the course of many other decisions he has to make in a rapidly changing situation --- it shows me what I really believe, that history is fragile.

              The wonderful Connie Willis WWII novels, I don't know how to characterize them as they follow real history very closely indeed, has the time-travelling Oxford historians unable to get close in time or space to some events, presumably delicate. They can't get anywhere/when near Hitler, or within three weeks and several miles of Waterloo. There are other time/space situations in the past they can't get near, but they don't know why: apparently someone could change something that would change everything, but it's not obvious what. I love it.
              It's an interesting scenario that really turns upon the morale of the British public. The BEF is totally destroyed- no "miracle of Dunkirk" -so people wondered whether it was really worthwhile continuing. Churchill goes and is replaced by a pragmatic Halifax. Hitler is generous :even to the extent of sending a vast Christmas Tree to the City of London each year as a token of goodwill.Africa is shared between Germany, with pre-WW1 colonies returned and the Belgian Congo absorbed, and a chastened Britain.

              It's all quite credible as far as it goes. Hitler often stated that he had no wish to see the dismembering the British Empire unlike, it must be said, certain US politicians.
              Last edited by BELGRAVE; 27 Mar 14, 18:08.
              "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
              Samuel Johnson.

              Comment


              • #9
                Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post
                It's an interesting scenario that really turns upon the morale of the British public. The BEF is totally destroyed- no "miracle of Dunkirk" -so people wondered whether it was really worthwhile continuing. Churchill goes and is replaced by a pragmatic Halifax. Hitler is generous :even to the extent of sending a vast Christmas Tree to the City of London each year as a token of goodwill.Africa is shared between Germany, with pre-WW1 colonies returned and the Belgian Congo absorbed, and a chastened Britain.

                It's all quite credible as far as it goes. Hitler often stated that he had no wish to see the dismembering the British Empire unlike, it must be said, certain US politicians.
                I see -- it's not only that they lost the army, that could theoretically be replaced, but that the people lost heart. And Halifax again: that's two writers who do NOT think Halifax taking Prime Minister would have worked out well for Britain.

                In most of these novels Hitler is shown delighted at having achieved what the Kaiser could not, a rapprochement with Britain.

                Comment


                • #10
                  Originally posted by Phebe View Post
                  I see -- it's not only that they lost the army, that could theoretically be replaced, but that the people lost heart. And Halifax again: that's two writers who do NOT think Halifax taking Prime Minister would have worked out well for Britain.

                  In most of these novels Hitler is shown delighted at having achieved what the Kaiser could not, a rapprochement with Britain.
                  Exactly so, according to the book it came down to the collective will of the British public.

                  It's not hard to imagine that, if the army had been destroyed, people would wonder what there was left to fight for . Poland , Norway, the Low Countries and France overrun and without the means to change the situation. Intense bombing and shortages everywhere.
                  No hope of US intervention. (In the book an isolationist view rules there). Hitler being conciliatory and even sympathetic. The full extent of Nazi depravity unknown.Without Churchill, yes, it's feasible.
                  Last edited by BELGRAVE; 27 Mar 14, 21:41.
                  "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
                  Samuel Johnson.

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    I just finished "Fatherland" by Robert Harris. I see that the alternate history "what-if" is a little muddled compared to the minute history-is-fragile change the others make. In Fatherland the war goes on much longer than others in this genre. Until 1944, when somebody unusually clever realizes that the British have been reading the German coded messages and brings in all ships and subs for a complete changeover. After that, they are able to sink all the supply ships and starve Britain out quickly.

                    I don't know if that actually makes sense, starving Britain out in 1944. Anyone?

                    Also, the German army concentrates on Moscow as the army leaders wanted, rather than a scattershot invasion on all fronts at once. This separates the Muscovy army from the Baku oil and without fuel, the Soviets can't go on. Does this make any sense?

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      Originally posted by Phebe View Post
                      I don't know if that actually makes sense, starving Britain out in 1944. Anyone?

                      Also, the German army concentrates on Moscow as the army leaders wanted, rather than a scattershot invasion on all fronts at once. This separates the Muscovy army from the Baku oil and without fuel, the Soviets can't go on. Does this make any sense?
                      No and No.
                      The Commonwealth had the Battle of the Atlantic won in May 1943.

                      The Soviets had oil production in other places than Baku. Those other places produced more oil than the entire European Axis.


                      Harry Turtledove wrote an alternate history series that featured aliens invading the earth during May 1942.

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        Originally posted by AdrianE View Post
                        No and No.
                        The Commonwealth had the Battle of the Atlantic won in May 1943.

                        The Soviets had oil production in other places than Baku. Those other places produced more oil than the entire European Axis.


                        Harry Turtledove wrote an alternate history series that featured aliens invading the earth during May 1942.

                        I know Turtledove has various series: aliens goes too far for me. S.M. Stirling has aliens too, and Germany winning, and a novel mixing them all up in Africa. Domination, I think it's called. I had a copy and decided ....not.

                        I liked the Turtledove one about Shakespeare during the Spanish Occupation (the Armada succeeded in 1588) and love "The Guns of the South," which involves time travel and AK-47s. Which Lee loves....................but not as much as he loves the MREs. Easy food for his famished Confederates: It's full of unexpected gems like that.

                        Thanks for your opinion on the iffy Harris what-if. I didn't think that sounded quite right. I want a what-if with one little change by one person.

                        Comment


                        • #14
                          I finished (skimming) Afrika Reich and my mini-project of reading a collection of Hitler-won fiction.

                          Afrika Reich by Guy Saville is WAAAAAAAAAAY too gruesome for me. Belgrave warned me about that and it's true. Basically a torture and atrocity-fest roaming thru African German colonies denuded of almost all Africans by the Germans, who are regretting pushing all the Africans into the Sahara like the Turks did to the Armenians (or the Germans to the Herero tribe in 1906) because now they have to import slave labor from Russia to get anything built.

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            Yes this is a fantastic book - certainly the best 'Hitler won' novel I have read. Partially because in the book he actually confronts what it is to write 'What if ....' historical fiction.

                            This article is short but puts it quite niceley: http://www.theguardian.com/books/boo...gh-castle-hugo

                            And I dind't realise this:

                            'One of the many stories told about Philip K Dick is that he was a mine of great ideas, but a bottomless pit for amphetamines, and that his habit affected his ability to write elegantly.'

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