The World of Storm Front
In our world, Adolf Hitler declared war on the United States after Japan attacked Pearl Harbour. But in another world, a American counterattack, which sank a Japanese carrier before it could make its escape, made him think better of it. The racism that was so much a part of his mentality came to the fore and, instead of supporting Japan, Hitler declared war on her.
President Roosevelt had no illusions that Germany’s declaration of war on Japan was anything other than a paper gesture. Roosevelt believed that Nazi Germany was the greatest threat the United States had faced since the Civil War. However, Roosevelt was unable to manipulate Hitler into starting a war or take the United States into war himself. Therefore, as Nazi Germany completed the conquest of Russia, North Africa and large parts of the Middle East, America waged a titanic war against Japan. By the time the Japanese Home Islands were physically occupied (the invasion was launched in 1944), the war in Europe had largely ground into stalemate. Once Churchill’s successor took office, Britain agreed to a surprisingly decent truce with Germany. The Second World War (the European War) was over.
It is now 1985.
Nazi Germany is politically divided into five component sections; Germany Prime, Germany North, Germany East, Germany Arabia and Germany South.
Germany Prime is the core of the Greater German Reich, stretching from the coasts of France (the 1940 occupation zone) to Poland. States such as Belgium, the Netherlands and Poland have completely disappeared from the map. Populations deemed insufficiently Germanic have been forcibly relocated, enslaved or exterminated. In their place, German settlers have taken their lands and established their own settlements. Germany Prime is considered the best place to live in the Reich, but that isn't saying much.
Life within Germany Prime is quite regimented. Children go to state schools from age 5 and join the Hitler Youth from 12. The Hitler Youth isn’t precisely compulsory, but membership can open doors - and refusing to join can mark someone as a potential enemy of the state. Exams are held at sixteen for anyone wishing to apply to the universities; anyone who doesn't apply is liable for conscription (see below) or being streamlined into a job.
Education is segregated and intensely focused on one’s role within the state. Young men are taught that they might have to sacrifice themselves for the Reich, while young women are prepared for a life as homemakers. Once old enough to marry (17), men and women are encouraged to marry and have children as soon as possible. (See below.) Young women rarely enter the workforce; older women, who have had two or three children, make up a female professional class.
Freethinkers are barely tolerated; many of them are either sent to the universities or reported as potential troublemakers. The secret police keeps an eye open for sedition and a single report is often enough to ruin a person’s life.
Hardly anyone in Germany knows that Jews are human. Indeed, Jews (and any anyone non-white) are portrayed as barely-humanoid monsters. (If they met a Jew, they wouldn't recognise him.) Very few truly understand the level of the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis - or, indeed, recognises them as crimes.
Despite the best efforts of the secret police, there exists a criminal underground within Germany Prime.
Germany North consists of Denmark and Norway. Both states have been declared ‘Germanic’ (with the exception of the usual undesirables, who were marched off to concentration camps and killed) and German rule is very light, provided neither state causes trouble. The Reich maintains a considerable number of naval and air bases within both states, but otherwise relies on collaborators to keep the countries under control. Germanic propaganda has been wearing away at the resistance ever since the British bowed out of the war; it isn't uncommon for Norwegians to join the SS or be invited to settle in Germany East and marry into German families.
Germany South consists of the former Belgium Congo and South West Africa (Namibia). It has a fair claim to being one of the most horrific places on Earth; the Germans, having taken both colonies after the European War ended, rapidly reminded the natives why they were glad to see the back of the Germans in 1918. Oddly, it is also one of the most liberal places in the Reich; German settlers are rather less concerned about blood (as long as the newcomer looks white) than they are about having another pair of hands to work the fields, mind the slaves and keep the natives under control. (The SS has periodic witch-hunts for Jews in Germany South, although these searches are deeply resented by the local Germans). As of 1985, the endless bloodletting of the South African War has spread into Germany South.
Germany Arabia consists of everything between the Suez Canal and Iran. Hitler’s original promises to the Arabs were forgotten once the Germans won the war; the Arabs, having helped slaughter the remaining Jews in Palestine, found themselves under the yoke of a master far worse than the British Empire. This lead to a brutal uprising in 1950 which, after giving the Germans some very nasty moments, was eventually crushed. As of 1985, the original population has been sharply reduced and German settlers have established new homes near the seas.
Germany East has a well-deserved reputation as the worst place in the Reich, which puts it up against some pretty stiff competition. Formally, Germany claims all the territory from Poland to Kamchatka; practically, Germany controls much of the terrain as far north as the Urals. Much of the original towns and cities of Russia have been destroyed; in their place, the Germans have established massive plantations and slave labour camps. The Slavic population, declared subhuman, is brutally mistreated; unsurprisingly, most of the German settlements are actually fortresses. (Notably, Germany East is the only place in the Reich where the SS is genuinely popular).
The death of Adolf Hitler in 1950 (after a long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease) left the Reich with something of a quandary. Hitler had presided over a divided state, allowing him to serve as the final arbiter; he had never named a successor (at least not one who was unchallenged by everyone else.) The different factions within the government nearly started a civil war over just who should succeed Hitler; indeed, it is quite likely that the uprising in the Middle East saved the Reich from internal collapse. Even so, the post-Hitler government was extremely unstable.
Formally, the Fuhrer is the Head of State, with the Deputy Fuhrer as his designated successor. However, neither of them possess any real power; the latter, in particular, is seen as a place to dump awkward sods who are too prominent to place on the Reichstag or simply shove out of power altogether.
Practically, real power is vested in the Reich Council, which is dominated by the Reichsführer-SS, the Finance Minister and Chief of OKW (effectively, the uniformed head of the German military.) Each of them rules a shifting bastion of smaller factions; the Finance Minister, in particular, must balance an array of competing elements to hold his place within the troika. Confusingly, several factions that appear to have a natural bent towards one of the councillors have a habit of going in other directions; army commandoes, for example, trend towards the SS while the navy is generally more supportive of the Finance Minister’s ‘government’ faction.
Government is generally by consensus. The SS can be said to be the hardliners of just about any decision, while the civilian (insofar as the term can be used in Nazi Germany) departments favour a more balanced approach. Personality clashes between the two are constant, with the military taking sides or not as it wills. Partly in order to keep the clashes from turning into open war, it is generally agreed that the SS has near-complete control over Germany East while the remaining parts of the Reich are ruled by the civilians.
The Reichstag is, in theory, a parliament. In practice, it exists to rubber-stamp decisions and nothing else. Technically, German citizens can vote for members, but this hardly ever happens.
Every full-blooded German is, technically, at the disposal of the state. In practice, one-third of the male population in Germany Prime is conscripted into the military when they turn seventeen, although the precise number is often altered to reflect the number of volunteers who sign up. Students who do particularly well in their exams - and win a place at one of the growing number of universities - are not conscripted. (They can, of course, volunteer.)
Volunteers are given first pick of the assignments; conscripts are generally allocated where tests say they should go and complaints are given short shrift. The SS and rocket forces do not take conscripts, while both the navy and air force prefer to avoid them.
Legally, females can also be conscripted, but the Nazi Party’s stance on the importance of motherhood (and raising the next generation of Germans) tends to ensure that relatively few women are conscripted into the military. When they are, they’re normally assigned to either clerical or medical work. (A handful of SS commando units make use of women, but this is extremely uncommon.)
Males are given basic military training at school, as part of their education. Females are not given military training outside Germany East, where everyone may have to pick up a gun and fight if necessary.
Complicating any attempt to understand the Reich is the simple fact that the different arms of its military are rarely united to a single purpose. For example, the Luftwaffe claims control over all aircraft, but all three of the other major services operate their own aircraft. Furthermore, each service has its own equipment and standardisation is largely non-existent.
The Wehrmacht (army) is charged with the defence of the Reich. In this role, it competes with the Waffen-SS, which deploys its own powerful forces and commandos. It remains, however, the largest single military force on the face of the planet.
The SS is an oddity. Parts of it are effectively a second army, other parts are effectively cults, with ceremonies that claim to worship the old gods, or a giant combination of repressive state mixed with social services. It is rarely clear just how seriously some members of the SS take their own claims. Originally, the SS also controlled Germany’s nuclear arsenal, but after nukes were used to smash the Arab revolts the other services insisted on dividing up the nuclear arsenal between them.
The Kriegsmarine (navy) claims to be the most powerful naval force on Earth, although this is flatly inaccurate. It deploys five nuclear-powered carriers, seven battleships and 137 smaller surface ships, but is significantly outgunned by the USN and barely superior to the Royal Navy. Its real power lies in its force of ninety-seven nuclear submarines, which it intends to use - in the event of war - to cut Britain off from America.
In recent years, the Kriegsmarine has been humiliated by the failure to assist Argentina during the Falklands War - see below - and has consequently become the most liberal of the military services.
The SS handles much, although not all, of Germany’s foreign intelligence gathering. Internally, the Gestapo is responsible for security (its independence hangs by a thread) while the Abwehr handles military intelligence collection. A semi-independent service - the Economic Intelligence Service - has become a de facto civilian spy agency.
The Nazi Party is obsessed with breeding the next generation of full-blood Germans. Accordingly, females are encouraged to marry young and give birth to as many children as soon as possible. A German woman who has more than three children is eligible for the Mother’s Cross and, more practically, benefits from the state in exchange for having more children.
Bastardry does not carry a stigma in Germany Prime, provided the father was a full-blooded German. Mothers who do not wish to keep their children tend to hand them over to SS-run orphanages, where they are either parcelled out to women who do want them or raised by the state. In certain circumstances (the father being killed on active service before the wedding) the mother will be treated as his legal wife, with all the benefits that accrue to the widow of a dead soldier.
The SS takes it a step further. Polygamy is technically legal in Germany East, with one man being married to two or more women. Typically, the second wives would have been married already, then lost their husbands to insurgent attack.
Contraception is banned - there’s a thriving underground trade in condoms and American-made Pills - and abortion is rarely permitted. Women who are not full-blooded Germans can expect a contraceptive injection after having their second child.
Notably, a fake paternity claim can get a woman thrown into a concentration camp. The party takes bloodlines seriously.
Of all the nations in Europe, the only one that holds any form of true independence is Switzerland. The Swiss, by dint of mountains, an armed population and a willingness to deploy every weapon at their disposal to protect themselves (it is generally believed the Swiss have nukes) maintain a careful distance from the Reich. Sweden and Finland claim to be independent, but their economies are dependent on Germany.
Vichy France controls the remains of France and French North Africa, a giant territory in Africa. The government has sought to secure some form of status within the Reich, but as Hitler’s dislike of France pervaded German foreign policy, it is clear that Vichy France holds very little freedom of movement. Over the years since the end of the war, vast numbers of Frenchmen have emigrated to North Africa, where they have tried to build new lives away from the looming power of Nazi Germany. Vichy has not hesitated to exterminate vast numbers of Arabs and Africans to provide living space for the colonists.
The French are not permitted more than a small army in mainland France, nor are they permitted nukes, modern aircraft or warships. It is generally acknowledged that the French habit of conscripting males for two years, giving them basic military training and then releasing them makes the French more powerful than they seem on paper, but the French lack the tanks and air support to stand up to the Germans.
The Free French control French Polynesia, but are otherwise utterly powerless after the end of the war.
Italy started the war with high hopes, which were rapidly quashed by Britain in 1940, forcing the Germans to step in to help. Once the war was finished, Hitler allowed Italy to keep Libya, Ethiopia, Egypt (apart from the Suez Canal), Greece and large parts of the Balkans, but not much else. The latter two, in particular, are constantly restive; Italy would like to simply abandon them, but the fascist government is afraid of the German reaction. Italy has a strong infantry force; it is generally agreed that it’s navy and air force wouldn't last long if pitched into battle against the NAA (see below) or the Germans.
Spain, Turkey and Portugal did very little heavy lifting during the latter half of the war, Portugal (a former British ally) in particular did absolutely nothing beyond a pro forma declaration of war on Britain in 1944. Hitler was incensed when Franco failed to take Gibraltar and assumed, perhaps correctly, that the Spanish were trying to play both sides against the middle. Accordingly, while Turkey was rewarded with tracts of sand in the Middle East, none of the three powers received much else for their puny efforts. (It is probably lucky for Spain that Hitler died before remembering he had to settle accounts with Franco.)
In 1985, the Turks have a powerful army and air force; Spain and Portugal have strong armies, but little else. Both states account for a considerable degree of immigration to South and Latin America.
Opposing Germany is the North Atlantic Alliance; an association of America, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Iran, Iceland and Brazil. All of these states, with the exception of Iran, are democracies and most of them have powerful navies. Britain and Iran serve as the forward bases for alliance striking power; both states play host to sizable American air bases as well as their own not inconsiderable forces. There are occasionally degrees of friction amongst the alliance partners, but the threat of the Third Reich keeps them unified.
The NAA faced it’s greatest test in 1980, when German-backed Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. (It is generally believed that the Reich authorised the invasion to test the alliance’s resolve.) While British forces reoccupied the islands, American and Canadian warships stood ready to intervene if the Germans pushed matters. The German Navy was reluctantly forced to admit that it couldn't hope to save the Argentineans and the war was concluded in 1981 with a British victory.
The British Empire was replaced by the British Commonwealth in 1951, when India was formally granted independence from the British Crown. The remaining states of the empire (India, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa) agreed to merge their resources into an alliance, mainly to prevent the United States from completely dominating the NAA.
South Africa, however, formally withdrew from the Commonwealth in 1965, after friction arose between the more liberal-minded states and the apartheid regime. Oddly, despite allying with Nazi Germany the year later, South Africa is still remarkably liberal compared to the Nazis - it’s population of Jews, for example, remains untouched despite being marked for extermination by the Reich. Even so, with a growing war underway, it remains unclear just how long South Africa can survive.
Iran was formally occupied by Britain and Russia in 1941, after the Iranian Government was caught attempting to set up links with the Germans. Maintaining the occupation, however, proved increasingly difficult and, after the US entered the war against Japan, it was agreed that a US force could relieve the Anglo-Soviet occupation force. In partial compensation, Iran was added to the lend-lease program and received billions of dollars worth of war material and economic assistance.
As of 1985, Iran is still a monarchy, but otherwise remains fairly liberal and a strong ally of the United States. Relationships with Britain are cool and strictly formal.
Japan was invaded in 1944 by the Americans, after the Japanese Government refused to surrender. (Nukes were not available yet.) The combination of fanatical resistance (the US was still shooting diehards in 1955), mass starvation and near-complete collapse of government power led to the death of roughly 60% of the Japanese population, even though - as American forces tightened their control over the islands - the Japanese began to seem more human to their occupiers. Although officially banned, relationships between American servicemen and Japanese women started almost at once. Many of these relationships were between black soldiers and Japanese girls.
The near-complete destruction of large parts of Japan effectively extinguished the native culture. In its place, a strange combination of Japanese and American influences took form, particularly when Japan was opened to settlement by Americans. Black Americans, in particular, were encouraged to move (a consequences of Civil Rights, embraced by Truman) and eventually created a very mixed culture. Japan is about the only place in the alliance where racism can be said to be completely non-existent and, indeed, claiming multiracial ancestry is regarded as a badge of honour. (Claiming to be one-eighteenth Cherokee would be seen as rather puny.)
Japan is formally a US Territory. There is a strong statehood movement in both Japan and mainland America, but so far Congress has refused to admit Japan.
President Truman, once he succeeded Roosevelt in 1943, started breaking down racial barriers within US society almost at once. This met with heavy resistance from some sections of the American population, although the combination of the threat from Germany (particularly once Germany led the way into space) and the existence of Japan as a sinkhole for ‘radicals’ kept opposition largely muted. An economic boom, powered by the war (and the need to keep a strong defence against Germany) has largely transformed American society.
As of 1985, American-led efforts to colonise the moon and mine the asteroids have started to bear fruit. Combined with a powerful ABM system - and a navy that is second to none - a number of Americans have seriously proposed leaving the Reich to collapse under its own weight. However, the President and most of Congress remains committed to holding the line until the Iron Curtain (a term popularised by Winston Churchill) falls for good.
The Chinese barely noticed when the European War ended; Chinese Nationalists, Chinese Communists and various warlord factions were engaged in a bloody civil war from 1944 (after Japan was invaded), once the Japanese armies in China were either exterminated, repatriated back to Japan or absorbed into various Chinese militias. China remained torn apart by war until 1951, when the Chinese Nationalists - with a great deal of American assistance - defeated most of the warlords. The remaining Chinese Communists retreated into Manchuria and held out until the Nationalists finally agreed to a ceasefire. North China is now the only genuinely communist state on Earth.
China saw substantial economic growth after the end of the war, but an increasing bent towards authoritarianism saw China slowly slip into the German orbit. However, the combination of distance and wariness of German racial theories ensured the Chinese were never full-blooded allies and, with the Chinese economy growing rapidly, the threat of a possible clash between Chinese and Germans has become a viable possibility. Thankfully, the vast tracts of wasteland between China and Germany East ensure that war is unlikely to result.
Korea is a relatively stable democracy and an American ally. With the US unchallenged in Asian waters, most of the other states in Asia have followed suit.
Although the Reich appears stable, a number of problems bubble below the surface.
The first, and most prominent, is the South African War. What began as a genuine effort to assist South Africa against its black population has snowballed into a major war against an elusive and deadly enemy. Thousands of German troops have been killed and thousands more have been badly injured, with only a relative handful of the wounded formally acknowledged as such. The war has become a death match, sucking up German resources at the end of a very long supply chain while thousands of South Africans seek to flee their country as it is consumed by civil war.
The second is the constant arms race with the United States. Although Germany achieved a number of successes in the early stages of the Cold War, the defection of Von Braun in 1950 and the introduction of Nazi Ideology into German schools crippled German science and, despite their best efforts, Germany has fallen behind in the arms race. The deployment of the American ABM system has forced the Germans to invest billions of Reichmarks in building a new force of ICBMs, SLBMs and other weapons. Trying to match American deployment of smart weapons, stealth aircraft and other advanced systems may prove beyond the Reich’s capabilities.
The third, connected to the second, is a growing economic crisis. The Reich is simply not very efficient; in a sense, it has all the weaknesses of a command economy without any of the strengths, a problem caused by the division of German economic facilities among the various branches of the state. In particular, intelligent young men are fleeing Germany for America where they won’t have to work in an inefficient system. Furthermore, social security payments (particularly to mothers with more than three children) are slowly draining the system dry.
In trying to tackle these problems, the Reich may have sown the seeds of its own disintegration ...