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'WW2 Alt' by Guest Historian Scott Palter
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May 20

In 1940, on this day Guderian will not get his halt order. He will take the Channel ports before the BEF can retreat through them. The British will save the brigade they lost defending Calais but lose everyone else. There will be no air battle over Dunkirk to give the UK a small victory as happened in OTL.

A Very Different Eastern Front by Scott PalterFrance will live another week as it will take an extra week to refit Guderian's panzers for the second offensive. However the political rot and disparity of forces will be just as bad. This gives Italy an extra week of war. Add some more poor dead Italians in the Alps. However, I am going to pull a divergence here. I will let Balbo talk Il Duce into making an air-sea push for Malta in that final week. The French are no longer cooperating with the British. The British Med commander, Cunningham, will be preoccupied with the French warships in Alexandria harbor. Malta falls.

Two small changes have now occurred. From this I will have Il Duce use his influence with Hitler to get German air support for an Italian drive into Egypt. He gets Richtoffen's close support folks [VIIIth Air Corps - Stukas with fighters], the transport planes, the few surviving airborne [Holland had cut Student's boys up quite badly], and a rump Panzer Corps [Rommel's 7th, the Greater Germany Motor Infantry Regiment and Dietrich's LAH Motorized Troops under the command of Hitler's favorite and the hero of the western campaign, Erwin Rommel]. I will give them 60 days to redeploy to the Egyptian border so that by August 30th they are in position.

The air battles over England would have by this time been initiated, but would have been going as poorly as in OTL. The Germans would be suffering major losses with no clearly visible gains. The propaganda edge from the fall of Paris would be starting to rub off. Also Stalin would be making difficulties in the East over Finland, Rumania, and Bulgaria. Again right on schedule. Finally with Balbo as overall commander, let him bring in Messe to command the Italian fast troops in Libya [only a few brigades but we need an Italian component that can keep up with Rommel].

The Italo-German offensive jumps off on September 1st and runs into O'Conner's prepared ambush battle position. The 7th Armored and 4th Indian were crack units. However complete air superiority plus Rommel plus enough German air transports to keep the advance moving wins a five day dog fight of a battle. By the middle of the month, Rommel and Messe are up to the line of the Suez Canal and Balbo is following Il Duce on a victory parade through the streets of Cairo.

This leads Adolph to one of his intuitive leaps. The whole Sea Lion / Battle of Britain thing is allowed to wind down to minor air skirmishes over the Channel. Hitler has a major victory in which Germany played a key role. Victories are wonderful for his prestige. Air units and armor start shifting south and east.

We will dispense with a rewrite of an ATL I did here before. Rommel takes Basra by late spring of 1941. Balbo relieves Italian East Africa. Churchill is dumped by the Tory caucus in Commons. The UK makes peace, keeping the balance of the Empire. As part of the peace terms, the UK, Germany and Italy all take chunks out of Belgium's and France's African empires. Let Hitler also dump on the British his unwanted Jews and Romani [settle them in the Congo for the sake of amusement]. Our change will be no Barbarossa. Over the winter we will have Hitler begin fortifying the eastern boundaries of his dominions. Beyond that he lets Goring build a New Order in Europe while Hitler does architecture with Speer. Two years pass in which Stalin readies his armies. Without a continuing war in Europe, America has gone back into Depression. The UK is rebuilding its strength but has no mind to oppose a united Europe. Japan has patched up its old alliance with the UK as a joint mutual defense pact against Stalin. The Anglo-Saxons have left Chiang to his fate. He hangs on in Chunking, sustained by Russian aid through Sinkiang. India is being readied for independence, but in the meantime the India army has occupied Tibet, part of Afghanistan and part of Iran as a strategic buffer. Stalin has occupied the rest.

What follows is taken from the concept that Stalin saw the Hitler pact as a truce behind which he could buildup his forces for a showdown. I have been told by ex-Soviets that this is common knowledge there. If so, it has only made it into the fringe histories here. However, presume that this happens. Six million Soviet soldiers open a bombardment from the Arctic circle to Basra. The game commences.

It is highly doubtful that the Russians could achieve strategic surprise. So we will have some four million Europeans [2/3rd's Germans] facing them. The Soviets will have better tanks [absent the pressure of an actual Eastern front German dithering on a successor to the Mark IV would probably have continued]. The Germans will have better planes. They will also be Germans.

Presume that Stalin's first attacks take most of Iraq, most of Finland and half of Turkey. It looks very pretty on the map. However, except for Iraqi oil, none of it is of military signifigance. On the main front, the defects in Soviet battlecraft would probably have repeated themselves. It is doubtful the Soviet armies would be as bad as 41-42 in OTL. Our war caught them with a major reorganization in progress. This time they are ready. However, they would still not have recovered from the purges. It would be an army overcontrolled from the top, displaying little operational initiative. What is likely is a succession of Kharkov 1942 type battles. So the summer is spent with major Soviet penetrations sealed off by German counterattacks into one lost cauldron after another. By the late autumn thaw, Stalin has lost 3 million men to Hitler's million. Europe is mobilizing its industry for arms production. The rebuilding of the German cities is put aside as Speer is shifted to become Hitler's Europe wide armaments trouble shooter. Stalin has not been able to get beyond Ankara in Turkey and has lost Iraq to a skillful Italian counterattack. Finland is reduced to a bridgehead around Helsinki, but the Scandinavians aided by Germans have blocked the Russian advance in Lapland at Narvik.

The winter of 1943-44 sees the European armies push into Soviet territory, liberating Bessarabia, Bukovina, Galacia, western Belarus, Lithuania and Latvia. Stalin's no retreat orders leave his troops under the German hammer far too long in each case. However, the Soviet armies fight hard. A Soviet soldier's family is hostage for his behavior.

The campaign year of 1944 sees the Europeans retake Finland, Lapland, most of Turkey and part of Iran. On the main front the line has reached Odessa - Kiev - Smolensk - Vladi Hills - Leningrad [which is besieged]. Four million Europeans and ten million Soviets have fallen

European and Soviet war orders have revived the economies of the US and UK. The moveable assets of a continent are flowing to the Anglo-Saxons for food, raw materials and weapons. The economic revival comes too late to save FDR's political life. Rather than endure defeat, he has not asked for the Democratic nomination. The Republicans under Taft and Warren take the White House and both houses of Congress, defeating a Democratic ticket of Byrnes and Barkley.

The Tories finally consent to a general election and are routed by a Liberal-Labor-National coalition. Churchill has won his own seat as an Empire independent. Without him to lead it, the Tory party of this TL will be very different than the one we know. It will be a party of a particular class and a particular period. British politics will remain multisided.

It will take the Europeans two years [1945-46] to take Moscow and two more to reach the Volga [1947-48]. By now ten million Europeans and twenty million Soviets will have fallen. The war essentially burns itself out there. Another three years [1948-50], four million Europeans and six million Soviets will be spent proving that neither side can attain a decisive superiority.

So Germany will create a Europe from the Volga to the Atlantic, but a Europe that has seen 14 million casualties and spent its moveable wealth on the most expensive conventional war in history. The Soviets will lose almost all of European Russia and twenty six million men. Their 'gains' will be Afghanistan north of the Salang Pass, Sinkiang, Chiang's small slice of West China and Mao's of Northwest China. However the total population of the USSR will be higher than when the war began from Chinese moved into the old Soviet lands as war workers, farmers and soldiers. Japan will be choking on the 'empire' it has swallowed in China and Indochina. With the end of hostilities some tens of millions of Chinese and Indochinese will be allowed / forced from the Japanese zones into the Soviet ones.

The heart of Europe will be spared the destruction of our WW2. However in lost production and lost men it will be a more costly war for Europe than in OTL. Japan will be victorious but bankrupt. The two Anglo-Saxon states will have the moveable wealth of the world and have avoided war. Indian independence will have happened [make it 1945 if you choose] without partition and with enough troops from Britain to prevent communal rioting on a major scale. Some five million Indian Communists and left Congress types have relocated to the USSR. Some ten million of the more devout and militant Muslims have relocated to Turkey and the Axis Middle East. The British still hold Malaya and Borneo. The Dutch still rule the East Indies. There is no atomic bomb, no nuclear arms race, and no Israel [but no Holocaust or death camps]. A very different world from a few simple switches.

June 10

In 1940, Italy declared war on the Western powers and entered WW2. On paper it was an act of idiocy. Their military was unready. Their colonies were not properly provisioned. The bulk of their merchant marine was at sea and thus immediately lost to the British. The sole intelligent reason for this act was a cool calculation that France was about to fall. Reasoning that the British Empire would not fight on without its continental sword (the French Army), Italy expected there to be a peace conference. Their few weeks of combat would buy them a seat at the conference, which in turn would probably result in Italy picking up some new colonial territory, and, perhaps, some border adjustments with France or Yugoslavia.

From Tiny Acorns Grow an Oak by Scott PalterNeedless to say, the calculation was completely in error. The war would cost Italy all of her colonies and the destruction of the body of the country when it became a war zone for the final two years of the European struggle. All of this would occur because of a miscalculation in British intentions. Let us presume that Churchill took time out from the chaos of France's collapse to make VERY clear to the Italians that this was the end of a phase of the war, rather than an end of the war. Let us presume that the French made some minor territorial concessions to Italy (the Azzou strip in northern Chad and some Saharan sand on the Libyan - Algerian border). Italy stays neutral.

The early changes in the war are subtle. The later are far grander.

There are no changes in the Battle of Britain or Battle of the Atlantic. Italy made little contribution to either. Britain would have needed large naval forces to watch a neutral Italy whose government was capable of intervention at any moment. However, there are no campaigns in North Africa, Greece, Syria, Iraq or East Africa. The British Army does not suffer these losses or gain this combat experience. Except for commando raids, Britain is not engaged in a ground war between the Fall of France and Pearl Harbor. The RAF does not have to build a Desert Air Force. The troops and planes not so used are available to garrison Burma and Malaya. We will return to the results of this shortly.Rommel's three divisions are a minor addition to the invasion of Russia. The addition of the air elements sent to the Mediterranean is more noticeable. The biggest difference is the absence of a Balkan campaign. In OTL, Italy invades Greece in 1940. They fail miserably at it. This forces Germany to take a Balkan detour that winds up including Yugoslavia and Crete. In this TL none of this occurs. Yugoslavia and Bulgaria are forced into the Tripartite Pact over the winter of 1940-41 on very mild terms. No German garrisons are needed in either. Greece is allowed its neutrality as long as trade with Germany is continued (same as Turkey and Sweden in OTL).

In OTL the Balkan adventure postponed Barbarossa by two weeks and added much wear and tear on the trucks and men making the long roundtrip. It bled off a German army (12th) left behind in garrisons from Belgrade to Athens. It also destroyed the German airborne forces on Crete.

A two week earlier start does not take Moscow or win the war in 1941. Neither the ten extra divisions (DAK plus 12th Army) nor the fewer vehicle breakdowns make Moscow any nearer to Warsaw and Konigsburg. A German win in 1941 requires a very different set of changes than Italian neutrality. However, the extra two weeks do see a German Army less burned out when it is repulsed before (or perhaps in the streets of) Moscow in early December of 1941. At each of the three German advances, the rear has been better swept (fewer Red Army remnants to form partisans), the supply forces have had a little more time to do their work, and the giant number of abandoned weapons have been better collected.

To do we will add an Italian Expeditionary Force ( say six divisions of Blackshirts and Young Fascists, which is what was sent to Spain in the 1930's). Italy does not declare war on Russia. These are ?volunteers' like the Spanish Blue Division (party to party as opposed to state to state to use the usual Communist terminology). To this will be added a Corps of White Russian volunteers from Yugoslavia, also under Italian command. These men are neither trained nor armed for frontline service. However, they are quite capable of policing up the vast hordes of Russian prisoners captured in the great encirclement battles of 1941. The Italians will drive this herd to the railheads, where they are shipped to Italy as war booty (slaves). A good bit of Russian equipment will follow, bringing the Italian military to a less unready state. The Italians also lack the German racial hatred of the Easterners. They will extensively recruit among the prisoners and locals. The net effect is that the eight Italo-Yugoslav divisions will be almost to corps strength each by the end of 1941.

So the retreat from Moscow never develops into the semicollapse of OTL. This results in fewer German losses, higher Russian ones and an earlier burnout of the Russian offensive. Part of this is the large Italian force garrisoning the towns to the rear of Army Group Center. Part of this is the better state of the German lines of communication and depots. The largest single change is that Kesselring's Second Air Fleet does not have to be pulled out of Belarus to bail out the Desert War.

So the spring - summer of 1942 finds a marginally stronger German Army in the East and a marginally weaker Russian one. We will return to the effects of this after our Asiatic detour promised above.

In OTL an overstretched British Empire made the decision to give priority to absolutely everything over the defense of Burma, Malaya, the East Indies and the South Seas (Australia, New Zealand, etc.). Without a North African war, the best of the Indian Army and the bulk of the Anzac forces are not in the Mediterranean. As is, Malaya and Burma were near run things. In this TL, the initial assaults on Malaya and Burma are repulsed.

The East Indies will still fall, but more slowly. It will take until the end of 1942 to finish them and Malaya off. Burma will stay in Allied hands. Now the results of this will seem perverse. A better British general in Singapore, a larger British Fleet, and a much larger RAF contingent will mean that in the end the British Empire will lose many more ships, men and planes. Essentially, the British simply couldn't stand up to the Japanese Navy or Air Force in this period. A Cunningham or Auchinlek in Singapore in place of Wavell and Percival could blunt the Japanese Army and bleed them badly. He could not change the air-naval equation. That equation determined the ultimate logistical result of the campaign.

However, with the Japanese carrier fleet tied up taking the East Indies and Malaya, Japan never gets "victory disease". In OTL they were wildly successful at first. This caused them to get overconfident and change their strategy. Instead of fortifying their conquests and waiting to attrit the American counterattack, they attacked in all directions. The result was a series of campaigns (Coral Sea, Midway, Solomons, Papua - New Guinea) that basically destroyed the elite prewar naval and air units.

Instead here the much slower initial advance keeps them in their proper hedgehog. This will make the Pacific War much longer and bloodier. It will also means that Bataan lasts somewhat longer as the Japanese concentrate on finishing off the East Indies first. This gets more US ground and air units sent to Australia. However, it also means that after securing Australia, Port Mosby, Guadalcanal and the South Sea string of bases, the Pacific War essentially grinds to a halt in early 1943. Until America's new carrier fleet becomes available in 1944, the Allies lack the power to go further. So 1943 is a sea - air sparring contest in which neither side takes major risks.

Back to Russia: the primary problem with the German summer offensive is again geography plus the higher command's insanity in conducting a street fight in Stalingrad. This will not change. However, the equipment seized in 1941 will make the Italian 8th and Hungarian 2nd Armies marginally stronger. It will also provide marginally more reserves behind the Rumanians. Stalingrad will still be encircled. The retreat from the Caucasus will still be necessary.

What will be different then is that there will not be a companion disaster in North Africa. The Allied occupation of French Northwest Africa will open the Mediterranean more easily to Allied shipping. It will not require a Panzer Army to be sent to Tunis or 60% of Germany's long-range aircraft. Instead those units will be available to the Don Front. There will be no breakout from Stalingrad (Hitler wouldn't have permitted it). There will be less of a Russian advance and a bigger backhand blow by Manstein. On the margin the Germans will be stronger, the Russians weaker.

Without a Mediterranean front in 1942-43, the Allies will not be able to withstand Russian pressure to do something besides air raids. In OTL the Allies fought major 1943 campaigns in Burma, New Guinea, the Solomons, Tunis, Sicily and southern Italy. None of those happen here. Instead there is a May 1943 invasion of France.

There is no Atlantic Wall. The defenses of the beaches between the major ports was Rommel's doing in late 1943-44. So the invasion force gets ashore more easily. There is a smaller German garrison in France so the lodgment goes more easily and Cherbourg falls faster. The good luck ends there. Germany has more reserves and is less heavily attrited is this TL. The American and British armies are much greener. There is no Normandy breakout.

Instead there is a slow attritional grind forward, with the Combined Bomber Force being repeatedly used in a ground support role to blow holes in the German lines (of the type from the Cobra attack in OTL). This in turn destroys the German Air Force faster as the attritional fighter battles take place nearer to England. Instead of the Lw fighter arm collapsing in the first months of 1944, it is bled to death here in the summer and fall of 1943 over France.

Normandy does appear to help the Russians. The Kursk offensive is never made. This actually hurts. Without Kursk and without an Italian front soaking up two German armies (and the defection of Italian forces in Yugoslavia soaking up two more), the Germans have sufficient reserves to make the reconquest of Ukraine slower and more expensive. The disparity of forces and the ongoing drain of Normandy means they lose, but in takes all of 1944 to clear Ukraine and retake Smolensk (one year behind OTL).

In the meantime, by the end of 1943 the Western Allies have cut off Brittany and enlarged their bridgehead to the Lower Seine but are nowhere near Paris. The bomber attacks on the western German cities are much less than OTL but still enough to cause pain. Speer hits on the idea of relocating some plants to Italy to take advantage of its neutral status. Italy has no air raids, a friendly government and those millions of Russian POW's as force laborers. It has also taken in millions of other refugees from the Nazis so it has the potential for major industrial production given German help with machine tools, technicians, etc. Italy begins force draft industrialization. The Allies are angry but do not need another front.

The Allies spend 1944 clearing France to the Somme and Meuse, aided by secondary invasions in Calais and Provence. In the Pacific, the Japanese get their predicted climatic naval battles in the Marianas. Essentially both fleets destroy each other while the American ground forces take the islands at extremely high cost. This is what happened in OTL in the Solomons. Then, as here, the US can build more ships and Japan cannot. So we have no major offensive in the southwest Pacific or Burma, but rather bloodbaths at Wake, the Marianas and Iwo, followed by a submarine blockade of Japan. Japan will still make its 1944-45 offensive in China that drives Chiang effectively out of the war. The difference here is that with the Burma Road open, a substantial part of the Chinese Army retreats in northern Burma, where the Allies rebuild and retrain it (Chiang will have many times as many top notch divisions in the Chinese Civil War).

1945 sees the Allies slog forward to and across the Rhine. Stalin's forces take Rumania, Belarus and the Baltic States but come up short at the Vistula and East Prussian border. The Combined Bomber force keeps hammering the German transport net and synthetic petrol facilities. Starting in August they have nukes to add - 3 the first month and two a month thereafter. By the end of 1945, Germany still has two coherent fronts, but is bleeding to death internally. Jets, V-2's and other wonder weapons cannot make up for a collapsed industrial and transport base, no food and no fuel for the weapons. The German resistance starts to fragment in early 1946. Stalin still wins the race to Berlin (May 1946) but the West beats him to Prague and Vienna. The war in Europe ends in June of 1946 without a formal surrender. Millions of Germans and Hungarians seek sanctuary in Italy. WW2 in Europe ends with an extra ten million dead, far more damage and a much stronger Italy with a correspondingly weaker Britain, France and Russia.

In the Pacific, 1945 has seen the Americans take Okinowa and Pusan to tighten the blockade of Japan. American fire bombers have leveled the cities. Millions of Japanese have starved. However, the major ground offensives we had in the Pacific have been diverted to meet the needs of a longer and far more expensive European campaign. By early 1946 the Japanese Court and most of the Army Higher command have relocated to the Asian mainland to escape the famine in the Home Islands. The social structure of the abandoned Japanese homeland disintegrates. The Emperor dies in an air raid on Munkden. The Army fights on. We and the Russians redeploy from Europe. When the Russian invasion of Manchuria destroys the main Japanese armies (August 1946), the Home Islands surrender to us. Japan does not end the war so much as disintegrate. By now the death toll from starvation and disease is over ten million. Russia overruns North China and most of Korea. They set up friendly regimes (Mao and Kim) keeping the lands they have taken. Chiang essentially gets the Yangtse Valley and the South. He spends the balance of the decade suppressing Maoists in his zone. China is effectively partitioned.

February 15

In 1942, in OTL Singapore fell on February 15 (see the Fall of Singapore). Yamashita's Japanese were nearly out of supply but by grit and bluff kept fighting until the Empire troops came apart. Even then as the Japanese later admitted had the British counterattacked they might well have driven the Japanese off the island. It was a classic case of one side with the will to victory versus another side who were defeated in their minds before the fighting began.

Singapore as Tobruk by Scott PalterThe double headed Allied problem was a total incomprehension by the Commonwealth forces of the Japanese style of warfare and the inept British commander, Arthur Percival (see Arthur Percival). Now there is no way white imperials were going to take Chinese advice on how to beat Japanese. The Chinese may not have had enough good units and supply to heed their own advice but had the basic concept of how to beat Japanese infiltration tactics down correctly. You forted up and let the Japanese run around your rear until they ran out of supply [which happened fairly quickly as they were essentially light infantry]. You then exterminated them.

So we will take the incomprehension of Japanese style warfare as a given. It took the US into early 43 to grasp this. It took the Empire under Slim about a year longer. However there was no reason Percival himself could not have been replaced. I will have Wavell give Singapore to Slim (see Middle East Campaign). Have Percival replaced before the retreat to Johore when it was clear he had lost Malaya to a numerically inferior force. A competent British commander beats Yamashita at Singapore and probably retakes at least southern Johore (see Geography) . Yamashita may have had air superiority and some tanks but he was essentially out of ammunition and nearly out of fuel.

So now the fun begins. The repulse at Singapore will slow down the Burma Campaign (see Conquest of Burma). Even a delay of a week gets the 17th Indian Division back across the Sittang River which in turn gives Alexander time to mount a defense of Rangoon.

Now there is no way the Commonwealth actually holds the Singapore-Sumatra complex. Japanese naval-air strength is too great. However launching the second strike at Singapore, taking longer to finish Sumatra and taking much longer to take Rangoon and from there Upper Burma mean the six carriers of the main Japanese Combined Fleet are not available for the Coral Sea, Midway or the Ceylon Raid. They are tied up making sure these operations come off well. The Japanese forward base on Guadalcanal is never built and no thrust is made to Port Mosby from Buna in New Guinea. The South and Southwest Pacific Campaigns as we know them never happen. The Japanese fleet is too strong and the Allied fleets are too weak.

So the New Guinea and Solomons theaters are scenes of land based air duels and commando raids but not a major combat sector for either side. The big sea battles come in early 1944 when the US Essex class is ready. The knock on effect of this is to enhance the North African campaign. The Allies were abysmally short of shipping and landing craft. Neither the Solomons nor New Guinea used all that many divisions but both were hogs of various types of shipping because of distance and because the lack of ports facilities meant local commanders would use them as floating warehouses. The ships that aren't going to the Pacific can help Ike do his logistic buildup faster in Algeria in the winter of 42-43. Tunis probably falls 45-60 days sooner.

In turn the extra amphibious lift means when Sicily deadlocks Ike has the sea lift to land a corps in the Italian toe to trap the Germans in Sicily. This in turn means a somewhat faster advance to what became the Gustav Line (see Salerno Landings) is also an easier landing. Note that this does not crack the Gustav Line any faster. The mix of terrain and German operational superiority preclude this. Essentially it took the massive Allied numerical and air superiority of the spring-summer of 1944 to break the Gustav and take Rome.

The big changes come in 1944. US is only supporting one Pacific campaign [Central Pacific to the Marianas]. That in turn is happening probably in fourth quarter instead of third [sea battles will be needed to attrit the Japanese Fleet]. This means that the two landings in France can happen at the same time instead of spaced apart by 2 months [the same shortage of landing craft in OTL]. This makes Normandy less bloody but the battle for France more so. With Sixth Army Group coming up the Rhone Valley Hitler's stand and die in Normandy gets ended much sooner but that leaves more good German troops to fight river line by river line across France and the Benelux. This hurts allied manpower [both Anglo powers were quite short of front line replacements by 1944 although the US is less bad off because the Pacific is using fewer ground troops] but helps the logistics [a somewhat slower advance means more of a chance to build railroads instead of relying purely on the Red Ball Express (see Red Ball Express).

In OTL we kept falsely believing we were almost at the point of a German collapse from mid-September of 1944 till the Ardennes in December. Here we know we are in a hard fight and are surprised when the German armies essentially implode in late January of 45. Hitler probably wastes the panzers he lost in the Ardennes in OTL relieving Budapest and then is left desperate from Stalin blows away the Vistula line. The German War ends two months early [although in about the same positions - that was almost baked in by a combination of geography and the predetermined occupation zones].

That still leaves the Pacific War. With the nukes still a maybe [the Trinity test is still in the future here] and Japan with some semblance of a battle fleet there is a possibility for negotiations. Given the fantasy world the Japanese higher military commanders lived in possibility is as far as one can go. The civilians wanted to quit after Saipan, ( see Battle of Saipan) , in OTL. Fear of a coup and / or murder of the civilian cabinet members delayed things for a year. However there is a chance for Japan to get a more limited occupation and be left with the Kuriles and Taiwan.

August 3

In 1943, this day could have marked the end of General George Patton's career. He was having a fit at a "cowardly" enlisted man in a military hospital in Sicily when his chief of staff, Brigadeer General Gay grabbed his arm before he could strike the man. Gay then shouted down his commander until a military doctor could explain that the man actually had malaria rather than "battle fatigue". Gay then proceeded to risk his military career by physically restraining Patton and getting him out of the tent. Gay had other officers find a senior physican to brief the enraged Patton on shell shock as an actual disease with physical symptoms distinct from cowardice. By this time Patton had demoted all his attending officers to privates and threatened them with court martials.

Slapped Down
Written by Scott Palter
However the physican proved to have a louder shouting voice than Patton and was even more stubborn. When the tantrum worse off, Patton insisted the physican start again from the beginning. When the docotor was done and had answered all of Patton's questions Patton appologized to the physician, saluted, did an about face, marched himself back into the tent and appologized to the soldier. [His appology to Gay and his staff officers took some further hours but did happen].

Gay was allowed to use good staff work for Patton's following hospital visits [Patton was a rarity among WW2 US senior officers in regarded hospital visits as part of his job]. The tents Patton visited contained only wounded, not sick or shocked. So when the story of the original incident broke in Drew Pearson's radio news show there was no followup to ruin Patton's career. The original soldier was interviewed at length by newspeople but his story never changed. The general made a mistake, appologized for it and never touched him. The soldier and hospital staff were actually quite moved by a general who actually seemed to care about enlisted personnel or the wounded. The more prevailing army ethos was to treat personnel as interchangeable and replaceable parts.

Patton was still used as a decoy against the Germans, first of mythic other Meditteranean landings and then of the even more mythic First Army Group that was supposed to land at Calais. However Patton was able to secure a place on a warship to observe the Normandy landings. The rest is history, or fate if you believe in such. With the Omaha Beach landings a seeming failure General Bradley sat on his command ship and surveyed the wreckage. Patton acted. He browbeat the commander of his ship to make a ship's boat available and then landed on Omaha with himself, Gay and a handful of aides. He sorted out the confusion under continual enemy fire and personally led the attack that cleared the main beach exit. Patton would claim afterwards that he had been the highest paid major in the US Army for that day. In a sense this was correct. He was doing work many levels below his pay grade. However while Bradley respected the chain of command and sat on a ship, Patton had seemingly won the day on his own [historians afterwards would claim this was lucky timing - the weight of US troops would eventually have found exits up the cliffs and cleared the beach exits from behind].

Needless to say Bradley had a total fit. Eisenhower was not impressed. Yes Patton had violated all the rules. He had also won while Bradley seemed about to fail. A quick substitution was made and the US landing force was now Patton's Third Army instead of Bradley's. First [to maintain the deception operation against the Germans General Walker, was announced as army commander to the press].

So nominally it was Walker not Patton who by constantly going forwards to see what the holdup in the bocage operations was was able to greenlight the special plow tanks that solved the problem. This in turn led to Patton being given 12th Army Group command when the US contingent on the continent was upped from one army to two. Walker now had Third Army in fact and Bradley was informed he would not be bumped up from First Army command.

Under Patton's command the Falaise Pocket was closed by a sweeping maneuver that carried Walker's Third Army totally across the path of the British 21st Army Group to the mouth of the Seine. What followed was classic Patton. Leaving Bradley to manage digesting the pocket with Montgomery, Patton pushed spearheads of the Third Army straight north. Ike's logistics people kept trying to slow him down and get him back in his proper zone. Patton and Walker were moving so fast they kept overruning the orders [they would be ordered to hold at place X to reorganize after they were 50-75 miles north of X]. At heart Patton was an old time cavalryman and a pursuit such as this is what a cavalryman dreams of. Third Army blew through Brussels to Antwerp taking the port intact. Patton was personally up with the lead division. He recognized that with an inland port such as Antwerp the key was the islands in the Scheldt Estuary that were Antwerp's route to open sea. By throwing all of the army's shrinking fuel reserves at the two lead divisions he blizted through the Scheldt with one division while the other moved due north to take Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

This advance prompted a complete reorganization of the European campaign. Patton was given the newly arriving US Ninth Army and became the Allied left wing. Montgomery took the center. Bradley whose slow advance to link up with the Allied forces moving up from Provence had not managed to bag the retreating German troops from southwest France was left at the army level and put under General Devers Sixth Army Group.

With Patton on the left and supplies pouring in through Antwerp and Rotterdam, Eisenhower was able to keep hammering the Germans all through the autumn and winter. Indeed analysts credit these offensives with shortening the war in Europe by months. But for Patton the Americans and Russians would not have met at Torgau in late February of 1945 and the German surrender would not have come on the ides of March.

January 15

In 1945, Goring was historically worse than useless through this period. Dissipation from drugs, excess weight and sheer funk made him just another toady in a Red Queen's court of utter loons. However, between his capture in May of 1945 and his trial at Nuremberg, he lost the excess weight, kicked his drug habits and snapped out of his funk. Alone among the major defendants, he was lucid and unrepentant. I have moved the trigger event from his capture to the July Plot of 1944. He is the least unlikely of the inner circle to make into a responsible leader.

To the Lair of The Fascist Beast by Scott PalterFinally, I take the Goebbels' myth of the National Redoubt and move it from its absurd alpine locale to the correct place for a true twilight of the gods, Fortress Berlin.

Our first historical change is that Goring sees and responds to the handwriting on the wall after the failure of the July Bomb Plot. Historically none of the Nazi leaders or senior generals realistically faced up to the mess they had created. They simply refused to deal with a situation where they couldn't win and also couldn't hope for negotiations that would leave them with some gains, some power or even their lives. To make this work we will have Goring face reality. He will need most of the remainder of 1944 to recover his health and some measure of influence. So by mid-January he has recovered equality with Bormann, Himmler, and Goebbels at Hitler's Court. He has diligently worked at mobilizing Air Force manpower for the final battles. He has not thrown away the last air units in a suicide offensive against the Americans, Operation Bodenplatt.

His analysis of the situation for Germany and the Nazis will be ultra realistic:

1. The war is lost. There will be no miracle of the House of Brandenburg. The only questions are how fast Germany falls. The difference will be measured in months, not years. Germany may live past May 8,1945. Germany will not live into 1946.

2. The Nazi leadership will all die. There will be no last minute deals. The only question is the legend they will leave behind.

3. The only outside chance of negotiations does not lie with the West. Regardless of how much Germany batters the West, they will not leave the war at this late stage. However, there is an outside remote chance to play on Stalin's paranoia by appearing to have done a deal with the West. Stalin dealt with the Nazis once. If faced with a tacit Nazi - Western Alliance it is vaguely possible he may deal again. If not it is better for the image to go down defending Europe from godless Tartar - Jewish Bolshevism.

Goring sees Hitler collapse on being informed of the Russian breakouts across the Vistula. He has been reestablishing his contacts among the Berlin Gestapo which he helped create in 1933. He has gained access to their extensive wiretaps by using his authority as Deputy Fuhrer to get passes for Berlin Gestapo families to be relocated to safe small towns in South Germany. He goes to Himmler and Goebbels with proof of Bormann's plots. In 24 hours a 2nd Night of the long Knives is organized. Bormann, Fegelein, Kaltnbrunner and the bulk of the Gauleiters are rounded up. Hitler's physicians are replaced by new ones from the Air Force who take him off the insane program of quack remedies and amphetamines he was on, giving him vitamins and tranquilizers instead. He is given faked evidence of a plot by Bormann to sell him to the allies. The new junta takes over in his place, leaving the sedated Fuhrer to contemplate his final testament and collaborate with Goebbels on propaganda speeches. A good double is retained for public appearances at briefings and public meetings around Berlin. The split of powers is as follows.

1. Goebbels gets custody of the Fuhrer and control over the actual Bunker. He can compose the final speeches and be with his Fuhrer.

2. Himmler is made Reichsprotector of Scandinavia (occupied Denmark and Norway). He also is made Deputy Fuhrer for North Germany and Foreign Minister. Essentially he gives over command of the police and Waffen SS outside his zone in return for a fiefdom and permission to conduct negotiations with the West. He is also left with a few dozen U-Boats to flee to Argentina if all else fails.

3. Goring takes the Party Ministry from the dead Bormann. He takes control of OKH from Keitel and Jodl. He takes the job of War Minister back from Hitler. He gets the Interior Ministry from Himmler, plus command of all SS and other party paramilitaries outside Himmler's zone which is bounded at Hamburg and Kiel. He is made deputy commander-in-chief of the Army under Adolph. Essentially he gets the government, military and the war. What he does with it will be detailed below. Guderian is his military deputy as head of OKH. Speer is his civilian deputy as a deputy Chancellor.

The first problems concern the collapsing northern half of the Eastern Front.

1. Immediate orders are given for mass evacuation from Poland and Silesia back to the Oder. The priority is troops and supplies first, civilians second. Stop lines are set up on the Oder to pull all troops and all civilians capable of fighting or labor service out of the retreating treks without regard to family structure or compassion. The Oder and Berlin will be Germany's final fortress.

2. Unlike in OTL, no other cities are declared fortresses. Where garrisons are cut off they can be left to die but none are intentionally sacrificed.

3. Civilian mobilization of the Landwehr is taken out of the hands of the party and put in the hands of the SS in the East and of Speer's people in the West. There will be a final callup of everyone capable of resistance or labor.

4. Instead of massacres and treks to nowhere, the foreign POW's, forced laborers, and camp prisoners in the path of the Russians will simply be dumped unless truly capable of forced labor on arrival. In other words only healthy male East Europeans will be herded to the Oder. The rest are just a logistical burden on the advancing Russians. However a few SS special commandos will murder several tens of thousands of captured Allied airmen. They will use Russian uniforms and fire Russian bullets. They will be sure to leave survivors to spread ill will between the allies. There will be no attempt to blow up the camps or hide the evidence. The propaganda line is to glory in what was done. The Nazis had tried to cleanse Europe of the Jewish infection and the Bolshevik one as well. Why should they hide their great deed?

5. The Army and Corps HQ radio stations in the West were left intact. Even without knowing about Ultra, it was a standard ploy to move units out from under an HQ to confuse the enemy. Given the German habit of frequent rotation of formations into and out of the line, this would not arouse much comment. The West was also likely to be cautious after the twin attacks in the Ardennes and Alsace. However the staffs and troops of the Fifth Panzer Army, Sixth Panzer Army and First Parachute Armies were in fact pulled out of the line and sent to safeguard Berlin. Fifth Panzer Army gets renamed Eleventh Army. Sixth Panzer Army gets renamed Third Army. First Parachute Army gets renamed Fifth Army. By early February they will all be on the Oder.

6. The command of the Western front is given to Manstein. He is told to withdraw in stages across the Rhine abandoning the Colmar Pocket, the Rhineland, the Palatinate, the Saar, the Eiffel, and Holland. Basically his mission is to screen Ike so it looks like an Allied push instead of German flight. His divisions from the Alsace offensive and another ten halfway decent ones are sent to Hungary to replace the SS and other units sent in OTL. In its place he is given the final dregs and Landwehr plus Hitler Youth. He loses all his major armored formations, all his artillery above division level and most of his good manpower. He gets jokes like the 9th Parachute Division (Air Force service personnel with no ground training) and the 4th Marine Division (navy base personnel with no ground training) that in OTL were used to defend Berlin. He will have 100 ?divisions' and more ration strength than Rundstedt and Model did in OTL. He will not lose Remagen to a botched bridge off a retreat. He will burden Ike with some twelve million Dutch and German civilians (the old, the young, the infirm and those cunning enough to escape the press gangs) to feed. His ?front' will be hasty trenches with no combat power. Ike will be up to the Rhine by mid - end February but only Patton will have a bridgehead. There will have been no slog to the Rhine but many more useless mouths to feed. He will probably be even more cautious as it will appear to him as if he is confronting a sensible German defense of a major river instead of them pissing away a major part of their forces west of the river as they did in OTL.

7. Kesselring will similarly be told to thin out his front by 50% while preparing for a staged withdrawal to the Alps. He's to take what labor he can easily pressgang but not get tied down in protracted antipartisan operations. The Salo people can come if they want or not - no one in Berlin really cares. The line of defense is to be the Adige (South Tyrol) and the Veneto. He is also to start sending two divisions a week to Hungary.

8. Budapest is basically abandoned. There will be no more relief attempts. Model will be pulled out of the West in February to manage the withdrawal from Hungary and Croatia. The retreat on and past Vienna will go as it did historically except that the Germans will do a much better job of getting sympathetic Yugoslavs out ahead of Tito.

9. Heinrici will be given Schroner's job covering Moravia but will have his armored reserves cut in half and his supplies mostly sucked into the new Berlin fortress. If he loses a few Carpathian towns ahead of schedule who cares.

10. The Army Group in Courtland will be evacuated over a six-week period from mid-January to the end of February. The two armies will go to the lower Oder. The civilians will be dumped on Denmark and North Germany.

11. There is no way to avert the disaster of East Prussia. However every effort will be made to mitigate it. The civilians will be shuttled out until the Reds cut the lower Vistula escape route. The troops and civilians will then be sea lifted out in March. The losses will still be extreme and the atrocities by the advancing Reds innumerable. However, most of the civilians and the bulk of the Army Group will be lifted out in February and March. Add 10K more dead to the sea disasters and distribute as in 10 above.

12. Hauser will be given the Stargard operation instead of the idiot Himmler. He will have more tanks, more men, and the best SS Panzer divisions. He will put an even bigger scare in Stalin. He will shield the evacuation of the transOder region.

13. Student, Steiner, Wencks and Guderian will get the joy of preparing the Oder and Berlin defenses. Berlin will be stripped of nonessential civilians. It will have a million healthy young people digging trenches and preparing the city for a siege with extremely competent professional supervision. It will have enough home guards to man the successive lines of defense. A few veterans and a mass of pressganged kids are good enough to hold their ground and die. It will have the vast bulk of the armor, artillery and supplies remaining to Germany. The stage will be set for Armageddon.

So by the end of March Stalin will be having fits. The West will have taken most of northern Italy (up to the line Balzano - Venice) and be across the Rhine virtually everywhere, while he is fighting major battles for tiny villages in Pomerania and Moravia. He will also have taken more losses to accomplish what he did, taxing his manpower reserves even more than historically (in OTL recaptured POW's and German camp prisoners were used to boost the line strength for the final months of 1945). By slighting his more southern fronts, he will still be ready to attack by April 16th. Let the fun begin.

The Germans will have noted the preattack preparations. That night before the barrage commenced they struck. Using the carefully horded remains of Goring's Air Force and the few remaining uncaptured air bases bases wave after wave of German planes came low over the East bank of the Oder. They dropped no bombs. Instead, at tree top height they sprayed nerve gas on the 2.5 million men; 41,600 guns; and 6,250 AFV's arrayed for the attack. It was pure murder. One hundred thousand Red soldiers died. Another two hundred thousand were put out of action. Konev was seriously inconvenienced. Zhukov was stopped cold before the Seelow Heights.

Stalin ordered retaliation. Red Army war gas stocks were rushed to the front, disrupting the attack plans further by hopelessly snarling the elaborately planned logistics. The attack on Zhukov's front was suspended. The full weight of the Russian effort would be made to support Konev's breakin (it was a breakthrough in OTL but with the gas I am presuming he will be inconvenienced).

Stalin's bigger problem was what to do with his Western allies. Ike basically stops on the Elbe as in OTL. Only this time there is no effort made to defend it. Himmler has a rump army in North Germany and Denmark. Manstein with Speer sent to be his civilian deputy has a screen in front of Ike's troops from the Harz Mountains to the Upper Rhine. Stalin does NOT want to share the prize of Berlin with the West. However, practically speaking this means bleeding the Red Army while the West watches. Stalin will have heard of Himmler's approaches to the West through the Swedish Count Bernadotte. Uncle Joe was not a man who needed much to fuel his paranoia. He will pour everything he has into the one great push on Berlin.

He will meet a carefully prepared German fortress, a Kursk in reverse. A million armed men including the best the Reich had left, all its supplies and most of its heavy weapons with another million press ganged laborers who in a pinch are reserve cannon fodder. Even reinforced by half of Zhukov's armies Konev will crawl towards Berlin hemorrhaging casualties. Hausser and Guderian will trade one for one on 15 year old pressganged HJ's for Red Army frontnik's. The tradeoff against trained soldiers will be 4-1. In the end, the Red Army will grind to a halt elsewhere as 4 million of the 7 million men will be fed through the one sector. Two million will fall to seal the city by mid-May and finally uncork Zhukov. Another million will fall through the five weeks of the siege.

The German air attacks will only stop when Patton overruns their last airfields in Bohemia. Essentially the West will have ended its war the 2nd week of May when they overrun Denmark and Bohemia-Moravia. With his peace plans exposed for the joke they always were, Himmler and Doenitz will lead a caravan of higher Nazis to Argentina and exile. Once they leave Norway, the German garrison commander will surrender to the British and Swedes (who is this TL enter the war the first week of May). Trieste, Fiume and all of Slovenia will be occupied by the West.

The final Gotterdamnrung will take place in the last week of June. Across an urban hellscape of 24 hour combat from one mined and fortified ruin to the next, only with gas attacks by both sides for added horror, the final hundred thousand survivors will die defending the government district of Central Berlin. Goring will add one last atrocity. He will leave in the rubble ahead of his final line as much radiological waste as the German nuclear program was capable of creating and proudly announce it to the world. Hitler and Goebbels will die by their own hands in the Bunker. Goring will go down fighting, side by side with the Hitler double defending the bunker complex in the wreckage of the old Prussian war ministry. A final breakout commando of Russian speaking SS led by Otto Skorzeny and the Flemish SS Leader Leon Degrelle will exfiltrate the pocket with the two talismans, the recovered skulls of Goring and the man believed to have been Hitler. They will lead a few tattered survivors and the two holy icons to the last two U-Boats waiting off the Baltic Coast. The last transmitter will broadcast Hitler's Final Testament, a screed of hatred to the world coupled with a nihilistic boasting of how only the true European crusaders had the moral courage to act against the diseases that ravaged Europe. It will be a hymn to the Aryan Race, the Great PanEuropean Anti-Bolshevik Crusade and the nihilistic vigor of Nazi biological racism. It will accurately predict the coming Cold War and blame the gutless European masses and the decadent West for bringing Stalin's horrors to Europe's heart. It will scream that history will absolve and honor their memory, including their final sacrifices. The signoff will be the music of last act of Gotterdamnrung followed by the Valkerie thyme.

There is no final German surrender. Every German and allied person trapped in the fortress is killed by the enraged Russians. The remaining civilians in the Russian zones of Germany and Austria will be carted off to Siberia never to return. There will be no West Germany as Germany will never be forgiven for the final atrocities. There will be no Potsdam conference. The Cold War begins on the ruins of the old war as Stalin will never believe that there was no secret deal. Stalin keeps his allied prisoners (Beria will return some after Stalin's death in 1953). Stalin keeps every inch of soil he holds including Norwegian Lapland and half of Iran. The Soviet Blitz against Japan will be a smaller offensive. Again, Stalin will keep everything he conquers including all of Manchuria, North China and Inner Mongolia. However, Japan will still hold most of Korea when it surrenders after the 3rd A bomb hits Yawata. Hitler's revenge will be a rump Germany under permanent Allied occupation and an Eastern Europe directly annexed by Stalin (Tito dies at the hands of a Soviet hit squad just before the incorporation of Yugoslavia and Albania). Soviet Europe will be both Communized and Russified. The old nations will die ethnically and culturally. The Greek Reds will be forced back into the Soviet lines in Macedonia. The fascist beast will have been slain in its lair.

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© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.