“What if Nazi Germany won WW2?” – A topic of debate among historians, authors, TV producers, game manufacturers, armchair strategists, and regular folks for decades, can be neatly summed up with something like “nothing good.” But what if Germany won WW2?
Master of dystopian science-fiction, Philip K. Dick, author of the chilling The Man in the High Castle which has since been adapted into a hit Amazon Prime TV series, explored the question what if Germany won WW2?
Using this famous “what if Germany won WW2 book”/”amazon series Germany won WW2” as a jumping-off point, let’s ask, how could have Germany won WW2 based on that timeline? What would the world be like if Germany won WW2?
See related: 10 Interesting Facts About World War Two
How could Germany have won WW2?
In our “timeline” the Axis powers, primarily consisting of Nazi Germany, the Empire of Japan, and the Kingdom of Italy, were defeated by the cooperation between 3 major powers (and their smaller allies); The United Kingdom of Great Britain, along with her Dominions and Empire, the United States of America, and the Soviet Union.
Specifically, in the defeat of Nazi Germany, the British, the Americans, and the Soviets had to function like legs of a tripod – if one leg fell, the whole tripod would. Each provided necessary components to victory;
- Britain, the Commonwealth, and Empire had control or access to thousands of strategically vital ports, airbases, and troop centers around the world, a significant financial warchest, and the world’s largest navy and merchant fleet. In the Empire, Britain fielded the largest volunteer army in history, and for a short time was the Soviet Union’s main source of armored vehicles, artillery pieces, aircraft, and medical supplies.
- The United States also had a significant financial warchest, and due to her location, safely far away from Europe, she could serve as the “factory of democracy”, churning out millions of weapons, armored vehicles, transports, aircraft, ships, radios, medicines, and more to equip her own forces as well as the forces of all her allies.
- The Soviet Union was right on Hitler’s doorstep and from mid-1941 had millions of Soviet citizens harboring a fanatical loathing of the Nazis. The Soviets would do most of the “killing work” and ended up facing (and beating) larger, more elite German forces on the Eastern Front than the Allies ever contended with on the Western Front – but without supplies she was hopeless.
WW2 would have been nigh impossible for the Allies to win had any of these nations stayed neutral.
See related: 10 Things that will SHOCK you about Germany
So how does The Man in the High Castle answer the “What if Germany won WW2” question?
Let’s jump to The Man in the High Castle’s “What if Germany won WW2″ timeline, where Franklin Delano Roosevelt is successfully assassinated by Italian-American anarchist Giuseppe Zangara in 1933, shortly after being elected president. Without FDR’s policies and fireside chats, America’s recovery from the Great Depression is glacial and the US withdraws from the global stage, becoming more isolationist, angering the Japanese further as Japan relies on the US for trade in oil and rubber.
With America unsympathetic to Europe and China’s plight, Nazi German victory is certain in this timeline.
Throughout the ’30s Nazi Germany becomes bolder, reoccupying the Rhine with troops, annexing Austria and the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia, all in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles.
War breaks out in Europe in 1939. Germany (with her current Soviet allies) invades Poland. Britain and France, who until now have pursued a path of appeasement regarding German aggression, declare war on Germany.
After France’s surrender in June 1940, recently installed Prime Minister Winston Churchill, (a bulldog-faced soldier and statesman and Britain’s premier during WW2 in our timeline) is assassinated by Nazi agents. Churchill despised the Nazis, and although wasn’t a terribly popular figure among some Britons, was a tremendous rally-rouser who did much to unite the British against the Axis and largely responsible for getting America involved in WW2. It’s possible some of Britain’s will to fight would’ve dissipated with his death.
By 1941, Britain stands alone in the west (supplemented by her Commonwealth and Empire) and is actively engaging German and Italian forces in North Africa for control of vital oil fields and the Mediterranean. Her holdings in Asia come under Japanese attack.
In the east, China continues waging a hopeless war against the Japanese, which has brought the Chinese constant military defeats and inhuman subjugation of her people since 1934.
In June 1941, Germany betrays her alliance with the Soviet Union (as always planned) and invades the USSR.
Does American indifference help Germany?
In our timeline, Britain and China would’ve been receiving vast amounts of tanks, aircraft, ammunition, fuel, food, and medical supplies from the US in the form of “Lend-Lease”. Through “Lend-Lease” Britain was able to supply the Soviets with necessary war materials to keep them fighting, whilst simultaneously rearming her own forces after abandoning much of the British Army’s heavy equipment at Dunkirk and losing aircraft during the Battle of Britain.
With isolationist policies, it’s unlikely America would’ve supplied Britain, therefore Britain could not have adequately rearmed and would likely have suffered defeat in Africa and the Mediterranean. Britain also would’ve been unable to supply the Soviet Union, likely resulting in German forces winning the Battle of Stalingrad and punching through to the vast oil fields in the Urals and the Middle-East. With no access to fuel and no vital supplies being shipped in by Britain, the USSR would likely have fallen soon after.
With these two victories resulting from American isolationism, Germany would have all the fuel she needed to wage global war, not to mention the captured industrial infrastructures of several powerful nations to build machines of war, and the human resources to build them or fight on the frontlines.
In this timeline, China would also suffer enormously from American isolationism. The already faltering Chinese resistance would’ve crumbled rapidly, allowing the Japanese to refocus their efforts on the British Empire’s holdings in Burma and India, as well as the Dominions of Australia and New Zealand and American-held Hawaii.
See related: Common Misconceptions of Germany
Does America finally get involved?
The Attack on Pearl Harbor in The Man in the High Castle timeline is an invasion, almost annihilating the US Navy’s Pacific fleet on December 7th, 1941. The attack, launched in concert with the Japanese conquering of Oceana and much of Southeast Asia, leaves the entire Pacific under Japanese control. Only now does America get involved, declaring war on the Axis, but it’s too little too late.
At some point between 1941-1945 Britain is either invaded by the Germans or capitulates, and a Nazi-friendly government installed. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth would likely be imprisoned or executed, and Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson crowned King and Queen respectively, in accordance to Nazi plans regarding the occupation of Britain – it was an open secret that both Edward and his American wife were Nazi sympathizers.
After a minor victory sees America briefly retake Hawaii in 1942, the US is met with constant defeats, gradually forced back to her continental borders.
By 1945, Japan controls Asia and the Pacific. Germany has occupied Europe, the former Soviet Union, Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Mexico, Canada, and Alaska.
The Nazis and Japanese now surround the continental United States, threatening sea invasions from both coasts, and land invasions from the Canadian and Mexican borders, unless the US surrenders unconditionally.
Does America survive?
America refuses and the invasion commences. On December 11th, the Germans deploy a nuclear bomb on Washington D.C. (now known as the District of Contamination), leading to America’s official surrender. Resistance fighters continue battling occupying German and Japanese forces, but the back of the resistance is broken in 1947.
The US is now carved in two. Germany takes the lion’s share in the form of the Eastern US and the Midwest while Japan takes the West Coast. Between them is “The Neutral Zone” in the Rockies – a buffer between the two fascist empires that neither controls, but both maintain limited presences. It’s also a relatively safe location for the remaining American Resistance movements to hide while the squabbles between Japan and Germany intensify…which leads us to 1962 where The Man in the High Castle begins.
See related: The German National Anthem: Das Deutschlandlied
What would have happened if Germany won WW2?
Well for one, the Holocaust would have been FAR worse and the world would have seen the disappearance of certain races, creeds, and skin colors.
In The Man in the High Castle timeline, it’s noted that Europe, the Balkans and the former USSR are purged of all Jews and Slavs. Other “Untermenschen” (sub-humans) are also systematically exterminated (Romas, Gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally ill, the physically handicapped, anyone who opposed Nazism in any way, etc). Much of the former USSR is left as an uninhabited wasteland.
In Europe, some nations would be granted preferential treatment, being afforded to Scandinavian nations and the British Isles – Hitler believed that Britons, Germans and Scandinavians were cousins cut from the same Aryan cloth, because the majority of people from these nations fit the Aryan stereotype; light skin, eyes, and hair with taller statures. West-central and Southern European nations, while not as low as Untermenschen, would likely have received poorer treatment.
In the show, Italy and her empire, despite being allied to Germany, are absorbed by Germany (in the book Italy stays independent but is a German client state).
While European nations would have national leaders, these leaders would be purely ceremonial and everyone a Nazi. Realistically the continent would cease to exist as a collection of independent states and would become a super-state the Nazis called Europa.
Africa becomes a continent-sized hunting ground, with the mass genocide or enslavement of her indigenous population.
In the Middle-East, the Nazis would probably have been welcomed by Muslim Arabs, who had spent decades under British rule and many also hated the Jews. Many Arabs fighting the British during WW2 were granted “Honorary Aryan Status” by the Nazis (fitting, considering ACTUAL Aryans come from modern-day Iran). A popular phrase among Syrians at the height of the fighting in the Middle-East was “In heaven, God is your ruler, on earth, it’s Hitler”.
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What happens to America in this “What if Germany won WW2” scenario?
In America, Nazism would likely have taken root far easier than it’s implied in both the book and TV adaptation of The Man in the High Castle. Nazism was surprisingly popular within the US from the 1920s, (even until after WW2 broke out) and racism was federal government policy in the form of Jim Crow laws. These very same laws inspired the Nazi’s laws regarding the treatment of Jews.
So popular was Nazism in America that during the 1930s, the US devised plans for an invasion of British-aligned Canada should war break out in Europe, with America finding herself on Germany’s side. It’s very possible that had Roosevelt been assassinated, America could’ve conformed with Nazism without a shot fired.
However, in The Man in the High Castle, America does eventually fight back and suffers for it. It’s known that the vast majority of the Black US population is enslaved once again. Those not enslaved are exterminated, along with the American Jewish population and other undesirables.
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What would life be like?
Free speech, elections, and self-determination would be out and the mass “Germanization” of all Nazi-held countries would begin. Within one generation, the official language of Nazi states would be German, the culture German, the currency Reichmarks, and the flag a Swastika.
If you fit the Aryan mold, life would be peachy assuming you parrotted Nazi talking points and submitted total loyalty to Hitler. The state would provide education and healthcare to all Reich citizens and the German economy would likely see the same rapid and exponential growth Britain did through building the British Empire, making life for the conforming Nazi quite comfortable.
There likely wouldn’t be as much inter-Nazi backstabbing or putsches as portrayed in the show, based on one of the core principles of Nazism; the Leader Principle (i.e. you give total obedience to the man in charge). Hitler was top-dog, his word above all written law, and he had a designated successor. Deviating from the Führerprinzip would be a betrayal of Nazism.
If you didn’t fit the Aryan mold, or weren’t afforded Honorary Aryan Status, life would be varying degrees of terrible and possibly very short;
- Southern European (olive skin, dark hair, dark eyes) -> blatant discrimination
- African -> slavery or death
- Non-Japanese Asian -> slavery or death
- Russian -> slavery or death
- Political dissent -> slavery or death
- Mental illness -> death
- Physical deformity/handicap -> death
- Homosexual -> death
- Slavic -> death
- Roma/Gypsy -> death
- Jewish -> death
See related: The Flag of Germany: Colours, Meaning & History
What would German foreign relations be like?
Pretty simple for the Germans, as the only real foreign power that the Nazis need deal with, would be the Japanese Empire. Everywhere outside of Japanese-controlled territory would have fallen under the direct control of Berlin or would be a Nazi client state.
Based on the Leader Principle, all Nazi client states would defer to Germany, as done under German occupation during WW2.
In The Man in the High Castle, there’s growing discontent between the two erstwhile allies, as Germany advances and grows technologically and militarily, while Japan’s growth is hindered by her ties to traditionalism. The possibility of a Nazi invasion of Japanese holdings looks certain until the Japanese create their own atomic bomb to rival Germany.
In all likelihood, had the Axis succeeded according to The Man in the High Castle, Germany would’ve inevitably declared war with Japan.
Although the Japanese were afforded Honorary Aryan Status, the Nazis viewed all other Southeast Asians as sub-human and it’s likely that within 20-40 years, their mission of creating a “racially pure 1,000 year Reich” would resume. Having the resource, numerical, financial, and technological advantage, the Nazis would have probably won.
Would anything “positive” have arisen from German victory?
Debateable, but the cost is unthinkable.
Hitler poured vast resources into German science projects. Thus, Germany was about 20 years ahead of the next nation in certain sciences, particularly chemistry and physics, which lead to great advancements in mechanics, aeronautics, and rocketry.
Had Germany won WW2, mankind would likely have started exploring space at least 20 years prior to the first moon landing in 1969. There would have been greater advancements in automotive and aeronautical technology too.
You could argue that there would be less, or even zero global conflicts too, as the entire world would be either under the Swastika or the Rising Sun, both flags being allied to one another. Again, it’s unlikely peace would last.
Regarding resistance movements, without the support of an external nation, it’s unlikely any resistance movement would be successful in the face of Nazi oppression. The Nazis, extremely proficient intelligence gatherers, infiltrated most resistance movements in occupied territory during WW2.
Within 2 generations, it’s likely most resistance movements would’ve been destroyed, disbanded, or forgotten, as people born under Nazi rule would know nothing else.
See related: 15 Fun, Interesting Facts About the Berlin Wall
What if Germany won WW2 – conclusion:
Thank the heavens they lost. Thank all those who fought to oppose them.
If you’re ever curious about what the world might be like if Germany won WW2, both the novel and TV adaptation of The Man in the High Castle are great resources, but the likelihood is if the Nazis had won, the reality would be far worse than any sci-fi novel can imagine.