The Footprint of Mussolini - TL

Thank you sincerely.
To this day, that Poland was the only nation who liberated their capital from Nazism by themselves is a source of immense pride to the Polish people.​
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Cześć i chwała Bohaterom! :'(:'(
 
At this pace, there won't be at all a Soviet sphere of satellites in Europe... Hungary and Romania neutralized, Slovakia just freed, Poland much more in tatters because the Warsaw uprising was a success, and Bessarabia likely denied for good, for now seems aside Eastern Poland, the Baltic states, and Finland, there is not much left aside whatever being grabbed of Germany and Czechia...

And surely, TTL there won't surely be mention at all of "superpowers". This is going to be a Cold War between Great Powers, which up to date would be four (UK, USA, Italy, and USSR. France should be the fifth albeit would be out of game for a while. And China... We'll see how the civil war goes). And this I think is a very interesting scenario. Kinda rare IMO in the forum. And I can't wait for it.

The postwar situation of Hungary is interesting. Assuming the likely candidate to the throne would be Otto of Haspburg... And depending how the situation in Austria under Italian occupation will go...
 
At this pace, there won't be at all a Soviet sphere of satellites in Europe... Hungary and Romania neutralized, Slovakia just freed, Poland much more in tatters because the Warsaw uprising was a success, and Bessarabia likely denied for good, for now seems aside Eastern Poland, the Baltic states, and Finland, there is not much left aside whatever being grabbed of Germany and Czechia...

And surely, TTL there won't surely be mention at all of "superpowers". This is going to be a Cold War between Great Powers, which up to date would be four (UK, USA, Italy, and USSR. France should be the fifth albeit would be out of game for a while. And China... We'll see how the civil war goes). And this I think is a very interesting scenario. Kinda rare IMO in the forum. And I can't wait for it.

The postwar situation of Hungary is interesting. Assuming the likely candidate to the throne would be Otto of Haspburg... And depending how the situation in Austria under Italian occupation will go...

My apologies for leaving out some information. Bessarabia will be returned to the Soviets and Slovakia will be a story in and of itself.
 
My apologies for leaving out some information. Bessarabia will be returned to the Soviets and Slovakia will be a story in and of itself.

Ah I wondered indeed if Bessarabia was contested or not, thanks for clarifying the question. I am guessing Roosevelt was eager to ask the Soviet help in the Pacific front but not at all the Italian (or Spanish) one. Churchill maybe made a thought about it (to prop the British advance in the Indochinese region). Besides, technically Italy and Japan should be a war... If Tokyo seized the Italian quarter of Tientsin at the end of 1943. But is also more possible that the Japanese won't have declared war to the Italians at all. Probably someone in Japan could think an Italian negotiation may be their own hope.
 
If the Nuremberg Trials still happen ITTL, i immagine that the number of the defendants will be probably higher than OTL: Spain is part of the Allies and the Holy See isn't going to upset the italian government anytime soon, meaning that escaping to South America is going to be much more difficoult than OTL.
 
If the Nuremberg Trials still happen ITTL, i immagine that the number of the defendants will be probably higher than OTL: Spain is part of the Allies and the Holy See isn't going to upset the italian government anytime soon, meaning that escaping to South America is going to be much more difficoult than OTL.

I don't see many SS officials escaping TTL, from the moment they are fighting the traitors of the Motherland and their leader is in their eyes the new Fuhrer... Or the Church being more conciliant with them. Romania and Hungary are besides more safer countries to refuge once many of them would be aware of the post Kiev decisions. And Croatia as well, from where embarking to South America or else.

Greece will rise again!

Well is possible depending by certain factions. But maybe some land may return back... *cough*Crete*cough*
 
Even if the German government is anti-nazi, the allies still want to punish them. It doesn't make sense when you're only reason for fighting the germans is because of Hitler who's now dead. And still taking the eastern territories from them is a bit of a dick move
 
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I rarely do Infoboxes for timelines that are not mine, but here, accept them as a gift for an amazing TL ;)
 
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Even if the German government is anti-nazi, the allies still want to punish them. It doesn't make sense when you're only reason for fighting the germans is because of Hitler who's now dead. And still taking the eastern territories from them is a bit of a dick move

At the time of the war, the west blamed the fight on German/Prussian militarism. They are not going to let the same people who have caused so much grief (the Wehrmacht) free rein to start a third war when they feel like it. Germany has to know that defying Versailles was a bad decision. However, the Cold War is going to shift some priorities.
 
Even if the German government is anti-nazi, the allies still want to punish them. It doesn't make sense when you're only reason for fighting the germans is because of Hitler who's now dead. And still taking the eastern territories from them is a bit of a dick move

Remains the fact Germany caused a devasting war a generation after the previous one. The fact there are lesser deaths TTL doesn't change it was still bad for Europe as whole. And after all the rise of Hitler and Co was wanted by the same Wehrmacht. It doesn't make them less innocent - but the Allies TTL were more willing to be a bit more conciliant towards them.
 
Fascinating. It looks like hitler's luck ran out in this timeline, with a civil war in Germany. I am assuming that this timeline's new borders in East Germany and Poland are not quite the same - Poland will perhaps not get eastern Brandenburg and most of Pomerania in this timeline. Obviously, they'd get Posen-West Prussia, probably all of East Prussia, probably most if not all of Silesia (certainly upper Silesia, probably the middle bit as well with Breslau/Wroclaw, perhaps the whole lot) and perhaps the easternmost third of Pomerania (Slupsk and eastwards, more or less modern day Pomeranian Voivodeship),

I am assuming that with Germany split between more parties ways and most Wehrmacht troops not resisting the western allies, the exact border of East Germany and West Germany will be different as well, possibly on the river Spee as to not minimize OTL's enclaves around Berlin - with soviets controlling the east bank and allied occupation zones possibly tapering to meet in the city, only Italy will need a zone of occupation far divided from their other zones of control.

I wonder for how long will Britain be able to sit at the 'great powers' table after the war is over. Without the Regia Marina siding with the nazis and contesting the Mediterranean, Britain should have been able to send more naval assets to the far east, possibly thus holding onto a chunk of Malaysia or at least Singapore. Thus, they might potentially retain the confidence of at least their dominions and possessions in Oceania. Canada will with a more clear Anglo-American split likely either have to become a more neutral mediator and/or drift under Yank influence soon after the war, so Britain will need to retain more of their empire in Africa and the far east to truly remain a great power, even with serious Anglo-French cooperation.
 
"It's All True."
“It’s All True”


Day (1990) by Elie Wiesel


It was a little island. The SS had been trapped in the camp since the Wehrmacht surrounded them on all sides. The army guys were smart too – they broke and ran the moment we got close and gave us a clear way right up to the gates. They knew we would walk on broken glass with our legs broken and still march without hesitation right up to the camp. I also guess they didn’t want to be anywhere near the camp when we discovered what was there. From what we were told later, it appears the SS in the camp debated what to do. Some of them wanted a fight to the death, some of them wanted to hold the prisoners hostage, but they chose a third; pretending nothing was wrong and letting us in. Zvi [1] ordered me to open up the gates, so I took the bolt-cutters and walked in to that place. The place I was going to be sent. Where my father would be sent. Where my mother would be sent. Where my sister would be sent. Where everyone in my family and everyone I loved and everyone I knew was going to be sent.

Hundreds. Thousands. Tens of thousands. Hundreds of Thousands. All with that awful Yellow Star. They were alive, but so many seemed disappointed they hadn’t died – knowing what it was like to see all you’ve ever loved taken away from you. This was the bottom. This was man sunk to its most degraded, broken form. I saw people crawling to me with so little flesh you could see the white of their bones. Faces that looked more like skulls with eyes in them. Some people were too exhausted even to move. Others had their eyes so far sunk into their skulls that I thought they were dead. Some were dead. Some were bleeding. Some lay lifeless on the barbed wire of the fence, as if trying to run to us in a fit of blind madness and having been shot in another pointless death.

Even now, I cannot begin to describe to you what it was like. It was like walking into the lowest level of Dante’s Inferno, only a Hell that fell on the innocent. Some Jews wept in joy when they saw us, some were so traumatised by the experience that they simply screamed in the corners of the bloody, dirty barracks where they were caged like the lowest of animals, some pleaded with us in a hundred different languages, none of which I knew, for things I knew not.

This is where they wanted to put me. The Nazis wanted to put me in this place. They wanted to turn me into one of these poor creatures just before they killed me, and kill me they would. My death wasn’t enough for them. They wanted to make me suffer. They wanted to hurt me inside and out. They wanted to rob me of my family, rob me of the people I loved and tear my soul to pieces, and only then would they kill me. Just because I was Jewish.

My head began to get cloudy as I led the men onwards through the Gates of Death.

[…]

We met the camp commandant Rudolf Höss. I remember being quiet, sullen when I met him – I was too shocked and appalled by what I saw to keep a clear mind. That suited him fine, since he was hardly speaking himself. I think I was the only one of us who didn’t look like I wanted to kill him on the spot – I was just too stunned to do anything. Zvi asked him who he was, his rank and what was going on here. Höss tried to explain that the deaths had been due to cholera and starvation owing to a lack of supplies, hastened by the betrayal of elements of the Wehrmacht. He tried to assure us that the Jews had been treated most delicately – that arbitrary cruelty was not permitted. I don’t know how I did it. I don’t know how I hadn’t already killed him.

Then, as we walked along, we came across a pile of shoes. We looked at the size of the pile – thousands. We knew there had been other piles as well. Thousands of shoes were right there. Then I looked at the size of the shoes themselves. Most of them were smaller than my hand. I could see the fury build up on the men’s faces, as they seemed like rabid dogs on the end of a leash desperate for any reason to lash out. Zvi picked one shoe up and looked back to Höss. He looked quite pale now. Zvi asked Höss a pretty simple question: “May I ask, Commandant, are these the shoes of Jewish children?”

He didn’t answer, so Zvi asked another question:

“May I ask, Commandant, why I haven’t seen any children at the camp since we arrived?”

This was my last memory of Höss. Indeed, it was my last memory before what happened. All I remember is that when I woke up, I was lying on the ground of that God-forsaken place. I wondered how much time had gone by, so I looked at my watch. When I went to look, I could see my hands were bright red from blood.


Unconquerable: The Story of the Jews of Hungary, by Mel Goldberg

Wingate arrived in Auschwitz the next day, but roughly three hundred SS men who worked at Auschwitz had been killed by the Jewish Army after already having surrendered – many others were beaten to within an inch of their lives. Often, the prisoners themselves got to deliver the killing blows as a bloody reprisal. A few officers attempted to put on prison clothes and blend in with the inmates – this was certain death if they were captured. Höss’s body was never recovered, as he had been beaten, bound and thrown alive into one of the crematoriums, with Brenner having done the lion’s share of the work. Joseph Mengele, who had been called ‘The Angel of Death’ by inmates for his cruel activities of medical experiments on everyone down to children, was found drowned in an ice-bath he had used to see how long humans could survive in freezing cold temperature. Most other guards who had been particularly vicious were beaten to death, shot or hanged. The only method of killing not accounted for was the gas chamber. Perhaps it was considered blasphemous to kill the Nazis where so many of their friends and family had died, and they didn’t want to sully their memories. The subsequent Auschwitz Trials of 1946 were quite barren owing to the worst offenders having already been killed and Eichmann having already been sentenced at Nuremburg.

The killings at Auschwitz of Nazi Loyalists has been the subject of much moral controversy, even in Israel. The very name has been debated, with some countries illegalizing the description of the event as ‘The Auschwitz Massacre’ (which is seen as disingenuous to the actual slaughter at the camp), for the more neutral ‘Auschwitz reprisals’ and so forth. The ethical questions of the reprisals have been explored in films, plays and novels ever since. Zvi Brenner’s subsequent trial would be a media extravaganza, with Wingate publicly coming to his defence with Churchill keeping silent, though telling Eden, “I probably would have done the same”. Mussolini would intervene and say that sentencing Brenner over the Auschwitz Reprisals would be “a final slap in the face to the victims of the Holocaust”. This would become one of the origins of the Right-Left divide in Israel, with publicity surrounding the trial turning Menachem Begin into a national superstar for his defence of Brenner and praise of ‘Italian sense over British fear’. But this remained in the future.

“It’s all true,” was Wingate’s infamous three-word report back to London upon his investigation of Auschwitz. Churchill still couldn’t believe it, and asked among his staff if Wingate’s Zionist tendencies had clouded his judgment. But follow-up reports, and the quick dissemination of pictures of everything (the crematoriums, gas chambers, etc.) soon changed Churchill’s mind. Within days, a BBC crew had arrived and recorded the scenes of more than 100,000 [2] broken, starving inmates on the verge of death. The undeniable, unbelievable scenes of the greatest act of inhumanity in human history would be blasted around the world that summer from Rome to San Francisco.

“There is no slander or libel we can invent more terrible than that which the Nazis have already done,” Churchill would tell the House of Commons upon reporting Wingate’s findings. Roosevelt would decry to the press, “It is impossible to conceive an ideology more vile than the one we’re fighting against”. Mussolini would condemn, “The ancient Teutonic Barbarity that is opposed to Civilization in all forms”.

Stalin said nothing.

The Death Spiral: Stalin 1941-1953 by Alexi Ivanovitch

While Stalin had always suspected the Western Allies of having been deceiving him, the inclusion of Italy was gasoline to the fire. Once Mussolini and Churchill started coordinating much more frequently and obviously attempting to stall Soviet advances into Europe for no other reason than to ensure Communism would never thrive there, Stalin’s paranoia began to go beyond its old boundaries. And of course, one of the primary victims would be the Jewish population, whom Stalin was increasingly seeing as more loyal to the Anglo-Jewish forces and their Italian saviors rather than their own country.

Staffers report that Stalin had a strange reaction to Auschwitz in the Politburo meeting soon later. He asked Molotov whether it was really possible that all the reports could have been true, and could have simply been a ploy by the British to increase their support among the Jewish populations by ‘liberating them’ from such a place. Stalin further mused that the plan was to take the “spotlight of anguish” off the Russian people, and plant it on the Jews to justify the ill-treatment the Soviets received at the Kiev Conference. Likely wishing not to be on the wrong end of a Purge, most nodded in assent that the possibility existed. After the meeting, Stalin pulled Khrushchev aside and asked him whether Zionism could be an Imperialist plot to colonize the Middle East. Khrushchev assured Stalin that with the Imperialists anything was possible. In his infamous reply, Stalin said, “Then we should ensure it becomes impossible, wouldn’t you agree?”

While news of Auschwitz would bring an outpouring of support for Jewish communities worldwide, the only place life demonstrably worsened was in the Soviet Union. Zionist newspapers and organisations were suddenly under much greater watch – a handful were outright banned. At the time, it was largely unnoticed, but it would lead into the events that would define the late forties and early fifties, not just in the Soviet Union, but the world at large.

Extract from the Trial of Erich Von Manstein in Berlin, May 19th 1944


Roland Freisler: “And why did you decide to betray the German Reich?”

Manstein: “Sir, I betrayed the Reich the moment I obeyed a command uttered by Adolf Hitler.”

Roland Freisler: (*Slamming his gavel*) “WHO IN THE NAME OF GOD DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?! YOU MISERABLE, JEW-LOVING PIG! A COWARDLY, TREACHEROUS PIECE OF FILTH LIKE YOU SHOULDN’T BE ALLOWED ANYTHING BUT THE LONGEST, MOST TORTUROUS DEATH IMAGINABLE! THERE WAS MORE HONOUR AND GLORY IN ADOLF HITLER’S LITTLE FINGER THAN ALL YOUR PERVERTED, CONNIVING, BLOOD!” [3]

Manstein: “Sir, I would tread carefully, as pretty soon you yourself shall be on trial, as shall the rest of the Nazi usurpers.”

Roland Freisler: “THE TEMERITY OF YOU VERMIN IS WITHOUT COMPARISON! NO RAT OR TERMITE CAN COME CLOSE TO THE LOATHSOME DIRT I SEE BEFORE ME NOW!

Manstein: “I was thinking just the same thing, sir.”

The Second World War – Christopher Armlong

Roughly a month into the Valkyrie Uprising by the middle of May 1944, the dreams of the plotters had been almost entirely shut down. Berlin was securely under SS control, as was pretty much every major city with the exception of Hamburg within Germany, which was now besieged by Wehrmacht Loyalists and SS troops. Despite Post-War attempts by the West German government to make the civil strife ripping through Germany in 1944 a simple tale of ‘the brave Wehrmacht against the evil SS’, more Wehrmacht troops actually sided with the Himmler Government over Beck’s Hamburg Government, at least for the first month. Indeed, a significant portion of the defenders of Hamburg were traditional Socialists and Communists who now finally had a chance to rise up and fight the regime they hated so much. Some of the Valkyrie plotters, like Von Manstein and Von Kluge had already been given Kangaroo Trials and were executed, Manstein under particularly brutal circumstances for his flippant address of Judge Roland Freisler. The Field Marshall would be slowly decapitated with a knife, as per Himmler’s orders.

Elsewhere, the Italians had taken most of Austria, marching into Vienna without a fight, as the Valkyrie fighters had seized the city (thus preserving an inordinate amount of the city’s traditional architecture). Italy was already in the process of restoring the old Austro-Fascist state of the 1930s, only this time with much more Italian steel backing it up. The next stage was to continue on into the south of Germany, to Munch and so forth.

On the Western Front, the Siegfried Line failed to live up to its reputation in German propaganda as an impenetrable wall and American troops under Patton had streamed past it. British troops under Montgomery had almost totally liberated Belgium and were in the process of freeing the Netherlands. This had seemed almost a total impossibility just months ago, but the total collapse of order in the German lines had led to more surrenders that the Allies knew what to do with. Added to that, a gigantic internal exodus of Germans had begun, with German civilians fleeing to the West to escape oncoming Soviet forces, who had still failed to seize a German city by that point but this was soon to change.

Rommel was like most Germans, he knew the War as a whole was lost, but was terrified of what Soviet invasion would mean for the Reich. With Valkyrie having failed to relieve the situation, he would make a second decision even more difficult than the one to join the plotters. However, it was likely the one that would save his reputation after the War.

Interview of Erwin Rommel for the BBC’s ‘World At War’ (1973)

Interviewer: “Why did you decide to surrender your forces to the West?”

Rommel: “Because I knew the War was lost, I knew the Plot had failed and I knew I didn’t want Russian troops in Berlin. I wasn’t a fool. I knew that our organisation’s initial demands to the West were not going to be accepted but I thought at least they’d get in power and we could find some better solution, certainly a better one than the Nazis would conceive. Then the Plot failed and we didn't even get that. I knew that the next few years were going to be very tough on Germany. But I also knew we had to do what would increase the long-term potential for our country. I decided that the only way we were going to come out of this war as a proud nation was to separate the perception of our brave, noble army and the Nazis. We had already made a start with the assassination of Hitler but I knew we needed something more than that. I decided the only thing that could do it was if we fought alongside the West. Not to mention, by now, the SS was starting to get suspicious of me. I hadn’t declared for either side in the Civil War, merely saying that I was too busy defending Germany at the Front to concern myself with the political situation at home. That excuse was starting to get thin. Manstein’s death was what finally convinced me to go through with it.”

Interviewer: “So what did you do?”

Rommel: “On May 22nd, I ordered my forces all along the Western Front to ceasefire. I then sent a message to the Americans telling them that not only was I willing to surrender, but that I wished to create a German army group loyal to the Hamburg government to depose the Nazi regime.”

Interviewer: “What was the reaction?”

Rommel: “It was quite a surprise to them, as I’m sure it was to everyone, myself included. I’d developed quite a reputation in Britain and America owing to our various reversals across France, as well as my own story from the Russian Front. They got back to me at the end of the day after what I gathered later was some frantic back and forth, saying that this would not absolve me from trials for war crimes, that I would remain under military arrest for the whole duration of the service and that I would be under Allied command as more of an advisory.”

Interviewer: “And you were fine with this?”

Rommel: “I thought these were fair prices to pay if it could separate the German army from the horror of the Nazis. Of course, after I learned what was going on in Auschwitz, I lost any lingering regret of the decision I had.”

Interviewer: “How was your meeting with Allied Commanders for the surrender?”

Rommel: (*Smiles*) "Then General Patton was there. We went through the formalities, my surrendering as well as what consisted of most of the Western Front. When we were done, much to the shock of the other Allied leaders, he smiled and walked up to me."

Interviewer: “What did he do?”

Rommel: “He told me he read my book. That and some other words I’m afraid I can’t repeat.”


[1] – Zvi Brenner, Hagannah Commander

[2] – No Death marches since the place is surrounded by hostile Wehrmacht forces. Thus, the place is utterly crowded. It makes the OTL scenes of Bergen-Belson's liberation look like nothing.

[3] – This is actually how Freisler trials went
 
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