The Footprint of Mussolini - TL

What will the substantive pro Hoover press Hearst, the catholic anti communists, do about the firing of a national hero?

Considering this was a time when the newspapers generally leaned Republican? Wallace is being slammed in everything that isn’t explicitly left-wing.
Well I retract my Patton statement, boys and girls! Seems he is going to be president. Only question is, will he be the second William Henry Harrison...
America Lives!
America Lives!

‘Patton: The Man’ by George Wallaby

Perhaps somewhat ostentatiously, Patton announced his Presidential run on July 4th 1947. Despite this, his run had been long prepared by the Republicans, almost none of whom dared to make a run against so thoroughly popular a figure. The only major Republican who dared make a significant run was Robert Taft, representing a more isolationist position that was rapidly falling out of favour in America as outrage against the Soviets grew every day. Thomas Dewey, seen by many as the strongest candidate apart from Patton, declined to stand and reached an under the table deal that he would become the Vice-President in a Patton White House. Patton in his meetings with Republican officials stated he had no interest in domestic and economic affairs short of ‘sending the Commies back home to Hell’ and asked that the Vice-President handle those responsibilities. The Republican East Coast Establishment was keen to be able to rein in Patton when he was in his more violent moods and gladly took the proposition. That said, he was considered manageable, unlike McCarthy.

Upon Patton’s announcement, a pleasant surprise greeted the Republican Party: the Freedom Party announced that it would not run a candidate in the 1948 Presidential election (assuming Patton was the Republican nominee, as was overwhelmingly likely). As Thurmond would state, ‘The crisis gripping our country is so terrible and so dangerous that it would be irresponsible of the Freedom Party to divide the Anti-Wallace vote. We’re telling our voters to support General Patton for President. He may be a Republican, but at least he’s an American.’ With that, suddenly the entire South came into play for the Republicans, an area of the country where they had never had support in for the century they had existed. Patton received a further boost a week later, as he came to a meeting of Republican senators, one of whom was Joseph McCarthy. At the conclusion of the meeting, McCarthy would tell reporters that he was endorsing Patton for President and was sure Patton would be the candidate who would save America from ‘Red-Slavery’. With the Republican Establishment, grassroots and even the Freedom Party throwing their weight behind him, Patton received endorsements from all quarters, notably Douglas MacArthur, John Wayne, Walt Disney and J. Edgar Hoover (with Patton saying that Hoover would be reinstated immediately if he became President). Even Churchill, DeGaulle and Mussolini privately expressed their good wishes to Patton in thanks of his service in Europe, while the Soviets publicly denounced Patton as a warmonger. Eisenhower declined to endorse any particular candidate, feeling it would be wrong of a military figure to interfere in the election despite his own deep-seated objection to Wallace’s policies.

By contrast, the Democratic Primaries had already become an abject misery. Everyone apart from Wallace and his loyalists knew that he would lose an election against the Freedom Party in a 1-Vs-1 contest, never mind Patton. Democrat fixers encouraged Truman to make a run, which would be remarkable owing to the Vice-Presidency position he was one. Truman, however, had grown tired of the White House. The seeping paranoia that ate at America had gotten into his own flesh – he never said a word in the presence of ‘The Four’, as he called Hiss, Abt, Kramer and White. He wanted out of the White House as soon as possible. Regardless of whether they could beat Wallace in the Primary, however, every Democrat knew they’d be slaughtered against Patton. Many didn’t want to take such a massive risk to their reputation and simply pushed back. Everyone was approached from William O. Douglas to James Roosevelt (FDR’s son), but finally it was agreed that Alben W. Barkley would be the Anti-Wallace candidate. It was agreed that since Barkley was a southerner (one of the few left in the Democrat Party) he would be able to convince people that he was not an ‘out of touch Yankee’ like Wallace was (despite Wallace coming from Iowa). Upon the aged Barkley’s announcement (he was 69 at the time his candidacy went public) the Left of the Democrat Party went to war, accusing him of being a Republican sock-puppet despite his longstanding support of the New Deal. The Left had already been enraged with the recent passing of the Taft-Hartley act, which curbed Union power in America (passed with a veto-proof majority), and wanted payback in any way they could. As the campaign began, it was clear that there were going to be many bumps along the way. Few could have imagined how many there would have been.

‘Miracle: The History of Israel’ by Joel Hagee

By 1947, tensions in the Trans-Jordan Mandate had reached a fever pitch. Ben-Gurion and the rest of the Israeli leaders, including Begin, began to plan their strategy for the incoming, promised Arab onslaught. Chief among their contacts was Wingate, who was lobbying across Britain in favour of a Jewish state in Palestine. Wingate promised that the moment a war between Jews and Arabs started he would fly down and ‘fight like a man possessed’. His efforts had succeeded, and creating an Israeli state was now the official position of both the Conservative and Labour Parties (as well as the Liberals and BUF). Churchill was distracted in India, managing the continued calls for Independence even after Dominion status had been granted, but he had high hopes for the future of any Jewish state in the region. While Wingate was making contacts in London, Begin was doing the more unseemly task of winning support among the Roman Alliance. Ben-Gurion loathed Mussolini (and Fascism as a whole) but knew he had an ally he could use. He sent Begin to try and help the situation. On March 19th 1947, Begin arrived in Rome, meeting with Mussolini and Turkish leader Omurtak. Ben-Gurion wanted Begin to sell Mussolini on providing Israel with aid in case of war with the Arabs. Begin would report back several days later that the meeting had gone ‘even better than we thought’ and that Mussolini had agreed to ensure the Israeli state’s survival. What Begin did not tell Ben-Gurion was that he and Mussolini had quite an extended conversation, and that Mussolini had far bigger ideas than saving a tiny Jewish state. This would be what would leave Mussolini’s footprint on the Middle East forever.

Moshe Dayan, by contrast, led the task of trying to turn the Jewish forces, many hailing from Hungary and Libya due to the expulsions, into a cohesive fighting unit. He had been saddled with a large degree of work as Zvi Brenner had been convicted of illegal behaviour in his reprisals against Auschwitz’s monstrous guards and was serving six months in jail (reduced to four). The incident would badly damage Britain’s standing among Jews (Wingate and Churchill excluded) and would mean Italy was the most loved country among world Jewry for its repeated salvations. Dayan was enlisting help from all around the world, calling upon Jews of any note to come and help their community. Infamously, Dayan was told by the leadership to ‘do whatever it takes to build our army, and we’ll back you’. Then Dayan had an idea, but it was one he knew would be controversial. He knew this would anger many, but he felt like he had the credibility to make it work. On March 28th 1947, Dayan shocked the world by announcing that he had called in Erwin Rommel to serve as an advisor to the Jewish forces. He argued that, as the Yishuv’s survival was paramount and Rommel was considered one of the finest generals alive in addition to opposing Hitler, it was a necessary appointment. The two had befriended in Berlin during peace negotiations. Rommel, wanting to clear Germany’s name from Nazism, had accepted the offer and was desperate for some semblance of his old military life to return. Many in the leadership of the Yishuv were angry at Dayan for appointing a man so linked to the still loathed Germany, but the wave of international support for the decision quieted their rage. Churchill praised the move, saying, ‘It warms the conscience of man to see Germans and Jews, whom many feared forever doomed to mutual hatred, begin to come together to face the ultimate in human evil’. Mussolini likewise praised the move for ‘bringing the civilised world together against the ravages of anarchy’. The Wallace White House, however, was outraged. Wallace condemned the Jewish leadership for allowing ‘Fascist mercenaries’ to do their work. The outburst convinced Jewish Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau to resign from his position. In reality, Morgenthau was terrified of spending a second longer in a White House so besieged but wanted a decent excuse to bolt first. Ultimately, Wallace was so loathed that his condemnation of Rommel did more to help rather than hinder him. However, Jews in the Mandate still mostly opposed his appointment, thinking Rommel secretly harbored broad Anti-Semitism despite his association with the plot to oust the Nazis. Rommel would recall, ‘I walked into a room with about one hundred staff in it. Every single one stopped what they were doing and turned in my direction. Everyone stopped talking, everyone stopped breathing. I was more scared at that moment than when a Soviet shell exploded just beside me back in the war!’ Despite his cool reception, Rommel proceeded to teach his doctrines as best he could to the hostile Israeli officers, many of whom had got their rank in Trieste and only knew urban conflict, which wasn’t going to help in the desert.

On the other side of the divide, the Arab powers had found themselves with an unusual ally. The Soviets, emboldened by America’s isolation and increasingly bigoted against Jews, publicly announced that any attempt to create a Jewish state in the region would be ‘vetoed while the ink was still wet’ according to Molotov. Molotov would enunciate the Soviet position on Israel as a ‘Fascist-Colonial conception’ and that ‘the Soviet Union will give any and all support for the Arab people in their struggle against the international Zionist conspiracy’. Emboldened by a superpower’s support, the Arabs felt strong enough to start openly defying British offers of a peaceful resolution to the crisis (indeed by now, the Yishuv were likewise emboldened and started making higher demands). Of course, the Jewish population of the Eastern Bloc was met with ever worse persecution. Perhaps the worst episode before the First Arab-Israeli War was the ‘Doctor’s Plot’, which claimed that Zionists (almost invariably a codeword for Jews) had poisoned leading Soviet officials. Ironically, some of them had died in Stalin’s most recent purges. The invented plot led to a wave of condemnation in Soviet press that stated the conspiracy had originated among ‘Zionist schemers in Palestine’. Sporadic violence began against Synagogues and other Jewish cultural symbols. Jews were quietly removed from their academic or military positions (for now, mostly non-violently). By now, it had become clear to most Jews worldwide that the Soviet-Union had become an Anti-Semitic power, crippling the popularity of Communist Parties in Europe among the Jewish populations. Likewise, the Jewish populations of the world overwhelmingly sided with the embattled Yishuv, as it prepared for the war that would determine whether the dream of a Jewish state would be realised.

The Dark Decade: America in the 40s by Wendy Walters

The resignation of Morgenthau produced even more hysteria in the United States. Henry Dexter-White, accused of being a Soviet agent, was now the most senior person in the Treasury Department. Wallace insisted on appointing White, but he needed Senate confirmation. For obvious reasons, the Republicans were not going to grant it, the Freedom Party even less so. Wallace even cajoled Morgenthau into saying he knew White to be an upstanding individual and a great choice for the role, but this meant little. Wallace refused to compromise leaving the position vacant. As a result, White was forced to assume most of the day-to-day activities by default. This led to McCarthy to bitterly decry, “We have Communists running our agriculture, our economy and our diplomacy! Is there anything that traitor won’t surrender to those demons?” At the same time, the sight of no official Secretary of the Treasury mortified investors even more than they already were. The US was in a state of recession, with some fearing a Second Great Depression was just around the corner. As such, riots (including race riots, as blacks were often seen as ‘Wallace’s footsoldiers’ according to one Klan leaflet) became an increasingly common occurrence in the Home of the Brave. The strikes had died down from 1946, though in many cases due to the sheer amounts of violence that descended upon strikers.

Hoping to find a smoking gun that would get the situation resolved, investigations were opened in both the House and the Senate on the extent of Communist influence in the wheels of power (HUAC having been superseded and replaced, partly in embarrassment that Dickstein had been a member). Sparks flew when Lee Pressman, a famous Union leader, was brought to testify about whether he had links with the Soviets and was a member of the Ware Group, in which he denied both. He was, of course, lying in both instances. As the holes in his testimony became clear, he proceeded to plead the Fifth Amendment, hoping that would stonewall the investigation. He was sorely mistaken. On June 14th 1947, the FBI raided Pressman’s house and arrested him on charges of espionage. A planned strike in his support was cancelled when the League of Columbus (a 50,000 strong Italian-American pressure group that supported close ties between the two nations and included the likes of Frank Sintara [1]) threatened to meet the strikers head on. Pressman had most of the FBI investigating him, but there was still no lead on the Ware Group. Every inconsequential spy that could be found was dredged up and presented to the press to cool shouts that the authorities weren’t doing enough. In reality, the Ware Group had done a remarkably good job of keeping themselves clean. It was for that reason their downfall came down to the poor decisions of others.

August 5th 1947 was a beautiful day in Washington, with the sun up and the birds singing. It was also the day of the March on Washington at the National Mall. In an unprecedented display, roughly one million people had been bussed in to launch the largest demonstration the capitol had ever seen (funded in no small part by major Republicans and given extensive build-up in the national press, particularly those owned by William Randolph Hearst). Many companies actually stated they would allow their workers a day off if they marched in the capital. The message was simple: “Wallace out!” Every placard from every demographic was there: “Democrats against Wallace”, “Blacks against Wallace”, “Housewives against Wallace” etc. The Italian contingent was the largest, but the remarkably diverse line-up illustrates to historians the level of discontent the average American felt towards Wallace. At the peak of the event, Patton gave a speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial. He had no shortage of material to condemn Wallace on but focussed on the Battle of Berlin. He gave numerous anecdotes of heroic actions by American soldiers in the conflict to the cheers and jubilation of the crowd. He then talked about how the American sector was surrendered by Wallace to Stalin and the many atrocities the Soviets committed in their occupation. He built to a roar and finally let out the famous line: “When I see all of you here today, from all walks of life, from all creeds, I can only say one thing: America lives!” Those two words would become Patton’s campaign slogan and would go on to be much imitated around the globe. The real meaning of the March on Washington speech was that it killed any doubt in the typical American’s mind if Patton could play a political figure - he sure could. Little did anyone realise, this was simply the calm before the storm.

We Brave Few: Europe 1945-1949 by Abraham Ferguson

While the Second Polish-Soviet War was probably inevitable, the actions of both parties only accelerated the conflict. President Raszkiewicz met with Molotov in Warsaw on August 2nd, the referendum less than two weeks away. Molotov insisted that Soviet occupation was a non-negotiable position due to the agreement at Potsdam. President Raszkiewicz stated that ETO membership did not mean every Soviet soldier had to go home. Since both sides knew the Pro-ETO side would win the referendum, Raszkiewicz offered a deal: Hungary/Romanian style neutrality in return for Poland having internal independence. The referendum would be cancelled and Poland would renounce any intention of joining ETO. Molotov refused both, repeating the original demand for Poland’s full membership of the Stalingrad Pact. While this approach may seem blunt and unhelpful, it was actually motivated by the intensifying purges in the Soviet Union at the time. Molotov would recall in his memoirs that he wanted Stalin to see him as ‘unflinching in the face of the Capitalist-Fascist Alliance’. Despite this intensity in his demands, Molotov would gradually soften over the next few days, offering membership of the alliance while withdrawing all Soviet troops. This was much more interesting to the Polish leadership and on the night of August 4th, they went to bed to ponder the offer.

Unfortunately for everyone, events had gotten beyond control by the time they woke up. In Krakow, tensions between the occupying Soviet troops and the local Polish had grown exponentially. With so many people, someone was bound to make a mistake. Finally, it happened on the night of August 4th. While the events took a while to be reconstructed, the basic series of events seems to run like this: A Soviet soldier, whose mother had recently died back home, had taken to drink. That night, he was quite drunk and didn’t take the abuse the Poles gave him as well as he was used to. What made it worse was that the abusers were two thirteen-year-old boys. He snapped and began striking them, when a Polish regiment (the Poles made sure to keep close to watch on the Soviets) ran in to stop the soldier. When the soldier turned to fire, the Poles shot him dead. Seeing this, the other Soviet soldiers stationed near the city centre began to fire back, killing the two boys and multiple Poles, regardless of age or sex, who were unlucky enough to be walking by at the time. A firefight erupted in the centre of Krakow, with the Soviet troops besieged within their base. Finally, after a massive heap of – ironically – Molotov cocktails blanketed the base, the Soviet troops had been obliterated. The locals were overjoyed, celebrating as if a war had already won. Instead, it had only begun.

Hearing the news the next morning, both parties in Warsaw knew that further negotiation was impossible. By the end of the day, Molotov was back in Moscow. Even before that, the Soviet armies began their assault. From East Germany, Slovakia, Belarus and Kalingrad came the Soviet forces, with instructions to march into the cities and liberate their comrades in the occupational forces, who were by now trapped in a gigantic, hostile country. Almost all of them would be overrun by the Poles before the Soviet troops arrived, although a few would stage massive upsets and manage to hang on long enough to be rescued. The Soviets badly overestimated their abilities, and were forced to slog through a universally hostile territory. Poland, owing to government policy for precisely this purpose, had perhaps the most lax gun laws in the world. The government put up giant signs in the cities advertising gun-ownership as a Polish necessity. It certainly played its part – militias were formed all along the country that would prove priceless in the years to come. Of course, the Polish were awash in aid coming from ETO Sweden and Czechia. The Poles had the supplies and they had the will. Now the only question was if that was enough to beat the Soviet army. Tragically, that was not the question they should have asked …

[1] Sinatra would regularly perform in Fascist Italy throughout his career, leading to criticism that he was a fellow traveller. Sinatra would insist that he abhorred Fascism though he ‘liked that Mussolini was cleaning up the mob’.
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Another juicy update.
  • Wallace keeps digging himself into the ground, and I say it would take more than a decade to repair the damage, Patton won't restore normalcy. Perhaps the end of the fifties will see a revival of America.
  • Both sides in Palestine are more armed and prepared, Mussolini'projects are worrying. Rommel was unexpected, but it's a useful addiction to the Jewish army.
  • The second Polish-Soviet war is going to be extremely bloody, that's certain. The psychiatric situation of the USSR/Stalin is very degraded, more and more crazy decisions could happen.
That Sinatra would end in cahoots with the fascists isn't surprising at all yet I am ok with it. And I am glad he would perform in Italy TTL - if else because would permeate certain ways of American music and therefore culture in the peninsula. And if the Republicans win cultural exchanges in the 50's between America and Italy could be quite exploitable from both sides.

At the same time the Israeli enforced ties with Italy but also with Turkey. Evidently the Turkish junta saw what advantages could have in supporting Israel, at cost to create a new wedge between Arabs and Turks. The Italian-Turk axis seems to become stronger with the time which may be profitable for both.