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Considering how devastated the Russian population is I'm suprised they have managed to keep a strong grip on central Asia. The empire has gotta be majority Turkic at this point. With a Nazi allied Iran I think it's only a matter of time before they start trying to gobble up more land
Considering how devastated the Russian population is I'm suprised they have managed to keep a strong grip on central Asia. The empire has gotta be majority Turkic at this point. With a Nazi allied Iran I think it's only a matter of time before they start trying to gobble up more land
Iran has taken good portions of Iraq including Mosul, so they already have a little of an expansionist streak. No, Russia is not Majority Turkic, there were millions of Russians, Ukrainians, Belarussians, Poles, Balts, Tartars and other peoples who either fled or were expelled by the Germans during Generalplan Ost and have settled within Russia, many eager for a chance of revenge.

Iran and China do have interests in Russian territory, the Iranians themselves took parts of Turkomenistan during the Russian Civil War. China is mostly focused on acquiring Mongolia back and soon enough the Winter will end in Russia and the Summer will begin for the Wehrmacht.
I wonder if Russia wins the war with China they'll bring back Manchukuo as a buffer state. Due to living there so long a lot of Whites would probably have some affinity for the state.
Another interesting possibility for Italy is some kind of "Islamic Revolution" and to become the Iran of this TL - a dictatorship falls to revolution only to be replaced by a theocracy, this time a Catholic theocracy.


Some say it is natural for a student to outgrow the Master, to Benito Mussolini that was a constant humiliation, a shadow looming over the North like the Goths and Rome. Fascism was not Nazism, but in the West and East alike, the two were seen as one and the same, in Propaganda Mussolini was shown as a small man compared to the threatening and bloodthirsty Führer, most insulting of all is when he was called a Nazist by Americans in their movies. But Fascism came first, Fascism was distinct, it was supposed to be a far more philosophical and sophisticated ideology than the rants of an angry Austrian! Greatest of ironies that Austria and the Germans overshadowed Italy once again, but this time they were supposed to be allies. Italy gained a lot from the war indeed, everything their humble ambitions wanted, but at the cost of being associated with the Swastika. Fascism was a totalitarian movement, but they did not have death camps to Jews, they were not obsessed with a supremacy of the "Mediterranean" Race as the Germans called them. In fact, the derrogatory terms that Italians were called by the Germans on a daily basis were hardly held back by the Reich's authorities. Through the Linz Pakt, with the so-called "Zollverein" agreements, Germans were privileged, representatives of German industries went around and acted as if the country they were dealing with was just another province like Bavaria and West Prussia. Italy was able to demand concessions, mainly thanks to Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano, but until Hitler's death they were seen as one and the same to the outside.

But Benito had changed that, he believed, Italy was beginning to stand proud on it's two feet with their own little sphere of Influence, openly challenging the Reich at many times, initially with the backing of countries like Spain and France, but in time the Germans had begun to take their "allies" away one by one, France was under strong grip of the Germans and the SS, Spain was dependent on German commerce, and the War in Algeria did not help as the Germans grew their insidious influence in Northern Africa through advisors to the French authorities of Algiers. But there was a triumph in the desert, Egypt had become firmly entrenched in the Italian camp, alongside Jordan and there were good relations with the Saudis. Libya grew from a backwater where men like Balbo could be "exiled" to becoming one of the greatest breadwinners of the Linz Pakt, the discovery of more and more oil fields was bringing in such a boon to the Italian economy that the stagnation of the last years had been diminished. The Suez War was the show of force that Mussolini needed, both to show himself as independent from the new Führer of the Reich, expel the British influence from the Mediterranean, and firmly ally himself with the Arab states which also granted him more leverage against remaining tribes in Libya and Tunisia that resisted Italian assimilation and colonization, especially of the Costal Centers, ever since the discovery of oil fields.

Italy had grown during the 1950s, especially in regards to their own independence, but there was always a threat from the North, just like how the Germans intervened when the French people killed Laval, Hess had refused to negotiate then and the Panzers destroyed whatever resistance was in their path. Sure, Italy would be much harder to invade, the alps were a strong northern barrier, Central Italy was a narrow and hilly peninsula which was perfect to defend, and the Kriegsmarine could not defeat the Regia Marina. The Victory in the Suez also meant the British abandoned Cyprus, allowing for an Italian force to occupy the Island while it was nominally under Greek Administration. This meant that the entirety of the Mediterranean was in some way within reach of Italian bombers, even the USN had to think twice before sending a strike group through Gibraltar to the Suez, the Mare Nostrum was achieved. The Regia Marina did not stay behind in investments of course, they were the pride of the nation, while the Army had to go through several examinations after the embarassing Greek campaign early in the War. All was not lost for Italy, especially as their own nuclear program advanced, despite German sabotage and Pressure, Hess was found to be a hesitant leader by Mussolini, a man controlled by his ministers and advisors while being obsessed only in following Hitler beyond the grave. He was easier to deal with than the German leader, who had his own sanity sometimes left for Mussolini to decipher in their encounters after the war.

In Italy itself, Mussolini's age was catching up to him, his ulcer had returned and did not go away in 1958, his very well known love life had become more inactive, the sign of the end of times, specifically of his time. It is a testament to the advancements of medicine that Mussolini was able to live to the age of 76, outliving by a lot the expectation of his father, but no man can live eternally, Hitler learned that the hard way with his hipocondria leading to his death 8 years before. Arrangements had to be made by the Council of Fascism as to what would happen after his demise, while Umberto II, a man who despised Fascism, had to think of a way to maneuver the coming events to end the rule of the PNF once and for all. Of course, the Emperor was not in an easy fight, dismissing Mussolini and the Fascists like he wanted to after his father's death would mean a civil war at most, at the least everyone would ignore him, arrest him and he would have to abdicate, Monarchs in General did not have an easy time in Europe during this time.

The Italian society in 1959 was seen in many ways as an exception to the rule in Europe, the Germans were seen as cold and fanatic, the Italians were seen as a hot-blooded people, perhaps due to the influence immigrants left in the United States. The Prohibition empowered Italo-American groups with certain interests, groups that were largely chased out of Italy by the brutal hand of the Fascist State under men such as Cesare Mori even before the War, after all the State had to keep an image of imposing Law and Order by crushing the hated Mafiosi. Criminality reduced in Southern Italy, the development of the region grew more over the years thanks to the Mare Nostrum, the ports in places like Palermo, Taranto and Salerno benefitted the most from the connections with the growing Tunisian and Libyan economies, the ports of Tripoli, Benghazi and Derna growing by the day through the extremely profitable oil markets exploited by the AGIP, the National Oil Agency of Italy, who also exploited the discovery of gas reserves in the Po river valley.

It is hardly an achievement to be considered more lenient to Germania, the Fascists in Italy did have their own internal intrigues and the same Totalitarian system, although it lacked the same level of discipline of the German Reich where the Führerprinzip reigned absolute. Galeazzo Ciano, Mussolini's Son-in-Law and the powerful Minister of Foreign relations, had managed to keep his job despite the discovery of many critics towards Mussolini he had made in private, sometimes reaching the level of insults. Other figures, such as Italo Balbo, had a popularity that matched Mussolini in some cases, which is what caused the Italian Ace Commander to be sent into his internal exile as Governor of Libya Pre-War, unfortunately that was a measure that backfired terribly once Balbo sponsored the discovery of oil and within a decade his backwater desert was turned into the prized child of the Italian Empire. Ciano lost favor with his father-in-law, but was still able to keep his job in the Ministry, although his influence was no longer one that was able to ensure the succession of the Minister to the title of Il Duce. Luckily, the Italian Fascists had less confusing and bloody methods to ensure a succession: The Grand Council of Fascism. In the Council, the leader at the time was the long-time Secretary of the Party Carlo Scorza, a man who had been able to keep a relatively steady ship during a period of prosperity after the war. Although he did not stay in that position for much longer due to the uproar caused by the German persecution of the Catholic Church in 1956 and it's aftershocks in Italy. The longtime secretary had accumulated power through several connections between 1943 and 1956, none of that would save him from his downfall afterwards.

In the immediate aftermath of the Suez War, the Italian government concentrated many efforts in constructing a good relationship with Egypt and the States of the Arabian Peninsula, subtly expanding it's influence due to the constant eye of the Reich over the region. It was confusing to both Rome and Cairo how the Germans made bold declarations and parts of the German government like the foreign Ministry were sabotaging the relationship carefully built over years while the RSHA had to do damage control. It was a much better alternative for Nasser to ally himself with the Italians, who also subtly held a threat over the Egyptian State through their control of Ethiopia and, by consequence, the ability to control the flow of the vital artery of the State, the River Nile. But not everything in their relationship was an elaborate extortion scheme, there were many benefits for the Pan-Arabists to ally with Rome, especially with the flux in investments brought by the Italian State to the region, namely the grand projects of the Aswan Dam and the even more ambitions "Qattara Sea Project", a plan by the Italian and Egyptian governments to excavate a connection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Qattara Depression, flooding the area, creating a powerful hydroelectric dam, and with great potential for tourism and transportation in the region. It would also serve logistical goals in the connection between Libya and Egypt, a region that once was an important front in the War. The investments in the Middle East did not stop in Egypt, Jordan would see itself as the uncontested defeated party in the Suez War, losing Cisjordan and the Northern Territories of Mafraq and Irbid to Syria. Italian intervention prevented the young pan-arab government from falling, especially through the expansion of the Amman-Aqaba railway and of the Aqaba port city. Iraq could not be saved by the Italians once the Syrian-Persian alliance struck the country, however thousands of Pan-Arab leaders would be granted exile, and the Iraqi Conquest would also propel the creation of the United Arab Republic, a project fully endorsed by Mussolini and his regime.

In Europe, Italy had become more isolated after the demise of Hitler, with the death of Laval in France and Franco in Spain, the two nations drifted further into the arms of the Reich. The French under Darnand doubled down on it's totalitarian policies and began to commit terrible atrocities in Algeria under the excuse of fighting rebels of the local "Algerian Liberation Front", the escalation in the region grew immensely after the chaos in the mainland and the rise of the SS Officer. Demonstrations of sympathy for Algerian rebels resulted in the arrest of thousands of Frenchmen in 1952 after the Oran Massacre enacted by National Milice forces against protestors. Independence was not the opinion of the majority at first, but the demands for more equitable forms of local representation for muslims escalated into a full scale conflict after the Oran Massacre. The Algerian War was a controversial topic even for those who were enemies of the French State: The United Kingdom after the Suez War had been dealing with their own insurgent campaigns in places such as Malasya and Sudan, the latter of which having a strong movement in favor of a union with Egypt following the Suez War that was backed by the Italians through East Africa and Egypt itself. The Free French forces in Dakkar have actually been more encouraging towards the Paris Government than the Algerians, there was a logic as many including de Gaulle believed Algeria as an integral part of France, the independence of the region would only serve to encourage anti-colonial sentiment on the vast territories of French Africa controlled by the Anglo-French forces. In the United States, Huey Long's government was cautious on their moves, although they did support the self-determination of Morocco and Algeria, they did not commit to further moves as the CIA was instructed to concentrate on Asian matters such as the Korean War. There was the worry that encouraging independence movements in Africa could destabilize the French and British governments by some, and yet the CIA would go ahead to do so, ironically using of French Africa as a smuggling route through the Sahara.

The Spanish were in a less conflicting predicament, most of their colonies have already been lost by the time of the turn of the century, Equatorial Guinea, Rif and West Sahara were relatively small territories or with a small population that was easier to control. José Antonio Primo de Rivera, son of the infamous general Miguel Primo de Rivera, had long been sidelined by the Francoist regime after the Civil War once the General moved to consolidate his own power in a less ideological and more autocratic state centered around himself with the support of the military and the Catholic Church, but while Mussolini was willing to work with Franco, the Germans were always more hostile at the Spanish leader's hesitation in joining the Linz Pakt as a full member, much like his Portuguese Counterpart. When Rivera took over, there was a certain instability in Spain while the Falangists consolidated power in their New Order, one that was inspired by Mussolini's style of Corporativist governance, but also that was far more friendly to German interests than before, fully joining the Pakt and opening the floodgates to the predatory megacorporations of the Reich. Italian companies suffered in competing over the Spanish market, although the Spanish government of the new Caudillo was officially an ally of Italy, these links would be put to the test, alongside the connections between Italy and France, in the year of 1956.

While the French committed massacres and used of brutality to suppress separatists in Algeria and Morocco, with the Spanish consolidating the new reforms of the Falangist state, the Germans would launch a move that struck the Linz Pakt to it's core, forcing each member to choose sides even if publicly they showed unity. On the day after the Tag das Sieges, during the Easter of 1956, the Catholic Church would see a wave of attacks so vicious that was compared to the worst days of the 30 years war, the French Revolution and even the Vikingr raids. Hundreds of churches from Calais to Archangelsk would be struck by the coordinated and furious strikes of the SS, with priests being rounded up and arrested as well as resisting members of many churches that were accused of preaching doctrines opposed to the State. The Reichsconcordat no longer existed, if it was ever worth anything more than other treaties like Munich that were signed by Hitler. Pope Pius XII broke the decades of silence to openly speak out against the assaults by the Germans on the Catholic World, while he did not order an open rebellion like some said he did, Pius and the Church were now firmly opposed against Germania, this would have crucial effects on Italy.

Mussolini was no Catholic, Fascism was theoretically a secular movement with great inspiration from Futurism, but when you rule over a nation like Italy, being an open atheist is the equivalent of a political suicide even for the most Totalitarian leader. Benito knew that this event was a turning point, one that could very well be exploited by the PNF to diverge itself further from the NSDAP and showcase the Italian Empire as a more rational alternative to the Reich in European affairs, although that was a very low bar considering Rudolf Hess was arguably clinically insane at this point. In a public declaration, the aging but still capable Duce took to the balcony in his usual uniform and aggressive posturing with a raised chin and bald head with a hat. He spoke out in favor of the Italian traditions, reinforcing their accomplishments and the belief in the Fascist Tomorrow, he spoke of the glory of Rome and finally about the historical resilience and resistance of the Italian people. In what should have been an usual speech, the subliminal message was one caught by the whole world, speaking about the Italian resistance and praising Italian institutions when the Roman Church was being attacked was a gesture of defiance. He was not as decisive, after all the appearance of unity had to be kept to the Reich, but enough was said and done. In the Fascist Party, the attack on the Church by the Germans hit two politicians in special: Roberto Farinacci, a known supporter of the alliance with the Germans and anti-semitism, ended up being the chief scapegoat for his opinions which led to Mussolini relocating him into exile, being made as his personal representative to the German Embassy. Finally, Carlo Scorza, a long-time and outspoken opponent of the Catholic influence in Italy, also served to be scapegoated, being fired from his position as Secretary of the Party. However that was only an excuse, if anything Mussolini himself shared his opinions on Catholicism, but Il Duce feared that the Secretary was growing too powerful in his position, he was instead made Governor of Crete and replaced by the younger Giorgio Almirante.

The reaction in France was one of contained fury against Joseph Darnand and the German Cabinet, as it was called. Of course, the government in Paris, led by an SS man, with a direct connection to the embassy, with several French admirers of Hitler in charge, would not condemn their neighboring Overlord, some had wanted to unleash their own purge in the country. However, Catholicism had been one of the sustaining bases of the Vichy regime and it's values under Petain and Laval, especially in their crusade against the French Revolution. French Conservatives that had long collaborated with the current system had decisively turned against Nazism once Hess unleashed the purge against Christianity in 1956, Liberals and Socialists obviously would not stand for Paris either, not like many existed to remain outspoken after the brutal suppression 5 years earlier. The French State made no statement on the "internal matters" of the German Reich, and in that hesitancy Darnand destroyed the little legitimacy he still had in the French Right-Wing. No major organization called for resistance except for de Gaulle, who spoke boldly for someone who depended on foreign support to keep the stability of his own Empire. Both French leaders were seen as puppets by the opposite side, the French people was caught up between their propaganda wars and the Algerian war killing thousands of Frenchmen. As if to reinforce the level of depedence, the Germans used the Algerian desert to test nuclear devices, and if rumors were right, bedouin tribes and rebel strongholds were the preferred targets to study the effects of radiation on humans.

In Spain, the Falangists had been reorganizing the New State since 1951, forming a relatively strong coalition between former republicans that were radicalized into National-Syndicalism, army commanders with strong Falangist Sympathies, Carlist monarchists, and the Catholic church, which meant that the attack by the Reich needed to be responded. Rivera did receive the backing of Heydrich's RSHA in the takeover of Spain after Franco's demise, some suspect they were even involved in his assassination, but this was Spain and nobody could rule at the time without the backing of the Pope. Rivera did give a warning to the German embassy, he would deliver a speech to appease the church and make limited concessions by granting asylum to German priests, but he also promised to crush further protests and anti-german sentiment, committing to expanding the German U-Boat base in the island of Fernando Pó. The sentiment from Catholic nations was expected from Germania, a certain level of distension had to be allowed in the immediate aftermath to prevent the "people's anger from boiling" as it was told to Hess. Of course the speech Rivera made, condemning German aggression against the Church, was still a contained one, and while there were protests in the German embassy, the strong presence of the Falangist militia and the State police prevented the protest from becoming violent and quietly dispersed it. But the Spanish people did not forget, that is what both the Italian and German intelligence were able to see, if the push came to shove, Rivera would have to decisively choose one side, either his German backers or the more compatible Italo-Spanish friendship.

In the years since the Ethiopian War, Mussolini had changed the way Fascism worked within his realm, or more precisely how his cabinet worked, almost as if he was making his own Führerprinzip. He had increasingly sidelined men such as Galeazzo Ciano, Dino Grandi and Italo Balbo, figures who had their own thoughts as to how Fascism was supposed to work and were able to criticise him from behind, something which would be unthinkable in Hitler's rule where the cult to him was far too strong to allow the NSDAP's internal distinctions to take hold and openly fight one another as was the case under Rudolf Hess. Ciano, the foreign Minister once said to be the most likely successor to Mussolini, would lose more and more power over the years until finally he was exiled, the perfect excuse being given by the persecutions in the North. Mussolini, seeking to contrast himself from Nazism, appointed his own in-law as Ambassador to the Vatican, what a better way to show the commitment of Il Duce in protecting the Church? Sure, many fascists and even Mussolini laughed at the proposition that this was supposed to show commitment to the Pope, it was a cynical move to make sure the disliked symbol of corruption and Nepotism within Il Duce's cabinet was sent away from the levers of power, Giuseppe Bastianini would be appointed as Minister in his stead. Grandi, once a powerful figure in the movement and President of the Chamber of Fasces and Corporations, the Italian Lower House, was a man Mussolini grew suspicious of since the death of Victor Emmanuel III, the new King Umberto II and Dino were close in cooperating politically, Dino was a nobleman and much more of a Monarchist than Mussolini and several of the Fascists were comfortable with. Naturally, a direct move against the Emperor's "Protegèe" would be a step too far, and so the Fascists began instead to approach a new figure gaining prominence in the Assembly. Giorgio Almirante, as New Party Secretary, would enter in contact with a flying ace who grew in the post-war politics, Ernesto Botto, known as Gamba di Fierro (Iron Boot) for using an iron leg after combat injuries. Speaking of pilots, Italo Balbo was the only one of the trio who was outside of the reach of the Roman Politics, enjoying the fruits of his de facto exile as Governor of North Africa, which turned out to be the best long-term investment ever forced into Italian hands.

As many of the major figures were sidelined and exiled to all corners of the Empire, it was increasingly clear that Mussolini was choosing a new successor out of Pavolini or Almirante, both men committed Fascists who grew in power after the war. That is not even including Balbo, who had quickly gained prominence from his old credentials, popular appeal and the control of the Libyan oil fields. One man watched it all, King Umberto II, or rather Emperor Umberto of Savoia, a man who theoretically should have held all the power and yet was powerless against his own Prime Minister. Mussolini gained the credits for the Victory, joining the war was his gamble that he had orchestrated, being praised for the many conquests and hiding the embarrassing defeats in Greece and Libya. He was a man who grew to despise Fascism over the years, especially after the war as Mussolini's ego grew to heights that no man thought possible and his own family was being sidelined, he saw the disaster that becoming associated with the Linz Pakt turned out to be and had decisively turned once Hess began the persecution of the Catholic Church and Mussolini did little to challenge it. Il Duce also was a Republican, who tolerated Victor Emmanuel III due to his martial atitude and prestigious past, but held no such respect for Umberto who had to be careful about the loyalties of his supposed subordinate. In the Military, Fascist elements have grown since the war, especially thanks to Graziani's reforms after the war which retired many of the old officers who had been active since the days of the First World War. The Blackshirts were bolder since their victory too, with the Carabineri being more sidelined once Il Duce was secured of his position, questioning many compromises he had to make 20 years earlier. But Mussolini was predictable, Almirante, Pavolini and Balbo were not, one of the few Monarchists in the higher ranks of the PNF was Dino Grandi and it was quite unlikely that he would be able to win the eventual power struggle.


The pieces were being set by Benito for when he died and his potential successors also made their moves. Italo Balbo had a direct line of access to Mussolini through the Dictator's eldest son, Bruno, a man in his 40s who also was a passionate enthusiast of aviation, he had been mentored by Balbo in his youth, speaking highly of the Governor to his father only for Mussolini to increasingly notice that his eldest son was being completely manipulated. Although many believe that the friendship was genuine, that was not true in the paranoid mind of the Dictator in the late 1950s, he feared that his former Quadrumvir would one day use his son as a platform to usurp power and claim his own legacy. Pavolini was a man who held the trust of the Duce, even if he was also considered a violent man by his detractors. As Minister of Culture and a known cinephile, Pavolini helped facilitate the introduction of Mussolini's other son, Romano, into the Movie industry where the second son of the Dictator wanted to be involved with as a producer and even artist, one such incident being when he dissappeared one night and was found playing on a Jazz Club under the name Romano Full, which was quickly silenced due to the illegal nature of American music genres such as Jazz in Europe as a whole. Benito had reprimanded his son but also encouraged him to enter the film Industry and Pavolini gave him the job of Undersecretary of Popular Culture, which he mostly used to work as a producer behind the scenes in many Italian films as the Italian cinema was still a very popular one around the world, in some ways it was less overtly propagandistic and supressive than their Northern counterpart in the Reich. Meanwhile, Almirante was a new and relatively inexperienced figure as Secretary of the PNF but he soon showed capable organizational skills in the party, growing his own influence within the Grand Council of Fascism and proclaiming loudly his loyalty to Mussolini and a desire of fighting the corruption in Italy to serve the Ideal of the Fascist New Man, although he also appealed much to Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church.

Everything had changed when the bomb was detonated in Sendai in 1947, Nuclear physics had been mostly theoretical and dismissed in Germany but in Italy, Enrico Fermi and many other physicists had believed that the Atomic Weapon was possible, something which was proven to the world. In 1948, Fermi had been approached with a deal, to return to Italy and contribute with the work in his home country. Fermi initially refused, he was a man who did not agree with Fascism, although like many Italians he held a certain respect for Mussolini and had even been a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences. The offer was repeated again after his Jewish wife Laura had been killed by a lynch mob during the Racial riots during the Thurmond Administration, the climate of the country, added to the fears over the victory of Huey Long in the American right, who many considered as the coming of Communism, is said to have caused Fermi to believe that the United States was no longer safe. But all of that was just the story publicly told, it is more likely that Enrico had been coerced to return, in fact his wife's death was considered very coincidential. Either way, the father of the Nuclear Reactor and one of the brightest minds in the Physics world had returned to his home country, from there he work to strengthen Mussolini's rule, but he did so mostly out of fear that a nuclear monopoly held by the Reich in Europe would be the end of Italian independence. Italy already had a primitive Nuclear Reactor, but it would take a long way for the development of a Nuclear weapon, a program which would last 10 years since Enrico's return and was only finished after his death. Italy did not have any significant reserves, but that would also change in 1948 after the National Party won the elections in South Africa, the country changed it's direction to grow increasingly aligned towards Germany as the Boer dominance grew with the implementation of Apartheid. A ready access to Uranium already existed in Germany thanks to the conquest of the Donbass, but the new friendly government in Pretoria would also serve as a great supplier to the Italian Nuclear program, one that would take a long time to reach it's effort, mainly due to concerns of interference and sabotage not from the CIA or MI6, but by the RSHA.

The start of the Ural War was seen in Italy as as nothing more than a short German adventure at first, there were a few declarations made by the aging Mussolini but nothing truly revolutionary like sending volunteers like in the last Russian War. But the moment the Germans detonated a bomb in Perm and still failed to capture the city, two realizations dawned in Rome, apparently paradoxal as it showed both the superiority and inferiority of Germania. They were willing to use their arsenal and showed force with it, they did not have a Nuclear Taboo or restraint, but they also were not invincible, most of all the weapons had showed a certain level of desperation by the regime to provide a quick victory, which was further reinforced with Operation Sutur. But the war was a disaster in that winter with the Russians practically pushing the Germans to their starting borders in most sectors. There are some who say that a Dictator's demise comes after the detonation of the first Nuclear Weapon of their country, it is a superstition in Europe, a coincidence in Hitler's case but when Mussolini died shortly after Italy's atomic program gave results the superstition gained roots.

In the Libyan desert, the Nuclear Bomb "Pompeo", named after Pompey Magnus, with a yield of 18 kilotons, marked the true independence of Italy and the final triumph of Benito Mussolini, the sickly leader fought his ulcer and medical recommendations to go in person to the test where he was accompanied by Balbo and several scientists, the Emperor Umberto would also go to the desert and watch as the bomb exploded, shocking the world. In Germany the reaction caused a shock between Heydrich and Hess as the Führer blamed the chief of the RSHA for failing to stop the Italian program, not that it mattered much as Heydrich died shortly afterwards. The Duce would make no public appearances after his return from Libya as his health became significantly worse and he was laid under intensive care by his doctors. Finally he would die on the 3rd of June, 1959, after leading Italy for over 30 years, considered as the last of the Old Guard of Dictatorial leaders who emerged in Europe in the Fallout of the First World War. A Grand Funeral would be organized in Rome on the 7th, accompanied by all the higher figures of the Party who would prepare for the grand confrontation that would follow in the Council of Fascism.


But before that, death would strike even before Mussolini's funeral as one aircraft from Tripoli disappeared overseas. Italo Balbo, on his way to Rome for Mussolini's funeral, would die as the wreckage of his plane was found near Malta, there were no survivors from the crash of the BP. 471 on the 5th of June. That threw the plans in disarray, Balbo had for certain been the most secure successor to Mussolini from his popularity and network of supporters. Now the fears were that Pavolini, the Duce's protegee, would become the new choice to lead Italy, something that Umberto could not accept and neither could many within the PNF. Even if, unlike in Germany, there was a mechanism of succession, the transition of power in the Fascist system was far from smooth after it's founder's death as the Monarchy, inspired by recent events, finally acted against this system. Mussolini's funeral was rushed and happened on the 6th of June, 1959, and with the funeral as excuse, the Carabineri, more loyal towards the crown, reinforced the security and disarmed the blackshirts who were meant to participate in the procession. As the Great Council of Fascism assembled, Pavolini was nowhere to be found, instead it would be Dino Grandi, President of the Lower Assembly, who would initiate the works, skipping the reading of Mussolini's testament to call for a vote to choose the new Duce of the Fascist Party. The Delegates began to protest, especially Almirante who demanded the reading of Mussolini's testament. Many began questioning where the leader of the Blackshirts was, and many began to notice the moves of the Carabineri outside.

Umberto knew that this was the time to strike, he would have no better chance to rid Italy of the Fascist Plague, with the Nuclear Weapon, the Germans could no longer intervene and the Ural War would keep them distracted. However there was a serious lack of coordination between Dino Grandi and the Emperor, namely the fact Grandi expected himself to be chosen as Prime Minister after his ascension within the PNF was ensured by the coup. Meanwhile, the Emperor had another idea, he planned to appoint the veteran General Giovani Messe, former Aide-de-camp of his father, as Prime Minister to ensure a transition away from Fascism while keeping a strong authority who had the respect of the Military and the Italian people, an act similar to what many putschists expected to do in Germany. It was not necessarily democratic, it was still a very much nationalist government with an authoritarian mindset, however one held by "respectable men" instead of "street thugs". The Coup was dealing with trouble as the Carabineri's presence alarmed the members of the council, meanwhile Galeazzo Ciano, who was in the Vatican, returned to Rome where the council met and was allowed entrance due to Dino's belief that Ciano would support him, only to find out Mussolini's son-in-law came barging into the meeting to throw his own hat on the ring and split the vote towards Dino.


The Session would continue into the night which made the people start whispering on what was happening, the Blackshirts began to be arrested by the Carabineri after the funeral once the meeting was starting and Pavolini was put into House Arrest in an Hotel Room guarded by the Royal Police. Meanwhile, the news leaked that Messe was meeting with the Emperor and had supposedly received his support to form a government, which was outrageous as the Grand Council solely held the right to make the "recommendation" of successors as Prime Minister. But the Emperor was making use of his extensive powers, declaring Martial Law in the City and calling in Army units due to the threat of supposed terrorists of launching an attack after Mussolini's funeral. The chaos erupted in the Grand Council as Grandi, a known monarchist, was accused by Republican Fascists as a traitor, with Almirante, as Secretary of the Party, calling for his expulsion in the heat of the moment. The Council had quickly turned against Grandi as the news came of the Monarchist putsch, with the vote finally being decided past midnight as Giorgio Almirante was chosen as the new leader of the PNF. His first decision in the council was to condemn the Emperor for launching an illegal coup and declaring the Vacancy of the Throne, the Grand Council of Fascism now demanded Umberto's immediate abdication for the betrayal of Fascist and National values.

But the PNF was now only a building, while the Carabineri began to make it's moves all across the nation by attacking the offices of the "Ras", the regional leaders of the Party, entering in open confrontation with the blackshirts as violent shootouts threw Italy in the scenario of a Civil War. With the Martial Law declared, the Army was granted extraordinary powers and were meant to follow the instructions of the new Prime Minister Messe. Messe was a man popular in the armed forces even at his old age, a veteran who commanded several successful operations during the War. But he was not the Chief of the Army, rather it was the sickly Rodolfo Graziani who was awakened in the middle of the night in his home with the news of the coup and an invitation by the new Prime Minister to join the New Government as Minister of War, alongside a letter from the Emperor himself calling for him to serve the Empire at this crucial time. However, Graziani was a man who was personally loyal to Mussolini, a committed Fascist especially after the war, he rejected the invitation although that was expected by Umberto, what was not expected was what he did afterwards.

At 3 AM, Army Units in Rome mobilized near the Palazzio Veneza where the Council was in session, the officer in charge would speak to the leader of the Carabineri who, after looking at the force and armaments amassed against him, fatefully let them through. The Council was now able to communicate and contact the Blackshirt leaders, warning them of the coup while the radio spread the news to the country about the Emperor's betrayal of Mussolini's popular legacy as well as the backing of Graziani, although they would omit the appointment of Messe in specific as Prime Minister. The Coup was out of control and soon Messe would attempt to avoid a civil war, refusing the Emperor's offer to form a government and stepping down unexpectedly. This would prove to be the end of the Italian Monarchy as the sun rose and Umberto fled the country with his family, leaving the Quirinal Palace in shame, despite the urgings of many of his subordinates to head to Naples where the more Monarchist regions in the south would surely back him. But, especially with Nuclear Weapons involved, a Civil War would have destroyed Italy, something Umberto would not do. He first attempted to flee through Turkey, but his plane was intercepted over the Taranto Straits and forced to land in Albania where he would be arrested for Treason, a very arbitrary charge to say the least. While the coup collapsed, Pavolini would be executed by a Carabineri, who afterwards committed suicide, and that left Almirante's rise uncontested.

Before the crowds, Giorgio would announce the Birth of the "Italian Social Republic", which would represent the true ideals of Fascism, while also promising to ensure a steady transition from the Monarchy which was declared abolished by the Council as a New Constitution would soon be drafted. Almirante spoke highly of Mussolini and the mission of the Italian Nation to protect the legacy of Il Duce while also advancing and working towards perfecting it. Namely he would announce a fight against corruption and work towards restoring the relationship with the Catholic Church which was more ambiguous under the atheist Mussolini. The 7th of June marked the Birth of the Italian Social Republic under the Duce Almirante (ironically a name which means "Admiral" despite the fact he never was a naval officer), after a bloody last attempt by the Old Order to overthrow Fascism, but it proved to be too little too late, most of the loyalist generals had long retired or were approaching their 80s, the Carabineri alone were unable to defeat both the Army and the Blackshirts, and the Emperor refused to march in with an army from the south to retake Rome, a move that would surely cause a civil war. Hundreds would die from the confrontation in what was known as "Umberto's Coup", many others would later be trialed for their actions and support to the Monarch while others were forcefully retir
ed. It was time for a New age to begin, a new page for Fascism and for Italy.
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very goos chapter, I must admit that I don't expect the Italian socialist republic, I'm probably too used to TNO and TWR, but I can't wait to see what happens next
I absolutely adore how amazing and in depth this tl is. I gotta say this is by far the best axis victory scenerio I've ever read. I feel like at some point there will be an Italo-German war. With how radicalized the German people have become to hate everything Catholic and look down on " Mediterraneans" I think its likley there will be agitation demanding the return of Austrian land annexed by Italy aftef WW1 especially if relations continue to worsen.
Great chapter, and boy the last 4 paragraphs made me tense. I really thought Umberto was gonna win.
Almost did if Mussolini died a little later, Graziani died just a few weeks after the coup. Blame the Italian Nuclear program, apparently this curse is the cause of death of two leaders, which is not a lot but too convenient to be just a coincidence.
Stupid Umberto. How can he act so foolishly? As the Emperor he was virtually untouchable and he used half his brain and remained on the good side of Mussolini, he would have had a lot of power to influence the succession. He could have secured the loyalty of the Army.
Stupid Ciano. He still believed that he had a shot. He could have led to Grandi winning and it would have been good for him, Grandi and Umberto.

What would have happened if Rudolfo Graziani had joined the Messe government?

What would have happened if Italo Balbo's plane did not crash?

Giorgio Almirante seems to be a pragmatic man. What would be the policies of his Italian Social Republic? especially towards the remaining Balkan monarchies.
Stupid Umberto. How can he act so foolishly? As the Emperor he was virtually untouchable and he used half his brain and remained on the good side of Mussolini, he would have had a lot of power to influence the succession. He could have secured the loyalty of the Army.
Stupid Ciano. He still believed that he had a shot. He could have led to Grandi winning and it would have been good for him, Grandi and Umberto.

What would have happened if Rudolfo Graziani had joined the Messe government?

What would have happened if Italo Balbo's plane did not crash?

Giorgio Almirante seems to be a pragmatic man. What would be the policies of his Italian Social Republic? especially towards the remaining Balkan monarchies.
A certain future chapter will explain why he thought he had a shot, but Umberto believed the army would unconditionally stand by him as he was the First Marshal of the Empire, a title only him and the Duce can hold and there was no Duce at the time.

Ciano used to be the top dog inside the party, its hard to let go of that arrogance, it was still unlikely that Grandi would have won once the news that Messe was made Prime Minister reached the council.

Graziani, if he had died, joined, or simply gone back to sleep, could have prevented the counter coup against Umberto. He was the most respected Marshal and Chief of Staff, he held a strong sway over Army units which did not know which side they were supposed to pick.

Had Balbo's plane not crashed then he would have been present at the council and Grandi's power play would not have even started, Balbo had far more support in the army, people, air force and in the party than the other contestants. If Umberto still went ahead to strike the council that night then the Fascists would have been able to rally support faster and maybe even provoke a stronger popular reaction. Umberto II is not a prestigious and relatively popular War Hero like his father was.

Almirante was considered a radical for the standards of our world, in here he is a moderate due to the Overton window. He would not oppose the Monarchy in Bulgaria or Croatia, as they are pro-Italian in general. Although only God knows how long a man speaking of fighting corruption can last in Italy.