Moscow, January 1946
As Bradley’s army continued to battle the NKVD and Red Army elite forces, Patton had assembled a pair of great striking columns. Along the Volokolamsk Highway in the north, and the Tula-Moscow road in the south, the US Army, backed up by the ever-growing forces of the New White Army, marched on the Soviet capital. What remained of the Red Army was a barely coherent mess of divided loyalties, as every soldier debated whether to continue fighting for a long-hated dictator or whether the Americans, who came more as liberators than conquerors, would be a better option. With the NKVD stripped to the bone to provide manpower for Arctic Storm, the regulars had just about given up the fight, a war that they believed had been lost two years ago, when the German Army blew Hitler up.
The Battle for Moscow was far from the great clash of arms that Patton had hoped would represent the fight for the Soviet capital. With most of the Red Army’s elite units tied down in battle against Bradley near Vyazma, only city militia, armed with feeble barricades and dated equipment were left to defend the Kremlin. Stalin and the top leadership of the Communist Party had evacuated the city as the US Army approached, while issuing orders that the city was to be defended to the last man and the last bullet. But the reserve was spent, and those few remaining troops had lost heart. Only those officials now in Kuybyshev believed in the dialectic of Marx and Lenin any longer.
Moscow was declared captured on January 24th, 1946, and Patton was quick to assemble a massive victory parade through Red Square, using the exact same route as Soviet parades on May Day and the anniversary of the October Revolution, the only difference being that instead of T-34s, Patton had M29 MacArthurs. Only after Patton had paraded through the city was the New White Coalition given a chance to announce the beginning of a new Russian Republic, with Vasily Maklakov its first president. The new Republic soon secured the support of the Muscovite population, as bombing raids on the city ceased and abundant American aid reached the people who had suffered for six and a half years in support of Stalin and communism.
Beyond Moscow, February 1946
As Patton’s capture of Moscow failed to bring about an immediate surrender from the Soviet government, Truman called an emergency meeting of all the major Allied leaders to be held in Washington. No-one among the Allies had any stomach for a march to Kuybyshev or even the Urals, and the public was calling for soldiers to return home. At the same time, it was widely accepted that any continued communist government after the war would be completely unacceptable in light of Stalin’s horrific crimes, which were estimated to have cost tens of millions of lives. Intelligence had found out that Stalin, worried of his position if he was to surrender, was determined to fight on, but even the Communist Party was starting to fracture after their overwhelming defeats during the last year of the war.
Aided by the arrival of new P-82 Twin Mustang long-range escort fighters, a major bombing campaign was conducted against the oilfields of Ufa, which provided the Red Army with its last significant source of fuel now that the synthetic plants had been taken and destroyed. In addition to immobilising the Red Army, the strike also allowed the Allies to demonstrate that they had the ability to strike anywhere in the USSR at will, which would prove incredibly important as the use of nuclear weapons was once again considered.
As the Allies discussed what terms should be offered to the USSR and the fate of the post-war world, it was decided that an ultimatum should be delivered to the Soviet government, including a vague warning of the power of a nuclear bomb, in the hopes of prompting a surrender with as few additional casualties as possible.
“We, the representatives of the governments of the Allied nations and their dependant territories, call upon the leadership of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to announce the immediate surrender of all soldiers in the Soviet armed forces, and the handover of those leaders who have participated in war crimes so that they may be tried for their unjust action, to any of the Allied Powers. We call for the restoration of democracy, supported by the movement of the New White Coalition, throughout Russia and other lands. This war has been a conflict against communism, not the Russian people, and the Russian people should not be punished for the actions of their leaders. The alternative to a prompt surrender will be nothing short of total and utter destruction of any centre which continues hostile action against the forces of democracy, a power which we may unleash at any time.”
Leaflets containing the full announcement were dropped from bombers over every major Soviet city over the following days, while the VVS proved completely powerless to stop them. Stalin however was unconvinced, and broadcast a message on Radio Moscow (using a signal that did originate from its namesake city at all), declaring that “the cowardly imperialists believe that they can crush the Soviet spirit, when their fight is yet unfinished. New Soviet Men are not so exhausted of war, and the inevitable struggle towards world revolution must continue until completion”. Privately, Stalin was not convinced of his own propaganda, worrying that if the Allies ever got a hold of him, that he would forever lose power over the Soviet state.
On the night of February 17th, 1946, four days after Truman’s announcement from Washington, a group of pro-White officers launched a coup in Kuybyshev, turning the Army against the NKVD. Stalin was captured and Khrushchev killed, while Nikolai Bulganin took control of the collapsing Communist Party. Bulganin, who had been a part of the Communist Party since the Revolution, had held only a minor role in STAVKA through the war and had been convinced that the war was unwinnable from the time the Molotov Line was first breached. In a secret message to the American government, Bulganin informed Truman that he was prepared to surrender, including the handover of Stalin, if he was granted immunity from prosecution by the war crime tribunals. Truman, who did not believe there was much case to be made against Bulganin, privately agreed after consulting with the other leaders of the Big Five, and a public statement of surrender was made the following afternoon.
On February 19th, 1946, the guns fell silent across Europe and Asia for the first time in nearly seven years. World War II was over.
Epilogue, March 1946
The official end of the war occurred when Nikolai Bulganin and Franz Halder signed the Instrument of Surrender in Moscow on behalf of the Axis powers on March 1st, 1946. On the same day, the governments of the German Reich and the USSR were dissolved. Germany was to remain under Allied (mostly French until 1946) occupation, while Russia and Central Asia were immediately granted to the new Russian Republic, with Allied troops remaining as order was restored. Japan’s annexation of Siberia south of the Amur and the Kamchatka peninsula was confirmed, as was the independence of Finland, Ukraine, the Baltic States, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Turkey’s borders were restored, while Xinjiang and Mongolia were restored to China (the Nomonhan boundary dispute settled in Japanese favour). Italy and Bulgaria’s gains in the Balkans were made official, while the remaining ex-Yugoslav territory was brought under Chetnik-controlled Greater Serbia. East Prussia was split between Poland and Lithuania along the Pregel River, with Konigsberg being given to Poland as compensation for the loss of Vilnius to Lithuania, while Poland also gained Silesia and maintained its 1938 eastern border. France annexed the Saarland, while all German territory west of the Rhine was placed under a French occupation separate to the main Allied occupation.
War crimes trials conducted during 1947 in Paris saw many Nazi and Soviet leaders sentenced for various war crimes and crimes against humanity that had been conducted since 1939. While the Geneva Convention had been obeyed on the front lines, officers who had been active in occupied Poland were linked to the genocide conducted against both German and Polish Jews, and those found guilty were given sentences ranging from ten years to the death penalty. Franz Halder would be sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment for his actions to keep the Nazi state, including its oppressive policies, intact after Hitler’s death, while Stalin was executed for his innumerable crimes.
After the war, the worldwide communist movement saw a marked decline, being effectively destroyed by 1950 after a combination of censorship and reorientation saw most members of the far-left shift towards a more peaceful and democratic interpretation of Marxist thought, while Stalinism was discredited as the world’s most vile ideology, followed only by radical fanatics who were too few in number to be taken seriously by the general public. Fascist thought saw a smaller shift as the far-right worked to separate the genocidal policies of Adolf Hitler and Nazism from what would be considered to be mainstream fascist thought, and moderate fascist parties, following the lines of thought used by figures such as Mussolini and Franco, were established in most democratic nations, where they maintained a small but stable following.
As the soldiers returned home, the shift from wartime mobilisation to a civilian economy prompted a minor recession, while the British and French struggled with wartime debt to the United States and a growing call for independence from the colonies. India, which had been vocal about independence before the war but had given their full support against Stalin, was the first to leave the British Empire in 1948, after British and Indian leaders decided that the creation of separate Muslim and Hindu states would best serve the region’s interests. The Middle East, including Iraq, followed in 1949, although the decision to create a Jewish state in Palestine for survivors of the Holocaust would trouble the region for several years. Many ex-colonies would go on to become important trading partners for the European powers as the decades passed, and although powerful dictators arose in some of these territories, many retained a willingness to work with the international community.
In the Far East, Japan’s transition to democracy continued, as Prime Minister Saito signed an order preventing military personnel from serving as Japan’s prime minister while still in active service. The dispute with China over Manchukuo would continue to dominate the region’s political climate until Chiang Kai-Shek launched an invasion of Manchukuo in 1949. The Japanese Army, despite having halved in size since the fall of the USSR, maintained control over Manchukuo and a stalemate eventuated. When Japan became the second nation to develop an atomic bomb in 1951, the Third Sino-Japanese War was settled with a white peace, while President Truman’s efforts to have nuclear weapons banned under a revised Geneva Convention gained support, and the new Convention was eventually signed by every major nation of the world, including China, Japan and Russia. Chiang Kai-Shek’s death in 1954 would see his son Chiang Ching-kuo take power, which would begin a slow transition towards a more liberal China and a much-needed shift of focus towards internal issues, while Japan would retain great global importance, with Mitsubishi widely considered the world’s best aircraft manufacturer, with designs such as the supersonic J5M ‘Warrior’ jet fighter being exported in the early 1960s and the ‘Divine Wind’ series of airliners becoming a mainstay in global transport fleets after their introduction in 1957.
The former Axis countries also integrated well into the new world order, as the mistakes of the past were learned and the Allied occupation guided them towards a peaceful, prosperous future. In Germany, Halder’s coup, which Allied leaders feared would turn into a new ‘stab in the back’ myth, was instead rewritten as a move that saved Germany from greater catastrophe under Hitler, an interpretation that Halder himself would publicly support once he was released from prison in 1963. Germany’s sovereignty would be restored with the abolition of the Allied German Occupation Committee in 1950, and the following transition to democracy under Konrad Adenauer would see Germany once again rise as an important power in the world, including the first manned mission to the Moon in 1981.
Even with the great amount of public support that they initially enjoyed, the Russian Republic would spend the immediate post-war period struggling with internal troubles. Remnants of the Bolsheviks and the NKVD attempted to overthrow Maklakov when Allied ground forces left Russia in 1950, and open violence would trouble Moscow for three weeks following the unsuccessful coup. Russian industry was still devastated by the war, and American aid was needed to keep the people fed for several years. Maklakov’s successors however would see the establishment of a revived national industry program, and Russia became a major agricultural exporter in the 1960s. The long-standing debate about whether a Romanov pretender should be invited to rule Russia was put to a popular vote in 1952, but the apparent success of the republican system and bad memories of Russia’s past saw the motion defeated.
Mussolini would continue to rule Italy until his death in 1955, when he was succeeded by Italo Balbo. His later years would see Italy endure a harsher post-war recession than that experienced in France or Britain, as poor economic policy and excessive military spending tested the limits of the nation. Mussolini’s abandonment of the ‘Battle for Wheat’ in 1948, as well as the coming of age of the generation born during Mussolini’s attempts to engineer a baby boom in the 1920s, would eventually see a recovery as new Italian businesses were established both in Italy and in the African colonies. Balbo would oversee the abandonment of Ethiopia in 1962, as decolonisation of Africa was well underway, and the actions of the Mussolini regime would hurt Italian relations in that part of the world for decades to come.
Harry Truman would serve two full terms at President of the United States, throughout which he would be known as much for his widespread social programs as for his victory over the USSR. Truman would use his post-war popularity to begin the long process of desegregating the armed forces, a move that would make him be the most frequently cited ‘Greatest President in History’ by African-Americans, while he also oversaw a wide variety of infrastructure improvements across the United States. Truman also considered establishing a successor to the League of Nations, which Roosevelt had termed the United Nations, but the generally peaceful and co-operative nature of the international order after 1946 led him to believe it was unnecessary, and the idea was shelved shortly after he left office in 1953. His successor would be George Patton, who would serve one term as President. Patton’s term in office would see a revival of America’s military strength after the sweeping demobilisations ordered by Truman, and a stern warning to the Arab states to keep out of Israel. Domestically, Patton continued Truman’s policies supporting greater equality for African-Americans and other minorities, and worked towards creating a more efficient government system.
Between 2000 and 2002, a series of detailed segments were printed in the Saturday Evening Post titled “What If Hitler Had Followed His Plans?”. Describing a world in which Stalin never attacked Japan, and the subsequent alliance between Hitler and Stalin never materialised after a series of failed negotiations, the stories quickly became popular across America and then worldwide. The series is notable for creating a scenario in which France fell in 1940, much the same way that Poland did in 1939, which was widely considered impossible, and after the inclusion of a German invasion of the USSR which saw the Wehrmacht reach the outskirts of Moscow and far-off Stalingrad, author George W. Bush felt it necessary to publicly defend his choices by stating that “in an alternate world, luck may fall a different way, and we can never be certain how people in a different scenario may react”. Bush ended the series by having Truman drop a pair of atomic weapons on Japanese cities, a move that many believe was not possible due to how hesitant Truman had been when it came to the use of nuclear weapons during the war with Stalin, but in Bush’s scenario, Imperial Japan was described as being almost powerless to resist, and the decision to drop the bomb would be considered the beginning of four decades of suspicion between the ‘Western Allies’ and a still-powerful USSR.
A Message to My Readers
Well, after 62 pages in Word, six weeks of writing and a little over 45,000 words, this story is over. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all of you, both the 40 or so people that liked the posts and however many other readers that just took the time to browse the thread. I really appreciate the time all of you have spent reading my work and sharing in the discussion.
Seeing as I have the space, I figure I might as well share some of the motivations and ideas that led to this timeline’s creation. Right now I’m a uni student in the midst of a four-month break where I don’t really have to do anything, and while I could very easily spend those four months playing Crusader Kings 2 or Total War, a big project like this means I actually have something to show for all that time. And it’s fun, so why not?
I’ve found the idea of the Berlin-Moscow Axis fascinating for a long time. An ‘unholy alliance’, and a fairly drastic break from Hitler’s usual policy, that for a year and a half looked to be a serious threat to the Western world, before Hitler returned to his usual anti-communism and sent this strange event into the dustbin of history, a strange footnote in discussions about World War II that can present some truly ‘alternate’ outcomes in a way that the usual what if questions about the war, usually centred around Midway, Stalingrad or Barbarossa, cannot. If Hitler had maintained his alliance with Stalin, and neither side stabbed the other in the back, there is a very real possibility of an Axis victory in Europe and Asia.
Indeed, I considered the outcome of an Axis victory when planning this timeline out. Generally, I don’t plan a timeline more than about two updates ahead of wherever I am at at that point in time – history is nothing but the decisions of many people all occurring at the same time, and many of those decisions are made with a look only to the short-term, and in an effort to maintain realism, I believe it is important to keep some hold of this idea – when Hitler invaded Poland, his mind was not yet set on invading the USSR specifically on June 22, 1941, only that that would be something he would consider in the future.
For the early part of “The Twin Vipers” however, I thought it was important to have some idea of what was going to happen, and I decided upon an eventual Allied victory largely for storytelling purposes. The reason for this comes down to the Battle of France and subsequent difficulty of the Allies re-establishing a foothold on the continent, be it in Normandy or elsewhere. In the standard Berlin-Moscow Axis scenario, where Hitler and Stalin remain allies well into the 1940s, a stalemate across the English Channel is the only logical outcome. With no second front, Hitler can easily commit five million soldiers to the Atlantic Wall, which would be impenetrable to Allied amphibious operations, while Soviet industry and raw materials would keep the Luftwaffe well supplied, until eventually the USA either makes peace with the Axis, leaving a depressing and murderous Europe behind, or much of central and eastern Europe is obliterated as dozens of atomic bombs are dropped. Neither of which is very enjoyable to read, and even less to write. Not to mention that I have had enough of mass death timelines after ‘The Napolead’ last year, in which Imperial Japan-style total war became widespread and conflicts between the great powers ceaseless.
The other scenario, to me the more plausible one, is one in which Hitler and Stalin work together more closely to establish spheres of influence in Europe and Asia respectively, until one dictator or the other decides to backstab his ally. Knowing the two men, this was sure to happen at one point, and the USSR’s superior industrial power would likely lead to it becoming the victor. But that gives a world very similar to OTL, especially if the betrayal happens in 1941 or 1942 as many believe it would. To me, rewriting near-OTL is a waste of time, when one can so easily go on Wikipedia if they wish to read about it anyway.
It was around this time that I thought of the PoD – namely the Japanese victory at Nomonhan. Stalin’s war with Japan provided a good reason for the Berlin-Moscow Axis to remain stable, while Hitler would not be able to launch an alternate Barbarossa as long as France was still in the war. The later stages of the alliance, especially Germany’s growing dependence on Soviet imports, were things for which a trend already existed in OTL – Barbarossa was reliant on fuel imported from the USSR mere hours before the guns began firing on the Eastern Front, and the looting of occupied territories such as the Ukraine became necessary to sustain the Wehrmacht. Without that opportunity to loot, imports are the only logical alternative.
I also found that the scenario, as it developed, allowed me to explore a series of common PoDs about World War II, that when explored in isolation and OTL as a background, are generally quite implausible. A good example of this is the idea that Japan could “strike north” and fight the USSR instead of the USA. All else from OTL, this scenario doesn’t hold up as Japan would run out of oil before accomplishing much, but when the Allies are allowed to take Hitler’s place on the Eastern Front, I found it interesting to look at Japan’s ability to wage war (which, until American submarines and bombers destroyed it, was quite significant), against the USSR. Another good example of this is Operation Unthinkable, which is rather senseless in the climate of OTL 1945. With the scenario causing the Allies to expect a war against the Red Army years in advance, the relative strengths and weaknesses of the two powers can be looked at and explored. The Oil Plan being a major part of this – obviously the Allies did not want to fight the bulk of the Red Army at peak strength, and the exposed nature of the Caucasus oil fields would likely be a factor in Allied planning in such a war, although the limited information about the Unthinkable plan created before the plan was abandoned means that this sort of thing does not always get the recognition that it would had it been carried out. I found these ideas interesting, and I hope you did too.
Finally I feel that I should thank everyone who made a post on the thread or in a private message. Many of your posts have helped me to guide the timeline in an interesting way. Whether it be something that I had not fully considered, or a choice between two alternatives, I have used many of your posts for ideas in the past, with everything from the discussion about Mussolini on page one to the endless refining of the Wolf’s design and specifications, to make the timeline as enjoyable as it became. Many ideas, especially that of the White government ruling Russia post-war, were things I had barely thought about, but ended up fitting the story better than my original idea was (the original ending for the story was that Stalin would be nuked off the map in Moscow, and some other communist would make peace on the basis of post-Molotov-Pact borders). I don’t often give everyone the credit they deserve for these, so I’ll take the opportunity to do so now.
Thank you everyone who has been a part of this journey, and I hope that you will join me if and when I make my next timeline, whatever it may be about.