The World of Turtledove's In the Presence of Mine Enemies

I generally agree with your assessment. The US remaining behind the Germans seems plausible, but not way far behind (not like how MITHC had Japan so far behind the Reich...that was almost too much). If I were writing a TL that was freestanding and not trying to fill in the gaps of a preexisting book, I'd be more inclined to have a WWIII between the Reich and the USA that does have the Reich getting more heat even if it does manage to pull ahead in the end.

That said, your post has made me wonder if it would be able to fit one or two such City Busters hitting the Reich. Turtledove has Henrich and his friend Willi discussing the US, and they make mention of how the USA might have been a formidable foe, and that their fathers likely worried about them in earnest. Obviously, in the book, Berlin doesn't get it. But maybe some smaller cities? Bonn? Dresden? I don't think either was mentioned in the book. Maybe the Americans are able to get in a few rounds before they are forced to surrender.

Thoughts?
I think if the Americans had hit anything more than one or two cities in Germany itself the US would have had a even harsher peace deal and less independence than it was given -so maybe one city in Germany itself and one or two in German annexed territories ? OTOH I really think its likely that under Himmler the Germans would have nuked an American city (or British one during their revolt) to punish the effort- ie Atlanta as a ding at Maddox as welll ?
 
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The movie is based on a book about a group of black prisoners who are deliberately sent into the radioactive ruins of Philadelphia in 1976-in a conscious dig at the Bicentennial-to retrieve any remains of the Liberty Bell for display in Germany and to conduct a long term study on the effects of radiation exposure -like the Tuskegee Experiment did with syphilis in OTL. As for when and where the book is published and the movie made that can be up to you. Of course if its from an American source it would probably not be till the 2020s at least. Perhaps it comes from one of "free countries" like Brazil. Mexico or even Japan at an earlier date ?

As for GWTW it hardly presents black people in a positive light. The good black people are depicted as obedient servants who stay loyal even after the Civil War. The independent black Freedmen are presented as villians along with Union soldiers and so callled Carpetbaggers. Ex Confederate soldiers, Redeemers and Klansmen are the heros.
I totally love this! I could see the book being made in the underground press, getting smuggled out and published somewhere outside the control of the Reich and floating around, maybe getting made into a film in whatever country published the book. Highly illegal within the Reich, and probably nominally illegal within the Japanese territories as well.

I think if the Americans had hit anything more than one or two cities in Germany itself the US would have had a even harsher peace deal and less independence than it was given -so maybe one city in Germany itself and one or two in German annexed territories ? OTOH I really think its likely that under Himmler the Germans would have nuked an American city (or British one during their revolt) to punish the effort- ie Atlanta as a ding at Maddox as welll ?
I'm thinking Dresden, in part for the analogue to what happened OTL. I'd considered Bonn, but that city is part of the heavily populated area along the Rhine, so it getting slagged complicates things more.

I could also see the Riech nuking the US in retaliation in the 1990 fiasco with Maddox. In fact, that seemed to have been implied that that might have happened. Early on in the book, when the Gimpels are watching Horst Witzleben and there is a news story about America paying its debts, the news anchor states "discussion of pyament of remaining American debts for the current fiscal year continues in a frank and forthright manner. A solution satisfactory to the Reich is anticipated." followed with this description: "A stock clip showed a company of panzers rolling through the American countryside. Another one, older, showed a city disappearing in atomic fire."

Now, this could have been stock footage from the 1970s, or from the 1990s.
 
I'm thinking Dresden, in part for the analogue to what happened OTL. I'd considered Bonn, but that city is part of the heavily populated area along the Rhine, so it getting slagged complicates things more.

I could also see the Riech nuking the US in retaliation in the 1990 fiasco with Maddox. In fact, that seemed to have been implied that that might have happened. Early on in the book, when the Gimpels are watching Horst Witzleben and there is a news story about America paying its debts, the news anchor states "discussion of pyament of remaining American debts for the current fiscal year continues in a frank and forthright manner. A solution satisfactory to the Reich is anticipated." followed with this description: "A stock clip showed a company of panzers rolling through the American countryside. Another one, older, showed a city disappearing in atomic fire."

Now, this could have been stock footage from the 1970s, or from the 1990s.
How about the 3 D's where either by coincidence or intention 3 cities starting with D are destroyed -Dresden, Danzig and Dieppe as in the opening and only successful hits of Operation Destroy Deutschland ?
 
How about the 3 D's where either by coincidence or intention 3 cities starting with D are destroyed -Dresden, Danzig and Dieppe as in the opening and only successful hits of Operation Destroy Deutschland ?
I'm not so sure that the USA would get three cities, though those three would be good targets. Not so much bc the Reich is somehow invincible. But more that the USA would have most of its missiles focused in the Pacific since it was at war with Japan. The Reich, in the TL I worked out, strikes the US preemptively after the Americans launch a nuke at the Japanese. Germany decides it cannot abide having a US that has proved it can and will use nukes, and launches a surprise barrage of missiles while America is focused westward across the Pacific.

At most two or three cities hit in Europe, plus possibly a Reich base in India or Africa.

But even then, America is totally focused on Japan. The Reich hits the US and likely wipes out the command structure before the US would have a chance to respond. Maybe a few submarine commanders launch without orders before the official surrender? This is really the main reason I didn't include an American nuclear strike to begin with.
 
Any thoughts on Malcolm X (Little) who a timeline connection was an Omaha native ? Also while it stands to reason there were many smaller concentration and death camps throughout the country-with a considerable number in the South - was there an equivalent "American Auschwitz" where an outsized number of the killings happened ? Was it on the East or Westcoast or even both ?
 
Any thoughts on Malcolm X (Little) who a timeline connection was an Omaha native ? Also while it stands to reason there were many smaller concentration and death camps throughout the country-with a considerable number in the South - was there an equivalent "American Auschwitz" where an outsized number of the killings happened ? Was it on the East or Westcoast or even both ?
I'll have to look into Malcom X. I know at one point it was suggested that he would be a leader in the underground black resistance.

I'm sure that there would be an Auschwitz equivalent somewhere. Part of me thinks the South, maybe just outside a nuclear blast zone so as to keep it away from most prying eyes? Most of those would be on the East Coast or near it.

On the other hand, I could see such a facility going up somewhere in the sparsely populated West or Southwest. Manzanar maybe?

It was mentioned offhandedly by several characters. I assume it was on the east coast because thats where it was closest to where the Germans dropped the nukes.
I don't recall a specific "American Auschwitz" being mentioned by name, just that there had been camps in North America after WWIII ended in a German victory over the United States, that the SS had gone in and cleared out the African American neighborhoods just as they did the Jewish ones. Past that, the details about the USA in their world was fairly vague, which is of course part of why I started this thread in the first place.
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Just FYI, I have been working on a "first chapter" of a fan-fic sequel to Presence, trying to incorporate several of the original POV characters (one of the things I love about Turtledove books, but find exhausting trying to do it myself, is having so many POVs in a story).
So far, I've written from the POV of Heinrich Gimpel, Alicia Gimpel, and Lise Gimpel. Once I finish Lise and do maybe one or two more, I intend to post it here and see what everyone thinks.
 
I'll have to look into Malcom X. I know at one point it was suggested that he would be a leader in the underground black resistance.

I'm sure that there would be an Auschwitz equivalent somewhere. Part of me thinks the South, maybe just outside a nuclear blast zone so as to keep it away from most prying eyes? Most of those would be on the East Coast or near it.

On the other hand, I could see such a facility going up somewhere in the sparsely populated West or Southwest. Manzanar maybe?



I don't recall a specific "American Auschwitz" being mentioned by name, just that there had been camps in North America after WWIII ended in a German victory over the United States, that the SS had gone in and cleared out the African American neighborhoods just as they did the Jewish ones. Past that, the details about the USA in their world was fairly vague, which is of course part of why I started this thread in the first place.
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Just FYI, I have been working on a "first chapter" of a fan-fic sequel to Presence, trying to incorporate several of the original POV characters (one of the things I love about Turtledove books, but find exhausting trying to do it myself, is having so many POVs in a story).
So far, I've written from the POV of Heinrich Gimpel, Alicia Gimpel, and Lise Gimpel. Once I finish Lise and do maybe one or two more, I intend to post it here and see what everyone thinks.
So how goes the story ?
 
Sequel, Chapter 1
Heinrich Gimpel looked up from financial briefings he’d been reading. The projections for American financial payments for 2020. As everyone expected, and as had been a trend for the past decade, the amount the United States was expected to pay was less than what the Reich had accessed. The American President, David Ingram, had repeatedly told Wehrmacht and diplomatic officials that his government was paying all it could and could spare not a cent more. Germany’s reform-minded Fuhrer, Heinz Buckliger, was trying to avoid using more force in America, but the continued intransigence of US officials was giving new ammunition to Buckliger’s critics. And so...

And so, thought Heinrich, here I am jetting across the Atlantic to meet with the Americans and head things off at the pass. He sighed. On the one hand, he was excited. It wasn’t his first time out of the Reich, but it was his first time out of Europe. On the other hand, this entire trip was likely to be futile. It was January, and in less than a year the Americans would be selecting a new President, and for the first time in over half a century the election would actually be the real deal, and not a farce holding on to the pretension of representative democracy that had gone on since the US of A had been defeated by the Reich when Heinrich was a boy. The two new parties challenging the ruling Freedom and Justice Party, the New Federalist Party and the Liberty Party, were both fairly open about their hostility towards Berlin. Whatever Heinrich and his fellow team members were able to hammer out with the Ingram Administration might be a moot point within a year.

He still couldn’t quite believe that he was even being sent on this mission. But he shouldn’t be surprised, not really. Ever since that first consultation with the Fuhrer nearly a decade before, just before the failed SS putsch, he’d been on Heinz Buckliger’s radar, and had been visited by the world’s most powerful man or one of his subordinates many times, and had even been called to the Fuhrerpalast to assist. With the election of a non-fascist majority in the lower house of the American legislature four years ago, Buckliger had assembled a special action committee, naming Heinrich the junior co-chair. Which is how he now found himself on a Lufthansa express airliner traveling at super-sonic speeds towards the American capital of Omaha. Henrich sighed again. It was cold in Berlin this time of year, he thought, but damn it, Omaha would be worse. Zero degrees as a high! And there were concerns that there might be a winter storm in a week.

Despite this dread of the cold, he knew the work was important. The yearly financial payments, tribute really, was a key part of how the Reich kept America, once its greatest rival, down and out ever since the end of the Third World War. That and America’s home-grown racists and pseudo-fascists had been only too happy to do some of the Reich’s dirty work after their country had been defeated. Heinrich thought back to those fading color photographs he’d been given by his father, showing the slaughter at camps in southern states. Some place called...Dry Branch, in Georgia, and also Talladega, in Alabama, if memory serves. And memory is all I have since Lise had to destroy them when the SS tried to come after there girls and I. He had been glad his wife had acted so quickly, but the loss of that record of the Nazi crimes still saddened him. Like any Jew still surviving throughout the Greater German Reich though, he knew that memory was important. It was all that he and his people really had when it came down to it. Memory and survival.
His woolgathering was suddenly interrupted by a voice over the plane’s intercom system.

“Meine Damen und Herren, we are approaching Thurmond International Airport and will begin our descent shortly. Please return to your seats and fasten your seatbelts and prepare for landing.”

“Amazing!” This was Joachim Weber, Heinrich’s assistant who was in the next seat. “Berlin to Omaha in four hours! I know we’ve had these planes in service for years, but it is still hard to believe.” Heinrich tended to think of Weber as a kid, even though he was nearly thirty years old, with medium length brown hair, glasses, and a frame that was too lanky to belong to a propaganda piece soldier. Yet another reminder that Heinrich was now firmly in middle age, about to turn fifty in a few months.

“Ja, but here we are. Any moment now we…” and with that, there was the signature sonic boom as the plane slowed. Heinrich made a gesture that showed content. “There we are. Super-sonic flight. Yet another marvel of German science engineering. The envy of the world.” Joachim nodded vigorously. There had been no hint of irony in Heinrich’s voice, regardless of what he felt inside.
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The Lufthansa airliner taxied to the terminal of Omaha’s main airport, nestled between the northeast side of the city center and the Missouri River. Unlike the stone grandeur of Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport, Strom Thurmond International Airport was all modern glass and steel, having been built in the 1990s as a tribute to the United States’ longest-serving president, whom the Freedom and Justice Party often referred to as “the savior of the American way.” Heinrich secretly scoffed at the notion. He didn’t know a lot about American history or politics, but he did know that Thurmond, who’d served legitimately as president in the late 1950s and early 1960s, had stepped in after the Reich had nuked Washington and set up a government eager to work with the German authorities. True, Thurmond’s quick action and compliance with the Greater German Reich had likely prevented wholesale destruction of America’s surviving cities, but he had let in and indeed eagerly worked with the SS in the liquidation of minorities and suppression of political enemies.

Off the plane and into the large, open terminal, where hundreds of passengers were coming and going. Omaha was not the transportation hub that Berlin was, but it did offer service across the continent, along with flights both to the Reich and the Empire of Japan. The crowd had a decent variety of people as well, again not quite what would have been seen at Tempelhof or Frankfurt, but still interesting to observe as Heinrich and his team came out of customs and went in search of their bags. Men in business suits, many with the red armband with the stylized white eagle that marked them as members of the ruling Freedom and Justice Party. Nearly as many men in some sort of uniform, some from the Reich, others from the US military or police, the styles clearly distinct yet foreign to Heinrich’s eye. Then there were the families heading off on vacation or other such non-official travel. There were even a few Japanese in the terminal, likely here on government business as well, or else representing one of many Japanese firms that did extensive business in America’s western states. Japan had not played as heavy a hand in the downfall of the United States during World War III, though it had taken Hawaii and had a naval base in San Diego for its trouble.

Bags grabbed, the team of analysts and policymakers exited the warmth of the terminal into the blistering cold of a Nebraska January. The sun was out at least, but the wind was sharp, and the piles of snow were visible all around the edges of the sidewalks. Heinrich heard the sound of ropes clanking against metal flag poles and looked up briefly. Instead of the blood-red swastika-bedecked banner he was used to seeing, Heinrich saw the American stars and stripes on one pole, with the red banner and white eagle on another: the national and party flags of the United States.

Looking back down and towards the waiting line of cars, he spotted two sleek black Mercedes parked, with two uniformed officials waiting. The group approached, and the uniformed men clicked into a salute. Heinrich and the others returned the gesture. Richard Altenburg, the grey-haired leader of the team from Berlin, began to speak.
“Guten Tag mein Herrn, I assume you are from the Embassy?”

One of the men standing by the car replied, “Yes sir. Herr Altenburg, I presume? If you and your colleagues will get in one of the two cars here, we will take you to the Reichsbotschaft. Ambassador Deichmann is expecting you.”

Altenburg nodded in satisfaction. “Sehr gut.” Then, turning to his team, “Let’s go gentlemen. Time to get out of this cold.” With that, they all piled into the vehicles and were off, headed into Omaha proper. Heinrich had seen pictures of America’s former capital, Washington, with its ornate Greco-roman buildings of power that had been obliterated in World War III. Omaha was nothing like that vanished city. From what Heinrich had read, the Federal government and the Reich occupation authorities had taken over a large portion of the north side of Omaha’s downtown, and although built in an imposing style that looked authoritative, it was in the grim austerity common in the 1970s, all concrete, metal, and glass with straight lines and almost no ornamentation. The small motorcade made its way past two-and-three-story government offices on the outskirts of the city center, then turned on a street called “Andrew Jackson Boulevard,” apparently one of the main thoroughfares of the city. Here the buildings grew larger and more important looking, but still just as auster. Heinrich tried to read signs as the vehicles whirred past. “Department of Health.” “Department of State.” “Department of Justice.” Quickly, a much larger building with stream-lined columns and decorative eagles and stars emerged on the right-hand side of the road. The American capitol building, where their Congress passed laws largely pre-determined in the building that sat far opposite of the capitol on the other side of a large park (Freedom Park, a sign declared, the Executive Palace. Built in a style similar to that of the rest of the government district, three stories tall and home of the executive offices of the president along with the private residence on the third floor.

The motorcade passed the palace, and a much larger park, Justice Park, emerged from behind the residence of the American president. More government bureaus lined both sides of this park, along with several embassies. Most notably, the Reichsbotschaft towered at the far end of the open space, with swastika clearly visible atop the central tower. The visual symbolism of where power in the city really lay was obvious. The German imperial embassy complex had a footprint as large as the American capital building, if not larger, and was much taller and more imposing. It oversaw not only the formal relationship between the Reich and the occupied nation, but also the military units at bases across the continent and the concentration camps still maintained by the SS (though several of those had been shut down and the SS presence curtailed after the failed 2012 Putsch). In a few short moments, the motorcade was inside the compound and the team from Berlin ushered inside and shown their rooms. Heinrich looked out the window and took in the view: a medium-sized, sprawled out city. Outside the government district, there were a few small and medium-sized highrise business and apartment towers, factories, and the slow sprawl of the suburbs, all coated in snow. It was a sunny day today, but it was supposed to snow tomorrow. All in all, it was rather underwhelming. He knew America still boasted a few cities of impressive size, though mostly they were looking on the shabby side fifty years after the defeat at the hands of the Reich. There was New York City, which had been rebuilt as a model city of modernity by Albert Speer himself. Heinrich had only seen pictures, but they were indeed impressive. Omaha, on the other hand...Heinrich sighed. Gott im Himmel, I hope this goes fast. Berlin might be the beating heart of the terrifying, anti-semitic Nazi empire, but at least it was a real city.

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Alicia Gimpel looked out the window at the snow-covered countryside from her train window. In the middle-distance, she could easily see the white-capped peaks of the Alps rising up, with the rolling hills of Bavaria filling in the gap. Here and there the picturesque villages with their church spires popped up to give flavor to the view. Alicia’s train was halfway through its three-hour journey from Munich to Zurich. She’d just spent three days in Munich visiting her dear friend Anna, recently married and living in Germany’s second city with her husband Bernard, an engineer at BMW. The wedding had been in Berlin the summer before, but Alicia had not been able to get away since to visit, with mounting coursework at Friedrich Wilhelm University.

At the thought of Anne’s wedding, Alicia looked down at the engagement ring on her own finger. Gottlieb Stutzman had proposed when he, his sister Anna, their mothers, and herself had all traveled to Paris a year and a half ago. It had been quite the romantic gesture, at the base of the Eiffel Tower. It had annoyed her to no end that everyone else on the trip, even Anna, had known what was going to happen. She’d said yes, of course. She’d been fond of Gottlieb for years, a crush that had developed as she’d become a teenager and bloomed into romance when she’d turned 18, he being 24 and out of university a few years, working at Ziess Computing, the firm his own father Walther had worked at until his death just a few years before. She’d been overjoyed at the proposal. They’d agreed that they’d wait to marry until she finished her studies, likely to be in the coming Fall, after the journey she now found herself on was over.

As the train headed southwest, it was carrying her out of the Reich for only the second time in her life, to go and study for a semester at the University of Zurich. She was both thrilled and terrified. Switzerland had long been an enigma for most Germans. Bergfestung Schweiz, many called it. Mountain Fortress Switzerland. The Swiss had maintained their independence during the Second World War, and in the decades that followed had closed itself off as a mechanism of survival, which had intensified after the United States went down in nuclear fire in the Third World War in the 1970s. Germany had largely been content to allow the Swiss their freedom, so long as they didn’t harbor fugitives from the Germanic Empire. Travel to the isolated mountain nation for Germans had been heavily limited, mostly for the families of the party and military elite. If you were an average German and had a hankering for skiing, the Bavarian Alps did just fine, or the Italian Alps if you had a yearning to be somewhere foreign.

At least, that is how things had operated until Heinz Buckliger had taken power, now nearly a decade ago. A year after the failed SS pustch, Buckliger had traveled to Bern and met with the Swiss to discuss more open travel and trade. Part of that had been an opening of study opportunities for Germans. And so, Alicia was now one hundreds of German students being allowed to study in Zurich, Bern, and Geneva. It was an honor, truly, and spoke well of her skill as a scholar. Aunt Suzzanna had been bursting with pride when she’d heard the good news, and momma and poppa had been excited as well, though they were much more nervous than they let on, and for more than one reason.

On the surface, their oldest daughter would be living in a foreign country, hundreds of miles from home. This would give any parent anxiety. But the worry went much deeper than that. Alicia, who’d become captivated with history as she grew up, had taken the relatively risky step for a Jew and had started studying religious history. As far as the paperwork was concerned, she was a scholar of the Lutheran Reformation. But wherever she could, she looked for the story of her own people. Often such facts had to be omitted from the scholarly work she’d written, but she’d still gained the knowledge and hoped she could share that with her family and future children when the time came. Her parents worried that she was exposing herself and possibly the family as a whole, but she’d been insistent. We have to learn, or relearn, what we can, before things are lost for good, Alicia thought to herself many times and had made the argument with her parents and others in their circle as well. With the era of reform that Buckliger had ushered in, she and a few of the other Jews in their circle had, for the first time since 1933, hope that there might indeed be light at the end of the tunnel, if only a dim light.

She glanced down at her lap, where a copy of the Munich newspaper looked back up at her. The President of the Reichstag, Reinhold Detweiler (who’d replaced Rolf Stolle after the latter had died three years ago), had made another speech calling on the passage of the so-called Grand Reform Bill that the NSDAP reform wing had introduced last fall. The plan was sweeping: revive the position of Reichskanzler, taking power from Fuhrer (not making the leader a figurehead, but creating a check on that office’s power). Mandating elections every five years for the Reichstag and a ten-year term for the position of Fuhrer. Political guarantees regarding speech, press, and expression (not being called “free speech,” but definitely a gentle nudge in that direction). It wasn’t just reform. It was revolutionary. The conservative wing of the Party was against it, and the Deutsches Nationalpartei, the only legally recognized opposition party, was split. Buckliger was remaining quiet.

Alicia knew that many people had doubts that the reform bill would be passed, at least in full. That it was being debated at all was, in her mind, even more important. The winds of change that Herr Buckliger had begun a decade ago kept blowing. Whether or not the Reich would be able to withstand these changes was an open question. Alicia certainly had her doubts, but tried to limit such hopes.
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As the train continued along, the mountains in the middle-distance grew ever larger. Then the train slowed as it came to Lindau, on the shore of Lake Constance, and then stopped. They’d arrived at the border. Discussions between the Reich’s foreign ministry and their Swiss counterpart, in addition to discussions between Deutsche Reichsbahn and Swchweizerbahn, had been ongoing to work out a more elegant solution to a border check, but since rail travel between Germany and Switzerland was still relatively light, trains just stopped at the border to allow for customs check. It added at least a half-hour to the journey, but officialdom demanded that the forms be done. In triplicate.

A German border patrolman came through, checking everyone’s exit papers. Alicia handed hers to him.

“Purpose for departing the Reich, fraulein?” the official asked.

“Education. I will be studying at the University of Zurich, for the semester.”

The man raised his eyebrow in surprise. Not many German students were studying in Switzerland, and of those, very few were women. “And what, may I ask, are you studying?”
“I am looking into the history of the Protestant Reformation, making comparisons between the Lutheran movement in the Reich and the Calvinist movement in Switzerland. It is part of my research at Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin. It should be there in the papers.”

“And so it is, fraulein. I just wanted to confirm. Safe journey and good luck with your scholarship.” With that, he handed the papers back and continued on through the car. A short time later, the train slowly moved again, but only for a short while before it again came to a stop. A voice came over the intercom.

“Meine Damen und Herren, willkommen in die Schweiz. Please standby for Swiss customs officials to come aboard for their inspection.”

The aforementioned customs officials came aboard, working nearly as efficiently as their German counterparts had a short time before. Again, when she handed her papers to the new official, she got an odd look when the man read her papers.

“A lady scholar eh? We don’t see many of those coming from the Reich.”

“We do exist, mein Herr. Maybe not in my grandparent’s time, and still not as common among my parent’s generation, but plenty of us young ladies fulfill both our national socialist duty and also further German scholarship these days.” Inwardly, Alicia cringed at having to throw around the party rhetoric. But she had been playing the part for a decade now, and despite her belief things might change in her lifetime, they hadn’t changed enough yet for her to drop the mask in public.

“I meant no offense of course. Women have had full legal equality in the Confederation for years. Both my mother and my grandmothers were university educated. My aunt is a professor in Bern.” With that, he handed back the papers. “All is in order, Frau Gimpel. Enjoy your stay in Switzerland.”

Once the train began moving again, it wasn’t long before it had resumed full speed and in what felt like no time, the train pulled in to Zurich Station. Alicia gathered her things and headed out onto the crowded platform. The station was noticeably smaller than the one in Munich, to say nothing of the monstrous South Station in Berlin, but still bustled about and acted as though it were as important as those larger affairs. The crowd seemed odd to Alicia, and it took a moment before she realized why. No uniforms! Well, that wasn’t strictly true. Grey-clad policemen in crowned caps that seemed of the wrong shape stood discretely about, but that was it, other than the one or two German officials that had also departed from Alicia’s train. In the Reich, it seemed as though nearly everyone had some sort of uniform. Not so here. Gone too, of course, were the swastikas and eagles. She normally didn’t notice them at home, since they were essentially everywhere you looked. In a few places, she saw the simple white cross on a red square, the flag of the Swiss Confederacy, but its use was much more modest and subdued than would have been done back in Germany. She knew she shouldn’t have been surprised. Switzerland was a democracy, after all, and did not practice much in the way of nationalism, from what she’d read. The articles she’d been given in preparation for this stay had indicated that what Swiss nationalism existed came about largely as a result of the country having to close itself off and defend itself from the Reich.

After glancing around a moment more, she grabbed her bags and headed out in the direction of the exit. Her letter from the university stated that a special car would be sent to pick her up, and that she would be met outside the station, so out she went. On her way, she saw a newsstand, and was momentarily distracted by all the different options. It wasn’t as if there wasn’t plenty of reading material at a similar stand in Germany. But there, all the press usually came from Germany. It was very hard to get ahold of papers or magazines from outside the Reich, even those produced in the larger Germanic Empire. Here, there were periodicals from not only Switzerland, but across Europe and the world at large. She saw copies of the Omaha Eagle, the Rio Daily Standard, and the Tokyo Sun. She was tempted to buy a few, just to see what foreign papers looked like and said. She decided to wait, however. After all, she would be here for months. There would be plenty of time to explore the freedoms Switzerland had to offer.

But then that thought gave her pause. Could she really indulge in such things? Surely she would be monitored. Her father had told her he was certain of it, and to be extra careful. The SS might have been taken down a peg or two after the putsch eight years ago, but it still functioned, and it was bound to have operatives in Switzerland keeping an eye on German nationals. Granted, their power would be limited while she was there, but once she returned she could be in big trouble if she crossed the wrong line. Or they could go after her family even before she returned to Germany. The thought gave her knots in her stomach. She would have to watch herself carefully. Still, despite this, she was filled with exhilaration at the realization that she was truly out of Germany and out of the Empire for the first time, ready for a new view of the world.
The letter had been correct. She found a woman in a simple grey dress suit holding up a sign with the logo of the university and her name on it. Alicia waved and approached.
“Guten Tag! I’m Alicia Gimple.”

“Welcome Alicia! A pleasure to meet you,” the woman said, as she put down the sign and put out her hand to shake Alicia’s. “I am Inge Ritter. I work with the university’s Foreign Student Office. I’m here to take you to the campus and show you to your dormitory.”

“Wonderful to meet you, Frau Ritter. And thank you for meeting me. I am so happy to be here.”

With that, the woman from the university helped Alicia put her bags in the trunk of the car, and the two got inside. Frau Ritter got behind the wheel and soon had her and Alicia weaving through traffic. Alicia stared out the window, taking in the city, as her one-woman welcoming committee pointed out various sites as they traversed Zurich.

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Lise Gimpel looked up from her book as the phone rang. It was mid-day and not a time that Heinrich was likely to call. With the time difference between Berlin and Omaha, he usually called early in his morning, which was another three or four hours away. He also didn’t call every day, as his schedule was rather demanding, with long meetings with the various American officials from their foreign ministry...no, State Department, they call it, for whatever reason..and their treasury. It wasn’t likely to be Alicia either. She called in the evenings, almost daily, for the past week since she’d arrived in Zurich. Must be Francesca then. Her middle child was in her second semester at Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin, where she lived just off-campus in a little flat with one of her friends. Starting this summer, Lise and Heinrich would officially have the house to themselves, once Roxanne went off to the Bund Deutscher Madel camp.

“Bitte.” Lise said into the phone receiver.

“Tag Mutti!” Francesca said on the other end.

“Hallo liebschen! Wie gehts?” Lise asked, giving her daughter her full attention.

“I had a free moment between classes and I thought I’d call you. I was wondering if you knew when Papa is going to come back from America?”

“I’m not sure sweetheart. It could be another few weeks.” She couldn’t elaborate more, not on the phone, but the talks were dragging on and Heinrich seemed worried. He’d said before he left that the Americans were apt to refuse to really negotiate, or if they did it wouldn’t matter since they’d be electing a new president in less than a year and all signs indicated the election of a non-fascist for the first time since the Third World War, at which point all bets were off as to what would come next.

“Schade! I want to bring a few friends home to meet you and Papa both!” Francesca said, with a complaining tone in her voice.

“There’s nothing we can do about it. He’s there at the request of the Fuhrer. He’ll be home when he’s home and not a moment before.”

“I know, Mutti, and really that’s so exciting that he’s over there doing what he’s doing. I just hope it doesn’t take too much longer.” Lise wasn’t sure if that was protective coloration or genuine admiration for her father going on a mission for Herr Buckliger. Probably a bit of both, to be honest, Lise thought.

“Well you could always bring your friends to meet Roxanne and I. In fact I’d love to meet your friends from the Uni. We’ve heard so much but have yet to meet anyone.”

“Well, I might. I just wanted them to meet everyone at once.”

“Well, they can’t actually meet everyone right now, even if your father was home, since Alicia is out of the country until the summer, and then Roxanne will be off to the BDM camp.”

“Well, that’s true. I suppose we can do that then. How does next Saturday sound?”

“Wonderful liebchen.” Lise paused a moment, before diving into the question that had been lingering at the tip of her tongue for the entire conversation. “And is there anyone special in this group of friends?”

“Oh momma! Don’t be ridiculous!” Francesca sounded quite indignant. But Lise’s motherly instincts thought she heard a faint sound of someone trying too hard to cover the truth.

“Don’t “oh momma” me. You’re a young woman away at University. If you didn’t have multiple suitors by now I’d be worried.” Lise did worry, but not in a way that she’d say over the phone.

“Really mother, you’re too much sometimes,” Francesca said with a laugh. “I’ll phone later and we can set the details. I look forward to seeing you.”

“Auf wiedersehen, Mutti!”

“Auf wiedersehen sweetheart. Have a good day.” Francesca was already off the phone, and Lise returned the receiver to its cradle.
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“...debate begins tomorrow on the Grand Reform Bill, according to a statement from Reichstag President Detweiler’s office issued earlier today. Herr Detweiler and a majority of the National Socialist Party seem to remain in full support of this plan, but with the anti-Reformists within the Party, along with lack of support from many DNP members, it remains to be seen if the proposed to changes will pass, and there has yet to be any word from the Fuhrer’s palace.”

The picture on Lise’s televisor screen changed suddenly from Horst Witzleben’s photogenic good looks to that of Reinhold Detweiler, the head of the Reichstag, who was younger than either Witzleben or Detweiler’s parliamentary predecessor, Rolf Stolle. On-screen, Detweiler was speaking to reporters, saying, “This bill is necessary for the continued growth and prosperity of the Reich. If Hitler’s National Socialist vision is to continue, if our nearly nine decades of expansion and power are to really stand the test of time, we have to change, or otherwise we will wither on the vine.”

Lise wondered about that. On the one hand, she supported the reform, which would essentially open things up for a real democracy, after a fashion. On the other hand….Gott im Himmel, do I really want the Reich to go on? She also wondered whether Detweiler was right. Could this reform really let the Nazi Reich continue on as Hitler had envisioned? Lise, like a lot of Jews in Berlin and elsewhere, doubted it. If true democracy took hold, how long before the people ripped fascism to pieces? And where was the problem with that, Lise thought to herself.

Detweiler had disappeared from the screen, as had Witzleben. An ad from a travel company trying to convince people to travel to Switzerland was on, showing the skiing and the breathtaking views from the Interlaken region. Lise thought of Alicia. She wished her eldest daughter hadn’t been so insistent on studying abroad. Any parent would worry about their child being out of the country for an extended period. But Bergfestung Schweiz? A country that had remained closed to most Germans since the Second World War? Alicia would be under heightened scrutiny, and that was enough to make any citizen of the Reich nervous, let alone the handful of hidden Jews. But she’d been so excited about the offer from Universität Zurich, and Heinrich had been supportive, as had Gottlieb, not to mention Susanna. Alicia was twenty now, and no longer a kind, not really. That didn’t stop a mother’s worry.
***********************************************************​
“Liebschen!” Lise called out as her middle daughter came in the front door, followed by four of her university friends. She hugged her daughter and gave a small kiss on the cheek, despite her slightly embarrassed look.

“Hello Mutti, it’s so good to see you!”

“You too dear. And who are these fine-looking young people?” Lise asked, motioning to Francesca’s friends.

“This is Viktoria,” Francesca said, motioning to a pretty blonde woman closest to her. “This is Marta,” the brunette just behind Viktoria, “This is Georg,” the shorter blond man next to Marta, “and this is Helmut,” the taller brown-haired young man at the back of the group.

“Welcome all of you, it’s so good to have you here. Come in and make your self at home.”

“Mutti, where is Roxanne?”

“She’s in the kitchen. She’s been helping me.” At that comment, Lise’s middle daughter made a dubious face.

“Are you trying to poison my friends?” Francesca asked, with mock concern.

“Oh quastch!” Lise exclaimed. “Roxanne isn’t that bad.” Francesca and her friends chuckled. “Besides, she’s mostly been helping me chop and things like that.” Lise winked at Francesca.

Roxanne was a great help in the kitchen, but the few times she’d begged to be allowed to cook for the family on her own had been...well disastrous was probably too unkind a word, but it was what leaped to the front of Lise’s mind just then.

In short order, everyone, Roxanne included, was seated around the table in the dining room, filling their plates with schnitzel, spaetzle, and potato salad. Beer flowed freely among the group. Francesca and her friends took turns telling stories about the professors they liked and hated, who was dating who (and who was sleeping with who), and all the other drama of university life. It made her nostalgic for her own university days, more than half a lifetime ago now. So strange, she thought to herself, it seems like just yesterday that I was where Francesca was. But here I am, solidly middle-aged, and to these young people, I probably seem ancient.

She watched her daughter interact with her friends. If she recalled correctly, Marta and Georg were involved but not yet “super serious,” according to her daughter. Marta was also Francesca’s roommate. They’d met during her daughter’s time at the BDM camp doing her year of service. Viktoria was another Jew that was a part of their family’s circle in Berlin, though not from a family that the Gimpel’s were particularly close to. Helmut was Georg’s friend, but Lise had her suspicion that Francesca had a crush on him, and made a note that she’d have to ask her daughter about it sooner or later, preferably sooner. If Francesca chose love, she could marry a goy, but it meant boxing up her Jewishness for good. Lise had had a childhood friend do that, but she hoped her own daughter wouldn’t go that route. It would be hard for the whole family.
***********************************************************​
The next day, Lise took the train from Stahnsdorf to old Potsdam for a book club she attended at one of the bookstores there. Ever since the kinder had entered their teenage years, and now that two of them were off at university, she’d been spending more and more time out of the home. She’d found the book club several years ago while out shopping one day, visiting Potsdam instead of going into Berlin for a change of pace. Whereas Berlin had been completely remade in the Nazis’ image after the victorious end of the Second World War, Potsdam had been largely left alone, albeit restored to a “former glory” that likely never really existed. Still, she liked the slower pace than the Hauptstadt, the air of a history much older than the current regime. The palaces of the old Kaiserreich were wonderful to visit, and of course, the gardens were wonderful...in summer. In mid-January, she would stick to the bookstore and other places indoors.

Winkler’s Bookshop was just a short walk from the Brandenburg capitol building on the central drag in Potsdam. The shop was a medium-sized affair that went back a short way, and also bosted a small second floor. It smelled of old paper, which Lise found comforting. Upon entering, the regular weekend clerk Ingrid looked up from the magazine she was reading.

“Guten Tag, Frau Gimpel,” she said with a smile, “Monika, Peter, and Heike are already upstairs. I hope you’ve enjoyed your book this month.”

“I did rather, thank you, Ingrid.” And with that, she went upstairs and found her group.
A few other members arrived after Lise, and then Andreas Albrecht, the group’s leader, got the discussion going. They’d just finished a new novel from an English author living in Frankfurt who’s mystery novels were becoming quite popular. This one, in particular, had been interesting as it was set in a world where the Kaiserreich had won the First World War. Unlike her eldest daughter, Lise wasn’t as interested in history, but she loved mysteries. She’d been surprised with this novel and how the author had written a believable alternate 1940s, with France falling to fascism and the dashing German agent having to thwart the French version of the Gestapo. She planned on recommending the book to Alicia when they talked in the next day or so.

Most of the group enjoyed the book, except Heike Engel. She was the oldest in the group, and from what Lise had gathered her politics and general outlook on life leaned more conservative. “Having Germany win the First World War is all well and good sounding, but that means it would likely still be full of Jews. And I kept finding myself wanting to root for the French agent who’s trying to uphold law and order...before I remembered he was French, and that just left me all flummoxed.”
Monika Brandt countered, saying, “I think that the setting wasn’t what was most important here, but the story. You have a dashing Aryan agent working to thwart a plot against his friends.”

“Yes, but this still feels almost subversive.” Heike looked almost worried.

“Subversive, surely not!” Andreas exclaimed, and several others nodded agreement. “The Propaganda Ministry wouldn’t let something like that be published, and neither would the Education Ministry.” Those were generally the two overlapping agencies that oversaw publishing the Greater German Reich.

“Oh I don’t know,” said Peter, “A few years ago that history of Hitler’s early life got published that was later banned because it actually was subversive.”

“Yes but that was a political matter. Someone at the Propaganda Ministry was trying to push the boundaries on purpose now that the Fuhrer and others are serious about reform, and pushed too far.”

“I bet whoever did that is in a camp now, and serves him right.” That was Heike again. Lise tried not to show her inner disgust at the comment. Times had changed, but not everyone was okay with that, and Heike Engel regularly reminded her of that. Still, most of the group’s discussions were enjoyable.

When she returned home later that afternoon, she saw that she had a message left on her answering machine. It was from Heinrich.

“Lise darling, I’m sorry I missed you. I just wanted to let you know that they’ve extended my trip by a few more weeks. I can’t go into the details, but it looks like I will be getting a tour around the country to our different sites and seeing how they contribute to everything. I’ll call again tomorrow once I have the exact return date nailed down. Love you.”
Lise sighed. She was proud of her husband and his recent professional success, but she missed having him home.
 
Hope you all enjoy! Still working my way around which other PoV characters to do, and how. Suzanna Weiss was one of my favorites. Also thinking about Gottlieb. His mother...IDK yet. I think I can get some of what was covered in her perspective through Lise, now that her children are grown and she's out of the house more.

Let me know what you think, and suggestions for the story!

Also, it may be a bit before the next update. I am in grad school, after all, so things are liable to get busy. But I try to write on my stories when I can, even if only for a little bit each week during, particularly busy spells.
 
Hope you all enjoy! Still working my way around which other PoV characters to do, and how. Suzanna Weiss was one of my favorites. Also thinking about Gottlieb. His mother...IDK yet. I think I can get some of what was covered in her perspective through Lise, now that her children are grown and she's out of the house more.

Let me know what you think, and suggestions for the story!

Also, it may be a bit before the next update. I am in grad school, after all, so things are liable to get busy. But I try to write on my stories when I can, even if only for a little bit each week during, particularly busy spells.
I really like everything so far. Its good to see the characters again after all these years and when life has taken them. I like how you are positioning Heinrich to take a trip around the ole US of A and maybe Canada so we are in the position to learn more ? Im really looking forward to lots more hopefully....
 
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Or they would double down and demand their American puppet go after those of Slavic descent, mixed heritage (for example, Slavic and Italian) and any other inferior Caucasian ethnic groups the Nazis deemed unworthy of survival. Kill them, or we drop more nukes on your country until you yield. Now, Thurmond or whomever led the puppet government (which in effect that's what it is) could have the records of powerful and influential people and relatives, friends and colleagues doctored to appear pure, and offer up common folks to appease the Nazi blood lust.
Definitely not Italians, given that the Reich still has friendly relations with Italy in the book and they have very little ideological or practical reason otherwise to go after such a large group. It seems to me the only group (alongside Jews) that would be at significant threat of persecution would be Polish Americans.
 
I wonder how Islam is treated. The book mentions the Arabs were declared ‘Semitic as the Jews’ and thus exterminated or enslaved. However, Iranians and Indians were declared Aryan and both places have sizeable Muslim populations. And Hitler reportedly viewed Islam favorably. On the other hand, favoring Hinduism over Islam would gain the Nazis more support in India and if Islam was declared a ‘Semitic faith’ it could justify targeting Muslims in Iran, perhaps seeking to bolster Zoroastrianism or the Baha’i faith. This could be a good cover for targeting Muslims in these countries if they sought to rebel (which seems likely given I’m pretty sure the Muslim population in these regions would be displeased with Germany owning Mecca and also even if the Sunnis are considered heretical I can imagine Shia Muslims might be concerned about what happened to the Arab world).
I'm curious how Turkey fared ITPROME world and if the government adheres to a version of Grey Wolves-style Turanism fused with Kemalism. One interesting question is if splinter Shia mystical sects such as Alevism which are considered heterodox along with non-Semitic religions like Yezidism might be promoted by the Nazis as indigenous "Aryan" religion (after all Kurds and Yezidis speak Indo-European languages, hence making them "Aryan"). Even IOTL, there are Alevis who claim that they aren't really Muslim but a secret continuation of older religions.
 
I really like everything so far. Its good to see the characters again after all these years and when life has taken them. I like how you are positioning Heinrich to take a trip around the ole US of A and maybe Canada so we are in the position to learn more? I'm really looking forward to lots more hopefully...
Thanks! I hope to do some more writing on this today if I can. It'll still be a bit before a second update, but one will be forthcoming. The plan is definitely to have Heinrich get out and see a bit of the ol' US of A, half a century under Nazi occupation. Still trying to decide on other view point characters (both from the original, and also possibly creating new characters, perhaps an American?). One I was looking at was Gottlieb Stutzman, the only problem being I know very little about computers, and I have him at Zeiss like his father, so I'm not sure how best to do that.

Definitely not Italians, given that the Reich still has friendly relations with Italy in the book and they have very little ideological or practical reason otherwise to go after such a large group. It seems to me the only group (alongside Jews) that would be at significant threat of persecution would be Polish Americans.
I'm not sure if the Poles would be directly targeted or not. For one thing, there would have been scant any Polish immigration to the USA after the mid-1930s, so any Poles in the US are mostly second Gen, with aging first Gen parents by the time of World War III. Also, there's been a general feeling in the US that all the white Europeans make up a single "race" once they immigrate and integrate. I could see the closure of Polish cultural institutions, but I'm not sure that the Reich would push for the hunting down of Poles, not when there were plenty of Jews and African Americans to focus on. Though I could be convinced otherwise.

I'm curious how Turkey fared ITPROME world and if the government adheres to a version of Grey Wolves-style Turanism fused with Kemalism. One interesting question is if splinter Shia mystical sects such as Alevism which are considered heterodox along with non-Semitic religions like Yezidism might be promoted by the Nazis as indigenous "Aryan" religion (after all Kurds and Yezidis speak Indo-European languages, hence making them "Aryan"). Even IOTL, there are Alevis who claim that they aren't really Muslim but a secret continuation of older religions.
Turkey in this world is definitely an open question mark. On the one hand, they're not Arab, so wouldn't face the Nazi racial threat, but on the other, Isalm would be perceived by the Reich as largely a "Semitic" religion, and thus frowned upon. Turkey was friendly with the Nazis OTL during most of the war (until the winds had clearly shifted against the Nazis by 1944), but I think for long-term survival, Turkey would have to increase secularization and de-Islamification in order to not face danger from the Reich.
 
Interesting thread Eckener. I'm all for any thread that fills in the gaps for any of the alternate worlds of Harry Turtledove, even this hellishly dystopian world. Eckener, I'm planning on reading your sequel story later.

In the mean time, heres a map I made of the world of In the Presence of Mine Enemies in 2010. Comments and feedback are welcome.

1581562480786.png
 
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Interesting thread Eckener. I'm all for any thread that fills in the gaps for any of the alternate worlds of Harry Turtledove, even this hellishly dystopian world. Eckener, I'm planning on reading your sequel story later.

In the mean time, heres a map I made of the world of In the Presence of Mine Enemies in 2010. Comments and feedback are welcome.

View attachment 523083
So Russian Alaska in the 21st century -whats the story there ?
 
So Russian Alaska in the 21st century -whats the story there ?
that's Japanese Alaska ;) i don't recall it ever being mentioned in the book, but i'd guess that it would have something to do with the Aleutian Islands Campaign--maybe "reparations" by the puppet government in Omaha? unless the relevant POD for the whole thing was early enough that the Japanese won up there. or maybe a trade between Germany and Japan?
 
that's Japanese Alaska ;) i don't recall it ever being mentioned in the book, but i'd guess that it would have something to do with the Aleutian Islands Campaign--maybe "reparations" by the puppet government in Omaha? unless the relevant POD for the whole thing was early enough that the Japanese won up there. or maybe a trade between Germany and Japan?
According the the Turtledove wiki, Japan was at war with Germany against the USA and Canada during WWIII in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Thus, the Empire of Japan certainly would have gained some land for their efforts.
 
Interesting thread Eckener. I'm all for any thread that fills in the gaps for any of the alternate worlds of Harry Turtledove, even this hellishly dystopian world. Eckener, I'm planning on reading your sequel story later.

In the mean time, heres a map I made of the world of In the Presence of Mine Enemies in 2010. Comments and feedback are welcome.

View attachment 523176
Well,I’m off to South America. Who’s with me?
 
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