WI/AHC: Reformist Germany post-Axis Victory

What is the most reformist/progressive Germany and/or Axis that could possibly emerge from a victorious Axis in WW2? Maybe Hitler dies in the late 1940s and a power struggle causes a Kruschev-esque figure to emerge and attempt to democratize Germany? The NSDAP said that they planned to replace most of Europe's population with "Aryans", yet in many cases as the war dragged on they were forced to increasingly incorporate non-Germans into organizations like the Waffen-SS and Wehrmacht simply out of necessity. Perhaps with German administrators and manpower stretched thin throughout postwar Europe, they are forced to increasingly rely on non-German auxiliaries, hampering their ability to enforce strict racial laws? I imagine such a Germany would eventually look back on its past like modern Americans look back on Slavery and Manifest Destiny.
 
The idea of a victorious Nazi Germany “moderating” has been thoroughly discussed in these threads. It’s highly unlikely considering the nature of Nazism, how fanatical and bloodthirsty Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels etc were and how successful they were (and would be) at radically warping German society and its institutions to fit their ideology and brainwash large swathes of the population. A victorious Reich would be a much different (and far worse) beast than the USSR was during the Cold War.
 
Last edited:
The idea of a victorious Nazi Germany “moderating” has been thoroughly discussed in these threads. It’s highly unlikely considering the nature of Nazism, how fanatical and bloodthirsty Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels etc were and how successful they were (and would be) at radically warping German society and its institutions to fit their ideology and brainwash large swathes of the population. A victorious Reich would be a much different (and far worse) beast than the USSR was during the Cold War.
Much of those threads are dominated by posts saying "the Nazis were insane and ignored reality therefore it's pointless to imagine what immense obstacles they would have encountered in trying to achieve their goals", which IMO is just a lazy generalization of history. Just because their ideology and goals were evil doesn't mean they never acted rationally and pragmatically to achieve them, which often meant being forced to compromise on their vision (like accepting 500,000 non-german volunteers into the Waffen SS, and about a million Russian volunteers into the Wehrmacht). Plus, I would argue that the Nazi leadership was inherently less stable than the Soviets, who were much more focused on ensuring absolute and total loyalty to Stalin, while Hitler's subordinates had far more autonomy which could have potentially have allowed moderating figures to maneuver their way into power.

Now, I'm not saying this is likely, but it doesn't seem impossible either. Personally I believe that had Nazi Germany won WW2, they would have eventually been forced to liberalize out of sheer necessity, it's only a question of how much damage they could have done before then.
 
Last edited:

Garrison

Donor
I would argue that the Nazi leadership was inherently less stable than the Soviets, who were much more focused on ensuring absolute and total loyalty to Stalin, while Hitler's subordinates had far more autonomy which could have potentially have allowed moderating figures to maneuver their way into power.
Problem is there are no moderating figures unless you buy into the mythos created by Albert Speer and other Nazis after they lost. I suspect the Khmer Rouge would be a better analogue for Nazi Germany than the USSR, riding its insane ideology all the way down to utter ruin.
 
Yeah, the Nazis were no more ideologically committed than the communists and they had plenty of reformists.
But i have to say that, in a total victory, any reforms won't come until the War leadership is dead, so 70's/80's - In a total victory sense they might have managed to create a nation state of it's conquests, whether that could count i don't know, but i don't think so.

But if we are allowing non-total victories, then butterflying Barbarossa open up a lot of possibilities, both because the existence of the USSR requiring a functional state/economy and because Barbarossa was very radicalising both on Germany in general and on the leadership in particular.
If we also add in the fact that war wasn't particularly popular, and the generals not as crazy, you could have some sort of soft coup against (presumably, as Hitler being dead is practically required) Goering, never as popular as Hitler, after a few years of bombing (his responsibility) and a few years after the victory over France sapped belief in the Nazis. So coup, someone more sane, trying to cut a deal with the UK - I would add the US to this again remember, with no eastern front any invasion of Europe is a fantasy - and I don't know, Europe rolls a Nat 20 and the fourth reich (not the EU) is born.
 
To repeat a previous answer of mine...


Alongside Communism, National Socialism is the most anti-democratic ideology to come out of the 20th Century. It's ideology emphasises the Fuhrerprinzip (leadership principle) in which a single leader lays down a objective and everything his underlings do is in pursuit of that objective.

""When a decision has to be taken, none of us counts more than the stones on which we are standing. It is the Führer alone who decides".-Hermann Goering


Hitler hated democracy because of it's slow pace and in fact, found great appeal in his belief that the National Socialist state was to have a swift legislative process. This would be a belief that he would impart to his followers and in this timeline, future generations.


"The essence of leadership as conceived by the National Socialist State is the capacity to form rapid decisions."


He believed that individuals operating in a democracy are not brought to their fullest potential due to the ultimatums and compromises (both in principle and practice) that commonly occur:

"Democracy will in practice lead to the destruction of a people's true values. And this also serves to explain how it is that people with a great past from the time when they surrender themselves to the unlimited, democratic rule of the masses slowly lose their former position; for the outstanding achievements of individuals...are now rendered practically ineffective through the oppression of mere numbers",


And also, there's this little chestnut.

"Democracy is the canal through which bolshevism lets its poisons flow into the separate countries and lets work there long enough for these infections to lead to a crippling of intelligence and of the force of resistance"-Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf


There is no way in hell a ideology like that, with a leader who so abhorred democracy as a concept, will ever transition to a democratic republic. The Nazi state would have to be violently overthrown and start from scratch.
 
Frankly I can see a Red China situation where eventually all of the most radical leaders die from natural or unnatural causes and "reformers" take over.
 
Krushchev didn't try to democratise the Soviet Union. He ended large-scale repression, amnestied most prisoners and criticised some of Stalin's purges. And there was a degree of cultural liberalisation. It remained a one-party dictatorship, though supreme power could no longer be wielded by one man...as shown when the Party oligarchy forced him to step down without murdering anyone.

National Socialism hated democracy. Democracy, to them, was the rule of (Jewish) 'plutocrats', and of lesser beings. It was not only 'inefficient', it violated the law of racial struggle, which to them was perpetual and nature's law, and led to 'degeneracy'. The 'strong' must rule, not the 'ignorant masses'. The 'Führer' is chosen by 'providence', not the ballot box. None of Hitler's potential successors - Göring, Speer, Himmler, Heydrich or any of the dark horse candidates (like one of the prominent Gauleiters such as Erich Koch, who often don't get a lot of attention in AH scenarios) will destroy the system and introduce democracy.

It's also worth noting that Hitler isn't just the 'Stalin' of the regime, he's also their Lenin. Hell, he's more than that. The regime was centred on Hitler. Power flowed from him. The Politburo and Central Committee were rubberstamps under Stalin, but they functioned in theory and the Party could always fall back on Lenin, Marx and 'collective leadership'. NSDAP didn't have any formal decisionmaking organs of that type. When Hitler convened the Reichstag to announce the invasion of Poland, a bunch of MPs couldn't make it in time, so Göring simply had random Party officials fill their seats. The Nazis didn't even repair the hall the Reichstag had originally convened in before it got burnt down in 1933.

The Gauleiters considered themselves responsible to the Führer alone. Hell, the Cabinet had its last meeting in 1938. Nazi bigwigs carved out their own private fiefdoms. No Nazi overlord is going to stand up in the Brown House (the official Party headquarters in Munich) or the irrelevant Reichstag and give a Secret Speech criticising Hitler. It's common in many scenarios to cast Speer as the 'evil, but rational technocrat', but that's based on his post-war myth-making. He came to power as a Party insider, not as an 'apolitical' outsider who happened to build buildings Hitler liked.

The Wehrmacht won't be a 'moderating' force in a Nazi victory. They eagerly signed up for Hitler's war of racial annihilation in the Soviet Union. Their rivalry with the SS was about influence...on the ground Heer and SS units cooperated well during the eastern campaign, and the Heer assisted the SS in its atrocities or committed its own. Sometimes the SS massacred Jews at the army's request. The officers and soldiers who opposed this barbarity and tried to do something about it were a small minority. And as the 'Prussians', who were never anywhere near as 'honourable' as they claimed post-war, get old and are pensioned off, new men will rise in the ranks who made their career under the Nazi regime (it's one of the reasons the 20 July putschists tried to stage a coup under the pretext of 'avenging Hitler's murder at the hand of evil Party hacks', they knew they had little support in the army...and this was when Germany was evidently losing the war and the regime was leading it to collapse).

From my point of view, the best you can hope for is a regime that arbitrarily extends its definition of 'Aryan' and suddenly 'discovers' that say a bunch of 'loyal' Czechs, Ukrainians or Poles are actually lost Aryan brothers. 'Mein Führer, I did it! My Gau is 100% German!' There's precedent for that since it's what Gauleiter Arthur Forster did in West Prussia, much to Himmler's annoyance, and Heydrich considered some Czechs to be 'Germanic' (of course, he wanted to deport the 'racially inferior, and disobedient' ones to Siberia as part of the process of 'Germanising' the Reich Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia...so yeah). And the regime tones down the murder machine since it will otherwise run out of people to enslave and exploit. It'll still be a horrible, utterly vile regime, and the people it invaded and subjugated aren't suddenly going to forget that, especially since even the less overtly murderous forced assimimilation will be accompanied by cultural genocide and tyranny.

I'll admit, I'm in the camp that doesn't see Nazism as reforming (nor do I see the Nazi empire lasting as long as the OTL Soviet Union or surviving into the next millennia like the PRC). Deterministic? A bit, but it's based on my study of how Nazism worked. Plus it's also a bit deterministic to argue that since the Soviet Union and the PRC reformed, Nazi Germany will, too.

One important thing to keep in mind is that most of Nazi Germany's murderousness was directed against people outside of Germany's borders. The German Jews were a small minority and their size was minuscule by the time the war started. Most of Europe's Jews lived in Poland, hence why the Nazis built the Aktion Reinhardt death camps there. And while Hitler purged his internal opposition in the Nazi movement in 1934, the death toll was tiny compared to the way Stalin purged his Party, military and his own government. By contrast the Soviets under Stalin started their massive bloodletting in their own country. Things got worse for the average 'Aryan' German when things started going downhill in the war and the Nazi Party and the security organs ramped up the terror on the home front and shortages had set in long before that, but the ones who suffered the most were outside its borders.

Now why am I pointing this out? Because this means there won't be the same demand for reform in the Nazi movement. Reforms in the post-Stalin Soviet regime didn't start with Krushchev, though the bigwigs differed about the extent. Not like Malenkov and Krushchev weren't men with blood on their hands. But they had ample reason not to continue the same methods. Ditto with China, where bigwigs had faced the very real threat of being murdered during the Red Guards' rampage. Perpetuating the old system risked destabilising the country and the system.
 
Last edited:
A contrived scenario that I imagine could result in a more moderate post-war Germany (even just pragmatically) could be if Hitler dies suddenly and unexpectedly soon after they manage to neutralize the Soviets and secure an armistice with the Allies, like in 1946-1947. In the ensuing chaos, most of the party higher-ups (and architects of the Nazi ideology) end up being assassinated by one another, leaving a massive power vacuum. A group of mid-tier government officials and Wehrmacht officers, motivated by a combination of popular rhetoric, fears of economic collapse, the looming threat of Allied intervention, and a minor amount of genuine opposition to Nazi ideology seize power and begin attempting to reconstruct the Reich and its territories into a system that will at the very least make the Allies consider negotiating so as to prevent the complete collapse of the German government. At first, most of this rhetoric is exactly that; just excuses to get rid of rival factions like the SS and Nazi party loyalists by blaming them for wartime atrocities and excesses (also making themselves look better in the process). They incorporate many previously suppressed right-wing opposition groups to the NSDAP (such as the conservative nationalists, monarchists, national bolsheviks, etc.) in an attempt to drum up as much support as possible. However, as they consolidate, it becomes readily apparent that there simply isn't enough manpower or resources to maintain a direct occupation of the majority of Europe AND deal with the political unrest in Germany, and in the political chaos many local collaborationist governments used the opportunity to seize more autonomy, forcing the new regime to completely re-imagine the postwar organization of Europe.

So essentially, you would have a post-war Operation Valkyrie (perhaps ITTL the 20 July Plot never goes through and the conspirators simply bide their time) which leads to a more pragmatic government that is forced to compromise on the ultimate goals of Hitler and NSDAP in order to keep the Allies at bay, which in turn allows formerly sidelined moderates and conservatives to seize the momentum and push for more genuine reforms. In essence, they want to have their cake and eat it too; blame all the atrocities and wartime brutality on their opposition while keeping all the spoils and territory they had won in the process. They could use ending forced labor as a way to both secure their image abroad and accumulate further support.

The difficulty would definitely be in neutralizing and/or pacifying the rest of the government and military, like the SS, Nazi Party, and more ideologically dedicated elements of the Wehrmacht, not to mention stopping the Allies from simply attempting to invade again. It would probably take a combination of concessions and threats to make staying neutral or even lending some aid to the reformists a preferable and less costly option to intervening, although this would still be extremely difficult (hence why it would be a major factor in compromising on the ideals of National Socialism). I don't know much about the more obscure figures of Nazi Germany, so I can't say who exactly would take the lead or contribute to the Reformist faction aside from the original members of the 20 July Plot and Operation Valkyrie like Claus von Stauffenberg, Wolf-Heinrich Graf von Helldorff, and Henning von Tresckow (There is a full list here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_members_of_the_20_July_plot).
 
They’d have to moderate if they win. Hitler wasn’t long for this world and Germany finds itself trying to hold down a continent of 500 million with 50 million people. Half of which are men, and a third of which are military able without scraping the barrel and all of which are necessary to rebuild and keep the country and economy going. Germany can’t live off of plunder nor can they keep their population mobilized to hold down Europe against unwilling population.

That doesn’t mean they’d be bastion of liberty, interracial dating or tolerance of Jews, but they’ll probably not try to exterminate other European groups including probably slavs once Hitler is dead. Over the coming decades things would “liberalize” somewhat from Germanic Aryanism into white nationalism of today.

Alternative of course is fundamentalist Nazi germany which would fail in a few decades as it tries to keep its rigid norms and keep europe from rebelling while Britain and US fund rebellions all over the place.

There was a story here I read a while back about an American journalist traveling trough Europe after Nazi victory in modern day and found it realistic. Sadly don’t remember the name.

A point of interest to me is if esoteric hitlerism takes off as a religious belief. Man would be spinning in the grave like a Hydroelectric turbine
 
There was a story here I read a while back about an American journalist traveling trough Europe after Nazi victory in modern day and found it realistic. Sadly don’t remember the name.
From the Atlantic to the Urals by varyar.
Besides Hitler, Himmler, Bormann etc doing their best to make sure anyone in any position of power in post war Germany is loyal or a true believer even if they’re incompetent there’s also the fact that going against the grain would only lead to demotion at best and imprisonment and death at worst with the person’s loved ones suffering too. Even the most moral person is very unlikely to act out if it meant their loved ones’ lives were at risk.

The Holocaust and Generalplan Ost aside we’re speaking of the same regime that executed people for petty theft after Allied bombings and beheaded students for passing out pamphlets. If a bureaucrat or official got in the way of the Party’s dream of reshaping Europe they would be quickly dealt with. Even Rommel who was beloved by Hitler for years was given the choice between suicide or execution and his family being sent to a concentration camp once he was implicated in the July 20th plot.

CalBear described it well here:
The various Gauleiter sent to General Government would have talked the talk right until a car full of Gestapo agents arrived and took them and their familiy to Treblinka. After the third or fourth time that happens folks are going to square up PDQ.

Sure the regional/local leaders would try to steal anything that wasn't tied down (the Reich sort of defined corruption) or try to protect "their" workforce from "proper handling.” It won't matter, There were too many true believers to try to get away with running your mouth or ignoring orders or, God Save you, protect Slavs. The only reason anyone managed to pull that off, be it Schindler or some local Party hack running a cathouse on the side was that the war rather diverted everyone's attention from the little details. If the first couple things on the morning briefing are no longer "we incurred 7,423 unrecoverable losses from Army Group South in the past 72 hours" and "14,000 homes were destroyed last night in British Bomber Attacks" those little details are now going to be scrutinized, especially by Himmler, who never met a possible conspiracy he didn't see an an opportunity to make examples.
 
Last edited:
From the Atlantic to the Urals by varyar.

Besides Hitler, Himmler, Bormann etc doing their best to make sure anyone in any position of power in post war Germany is loyal or a true believer even if they’re incompetent there’s also the fact that going against the grain would only lead to demotion at best and death and imprisonment at worst with the person’s loved ones suffering too. Even the most moral person is very unlikely to act out if it meant their loved ones’ lives were at risk.

The Holocaust and Generalplan Ost aside we’re speaking of the same regime that executed people for petty theft after Allied bombings and beheaded students for passing out pamphlets. If a bureaucrat or official got in the way of the Party’s dream of reshaping Europe they would be quickly dealt with. Even Rommel who was beloved by Hitler for years was given the choice between suicide or execution and his family being sent to a concentration camp once he was implicated in the July 20th plot.

CalBear described it well here:
I think the scenario I described here could potentially solve those issues:
 
I have an unpopular opinion, but I think Nazi Germany was "Reforming" as well as "Deforming" during the War. They made a lot of decisions based on practical necessity. This includes making some groups of slavs "honorary aryans" and allowing the "strong" of the "subhumans" (those who served in the Waffen SS) kill themselves off so only the best would survive and purge/clean that race. This is incredibly insane, TIK has a video on it, but it appears they were quite malleable in their views (we need an alliance with X country or soldiers from Y, so race issues are no longer an issue because of Z).

So, my opinion is Germany would find Europe non-manageable and would compromise much of its nuttiness so they can economically exploit their territories within an autarkic system. Personally, i think much of the genocidal tendencies were justified in light of the blockade justifying the extremes of their ideology. Without the pressures of war, idealism gets moderated. This is true of the pious as well as the wicked.

And so, we'd probably see a market socialist Germany with extremely inconsistent racial laws colonizing much of the east, but with special relationships with the Caucasians, Cossacks, Western Ukrainians/Far South Eastern Poles, Balts, certain Southern Slavs/people in the Balkans etcetera. Ultimately this would also be unmanageable and so Germany would probably splinter some more with roughly 1940 borders (with additions due to Germanized areas in neighboring countries) but maintain an EU like economic edifice and military. In other words, a sort of USSR 1991 attempt that did not pan out.
 
I think the biggest divide in postwar Nazi politics would be between pragmatists and purists. A pragmatist Nazi Germany would become something like modern China, with global trade and a more liberalized economy while remaining politically totalitarian and oppressive. A purist Nazi Germany wouldn't want anything to do with countries outside of their sphere and would basically become a giant North Korea.
 
I think s9me important factor s is that in a Germany which win, Göring will not be delegitimized by his failures and SS will be far far less important actor as they won’t see the increased importance as they saw as Germany was losing. That will make Nazi Germany quite different from how it looked at the end of the war.
 
SS will be far far less important actor as they won’t see the increased importance as they saw as Germany was losing.
I’d argue the exact opposite. The SS would be the primary organization carrying out the Holocaust, Generalplan Ost and the transformation of Europe into the New Order. As long as they were fulfilling the goals and implementing the desired policies of Hitler and the rest of the fanatics in charge their power would only grow. Their status as the Nazi Party’s enforcers in addition to controlling the concentration camps and having their own secret police (Gestapo), intelligence service (SD) and army (Waffen SS) which would be the most glamorous branch that Hitler Youth graduates would want to join topped off by Himmler‘s leadership (who was the most loyal to Hitler after Goebbels as well as being crafty, manipulative, ambitious and ridiculously cold blooded) would help with the above goal, even more so if Heydrich lives.
 
Last edited:
Theory and execution tend to vary wildly. We have countless examples of Nazis compromising on their fanaticism for expediency. There were a couple of Jewish soldiers in the Finnish army who were offered the Iron Cross for their service in the Continuation War; absolutely unthinkable under Nazi ideology, but somehow Berlin allowed that to happen. Why? Because even the most fanatical Nazis were not incapable of bending the rules when it suited them. Ideology tends to bend under stress, and stress there would be in the extremely difficult execution of Generalplan Ost.

The operation would run into a lot of friction, from guerillas, to pragmatists, to logistics, to people advocating for increasing forced labor instead of deporting certain ethnic groups, to greedy people lining their own pockets by not following everything to a T, etc. What CalBear neglects to mention is that even in an Axis victory there are a lot of factors still grabbing attention away from people not being evil enough. The Soviet Union is so large that occupation of it will by practical necessity have to be very decentralized, allowing for people to get away with bending the rules if they care to. Generalplan Ost was also just a plan, and would be subject to changes as it's going through. Moderation would begin from the onset, at first painfully slow, but after the first couple of generations of hardcore Nazis die off, reform does become possible.
 
Last edited:
Theory and execution tend to vary wildly. We have countless examples of Nazis compromising on their fanaticism for expediency. There were a couple of Jewish soldiers in the Finnish army who were offered the Iron Cross for their service in the Continuation War; absolutely unthinkable under Nazi ideology, but somehow Berlin allowed that to happen. Why? Because even the most fanatical Nazis were not incapable of bending the rules when it suited them. Ideology tends to bend under stress, and stress there would be in the extremely difficult execution of Generalplan Ost.

To play devil's advocate, it is also entirely conceivable that the reason for awarding those crosses was not ideological flexibility, as such, but rather that the German officers deciding on those decorations didn't know they were decorating Jews. The Finns did not make a fuss about a soldier being a Jew, and in fact some might find it a nice jab at the Nazis to pointedly *not* tell them. To most Finnish officers animated by "the spirit of the Winter War", the value of a good brave soldier was not diminished by his religion or culture. My own reading of the situation is that Leo Skurnik, Salomon Klass, and Leo Jakobson, the three men in question, slipped through scrutiny by default because at no point of the process red flags were raised about them actually being Jewish.
 
Last edited:
It probably moderates eventually just because that's what seems to happen to most 20th century dictatorships eventually. Not all -- someone mentioned the Khmer Rouge, which is an interesting point -- but most of them do.
 
Top