Monday, 3 December 2012

What if the Axis had won World War Two?

 In the genre of 'alternate fiction' there's probably no possibility more commonly pondered than how the Axis countries might have won WW2 and what the resulting world would have looked like. Many authors have tackled this subject and there's a wealth of information on hand one can use to try and piece together exactly what grand plans the Germans, Italians and Japanese might have had for their new world order. Wikipedia actually has an excellent page covering the genre and lists dozens of examples. Many such books (and even a few movies) come with world maps detailing this alternate world. I ended up letting my creativity run wild and made my own, but here are a few of my favourite examples that I took inspiration from.

'Fatherland' by Robert Harris
Set in a world where Hitler's armies had successfully defeated the Soviets by 1943, while shortly afterwards the Americans were able to defeat Japan. The Greater German Reich and the United States are both nuclear armed and are the two superpowers in the novel (set in 1964) which are engaged in an alternate cold war. Germany's borders stretch from France to the Ural mountains, beyond which a seemingly endless guerrilla war is being fought against the remnants of the Soviet Union, partly to 'keep the German people on their toes' as Hitler intended.

'In the Presence of Mine Enemies' by Harry Turtledove
Set in the modern day and featuring a much more complete Axis victory than Fatherland. The United States stayed neutral in World War Two, allowing the Germans and Japanese to divide Eurasia between themselves. Thirty years later they used nuclear weapons to devastate the US homeland, which is now under German occupation. The Germans and Japanese are the world's two greatest powers, and are locked in their own alternate cold war with the peace kept only by their respective nuclear arsenals. At the novel's end the Nazi party's declining support leads to a period of democratisation similar to the 'perestroika' period before the Soviet Union's collapse.

'The Man in the High Castle' by Philip K. Dick
Set in the 1960s, this book features an even more total Axis victory in a longer WW2 (1939-47). An isolationist US government allows the Axis powers to divide Eurasia between themselves. They attack the US soon afterwards. By 1947 practically the entire globe is under the direct rule or dominance of the Axis. Even South America has been partitioned between the Germans and Japanese, who are now engaged in an alternate cold war. Also, the Straits of Gibraltar have been damned and the Mediterranean drained to create even more Lebensraum for the Germans and Italians (this was once seriously proposed, Google 'Atlantropa'.

Now I wish no disrespect to an author as brilliant as Philip K. Dick, but I think he's exaggerating the practical extent of Axis control of the globe to a fair degree. Why on Earth would the Germans or Japanese even care who ruled the Amazon rainforest? Or the deserts of Central Asia? Maintaining an effective government over such a vast extent of territory and number of people is hardly practical. Some might argue that several Imperialist powers, such as the British and French, were in fact able to create such world spanning empires, but the difference is that this largely occurred in the 18th and 19th centuries. The British were able to rule a third of all Africans by 1914 mainly because Africa's population was relatively small and underdeveloped. Within fifty years most Europeans colonies in Africa had been abandoned because of resistance from a growing and increasingly educated population of locals. Such anti-colonial conflicts would no doubt have occurred after WW2 regardless of which side won it. Even if the Germans and Japanese had been utterly brutal in putting down such revolts this might have just worsened the problem. Case in point, the Americans weren't able to win in Vietnam post-WW2, why would the Japanese have fared any better?

People have suggested many possible ways for the Axis to win WW2, from the Germans winning the Battle of Britain by not switching to a terror bombing campaign against British cities to the Japanese actually catching the American aircraft carriers at anchor in Pearl Harbor. The way I'd suggest is a fairly simple one, and it doesn't count on good luck, just good foresight on the part of the Nazi leadership. Ultimately the Second World War was a battle of industrial might. Superior tactics and training may have given the Germans an edge in the early stages of the war, and differences in technology and leadership certainly played a role in various countries’ fortunes, but ultimately by the war's later stages all of the major combatants were on pretty much the same page with regards to these variables. Victory would lie with whichever side could produce the most tanks, guns and planes and could readily equip and train the most fighting men. It is not widely known to casual students of WW2 that Hitler did not in fact fully mobilize the Reich for war until the tide had already well and truly turned against Germany. Only after the Wehrmacht's disastrous defeat at Stalingrad in February 1943 did the Nazis brace the population for total war. Hitler had originally believed the Russian campaign would last no more than a few months, so dismissive was he (not without some justification, Google 'Winter War') of the Soviet system. Despite increasingly destructive Allied bombing raids and the loss of vast stretches of resource-rich occupied territory, German war production increased all the way until late 1944. From 1940 until 1942 the Germans averaged just under a thousand aircraft produced each month, by 1944 this figure had jumped to over 3,000. Tank production rose even more dramatically, from a mere 500 a month in 1941 to over 2,000 by 1944. The Soviets and British mobilised their economies much quicker than the Germans did. British aircraft production for example, was actually higher than that of the Germans from 1940-43.

Of course the Allies' trump card in this armaments race was the industrial might of the United States. Of the nearly 800,000 aircraft (including fighters, bombers, land attack, reconnaissance, training, transport, etc) produced during World War Two over 300,000 were made by the Americans. American industrial power however only really made itself felt from 1944 onwards. A German victory on the European continent before then could have made both superpowers' homelands all but invulnerable to one another. German support could then have been used to aid Japan in its fight against the US.

So lets say that in this alternate universe the German economy was fully mobilised for war beginning in 1940. By 1941 the Germans have massively expanded their armaments production. Preparations for operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, proceed much more swiftly and anticipate the possibility of a much longer and tougher war. Consequently the attack starts on its intended start date of May 18th, or five weeks earlier than in reality. Hitler also has the foresight to lay in ample stocks of winter clothing in case the fighting lasts longer than a few months. By Mid-August the Germans are ready to launch their final assault on Moscow (rather than the end of September). As German forces approach the city a state of siege is declared on September 6th (rather than 19th October). By the middle of September Moscow has been surrounded and the Germans are fighting their way into the suburbs. The fighting is fierce and both sides suffer heavily, but by the time full winter weather has arrived in November only a few pockets of resistance remain in the city. The Soviet Winter offensive barely makes an impact on the heavily entrenched Germans around Moscow due to a lack of Soviet reserve armies and equipment; nevertheless the two sides are locked in a stalemate until late next Spring. In May 1942 the Germans renew their offensive. The Caucasus is overrun by August and the next month the Siege of Leningrad ends with the eventual annihilation of all Soviet forces there. At roughly the same time Stalingrad falls in a matter of weeks and the Germans immediately establish bridgeheads across the Volga, with the Soviet Armies in a state of collapse. By the end of 1942 the Germans have advanced nearly all the way to the Urals and the Luftwaffe is within bombing range of Chelyabinsk, one of the few remaining centres of Russian industry and Stalin's new seat of government. The Germans continue their advance in 1943, capturing Chelyabinsk in June and advancing to Novosibirsk by September. The Germans are by now in control (except for considerable resistance movements which take many years to crush completely) of virtually all of European Russia. Stalin flees to Siberia, where he braces the remnants of the Red Army for a lengthy guerrilla campaign.
This chain of events necessitates that the situation on other fronts will have changed as well. Lets posit that the successful German offensive into southern Russia in 1942, plus a great deal of coercion on Hitler's part, brings Turkey into the war on the Axis side in say, September 1942. The Turkish Army, a quarter of a million strong, and backed by several Panzer Divisions and strong Luftwaffe support, descends upon the Allied Armies in Egypt that by this point have been driven back by Rommel's Afrika Korps almost to the port of Alexandria. By the end of 1942 the trapped Allied Armies have been crushed and the Axis is rapidly establishing itself in the Middle East. The simultaneous Allied landings in North Africa in November 1942 are pushed back after the Germans redeploy significant forces from the Eastern front and the Allies have to evacuate their troops from Morocco in February 1943.

Emboldened by this success, Hitler prepares a second attempt to invade the British Isles. With operations on the Eastern front coming to a close the bulk of the Luftwaffe is redeployed to Western Europe. The first 'thousand bomber raid' hits London in April 1943 (as opposed to Cologne in May). By July some 300,000 tons of bombs have been dropped on targets across southern England, five times more than in the first blitz, and almost a quarter of a million people have been killed. The Royal Air Force, even augmented with American air units, has been all but driven from the skies by June and the Royal Navy has been severely crippled. British armaments production declines by over a third in a matter of months. Combined with the U-boat campaign in the north Atlantic the British are just months away from starvation. In August the Germans, having achieved air supremacy, launch their seaborne invasion. Three amphibious and three paratrooper divisions take part in the initial landings. Hundreds of thousands more troops, equipped with thousands of tanks and other armoured vehicles, are not far behind. The small size of the German navy makes the operation very difficult, but the overwhelming might of the Luftwaffe holds off repeated Allied counter-attacks on the German bridgeheads west of Dover. By the end of September the Germans have fought their way into London's suburbs. By the end of the year the Allied frontlines have collapsed and Winston Churchill and his government have fled to North America. The last pockets of Allied resistance in Scotland and Wales are crushed by early 1944. The invasion still comes at a stiff price for the Germans, who suffer just over half a million casualties.

With Europe, North Africa and the Middle East in firm Axis control, events in 1944 turn to the Pacific theatre of war. Assuming that the Japanese are on the defensive by now as they were in reality following the Battle of Midway in June 1942, then by mid-1944 the Americans should be just months off retaking the Philippines, but have overall yet made only a modest dent in Japan's vast overseas empire and most of the Imperial navy is still intact. With the collapse of the British its less likely the Allies would have cracked Japanese naval codes as they did in reality, or let’s assume the Germans discovered the Enigma secret after they conquered Britain and have convinced the Japanese to change their codes as well. The invasion of Britain would also allow the Germans to deploy many of their hundreds of U-boats to the Pacific theatre rather than the handful that operated there in reality. Many thousands of aircraft could have been redeployed as well. The Germans would have had a definite interest in doing this. A United States dominant not just in the Americas but the Pacific and East Asia as well would have been a severe strategic threat to Germany.
With German air and naval support, the Axis forces decisively win the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944. German submarines and several squadrons of newly relocated Luftwaffe aircraft, combined with Japanese sea and land based aircraft, overwhelm the American defences and six of the fifteen American carriers in the Fifth Fleet are destroyed and hundreds of experienced American pilots are killed. The American amphibious invasion of Saipan, which began a week earlier, is put in Jeopardy since the supporting Allied naval fleet anchored offshore is now very vulnerable to further Axis sea and land attacks. Several more Allied vessels are destroyed before the troops on Saipan are withdrawn and the American Fleet retires to Hawaii. In September 1944 Japanese forces in Manchuria also move into Soviet territory, and by the end of 1945 have formed their own 'protectorate' over much of eastern Siberia as far west as Lake Baikal.

In a series of major naval battles throughout 1944 and 45 including the Battle of the Bismarck Sea (Oct '44) and the Battle of Fiji (Feb '45) the American navy, despite reinforcements from home, is badly mauled. The Axis has enormous numerical advantages in submarines and the proximity of land-based aircraft. By early 1945 German Naval activity threatens the East Coast of the continental US. This includes the first daylight bombing raid over New York, the 'Rudel Raid', involving forty aircraft on January 18th 1945 from a newly completed German aircraft carrier positioned 1500km off the American coast. In response most American naval forces are withdrawn from the western Pacific by mid-1945. Several dozen small bombing raids are carried out on East coast cities from January to November 1945, killing some 2,000 people and causing small amounts of damage. The raids prove too costly to the Germans for them to consider a full scale bombing offensive.

Meanwhile, by March 1945 the Japanese have expanded their area of operations far beyond its 1942 maximum extent by occupying New Caledonia, Fiji and Vanuatu. Bombing raids and naval bombardments against Australian cities grow increasingly frequent. On May 8th 1945 four Japanese divisions land between Cairns and Townsville, backed up by a large naval fleet including over one hundred warships and several times that number of supporting vessels. Despite counterattacks by the Allies, including many of the 200,000 or so American troops still stationed in Australia, the Axis forces are able to mobilize more quickly and soon have almost total air supremacy. By August nearly half a million Japanese soldiers, as well as several thousand German personnel, have arrived in Australia and are advancing towards Brisbane.

By the same time the Indian people have risen up in revolt against the British, although few view the Japanese as the 'liberators' they claim to be. The chaos allows the Japanese to rapidly advance across the subcontinent, reaching Delhi by January 1945, Mumbai by April and Karachi by June. Sri Lankan falls to an amphibious invasion in May. However it cannot be said that the Japanese ever attain total control of the country. Certain areas in the south and several designated cities are occupied by large garrisons, but elsewhere rioting between rival factions such as Hindus and Muslims quickly spirals out of control.

In the North Atlantic American, German and Italian naval forces, as well as the surviving British warships, fight an ongoing battle to gain naval superiority. The Germans occupy Iceland in August 1944 and annex Greenland off the Danish government at the start of 1945. Several inconclusive naval battles rage in waters off the Canadian coast. The Allied surface navies are far stronger, but German air power and submarines are often able to tilt this balance. By mid-1945 both sides are exhausted from years of warfare. The situation is soon to change drastically.
After the Trinity test in Nevada in July, American leaders ponder how to make use of the newly invented atomic bomb. It would probably take dozens of such devices to throw back the Axis advance, which would take many months to construct. It is feared that German scientists are only a year or two off building their own bombs which they could use to devastate the US homeland. Several bombs are conserved to be used in a sudden barrage against both the Germans and Japanese. It is hoped this will bring them to the negotiating table.

Following several additional nuclear tests, including one off the coast of Alaska testing it's effect on ships, the Americans carry out their plan in November 1945. A powerful carrier group, consisting of four carriers and over fifty other vessels, sails through the north Pacific towards Japan. Four atomic bombs carried amidst a fleet of eighty aircraft are successfully dropped on Sapporo, Sendai, Niigata and Tokyo, killing over 300,000 people (although all the aircraft have to be ditched into the sea afterwards and the pilots rescued by boat as the bombers are too heavy to land back on the short length of the carriers). At the same time another, even larger carrier group consisting of most American naval forces in the Atlantic Ocean sorties in the direction of France. It is supplied with six atomic bombs with orders to use at least two of them on German cities once it has closed to near the French coast. The rest may be used to destroy any German naval vessels that approach to intercept the fleet.

The plan does not go so smoothly. A German submarine sinks one aircraft carrier on which two of the bombs are stored, resulting in their loss. The fleet comes under heavy air attack closer to France and runs into several German surface squadrons deployed at the entrance to the English channel. Two bombs are air dropped on German battleships, destroying them both and damaging several other vessels. Thousands of German sailors later die from radiation poisoning. Just a few hundred kilometres off the French coast some fifty bombers are launched against Germany in two formations aimed at Cologne and Hamburg, each one containing a single bomber loaded with an atomic bomb with the rest serving the role of decoys and heavily armed escorts. Both Hamburg and Cologne are successfully hit and over 200,000 people are killed. Landing heavy bombers back on an aircraft carrier is impossible, so the planes fly on to Norway where their crews are to bailout in the hopes of meeting up with local resistance fighters that have been contacted by the Americans. Of the 300 aircrew involved, 120 eventually make it back to the United States.

The bombings are a profound ideological shock o the Axis, who had thought total victory over the Allies was by now inevitable. Some Axis leaders however are secretly glad that an invasion of the US homeland is now off the table, since it's practically was always in doubt anyway. President Truman demands a meeting between Allied and Axis representatives to bring about an end to the war, hoping that many of the Axis conquests can be reversed diplomatically. In January 1946 Allied representatives meet with Axis leaders in Lisbon in neutral Portugal. Delegates from the United States, Canada and Australia are met by the Germans and Italians; however Hitler refuses to allow representatives from the British, French, Polish and other governments in exile to attend their meetings. This prompts the Americans to immediately walk out, and peace efforts temporarily break down. The Americans devote considerable efforts to building a larger nuclear arsenal, but difficulties in the construction process mean only about half a dozen bombs a month are being built. By February twenty more bombs are ready for use. Meanwhile the Germans and Japanese concentrate the majority of their submarine fleets, together numbering just under a thousand boats, along the western and eastern American coasts to intercept another carrier-based nuclear bombing attempt. Shelters are hastily constructed in Axis cities and millions of people are evacuated to country regions. Anti-air defences are dramatically expanded until every major Axis city is covered by thousands of Flak guns and hundreds of night-fighters. With every passing week the likely effectiveness of even a nuclear bombardment is reduced further. German scientists, who had largely stopped atomic research back in 1942 and only resumed it in early 1945, are given every possible resource to build their own bomb. It is estimated their efforts will take at least a year to bear fruit.

To bring the Axis back to the negotiating table the Americans launch a second sortie in March 1946. A powerful carrier fleet sails from San Francisco and is joined by further ships north of Hawaii. Axis submarines are led astray by decoy fleets and although several ships including one aircraft carrier are sunk, the four cruisers and two battleships actually carrying the eight weapons all remain intact. The fleet again sails through the north Pacific to Japan. Over a hundred aircraft are launched with eight carrying the bombs. Japanese air defences, augmented with German equipment including radar, have dramatically improved and two of the nuclear armed bombers are shot down en route. The other six hit their targets. Much material damage is caused, but the major cities have been largely evacuated so less than 100,000 people are killed, although at several times this number later die from radiation poisoning after they have returned to their homes. Both of the intercepted bombs are secretly recovered by the Japanese. As the Germans are much more advanced in their nuclear program than the Japanese the Japanese Government, very hesitantly, give one example to the Germans. Within weeks it has been transported back to Germany for study.

The somewhat disappointing results of the raid embolden the Axis, who still refuse to meet with the Allies on their terms. Secretly the Americans approach the Japanese through back channels and promise that, if Japanese forces are withdrawn from Australia within a month, the next nuclear raid will not occur against them. After a short deliberation, the Japanese reject the offer. Their armies, which had been halted in northern Australia since the first atomic raid five months earlier, renew their advance instead. Fighting soon begins for the city of Brisbane and drags on for months between Japanese, American and Australian forces Plans are even drawn up to invade the Hawaiian islands and launch bombing raids (with conventional bombs) against the American west coast.

The next raid in May 1946 is against German-occupied Europe. The largest carrier group the Americans have yet assembled, consisting of 24 fleet and light carriers, several battleships, dozens of cruisers and hundreds of escort vessels, is once against deployed into the north Atlantic. It carries twelve atomic bombs, some with much greater yields ranging up to 100 kilotons of TNT equivalent. The combined Axis fleets fight desperately to sink the key ships of the Allied armada, especially by many hundreds of land-based aircraft once the fleet has approached France. Both sides suffer heavy losses but all twelve atomic bombs are transported safely. Following much the same procedure as before some three hundred bombers take off carrying the dozen nukes. Their targets are Berlin (three bombs), Munich, Rome (both two bombs), Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Dusseldorf, Milan and Naples. Nine of the bombs are successfully dropped. One en route to Berlin is shot down and Dusseldorf and Frankfurt are spared. As the cities were evacuated in advance only about 100,000 people are killed in Germany, though several times that number die of radiation sickness in subsequent years and much material damage to the Reich is caused. Italy's cities were far less prepared and about 250,000 are killed there. Panic spreads across Germany and Italy, especially the latter. Meanwhile peoples in the occupied countries cheer the Americans enthusiastically, despite millions coming to suffer from illnesses as a result the radioactive cloud that disperses across Europe in subsequent months. Hitler condemns the bombings as 'inhuman' from his safe house on the Baltic coast in Lithuania and vows that Germany is on the verge of discovering the secret of nuclear power for itself. Despite the captured nuclear bomb German efforts are still months away from bearing fruit, although the process has sped up considerably.

Having suffered heavy losses in the last two raids the Americans continue stockpiling more nukes, intending to unleash ever larger barrages upon the Axis until they return to the negotiating table. Various elements internationally and within the US are growing hesitant however. Many at home fear that continued nuclear war can only escalate until the Axis is able to retaliate and detonate nukes over the US homeland. Even the exiled governments of the occupied countries are beginning to lament the devastating effects of nuclear fallout on their homelands neighbouring Germany and Italy. Some fear the continuing escalation may result in the collapse of civilization itself.

By September the Americans are almost ready to launch another nuclear raid, this time with over twenty bombs, against the Axis when news arrives of a successful German nuclear test in the North Sea. Hitler vows that Germany is now a nuclear power and that the United States of America will be 'wiped off the face of the Earth' if it does not immediately come to the negotiating table. Millions of Americans flee the major cities in a panic. Under intense pressure the American leadership decides to participate in further peace talks, which this time take place in Dublin in neutral Ireland. In the meantime ceasefires are called on fighting fronts around the world in Australia and parts of Africa and India where Allied forces are still holding out.

In three months of negotiations a peace treaty is eventually agreed upon and signed on December 23rd 1946. German hegemony over Europe is recognised, as are the borders of the Empire of Japan in Asia. Notably the north-eastern corner of Australia is to remain in Japanese hands. The Americas are recognised by the Axis powers as being strictly within the United States' sphere of influence. The German-dominated 'European Community' is founded shortly afterwards consisting off the surviving states of Europe (most of which have been under German occupation) while the Japanese-dominated Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere is recognised by the remaining Allies and diplomatic relations are eventually established. Shortly afterwards the remaining countries of the world not under Axis dominance found the 'United Nations' under American leadership. The world is effectively divided into thirds. In total slightly over a million people have been violently killed in 21 different atomic blasts, with around thrice that number later dying of radiation sickness. The Second World War has ended, however chaos continues in several parts of the globe including China and India where the Japanese are still violently expanding their holdings and annexing new territory, parts of Europe where Soviet resistors and other partisan groups haven't yet given up hope of overthrowing their new rulers and parts of Africa where the Germans and Italians are trying to assert their authority on millions of new subjects already long sick of colonial rule.

THE WORLD - 1947

Red - Greater German Reich
Pale Red - German colonial empire
Green - Greater Italy
Light Green - Italian colonial empire
Darker Yellow - Empire of Japan
Yellow - Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere
Orange - Axis allies (Finland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania)
Grey - Portugal and colonies
Pink - Spain and colonies
Blue - Turkey
Light Blue - European Community (which also includes Axis Allies, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Turkey)
Brown - Union of South Africa (apartheid state and German ally)
Dark Blue - United States
Purple - Other remaining 'Allied' countries (though Persia remains Neutral)
Dark Grey - German Siberian occupation zone
Light Grey - Japanese Siberian occupation zone
So to explain some of the finer points of this alternate world -

Germany has completely swallowed up Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria and Poland and taken strips of territory off France and Denmark and annexed the former Soviet Union up until somewhat beyond the Ural mountains. The eastern border is roughly near the city of Chelyabinsk. Greenland, Iceland, most of the Middle East and most of central Africa have been designated as parts of Germany's massive colonial empire. These borders are to roughly where I think Hitler ultimately wanted to expand his thousand year Reich as far as historical sources can tell us. In the end I don't think Hitler ever sought to unite the entire world under single one government. Even he would have seen how impossible a pipe dream that was. He wanted the hegemony of Europe and I suppose control of the world's oceans and trade routes to give Germany an unassailable strategic position.

Italy has also expanded its borders, albeit less so. It's seized territory off France, the former Yugoslavia and Greece as well as swallowing up all of Albania. This includes islands such as Corsica and Crete. It's been granted control over a vast colonial area by the Germans including almost the entire northern third of Africa and some of the middle east.

For its help in the war Turkey has been allowed to expand its borders over about half of Syria, the northern tip of Iraq, some former Soviet territory including Armenia and parts of Greece.

Finland and the other Axis allies have also been rewarded with extra territory.

Iran's borders are unchanged. It remained neutral in the war and due to its 'Aryan' heritage the Nazis respect its sovereignty.

Japan was the trickiest country to decide, since their plans were perhaps even more ambitious then the Germans yet never got as far along in reality. They sought to create a 'Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere' (I've dropped the 'east' in this post as I think by the time they're conquered places like India it would have been a bit redundant). The name was apparently to encourage the conquered peoples of East Asia to in fact view the Japanese as liberators from colonial European oppressors (you can't deny they've got something of a point, some did view the Japanese as such despite their brutality and scorn even against fellow Asians). In the end I've included within the borders of the 'Empire of Japan' itself Korea, Manchuria, much of Eastern China, Indochina, Taiwan, the Philippines, New Guinea and most other islands in the western Pacific, Sri Lanka, the southern tip of India and the north-eastern corner of Australia which they'd conquered before the war ended. The defining of their territory in India has some historical basis, apparently they wanted to directly rule the tip of the subcontinent south of a line roughly at the latitude of the Portuguese city of Goa (which I'm going to presume remains in Portuguese hands here since they're not a member of the Allies).

As for the other states making up the Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere I don't think there's any way of knowing exactly what borders they'd have ended up having. Since Thailand quickly caved to Japanese threats and joined their side during the war when they faced the prospect of invasion they would probably have been rewarded with additional territory, but I haven't undertaken to reflect that here. Given how vast China, India and Russia were it would probably take a number of years for the Axis to fully assert their authority over them, and many millions would no doubt have died in the resultant ethnic cleansing. So the remaining parts of those three countries can basically be assumed to consist of a mix of Japanese-occupied areas, collaborationist local governments and rival factions fighting each other as much as the Japanese. With the collapse of the Soviet Union Mao Zedong's influence is unlikely to have ever grown all that strong, let along capable of throwing off the Japanese and taking power over all of China like in reality.

Russia is a special case. The Japanese have annexed an area around Vladivostok and occupied a vast but largely empty area of eastern Siberia. Presumably this rump state is eventually given its own Japanese-dominated government and turned into just another member of the Co-Prosperity Sphere. As for central Russia neither the Germans nor the Japanese have decided to annex all of it, at least not straight away. In the meantime it is divided into respective German and Japanese occupation zones. The main reason Hitler invaded Russia in the first place was to use its territory as Lebensraum (living space) for the German people. So much like the Spanish, British and French did earlier in history the first step in this process of colonisation is killing off the local population. Hence a German victory on the Eastern front would have been followed by the systemic murder of around one hundred million people. Hitler only got round to killing 20 million or so Soviet citizens in reality. He'd also only killed off about half of Europe's twelve million strong pre-war Jewish population. The Japanese similarly killed off upwards of twenty million people in Asia, especially China, during their relatively brief occupation of those countries. Many more would presumably have died under prolonged Japanese rule. The Japanese also intended to ultimately colonise Australia with millions of their own settlers. In this reality where they have only partly conquered Australia a smaller version of this plan would probably be implemented.

As for the 'free world', the United States would remain dominant over Latin America, whose countries in this alternate reality make up the bulk of the United Nations along with Australia and New Zealand. Also take note of the only non-Axis country left in Africa. Liberia was founded by the Americans as a place to return freed slaves in the early 1800s. I'd imagine that American troops would be stationed in the country if it were threatened by the Axis, as it indeed would be in this reality following the Axis seizure of all British and French colonies in Africa. Its awkward position could, like Cuba since the communist revolt there in 1959, have made it a geopolitical hot potato.

So there you have it, the world following an Axis victory in WW2 as I'd imagine it. There are many more variables you could put in here. The Americans might have rejected the concept of the atomic bomb as far-fetched, allowing the Germans to develop it first. The Germans, even after emerging victorious in Europe, may have decided not to help their Japanese 'allies' and let the Americans finish them off instead. The Axis may one day have even attempted an invasion of the United States, although I doubt that would ever have happened.

I might post an expanded timeline later on detailing what might have happened to this world. Will the German-Japanese alliance last? How long will Europe and Asia remain suppressed? Will communism ever rise from the ashes again? Stay tuned...


  1. Engrossing reading. Quite plausible, in that it could have happened. I had actually been searching for what the world may have been like in 2013 -- almost seven decades later! But that's too long a period, for anything other than fiction.

    1. Thanks for the feedback! I did intend to write a sequel, sure I'll get round to it at some point.

  2. This was one of the more plausible scenarios about a possible Axis victory that I've read (and I've read many). Regarding Japan and the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, you stated that Thailand caved to Japanese threats. Well, it didn't exactly happen like that.

    Thailand was a fascist country with aims for expansion before WW2 even broke out. After the fall of France, Thailand initiated a little remembered war with French Indo-China to reclaim land that France had taken from Thailand earlier in the 20th century (google the Franco-Thai War). Thailand won almost all of the battles before Japan intervened to negotiate a peace settlement. Thailand won back land in western Laos as well as land in northwestern Cambodia. As a token of appreciation to Japan, Thailand's dictator, Phibun, verbally promised that he would allow Japanese forces free passage through the country during an eventual attack on British colonies. At the same time, in order to avoid British aggression, Phibun promised to the British that Thailand would remain neutral.

    When it came time for Japan's invasion of Malaysia, Thailand would not give a firm confirmation of their promise. When Japanese forces landed on Thailand's shores, neither side was sure what the response would be. Thai forces could not get an answer from Phibun, so they attacked the Japanese. Fighting went on for 8 hours before Phibun ordered Thai troops to stand down. There is debate about why Phibun waited to so long, but most Thai historians say that it was to give the appearance of resistance so that the British would not suspect collusion with the Japanese. Since Thailand was bordered by two British colonies, they had to carefully play their hand. After Singapore fell, the Thais felt it was time to enter a full alliance with the Japanese. Thailand sent forces into Burma to reclaim the Shan states and Japan also allowed Thailand to retake the Malay provinces that once belonged to Siam.

    So the borders of Thailand did expand a good deal during WW2. This was Thailand at it's greatest extent during the war:

    After Japan's loss, Thailand quickly returned all the territory that they had taken and played themselves up to be the victims in order to avoid harsh punishment from the allies. It was only the USA's intervention that saved Thailand harsher retribution from the French and British. To this day, Thailand's role in WW2 is often characterized as them being akin to Vichy France, when in reality they were active aggressors in the war.

    1. Interesting. I consider myself very well versed on WW2 history, but I'll admit that's a chapter I knew very little about. Thank you. If I ever make an updated version of this I'll be sure to include that expansion in Thailand's borders on any such map.

  3. How about an alternate scenario where the Japanese won the Battle of Midway? It was the turning point in the Pacific War, although admittedly the Japanese were doomed once they attacked Pearl Harbour.

    (perhaps by not having their codes cracked by US intelligence)

    1. While the Battle of Midway could certainly have gone either way, a Japanese victory there could have only prolonged the Pacific War, not changed the outcome.

      America's industrial might was far greater than Japan's at the time. They produced over 300,000 aircraft during the war, approximately four times the Japanese figure. Even if they'd been extremely lucky and skillful, they would still have lost eventually The most optimistic scenario is that they might have successfully occupied the Hawaiian island chain, and perhaps made further attacks against Alaska, but the Japanese could certainly never have invaded the continental US.

      This is why in the above scenario the Germans rush to aid the Japanese once they have secured their victory in Europe. There's really only two countries that could have competed with the Americans economically in the 20th century - and that's the Soviet Union and/or an expanded Germany in control of most of central Europe (China would be another, perhaps even under Japanese occupation, but would take decades to industrialize as is happening in the present day).

      So yeah, that's why the key factor in changing the outcome of WW2 has to lie with Germany. The Japanese could not possibly have beaten the Allies by themselves.