December 1941 is usually remembered by Americans as that fateful month when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, thus thrusting the United States into World War II. However, consider an alternate scenario: Adolf Hitler appears triumphantly before the Reichstag announcing the destruction of the Soviet Union, following the German capture of Moscow and the “cowardly escape of that war criminal, Joseph Stalin,” to somewhere in the vast Russian hinterlands. “Just as I predicted,” the Fuhrer crows before cheering hordes in Germany’s puppet legislature: “All we had to do was to kick down the door and the whole rotten structure will collapse!”
And collapse it did, as Hitler points out. The Soviet Union lost four million men; 8,000 aircraft; and 17,000 tanks; the Fuhrer boasts. The Soviet breadbasket region of the Ukraine was quickly overrun, along with half of Russian coal and steel output. Major Russian cities were captured, Hitler states smugly—Minsk, Kiev, Moscow, Leningrad. The commissars capitulated, the Russian people are cowed, and Soviet lands are open to master race colonizers.
Pausing for effect and waiting for the cheering to subside, Hitler brushes aside his trademark lock of hair that cut across his forehead like a black scythe and continues: “Wonder weapons!” he shouts. “Our scientists, our gallant workers of the Reich have produced miracles of modern technology! Soon the skies will be filled with jet aircraft, bombers and fighters, and rockets and missiles with enough range to hit any place on earth. We can destroy those who dare to challenge our supremacy in Europe, in Asia, in the world!” More applause, punctuated by vigorously bobbing heads and expansive grins of triumph in the crowd. “Our submarines patrol the Atlantic, a German lake! Britain is crumbling, ready to surrender.” Then, as an aside: “One torpedo from our new Type XXI submarine will sink that whole miserable island.” Riotous laughter and applause.
Then out comes the map, huge, blazing with colors—black and yellow and gray. Three vast spheres of influence, German (with a nod to the Italians), Japanese, and the Americas, light up the background behind the Fuhrer. The audience claps, and many begin imagining vacation junkets to Asia, Africa, and the farthermost regions of mighty Germania’s global domain. More glances at that huge gray area on the map; with a wink and a nod, someone in the crowd utters, “soon, all that will be ours, too.”