186 - Europe, If the Nazis Had Won

One of the mainstays of speculative history (together with “What if the South had won the US Civil War?”) is: What would the world have looked like if the Nazis had won the Second World War? And yet I’ve never seen a map showing what the Nazis’ post-war plans (for Europe of for the world) were, neither from their own files or reconstructed by war historians.

Which is very strange, considering that the Second World War is one of the most studied conflicts in world history. Maybe that’s because the Nazis didn’t have any concrete plans for after their victory – not because they didn’t believe in it themselves, but because of the chaotic nature of Nazi governance. The institutional overlap, competition and resulting chaos in the Third Reich is a well-established historical fact that contradicts the traditional notion of Germans as careful and thorough planners and which may well have prevented a German victory.

How the world would have looked like if such a victory had occurred, is a question that has been answered often in fiction, for example in the (passable) Robert Harris novel ‘Fatherland’ and the (brilliant) Philip K. Dick book ‘The Man in the High Castle’. Harris’ book includes a map, of a 1960s Europe dominated by Germany. This Nazi state, greatly expanded towards the East, doesn’t include Alsace-Lorraine. This rather puts a dent in the map’s credibility: it’s quite unthinkable that a victorious Nazi state would not annex these territories on the Rhine’s left bank, for so long disputed between France and Germany. Dick’s book, which focuses on the Japan-dominated West Coast of the (former) USA, sadly isn’t illustrated with a map. Not my copy at least.

This map does give what seems to be a well-considered vision of a Europe-wide Nazi state as it might have emerged after a German victory. German supremacy is ‘concealed’ by the construct of Neuropa (‘New Europe’), a sort of evil twin of the European Union in this universe.


• Linchpin of Neuropa is the Greater German Empire (Grossdeutsches Reich), consisting of Germany in its 1937 borders, plus Alsace-Lorraine (from France), the entire Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Belgian German-speaking area of Eupen-Malmédy (from Belgium), all of Austria (Ostmark in Nazi parlance), a large part of present-day Slovenia, the Sudeten areas of former Czechoslovakia, and large parts of pre-war Poland. • Some areas are not part of the Reich, but nonetheless under direct ‘Protectorate’: Bohemia-Moravia and the Polish ‘General-Gouvernement’. • So far, nothing deviates from the situation as it was at the height of Nazi power in Europe. Different are two Reich exclaves in the East, implying Germany won the war with Soviet Russia: Gotenland (on the Krim peninsula) and St Petersburg. • Presumably outside the Reich in a technical sense, but still administered civilly by the NSDAP (Hitler’s National Socialist party) are large areas in the East: Estonia and Latvia, both enlarged by annexing parts of Russia, Lithuania, and Belarus. • There are also three autonomous NSDAP areas in the west: the Netherlands, Flanders and Wallonia (those two successor-states to Belgium also gaining territory, in this case to the detriment of France). • So far the areas under direct German control (either under the Reich or under the Party). Next in the map legend are other European states, major allies of the Nazis and “instigators of the New European Union”: Greater Finland (almost doubling in size by grabbing parts of Norway and Russia) and the Italian Social Republic, covering just the northern half of Italy but gaining the Savoy and Nice areas of France and the environs of Istria from Slovenia. • This is where the map’s colour scheme gets a bit confusing: the states signing up to the European Declaration in 1946 and later are indicated in one of several shades of brown and green used in the legend. To the best of my visual abilities, the 1946 ones are: Norway, Denmark, France, Slovakia, (Greater) Hungary, (Greater) Croatia, (Greater) Romania and (Greater) Bulgaria – those last four Balkan states enlarged at the expense their neighbours (sometimes including each other). • A second wave of member states signing the European Declaration in 1951 are (again, as far as I can see): Spain (also holding on to its possessions in Morocco), (Little) Serbia, Greece (losing part of Macedonia to Bulgaria and also some territory to Albania, but retaining an enclave at the Turkish border) and Ukraine, which, having lost some land to Romania and the General-Gouvernement, is extended eastward all the way to Saratov. • Later in the 1950s, Albania (enlarged also with a good part of Kosovo) joins the European Declaration. • A third wave of Neuropa members joins in the 1960s: Portugal, Montenegro, and several formerly Soviet areas in or near the Caucasus: Kuban, Kalmykia, Georgia (enlarged with North Ossetia), Armenia and Azerbaijan. • In the 1970s, three new states join: Dagestan in the Caucasus, and Udmurtia and Volga-Tatarstan further north. • Incorporated in Neuropa, but without voting rights are the areas of Moskova and an area in the Caucasus, somewhat conforming to where Chechnya is now (maybe corresponding with the former, larger Soviet autonomous area of Chechnya-Ingushetia).

This map was sent to me by Bruno De Cordier and is taken here from the Finnish site valtakunta.eu, dedicated to illustrating the parallel universe in which the Nazis have won the war.

Unfortunately mainly in Finnish, it’s impossible (for a non-Finnophone like me, anyway) to determine which is the POD (point of divergence) of this timeline: what was the turning point allowing the Nazis to win the war?

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Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder found that the fatty 10(Z)-hexadecenoic acid from the soil-residing bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae aids immune cells in blocking pathways that increase inflammation and the ability to combat stress.

The study's senior author and Integrative Physiology Professor Christopher Lowry described this fat as "one of the main ingredients" in the "special sauce" that causes the beneficial effects of the bacterium.

The finding goes hand in hand with the "hygiene hypothesis," initially proposed in 1989 by the British scientist David Strachan. He maintained that our generally sterile modern world prevents children from being exposed to certain microorganisms, resulting in compromised immune systems and greater incidences of asthma and allergies.

Contemporary research fine-tuned the hypothesis, finding that not interacting with so-called "old friends" or helpful microbes in the soil and the environment, rather than the ones that cause illnesses, is what's detrimental. In particular, our mental health could be at stake.

"The idea is that as humans have moved away from farms and an agricultural or hunter-gatherer existence into cities, we have lost contact with organisms that served to regulate our immune system and suppress inappropriate inflammation," explained Lowry. "That has put us at higher risk for inflammatory disease and stress-related psychiatric disorders."

University of Colorado Boulder

Christopher Lowry

This is not the first study on the subject from Lowry, who published previous work showing the connection between being exposed to healthy bacteria and mental health. He found that being raised with animals and dust in a rural environment helps children develop more stress-proof immune systems. Such kids were also likely to be less at risk for mental illnesses than people living in the city without pets.

Lowry's other work also pointed out that the soil-based bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae acts like an antidepressant when injected into rodents. It alters their behavior and has lasting anti-inflammatory effects on the brain, according to the press release from the University of Colorado Boulder. Prolonged inflammation can lead to such stress-related disorders as PTSD.

The new study from Lowry and his team identified why that worked by pinpointing the specific fatty acid responsible. They showed that when the 10(Z)-hexadecenoic acid gets into cells, it works like a lock, attaching itself to the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR). This allows it to block a number of key pathways responsible for inflammation. Pre-treating the cells with the acid (or lipid) made them withstand inflammation better.

Lowry thinks this understanding can lead to creating a "stress vaccine" that can be given to people in high-stress jobs, like first responders or soldiers. The vaccine can prevent the psychological effects of stress.

What's more, this friendly bacterium is not the only potentially helpful organism we can find in soil.

"This is just one strain of one species of one type of bacterium that is found in the soil but there are millions of other strains in soils," said Lowry. "We are just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg in terms of identifying the mechanisms through which they have evolved to keep us healthy. It should inspire awe in all of us."

Check out the study published in the journal Psychopharmacology.

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