|Attention Needed - Excessive Historical Information|
This particular article based on a real world subject or individual is needlessly excessive, and may also not accurately reflect the subject matter within the context of the series itself. Consider removing all information not directly linked to the series events. At the very least, a reasonable amount of important additional details can be migrated to the "Notes & Trivia" section.
The Greater Nazi Reich, also known as Greater Germanic Reich (German: Großdeutsches Reich) or the "Greater National Socialist Reich", is one of the two major world powers in The Man in the High Castle, the other being the Japanese Empire. With its capital in Berlin, the German Reich dominates the entirety of the European and African continents, and also controls the majority of what was once the United States in the form of Nazi America. The Nazi Empire is presented as the more powerful and technologically advanced of the two superpowers, and is in a state of détente with the Japanese.
In September 19, 1919, Adolf Hitler, a World War 1 veteran, joined a small political party at a beer hall in Munich, Germany. National Socialist German Workers' Party (German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, abbreviated NSDAP), or later on Nazi Party.
Hitler based the Nazi platform on reversing the Treaty of Versailles, restrengthening the nation, and on a stab-in-the-back (Dolchstoßlegende) notion that the German military did not "lose" the war but was rather betrayed at a critical moment by traitorous civilians (Communists, Jews), thereby causing the war effort to fail. These policies proved popular among those embittered by the Treaty. The Great Depression allowed the party's popularity to grow even faster as impoverished Germans flocked to Hitler's banner. The Nazi Party grew steadily until it became the largest political entity in the Weimar Republic in 1933.
Having more seats than any other party in the Reichstag (the legislative body of the Republic) Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor (Reichskanzler) in January 30, 1933. The NSDAP quickly moved to silence all opposition to its power by passing the Enabling Act of 1933. This act spelled the end of the Weimar Republic by granting Chancellor Hitler emergency powers, abolishing all other political parties, and stripping away almost all powers of the Reichstag. In 1934, after the death of President Hindenburg (who was all but a figurehead at this point) Hitler merged the offices of Reichspräsident with his own into a new one: Führer und Reichskanzler, more commonly referred to as Der Führer (The Leader). In this new government, Hitler wielded absolute power and German bureaucracy became a collection of factions "working towards the Führer": Hitler issued vague instructions on many policies and expected his subordinates to work the details out on their own.
In the mist of the Great Depression, the Nazis restored economic stability and ended mass unemployment with massive military spending and extensive public work projects, such as the continued construction of the Autobahn (high speed highways). These acts boosted the regime's popularity. Driven by a desire to avenge the punishments of the First World War and its hated Treaty of Versailles, Nazi Germany made increasingly aggressive military actions (much to the dismay of many of the German military high command). First, in 1935, the state reintroduced mass conscription, and in 1936 it moved to occupy the Rhineland region (a demilitarized zone); both actions constituted direct violations of the Treaty. Then, in 1938, it annexed Austria (the 'Anschluss') and through the Munich Agreement, the Sudetenland as well, a German-speaking region in Czechoslovakia before conquering the rest in 1939, pushing Europe ever closer to war. Finally, on September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, igniting World War II, as both France and the United Kingdom declared war against Germany to defend Poland's sovereignty.
It can be assumed the Second World War proceeded as it did in our timeline up until mid-1940, with Germany successfully conquering Poland by the end of September 1939, followed by Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France by June 1940. However, thanks to the assassination of Roosevelt in 1933, the USA was evidently less effective in World War II than historically, resulting in the defeat of Britain and the Soviet Union. Details of the War are relatively scarce, but characters make reference to a number of engagements which happened both in real life and the alternate timeline; these include a Japanese surprise attack at Pearl Harbor (presumably in 1941 as historically); a battle at the Badung Strait, and a campaign in the Solomon Islands (in which Smith and Kido fought on different sides). In 1942, the United States re-captured Hawaii, leading to celebrations and a sense that the tide was turning in favour of the Allies; in history, Hawaii was never captured by the Axis, suggesting that the initial Japanese offensive of 1941-2 was more powerful than historically.
Following the conquest of Britain and Russia, the Axis launching a two prong assault on both the East and West Coasts in mid-1945. Just as in our timeline, the Reich began a nuclear weapons program in the 1940s, led by Dr. Werner Heisenberg. However, in this timeline, the Nazis succeeded in creating an operational atomic bomb, dubbed the "Heisenberg Device", by 1945. On December 11, 1945, the Nazis deployed one of these weapons on Washington, D.C., obliterating most of the city and the American central command. With the destruction of their political and military leadership, the remnants of the United States government collapsed and capitulated to the Axis. Victorious, the two new superpowers divided the world, including the former United States, between them.
The Greater Nazi Reich employed a policy of genocide against non-Aryan peoples, with both Jews and Black people being particular targets. By the 1960s both have been exterminated in Reich territory. The Reich teaches that this genocide is a continuation of previous American policies, for instance slavery and the genocide of American Indians. However it is not honest about the extent of the exterminations - for instance, in schools children are taught that Black people were resettled to their 'homelands' in Africa.
In 1962, men such as Reichsminister Martin Heusmann and Oberstgruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich assassinated Adolf Hitler in an attempt to gain control for themselves, so as to start World War 3 against the Japanese . This, however, was uncovered by then Obergruppenführer John Smith. Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler then succeeded Hitler as the new and second Führer.
Political struggles followed suit. Reichsmarschall George Lincoln Rockwell, the leader of Nazi America, together with the Head of the ARBI J. Edgar Hoover, attempted to overthrow the newly promoted Oberstgruppenführer John Smith. However, Smith managed to turn Hoover to his side and overthrow Rockwell instead. Himmler reveals that he had been grooming Smith to take over as the new Reichsmarschall and that Smith was "very close" to being arrested. Smith was subsequently promoted to Rockwell's former position.
Time goes on but most of the leadership in Berlin is still doubtful of The American Reich as it is being led by an American. Noticing that Smith's loyalty is in question, Hoover and Obergruppenführer Wilhelm Goertzmann plan to overthrow Smith by presenting evidence of Smith's disloyalty. However, Smith also managed to turn Goertzmann to his side and both start to plan a coup to overthrow Himmler, Hoover and the Berlin leadership.
The coup was subsequently launched and was successful, and Goertzmann is now the de facto leader of the Nazi Reich. However, his deal with Smith included that Germany also let go of The American Reich and allow it to have full autonomy, under the sole rule of John Smith, while Goertzmann himself led the remaining parts of the Reich. Goertzmann adhered to the deal, and John Smith was now the first Reichsführer of The American Reich.
With The American Reich now quasi-independent, the fate of the Goertzmann-led Greater National Socialist Reich is unknown.
In the opening scene of Season Two, a planisphere at the back of a classroom in Fritz Julius Kuhn High School is briefly shown with Nazi territories marked in red. According to this map, the Nazis control the entirety of the continents of Europe, Africa, as well as the Middle East and European Russia. In addition, the Reich controls Iceland, Greenland, Iran, the majority of North America, Central America and the Caribbean islands, and sizable territories on the east coast of South America, including Venezuela, Guyana, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, and the eastern half of Brazil.
It is possible that Italy (which in the television series is no longer independent, while in the novel the Italian Empire still exists) and the other members of the Axis were annexed into Germany at the end of the war somewhat around mid 1950s, supported by the map in the opening of Season two, but they are never mentioned and their fate is mostly unknown. During World War II, they all had extremely close ties to Germany, and states like Romania and Italy put enormous military and economic support into the Axis war effort. The annexed nations are probably not directly under Berlin rule but under various Reichskommissariats.
Flags and Emblems
The Nazi flag was designed by Hitler as his party's flag in 1920. It features a simple red field, with a white disk, and at the center: a black swastika at a 45 degree angle.
The Nazi swastika is a prominent symbol in the Reich, appearing on many properties and civil products such as phone booths. Soldiers (especially those of the SS) and police officers wear swastika armbands. Nazi officials typically wear a lapel that has the swastika on it. It represents the Aryan race and the Black Sun.
Presumably, Nazi puppet regimes incorporate the swastika in their flags as well. The flag in use for the Nazi-controlled portion of the former United States is similar to the old "Stars and Stripes" flag, except the swastika now adorns the blue field in the former place of the white stars that represented the forty-eight states.
Politics and Policies
The Nazi government is a National Socialist, totalitarian dictatorship. There is little freedom of speech or press. The media is regulated to promote Nazi principles and ideologies. Schools, youth groups and other educational institutions are also designed to serve this purpose amongst the young. Possession of outlawed or “degenerate” media is met with harsh punishment. Religion is regulated, and the regime appears to be atheistic, or has adopted a racialized form of Germanic Paganism. In our world, while the Nazis never made any official public condemnation of religion, it was a long term goal to eventually subsume all religions (particularly Christianity) and replace them with a National Socialist ideal, which took its roots from a quasi-Germanic Pagan standpoint.
National Socialist ideology combined racial hygiene (racial purity), Anti-Semitism, eugenics, and Pan-Germanism with the goal of creating a German hegemony over the world. Racism, particularly Anti-Semitism, was a core pillar of the regime. The Nazis promoted what they called the "Aryan Race" or "Master Race", which was an ideal superior human, identified by light eyes, light hair, light skin and a tall stature. These people were descendants of Scandinavia (Swedes, Danes, etc.) and Western Europe (Germans, Dutch, British, etc.) Southern Europeans (Spanish, Italians, Greeks, etc.), while not heavily discriminated against, are still viewed as inferior to Aryans. Untermenschen (sub-humans) included Slavs, Romani, Africans, and particularly Jews. Most of these peoples were not considered worthy of life and were only meant to be dominated, segregated, enslaved, or exterminated.
Asiatic peoples rested somewhere in between these groups but were still considered inferior to Aryans. The Japanese appear to have escaped this classification, at least by Hitler, who bestowed the title of, "Honorary Aryan" to the entire Japanese people (most likely to appease his powerful allies). Many other high-ranking Nazis, however, do not share this sentiment.
Chillingly, the Nazis have (very likely) all but completed their "Final Solution" in their territories, leaving ethnic groups such as Jews, Slavs, and Romani nearly extinct. So far all scenes in Nazi-controlled America do not indicate that any non-white, non-Aryan people (save for the Japanese) reside there at all. Other peoples deemed unworthy of life by the Nazis included the mentally and physically disabled, homosexuals, and "social misfits."
Economics and Technology
The economy of the Reich appears to be prosperous and technologically advanced. It is the leader of technological development in the world as evidenced by its advanced jet aircraft, monorails, rocket transportation and modern automatic firearms such as the G3 battle rifle and the MP5 Sub-Machine Gun (that appear to predate in this world their development in our own. However, throughout the series; WWII-vintage German small arms like the Mauser Kar98K bolt-action rifle and the MP40 Sub-Machine Gun were still used by
GNR soldiers and SS officers in The American Reich and, quite possibly; the Wehrmacht in the rest of the Reich. There is a possibility that elite units of the SS are armed with the G3 and the MP5 while regular German forces still use the Mauser Kar98K and the MP40, and the fact that it is in sole possession of a nuclear arsenal.
This technological development has some basis in real life, as Nazi Germany were pioneers in a number of fields such as rocket science and jet technology. The Nazis also developed the first assault rifle and relay computer.
A scene in The Man In The High Castle shows the Nazis using LSD (developed in our world by a Swiss scientist in 1938 and further researched by the CIA in the 1950's) as an interrogation drug, although it is unsuccessful.
The GNR also carries out various experimental and unethical research via the Ahnenerbe Institute, led by Dr. Josef Mengele. One of the Institute's most important projects is Die Nebenwelt, a device intended to create portals to alternate universes so that the Reich can invade and conquer them.
The Reichsmark or Mark is currency of the Reich. It was originally introduced in 1924 as a permanent replacement for the Papiermark. This was necessary due to the 1920s German inflation which had reached its peak in 1923.
Notes & Trivia
- Ever since World War II ended, The Greater Nazi Reich had two putsches, one by Martin Heusmann and another by Wilhelm Goertzmann.
- It is possible that Wilhelm Goertzmann may have been inspired by Martin Heusmann's putsch and Heinrich Himmler's rise to power, which possibly led to Goertzmann's putsch against Himmler and his Nazi loyalists.
- Assuming the rise of Nazi Germany in this world is similar to its rise in ours, the seeds from which the Reich would grow were sown with the end of World War 1 and the Treaty of Versailles, on June 28, 1919. Being the primary belligerent of the losing side, Germany suffered harsh and humiliating terms, including crippling war reparations, near complete disarmament, numerous territorial concessions, and admission of guilt for causing the war.
Divergences with Our World
- Field Marshal Erwin Rommel is still alive as of 1962 and is mentioned as an "old war hero", having served as the first Reichsmarschall of North America. In our world, Rommel died in 1944, forced to commit suicide after he was implicated in a plot to assassinate Hitler. The cover story for this was that Rommel succumbed to injuries in a failed Allied assassination attempt. Rommel was among few Axis commanders, others included Isoroku Yamamoto and Reinhard Heydrich, who were directly targeted for assassination by Allied planners.
- Reinhard Heydrich, portrayed by Ray Proscia, is still alive 20 years after his real life death. Heydrich was a particularly brutal figure among the Nazi elite, Hitler even referred to him as the "man with the iron heart". Around 75% of the deaths in the Holocaust can be attributed directly to Heydrich. In The Man In The High Castle, Heydrich was tasked with the subjugation of Africa after the war was won, it can be presumed the results were horrifying. When Heydrich invited John Smith to go on a hunting trip in Northern New York, he was afraid for his family, and gave his wife Helen Smith a gun while he was away, with the understanding that if he didn't come back and Heydrich approached his family that Helen was to shoot her children and herself as prevention of Heydrich's intentions.
- JFK International Airport in New York is called "Lincoln Rockwell International Airport". In our world, George Lincoln Rockwell was the founder of the American Nazi Party.
- Werner Heisenberg, presumably under the German nuclear weapon project (German: Uranprojekt), developed the atomic bomb which the Nazis use to end the war in the United States. In our world, Heisenberg is most well known for developing Quantum Theory and the Uncertainty Principle. While Heisenberg was a member of the German nuclear program, he was not one of its greater contributors.