The Kim Newman & Eugene Byrne


The Matter of Britain

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The Matter of Britain Series

NB: This Timeline is provisional only; we're using it merely as a framework for the way in which we think the 20th century would go had Hitler been more successful. It's already undergone one major revision and is bound to change again as we work our way through the stories. If you find any of it politically, economically or technically implausible, let us know.



1940 July/August: Following British withdrawal from France in June, the Luftwaffe mounts series of intensive attacks against RAF airfields, sector and group headquarters and radar stations. RAF Fighter Command is effectively eliminated.

Late September. The German army, supported by the Navy and Luftwaffe, makes a series of landings on the south-east coast of England. Despite heroic resistance, both by the Royal Navy and on the beachheads, Britain's lack of seasoned, professional troops and of heavy equipment and air cover, as well as a lot of bad luck, tells against her. By the end of September the Germans have a secure beachhead on a line running from Brighton to Deal.

Mid-October. German forces in Britain go onto a full-scale offensive from their base in the south-east, steadily consolidating their grip on the whole country. In November, London is declared an open city to prevent its being bombed.

Churchill transfers his headquarters to Lancaster. He is killed in early December manning a machine-gun on the outskirts of Preston with a Home Guard detachment. The Royal Family, having moved to Edinburgh, are taken to Canada on a Royal Navy cruiser. Churchill's wish that no member of the government legitimises the invasion by signing any formal instrument of surrender is respected. Many prominent politicians follow the royal family into exile or go into hiding. Remaining ships of the Royal Navy are ordered to surrender themselves to dominion governments, to go to Canada or, if in danger of falling into German hands, to scuttle. A British government-in-exile, jointly headed by Anthony Eden and Clement Attlee, is established in Ottawa, but later, following pressure from the Canadian government, moves to Bermuda.

Christmas Day. Dr Goebbels announces on the radio that all resistance in Britain is at an end. This is not strictly true, with isolated pockets of fighting still going on in remote areas. SS squads are already rounding up any likely resistance leaders and executing them.

1941 January: All British men of military age captured in uniform during the invasion - about 500,000 - are transferred to PoW camps in Germany. With no senior British official signing an instrument of surrender, the Germans impose a military government on Britain under a 'Reichskommisar', operating through existing British laws and administrative structures, but with a raft of Nazi laws added on, including severe penalties for acts against the military.

June: Germany invades the Soviet Union. After spectacular initial gains, the army becomes bogged down outside Moscow, Leningrad and Stalingrad with the onset of winter.

October: Organised resistance to German occupation of Britain has long-since ended. The Germans install an unelected puppet government under Prime Minister Sir Samuel Hoare. Mosley's former right-hand man Neil Francis-Hawkins is Home Secretary and General JFC Fuller is Foreign Minister. The Germans also entice the Duke of Windsor to return from their exile in Portugal and he is reinstalled as King Edward VIII. His wife is titled Princess Consort though among ordinary Britons she is more commonly known as 'Lady Macbeth'. The new government is launched with a Nazi 'sweetener' - the return from PoW camps of 50,000 men who are married with children. There is no news of the likely release of the rest. The first act of the new government is to enact the German Anti-Jewish laws.

December. Japanese aircraft attack the American naval base at Pearl Harbour. USA declares war on Japan. Japan declares war on USA. Germany and Italy declare war on USA. Britain's puppet government declares war on the USA and hands colonial possessions including Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaya over to the Japanese for 'protection'. Britain takes little part in the subsequent fighting.

1942 February: Jews in Britain are obliged to wear the yellow star and the process of moving them into two major ghettos - in London and Leeds - begins on the initiative of the puppet government before the Germans have asked for it. A concentration camp is also established at March in Cambridgeshire.

Winter/spring. Japan scores a number of major victories in Asia, overrunning French Indo-China, Malaya, Singapore, Indonesia and threatening British India and Australia. All American military efforts are directed against Japan, and Germany and the USA effectively ignore one another aside from a few incidents in the Atlantic.

June: Fearing that Britain will be forced by its German masters to hand part, or all of India to Germany's Japanese allies, a coalition of European administrators, soldiers and the Congress Party declare Indian independence. A constitution guarantees the rights and property of Europeans, while most main government posts are taken by Indians, including Jawaharlal Nehru (President), Muhammad Ali Jinnah (Prime Minister) and Subhas Chandra Bose (Defence Minister).

Summer. German campaigning in Russia resumes, with several victories but no decisive result. Germany and her allies have lost 1.5 million dead, captured and wounded in USSR by the end of the year.

June: Germany begins campaign to recruit British PoWs to its British division of the Waffen-SS to fight in Russia. Less than 500 join. A larger number of others are induced to do war-work in Germany.

August: US Marines land on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands in attempt to recapture it from the Japanese in first major American offensive of Pacific war. The island is not wholly in American hands for another six months.

1943 June: Field Marshal Rommel, commander of German 6th army at Stalingrad, finally succeeds in capturing the city.

July. In the first fighting between American and German forces, the US Navy and Marines seize control of Iceland as a base for observing and containing German naval operations in the North Atlantic. They overcome a strong German garrison after several weeks' fighting. The escorting American naval force, accompanied by a token force from the Royal Free British Navy, overwhelms and destroys the German and Vichy French force sent on an ill-conceived relief mission.

August: Uprising of the Leeds ghetto. In five weeks of fighting the British forces prove incapable of suppressing them and SS units are called in. The uprising is put down with great savagery but a few Jews, Romanies, and Jehovah's Witnesses succeed in escaping. A secret 'underground railway' smuggling Jews out of Britain to America or Scandinavia via Ireland now exists.

October; In the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the US Navy effectively eliminates the last of the Japanese navy as a credible force. US Marines begin the costly reconquest of various Pacific islands.

December. US troops land at Haiphong, Indochina, to link up with Chinese Kuomintang and Communist forces fighting the Japanese.

1944 March: removal of British Jews to death camps - mainly Bergen-Belsen (which is nearest) - on the continent begins.

Summer. German forces capture Moscow and Leningrad and eliminate most organised Soviet resistance west of the Urals. US begins large-scale Lend-Lease of military supplies to USSR overland through Persia.

October: American Marines liberate Manila. USAAF B-29 bombers on Saipan and Tinian islands begin bombing cities on Japanese mainland.

1945 Summer. German forces try to establish control of occupied Ukraine and Russia, with limited success. They lose several thousand casualties to guerrillas and are defeated in a Soviet offensive at Gorky (Nizhni-Novgorod) in August.

November: With all her major cities destroyed by conventional bombing, Japan surrenders to United States on sole condition that the institution of emperor is retained. Japan is occupied by American forces.

December: US begins to move powerful naval forces from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

December: Hitler proclaims that the USSR has been conquered although German forces have not penetrated East of the Urals and despite widespread resistance west of them. Stalin's government still exists with a temporary capital at Sverdlovsk and is now beginning to receive considerable material help from the United States. Though American President Truman has spoken of a policy of 'containing' the Nazi menace, he is unwilling to commit large numbers of American troops to another war although American military technicians are now present in the USSR in some numbers.

1946 January: secret negotiations between US and Germany begin via Swedish intermediaries. These remain inconclusive for several months while both sides attempt to gain a position of strength, the Germans in the USSR and Americans in the Atlantic.

Summer: Both German and Soviet offensives are indecisive, and both sides settle down to another winter of stalemate. By autumn, the US has established complete control of the Atlantic, stopping most Axis naval or mercantile shipping from operating there. Germany, however, has demonstrated an impressive array of new weaponry, including jet fighters and aircraft, as well as long-range missiles.

October. Chinese Communist forces are eliminated in the field by troops loyal to Chiang Kai-Shek. The Communists have been receiving no help from the USSR on the insistence of the US government, anxious to keep China within its sphere of influence.

November: US and Germany agree to a cease-fire. In the ensuing peace negotiations, the US recognises German gains in Europe and Russia (despite furious protests by Stalin and the British govt in exile which moves, along with the King George VI and his family, to New Zealand) and recognises the puppet government of Sir Samuel Hoare/King Edward VIII as the legitimate government of the UK. Germany agrees not to wage aggressive war anywhere else. Germany and USSR sign a cease-fire with the frontline stabilising west of the Urals. Stalin reluctantly accepts America's offer to guarantee its continued security. Around the same time, the Germans release the last British PoWs.

COLD WAR - 1940s & 50s

1947-48: Awareness grows on both American and German sides that the peace cannot be a lasting one. In America, reports of the systematic murder of Jews create a powerful Anti-Nazi lobby which presses for a more aggressive policy of containment and destabilisation of the Nazi regime. The myth also grows of an active anti-Nazi resistance movement throughout occupied Europe, but apart from in Russia and the Ukraine, almost all organised resistance has long-since been eliminated.

Nonetheless, throughout the 1940s and 50s, the US government, via the CIA and other agencies, spends millions of dollars and thousands of lives, American and European, attempting to subvert the Nazis. The Nazis for their part seek to pin down the Americans by interfering in South American politics, although German efforts are almost invariably clumsy and ill-timed.

1955August: Hostilities between the Soviet Union and Germany briefly flare up. Russian partisans have been harassing and killing German troops and settlers in European Russia and the Ukraine for years and Hitler decides to demonstrate the superiority of German military technology by setting off Atomic weapons on the frontier cities of Perm and Orenberg. Perm is flattened by a massive explosion caused by a bomb dropped from an aircraft, which the German newsreels film. The population of Orenberg is poisoned by plutonium which is scattered over a wide area by the explosion of a missile warhead. The Germans release explicit newsreel footage of the consequences of both attacks to impress the world.

1956 May: The United States successfully tests an Atomic weapon in the Pacific and announces its new capability to the world. August: Olympic games held, London. September: It is announced that the Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler, has died. Many suspect that he has been dead for some weeks or even months while his lieutenants jockey for the succession. He is replaced as Fuehrer by Reinhard Heydrich, the ruthless but pragmatic head of the SS.

1958 June: Heydrich directs major offensives against the partisans in Russia and the Ukraine in an effort to deal once and for all with a military problem which has drained German resources for years. It meets with limited success and towards the end of the year, Heydrich pulls back the frontiers of the Reich to more easily-defended areas, leaving a number of puppet statelets behind as a defence against the communists on the other side of the Urals.

1961 May: Heydrich decides to test the new American President, John F. Kennedy and sponsors a coup in the Bahamas. The islands had been loyal to the British government-in-exile, but now German and British agents overthrow the regime and install one loyal to the London government. Kennedy protests and threatens to invade the islands unless they are granted independence immediately. The London government, at Berlin's bidding, refuses and reinforces the island with troops and naval vessels.

June: In Northern Ireland, the IRA stages a series of bomb attacks which lead to sectarian fighting and large numbers of Catholic refugees fleeing to the Irish republic, which is nominally neutral. British Prime Minister Sir Frederick Walden accuses the Dublin government of sponsoring terrorism and threatens military action. Later in the month, the United States successfully tests two hydrogen bombs in the Pacific. This emboldens Kennedy, who announces that the United States will blockade the Bahamas.

July: A tense stand-off between Britain and the USA ensues. Though Germany is secretly backing Britain, no supplies can get through to the Bahamas garrison. By now, the British government and public wish to disentangle themselves, but Heydrich will not permit it; he wants to wage his war of nerves with America by proxy.

August: German scientists successfully test their own H-Bomb in the Namibian desert. The Americans announce that they have submarine-based missiles which can destroy all the major cities of Germany and her allies without being detected. The Irish crisis continues with thousands of Catholic families being driven from their homes and the IRA committing atrocities. The British government now accuses the USA of sponsoring Irish terrorism and produces evidence in the form of American-made weapons and explosives. British troops move to the Irish border in large numbers and threaten to invade the Republic. President Kennedy announces that if Britain invades Ireland, the United States will regard this as an act of war. Heydrich now intervenes and says that Germany will stand by Britain and is supplying her with modern aircraft and weapons. British and American naval vessels clash in Cherokee Sound, near the Bahamas, resulting in the sinking of two British destroyers. A German news agency claims that American troops and aircraft have been seen in Ireland, though the Irish government remains officially neutral.

September: American troops land on the Bahamas in an attempt to drive the British off, but the invasion fails due to bad luck, bad weather and bungling. The Americans suffer heavy casualties. Kennedy now demands that Britain withdraw from the Bahamas and respect Irish neutrality. If not, he will use tactical nuclear weapons on the British garrison of the Bahamas. Before Sir Frederick Walden can agree, Heydrich announces that a German naval force is heading for the Bahamas to help their British allies. Before the German naval force reaches the Bahamas, Kennedy uses a small atomic weapon on one of the smaller islands, killing 2,000 soldiers and 500 innocent civilians. In retaliation, Germany destroys the American base at Keflavik, Iceland, with an atomic missile. The world is on the brink of nuclear war. There is widespread panic in many cities. At this point, Heydrich is deposed by a group of Army and Luftwaffe officers whose figurehead is the elderly war-hero Field Marshal Rommel. Heydrich is killed, along with several senior SS men. Rommel does an immediate deal with Kennedy which allows both sides to save face; the British withdraw from the Bahamas, the Americans permit the Germans to build a base on Iceland and both sides agree that Ireland's neutrality will be respected.

December: In Germany, Rommel refuses the office of Fuehrer and retires. His military backers appoint Hitler's former youth minister Baldur von Schirach as Fuehrer, thinking that he can easily be controlled. Olympic gold medallist, heavyweight boxing champion and Luftwaffe officer Werner Harnack is his deputy.


John F Kennedy proves a very popular President of United States initially. He and the German government sign several treaties to try and prevent a re-run of the 1961 crisis while at the same time waging several proxy wars throughout the world. Kennedy backs the rump Soviet Union with money and weapons and turns a blind eye to fundraising by the IRA in America. The US also sponsors national liberation movements in various African countries, annoying the European colonial powers.

The Germans support Japanese expansionism in Korea and China while both sides race to build influence in the Middle East to gain control over the increasingly important oil resources of the area. In 1967, the Germans take over the running of the old British League of Nations mandate in Palestine, building military bases. Most of the Jewish population of the area has long-since fled to the safety of the United States or the comparative safety of Iran and Iraq, which are both within the American sphere of influence, or even to Italian-controlled Abyssinia.

Domestically, Kennedy is a liberal, forcing through Civil Rights legislation and progressive labour laws. The period is also notable for the rise of an influential American youth culture which is quickly exported by Hollywood and the music industry.

Western Europe also sees a period of peace, although holding down the lid on anti-German resistance in Russia and the Ukraine continues to be a drain on German manpower and resources. The German regime, however, is unstable, with continuing tensions between the military, the Nazi party and the SS. In 1965, the regime attempts to buy off the SS by giving them permission to set up their own state. Initially the dream of Heinrich Himmler, who died in mysterious circumstances shortly after Hitler (poisoned, or assassinated, it is rumoured, by Heydrich though officially of a broken heart at the death of the Fuehrer), the state of Burgundy, between France and Germany, is a demented Aryan theme-park which cannot function economically on its own.

Although the tool of his army and air force backers, Baldur von Schirach tolerates mild criticism of the regime and eases German demands for labour and resources from its client states in Europe. In doing so, he hopes to build 'Prosperity for All' in what he calls 'The People's Europe but is only partially successful.

In the American Presidential election of 1968, the Republican Richard M Nixon comes to power on the back of a reaction against the liberal Kennedy. Nixon believes that the United States is becoming dangerously libertarian and decadent and that it is not fit to meet the Nazi political, military and economic challenge. He sponsors 'business-friendly' (or union-busting) legislation, cuts federal welfare and education budgets and increases military spending.


1971 In a surprise move, von Schirach announces that he is resigning as Fuehrer and handing over power to the elderly civil service chief Martin Bormann. It is widely believed that von Schirach has been 'advised' to quit by a powerful alliance of military and SS chiefs who believe he is not doing enough to meet the American challenge.

Some weeks later, Bormann and several of his ministers and associates are killed in a massive explosion which destroys the Fuehrer's mountain retreat at Berchtesgaden. Within less than half an hour, von Schirach's former right-hand man Werner Harnack appears on TV and radio broadcasts appealing for calm and announcing that he will head a provisional government. Over the next few weeks, several hundred Nazi party officials and military officers believed to be on the 'liberal' wing of the party are arrested or simply disappear. Harnack appoints hardliners and SS men to senior positions within the government while allowing even more autonomy to the SS state of Burgundy.

The new regime is ruthless in its suppression of political pluralism in Germany and in the occupied or subject states. Thousands of dissidents are rounded up and end up in labour camps in Germany or working in copper or uranium mines in Africa. In 1972 German troops are sent into both Denmark and Holland to depose the governments and replace them with more compliant regimes.

1972 King Edward VIII dies without leaving any direct successors. No senior member of the Windsor family will take the throne while Britain is still effectively run by Germany and so he is Prince Albrecht of Bavaria, the Stuart claimant, as King Albert I.

1973-78 Period of the so-called 'Pacification of the East'. Harnack orders the use of chemical and biological weapons in a partially-successful attempt to eliminate the partisans in Russia and the Ukraine once and for all. At the same time, large numbers of 'Aryan' settlers are given financial incentives to settle in these areas and cultivate the land; most Germans, however, prefer the safety and comforts of their homeland and most of the 'Aryans' are poor people from southern and eastern Europe.

The price for Harnack's repression and military campaigns, however, is economic stagnation. Central direction of the economy, repression of creativity and the corruption and inefficiency of many of the agencies controlling agriculture and industry leads to frequent shortages of consumer goods and occasional shortages of foodstuffs.


1980 USA: Edward Kennedy swept to power in presidential elections on platform of reflating the US economy with increased spending on welfare and education. Kennedy is all-out to beat the Germans once and for all by preaching the efficiency of the American capitalist system while at the same time putting in place a system of social welfare that means no individual need ever lose their self-respect. The superior American standard of living combined with democratic America's respect for human rights will, he believes, shake Germany's satellite states loose while eventually undermining the Nazi regime.

At the same time, Kennedy increases the budgets for military research and development and pledges that the USA will put a man on the moon during his presidency.

1981 April: A German attempt to land a Luftwaffe officer on the moon fails disastrously when his craft crashes while making its descent to the surface. December: Two Americans are successfully landed on the moon and return to earth safely.

1982 Formation of the illegal Transport & General Workers Union in Britain. A series of strikes in key industries, including docks and mines, take place as workers protest against rising food prices. The army takes control of government; Maj-Gen Sir Enoch Powell is appointed Prime Minister and the strikes are broken. Powell's government is unpopular, but not hated; everyone knows the Army took over to avoid the Germans doing it.

1983 Martins Bank in Britain fails, triggering a series of banking collapses across Europe. The underlying economic weakness of the European system now becomes apparent when most of Europe's currencies suffer runaway inflation. Strikes and riots in several major European cities are suppressed with widely varying degrees of severity. In a hushed-up incident in London, troops refuse to open fire on demonstrators. Powell is forced to make several compromises.

1982-86 Emboldened by apparent German weakness, the Soviet Union, backed by American weapons and money, re-opens guerrilla warfare against German troops and settlers west of the Urals. German propaganda about atrocities committed by the partisans against colonists backfires badly, with fewer and fewer people prepared to settle in 'Ostland'. Despite the failure of puppet buffer states in the past, Harnack creates two immense new client states in the Ukraine and White Russia and announces that German armed forces will be pulled back to west of a line running from the Baltic states to the Black Sea.

At the same time, Harnack cracks down on corruption in Germany. He also reduces or abolishes state control of several industries in an attempt to stimulate enterprise and economic growth. The systematic plundering of conquered territories over the years has led many German industrialists and workers to believe that it doesn't matter how idle or sloppy they are, the serf-nations will always provide. Many individuals in the countries under German control, however, have long-since evolved their own methods of getting by, and in some countries, such as France and Britain food shortages are less frequent than they are in Germany.

1988 A series of general strikes and street rioting in Italy, combined with a mutiny in army units ordered to fire on demonstrators, precipitates a political crisis. The Italian Fascist Grand Council, paralysed by indecision and with no apparent support from Germany, yields power to a number of People's Committees which take power in Milan, Turin, Genoa, Bologna and, later, Rome. The situation in Italy remains very confused for several months, and it seems certain that Germany will intervene. Although German forces are mobilised, Harnack seems, for some mysterious reason, to lose his nerve. Italy, he announces, was always Germany's ally and Germany must respect the wishes of the Italian people.

1989 May: An assembly is elected in Italy to draft a new constitution. The 'Rome Spring' is later seen as a pivotal point in European history, the stage at which other European nations realised that they too could end the fascist order. Spring/summer: Revolts across Europe bring liberal/reformist governments to power. July: the Nazi regime itself falls when Harnack flees to South Africa. A civilian provisional government takes power, under former Mayor of Munich Heinrich Ullman. At this point, elements of the SS rebel, and in fighting with the Wehrmacht, several thousand are killed at various locations across Germany.


Ullman shakily holds Germany together -- it is popularly supposed that his wife Heidi, a flamboyant character, is the power behind the throne -- but Greater Germany falls apart, with resurgent movements in the East fighting for their independence and even a renaissance for the communist parties of the Baltic States and Yugoslavia.

With the death of Enoch Powell, the British Military Government collapses, since Powell's groomed successors are all too senile to take power. John Major, head of the tiny Conservative Party, takes command of a coalition of the marginalised political factions and, with trade union backing, forms a government of national reform that begins to unpick the fascist state.

After the one-term presidency (1988-92) of Alexander Haig (Rep), America elects H. Ross Perot, who claims to stand for a new alternative to the corrupt bipartisan system and makes a lot of admiring statements about the reformist governments of Europe. Though Perot himself is above any suspicion, his administration is mired in scandal as his close associates - many of them Born-Again Christians - are revealed to be inept, corrupt or venal. At the following election, Newt Gingrich, billed as "the Clean Man of the Republicans", is elected to the White House.

At the turn of the century Germany, Britain and the US are under well-meaning but divided governments, and international tensions are rising as regions formerly under fascism painfully cope with the legacy of sixty years of oppression.

There are wars in the Far East, Africa and Eastern Europe, with long-simmering resentments boiling over into near-genocidal internecine conflicts. Without any strong, interventionist superpowers to police and squelch such trouble spots, the need becomes apparent for an international body to settle these matters. John Major, unseated in a backroom deal, devotes himself to establishing this institution.

The rise of a new United Nations movement, head-quartered in Geneva, is troubled, with a disproportionate amount of its time spent discussing whether Harnack and other still-living fascist leaders can be put on trial by an international court for crimes committed while they were in office.

The Twentieth Century ends, with a great deal of backward-looking at the tangled history of its last half. In Geneva, John Major makes a widely-quoted speech about 'putting the past behind us, so we can look into the future', but is shouted down by various factions howling for blood.

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