1951 – 1956 Rule of Reichkanzler Heydrich and the “Final War”
Like any good propagandist, Heydrich wisely chose not to accept the honorific of “Führer”, declaring that title “permanently and solely the possession of Adolph Hitler”. But in terms of real power, his was even more autocratic a rule than Hitler’s.
Heydrich was young, only forty-seven when he took power. Additionally, he was healthy and married and relatively stable emotionally and mentally. His good looks and “wholesome German values” played well into the hands of a people nervous about the recent violent shift in government.
In the early years (1951-1953), much of his focus was shifted on keeping any former elements loyal to Himmler from arising. He broke up the SS and replaced the Gestapo with a new version of “Interpol”, weaker and less able to build a coup in distant parts of the Reich. Most of the “Old Guard” (Goring, etc.) began to die off (most from natural causes) or retire, and a new hand-picked echelon of younger Germans began to take power. There were even “reforms”…local newspapers were allowed to form, without Gestapo supervision. Of course, any talk against the Reich was quickly suppressed, but others were able to ask for action from Berlin (on a new road, irrigation system, electrification, etc.) and be reasonably sure of a response.
Standards of living went up as well, at least in Europe and North America. With labor camps effectively functioning as non-paid manual labor, expenditures for infrastructure were virtually non-existent. Nuclear power was coming on-line in Germany, as well as in the United States and United Kingdom, with Germany pushing for the building of at least one new plant every year for the next 50 years in every “Reichkommisariat” and “ally”. (All paid for locally, but built by German technicians.)
All of this, of course, were in the “Aryan” nation-states. Elsewhere, things were much different.
With the take-over of the French, Belgian, and British colonies in Africa, the “Dark Continent” had become a massive slave labor camp. No pretense was offered. Black Africans (including some Egyptians) were rounded up and put to work digging in uranium mines, diamond mines, rare earth mines, as well as in forestry and agriculture. White South Africans were given free reign to impose the harshest means necessary, well beyond their own apartheid system of the pre-1940s.
Revolts would spring up, but aided by German forces, they would be brutally put-down, with mass slaughter of revolting villages, or even suspected one. One, in Brazzaville in the Congo, led to the deaths of 35,000 blacks and at least 30 sympathetic whites.
With full control of the media, no word of these revolts ever spread, and few in Africa felt that there was any hope of organizing a sustainable revolt with no outside help. In places like the Middle East and India, the effect was notably the same. A “sit down” strike in Delhi in 1949, by an Indian leader named Mohandas Gandhi was put down by local Gestapo, killing Gandhi and 400 of his followers. A subsequent one was also crushed, with another 900 killed. A final one in November 1949, involved the deaths of 1300. Finally, the movement petered out and Indians settled in for a long period of oppression. Hopes for independence ended.
Meanwhile, in Japan, increasing tensions were noted. Tojo had hoped that the “Reich Civil War” would spread, collapsing the German Empire and relieving the threat it and its vast holdings and military posed. Unfortunately, Heydrich’s relatively quick victory, and unity by the High Command, ended those thoughts.
Japan was prospering in the post-war period. Holdings in South East Asia were supplying much needed oil, lumber and rubber. Australia had huge land holdings, seized by the Japanese and awarded to high-ranking generals for plantations, both increasing their power and boosting food supplies. Chinese land too had been seized and the natives forced into virtual serfdom. Hawaii became a “resort”, where wealthy Japanese vacationed and toured the “Pearl Harbor Victory Monument”.
Mineral wealth was coming in from Alaska, with new gold finds. In August 1952, Japanese geologists discovered oil in the region of Prudhoe Bay (some 15 years earlier than OTL). The field showed vast potential, and the Japanese quickly tried to develop it, though lacking in much of the cold weather drilling technology they needed.
Militarily though, the major push was for the development of an atomic bomb. An early reactor was build in Osaka in 1950, and experimentation with a “gun-type” uranium bomb was made in 1952. On August 6th, 1955, a test was made at Bikini Atoll in the Japanese Marshall Islands. It produced a 20.5 kiloton explosion and Japan entered the nuclear arms race.
The Germans had of course been, as covertly as possible, trying to sabotage the Japanese program. They had also been developing means of detecting radioactivity, in small amounts, via airborne sensors. This allowed them to not only spot shipments of uranium (during “commercial airliner flights” between German-held India and Siberia and the West Coast of the United States), but also helped them find the Osaka reactor (and a second reactor in Hokkaido).
One piece of research in which the Japanese were far ahead of everyone was the use of biological weapons, research done by the covert Unit 731. Experiments with Chinese POWs and Koreans showed the applications of such a weapon. These new "super diseases", could be last ditch weapons, as it could easily go out of control.
Heydrich was concerned about what to do with the possibility of a “nuclear Japan”. Some of his advisors suggested an immediate war. The numbers seemed to be with them. The Luftwaffe, now armed with jet bombers (with a ferry-range of 9000 miles) and nuclear weapons, could make short work of the Japanese Mainland. Erich Hartmann, (Goring’s successor) said that he could destroy up to 50% of the Imperial Navy and 30% of the Imperial Japanese Air Force in the first week.
Others, including Heydrich himself, were not so sure. With German forces scattered around the world, acting as either “advisors” or openly as security against revolts, the German army would be stretched thin to mount any kind of ground operations. The Japanese had much of their army in China and South East Asia, between jungles and small villages….a perfect opportunity for a guerrilla war. As well, the Japanese had heavily devoted production to submarines (for just such a threat). Those submarines could easily operate well into the Indian Ocean as well along the west of North and South America, sinking now-vital (to the German’s roaring economy) cargo vessels.
Ultimately, Heydrich was convinced…by the pro-war side. He put into plan “Operation: Gotterdamurung”, a covert plan to start a build-up for war against Japan. Target date for the first attack: April 20th, 1956, sixty-seventh anniversary of Hitler’s birth.