Ok, so in between classes this holiday I was finally able to get started on Amazon’s new series “The Man in the High Castle.” I’m only four episodes in, but so far I enjoy it very much. The intro with the tremulous rendition of “Edelweiss” playing over scenes of invasion shadowed against American icons such as Rushmore and Lady Liberty is eerie and chilling. The characters are interesting and already feel fleshed out, no doubt thanks in part to their literary origins. So far we don’t actually know how the films are made or where they come from, except the High Castle. We have hints that we’re playing around in a tangent universe and the films can possibly lead us out of it and back into history proper.
From here, understand that I have only seen four episodes of “High Castle” so far, and that I haven’t read the book although it has now been added to my list. I’m just ruminating, and these questions might be answered later on.
“High Castle” takes place in a world where the US surrenders unconditionally after Germany drops the nuke on Washington. The country is divided up between Germany and Japan with a large swath called the Neutral Zone running through the Midwest.
This premise raises questions in an analytical brain that WON’T. SHUT. UP.
First, how did Hitler get the nuke? The physicists that built it for us fled Germany due to Hitler’s policies. Those who did not flee were purged from the academic world. Many other physicists were drafted or called off the nuke project to work on others with more immediately obtainable ends. The point I’m trying to hastily make here is this: Nazi Germany suffered a massive Brain Drain due to pressing wartime needs and Hitler’s antisemitism. Furthermore, the Nazis really only dabbled with nuclear weapons; it was not a priority, especially because the payout would not be
immediate. Albert Speer, Hitler’s capable Minister of Armaments, saw the value of nuclear weapons and believed in their ability to prove decisive. However, in 1942 a committee decided that nuclear power would best be used for energy and from there the nuclear program really dropped off. Hitler wasn’t fond of it, anyway. He told Speer it was a “filthy, Judaized science.”
Now, in the universe of “High Castle,” were Hitler’s Jewish policies in the 1930s different so that many Jews did not feel the need to flee? The Jews faced years and years of persecution and oppression before the Final Solution was reached. They lost homes, jobs, businesses. Or did Hitler immediately recognize the martial potential of nuclear weapons and make their development a priority, enacting policies that would retain Jewish physicists and put their minds to work for the German war machine?
Next, and here’s the big one: Dropping a nuke on Washington in 1945 implies that he had already defeated Russia and his hands were free to subjugate America.
HOW THE HELL DID HE DO THAT?
Just for reference, more Germans were killed on the Eastern Front than the entire rest of the war combined.
And we’re not even getting into logistics, land mass, population, resources, or General Winter. Look at Germany. Look at the USSR. It’s a simple equation. Hitler going after Russia was akin to a kitten trying to make a meal of a moose.
Maybe he DIDN’T defeat Russia. He never violated the Nazi-Soviet pact and chose NOT to invade in the summer of 1941. With the manpower and resources of the USSR at his back, Hitler would have been utterly unstoppable. Together they could have taken England (which Germany failed to do in 1940) and cinched Italy’s African campaign. D-Day never would have happened without a free England to use as a foothold, and a strong Italy and Northern Africa would have made invasion through Southern Europe damn difficult if not impossible. From there, a united Nazi-Soviet-Japan Axis could have mounted an invasion and possible conquest of America.
But this doesn’t appear to be the case in “High Castle.” You have only the Nazis and the Japanese. Russia has not yet been mentioned. This leaves one to assume that Hitler *did* make the nuke a priority and, instead of waging land war in Asia (one the great classical blunders), simply dropped a few well-placed nukes on Russia at the outset and forced a surrender from them, taking them out of the game and putting their resources to his own use. Which he would have needed in order to put together an invasion force capable of getting to America in the first place.
In which case, why wait until 1945? Gearing up? We have to assume he didn’t spend years mucking around in the East before delivering the nuke; the cost in resources and manpower was just too high for the Reich.
These questions haven’t stopped me from enjoying the show. Hell, they’re probably answered in the books. But having put these out here I think I’ll shut up and go watch episode five.