Ragnarok

Christopher G. Nuttall

RAGNAROK

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http://www.chrishanger.net

http://chrishanger.wordpress.com/

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Cover by Brad Fraunfelter

www.BFillustration.com

All Comments and Reviews Welcome!

Author’s Note

I’m not particularly fond of books, even alternate history books, that attempt to reproduce foreign accents or make excessive use of foreign terms. Unfortunately, writing a book set in Nazi Germany makes it impossible to avoid the use of some German words, including a number specific to Nazi Germany and the SS. I’ve done my best to keep this to a bare minimum and, just in case the meaning of the word cannot be deduced from context, I’ve placed a glossary at the rear of the book.

Please don’t hesitate to let me know if there’s a word I’ve missed during the editing.

And if you liked this book, please leave a review.

CGN

Prologue

Berlin, Germany, 1950

It was very quiet in the Reichstag bunker, deep under Berlin.

Karl Holliston kept his face impassive — and his mouth closed — as the uniformed flunky displayed photograph after photograph on the big screen. Four cities, all in blackened ruins; the charred remains of hundreds of thousands of bodies clearly visible towards the edge of the blast zone. The dead were the lucky ones, Karl told himself; the survivors, if they somehow managed to escape the Einsatzgruppen waiting outside the cities, were doomed to die lingering deaths as the radiation worked its dark magic on their bodies. No medical treatment could save their lives, even if the Reich cared to try.

And we wouldn’t, Karl thought. They’re Untermenschen.

But no one would have cared about his opinion, if he’d given voice to it. He was just Heinrich Himmler’s aide.

“Four cities,” Field Marshal Albert Kesselring said.

Himmler showed no emotion as he leaned forward. “Four cities that rose up against us,” he said, his voice utterly dispassionate. “I saw no reason to waste the lives of our soldiers in teaching them a lesson.”

“The Americans have already announced that they will cancel the trade deals,” Speer said, flatly. The civilian licked his lips, nervously. “They’re calling it mass murder.”

“Tell them to tell it to the Indians,” Himmler said. His face twisted into a sneer. “Or to the Japanese.”

Kesselring slapped the table, hard. “It was decided that the atomic bomb would not be used…”

“… Unless the Reich itself was at risk,” Himmler said. “I determined that the Reich was at risk.”

Speer looked incredulous. “You plan to argue that a bunch of religious fanatics in the desert could somehow threaten the Reich?”

Himmler gazed back at him, evenly.

Untermenschen cannot be allowed to revolt,” he said. “It would give other Untermenschen ideas.”

He nodded towards the map. “Or do you believe that we can continue to hold the Lebensraum in Russia if the Russians think we can be beaten? That they can drive us out of the lands we won by the sword? Or that we can keep our access to oil if the Untermenschen tribes revolt against us? We needed to take strong action and I took that action.”

“You used nuclear weapons on four defenceless cities,” Speer said.

“I destroyed four cities that would have been destroyed anyway, in the fullness of time,” Himmler countered. “Were we going to leave the useless Untermenschen alive?”

No, Karl thought.

He smiled to himself. The Arabs had been foolish to side with the Reich. They might have chafed under British rule — they might have feared and hated the Jews as much as the Reich itself — but the Reich intended to enslave or exterminate all Untermenschen. And the Arabs were definitely Untermenschen. They had gleefully assisted the Reich in driving out the British and slaughtering the Jews, only to discover that the Reich intended to slaughter them next.

“I did what I had to do,” Himmler said. “The Fuehrer’s death made us look weak. If I hadn’t taken action, who knows how far the revolt would have spread?”

Karl nodded in agreement. Adolf Hitler might have been declining in his later years — he flinched away from the thought hurriedly, knowing that expressing it meant death — but no one had doubted he ruled the Reich. And there had been no designated successor. The three men at the table — Himmler, Kesselring, and Speer — were collectively the most powerful figures in the Reich, yet none of them had a strong claim to Hitler’s title. Who would take the throne?

Himmler should, Karl thought. But the other two fear him.

“Never again,” Speer said. “The decision to deploy nuclear weapons will not be left in your hands.”

“Oh?” Himmler asked. “And you intend to enforce it… how?”

“There will be a new division of the military specifically charged with handling nuclear weapons,” Kesselring said. “They will take their orders directly from the Reich Council, no one else. There will be no nuclear release without authority from the very highest levels.”

That’s not an answer, Karl thought.

He weighed up the odds in his head. There were a dozen crack SS units deployed near Berlin, but there were also a number of Wehrmacht infantry divisions… all on high alert since Adolf Hitler had died. If the power struggle over who should succeed Hitler turned violent, there was no way to know who would win. Karl had every faith in the Waffen-SS, but would Himmler order them to attack the Wehrmacht? Or to slaughter the other members of the Reich Council and present the Wehrmacht with a fait accompli?

“The revolution begun by the Führer must be completed,” Himmler said. “If we have to deploy nuclear weapons to reach our goals, we will deploy them.”

Speer looked even paler than usual. “Even at the risk of war with America?”

Himmler snorted, rudely. “Do you really think the Americans would sacrifice New York or Washington for the sake of Untermenschen? Or the British? We could turn Britain into a radioactive slagheap and they know it.”

He cleared his throat. “The Americans will moan and whine because that is what Americans do,” he said. “They won’t risk war with us.”

“They crushed the Japanese,” Speer said.

“Little yellow men,” Himmler countered, dismissively. “We rule, directly or indirectly, a third of the world. We have millions of men under arms, hundreds of thousands of panzers, aircraft and U-boats; we are far stronger, far more formidable, than Imperial Japan. And we have nuclear weapons. We can destroy them.”

“They can destroy us,” Speer said.

“They will not risk their existence by waging war against us,” Himmler said.

Kesselring tapped the table, sharply. “We have a compromise in mind,” he said. “You — the SS — will be given Russia as your private domain. You’ll have complete freedom to reshape society any way you choose. In exchange for this, you will accept the position of the Reich Council and surrender the SS’s claim to nuclear weapons.”

Karl looked at Himmler, wondering how his ultimate superior would react. The SS already ruled much of Occupied Russia, enslaving or slaughtering the Russians while slowly establishing massive settlements on the soil. Himmler was being offered something he already had. And yet, the SS didn’t have an entirely free hand. They still had to contend with the Wehrmacht and Speer’s civilian bureaucracy. To be rid of that, to create a land where the Volk could live free and hold up its head with pride…

And we would grow strong, he thought, as our success attracted more and more Aryans into the Reich.

It wasn’t ideal, he knew. Germany itself would not be transformed so radically. The civilian bureaucrats were already objecting to some of the more important transformations — and their influence would only grow stronger if the SS concentrated on Russia. But the Reich Council’s control would not last. It would grow weaker and weaker until the true masters took their place at the head of society.

Himmler took a long moment to compose his reply. “You believe this will appease the Americans?”

“This is not about the Americans,” Kesselring said. “This is about preventing a civil war.”

Karl had to fight to keep his face impassive. He’d known what was at stake — everyone knew what was at stake — but he’d never heard it expressed so bluntly. There were just too many competing factions withi ...

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