Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Philo-Semitic Mussolini? Israeli PM Anne Frank? PRESIDENT PATTON?

Still self-banned from the alternate history forum, but I still drop in now and then to see if there's anything interesting. I found this timeline The Footprint of Mussolini and so far it's pretty cool. It diverges from our history when a Communist attempts to assassinate Mussolini in 1932, only for a Jewish Blackshirt (Mussolini early on included prominent Jews in the fascist movement, had a Jewish mistress, and only began to implement anti-Semitic laws to suck up to Hitler later on) to take the bullets instead. This makes Mussolini rather more friendly to Jews than in our history (he narcissistically equates himself with Italy and therefore a Jew dying for him translates to the idea of Jewish loyalty to Italy), which has a lot of important consequences.

*The alliance with the Nazis is more distant (there's a Dual Pact between Germany and Japan but no Anti-Comintern Pact that formed the basis of the Axis), leading to Mussolini having a more cautious agenda in the Balkans. He and allies like Bulgaria dismember Yugoslavia and later Greece on their own, avoiding participation in Operation Barbarossa and the war with the Soviet Union.

*In order to strengthen Italian control over Libya, Mussolini essentially buys a substantial number of Jews from an increasingly resource-strapped Hitler. These tend to professional and educated types and in particular German and Austrian Jews, whom he thinks would be loyal to him because they would clearly have no fondness for Hitler. One such family is that of German businessman Otto Frank and rather than gaining posthumous fame as a writer, his daughter Anne goes on to have a political career in Israel.

*Using the above situation as an example and under heavy pressure from the increasingly-deranged post-Stalingrad Hitler, Hungarian dictator Horthy dumps his Jewish population on the Italian border. When it's reported to Mussolini that these Jews are all chanting "Il Duce, save us!" he apparently has a flashback to the day a Jew saved his life and agrees to allow them in. The SS sent into Hungary to remove Horthy and round up the Jews for slaughter don't take this well and soon we have a war between Italy and the Third Reich. The Hungarian Jews (including none other than Elie Wiesel) turn the tables on their persecutors big time by requesting not Italian soldiers to protect them (as Mussolini expected) but ships to evacuate women, girls, and boys who have not had their bar mitzvah and guns so the older boys and adult men can hold Trieste against the Nazis. Seriously, it's a Crowning Moment of Awesome for an entire ethnic group and there's one line ("next year in Jerusalem!") that several readers claimed brought tears to their eyes. I admit it impressed me.

*Mussolini, seeking to aggrandize himself while the bigger players are a bit busy, sets up Italy as the guarantor of neutrality for various Mediterranean nations, creating a fascist bloc there. Although we haven't gotten to the Cold War as of March 2019, a Mussolini-led third force in the Mediterranean would be quite the wild card.

*With no African campaign and invasion of Italy to create Stalin's long-desired Second Front, D-Day happens in 1943 and not 1944. It's a much bloodier affair, as the Allies are less well-prepared without the experience fighting the Italians and the Germans haven't been bled as severely fighting in Russia.

*There are some hints that General Patton will have a political career of his own after the war rather than rather ingloriously dying in a Jeep accident.

Although some people might be concerned this scenario whitewashes Mussolini, he still commits plenty of ugly deeds in this timeline. Sufficient to say the Slovenes pay and pay and pay for their collaboration with the German invaders and there's still the matter of Ethiopia. And given some hints in the content published thus far, there's still more to come. This whole scenario is pretty interesting, so I'm definitely keeping an eye on this one.

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