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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Maps from 1942 of the never-was Nazi invasion of North America

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Maps from 1942 of the never-was Nazi invasion of North America

Maps from 1942 of the never-was Nazi invasion of North America

These diagrams from the March 2, 1942 issue of Life detailed the Nazi invasion of America shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Check out such alternate reality battles like the bombing of Detroit and invasion of Norfolk, Virginia.

These maps were created as a follow-up to an article about an American defeat in WWII by pioneering science fiction author Philip Wylie, who wrote the proto-superhero novel Gladiator. These maps were made in the early days of US involvement in World War II, so there was a sense that this invasion was a real possibility. You can read more about these maps at Ptak Science Books.

Maps from 1942 of the never-was Nazi invasion of North America
Maps from 1942 of the never-was Nazi invasion of North America

Maps from 1942 of the never-was Nazi invasion of North America

Maps from 1942 of the never-was Nazi invasion of North America

Maps from 1942 of the never-was Nazi invasion of North America

Send an email to Cyriaque Lamar, the author of this post, at Cyriaque@io9.com.

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It's good to be reminded that reporting has always been pretty terrible, even before the internet.

Just count our blessings the Axis didn't think of joining up with the only nation to successfully invade the US and burn down The White House to its foundations.
Fortunately, Hitler's focusing Germany's Olympic attention on the track and boxing events instead of Hockey resulted in much Canadian disdain.

The campaigns of 1940 and 1941 have always lent Germany an unstoppable air, when really Hitler got just as lucky as his opponents were less fortunate or completely unprepared. Like all tyrants, this ended up being his undoing as he later took personal control over the war effort as the tide turned. Reply

It is always fascinating to peer into the paranoia and fear that breeds such an inverted view of foreign affairs when it is the US that has staged coups, invaded, or occupied quite a number of countries and actively maintains over 700 bases in 135 nations. If the US were ever invaded, they'd really need to get through the biggest and strongest military the world has ever seen which is why aliens come into the picture repeatedly.

That being said, it is perhaps only WWI and WWII (Civil War as well) where the US went to war against technologically matched opponents which is one reason why we see WWII documentaries almost every day on some cable channel somewhere. Dramatic tension!

The invasions of Grenada or Panama? Not so much. Reply

@ceti: So... The USA sucks and will always suck. And war documentaries are lame and filmmakers get aroused when they hear someone mention Hitler.

Gotchya. ♥

Can't you leave us with -anything- to love? ;.; Reply

I don't see how the Japanese could ever have mounted an invasion like these. The necessary forces would have reduced their capabilities to hold their gains in China and SE Asia. To get Hawaii they would essentially need to send their entire fleet, and even if they did try to invade the west coast, its the west fucking coast, we could bomb the shit out of them even before they could think about landing some men on shore. Same thing with invading through Mexico. Don't you think we'd bomb the crap out of them all up and down Mexico. The Jap's only chance was to get us to piss our pants after Pearl Harbor and give up, but we didn't and so they were doomed from the get go.

And as for the Germans, once they attacked the Soviets they would never have the forces necessary to invade North America. Perhaps it wasn't so apparent they would lose to the Soviets, but even if they tried to invade, do they seriously think they can just stroll up to Virginia? Once again, their only chance is a quick win and surrender, because there is no real way they could take over the whole country with military forces. Reply

1Grand_Marquis promoted this comment

@Al Swearengen: Well, I don't think anyone thought at the time that the Nazis would be foolish enough to go chasing the Russians all through Siberia like that. The minute they saw them destroying their own towns and pulling back, they should've said 'good enough' and pulled back themselves. But nooo.

Of course, a direct attack on the U.S. would have might as well been a second front, so they'd be back at square one anyway.

In any case, it was an unwinnable war for the Axis. They attacked the bloody world, after all. Reply

More realistic than you might think. in 1941, the U.S. only had the 22nd largest military force in the world. Your best anti-aircraft weapons couldn't shoot as high as the Japanese bombers could fly and still do their job.

When I think of what the free world faced, and what that generation of unsentimental U.S. patriots did for the rest of us, it takes my breath away.

Also, Hitler was *this close* to getting his hands on the Ark of the Covenant. Reply

beefmalone promoted this comment

@Ben English: "Also, Hitler was *this close* to getting his hands on the Ark of the Covenant."

Yeah, that's a big maybe. And even so, they didn't have the technical know-how to get it working correctly. All of their top Ark-scholars had fled the country or were in concentration camps. At best, the could've had a working ark by '46, maybe '45 tops. Besides, they'd still have to carry it across the ocean on sticks. Reply

i hope that stupid countries that try to invade US in the future get their asses kicked by 200m with guns, it would be like invading russia but 10 times worse. we have over 300m guns in US. Reply
Nivenus promoted this comment

@Rusty Hawk: The subsequent guerrilla war could certainly be hard for invaders but gun rights wouldn't have any significant effect (in my opinion) on the survival of the United States itself. If the invasion got far enough along that local militias were needed to fight off the aggressors than the US as we know it would already be dead and gone. Reply

@Nivenus: wouldn't matter. We could rebuild that easily, but taking and holding the US would be almost impossible. Reply

@Rusty Hawk: Yeah, but most of our gun owners would be out of breath if they had to walk more than 200 yards. Reply

@mrantimatter: Rebuilding an occupied country is usually far from "easy." Even France, which got off relatively well, underwent a constitutional crisis less than 20 years later and ended up resorting to essentially appointing DeGaulle a temporary dictator.

As a result, France's government is very different today than it was before the Nazi invasion. Reply

@sean98125: It will be hard work stepping over the corpses of the gun-haters, but I think we'll manage. Reply

@Rusty Hawk: The untrained American WalMart-militants would make excellent target practice for the invaders. Seriously, this is my favourite pro-gun argument because those shotgun-waving cow people would get mowed down in the streets against any professional army in the world. Reply
Pumhart_von_Steyr promoted this comment
Tyrunn approved this comment

@del_fuego: partisans did very well against nazis and they were just a bunch of farmers that never used guns before. Reply

Propaganda to put fear in a wartime society in order to drive up support (and war bonds)
The Germans had neither the capability or equipment in the development pipeline to support an invasion of the United States.
Germany lost the war the minute they called off the UK invasion and invaded the USSR.

No way to transport men and equipment. No long range heavy bombers. Not much of a navy outside of the submarine force (which by 42 filled with outdated designs).
Sure they could ship some troops over...to a graveyard in the atlantic. Reply

rudecherub approved this comment

@pauldun170: The invasion of the UK wasn't a possible, even if they had achieved air superiority, they didn't have the sea power vs the Royal Navy in 41 to launch Sealion.

While the invasion of the USSR stalled had the tactics been tweaked for example being kinder to the soviet occupied nations ( although this went against Nazi idelology re the undermensch ) they would have had active anti-stalin support, also if Hitler had not diverted losing time and pushed directly to Moscow Stalin would have been on the back heel.

Had at the same time America listened to America First and Lindbergh, ie if Superman hadn't slapped a Jap, the war bond propaganda, etc. lend and lease to the UK and USSR - which ran it's war using US trucks, and materials, then the USSR would have on balance lost ( although not occupied Russia itself would have been forced to trade it's empire for peace. The UK too would have sued for peace ( which Hitler wanted ) and by the mid forties the Nazi's would have had the jet bombers to deliver nuclear weapons to the USA, making a large scale land invasion moot. Reply

@rudecherub: Even if a stalemate had occurred between Britain, USSR and Nazi Germany, the suggestion that all but Nazi Germany would stand still technologically is unlikely. Certainly jet and nuclear development was well underway in Britain at the very least. Reply
rudecherub promoted this comment

@rudecherub: We destroyed the only heavy water factory germany had.

They where 10 years away from a real bomb. Even the scientists working on it and captured by the british where surprised when the US dropped the first bomb, some even thought it was fake.

We spent out money on the bomb, germany had spent it's money on rockets. Reply

rudecherub promoted this comment

@Mattoo: The maps were part of propaganda to discourage the America First movement because FDR wasn't going to go public with Einstien-Szilard letter.

Had the USA not loaned the UK the money the peaceniks and facist sympathisers could very well have won the argument, so the relationship would have been very different.

Jet development had been sat on since the 20's when Whittle had first suggested it to disinterested RAF. In a scenario where Britian was broke and isolated from American support, it strikes me as unlikely high tech projects would have been pursued.

Whereas Germany free of pressure on the western/atlantic front could have concentrated on securing territory to the East. Reply

@screemname: But all these things happened with American Support in terms of cash and materials.

Take American money and will from the equation, and the UK would have been forced to sue for peace, say under King Edward VIII

For the ten year scenario to the Nazi bomb, we would also have to assume the same foot dragging in this altered scenario would have continued in the Nazi Nuclear program - but this time with Stalin's USSR as the sole Enemy.... & without Bomber Harris demolishing German Industry.

So even if you are right, and the bomb isn't invented in Germany unitl 1950 rather than say 45 ( although a dirty bomb would have been possible by 45 ) you still have a situation where a isolationist America ( where FDR didn't get a third term because America First won ) The US hasn't developed the A bomb with UK etc. help, and Operation Alsos hasn't stolen the ballistic technology from the Nazi's that enables ICBM's and the space program. etc.

But with a Nazi Germany secure with advanced rocketry, radar invisible planes, and the A-bomb.

So perhaps by 1950 rather than 45 the large scale invasion is moot. That said would President Lindbergh, or the Powers behind "the Business Plot" putsch have coped with dirty bombs hitting New York and Washington by nearly radar invisible stealthy Amerika bomber jets by 45?
Indeed would Hitler have needed to invade as this America could have become fascist very quickly indeed. Reply

"You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass."

misattribued to Isoroku Yamamoto but still something to think about. Reply

@ServoCannotHoverOverGrates: That would, of course, have a more important impact on an occupation than an invasion. But the U.S. is uniquely suited among imperial powers for a guerrilla resistance. Reply

Woo! Chicago would have been safe for a while. Reply

@MagImpalor is a god damn spy.: I feel like they would have run into a tad bit of trouble here; Accardo would not have taken kindly to his business being disrupted. Reply
MagImpalor is a god damn spy. promoted this comment

Do you really think that the US Press would have printed realistic invasion plans for North America under the military censorship regime during WW II?!?!?!

Come on...Going up the St Lawrence would have been foolish! The last thing you want is to force your invasion force down a well mapped, limited maneuverability corridor. Artillery would have slaughtered any force that tried to go up the River to the Great Lakes...and mines would have taken their toll, too! Heck snipers and soldiers with Bazookas could have taken out ships! Reply

anuran001 promoted this comment

Okay, the big point you have to remember is that even the Japanese never seriously considered invading the United States. Or at most, their plan was to secure their interests in Asia..."global domination" was a generational goal even for the Nazis.

The Japanese were neither fools nor fanatics. Their entire goal was to prevent the US from interfering in their colonization/conquest of the rest of Asia. And the entire reason they were doing that was an attitude that the only way to avoid becoming colonized like Africa, or even China under the British/Portugese, was to develop their own strong colonial empire.

At most, their goal was to damage United States military assets in the Pacific to such an extent that they'd settle for a peace agreement and leave them in charge of Asia.

The often misinterpreted comment that "We can only defeat America if we conquer every mile all the way to the White House" was not meant as a boast: ***the admiral who said that was a realist who understood that no matter how well they did, they didn't have the resources to fight a protracted war against the United States, and in terms of "fighting spirit"/desire for revenge, the US wouldn't just give up. No matter how dire the war looked, unless the US was actually conquered, it would never give up.

And the admiral who said that flat out knew there was no way to conquer the entire USA. He was lamenting that *defeating the USA was impossible* because they only way to make the USA give up was to conquer it...which was like putting a man on mars, it was impossible for them.

Little known fact: the Japanese actually *did* make a feint at the Panama Canal, to try to stop reinforcements from reaching the Pacific. That was the real goal; not conquest, but smashing the US military's ability to counter-attack.

It was amazing: they even used the world's first ever "submarine-aircraft carriers" -- yes, these things actually worked.

Problem was that a matter of days before they reached Panama, the Battle of Midway happened. After suffering such severe losses, the Japanese Navy went into panic mode and gave them orders to abort the mission. Reply

EBone promoted this comment

wow...my grandfather was stationed at the panama canal during WWII and he said it was a pretty boring post (all he did was cheat at cards and write letters to my grandmother)...i can only imagine what it would have been like if plan 3 above would have really been carried out... Reply

@TyjannasaurusRex: I actually read a few years ago about the fact that a few Japanese ships had gone under Africa and along South America toward the Panama Canal in the last month of the war. They were apparently about two weeks away from getting to the Panama Canal, where they intended to simply have all of their planes kamikaze onto the canal to make it unusable, resulting in a significant blow to the US military's ability to move ships made or sailed in the East to the Western front.

They received word of the surrender, their commander committed seppuku, and they surrendered at the nearest Ally-controlled port.

Weird story. Sounded like a pretty risky maneuver, but apparently it went through and just failed due to the timing of it all. Wild. :) Reply

...I am openly shocked and disgusted, that virtually all of these plans from Life magazine, anticipate a significant military impact by a "5th column" of Japanese-Americans taking up arms within US borders against the government.


People must have been really scared out of their minds in early 1942. And afraid people will do pretty much anything. Manzanar?

HidingInCanada promoted this comment

@CodenameV: Yeah, I was also pretty shocked by the "fifth column" stuff. People were really that scared and irrational, huh? Reply

(delete double-post) Reply
Nivenus promoted this comment

@CodenameV: To be fair, there was evidence of Japanese sabotage in other countries such as Brazil, but you're right that it really is ridiculous.

Say what you will about the nasty crop of Islamophobia that has sprung up since 9/11, but it hasn't reached nearly the levels of vitriolic hate that the Japanese encountered in WWII or even that the Germans did in WWI. Reply

we can all give thanks to how stupid and moronic the nazi party really was.
if it had been an intelligently setup government things could of gone a lot different.

@gorehound: if they had been intelligent they never would have started the war in the first place. Reply
gorehound promoted this comment

@Stubnaz: not true.
intelligent folks also start wars even though war is rather unintelligent.

So, do each of the German warships have to go through the locks & dams of the St. Lawrence Seaway individually? Reply
HighSpeedIndeed promoted this comment

I could have sworn that they did invade. Reply

@SG-17: Is that part the background for the mirror universe stuff, where the Earth is the center of an evil empire (the one Kirk visits in TOS). I only ever saw the very end of that episode arc on Enterprise. Reply

@MrLebowski: The last Temporal Cold War arc from Enterprise where aliens aid the Nazis, and Archer kicks them out of Brooklyn. Beginning of the 4th season, if I recall. Reply

Really, Plan Four? Storm America where it's swampiest? Good luck with that. Reply

@cletar: from the people who brought you "Lets invade Russia in Winter"

(Yes, I know these aren't actual Nazi plans) Reply

Nazi WWII victory is so passe.

Kaiserreich WWI victory is where it's at ;). Reply

@Nivenus: No, no. Its all about the NVA winning in Vietnam. Reply

Germany had a war plan for an invasion of the eastern US before the out break of WWI. Reply

@Richard Anderson: More accurately they had a plan for Mexico distracting the US. Germany never could have invaded the US, especially in WWI. Reply

How many free armies do you get for North America again? Reply

@SupaChupacabra: You talking Risk or Axis and Allies? Trying to keep North America in Risk was at least easier than messing with Europe or Aisa they were serious PITAs for reals. I had highschool buddies that had played Axis and Allies so often that they found if Germany attacked full force on England from the outset the the Axis always won. They had to rewrite history and allow England to go first. Good thing Hitler had some eugenic insanity to distract him from more effective strategy (according to a boardgame anyway.) Reply
SupaChupacabra promoted this comment

@1Opinion: He had Russia, the other eugenic insanity neighbor. Reply

Wow, we dodged a bullet, didn't we? Could you imagine a Mexican-American-German-Japanese Mexican Standoff in LA? Reply

There are a lot of people blowing these off. Hypothetical invasion, logistically difficult, etc, etc.

Think about it in context. Forget what you know about the events of WWII. The US had been attacked and there were several empires covering appreciable chunks of the globe that were our enemies, and at least one of them had a slight lead on us in tech.

Terrifying, in context. Reply

@Josh Young: People forget or don't realise that our present modern army is the result of the response to both WWII and the Depression. Reply
Josh Young promoted this comment


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