What would the map look like if the Axis powers had won the Second World War? The new season of The Man in the High Castle, which premiered on Amazon last week, gives us one possible answer.
Based on the 1963 alternate-history novel by Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle takes place in a world where Nazi Germany controls much of the Atlantic world and Imperial Japan has conquered the Pacific.
The novel deviates from history in 1933. That year, Franklin Roosevelt, the newly-elected American president, survived an assassination attempt by Giuseppe Zangara. In Dick’s story, he dies — and without Roosevelt and the New Deal, the United States enter World War II poorer and unprepared.
The novel doesn’t specify what ended the war. In the TV series, the Nazis dropped an atomic bomb, which they developed first, on Washington DC, forcing the United States to capitulate.
By war’s end, the continental United States are split in two: Japan creates the Pacific States of America on the West Coast, Germany a puppet state in the east. The Rocky Mountains are left ungoverned to act as a buffer between the two empires, which are soon locked in a cold war.
Amazon’s series rather ridiculously calls the German empire in America the “Greater Nazi Reich”. The Nazis never named any territory after their political party, but I suppose it sounds more ominous.
No mention is made of Italy and Spain. In the book, both are under fascist control and semi-independent from Germany. The former rules a neo-Roman Empire in the Mediterranean, which was Benito Mussolini’s dream. Presumably, Francisco Franco still rules in Madrid. In our world, he was in power until his death in 1975.
The show does make reference to a vast colonial enterprise in Africa, where secret police chief Reinhard Heydrich (who in reality was killed in 1942) presided over a mass extermination of the native population. In the show’s first season (spoiler alert!), he attempted a coup against the septuagenarian Führer, Adolf Hitler.
In the novel, Canada is independent but the whole of Russia has been conquered by the Axis. In the series, it’s the other way around: Canada, like the United States, has been divided into German and Japanese spheres while Siberia and Inner Asia remain free.
The TV series also inserts a neutral state in between German- and Japanese-controlled South America: a mysterious country called Amazonia. Maybe we’ll learn more about it in a third season?