Fatherland

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Fatherland is a novel, written in 1994 by novelist Robert Harris. It is set in an alternate 1964, where the Cold War between the United States and Nazi Germany is starting to thaw. The plot follows a Kriminalpolizei Sturmbannführer, Xavier March, investigating the murder of Josef Bühler in the days leading up to President Joseph P. Kennedy's visit and Adolf Hitler's birthday. Gradually, March uncovers a conspiracy to hide the mass murder of eleven million European Jews during the war.

The Second World War

World War Two progresses very differently in the fictional history of the novel. In 1942, Soviet forces manage to halt the German advance towards Moscow. The German forces then try to cut off oil supplies to the Red Army by launching a new attack into the Caucasus. The offensive is highly succesful, and Soviet forces surrender in 1942. In 1944, the Royal Navy is lured by false intelligence to its destruction, and German U-Boats begin to cut off food supplies to Britain. In 1944, Britain signs an armistice with Germany; Churchill and King George VI are forced into exile in Canada, and instead, Edward, Duke of Windsor, is crowned as king. This leaves the United States as the only power still at war with Germany, and with no way to reach it. (An operation along the lines of D-Day is, by this point, impossible, as all of Europe is occupied, and Britain is no longer fighting the Germans.) In 1945, much as in original history, the United States obliterate two Japanese cities with atomic weapons, and Japan surrenders unconditional. In 1946, a V-3 missile is sent to explode above New York City as a demonstration to the US. Unwilling to enter a long range war that would likely kill many civilians, the US and the German Reich sign a peace treaty. The Holocaust happens just as in original history, but its existence is only speculated by the Allies, and no solid evidence ever surfaces.

The World of 1964

In 1964, a puppet European Union, controlled by Germany dominates Europe, and a Cold War as developed between Germany and its satellites and the US and its allies. Joseph Kennedy, an appeaser, and anti-semite, is elected President, leading to a thawing of relations between Washington and Berlin. The USA continues to fund Soviet guerilla fighting on the Eastern Front, causing a huge death toll amongst Wehrmacht soldiers. This has caused Adolf Hitler to try and ease relations; Germany can no longer sustain the massive losses to Soviet forces, despite Hitler's comments some years earlier about "welcoming" twenty years of war. In prepartion for the birthday of Adolf Hitler (the "Führertag") and President Kennedy's visit, the Gestapo have become a campaign to elimate those with knowledge of the Holocaust.

Characters

  • Xavier March: Xavier "Zavi" March served during the Second World War as a U-Boat captain, and later joined the Kriminalpolizei ("Kripo") in Berlin as a homicide detective. He was at one point married to a woman called Klara, but is now divorced. Zavi has a son, Paul "Pili" March; a fanatical young Nazi who lives with his mother and her boyfriend. Zavi stops meeting him near to the beginning of the book.
  • Max Jaeger: Max Jaeger is an obsese detective working alongside March in Berlin. He is told by the Gestapo to not investigate the death of Buhler too thoroughly, to "lose the file for a few days", as March puts it. However, he misses his shift, and instead, March gets the Buhler case, leading to the events of the novel.
  • Charlotte Maguire: An American journalist who becomes involved with March, and helps to uncover the conspiracy to hide the Holocaust.
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