WI: Colonel Gersdorff successfully suicide bombs Hitler on 21 March 1943

Martin Bormann may take a leap and declare himself the new Fuhrer.
Technically after Rudolf Hess (who was after Goering in the line of succession) went to Britain in 1941 Bormann essentially replaced his position so he would be the logical next person to replace Hitler if Goering and Himmler died. Whether or not he would succeed is a different story.
 
The German aristocracy idolized the Teutonic Knights for their campaigns against Eastern Europe. They used this heritage to justify their claims that Germany was a civilized nation and Eastern Europe was full of barbaric Slavs. Germany, both the Kaiserreich and the Third Reich, traced it's military heritage back to virtues ostensibly created by the Teutonic Knights. Even in the interwar period, during the ostensibly peaceful Weimar Republic, German nationalists drew on this history to justify a revanchist war against Poland.

Prussia came about as a result of the Northern Crusades in the 13th Century, which was the settlement of Eastern Europe by Germans, courtesy of the Teutonic Knights.

While some of the German aristocracy opposed the war before it started, after it started, they were in no hurry to cede back territory they thought was rightfully German, particularly Western Poland. After Hitler won his streak of victories in 1939-40, they fell in line. After he began losing in 1943, they became restless again. To them, Hitler was a Bohemian Corporal who was treating German military tradition like a joke. He was not a man of high noble birth, of Prussian descent, he was a uncivilized brigand from Austria. Some of the aristocrats, especially Stauffenberg, had no objections to putting a boot on the backs of the Poles. If they were still winning the war, they would never have raised a hand to Hitler.

If the Allies allowed the Germans to keep Polish territory as part of some kind of peace, then that'd send a message saying that wars of aggression are justified. I don't think it'd be too crazy that the Germans, later down the line, would've used that Teutonic heritage to justify something else that couldn't be justified otherwise.
While the Prussian aristocracy had no problem with Hitler while he was being militarily successful, I'm beginning to think the popular perception of Prussian militarism is more of a myth than anything, cooked up by the Germans themselves and propaganda. But since the Allies believed Prussian militarism to be the cause of the war, I agree that the Allies would probably not accept a peace offer by the conspirators unless it was unconditional surrender, which imho would have been unthinkable for the German army and government. If the Nazis are replaced by a government headed by the Wehrmacht, I doubt the Allies will perceive it that differently, and they would be right.
 
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Puzzle

Donor
There would be no 'almost' about it. In the January 1943 Casablanca Conference, the Western Allies unanimously agreed to a policy of complete and total unconditional surrender by the Axis.
It’s easy to say that, but will the people of the US and UK support a few million more men dead and crippled?
 
It’s easy to say that, but will the people of the US and UK support a few million more men dead and crippled?
They did in OTL, and no amount of Notzi propaganda will change that. All the new German government can do to avoid a total defeat at the battlefield is to surrender.

Starting a new world war, bombing civilian targets and committing massive war crimes at the Eastern Front and elsewhere in occupied Europe has the effect of seriously pissing people off.
 
Josef Goebbels most likely kills himself after he hears of Hitler's assassination.

Albert Speer keeps his head down until the dust settles.

With Hitler and Goering gone, Martin Bormann may take a leap and declare himself the new Fuhrer.

Karl Doenitz will ensure that the Kriegsmarine remains loyal to the Nazi Party.

Technically after Rudolf Hess (who was after Goering in the line of succession) went to Britain in 1941 Bormann essentially replaced his position so he would be the logical next person to replace Hitler if Goering and Himmler died. Whether or not he would succeed is a different story.

Bormann didn't inherit Hess' Deputy Führer title though. He was made head of the Party Chancellery, which was essentially Hess' office by a new name. Now Bormann was a far cannier political operator than Hess, but Hitler never included him in the line of succession.

Plus Bormann had no charisma or real following. He was better than Hess at controlling the Party bureaucracy, and getting rid of Gauleiters who crossed him, but the local Party bigwigs didn't view him as their master. His power was based on the trust Hitler placed in him and his role as chief gatekeeper. With Hitler gone...there's no access for Bormann to control and no dictator's ramblings to translate into directives. He's the classic ante-chamber dictator with no independent power base. Moreover, Bormann was all but unknown to the German public. He needs to ingratiate himself with someone else or dive down for cover. Having checked the timeline, Hitler only appointed Bormann as 'Secretary to the Führer' in April 1943. Now he was already acting as Hitler's majordomo before that, but it was this position that gave him the right to act as a referee between bigwigs and meddle in virtually every state or party affair. These factors might not stop him from trying, but it wouldn't go far.

I don't think Goebbels would kill himself in 1943, unless he's facing capture or the like. He took his life in 1945 because the Third Reich had clearly collapsed and he wanted to go down as Hitler's 'most devout acolyte who remained loyal while everyone else betrayed him' and become a Nazi 'martyr'. Hell, even then, he made a half-hearted attempt to get an armistice with the Soviets. Now he can try and play 'saviour' instead. Goebbels and Speer were, contrary to Speer's post-war myth-making, close partners during the war, and Speer was a very ambitious man. So I could see them trying to organise a loyalist coalition together. Agreed regarding Dönitz. He was a dedicated Nazi and Hitler loyalist. It's why Hitler appointed him as 'Reich President' before killing himself.

Regarding the putschists...they had very delusional views about what terms the Allies would agree to. And the Allies didn't just see Hitler and his cronies as the enemy - and rightly so. So I agree, Germany isn't suddenly gonna get terms other than 'surrender now'. Worth noting is that while Germany's situation is bad, it's not post-D-Day 1944 yet. This will doubtless affect the calculation of many Wehrmacht generals. The conspirators don't have any more popular support (or support in the Heer, for that matter) than they had in OTL when they staged the 20 July coup one year later and the situation was far more dire for Germany.

All in all, I expect a lot of chaos, which makes it an interesting premise.
 
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Puzzle

Donor
They did in OTL, and no amount of Notzi propaganda will change that. All the new German government can do to avoid a total defeat at the battlefield is to surrender.
But the Nazis weren’t willing to throw in the towel in 1943 historically. They were losing and would lose, but they had an awful lot of fight left in them. The US has been willing to exit conflicts with some pretty miserable people in the interest of expediency. A few war crime trials getting swept under the rug in exchange for a win two years early seems like a great deal. It’ll look a lot worse once the Holocaust is discovered, but it’s way easier to be gung ho about unconditional surrender after we won historically.
 
Not if they agree to certain terms, namely pulling out of France and the Low Countries.
Nowhere near enough; there's Poland and Czechoslovakia to be considered, plus Norway and others. As Karelian wrote there's also the problem that there was a strong feeling in the US that WWII came about in large part because the job wasn't fully completed the last time so they were going to make sure they didn't have to come back for a third time.


But Gersdorff can't be viewed in that way. Whatever his reasons, they were clearly selfless - and that reflects on the Schwarze Kapelle as a whole.
Whatever Geradorff's motivations might have been, and how the Allied governments are going to know them is a mystery, the people likely to be making up the new provisional government are going to piss away any good will in fairly short order. Just look at the terms they were planning to demand in our timeline.


Why just for the Western Allies? The Soviets, who still have miles of homeland to liberate, have every incentive to get the war done with, if it can be done on acceptable/advantageous terms.
The problem here is that it's not just 'the Nazis' but average German soldiers of the Wehrmacht who have committed horrendous acts on the Eastern Front for which the Soviets are going to be wanting heads on spikes, something that the provisional government made up in large part of senior generals is unlikely to agree to.


They'd had a belly full of war.
Well sure, everyone's against war when you're on the losing side.
 
I agree. They would ask for surrender, not because German was military defeated, but as the new government would see themselves in a completely pointless war. I think the Allies would welcome the peace as they were dealing with a government that actually killed their enemy, the Nazist regime.

So Germany would probably keep the 1939 borders and Danzig upon a plebiscite result. Occupation and new government would make sure denazification would occur, so this ATL Germany might be similar to OTL West Germany, maybe a bit more conservative and assertive.
No

By then the Allies are determined to put down Germany as you would a rabid dog. Nazi or Prussian military, just two sides of the same coin. Turmoil in Germany would just encourage new offensives.
 
And with the Army given a free hand- imagine the Germans doing better with Hitler out of the way during the 1944 US Election campaign, especially if the Generals executed some camp commandants themselves.
 
And with the Army given a free hand- imagine the Germans doing better with Hitler out of the way during the 1944 US Election campaign, especially if the Generals executed some camp commandants themselves.
Why would Germany be doing better than ATL?

The German generals might have had some tactical successes. But they would have still had a weak economy and chaotic procurement processes. Generals make Bad Economic Planners .
 
Whatever Ger\sdorff's motivations might have been, and how the Allied governments are going to know them is a mystery...
Unless the Schwarz Kapelle makes a strong effort to cover up the details, how Hitler (and Goering and Himmler) died will be known. That means the Allies will know that Gersdorff gave his life. Whatever his motive was, it can't have been selfish.

Of course, this invites the question of how the new regime spins Gersdorff's action. Claim that he was insane? Or try to justify it by exposing Nazi crimes? Or Nazi incompetence?
...the people likely to be making up the new provisional government are going to piss away any good will in fairly short order. Just look at the terms they were planning to demand in our timeline.
It certainly won't go well for them. But ISTM that they will at least get a hearing, and the future opportunity to come to an agreement, even if drastically one-sided.

They do have some cards to play. Fighting the war to the end will cost the Allies hundreds of thousands of dead. There are hundreds of thousands of concentration camp prisoners who could be transferred to the Allies for humanitarian purposes. They have documentation of Nazi activities. Playing right, they should get something for all that.
 
Unless the Schwarze Kapelle makes a strong effort to cover up the details, how Hitler (and Goering and Himmler) died will be known. That means the Allies will know that Gersdorff gave his life. Whatever his motive was, it can't have been selfish.
He could have been a mentally unstable man, John Hinckley Jr. four decades early. He could have been a Nazi extremist that felt Hitler wasn't going far enough. Hell, how do the Allies know that there really was a Rudolf Christoph Freiherr von Gersdorff, if there was that he was the bomber, or that it was intentional? All information will be coming from whoever is in charge of Germany and from the Allies perspective they have every reason to lie. As for the idea that being a suicide bomber automatically means your motives can't be selfish or ignoble I would suggest that Kamikaze pilots and ISIS fighters might say otherwise.
 
Unless the Schwarz Kapelle makes a strong effort to cover up the details, how Hitler (and Goering and Himmler) died will be known. That means the Allies will know that Gersdorff gave his life. Whatever his motive was, it can't have been selfish.

Of course, this invites the question of how the new regime spins Gersdorff's action. Claim that he was insane? Or try to justify it by exposing Nazi crimes? Or Nazi incompetence?

It certainly won't go well for them. But ISTM that they will at least get a hearing, and the future opportunity to come to an agreement, even if drastically one-sided.

They do have some cards to play. Fighting the war to the end will cost the Allies hundreds of thousands of dead. There are hundreds of thousands of concentration camp prisoners who could be transferred to the Allies for humanitarian purposes. They have documentation of Nazi activities. Playing right, they should get something for all that.
No valid cards. German militarism has to be destroyed in the view of all the Allies. There's nothing German Generals can do to alter that. Sorry (which they would not mean) isn't enough.

A retreat to 1936 borders and disarmament plus Occupation is the most the Allies would tolerate.
 
Technically after Rudolf Hess (who was after Goering in the line of succession) went to Britain in 1941 Bormann essentially replaced his position so he would be the logical next person to replace Hitler if Goering and Himmler died. Whether or not he would succeed is a different story.

That's why I said he may 'take a leap'. The Party bigwigs were jealous of how much power he had in relation to who got access to Hitler and as a result, like @Tolkiene said, he had no following, but Bormann was an ambitious little grub, to say the least.
 
If Britain could get him back to Germany could Hess do anything?
Is he still legitimate enough to either take over or provide another side to the leadership fight?
 
But the Nazis weren’t willing to throw in the towel in 1943 historically. They were losing and would lose, but they had an awful lot of fight left in them. The US has been willing to exit conflicts with some pretty miserable people in the interest of expediency. A few war crime trials getting swept under the rug in exchange for a win two years early seems like a great deal. It’ll look a lot worse once the Holocaust is discovered, but it’s way easier to be gung ho about unconditional surrender after we won historically.
Unconditional surrender was already an openly stated Allied War aim by this time.
 
Would Britain or the U.S. feel any civilian pressure against needlessly prolonging the war?
Didn't seem to be much in OTL? Not that Nazi Germany ever really offered terms, so we never got to see it, but there wasn't much appetite for settling with the Axis powers. They were too dangerous to live with. By the time bullets starting flying, peace would be very hard to get back.
 
Would Britain or the U.S. feel any civilian pressure against needlessly prolonging the war?
No, reminding voters "we fight today so your son's don't have to needlessly die in 20 years" as well as endlessly driving home the atrocities already committed (how many dead Jews and Slavs by 1943? 3-4 million?) means grim resolve to the bitter end.
 
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