|"Ready for the Fatherland"|
|First Appearance||What Might Have Been, Volume 3: Alternate Wars|
Martin H. Greenberg
|Collected||Counting Up, Counting Down|
"Ready for the Fatherland" is a short story of alternate history by Harry Turtledove. It was published in What Might Have Been? Volume 3: Alternate Wars (eds. Gregory Benford and Martin H. Greenberg), q.v.; and Counting Up, Counting Down, Ballentine/Del Rey 2002 (0345442261).
The story's point of departure comes on 19 February 1943 at a Wehrmacht command council in Ukraine, when Field Marshal Erich von Manstein kills Adolf Hitler in response to an insult. In short order, Hitler's successors make a separate peace with the Soviet Union, and are able to keep the Western Allies from gaining a toe-hold in Italy and France, causing World War II to end in a stalemate. The Cold War becomes a three-way conflict, with the United States and Britain jostling against Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
The action of the story picks up in July 1979 as two British agents travel to Rijeka in fascist Croatia to meet with a Serb partisan, seeking British arms. In a twist that recalls any number of Cold War spy stories, the British agents are actually there to entrap Bogdan, and arrange for his capture and arrest by Croatian authorities. This is a devil's bargain to ensure that the UK will have access to oil in the North Sea without German interference.
In his introduction to the story in Counting Up, Counting Down, Turtledove writes that the story was inspired by his wife's visit to Rijeka. He also points out that it was written before the collapse of Yugoslavia into several warring nations, but says he can't be considered prophetic as that region had been obviously heading that way for some time.
- "Must and Shall", an alternate history that follows a story structure similar to "Ready for the Fatherland"; in the prologue, an anonymous Confederate sharpshooter assassinates Abraham Lincoln in 1864. The main action takes place decades later in a world even more morally ambiguous than our own. Both were reprinted in Counting Up, Counting Down.
- The War That Came Early, a multi-volume series in which World War II begins in 1938 over Czechoslovakia. The final volume Last Orders, includes Hitler's assassination by a military coup, and Germany continues under the rule of General Heinz Guderian