"Ready for the Fatherland"  
Alternate Wars 3.jpg
Author Harry Turtledove
First Appearance What Might Have Been, Volume 3: Alternate Wars
Publisher Bantam Spectra
Editor Gregory Benford;
Martin H. Greenberg
Collected Counting Up, Counting Down
Illustrator Paul Swendsen
Genre(s) Alternate History
Publication date 1991

"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.

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