"Uncle Alf"  
Author Harry Turtledove
First Appearance Alternate Generals II
Collected Atlantis and Other Places
Genre(s) Alternate History
Publication date 2002

"Uncle Alf" is an epistolary short story by Harry Turtledove, published in Alternate Generals II, Baen, 2002 and reprinted in Atlantis and Other Places in 2010. It can be read on Baen's website.

It is set in a timeline where Alfred von Schlieffen, who in OTL died in 1913, survived to personally oversee the successful implementation of his famous plan for two-front war against France and Russia. Germany wins the Great War in 1914, and fully occupies France and Belgium. When a communist revolution erupts in Russia in 1916, Kaiser Wilhelm II helps his cousin and former enemy Tsar Nicholas II put it down.

The main action of the story itself is set in May 1929, as Sergeant Adolf Hitler of the Feldgendarmerie is sent to Lille in pursuit of communist agitator Jacques Doriot. The narrative is a series of letters from "Uncle Alf" to his niece/lover, Angela Raubal. In these letters, he expresses his frustration with the complacency of the local German officials; his disgust with the "degraded" French; his utter devotion to the Kaiserreich, and; his unrestrained (and possibly inappropriate) passion for his beloved Geli.

Literary Comment[]

Despite the shared theme of a quick German victory in 1914, "Uncle Alf" is not set in the same timeline as Curious Notions, as their respective points of divergence are subtly different. In "Uncle Alf", Alfred von Schlieffen, who died in 1913 in OTL, lived to see the outbreak of the war, and oversee the implementation of his Schlieffen Plan. In Curious Notions, the Russians mobilized much more slowly than in OTL, allowing the Schlieffen Plan to work. Also, in Curious Notions, the Russian Empire collapsed and fragmented during the 1910s, while in "Uncle Alf" it is still relatively stable in 1929.

The story's irony is in presenting Jacques Doriot as a left-wing agitator organizing clandestine activities against the German occupation of France. While Doriot was certainly a Marxist in the 1910s and 1920s of OTL, by the time of World War II, he'd become a committed fascist, and collaborated with the Nazis during the German occupation of France.

The story draws some parallels between Hitler's humble career as a sergeant in the timeline depicted and his role as Germany's dictator in actual history. In the story, he acts in a wild insubordinate manner, staking his entire career on the correctness of his guess as to where Doriot was hiding - and wins. However, his superior, Philipp Engelhardt warns him that continuing to act so boldly and arrogantly will eventually prove his downfall, a warning that Hitler ignores. This sort of reckless self-assurance helped Hitler's rise to power and even into the early days of World War II. However, as the war continued on, that same arrogance brought about Hitler's downfall.

See also[]