With more than 5.6 million articles, Wikipedia is an invaluable resource, whether you’re throwing a term paper together at the last minute, or seeing if you can get an exact percentage of Nazis who are “very fine people.” We explore some of Wikipedia’s oddities in our 5,669,887-week series, Wiki Wormhole.
This week’s entry: Hitler’s plans for North America
What it’s about: Officially, Nazi Germany had no designs on North America, with Hitler calling an attempt to conquer the United States “as fantastic as an invasion of the moon.” But unofficially? Dude wanted to take over the whole world—why would we be an exception? Hitler had a plan to impose Aryan rule over every corner of the globe, including Allied Japan. (See The Onion’s Our Dumb Century article, “Japan Forms Alliance With White Supremacists In Well-Thought Out Scheme.”) Let’s look at this nightmarish alternate future where Nazis march in the streets of America and are praised by the president.
Biggest controversy: Hitler had no use for pro-Nazi Americans. Although organizations like the German American Bund, and Friends Of New Germany had been spreading pro-Nazi sentiment throughout the 1930s, Germany gave them “no financial or verbal support” in the years leading up to the war or after it’s start. The latter had been formed with the help of Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess in 1933, but the following year the organization was investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee, and the year after that Hess ordered all German citizens to withdraw from FNG.
Strangest fact: German cinema put out its own Westerns. Hitler was a fan of the genre, having grown up on Karl May’s Old West adventure novels and, perhaps to please Der Führer, the German film industry began making its own Westerns, beginning with Der Kaiser Von Kalifornien, a biopic of Johann Sutter, whose discovery of gold started the 1848 Gold Rush. The film played up Sutter’s teutonic roots (while the man himself did not, calling himself John once he emigrated). As in May’s books, Native Americans are sympathetic—unusual for Westerns of that era.
This may not have been coincidence. The Nazis tried to cozy up to Native American groups, hoping they’d be less than sympathetic to the U.S. government. Hitler went so far as to declare the Sioux to be Aryan, and Nazi propaganda promised to return stolen land to Native Americans who contributed to an Axis victory.
Thing we were happiest to learn: For those of you kids who never found out how World War II ended—we won! Which means the world never had to live through Hitler’s long-term plans for a Nazi-occupied Britain, namely using its powerful navy alongside the German Luftwaffe against America. Hitler predicted that, “England and America will one day have a war with one another… One of the two countries will have to disappear.” This was a long-term plan, however, that Hitler believed he would not live long enough to see, envisioning generations of Nazi conquest continuing long after he himself had taken over Europe.
Thing we were unhappiest to learn: Hitler had no time for Canada. There was some worry among the Nazi brass that once England fell, the Reich wouldn’t be able to keep the British Empire intact, and that the U.S. would annex Canada (which was self-governing at that point, but still considered part of the Empire). But Canada’s population was relatively small, and diverse enough that Hitler considered the country every bit as “materialistic, racially bastardized, and decadent” as its southern neighbor, and therefore wasn’t useful to the Nazis’ aims, despite the country’s vast resources. Nazis also looked down on Canada for not having a unified culture, insisting there was no such thing as a Canadian “volk.” (The unifying force in Canadian culture, Tim Hortons, wouldn’t be founded until 1964).
Also noteworthy: Franklin D. Roosevelt shocked Americans when he revealed Hitler’s secret plans for Nazi Latin America. Roosevelt told of a secret map that showed Central and South America divided into several Nazi-occupied countries after a future invasion came to pass. The threat of Nazis on our southern border helped galvanize public sentiment for war in advance of Pearl Harbor, but the Germans were equally shocked to learn about the map—it had been a forgery by the British Security Co-Ordination, passed to the Americas to spur them to join the war effort. At the same time, it was likely based on a real map Germans were using to try and persuade South American countries (presumably ones whose borders got bigger under the new map) to join the war on their side.
Best link to elsewhere on Wikipedia: One of Hitler’s other grand long-term plans was the midnight-movie-sounding Plan Z, which would have expanded the Kriegsmarine into a navy to rival Britain’s by 1948. The fleet would include 10 battleships, four aircraft carriers, plus more cruisers and U-boats. Although the plan was initiated before WWII broke out, it was canceled a year after the war started. Four battleships were eventually built, and while several aircraft carriers were planned, to this day no German aircraft carrier has ever entered service.
Further down the Wormhole: Hitler’s designs on the world beyond Europe were foremost on Frank Capra’s mind when he made The Nazis Strike, the second in his Why We Fight series of propaganda films. The film describes Hitler’s aims as first conquering Eastern Europe and sweeping across the Eurasian landmass, then using that as a base for world domination. Global hegemony has been a wildly unrealistic dream for centuries, with various powers trying to assert not only their might over other parts of the world, but their system of governance. Wikipedia has a long list of such systems, among them geniocracy, essentially “rule by geniuses,” with only those of well-above-average intelligence able to take office. This system was proposed by the Raëlian movement, a pseudo-religion that began in the 1970s and teaches that there is no God… only UFOs! Having hit two of Wiki Wormhole’s favorite recurring topics, Nazis and space travel, we’ll round out the trifecta with a grand conspiracy theory next week.