The Novel Waffen SS Britain is set in a small and carefully chosen window of time. This begins in the late thirties and follows the two main characters through to the start of the Final Solution. Throughout the 1930s Adolf Hitler was worshipped in Germany by his own people and grudgingly respected throughout the rest of the world.
Germany and The USSR were partners, Stalin killed far more people and was far more ruthless even than Hitler and he became our ally and sat for photographs with Churchill and Roosevelt. His troops were responsible for the Katyn Forest massacre when our 'future allies' wiped out most of the Polish officer Corps after they had invaded the country themselves. The USSR also invaded Norway and only joined the allies when Germany invaded them!
At the same time, in Britain Communism was gaining strength. Those opposing it leaned towards Fascism, pro-German organisations came into being with powerful support, The British Peoples Party with Lord Tavistock, later the Duke of Bedford. The Right Club with senior military officers, MPs and titled gentry such as the Dukes of Wellington and Montrose and Admiral Nicholson, The Nordic League and of course the British Union Of Fascists with Sir Oswald Moseley. These are just a few examples of an era already re-written using post war rosy spectacles!
In the era in which my story is set, the German blitzkrieg had carried all before it and no one at the time foresaw England escaping, other than Churchill that is. Had Hitler acted differently he could easily have invaded successfully, even without using the fictional methods given in my story. There had been questionable acts in Germany before 1939, especially the anti-Semitism. It must be put into context, this went on in countries across the globe and there was strict segregation of blacks in the USA. It was not at the time totally abhorred! During this period however the treatment of the Jews in Germany was appalling, but there were no legal murders of Jews or deportations.
The Final Solution brought about that!
My hero Ralf was in the Liebstandarte SS, Hitlers Bodyguard. The period covered in the story was carefully planned. In 1939 this regiment was part of the Waffen SS, there are always atrocities in war on all sides, and little could be put at the door of this regiment after Ralf joined it and until the invasion of Russia (which is outside the time parameters)! Apart that is for the murder of British prisoners at Wormhoudt by the Liebstandarte, this was mainly a one off and is mentioned.
This window in time is all-important as it tells a story of Germany before the Holocaust. No Einzatsgruppen followed the invader into the low-countries, all that was to follow when they turned east in 1941.
Let's look at some countries that were successfully invaded by Germany.
In Denmark, they escaped Nazification altogether, the army, navy and police were still in the hands of the Danish State. Democracy still functioned at central and local level and there was no interference in the education sector. The trade organisations went unchallenged, as did all other organisations; they even gave very little credibility to the Danish Nazi Party.
In Holland 50,000 Dutchmen volunteered for the German Army!
SS Freikorps Denmark reached 1.800 men.
In Luxembourg 12.035 men joined the German army.
Despite Switzerlands neutrality between 700 & 800 served with the German forces.
In all around 2.000,000 foreigners served with the German armed forces, needless
to say most were from Eastern Europe.
In France, a hero of France, Marshall Petain was set up as governor of a German puppet state. Outside my parameters, after the start of the Final Solution, French Gendarmes under Petain were involved in rounding up Jews and transporting them to the French run Concentration Camp at Drancy and thence to Auschwitz. The Macquis or French underground did little until the tide of the war turned against the Germans.
Probably the best example involves the Channel Islands, but all of these differ from the situation that may have existed in Britain. During all of these occupations there was a war situation still extant as Britain was still fighting.
The real British Fee Corps was formed in January 1944 by which time the tide of the war had most certainly turned against the Germans. The unit reached only about 30 men with one officer, a Major Webster. Had they been formed as in the story when the war had ended with German victory? (2 Britons did serve with the Liebstandarte in 1940 and were awarded the Iron Cross Second Class).
In Waffen SS Britain, the war has finished in 1940, Britain, the only country still fighting Germany has surrendered. No other country is at war and the draconian wartime restrictions are no longer needed as they were in the countries under occupation during the war.
My story takes us up to the Wannsee Conference. There was a big difference in the Waffen SS who were the epitome of a professional fighting force and the SS Units that were employed in Concentration Camps. The bad behaviour of certain Waffen SS Units started mainly on the invasion of Russia, which is why they were declared an illegal organisation after the war.
The Final Solution is not used as entertainment, the book is thought provoking and fictional. The story is an unambiguous alternative history. Pearl Harbour did not happen, the Americans did not enter the war, neither did Italy or Japan. All of that came about outside the carefully set parameters of the story. Some of the names used are genuine; most were in the anti-Hitler caucus and deserve credit for this. Or they were, like Rommel and Von Kleist, brave anti-Nazi military leaders.
Sepp Dietrich was the head of the Liebstandarte. He faced trial for war crimes after the war. These were crimes committed by his men mainly during the Russian campaign and he was later tried in Germany for his part in The Night of the Long Knives. He died naturally in the 1960s when he was given a full ceremonial military funeral.
Ralf is one of two main characters, the second is Angela. She is a Wren Officer who despite much soul searching falls in love with Ralf. From her families perspective I have attempted to illustrate how the general public may have reacted under the all-powerful German invaders.
FROM THE LIVERPOOL DAILY POST PUBLISHED ON THE 11TH OF MARCH 2006 on the original publication that has now been cleaned up, re-named and released by a UK Publishing House. The story however is the same as the one reviewed....
What if Britain had lost the war?
(Page one of three)
The Nazis are here and
Swastikas are draped over Liverpool, while smoke
Rises from a death camp.
David Charters reports
On a nightmare vision of a
Strange smoke plumed from the great chimneys, all day and all night.
Locals looked at the sky and wondered what it could mean. But they had their farms and businesses to run, the childrens homework, the trimming of hedges and the potting of pickles.
The routines of life had to go on in the country town, where the splat of cowpats was still heard on the road.
And in rolled the trains along the new stretch of track which led to the old RAF station, where they had built a camp behind tall walls topped with barbed wire.
The people had been herded like animals onto the trains. Most were Jews, many of whom had held high positions in the merchant, professional and business classes. Others were poor. Suddenly though they were all the same and they were very bewildered, these people who had always thought that they would be safe in our country of tolerance and easy manners.
But a soldier with a whip in his gloved hand and a stare stripped of all human sympathy was separating the frightened prisoners as they walked into the camp. Those on one side lived for a while at least. Those on the other side had to strip for their showers in the gas chambers.
As the smoke rose from the crematoria while the trains ran on time, day and night.
But this was not Belsen or Treblinka. The grannies and granddads and the parents holding the hands of children were entering the concentration camp at Wilmslow, a cosy Cheshire town of Tudor magpie buildings and refined cafes.
Yes, we have followed the Nazi conquerors of much of Europe into what if territory.
If you exclude jokes, football, sex, gossip and those work-moans which ram into one another in the flow of bar-room conversation, what if subjects have become central to the social life of Britons, who like to add a little imaginative thought to their beer and barbecue flavoured crisps.
What would have happened if Hannibal had taken Rome instead of Capua; or Julius Caesar had arrived here, looked around for a while and then decided to repack his picnic hamper; or King Harold had pulled the arrow from his eye before driving back the Norman invasion; or Napoleon had defeated Wellington at Waterloo; or the Americans had not entered the Great War; or James Callaghan had gone to the polls while still quite popular, thus keeping Margaret Thatcher out of power?
Well, theres a lot to discuss there, but Paul Hurley, a retired policeman from Winsford, Cheshire, has gone far beyond talking. His latest book imagines what would have happened had the Germans successfully invaded Britain in World War II.
In such circumstances, there would have been occupying forces in all the main areas of population including Liverpool, where Hurley has set his story.
This is understandable as he was born to Frank Hurley, an RAF mechanic and his wife Angela (nee Rigby) in Collingwood Street, Everton, attending All Souls School until he was six when the family moved to Weaverham near Northwich. From secondary school he joined the Royal Navy serving in it until 1974 when he joined Cheshire Constabulary becoming a sergeant with the Regional Crime Squad, working on major investigations in Runcorn and Hawarden.
Since retiring from the force in 2002, he has been a freelance writer, who is perhaps best known for his fortnightly column about historic pubs in mid-Cheshire, featured in the local papers of Northwich, Winsford and Middlewich. His articles have also appeared in numerous magazines.
So Liverpool Soldier, his hefty war novel, is quite a departure. It tells the story of Ralf von Klausener, a tall blue eyed Aryan who joined the Liebstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler on the day Germany invaded Poland.
Despite his fervour for the German cause, Ralf is a decent and honourable soldier, who with utmost reluctance, accepts that the early excesses of the Nazis were necessary to establish the 1000-year Reich.
At this stage of his thriller Hurley sticks to the historical facts. Ralf serves with distinction in Holland and France. It is not until Dunkirk that we enter what if territory. There is no miracle of deliverance. The surviving British soldiers from the British Expeditionary Force are captured.
With secretly developed jet planes suddenly unleashed, Germany achieves total domination of the skies, while a huge fleet of submarines clears the English channel for the invading Germans. Resistance on the mainland, although brave, is sporadic and un-coordinated. Winston Churchill and the Royal Family flee to Canada. The war is over.
Edward VIII, whose determination to marry the American divorcee Wallis Simpson had provoked the abdication crisis of 1936, is restored to the throne. America signs a friendship pact with Germany. The Soviet Union remains an ally. Oswald Mosley, posturing leader of the black-shirted British Union of Fascists, heads our puppet government.
With sullen resentment the British people accept their new masters. Despite the presence of uniformed men on the streets, the old maxim of business as usual prevails and people start to accept their new circumstances, Ralf would have appealed to most young women. To use a modern expression, he was eye candy. He was also brave and well educated. His proven success leads to rapid promotion, and he is appointed SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer (lieutenant-colonel) in charge of the British Free Corps-SS based at Deysbrook Barracks, West Derby, Liverpool.
The central Liverpool family in Hurleys novel are Jim Mackin, a railwayman, his wife Sarah and their children Angela, a young officer with the Wrens and 11-year old Paul. They live in a terraced house off Scotland Road.
They are ordinary patriotic people with ordinary values, nothing fancy.
Despite her dislike of the Germans, however, Angela is attracted to Ralf and so unfolds the story of patriotism, heroism, fanaticism, brutality, death and love.
Paul Hurley, 59, robust and slightly graying, is drinking a cup of tea in the café at the Royal Liver Building on the Pier Head. It was here, in his imagination, that details of how the Final Solution would have been implemented in the north west of England. In short, the Jews here were to be transported to the concentration camp at Wilmslow, in accordance with the policy enacted across Europe.
This is a nightmare for Ralf, a decorated soldier, to whom the idea of killing innocent civilians is utterly repugnant. Then he hears that Angelas maternal grandparents are Latvian Jews.
Soon she will be sent to Wilmslow.
In the writing of this story, Hurley makes many references to local places, sometimes with chilling effect.
The tram clanked and squealed its way up Scotland Road to their stop and under the withering glare of the conductor, they jumped off onto the wet footpath. The gaslights cast an eerie shadow as they walked hand in hand through the streets. They stopped to kiss under one of the lights and Angela turned her face up towards him. As she did so, the light reflected from the silver deaths head badge on his peaked cap.
I still think that badge is spooky, she said. The light shines off it in a malevolent sort of way.
Hurley is strong on detail, having researched the Third Reich. But this book is a nightmare rooted in the imagination.
To put into context, if Britain had capitulated in 1940, the war would have been over, says the father of four-grown up children. This country would have been under the same conditions of occupation as the rest of occupied Europe. Liverpool of course would have been an important centre of occupation.
After the fall of France in June 1940, it was widely feared that Germany would invade Britain.
Of course this notion was much later to provide the basis for Dads Army, the classic BBC series which in its comic way still captured the resilient spirit of England in peril.
In reality, Hitler was unsure about the invasion, codenamed Operation Sealion. The main attack was led by Field-Marshall Von Runstedt.
The idea was for a seaborne attack on the south east coast between Dover and Folkestone with an airborne assault on cliff areas.
With an arc formed by the Germans from the Thames Estuary to Portsmouth, London would have been cut off.
A secondary attack was planned up the Severn Estuary.
But the Luftwaffes failure to eliminate the valiant RAF during the Battle of Britain led to Hitler indefinitely postponing Operation Sealion on October 12, 1940, so that he could concentrate on his invasion of Russia. But British cities, including Liverpool continued to be pounded from the air during night raids.
The above is a full transcript of the Liverpool Daily Post article.