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Hitler's Mediterranean Strategy

This TL originates from the AH.com forum. Read the full TL here and discuss it there.

In OTL, after having conquered Yugoslavia and Greece, Hitler still decided to invade the Soviet Union on June 22nd of 1941.

But WI he had decided to advance further around the Mediterranean - striking against Malta, Egypt and even further?

Since the troops are already in the right place (in the Balkans), they only have to transport them to the other side of the Mediterranean. At the same time, the attacks against Malta become stronger. Everywhere in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Luftwaffe attacks RN ships.

In August, the Axis troops in North Africa are strong enough to attack and take Tobruq. Now the way from Tripolis to the front is free. An impatient Rommel attacks the Brits even before all of his troops have arrived. Still successful, the Brits are driven back to El Alamein.

In September, Rommel is ready for the final attack. He now has ten divisions ready, plus some Italians, against 7+ (I guess Churchill would send them some, too, after they can guess what the Germans are up to) of the Empire, plus a few others. Numerical superiority and Rommel's strategic talent are too much, before the battle becomes hopeless, they start to retreat. At the banks of the Nile, they are ready for the next stand. Fighting in the fertile river valleys and big cities is a completely new situation for Rommel. Still, after a big battle end of September, Alexandria is taken. The Brits destroy the bridges, but that's nothing that can't be repaired. Middle of October, Cairo and all of the Nile delta are in Axis hands. A few days later, the remaining British troops are behind the Suez canal.

Rommel's victory in the Nile delta made the situation for the empire difficult. Their troops in Africa and the Middle East now are disconnected from each other, the Germans control the important harbor of Alexandria, and without the Suez canal, the most important connection from Britain to India is cut. They managed to bring some support troops from India, but at the same time, since they control Egypt's biggest cities, the Nazis start to recruit Arabs willing to fight against the Brits. There's even unrest in Churchill's war cabinet. Some ministers and MPs around Halifax point out that Britain can't fight this war alone forever. Churchill resists: "It's not over yet!"

Hitler now has to make a decision: Attack in the South, through the Nile valley, aiming for Sudan and Ethiopia, or East? Since he wants the gulf oil, he quickly decides for the East. Rommel crosses the Suez canal and conquers the Sinai peninsula. The Italians and Arabs attack in the South, but are stopped at the height of El Faiyum and Beni Suef. At the end of October, the Germans stand near the little city of Gaza. Now, Churchill exchanges several messages with Jewish leaders like Ben Gurion. The Jews now may officially form an army to fight against the Germans. Since he mustn't anger the Arabs too much, he makes Ben Gurion promise that Arabs have to keep full rights in case a state of Israel should be founded after the war. As fast as possible, the Jews raise troops. They don't exactly have the best arms, but are eager to fight against the Nazis. Southern Palestine (the Negev desert) is conquered by Germany, but then the Brits and Jews manage to stop them somehow, often simply by bluffing (did you know that empty gas canisters pulled over the ground sound much like moving tanks? I'm not kidding, the Israelis invented that trick during their war of independence). News spread fast: Though Roosevelt doesn't declare war on Germany, he supports the Jewish brigades where it's possible. Many Jews in America (emigrates and natives) volunteer to fight in Palestine, others collect more money than ever to buy arms and transport them. Even non-Jews join their rows (many of them are veterans of the Spanish civil war or other socialists).

Middle of November, Hitler is getting furious since Rommel didn't break the lines yet. He demands a victory, or else. Rommel manages to find a way: Instead of attacking Palestine directly, he lets his troops march into Transjordania. One week later, Amman is conquered. It's easy to see what Rommel is up to: He wants to enclose the Jews and Brits in a pocket and forces them to fight on two fronts. They still manage to hold the line along the Jordan and the heights of Golan. End of November, Rommel wins a battle against Free French troops and approaches Damascus. About that time, anti-British rebellions start in Iraq (again). Hitler thinks that the time has come and orders to take Cyprus.

In the first week of December, things look bleak for Britain. Half of Cyprus and most of Syria are in German hands. On December 6th, they reach the coast of Lebanon. Palestine is cut off, while the Germans in Syria approach the rebels in Iraq. Again, Churchill exchanges messages with Ben Gurion, asking whether he wants to evacuate his troops from Palestine. Ben Gurion answers: "We're ready to die for Israel!" Churchill tells him: "I hope you know that we can't support you forever." Ben Gurion: "As long as our volunteers will run the German lines, we'll stand and fight." What they don't know: Hitler just ordered Rommel not to attack the Palestine pocket but only to clean up Syria and Mesopotamia. "We've got the harbors of Syria, now we need the oil!" he commands. He also orders that some Luftwaffe divisions are to be stationed in the North of Syria and Iraq - for an attack against the oil fields of Baku.

End of 1941 the Italians in Ethiopia capitulate, not much later than OTL. Now Churchill finally has a victory, which does a lot for British morale.

Then, everything changes with Pearl Harbor happening...

To be continued...

Here's what Stalin was doing all the time:

While Rommel conquers Egypt, Stalin repeatedly bugs Hitler with new demands. He wants Romania to give up land at the Danube mouth and the Bukovina; he wants a military pact with Bulgaria; he wants Japan to give up its rights for coal and oil in North Sachalin; and he points out that the Soviet Union also needs more influence in Turkey.

Behind the stage, Hitler tries to get more time. He knows he can't attack Russia before May 1942 - and that he can't wait another year, it's now or never. But he neither wants to anger his allies nor he wants a Russia that's too strong. He tries to stall Stalin. He doesn't want to give in again, after Russia already got half of Poland, Bessarabia and the Baltic states. He also points out that he's got no influence on Japan's inner affairs. He tries again to offer Stalin Persia, Afghanistan and India for an anti-British alliance. But that's not really what Stalin wants now.

But since he doesn't want to make Stalin suddenly suspicious, he slowly agrees, piece for piece. In the fall of 1941, the Romanian border again is "corrected" a bit in Russia's favor. After Pearl Harbor, Hitler gives Stalin free hand in North Sachalin. Stalin who's sure that the Japanese will be to afraid to attack Russia after the border clash of 1939, puts his hand on the mines in Sachalin. Hitler asks the Japanese whether they would join a war against Russia under the new circumstances, but the answer is No - Japan doesn't need Siberian territory, they want SE Asia. The relationship between Germany and Japan cools down. Hitler decides not to join their war against the US - at least, not yet.

In the first six months, the war in the Pacific is pretty much as OTL - Japan conquers Hong Kong, Malaya, the Philippines, Burma, most of Indonesia and many Pacific islands. Singapur also falls in this TL. American resistance is somewhat stronger, since they don't have troops sent to North Africa, OTOH Burma is conquered faster since Britain has less troops available.

Churchill is under heavy pressure again - several people want him to make peace with Germany to be able to defend the Empire against Japan. But he resists since he's sure that the Allies will win with America's help, and the public of Britain believes him. Still, the situation is hard. During December, the Germans have won in Cyprus, swept Syria and are attacking in Mesopotamia. When the new year begins, they control Bagdad. In February, they have reached the gulf at Basra. The oil fields they conquered, however, are unusable after the Brits destroyed them. Now Hitler contacts the king of Saudi Arabia for an alliance. The king is unsure; not allying with Germany might mean a German occupation, but it's not too sure that Germany will win at the end, so he says neither yes or no. Rommel concludes his victories by conquering Kuwait. Since Saudi Arabia doesn't want German troops on its soil/sand, they can't attack the remaining British oilfields in Bahrain and Qatar directly, so they have to attack with the Luftwaffe only. But after a few weeks, the Saudi king feels too impressed by the German strength (and the pro-German faction on his court is pressing him too), so he allows German troops to cross his territory.

Meanwhile, Stalin against asks friend Adolf for a pact with Bulgaria. Finally exhausted, Hitler agrees to let him have some bases there, if Russia agrees to respect Bulgaria's sovereignity in every other way - planning to kick them out when it's time with official Bulgarian help. Stalin gives his OK and now wants to know about Turkey. Hitler lets Ribbentrop ask secretly whether Turkey would join the Axis' cause and promises them that Georgia and Armenia could become Turkish again. The Turks disagree, the new Turkey is supposed to be a national state but not an empire. Still, they don't wish for Russian troops at the Bosporus. To confuse Stalin, Hitler asks what Stalin would think about dividing the Turkey between Italy and Russia and occupying the Bosporus together. Meanwhile, Churchill wonders what the hell Hitler is up to.

In March 1942, a lucky Israeli diversion attack drives the Germans a few kilometers back; the Jews now control all of the important heights of Golan. Once again Hitler bites a carpet and threats to attack the Palestine pocket with chemical weapons. Churchill OTOH tells him that in this case he'd throw all of Britain's chemical weapons on German cities, so Hitler scraps the plan.

In other ways, the spring of 1942 around the Med is pretty quiet - except for the perpetual bombing against the remaining British oilfields and a few fights in the Nile valley. But now, the Germans have made the Suez canal usable...

During all the time before Barbarossa (June '41 - May '42) the Germans used the opportunity to destroy the resistance throughout Europe. Yugoslavia and Greece are pacified, and the French resistance also suffers greatly. Among the killed partisans also is a Croatian Communist named Josip "Tito" Broz.

Operation Barbarossa starts!

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The farthest German advance
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Germany at the End of the World War
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The farthest Japanese advance
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Japan at the End of the World War
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