So, how’s the Coronaclypse been treating you? For me, it’s been social distancing, seclusion, preclusion, and as the day job goes quiet, reading, watching television, and writing up a storm. Look, I’ve got a history of lung infections going back decades. So while I’m not worried, I am aware that this thing could kill me. So, I’ve been trying to keep busy writing.
I thought I’d offer up a sneak peak at an upcoming project… Axis of Andes
Essentially, it’s going to be a novel length alternate history, chronicling the third theatre of World War II, the great Andean Conflict which ended up touching almost every state in South America. In our history, South America largely sat out the war as neutrals. But that doesn’t tell the entire story.
Brazil was a pro-allied neutral sending thousands of volunteers to fight the Nazis in Europe. Argentina and Chile were pro-belligerent neutrals, spying for the Nazis and Japanese. Argentina and Brazil maintained a cold war. Argentina and Paraguay ended up providing a home for Nazi war criminals. Through the 1930’s and into the 1940’s, the region seethed. There was the Colombia-Peru War (1932-33), the Chaco War between Bolivia and Paraguay (1935-38), the Peru-Ecuador war (1941), a near conflict between Peru and Chile over Tacna and Arica. There were major Fascist parties and Fascist movements in almost every single South American country. There were social tensions, ethnic tensions, class conflicts.
South America was caught up in the economic and political transformations of the 20th century, it was a powderkeg that never quite blew. There were all sorts of events that could have kicked off an epic conflict, but never quite.
It’s a fascinating landscape to tell a story.
So, here’s a teaser….
Berlin, December, 1937
“The circumstances which bring men to war may be likened to a process of fire. For always there is a spark, and on occasion, this spark will find its way to favourable tinder, there to simmer and smolder, to flash and flare and then blaze until finally it burst into the conflagration which consumes all before it.”
Hitler did not stand. Instead, he genially waved the South American visitors to take a seat. The Minister Velasco, and the Colonel Alba, gingerly took their seats. The rest of the German cabinet resumed their seats, watching the Fuerher warily.
“I regret,” Hitler began, “that the press of European matters, particularly the struggle of our brother, Commander Franco, does not allow us much time. But be welcome, tell us of matters in South America.”
“Thank you, Great Fuhrer,” Velasco began. “Ecuador is a proud country with an honourable history, like Germany itself, but like Germany threatened by a great enemy whose designs would drive our noble people into the sea.”
“You speak of Peru, of course,” Hitler said checking his notes, “the fabled land of the Incas.”
Velasco paused, trying to think how to respond to this. “It is said that the Inca began in the lands of Ecuador, though over time, their conquests extended the length of the Andes.”
“Indeed?” Hitler asked with every sign of earnest fascination. “How marvelous, the Inca folk were a remarkable race, superior to the lowly indians who surrounded them in every way. I hear that they left remarkable ruins behind, strange lost cities and pyramids. And they began in Ecuador you say?”
“Yes, they did,” Velasco said. “The indians of Peru, the indians who still make up the majority of Peru, were their slaves. When the Inca fell, they were no match for the spanish. The monuments of the true Inca are found throught Ecuador.”
“Quite remarkable. I should like to see that for myself sometime. How is the climate in Ecuador.”
“Very moderate,” Velasco replied. “European in nature, why much like Berlin itself.”
“Really,” Hitler replied. “But doesn’t Ecuador rest upon the equator. I would think it would be a tropical bath.”
“It would be, but we are sheltered by the mountains, and the cold ocean current. Ecuador has the most European climate in South America. Because of that, we have been blessed with a greater immigration of the white races. Particularly germans.”
“Is that so,” Hitler beamed. He turned to Canaris. “Is this true, Herr Canaris? Is there a little piece of the german nation straddling the Equator?”
“There are many Germans in South America,” Canaris answered. “Particularly in Argentina and Chile, but in Ecuador as well. I believe that the largest German communities are in Chile.”
“I should wonder then,” Hitler said, “why the Chileans are not here as well. Don’t we have connections there.”
“Many of the Chilean Germans are jews or communists,” Velasco said quickly, a light film of sweat appearing on his forehad. “Not all, by any means. But many.”
Hitler looked to Canaris, who shrugged.
“What of Peru?”
“Indians and bolsheviks,” replied Velasco quickly. “And Jews.”
“Well,” Hitler said, “that stands to reason, where you find bolsheviks, you also find jews, and the reverse. It is just as in Russia, the Indians are like the Slavs, a slave race, too easily lead. A simple, childlike race of savages, as Karl May shows us, without the wisdom to see through the lies of communism.”
Velasco opened his mouth and closed it.
Abruptly, Hitler’s manner changed. He became blunt and businesslike.
“What is it that you want from us?”
Velasco nodded to Colonel Alba, who began to stand up. Hitler raised an eyebrow. Alba sat down. He cleared his throat.
“We are a small, but valiant nation, preparing to defend ourselves from a powerful enemy. Already that enemy has made war upon our neighbor. Now it seeks to claim our territory. Our…”
“Lebensraum,” Hitler offered, “living space. To steal land from the European people, and fill it with slavs and bolsheviks.”
Alba blinked, and then had the wisdom to nod twice. “Yes, exactly. They have numbers and powerful supporters. We need assistance.”
“What sort of assistance?”
“Weapons,” Alba said, “and munitions, artillery, armour, aircraft, radio. Perhaps trainers. Whatever you can spare, even trucks.”
“And you assume we have vast quantities to spare, to just give you? You assume we are not confronted by true bolsheviks far more insidious and ruthless than the schemers you face? You feel that we are not troubled by slavs in endless numbers, poles and russians and ukrainians. That we are not ringed by enemies lead by these selfsame jews. The German people are not forced to the precipice, standing almost alone in a sea of mongel races, betrayed from without and within?”
“The Aryan peoples must stand together,” Velasco said. “No matter where they are, against the rising red tide. You have come to the aid of virtue in Spain.”
“So you see us coming to the aid of our friend, Commander Franco,” he said, “and you think to yourselves, ‘ahh, these are just the chaps to save us from the horde of Indians and Bolsheviks?’ What of your friends to the north, the Americans?”
“Unfortunately, their business interests are substantially greater in Peru than in Ecuador. And so they favour our enemies.”
“And behind business interests, are the Jews,” Hitler said knowingly. “You see how it all comes together?”
“We’ve often thought so,” Velasco agreed.
Abruptly, Hitler’s manner changed again. “We will consider your request,” he said. “There are many demands upon our resouces, but perhaps we can find something to spare for you. Thank you for your time. Now, you must excuse us, we have a long agenda.”
Solemnly, Hitler stood as Velasco and Alba came forward to shake hands. They exchanged greetings with the rest of Hitler’s cabinet and were escorted from the room.
“One more thing,” Hitler called.
The two Ecuadorans stopped.
“Your President, Napoli Bonifaz,” he said.
“Yes?” Velasco replied carefully.
“Is he by any chance related to the famous French General?”
Colonel Alba cleared his throat, but Velasco spoke first.
“He has never spoken of it. But many French and Germans came to Ecuador after the battle of Waterloo, finding Europe no longer sympathetic to them. So it is certainly likely.”
“Ahh,” Hitler said, “interesting. Thank you, you may go.”
He watched as the two men left, and once they were safely out of earshot
“What an extraodinary thing,” he ejaculated suddenly, barking a few short laughs. “I have never imagined such a thing. Why, they were right out of a comic opera!”
There was a round of sycophantic laughter.
“Did you see the Colonel?” Goebbels chuckled. “I was nearly beside myself. With all his gold braid and epaulets, I was almost ready to ask him to carry my luggage.”
“Yes,” Goering laughed, “I was almost certain that Canaris had hired a couple of actors to play a prank upon us.”
“Imagine that,” Hitler said, “a lost country of Aryans on the Equator, amid the ruins of pyramids and temples, facing hordes of Indians and Bolsheviks. Why, it’s out of Karl May. No, it’s more bizarre even than May would write.”
“We should send them to Benito,” Himmler said, “I’m sure he would love them.”
“Actually,” Canaris said, “they have already met Mussolini, who indicated that he was quite receptive.”
“Has he made a commitment?”
“Of course he would be receptive,” Hitler said thoughtfully, “our friend Benito is hungry for overseas colonies. I’m sure he would love an opportunity to carve himself a slice of South America in some fashion. But make no mistake, things will be decided here in Europe, it would be a mistake to get involved in such a sideshow.”
“I do not see any merit in getting involved,” Himmler said, “let the South Americans deal with their own matters. I can see no benefit to us.”
“We do have interests and supporters in South America,” Canaris suggested. “We have assets there. Perhaps a friendly government might allow us to advance those interests.”
Hitler shrugged, steepling his fingers.
“What do you say, Herman?” he asked Goering.
“Like Heinrich,” Goering replied, “I see no real advantage in… as you say… being diverted by a sideshow. And to play too heavily there might antagonize the Americans.”
Hitler shrugged at the mention of the Americans.
“Our assets in South America,” Hitler asked thoughtfully, “do they amount to much?”
“They are small remote countries,” Himmler said, “of no great consequence.”
“True,” Hitler replied. “But they have come all this way, and their enemies are our enemies. I would not see Bolshevism defeated here, only to have the Jews establish a new fortress somewhere else.”
He shook himself, seeming to make a decision.
“The great battle is coming. Even Spain is merely a sideshow. Still…. If beggars come to our table, it is only polite to throw them a few crumbs. Let us see if we can spare them a few deutschmarks and rifles, it might do some good. I’m sure our friend Benito will chip in…. And Heinrich, send a letter to our friend Henry Ford. Ask him to help out. After all, this is America’s domain, we should encourage the Americans to choose the right party, not antagonize them. Help, but not too much help. We are here to win victories, gentlemen, not enemies.”
Hitler watched for a second as the secretary transcribed notes.
“Very well, now the next item on the Agenda…”