Tags: john gizzi | book | germany | africa | alternate history

"Madagaskar Plan" Thriller Spells What Might Have Been In Nazi Conquered Africa

"Madagaskar Plan" Thriller Spells What Might Have Been In Nazi Conquered Africa
 

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Sunday, 31 January 2016 12:32 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Had Nazi Germany emerged triumphant in Europe following World War II, documents and statements from the former regime strongly indicate it would have set its sights on Africa for conquest and colonization.

It is this premise that set the stage for British journalist Guy Saville’s international best-seller " The Afrika Reich." 

Four years after "Afrika Reich" earned critical acclaim, Saville is back with the second volume in his planned trilogy on what would have happened to Africa in the hands of a victorious Germany.  "The Madagaskar Plan" published by Henry Holt & Co.is set in 1953 in a Congo and Madagascar colonized by Germania (what Berlin is called at the time).

Saville’s world is just over a dozen years after Germany decided to go into Dunkirk, leading Churchill to resign as prime minister in failure and a new government under Lord Halifax to sue for peace. Without Britain fighting the Nazis, the alternate historical thread goes, the U.S. never entered the European war.

The war ended with Hitler’s Germany overseeing the European countries it conquered in 1939-40 and having flattened the former Soviet Union (in the process obtaining the plans and factories for the powerful rifle known as the Kalashnikov, which German soldiers make ample use of in Africa).

This, of course, is the venue of fiction known as "alternate history"— what might have happened instead of what did happen. It has been featured most recently in Amazon’s TV adaption of the late Phillip K. Dick’s novel, "The Man in the High Castle," in which Japan and Germany defeated the allies in 1945 and have divided the U.S. in half for rule.

Saville’s Madagaskar Plot doesn’t go that far, limiting Germany’s expansion in the ‘40’s to Russia and parts of Europe. Amid rumors of Hitler’s failing health in 1953 and who will be the next fuehrer, Germania is relocating European Jews to the remote island of Madagascar in a community under the aegis of the German military. (This is not fiction; as documents cited by the author in the book’s afterword show, Hitler’s Germany seriously discussed the expulsion of Jews to Madagascar along with the grisly "final solution" that would become the Holocaust).

Enter Burton Cole, the heroic British mercenary and Dunkirk veteran introduced to readers in Afrika Reich. With his last mercenary mission costing him one hand but leaving him with needed money in his pocket, Cole returns to London to find that the woman he loves (who is Jewish) has been forcibly deported to Madagascar by her estranged (and vengeful) husband, who is a British government official.

So it’s back to Africa for Cole. Saville — incredibly — brings to life the Africa of the early 1950’s where Cole makes a frantic and death-defying search for his beloved.

But there are political twists and machinations that develop. They involve matters far more critical than a love interest who has been spirited off. Congo’s Military Governor Walter Hochberg, a Machiavellian character who was once the lover of Cole’s mother, is himself in pursuit of imprisoned Jewish scientists whom he knows can make a powerful bomb that will give Germany the decisive hand in colonizing Africa.

Swiftly emerging in this unfolding high drama are characters who will not soon fade from reader’s mind. Among them are Odilo "Globus" Globocnik, military governor of Madagascar (and a real-life—and very nasty—figure in the Hitler regime) and Belgian Major Reuben Salois, charismatic leader of the growing Jewish resistance in the African state of internment. Salois’ steely determination and near-superhuman survival skills strongly suggest a character based on the fighting Jewish revolutionary and future Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

Not yet involved but watching developments from afar with interest is the U.S. government under just-inaugurated President Taft. That’s right—Robert A. Taft, conservative Republican and isolationist, made it to the White House in Saville’s world. Presumably, without a European war to win, Dwight Eisenhower didn’t become a revered wartime general and thus wasn’t there to defeat Taft for nomination in ’52.

Amid historical speculation, there is considerable action, romance, and a unique story line that readers are sure to discuss and debate. Saville is a master story-teller and reading this second volume in the trilogy of a Nazi-ruled Africa is sure to have the reader say: "When will the third book be here?"

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John-Gizzi
Had Nazi Germany emerged triumphant in Europe following World War II, documents and statements from the former regime strongly indicate it would have set its sights on Africa for conquest and colonization. It is this premise that set the stage for British journalist Guy...
john gizzi, book, germany, africa, alternate history
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2016-32-31
Sunday, 31 January 2016 12:32 PM
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