A Third Reich, also sometimes known by the draft title Führerreich, is the planned third novel of Germany's most read author, Erich Paul Remark. Scheduled to be released on early 1937, little information has filtered about this novel, but in a press conference on December, 23 1935, the author have described the plot of his future novel, describing it as "the work that will make alternative history a true category of literature". The story takes place in an alternative world where Germany has lost the Weltkrieg
The main story in the novel will be a romance between a German inhabitant of Alsace and a French girl, but it's only an excuse for the historical background in the novel. It will be explained that after the American entry on the side of the Entente, Germany has been totally overrun by early 1919 by the forces of France and Britain. The Austro-Hungarian Empire is torn into pieces, with most of its Balkanic regions been changed into puppet states under Serbian authority, and the Hohenzollern dynasty is deposed in Germany, being changed into a weak democratic republic. As a debt of war, France occupies the western bank of the Rhine; spending their energy by struggling against the German patriots, the Entente lets the Soviets win the Russian Civil War, establishing a communist Russia that takes control of formerly German Eastern Europe and Northern China.
In a context of political violence and Red Scare, Germany soon falls into anarchy, partly occupied by French forces and constantly having to deal with communist or monarchist riots. The western democracies themselves, with their Parliaments full of patriotic and chauvinistic war veterans, soon fall into an authoritarian system. In this chaos, a man arises as the leader of an anecdotical party, the National-Populist Party of German Workers: Adam Dressler is a war veteran from Sudetenland who caught syphilis in the trenches. After a bloody coup tentative in Berlin, he is condemned to only 9 months of jail by a corrupted court. In jail, he writes a manifesto detailing the future that his crazy mind has imagined: a giant German Empire stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific one, after the extermination of all inferior peoples and the creation of a perfect man. After his release from jail, he begins an electoral campaign that seduces the humiliated and exhausted German: Dressler is elected as President of the German Republic at the end of the first part.
As President of the Republic, Dressler soon establishes a xenophobic and militarist dictatorship, along with the immoderate personality cult that gives him the title of Leader, or "Führer". Western democracies, weakened by internal disputes, let him annexing German-speaking parts of the former Austria-Hungary, and ally with the vainquished powers of the Weltkrieg. The German armies easily overrun France, and is rejected by the British forces during a landing attempt in Scotland. Motivated by his own anticommunism, Dressler then decides to invade communist Russia. After first success, the huge Russian army finally destroys its German enemy, and the whole continental Europe is soon invaded by the communist armies. The books ends in a new world configuration, with an isolated and weakened Britain alone against a giant communist Russian Empire.
The revelation of the book's story provocated a major scandal in whole Germany, that previously gave overwhelming support to Remark's works. Many historians have criticized the point of divergence of the work's history as "totally unrealistic": an American intervention in the Weltkrieg was impossible due to the then-pacifist trend of the US population, an evidence being the reelection of President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 on an isolationist program, such as the probabilities for a final French victory over Germany, as Ludendorff's doctrines permitted to secure victory over the Entente in early 1918. The probabilities of a national-populist victory in Germany are also quite unimaginable, as the national-populist vote in Germany has never exceeded 10%; for a communist victory in the Russian Civil War, anyone knows that it was almost impossible due to the whole Russian territory being controlled throughout the war by White Russian forces, principally after their union under Kerensky's aegis.
But the worst reactions came from nationalist parties. Many newspapers from the Alfred Hugenberg group have condemned Remark as an "unpatriotic defeatist", because he imagined that the German Empire could have been defeated during the Weltkrieg. Ernst Röhm also reacted on behalf of his party, criticizing Remark's point of view, describing National-populism as a dictatorial and militaristic doctrine. GDVP's deputee Anton Drexler and Sudetenland politician Konrad Konrad Henlein also felt insulted by the book, as Adam Dressler, their respectively namesake and compatriot, is presented as a powerhungry madman corrupted by syphilis.
Erich Paul Remark refused to reply to the critics until the release of his book; he only said that "his vision of an alternate world was theoretically possible and could have happened in an other universe".