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Our Finest Hour cover

Proposed cover of "Our Finest Hour"

Our Finest Hour, also sometimes known by the draft title Führerreich, is the planned seventh novel of the famous alternative history World Crisis series by Winston Churchill. 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 vaguely 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.

Plot

The main story in the novel will be about a young British soldier returning home from a victorious Gallipoli campaign, 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 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.

In a context of political violence and Red Scare, Germany soon falls into chaos, 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 Valkist German People's Party: 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, with the German culture and language becoming dominant across the globe. After his release from jail, he begins an electoral campaign that seduces the humiliated and exhausted German: Dressler has a coup of the government and after the French have talks of invading Germany, Dressler calls an emergency election in which the Valkist Party won in a landslide, causing the French to back down officially

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. The book ends with the beginning of a three-sided war between Dressler's New Reich, the British Empire, and Soviet Russia

Reactions

Many historians have criticised the point of divergence of the work's history as a "childish fantasy": 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 an ultra-nationalist 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 Alexander Kerensky.

But the worst reactions have come from German nationalist parties. AV politician Anton Drexler and Sudetenland politician Konrad Henlein felt insulted by the book, as Adam Dressler, their respectively namesake and compatriot, is presented as a powerhungry madman corrupted by syphilis.

Winston Churchill refused to reply to the critics until the release of his book; he only said that his "vision of an alternate world is theoretically possible and that something like this could have happened in another universe".