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If Britain Had Fallen: The Real Nazi Occupation Plans
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This is an absorbing and chilling alternative history, a look at what Britain might have been like and how British people might have behaved if the Nazis had conquered the country. Its grounding in historical reality is what gives it an added edge - the first four chapters detail established historical events; only then does history change and fiction., albeit logically extrapolated, take over when the Nazis concentrate their firepower on destroying our radar stations and airbases rather than bombing our civilian cities, thereby removing the RAF from the equation. From then on, the Nazis have the upper hand, helped on by a dose of good fortune, and the Nazis conquer the south east and take London, Churchill bravely dying in a hail of bullets in the process. The remainder of the book details what might well have happened in an occupied Britain, based largely on what happened in the Channel Islands as the only part of the British Crown under enemy occupation (though with some differences to allow for the different sizes and populations, etc) and partly on what happened in other occupied countries. The result is a chilling depiction of what might have been, especially if the Nazis had carried out their threat to deport all British males between the ages of 17 and 45 (though it should be added they did not do this in any other occupied country, and only threatened to carry it out in the Channel Islands if the Islanders did not behave, instead deporting only those Islanders not born there). Well worth a read and very thought provoking; how thin are the margins between freedom and occupation - thank God for those radars and those pilots!
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2005
The basic principal behind this book is to explore what might have happened if the German army had invaded in 1940.
The book is split into three parts, the first details the background of the situation as it was in the early summer and the plans the government was making to repel a potential invasion. We also see what preparations the Germans were making and how their plans shifted from an invasion along the East Coast to an invasion along the whole South Coast then down to the Essex/Kent coastal region.
In the middle section we have the most speculative part of the book, covering the invasion itself. By the nature of the book, Mr. Longmate has the Germans winning a substantial victory, with the RAF destroyed and most of the Royal Navy home fleet sunk. When operation Sealion is brought up on the soc.hist.what-if newsgroup the concensus of opinion is that if it had been attempted it would have failed horribly. The Royal Family had fled to the Bahamas (not Canada - the Canadian government could not accept having their king actually in the same country and it wouldn't have gone down well with their powerful neighbour to the south).
Despite Hitler's desire to take Churchill prisoner, Winnie and General Brooke went down fighting leaving no one to offer their surrender to the Germans. There is a rather stirring description of the Royal Family's retreat to exile, making one realise how much more patriotic the whole nation was then.
Although hardly less speculative in the specific detail, the final section of the book looks at how Britain would have felt under Nazi rule based on what happened in other occupied countries, in particular the Channel Islands. Longmate also looks at the plans the Nazis actually had for this country if they really had invaded (we laugh at some of the petty details that European law kicks up now and then but the Nazis were equally detailed and they would not have worried as much about public opinion!). Longmate reckons that the Nazis would have had serious problems finding enough suitable Quislings to build a puppet government to the degree that they would have to impose some form of direct rule. Rather interestingly he reckons that such apparently obvious allies as Sir Oswald Mosely would have refused to co-operate with the invaders. Probably correctly, he suggests that the Empire on its own would not be powerful enough to retake Britain and that America's first target would be North Africa.
He is hopeful that Britain would retain its basic nature even under a lengthy occupation. I have to wonder about this for the Germans would have had control of the education system for virtually a whole generation.
Over all though, this is a thought provoking book.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2006
'If Britain had fallen' is a study in alternate history; namely, what would have happened had the war taken a different turn and the Nazis invaded the UK. The book is divided into two parts.
The first deals with a fictional scenario concerning the invasion - how the Battle of Britain was lost, the Royal Navy was unable to deny use of the Channel to the Germans, and the subsequent land invasion. If you watched and enjoyed the recent TV show 'The Real Dad's Army' you will find this extremely interesting as the content is very similar.
The second part is a study of what the German occupation would have been like. This is essentially an extrapolation from real history, based on knowledge of what happened both on the Channel Islands and Mainland Europe. Its is slightly dry in places but very informative.
In general, I thought this was an excellent book; it covers the subject in depth without getting bogged down in tiny details. Some parts of the 'story' Longmate invents, such as Churchill's last stand, are really quite emotive. It is only recently that the real "What if..." story can be fully told as some of the material relating to the county's defence remained classified for a long time. Also to many people who lived through those times, it was still almost heresy to suggest that we could ever have lost. Now that time has passed the subject can be examined more objectively.
In summary I thoroughly recommend it - it is a frightening look at how things could have happened. Although the war took a terrible toll on Britain, this book serves as a reminder that it could have been far worse. War is often remembered through geography, in place names telling us where battles were fought and atrocities committed. Think how different it would feel today if those names had been on British soil.
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on 13 July 2008
I liked this book. It reads well and carries a lot of good research although from a limited evidence base consisting mainy of the Channel Islands.

The first part of the book is fiction describing how the Battle of Britain could have gone horribly wrong and then how the subsequent invasion might have unfolded. This is the part of the book I enjoyed most. You have a horrible sense of dread as Fighter Command is whittled down, then a brief hope as the Germans suffer high casualties on landing, but all along you know the inevitable is coming. The Wehrmacht was far stronger than the remains of the BEF in the Autumn of 1940, the book gives a feel of the courage and resiliance as the doomed British defenders shorn of air cover and short of tanks and anti-tank guns try to hold back the seemingly invincible Germans. The naval battle off of Portland with the sinking of HMS Hood, an SS atrocity in a Kent village, the doomed British counter attack, the last stand of the RAF, the flight of the King into exile and the subsequent death of Churchill defending Downing Street along with other stories left me feeling I had a real emotional investment in the unfolding events.

The rest of the book extrapolates what might have happened on mainland Britain fromthe example of the Channel Islands. Given the limitations of such a small place I found this slightly unsatisfactory. I did like the ancedotes like that of the German's taking Nelson's Column back to Berlin.

The only real fault I found was the last page which talks of Britain's possible liberation by Canadians, Australians and Americans. Would the Americans have come to our rescue with atomic bombs even if we had given them all our research in 1940? Somehow thinking about it I rather doubt it.
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on 28 May 2013
This is an interesting one. The book is split into three parts. The first few chapters are strictly historical and deal with British plans to prepare for and defend against a German invasion in 1940 - good historical writing. The third part describes Nazi plans for Britain if the invasion were successful. This part is partly based on archive evidence and genuine Nazi plans on dealing with Britain, partly based on extrapolation and assumption based on what happened when German occupied the Channel Islands and Denmark. Longmate tends to confidently stick to one particular idea of the occupation and doesn't often cover equally-viable alternative scenarios. My main sticking point is with the second part, a mostly-fictional account of the invasion. It might be based on the real-life Operation Sealion plans, but Longmate gets carried away and imaginatively comes up with a Nazi war atrocity (burning women and children to death in a church in Winter Hill) and Churchill's last stand (going down in a hail of bullets while defending Downing Street, his last words comparing himself to Gordon at Khartoum). Longmate has gone too far from the facts here, and these chapters seem more at home in a Hollywood blockbuster than a properly-researched counterfactual. I'd rather the publisher did away with these chapters completely, they degrade from the genuine historical research of the rest of the book.
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Counterfactual history is always a fascinating delve into what might have been. The story is even more compelling when the facts are presented well and the evidence is thorough. Longmate's updated version from the original 1972 edition takes into account further information that has become available and he reminds us that an attempted invasion by the Nazis was a serious possibility and probably closer than we thought.

In setting the scene up to September 1940, Longman's narrative style is bolstered by anecdotes of what really happened up to the fictitious invasion. Basing his counterfactual on how the Nazi occupations were played out elsewhere in Europe and how the Channel Islanders - part of Britain that was really occupied during the War - Longmate takes a holistic view of what could have happened to the British Empire, the monarchy and even Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square.

The structure of the book makes for excellent reading and the style and pace is sufficient to deliver the story clearly and concisely. In all, an interesting subject given a fair hearing and a worthy discussion point for anyone interested in the politics and history of Britain.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 23 July 2004
The question 'what if' Germany had invaded the British Isles has long preoccupied writers, but none have dealt with the subject as comprehensively and effectively as Norman Longmate.
Based on a classic television film of the same name, If Britain Had Fallen covers every phase of the subject, from the German pre-invasion manoeuvring and preparations, the landing of troops, to the German seizure of power. What follows is a fascinating contemplation of what it would have been like to live day to day under German occupation, creating a new reality that is thoroughly believable and thus all the more frightening.
What would have happened to the King and the Government? Would America, Canada or Australia come to the rescue? Would the British people have come to accept the occupation? Would the deportation of friends, the flying of the swastika from Buckingham Palace incite passive compliance, or brave resistance?
All these questions and more are explored to their full in this thought provoking and chilling pastiche of the centuries most enduring and darkest episodes.
All in all an absorbing and astonishing account of how Britain's war might have been.
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on 18 May 2013
Data and other information contained is very complimentary and informative. Good reading and carefully centred around possible possibilities of what if situations.
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on 29 December 2013
Its disturbing to read what the Nazi had in store for the British people,a life of terror and slavery.Thank God for the R.A.F.and Navy.
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on 27 January 2015
Brilliant book! I am building up my collection
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