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It's the 1960s, in a version of history where Nazi Germany came out of World War II intact. A German policeman on what seems at first to be a routine murder investigation finds himself on the trail of an explosive political secret -- the long-hushed-up truth about the Final Solution.
Fatherland takes place in a Nazi-controlled Europe in the days leading up to Hitler's 75th birthday, where Berlin is rebuilt to Speer's designs and the main character is trying to uncover the big hushed up project regarding the Jews. The book is one of the more realistic visions of a Nazi victory world.
Fatherland provides examples of:
- Allohistorical Allusion: One rather subtle difference is that just as you start to wonder why "President Kennedy" is still alive and acting so Out of Character, the realisation dawns that America elected former ambassador Joseph Kennedy, JFK's father.
- Alternate History
- Big Bad Friend
- Can't Stop the Signal: Very ambiguously done; we only see what the main character is believing to be happening, not what is actually happening.
- Empire with a Dark Secret
- For Want of a Nail: The Allohistorical Allusion mentioned above might seem like a minor detail, but it may be a hint at the story's "point of divergence". When Joseph Kennedy was ambassador to Britain he was strongly in favour of appeasement with Germany well into 1940, and lost a lot of public face because of it. If he's popular enough in this world to be elected President, it could indicate that America stayed out of World War II altogether.
- Foregone Conclusion: A rarity in an Alternate History, but the event itself has already happened - it's The Reveal that You Should Know Already; the protagonist is investigating some deep political conspiracy that has something to do with the Nazi party and concentration camps.
- Gender Blender Name: Charlie, a female ambassador.
- In Spite of a Nail: Played with; the English rock-and-roll band who are often mentioned as becoming increasingly popular with the youth are never explicitly named, but it's pretty clear that they're either supposed to be The Beatles or an alternate universe equivalent who are close enough to them to make no real difference.
- Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Doesn't get much more major than this one.
- Nazi Protagonist: Averted. Despite holding the SS-rank of Sturmbannfuhrer (which equates roughly to Major in the wehrmacht and Komissar in the pre-Nazi Germany police force), it's mentioned several times that, despite being a very capable investigator, the protagonist hasn't progressed further in his career because of his outright refusal to become a party member. It's why he has such a poor relationship with his ultra-Nazi son and one of the main reasons that the kid betrays him.
- Out, Damned Spot!
- Released to Elsewhere
- You Cannot Kill an Idea: "Cut a clearing in the forest of your mind, the trees are just waiting to reoccupy it." (rephrased)