It’s hard to come up with a plausible scenario in which the Axis wins WWII. But what do I mean by ‘plausible’? No aliens intervene, nobody gives the Germans perfect foresight, or detailed plans for a minimal cost-and-time nuclear weapons project ( based on centrifuge separation, natch).
Plausible means that something happens differently, but that something is in the class of events that would not have surprised anyone at the time, or for that matter today.
It helps if you know how nations have lost in the past. One way is panic: you don’t have to have been already crushed by force majeure, you just have to conclude that the day is lost. People run. Sometimes it just takes one guy losing his nerve, like Darius at Gaugamela.
In October, 1941, the Soviet Union was in trouble. The Germans had just taken another huge bite out of the Red Army, capturing half a million men in the Vyazma and Bryansk pockets. At this point the Soviets were badly outnumbered, for the only time in the war, and the Germans were about 75 miles west of Moscow.
On Oct 13, the Germans took Kalinin, northwest of Moscow.
On Oct 15th, Stalin ordered the evacuation of the Communist Party, the General Staff and various civil government offices from Moscow to Kuibyshev (now Samara). “October 16th became known as the Bolshoi drap in Moscow, the day of the “Great Panic.” The Soviet government began to evacuate across the Ural mountains to Kuibyshev, over 600 miles away. Party officials jammed the roads and railway stations while offices and factories emptied out; the general public took their cue and joined the exodus. Looting was extensive in the empty streets without any police force to keep order. ”
“Stalin himself had ordered his special railway car prepared for evacuation on the sixteenth. However, he did not leave the city. He pondered whether or not Hitler might not be willing to come to an agreement similar to the Brest-Litovsk treaty of 1918, in which Russia exchanged huge swaths of territory for peace with Germany and the continued existence of the Communist government. He rejected this remote. He called on Zhukov and implored him to give assurance that Moscow could be held. Gaining Zhukov’s assurance, he then made the decision to stay.”
He was thinking about leaving: that railway car wasn’t for decoration.
What if he’d run, like Darius?