"Rotler" redirects here. For other usages of the word, see Rotler (disambiguation)
Erwin Adolphus Thomas Rotler, better known as Thomas Rotler (April 20, 1886-September 14, 1973), was a German military pioneer, military general and politician. He is best known for his time as Chancellor of the German Republic (October 2, 1930-November 19, 1967), where he transformed Germany into a global superpower by converting it into a one-party dictatorship (the Falken Party), with its politics governed unabashedly by Rotler's personal whims.
An ardent student of military engineering and a self-proclaimed revolutionary, Rotler was born on April 20, 1886 in Rostock , starting his life as an engineer. From there he would pioneer and champion the German air force, or Luftwaffe , which he would use to great effect in his later military campaigns. After World War I , Rotler became active in politics, becoming an early member of the National Socialist Party in 1921. He became close friends with leader Adolf Hitler , helping him and the Nazis gain prominence in Germany. As a result, German political leaders grew fearful of the Nazis and eventually organized the assassination of Hitler and many of his closest cohorts, though Rotler managed to escape by going into hiding. He then reorganized the Nazis as the Falken Party in 1930, using it to seize power dramatically when he and the Falken marched on the Reichstag and burned it to the ground while it was in session, killing all inside by barricading its exits. He then established a one-party dictatorship in Germany, from which he would restore the country to greatness after resoundingly winning World War II.
Rotler reached the zenith of his power when he spearheaded The Roc alliance with the Soviet Union's Josef Stalin. Together, the two friends dominated world politics in an alliance some historians contend is the most powerful bloc to have ever been formed. They were instrumental in effectively ending the Scottish colonial empire when they intervened and assisted the Bireans to victory, despite Roman and American assistance to the Scots, and the Roc were successful in installing or propping up friendly governments, most notably in Bactria and Carolina. They were at the forefront of a movement that put democratic institutions sharply in decline by 1960, a trend some historians contend is still occurring.
Following Stalin's assassination, Rotler's mental health declined precipitously, and the German Republic declined with it. Rotler became increasingly paranoid, sending scores of people- some estimate as high as 100 million- to their deaths via the Holocaust, including the vast majority of Germany's Jewish population. He eventually came to begin murdering his own administration, which eventually led to his arrest. Put on trial for his party's numerous human rights abuses and eventually convicted, Rotler died in prison in 1973 at the age of 87.
- 1 Early life and World War I
- 2 Early political life and Nazi Party
- 3 Assassination of Hitler
- 4 Reichstag Fire and seizure of power
- 5 Early years and the buildup to World War II
- 6 World War II: Rotler's grand triumph
- 7 The Roc: Rotler at the zenith
- 8 Stalin's death and decline of the Roc
- 9 The Holocaust: final years in power
- 10 The Edmonton Trials
- 11 Prison and final years
- 12 Political views
- 13 Persona
- 14 Personal life
- 15 Legacy
- 16 See also
Early life and World War I
Thomas Rotler was born Rostock, Germany on April 20, 1886 to Otto Rotler, an engineer, and Lisa Rotler (nee Horst), a painter and schoolteahcer. He was their only child and was often abused by both of his parents, with his mother also abusing his father. Those who knew the family claimed that Thomas was "an accident", with Lisa and Otto apparently only getting married to cover for a chance encounter neither of their parents would have approved otherwise. Thomas Rotler, as a result of his poor treatment, would often run away from home and would go missing for months at a time during his teens. His stints would see him travel further and further from home, with his father often the one finding him and begging him to return home.
It has been said that Rotler's fascination with aircraft stemmed from a desire to leave his family, a sentiment that Rotler gave no clear answer to. From a very early age, Rotler displayed a fascination with engines and motor vehicles, constantly telling anyone that would listen that one day he was going to create a "car that could fly". In his teens, Rotler studied advances in aircraft and sought out apprenticeships.
Eventually, Rotler would apprentice for airship expert Ferdinand von Zeppelin. Rotler met Zeppelin at a chance encounter at a diner in Paris and Zeppelin was taken by Rotler's intelligence and his story, allowing Rotler to live with him from when he was 16 until he went to University. Rotler's father tried to convince Rotler to come back home, but this time Zeppelin wouldn't allow it. His time with Zeppelin was one that Rotler would say was "the happiest time in his life", as Zeppelin and his wife "felt like real parents to me."
Rotler would study aviation and engineering at the University of Munich from 1905 to 1910. It is here where he gained his first interest in the military, as the buildup for what would eventually lead to World War I piqued his interest. He enlisted in the German Army upon finishing school in 1911, joining the nascent German Imperial Air Force (which later became the Luftwaffe) in 1912. Though his skills as a pilot left a lot to be desired, his engineering smarts would prove valuable, as the Germans would use his designs to improve their military aircraft immensely. Towards the end of the war, it was the heroics of the German air force through Rotler's planes that allowed them to continue fighting after the failures of the infantry, though dwindling resources would eventually force Germany's hand in 1918.
Early political life and Nazi Party
Towards the end of the war, Rotler was one of the few in the military who refused to give up, a stubbornness that would come to define Rotler throughout his life. When Germany capitulated on November 11, 1918, Rotler denounced the move, believing the Germans "gave up too soon". Many in Germany disagreed, hoping to simply move on from the destructive war.
Passions would soon be inflamed in Germany a year later when the Treaty of Versailles was signed. The Treaty and its onerous conditions that it placed on Germany became a lightning rod of contention amongst the German people, who started to believe their new government, the Western-style "Weimar Republic", was too weak. Rotler was among the Weimar's fiercest detractors, and he soon began to look for others who would help him overthrow it.
He did not have to wait long. In 1921, one of his friends from the military, Adolf Hitler, invited him to become part of his new party, the National Socialist Party ("Nazi" for short), an offer Rotler quickly accepted. Rotler soon rose amongst the ranks of the Nazis, where he would often be referred to as Hitler's "right hand man", although Hitler, as was his nature, did not trust Rotler very much. Hitler would alternate being friendly towards Rotler and being distant, and it was because of this that Rotler did not participate in the Beer Hall Putsch and thus avoided jail time. Rotler, though, would prove to be instrumental in getting Hitler out of jail, using his charm in front of a judge to convince him to provide Hitler with his early release.
After his release from jail, Hitler wanted to try the Putsch again but Rotler talked him out of it, convincing him that gaining power through "legitimate" means was better in the long run. Hitler was skeptical at first, but the effectiveness of Nazi campaigning under Rotler's watch led to increasing Nazi fortunes. The German nation soon began seeing the Nazis as a viable political force, as Hitler and the Nazis often talked the language that made most sense to a literally starving German electorate- jobs.
However, the Nazis' political rivals saw the party's unabashed use of anti-Semitism and strident German nationalism as "alarming" and began mobilizing to counter the Nazi rise. Eventually, when a 1930 opinion poll put the Nazis well in front of the other parties in the electoral race, the Nazis' enemies began to conspire to literally eliminate them, believing they had no other choice.
Assassination of Hitler
One party, the German Communist Party (a frequent target of Hitler's), hired a private investigator to find the Nazi Party's membership roll and give the names to an assassin. Throughout the second half of 1930, several Nazis were murdered by the assassin, Ernest von Klassen, though the Nazis' lack of support among legal authorities meant no one investigated the crimes.
Meanwhile, as the bodies piled up, Rotler, Hitler and many other party officials went into hiding. Rotler fled to Austria after befriending Austrian General Roger Muller who, while indifferent to the Nazi cause, was troubled by the anti-democratic actions of its opponents. Due to Muller's calm, easy-going nature, he and Rotler quickly became close friends, as Rotler, a notorious overthinker, found Muller to be calming influence.
It was during his time with Muller that Rotler would develop the confidence that allowed him to truly envision himself as leader of Germany. Since communications were difficult, Rotler and Hitler soon fell apart, as the process was deemed too arduous to continue. As a result of this falling apart, Rotler- with the suggestion of Muller- began to feel that Hitler was "holding back" the Nazi movement. Where Rotler once admired Hitler's energetic and impassioned speeches, Rotler came to believe that they became polarizing, as they allowed Hitler's opponents to paint him as a madman. This would, in turn, create the perception within the German people that the Nazi Party was also composed of madmen, an uncontrollable mob that could rant and rave but never govern.
To Rotler, the more he thought about it, the more Hitler became the problem.
Rotler and Muller soon came to the conclusion that they had to dispatch of Hitler, and decided to use Klassen to do it. Muller organized a workers' rally in Vienna and asked Hitler to deliver the keynote address, with Rotler sent to lie to Hitler and claim that Klassen had been stopped. On September 29, 1930, the rally was organized for the heart of downtown Austria.
The plan went off without a hitch. Muller set up a secret perimeter around the rally site, intending to trap Klassen inside and arrest him after he shot Hitler. Klassen did indeed show up, brandishing a sniper rifle and wasting no time shooting Hitler dead. As soon as Hitler stepped up to the podium Klassen felled him with two well-aimed shots, causing confusion within the crowd. A few minutes later, a red flag was flown in the distance, which was supposed to be the sign that Klassen had been arrested.
Instead, the second Rotler stepped up to the podium to vow vengeance against Hitler, more sniper shots rang out, barely missing him. Rotler knew at this stage that he was part of Muller's trap, so he stepped into the crowd and organized a group of them to find Muller. A few hours later, Rotler himself located Muller hiding in an abandonned warehouse (where Muller shot dead Klassen), where the two got into a physical altercation before Rotler wrestled away Muller's gun and used it to shoot Muller dead.
Afterward, Rotler addressed what was left with the crowd and announced he was starting a new workers' movement, inspired by the Nazis but, according to Rotler, "less idealistic". He called the new movement the Falken Party, named for the falcon, inspired in part by Rotler's air force past.
Ironically, he declared his new party a party "free of treachery", though as time progressed, it would be anything but. After what Muller did to him Rotler never trusted anyone, which led to constant turnover in the Falken Party's ranks as Rotler was constantly paranoid of usurpers.
Reichstag Fire and seizure of power
The next day, September 30, 1930, Rotler gathered his men and, from the warehouse in Vienna, plotted the coup against the Weimar Republic. The Austrian military pledged, in secret, their support to Rotler as they came to view Muller as a traitor for murdering Hitler, an Austrian national, plus they viewed the eventual Anschluss as essential for the country's future.
On October 1, 1930, Rotler put his plan into motion. With the Austrian Army in plainclothes and providing supplies, the Falken marched on the Reichstag. The legislature was in session, with the Communists voted in as the leading party with the Nazis out of the picture. It was thought that this would allow the Communists to win a majority, but the German people felt the Communists were "anti-democratic" and feared they were mere "puppets of Stalin", so the Communists only received a minority government. Since the Communists did not wish to form a formal coalition with another party, President Paul von Hindenburg presided over the session, acting as a moderator in order to pass bills.
Rotler knew the Weimar government was unpopular, so he began to lead the Falken in Nazi-inspired chants with the hope that he would get members of the public to come join him. He would get his wish, as thousands came to join him and the Falken in their march in downtown Berlin. Contemporary reports state that the scene was "rapturous", with the gathered crowd seemingly revering Rotler and the Falken as gods. They shouted "Der Retter" ("The Saviour") at Rotler, with the chants getting louder and louder as he approached the Reichstag building. Witness reports suggested that the crowd grew restless with intense bloodlust, as they came to believe that, finally, Rotler had arrived to put them out of their misery.
So when it came time to barricade the Reichstag shut and eventually douse it with enough gasoline and explosives to burn it down, the Falken received no resistance, with the Berlin Police actively helping them out. The legislators, too busy arguing amongst themselves to recognize the chaos erupting outside of their doors, were sitting ducks, helpless as the building was ensnared in flames. Few managed to escape, but those that did were felled by the bullets of the Austrian snipers.
By dawn the next day, the Reichstag building was gutted and its legislators were no more. The crowd cheered and cheered, chanting "Der Retter" in victory over the smouldering ruins of the government that many believed had ruined them. Immediately, Rotler went on the radio and broadcast, in no uncertain terms, that he obliterated the old, "anti-democratic government" and that he was ushering in a "new era of German republicanism", proclaiming himself the new German Chancellor.
International condemnation was swift, with many denouncing the legitimacy of Rotler's new government considering the circumstances it rose to power. Many called for new elections, and urged Rotler to uphold the Weimar Constitution. Rotler, with his boisterous crowd behind him, boldly declared that "I am the Constitution!" and declared that the "docile Germany that gave in to France was no more."
British Chancellor Stanley Baldwin, seeing the inevitable, was the first politician to officially recognize Rotler and the Falken as the legitimate government in Germany, as well as becoming the first to establish diplomatic relations. Soon, most other governments- and all the major powers- fell in line, although Roman Emperor Keylusus II kept Rotler at arm's length.
Rotler set up his government's first meeting at the warehouse in Vienna where he claimed power over the Falken for the first time. He boldly declared that his government would have no official capital, and indeed throughout his regime's history his government never did have a regular meeting spot. Rotler argued that he did this in order to travel the Republic and "listen to the people directly", though the real motivation behind the policy was to thwart any attempt at usurping him, since his enemies would often not know until he made a proclamation where he was actually staying.
His first official move as Chancellor was the declaration of the Anschluss with the assistance of the Austrian Army, who arrested those in the Austrian government who dared to resist Rotler. Rome, France and the United States of America denounced the move, but Britain and the Soviet Union voiced their support, arguing it was done "by the will of the Austrian people". The divisions over the Anschluss foreshadowed the divisions the world would see in World War II, as Rotler would reach out to Britain and the Soviets in a bond that would only grow closer through the years.
Early years and the buildup to World War II
Rotler spent his first years in as Chancellor consolidating his power, writing proclamations that would officially end the Weimar Republic. During the late 1930s Rotler, through his secret service the Tiefflung ("low flyers"), arrested hundreds of opposition figures and other dissidents as they came up, all while enjoying profound public support for doing so. By the time World War II started, the Germans had to a man believed that democracy was a panacea, with The Berlin Chronicler declaring on its March 2, 1939 headline, "Rotler is today's Philosopher King".
As Rotler decimated his opponents and placed his Falken allies in positions of power, Germany's economy boomed. Rotler did this by placing extreme importance on infrastructure, especially the inter-connectivity of the country. The autobahn was commissioned and paved during this time, alongside massive expansion of the rail network. Rotler also at this time built airports at a substantial rate, with every town having an airport and air service of some kind. The expansion of air service would be crucial after World War II when Germany greatly expanded its territory, with the air network- the Flugnetzwerk- helping the Republic stay united.
With Germany's economy booming, Germany's influence on the European stage increased, enabling Rotler to gain significant concessions from neighbouring Poland and Norway and increase his bond with Britain and the Soviet Union. The alliance he forged with Britain, the Soviets and later Japan and Galatia- the "Berlin-London-Moscow-Tokyo-Ctesiphon Axis", or simply the "Axis"- was one that Rotler saw at first as a matter of convenience, since he did not believe that Germany was powerful enough to take on their rivals alone.
As the years progressed, the Axis saw enough in each other to forge an alliance that had a personal bond as well. Every member felt isolated from the rest of the world, and thus they all saw each other as their only friends. The Galatians, successors to the Ottoman Empire, were locked in an all-encompasing conflict with the Achaean Democratic League, who were led by the Byzantines who sought the restoration of their capitol at Constantinople, a task many around the world supported them in. The Japanese were similarly locked in a one-sided conflict with the United States, who were supported chiefly by the Romans. Britain received considerable criticism for maintaining its Empire, especially from the U.S., and got into a row with its World War I ally France when the British refused to allow the breakup of Germany, an act Rotler and the Germans viewed with favour. The British were also still locked in their centuries-long rivalry with Rome, as their erstwhile alliance for WWI did little to abate tensions.
The one ally that Rotler felt closest to were the Soviets. Rotler, like many contemporaries, were distrustful of the Communists and soon came to loathe them, indeed the Communists were Rotler's chief adversaries in Germany. Rotler had thus sworn against ever allying himself with the Soviets, although he acknowledged war with the Soviets might be too difficult an undertaking. When Josef Stalin invited Rotler for a state visit to Moscow in 1931, Rotler initially refused, but was talked into it by his best friend, businessman Rudolph Goring.
Upon meeting Stalin, Rotler's opinion of the Soviets and Stalin himself changed immediately. He saw the kind of power and respect that Stalin had commanded, and was awestruck at the expanse and unity of the Soviet Empire. Rotler soon began to desire this kind of power for himself in Germany and thus began looking at Stalin as a father figure, even though Stalin was just eight years his senior. For his part, Stalin was taken by Rotler's passion for his country as well as Rotler's remarkable vision and intelligence. Though Stalin would not admit it during his lifetime, his biographers would eventually admit that the greatest influence on Stalin was Thomas Rotler, and the two would become practically inseparable.
World War II: Rotler's grand triumph
Main article: World War II
In 1933, Belgian Cary Wallin, inspired by Rotler, attempted to overthrow the Gallic Empire so that he could join the territory with Rotler's Germany. German assistance in the ensuing civil war- which was bloody and ruthless on both sides- eventually saw Wallin's triumph in 1934, resulting in the annexation of the Gallic Empire into Germany, with Wallin being named governor of the new Belgian province in early 1935.
Emboldened by this triumph, throughout the rest of the 1930s, Rotler made numerous demands for increases in territory, often at the expense of the Poles and the French. He also sought Roman territory to the south, but Rotler believed riling up the Romans too much would be catastrophic for him. Because his rivals did not know which territories he placed greater importance in- France or Poland- it was difficult for them to co-ordinate an effective defence.
Rotler, however, knew, guided by his friendship with Stalin. Both eyed the many resources that the Polish Empire could provide them, with the two quickly agreeing to split the country between them.
However, sworn to Poland's defence were the French and the Romans, so Rotler and Stalin knew that if they were going to take over Poland, they would need a pretext. On May 13, 1939, they would get it, as Russian actress Maria Semenova was raped and murdered by a Polish national, Pitor Dembski, while she visited Berlin. The murder caught the wider world's attention, and received more significant press when the Polish government refused to allow Dembski's extradition to Germany for trial, one that they believed would be nothing but a show trial. The Poles, backed by the Romans and the French, offered to try Dembski in their own courts, but the Germans and Soviets refused, insisting that since the crime happened in Berlin that Dembski be tried there. The two sides locked in their horns, and, on September 1, 1939- with Dembski still in Poland- they were at war.
Since the Allies- as the American-Franco-Roman alliance had no formal name- did not have time to prepare an adequate defence of Poland the country fell pretty quickly to the Axis. Three weeks after the initial invasion- owing to Rotler's innovative aerial assault he termed the "Blitzkrieg" ("lightning war") which placed its emphasis on speed- and the Polish Empire was forced to surrender. The Polish Emperor, Dariuz III, was taken by Soviet troops on October 6 to the centre square in Moscow, where he was stripped naked before getting hanged. His lifeless body was used for propaganda purposes by the Axis, who warned their enemies that their leaders could also end up like Dariuz if they resisted.
Following the defeat of the Poles, Rotler and the rest of the Axis turned their attention to their other rivals. The British managed to drive the Americans from Greenland and Ireland, as well as take over Malaysia, Thailand and Tibet as well as Poland's African colony in the Congo. The Soviets moved into Scandinavia and created a puppet government in their half of Poland, the Minsk Khanates, as well as reasserted their influence in Communist-controlled Mongolia. The Japanese took their chance to complete their conquest of China and Australia, though almost immediately they had to deal with testy insurgent groups in the latter on the heels of the murder of Mahatma Gandhi, who championed Australia's independence.
Rotler, meanwhile, turned his attention to the French and the Romans. After sensing how easily he defeated the Poles via the Blitzkrieg, Rotler decided to try the tactic again on the Romans, unleashing his military on Dacia and South Sweden late in 1939. The Roman defences were overwhelmed in South Sweden- though not after some fierce fighting- but, so close to their home territories, resolute defending in Dacia meant that territory held out. A war of attrition held until January 23, 1941, when a ceasefire agreement was signed between Rome and Germany, recognizing Germany's takeover of South Sweden but maintaining Roman control over Dacia.
Despite the modest setback, Rotler didn't lose too much sleep over it. The Romans were forced to turn their attention at this stage to the Achaeans, who were getting pummelled by the Galatians, and Rotler always felt that the French were his bigger rivals anyway. On April 15, 1941, the Germans invaded Norway and Latvia, France's other major European allies, with the Germans taking over southern Scandinavia and then the Latvian Empire by the end of August.
Rotler decided to wait before attacking France, believing that if he kept his attack a secret the French could not adequately counter it. He finally gave the order on the night of October 22, and, indeed, the surprise attack did catch the French off guard. Within a week, the Germans were knocking on the doors of Paris, and on October 31- called the "Real Hallowe'en Horror" by the French- the Germans entered the French capital and took control. By the end of November, the Germans had secured the rest of the country, and, four months later, the last of the French armies, the Senegalese Army, surrendered to the Germans on April 2, 1942.
The Fall of France deflated the morale of the Americans and the Romans, especially the Americans. The U.S. were concerned that with the Germans- having barely taken a hit during the war- now free to join one of their Axis rivals that the situation was only going to get worse. The Romans, who had at least held the Germans to a stalemate at Dacia, were determined to keep on fighting, especially since they managed to drive the Galatians from Achaean territory. However, a few reversals when the Romans and the Achaeans tried to march on to Constantinople changed their minds. This led to the Peace of Reykjavik on August 2, 1942 that formally ended the war, with the Allies forced to recognize the change in territories that came as a result of the War.
The Roc: Rotler at the zenith
Main article: The Roc
Rotler's victory in World War II shocked the world. Newspapers worldwide decried the result, lamenting that Rotler had shown that democracy is "a dying institution", heaping praise on Rotler's Germany and fearing that their own people would start to believe that "Rotlerism" could work in their country. Rotler often used these editorials for his own propaganda purposes, telling his people they should feel "lucky to live in Germany".
Not that his people needed much convincing. Victory in the war meant that Germany's morale reached sky-high levels, and all that new territory opened up new avenues for economic expansion. The German economy boomed at this time, with many citizens living in the lap of luxury. By 1955, economic indicators showed that Germany was the most powerful it had been in its entire history.
Rotler too achieved his own heights in his personal popularity at this time. He touted himself as "the only one who knew everything about anything" and the vast majority of the German Republic took him at his word. Rotler's statements were displayed prominently on all different kinds of surfaces across the German Republic, from murals, walls and paintings to even markings formed via grass cutting. Books containing his statements and "words of wisdom" were consistently best-sellers, and schools often refused to use textbooks that weren't authored by the Chancellor himself (though these were often ghost-written by handpicked associates).
Rotler achieved these heights by focusing on consolidation and integration following the War, not just with the new German territories but the Soviet Union as well. A military co-operation pact, one closer than the Axis, was signed in 1945, with a free trade agreement reached in 1947. The agreements meant that, as a bloc, the Soviets and the Germans were the world's most economically powerful bloc, and it wasn't long before the two countries asserted their dominance on the global stage. The group took the name of the Roc (after the mythological bird Rotler was fond of) with Germany and the Soviet Union operating as equal partners, though biographers for both Rotler and Stalin noted that it was Rotler who was often the leader, since Stalin came to admire Rotler's vision and intellect.
In 1949, the Roc intervened in a number of states (most notably Bactria, Chile and Zimbabwe) that installed Roc-friendly governments. In 1950, the Roc helped undermine the American Civil Rights movement when they called upon the Carolinian Empire to end the practice of slavery. That move was a calculated one aimed at disrupting American politics, since Rotler and Stalin knew they were hated in the U.S. and would put American politicians in the hard place of appearing to support an idea the Roc did. The move did work, as, although it enriched anti-Roc sentiments, the American public became sharply divided, as it forced the American right to adopt fascist policies in an attempt not to "appear liberal" and thus appear like the Roc.
The shining moment of the Roc was intervening in the Birean War of Independence in 1952. The British had already intervened on the Bireans' behalf when they attempted to declare their independence from the Scots, but Scotland- aided by the Romans and the Americans- seemed to be gaining the upper hand towards the end of 1951. Sensing another opportunity to place another pro-Roc government in place, the Roc formally assisted the Bireans, helping them win their independence in 1953. From there, the Roc instituted a Birean constitution that was modelled largely after the constitutions of both Germany and the Soviet Union, though the Bireans opted to have a monarch- the Emperor- owing to their heavy religious ties. Still, the Birean Emperor would prove to be a fruitful ally to the Roc because of the resource wealth the country had, with Birea joining the alliance in 1955.
Overall, the Roc's legacy may be putting the final nail in the coffin of democratic institutions worldwide. Most of the world's democracies saw their support waning or outright vanished by 1960, almost all the work of the Roc. Historians noted that populaces were seduced by the economic strength of The Roc and the veneer of efficiency of their government, so many movements sprang up that sought to remove the "inefficient, job-killing" local government. Even in America and Britain, where democracy remained, those governments were forced to adopt more fascist policies, as politics in general there became more polarized and partisan. Ideology and party loyalty became more important that broad appeal even among mainstream parties, ensuring that whomever received an electoral victory essentially acted like dictators. Only in Rome did democracy fail to become polarizing, though historians cautioned that the only reason for this is because the Romans' economic strength was comparable to the Roc's, unlike other countries whose wealth meant they could not reasonably compete with the Roc.
Stalin's death and decline of the Roc
The Roc's time on top of the world was not without its bumps- in 1950, Japan was forced to acknowledge the independence of China and Australia after Roman and American intervention, with the Roc largely incapable of stemming the tide except to keep both new countries divided. Though Japan never did formally renounce its membership with the Axis or publicly denounced the Roc, many in Japan sought to undermine it.
They would do so in October of 1955. On October 9, 1955, Stalin mysteriously fell ill while giving a speech in Bactra. He was rushed to the hospital, but there was little doctors could do. He was pronounced dead via suspected poisoning at 5:55PM local time, with the proclaiming doctor, himself an admirer of Stalin, visibly crestfallen as a result. An investigation was launched and it was soon found that former Japanese spy Tatahiro Kazawa was the culprit, as he had worked his way into Stalin's inner circle and thus gained access to Stalin's food, which he poisoned the night before.
Immediately questions were raised about the treachery and how it could have been allowed to happen. Stalin, like Rotler, was not a very trusting man and was very selective of the company he kept. However, Kazawa was a charming man who was a student of the spy business, meticulously studying his marks in order to accomplish the goal he was assigned to do. Rudolph Goring, Rotler's best friend, noted that Kazawa was simply "too good at his job for Stalin to notice that he was being conned". Rotler often wondered why he wasn't targeted (it is believed that Kazawa simply wanted to "send Rotler a message", according to Goring), and in the years after Stalin's death, Rotler constantly bemoaned that he wished it was him that died, not his friend.
Nevertheless, Stalin's death eroded what little trust in others that Rotler may have had. It was in 1956 that Rotler began constructing the first death camps that he would become synonymous for, placing the camps deep in the Sahara desert. Dissidents- who were usually sentenced to hard labour- were now increasingly sent to the death camps, though at first Rotler saved the camps for those he considered the worst offenders. Nevertheless, the project- which Rotler termed "Die Reinigung" ("The Cleansing") but came to be known to the wider world as the Holocaust- began in 1956. From then on, Rotler's leadership style- which always had an edge- became more ruthless than it ever had been before. Rotler had by now become determined not to fall down the same path that Stalin did, and he was harder on his staff and his country than he was before.
Those in his inner circle began to wonder if he had begun to lose his mind, and those fears seemed to have been realized by 1959. It was in this year that Rotler began defining himself in religious terms, calling himself "der Rettler" ("the Saviour") and actually embracing the religious cults that had emerged which were devoted to him. He at first rationalized the move by saying that "no one would assassinate a god", but as the years progressed he began actually thinking he was a god.
In 1961, a group of female assassins known as the Valkyrie attempted to assassinate Rotler and very nearly did so, finding Rotler in the hallways of the Berlin Amphitheatre, but Rotler escaped at the last minute and the group were arrested. In a dramatic moment, Rotler stripped the ringleaders naked and raped them on the floor right there, before killing all but one with a shot to the head. The one member who survived- Karolina Heidtkamp- was kept as Rotler's personal sex slave and bore his only child, Gunther. They were kept in a cellar that only he and Goring knew its whereabouts, and both were instrumental witnesses when Rotler was eventually brought before the Edmonton Trials.
Goring opined that he had wished the Valkyrie did not strike when they did. "I understand their motives," he wrote in his biography of Rotler, "but the Thomas Rotler they attempted to shoot in 1961 was a man that still could have been saved. He was a man undergoing extreme levels of grief and hadn't been allowed the proper time to express that grief, which, if he had, he may have been able to come somewhat to his senses. Instead, having a brush so close to death, Rotler knew there was no turning back- because once someone actually tried to kill him, there was no hope that he could be convinced that his paranoia was simply in his head. The Valkyrie may have had good intentions, but they only unleashed the worst as a result."
The Holocaust: final years in power
Main article: the Holocaust
After the assassination attempt, the uncompromising ruthlessness and reign of abject terror he became known for was in full swing, and there was no way back for Rotler. By now, Rotler had outright declared war on anyone who dared to oppose him, both inside and outside his country, though he would now focus most of his energy on his internal enemies. No known number exists for exact totals of those who were killed under the Holocaust with estimates varying wildly, going as low as 20 million and as high as 100 million.
Rotler did his best to conceal the presence of the death camps, rightfully worried that Germany's investors would flee if they found out about them. He did not give them a formal name, though they were often referred to as "Rotler's Work Camps" in official documents. He placed them all over German territory in the most remote spots he could find, though the vast majority were placed in the Sahara. This allowed the camps to operate virtually unnoticed, though rumblings about their existence would haunt Rotler for the rest of his time in office.
They also had the unintended consequence of emboldening the Casaran independence movement. Because of the integrative nature of Casaran culture- the name "Casara" means "friends" in their language- and the fact that Rotler reneged on his promise to restore Casara's independence (seeing the Sahara as resource-rich), the campers and the native Casarans grew closer together. Camara Eshoj, who spent most of her life fighting for Casaran independence, was the first to broadcast to the wider world the existence of the camps, doing so at a speech in Rome in 1961. She managed to take some pictures when she visited Casara and another leading Casaran nationalist- Ilari Guinan (who had a military patrol who were actually responsible for overseeing a death camp)- in early 1962. They were later published by both the Roman Free Press and the New York Times, the latter with which she gave an extensive interview from her own experiences and information gained from Guinan.
The story shocked the world, but Rotler shot it down, dismissing the story as "a Casaran propaganda piece". Nevertheless, Rotler found the need to search out both Eshoj and Guinan. Rumours of the camps only intensified after their revelation, and when he read an article in a business magazine claiming that Germany's economy had slipped as a result of the rumours (despite the article's faulty logic), Rotler became determined not just to destroy Eshoj and Guinan, he was determined to destroy Casara.
On July 29, 1962, Guinan was found dead in a Tepitilan hotel room, beaten beyond recognition with her body badly mutilated with parts scattered all over the floor. She had been gang raped and then had her throat slit, though her rape was so brutal she would have died from that as a result anyway. A picture of Guinan's dead body- taken right after she had been offed, though without the subject identified- was copied and plastered all over Tepitilan a month later, warning the residents that future trouble would result in even worse reprisals. The "Unknown Woman"- as the picture came to be called- unsettled the Casarans, and, for a time, the independence movement abated. Another military woman, Atima Flack, did decide at this time to take charge herself and began working behind the scenes to recruit a suitable rebel force, but because her efforts were clandestine, they did take time.
While Rotler claimed immediate victory, Guinan's death would set in motion the events that would lead to his eventual downfall. Simon Helstein, a prominent businessman in Dresden, noticed the Unknown Woman picture at a coffee shop. It was not displayed prominently- it was displayed in a bathroom stall, put there by an unknown patron- but Helstein was so moved by the picture that he took it for himself. He circulated it among other businessmen he knew, and one, a Casaran Jew named Rimi Gouri, identified the person in the picture as Guinan. He had stayed at the same hotel that Guinan had the night she was murdered, having met her at the hotel bar moments before she was attacked. Gouri remembered hearing the news describe Guinan's murder the following afternoon, though the newscaster did not identify Guinan at the time. He wanted to know more about the murder- since he was worried there was a killer in his hotel- but none of the newscasters even mentioned the murder in later broadcasts, and hotel staff mysteriously denied there had been a murder at his hotel. Gouri, horrified, left Casara that night- much earlier than he had planned- but he never forgot what happened that night.
So when Gouri saw the Unknown Woman it all came together for him, and he resolved alongside Helstein to assist the Casaran independence movement in any way that he could. Since Helstein had business interests in Jerusalem and Samaria he had ways to hide the funding to the Casarans, of which Gouri had the contacts to.
Gouri wasn't content with merely funding the movement- he sought to become their mouthpiece in Germany. Readying himself, he signed off control of his businesses to Helstein, extracting only a modest salary for himself so that he had time to lead the activism. A charismatic man, Gouri didn't have too much trouble establishing a movement of his own, which he dubbed the Casaran Rescue Project ("Kasaradisches Rettungsprojekt", or "KR" for short).
The KR's emergence sent an already unstable Rotler spiralling further and further out of control. Although the presence of Casaran nationalism bothered him, it did not deeply affect him since he viewed the territory as "far away", and Rotler believed he could snuff out their opposition as he had done in the rest of German territory. So when the KR emerged in 1963, it had a double effect on him. One, for the first time since defeating the Communists Rotler had to deal with a significant opposition group within territories he considered the "German homeland". Secondly, the fact that the Casaran independence movement had seemingly spread from its "far away" place to the German homeland meant, to Rotler, that he was failing to control it. He ramped up his reprisal campaign, this time ordering that- specifically- the German Jews all be targeted for extermination, as he held the German Jewry responsible for "spreading" the "Casaran problem".
The result was, instead of controlling the burgeoning uprising, Rotler only caused it to spread. On May 2, 1963, Rotler formally ordered the Final Solution, which became known among the Jews as the "Kristallnacht" ("Night of the Broken Glass"). That afternoon- and into the night- millions of Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues were ransacked and destroyed, with their inhabitants violently attacked. Though Rotler did what he could to limit the press' ability to view the carnage, footage still nevertheless leaked, mostly from the few Jews that managed to escape Germany and tell their story.
Millions died, but millions more tried to flee the country. Here, Rotler employed the services of Hans Landa, a well decorated military detective, to locate the fleeing Jews. For well over three years, Landa provided Rotler with a dedicated service, as he and his military unit- the Judenjager ("Jew Hunters")- scoured the expanses of the German Republic and recovered millions of Jews, sending them to the death camps. Because of Landa's work, civil order in Germany did manage to stabilize, as Landa instilled fear in Rotler's opponents. Some historians have wondered if this stability would only be temporary- since Rotler's ruthlessness was creating more enemies by the day- but Rotler's own paranoia would come to render that question moot.
In July 1967, Flack felt confident enough in her army to attack the Germans, defeating them at the Saharan stronghold of Gao on July 13. Though many in the German military believed the mistakes of the battle could be corrected, Rotler came to believe that the loss meant his own administrators and officials were attempting to undermine him. On July 17, Rotler undertook the "Night of the Long Knives" (a German expression for vengeance), believing now that he had no one he could trust, Rotler began visiting the homes of every German official he could locate, murdering each "execution-style" with his own pistol. He rationalized the murders by insisting that he was exacting "God's vengeance", and that he became convinced that only he was capable of running the country- underlings were just too much trouble.
Predictably, Rotler going out on his own would lead to his eventual downfall, and Landa was the one to secure it. Using his own skills in human behaviour to outsmart him, on July 23, Landa lured Rotler into a trap at a warehouse in Bremen, where he would be surrounded by Landa's platoon of Judenjager. Although Landa expected Rotler to commit suicide at that moment, Rotler instead broke down and cried, collapsing to the floor and bemoaning the man he had become. One of Landa's soldiers applied the handcuffs with ease, with the soldier himself remarking, "even the greatest are still not invincible".
The Edmonton Trials
Main article: Edmonton Trials
Rotler spent over a year in captivity at a military barrack in Landa's native Vienna, his cell tucked away in a place only Landa and a few other guards knew about. According to Landa, Rotler never talked except to ask for necessities, and Rotler also hardly ever ate. "I speculated that he was suffering from depression," wrote Landa in his memoirs, "but Thomas always appeared calm and in control. It almost felt like he was relieved to be out of the position that caused him so much grief, with prison giving him a newfound sense of serenity."
Outside of his prison walls was anything but serenity. Immediately after arresting Rotler, there was confusion amongst Landa's men about what this meant, politically, for Germany. Rotler had never issued an order of succession because he did not believe he needed one, and among those that he killed were his Deputy Chancellor and his overall General. Landa thought it would be best not to declare a new leader until he could study the issue and understand who had the best claim to the Chancellorship.
Unfortunately for Landa, as days went by and Rotler wasn't seen publicly, the German people got restless. Landa attempted to abate the coming crisis by announcing- via videotape from a military barrack in Vienna, which was undisclosed- that he had arrested Rotler, but Rotler refused to speak on camera, meaning the question regarding his successor was left unanswered. Hans Albrecht, the governor of German Africa, declared himself the successor to Rotler, which gained him a large following in the military. Others also announced their claim to the Chancellorship, with some threatening to go to war to stake their claim. With Germany on the brink of collapse, the Soviet army moved into Poland and revived the Polish Empire, causing the Romans and Americans to intervene in the Netherlands. By the end of 1968, the American-Roman backed Dutch Empire controlled the western half of Germany while the Soviet-backed Polish Empire controlled its east, with Casara eventually becoming independent in 1970.
In an agreement to avert a war, both the Soviets and the Dutch promised to arrest and try every Falken member they could locate, but Landa didn't trust the Soviets, who were still Rotler's allies. Landa, with his renamed "Falkenjager" ("Hawk hunters", as "Falken" is German for "hawk"), went to work trying to find as many of Rotler's administrators as he could. Some managed to escape, but Landa managed to find most, including Heinrich Himmler, the man who personally oversaw Rotler's death camps.
On October 6, 1968, the decision was finally made to put Rotler and his Falken Party cronies on trial in Edmonton, Alberta. Though Alberta was an American state at the time, it was more culturally aligned with the neighbouring Canadian Republic, so it was believed that Rotler would get a fairer- or at least a fairer-looking- trial there. On October 14, Rotler was arraigned for the first time, initially facing hundreds of charges of varying types of murders, manslaughter, and corruption. However, the prosecution- led by Landa- decided to focus their attention on the Night of Long Knives, which Landa believed were the easiest to prove and would carry the longest possible sentence, which was life in prison with no chance of parole. This had the effect of delaying the trial by almost a year, with the trial not starting until August 2, 1969, with intense media interest.
Rotler chose to represent himself in his defence, with observers noting that- aside from not respecting much the protocols of the court- he did surprisingly well. He attacked Landa's evidence with aplomb and always had an explanation for inconsistencies that Landa sought to exploit, which legal analyses showed cast a lot of doubt in the prosecution's case. Central to Rotler's case was a lack of direct evidence- Rotler was careful to clean up his crime scenes, so much that no murder weapon was ever identified. Landa's entire case was based around the premise that those killed fit a pattern that would only make sense if Rotler had killed them all, a logical fault that Rotler easily dismantled.
What did Rotler in was a blood splatter analysis done on the Night's only female victim, Anita Scherr, who was Rotler's secretary. Scherr's body was found with defensive wounds, along with bite marks on her breasts, nipples and her buttocks that indicated Rotler's mouth was bloody at the time of the attacks. Scherr had also been raped, with her rape consistent with the rapes Rotler committed on the Valkyrie members as recalled by their only surviving member, Karolina Heidtkamp. Furthermore, though Rotler refused a test, his son through Heidtkamp, Gunther, provided a blood sample as did his mother. Since both came back with an "O" blood type and since Scherr's blood type was an "AB", the extraneous blood found on Scherr had to have belonged to Rotler (since a child who inherits "O" blood from at least one parent with "O" blood can only do so from a parent that does not have "AB" blood).
Despite this "smoking gun", the jury still had difficulty reaching a verdict, needing over a week of deliberations before finally deciding on a "guilty" verdict, reached on August 22, 1969. This was because Landa had only secured a guilty verdict on one of the murders, which would mean that Rotler could be sentenced to life in prison with a chance of parole.
A contentious sentencing phase began, with Landa doing all he could to send Rotler to jail for good. Here, Heidtkamp's testimony was again instrumental, as, although she admitted that Rotler actually treated her well, she described her seven years in captivity as an "indescribable horror", where she felt helpless and alone. "Ripped from my freedom," Heidtkamp said through tears to the court, "there was no amount of niceties that Thomas could have bestowed upon me that would have made it enjoyable. He still used me whenever he wanted, and I never did step outside into the real world until he was arrested. A paradise in prison is still a prison."
On October 14, 1969- exactly a year after Rotler was first arraigned- Rotler was formally sentenced to life in prison without parole. He was immediately sent to the Fort McMurray Correctional Centre to serve his sentence.
Prison and final years
Rotler was 83 when he began his sentence in Fort McMurray. Though prison officials felt he would be better in solitary confinement, Rotler insisted on being a part of the general population. Through Goring, Rotler figured that, being so late in his life, that his personal safety didn't matter- if a prisoner didn't kill him, natural causes would do him in at around the same time anyway.
He was a model prisoner while at Fort McMurray, one who actually proved to be popular among the inmates. Some of them had come to admire him from his days running Germany and were awestruck that they actually got to meet him in their prison. For a time, Rotler enjoyed receiving the adulation again, but he often lamented about his life decisions, as he often said to himself, "if I had known everything I did would bring me here, I would not have done it." Outwardly, he was jovial and conversant with his fellow prisoners, but inwardly he spiralled into a deep depression, as he came to regret where his life ended up.
On September 7, 1973, Rotler collapsed while walking towards his table during lunch. He was rushed to the hospital, where it was deemed he had suffered a serious stroke. Because of the fall, he suffered serious brain damage and lapsed into a coma, from which he would never recover. Doctors determined that he would live the rest of his life in a vegetative state, so the consensus was to end his life. Since Rotler's only family- Heidtkamp and Gunther- had no interest in keeping him alive, doctors removed his breathing tube on September 8, 1973, allowing him to wither. The doctor who eventually made the call to remove the tube, Carla Sipsos, found it "poetic justice" to end the life of a man who had ended the life of so many other people. Rotler eventually died on September 14, 1973, at the age of 87.
Main article: Political views of Thomas Rotler
Rotler's political views are hard to pin down. He was primarily a pragmatist, setting his policies based on what he felt Germany needed at the time. This led to a regime where policies that contradicted earlier policies would be enacted throughout his reign, as Rotler would often change his mind on what needed to be done. He was obsessive about analyzing what was happening in Germany, and his love for his country meant that he felt he needed to adapt in order to provide what he felt would solve whatever ailed the country at the moment.
Nevertheless, some political views can be observed with some certainty in Rotler's policy decisions. He was an ardent opponent of democracy, personally appointing every territorial administrator whom he granted a degree of autonomy. He did prefer a strong central government, which, in his early years was meant more so that he could use local administrators as his "eyes" and thus make better national policy decisions (his later years it was guided by his paranoia).
He was, generally, a socialist, an analysis that surprises many without an in-depth knowledge of his politics. He was renowned for pioneering state-wide systems of health care, transit and other kinds of social services, as he believed that Germany was only as strong as its weakest citizen. "If everyone in Germany is strong, then Germany is strong," Rotler said in a speech in 1944. That said, he was tough on crime, and looked dimly on those people he felt were abusing his generous social services.
On a global stage, he tended to side more with each nation's conservative parties, even though- ideologically- he conflicted on many of their views. The reason for this is hotly debated among political scientists. One view is that liberal and radical parties tended to be more vocal in their opposition of Rotler, and Rotler had his own animosity against the left-wing Communist Party. Another view is that Rotler's "tough on crime" approach as well as his significant support of his military were more closely aligned with conservative governments, who operated with the same principles. A minority view asserts that conservative governments are less likely to disagree with Rotler's draconian policies, though this has received pushback among other political scientists who note that even liberal governments can enact draconian policies (most notably Rotler's biggest ally, Josef Stalin).
"Thomas Rotler has, for decades, been seen as a repulsive, repugnant figure. Truth is, for as vile as he was with the treatment of his own people, I see Rotler's story as a tragedy. This was a man who had an unabashed passion for his country with a keen sense of anticipation and a sharp, expansive intelligence. He was a man who commanded the respect of every one of his peers because of his extraordinary abilities, but, because he was so consumed by a paranoia of others, his obsession at curbing dissent eventually left him with no peers at all." -Rudolf Goring, The Real Thomas Rotler (1984)
Rotler's best defining trait is that of his uncompromising leadership style. Martin Hess, writing his obituary in 1967, would capture the sentiment of many others who would write about Rotler when Hess boldly declared of Rotler, "it isn't enough to describe Rotler as 'ruthless'- he defined the term and pushed it to its limits." The inescapable image of Rotler is that of a man who would never accept bad news of any sort, no matter how inconsequential it may be. "Rotler," said comedian Conan O'Brien in his stand-up routine early in his career, "would shoot the weatherman if he dared to predict even a dusting of rain."
The truth is that the ruthlessness that Rotler became known for didn't really emerge until later in his life. While he certainly had his trust issues after Roger Muller's attempted treachery against him, Rotler was sensible enough to ensure he had a capable group of advisors surrounding him whenever possible, and he often heeded their advice. Rudolf Goring, a Berlin businessman whom Rotler met early in his reign and is often described as his "one true friend" (some say Goring was Rotler's lover but this has never been confirmed), would remark that "though he certainly wasn't easy to work with, Rotler was smart enough to- eventually- accept someone else's idea if it was better than his own."
Rotler, Goring notes, fell victim to the old malaise of the hyper-intelligent, as he increasingly came to believe that there was no one around him who was smart enough to provide any kind of value to him. "Rotler constantly thought he was surrounded by morons," wrote Goring in his 1984 biography of Rotler, The Real Thomas Rotler, "and, as a result, he held his colleagues in the greatest of contempt. Later in his life, this contempt would have tragic consequences, as Rotler didn't just come to believe that his colleagues were stupid- he came to believe that they were being intentionally stupid as a way to undermine him. It was at this point the many reprisals that he is known for began."
Indeed, as membership rolls of the Falken Party suggest, the decline in numbers coincides with increases in funding in Rotler's "correctional camps" beginning in the 1950s. During Rotler's first years, Falken Party numbers swelled to 15 million members, eventually adding some five million members as the German Republic expanded for a total of 20 million members in 1942. That number stayed steady until 1956, when the first rumours emerged of what would eventually be known as The Holocaust, when some two million members would vanish by 1959. By 1965, seven years after Rotler began to insist he was a divine figure, Falken Party members declined sharply to five million members, many having managed to flee the Republic though some one million more members would be sent to their deaths in the Holocaust. Records showed that around this time many that were sent to their deaths were charged with vague accusations of "treason", though some were given frivolous reasons. Historian Julie Herbert noted that her "favourite" was that of Herman Frost, sent to the correctional camps because he "left a stench in the bathroom no man of reason should ever have to endure."
It was not just Party members who saw their deaths during the turbulent 1960s. In 1961, claiming they were "hoarding Germany's money", Rotler ordered all of the Republic's Jews arrested and sent to the camps. Of the Republic's 14 million Jews, almost all would wind up fleeing, with those who did not- some six million- being killed. As the number of Jews killed in relation to other groups was staggering, the killings of the Holocaust is often incorrectly known as simply a "Jewish massacre".
The result is that Rotler soon became known as an anti-Semite, an accusation Goring and historians Emera Calhai and Gertrude Fleming found "unfair". "Thomas didn't kill the Jews because he hated them," said Goring, "Thomas ordered the killing of the Jews because he conflated stereotypes with reality, and since he viewed himself as a god, no one dared to question his thinking." Calhai, a prominent Casaran historian, noted that the Holocaust was essentially an anti-Casaran action, designed to destroy the Casaran independence movement. "Rotler's aim was never to eliminate the Jews," Calhai writes, "Rotler's aim was to destroy Casara- the Jews only entered his crosshairs when Jewish leaders offered Casara their support". Finally, Fleming also noted that Rotler was indiscriminate with his murder sprees- "anyone from feminists to the Roma to Catholics and even those in a vague grouping of 'my most hated enemies' were put squarely into his crosshairs. Rotler spared no one, and by 1967, it was reasonable to think everyone in Germany not named 'Thomas Rotler' was a target for 'correction'."
Many have speculated that the reasons for Rotler's sudden increase in reprisals during the 1960s was a result of undiagnosed dementia, which Hess did not dispute. "You could sense," said Hess, "that as Rotler became increasingly paranoid, his brain was escaping him. The man that had once been able to calm himself down and talk himself out of irrational thoughts soon began to embrace them and- sadly- act on them. That would lead to his eventual undoing."
Rotler was an intensely private man, who, despite his very public life, counted very few among his friends of any kind. After the Reichstag Fire, Rotler refused to give interviews of any sort, assigning a lower level official to speak for him if he needed to. By the 1950s, Rotler hardly ever gave public speeches, with his last one coming on January 4, 1964. As his deep-seated paranoia grew, so too did his isolation.
Earlier in his life he did know a few people he could call his friends. Most notably, Ferdinand von Zeppelin was the first person that Rotler would count as his friend, as Zeppelin let Rotler live with him and escape his abusive childhood. Rotler was close to Zeppelin until Zeppelin's death in 1917, upon which Rotler would name the military's highest award after him in memorial.
After the war, Rotler met the one person whom he would consistently describe as his friend- Rudolph Goring (1896-1990). Goring was a businessman in Berlin whom Rotler initially met to gain funding for his various projects, but the two men found they had instant chemistry and soon forged a very close bond. The two of them attempted to keep their friendship a secret, as Goring only attended Rotler's press conferences by sitting in and blending with the crowd and no official photograph of the two exist. Still, those who followed Rotler closely did manage to snap a few photos of Goring and Rotler together, where they were often seen enjoying each other's company.
Since Rotler was hardly seen accompanied by or even associating with women, rumours flew that he and Goring were lovers. Goring flatly denied this, pointing out his numerous affairs with women (he often leveraged Rotler's popularity for this purpose), though he only got married in 1969. Rotler himself never addressed the rumours, and even the woman he kept as a sex slave- Karolina Heidtkamp, the one who bore him his only son, Gunther- was never sure if Rotler's love for her was romantic or platonic. Still, there was some proof that Rotler was fond of Heidtkamp, as Goring argued that Rotler would not have kept her alive if he wasn't.
Whether or not Goring and Rotler were lovers, the inescapable proof is that Goring was really the only person Rotler ever counted as his one true friend throughout his life. When Rotler's regime was falling apart, Goring was one of Rotler's last few defenders, and, after Rotler's death, Goring was inspired to "correct the record" and respond to Rotler's many critics. He eventually came out with his book, The Real Thomas Rotler, published in 1984, which many feared would be an apologist tome but reviews then and now have lauded it as a fair and insightful account, being the first real look at Rotler's personal life. Goring said he wrote the book to simply provide an "honest" account, telling the Roman Free Press on his promotional tour, "I don't wish to minimize what Thomas actually did, but I do think emotions have run so high that we have wound up 'sensationalizing' him and not seeing who he really was. I truly believe there was a human inside of Thomas, and had we done what we could to bring out that human, the monster we now know would never have existed."
See also: Rotler family tree
Rotler was an only child, and, because of the repeated abuse he suffered at the hands of his parents, Otto and Lisa, he became estranged from his parents at an early age. It is unclear how often Rotler interacted with his wider family in his childhood, but it is known that, upon reaching adulthood, he cut ties completely with his biological family. Goring notes that Rotler often told him "not to pity me" for the estrangement, even though Goring believed the estrangement fueled much of Rotler's paranoia later in life. "If Thomas had a much wider support group", Goring wrote in The Real Thomas Rotler, "it might have helped him stay level and not fall into the paranoid delusions that he succumbed to."
Otto himself was an orphan and was quite possibly illegitimate himself. His birth record has never been found, so the identity of his parents remains a mystery. Goring says Rotler never met anyone claiming to be siblings or parents of Otto, and Otto was always evasive when the subject was brought up. The earliest record of Otto's existence was his registration at the orphanage by Catarina Rotschild, of whom very little is known. Goring states that Rotler himself spent state resources researching the link between Catarina and Otto, finding very little. It is believed that Otto was an abandoned child and that Catarina found him and took him to the orphanage, which is why parental records for Otto do not exist. Numerous people have staked claims to being Otto's parents or related to them, but none have so far proved conclusive.
Lisa, on the other hand, was the product of the wealthy Horst family, who came to dominate Rostock during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The family was quite large and Lisa herself had nine siblings, who produced numerous cousins of Rotler. However, Rotler hardly met any of Lisa's extended family, which meant there were several cousins, aunts and uncles he was never aware of. It was presumed that because Lisa's family disapproved of Rotler's birth they too became estranged from her, although some attempts at reconciliation were made. In adulthood, Rotler came to blame Lisa's family for turning Lisa into the abuser that Rotler knew, plus the Horst family were among Rotler's most vocal critics during his regime. Because of this, Rotler spent considerable state resources into finding every member of the Horst family- as well as Otto and any family members of his that Rotler could find- and rounding them up to be executed. These executions were eventually carried out during the Holocaust.
Only one member of the Horst family managed to escape the Holocaust, Tina (who would have been a niece of Rotler's), who, at 14, managed to escape from a school trip when it visited Rome in 1965. She fled to the Calabrian city of Crotone where she took up the life of a prostitute, falsely stating her age was 18 to escape the authorities. Tina worked the profession by herself for quite some time, and did it quietly until 1984, when Goring's book about Rotler came out. Tina wrote her own book about her experiences with Rotler- titled Into The Eye of the Evil Eagle, writing it in English so it could have a wider audience and publishing it in 1986. Tina intended the book to be a rebuttal of Goring's tome, but, since she never actually met Rotler, her observations and assertions about Rotler don't have the value of Goring's work. However, her book was seen as a great insight in to the horrors of the Holocaust and how ruthless Rotler turned out to be, a comment that even Goring himself admitted about her book.
This has meant that, of Rotler's known relatives, only Tina and Rotler's own son, Gunther and his mother, Karolina Heidtkamp, are the only ones to outlast Rotler himself. Tina did not end up marrying until 1988 (marrying local Giorgio Romani), upon which she bore a son, Roger (born in 1991), and a daughter, Raina (born in 1996). Neither of her children are married. Tina still gives interviews about Rotler from time to time, but Roger, Raina and Giorgio all chose to stay out of the public eye and have yet to conduct an interview of any kind, let alone one about Rotler.
Similarly, Gunther and Karolina have maintained a low profile since Rotler's death. Karolina has granted a few interviews since 1970, but she mostly stays away from her current affairs and talks mostly of her experiences with the Valkyries and with Rotler. Karolina has not officially remarried, nor has had any more children, but Goring claimed in his book that Karolina has unofficially found a new life partner, though he has no evidence of this.
Gunther, meanwhile, has only granted one interview about Rotler- in 1984, when he and Karolina were interviewed by the Roman Free Press about Goring's book, of which Karolina had mixed feelings about but Gunther described as "absolute trash". Gunther's adult life has been marred by legal problems, as he has numerous convictions for minor assaults and petty thefts owing to his addictions with alcohol and narcotics. Although Gunther has never explicitly blamed Rotler's treatment of him for his issues, many psychologists have blamed Gunther's upbringing in contributing to the depression that eventually turned him to narcotics. Gunther's 1984 interview- conducted when Gunther was 23- was notable for showcasing his anger towards his father, as well as showing the first signs of his substance abuse.
Gunther has, on several occasions, attempted rehab but none have proven successful. One such clean period did see him temporarily get married to Lina Rausman, who bore him a daughter, Heidi, in 2002. Unfortunately, his clean period was short-lived and his marriage dissolved, leading him to be institutionalized at the Bremen Rehabilitation Centre where he still lives.
Rotler's lasting legacy among historians is universally seen as being the "definition" of what political scientist Raina Surinder termed "personality politics" mere months before Rotler's death in 1973. Depictions of Rotler- both contemporaneously outside of Germany and following his death- made much of Rotler's tendencies to rule with absolute narcissism, portraying a leader who demanded respect because he insisted that he was "the only one who knew anything". Though some depictions did play it straight, the vast majority of them parodied Rotler, portraying him as a man who merely thought he knew all when he really knew nothing.
Goring often lamented at these depictions, noting they were nothing but "wish fulfillment fantasies". "The truth is," said Goring, "we are comforted by the idea that 'the monster was not as smart as he thought he was' but doing so only distorts the reality. Though Thomas' many achievements are reviling to many, he still did achieve them and attempting to minimize them is frankly delusional. If we are ever to stop another man- or woman- from doing what he did, we have to understand and analyze what Thomas did- not pretend they did not exist."
Regardless, it is undeniable that Rotler commanded a significant personality cult, one which allowed him to rule Germany based entirely on his own personal beliefs. Despite his perception, Rotler was more moderate in his decision-making than many politicians tended to be, since Rotler was, at his core, a pragmatist. He had a deep love for his country, which translated into numerous policy shifts deeper into Rotler's reign as Rotler saw to simply solve his country's problems. Despite his propensity to shift policy, several times his policy shifts were unpopular (despite often being successful with his shifts), and his swift and often brutal reprisals against this opposition helped sear public perception of him as a ruler who only "cared about what he thought and nothing else". Goring contested this idea, stating that "sometimes a ruler needs to make a decision that is not popular for the better of the country", which Rotler himself often repeated, terming it "the dictator's advantage".
Fear of Evil
Rotler's success as a dictator has led to large groups of people who became afraid of him. The reason for the "fear of Rotler" is a question many historians debate. The prevailing idea is that his opponents see Rotler as the "personification of evil" and thus it is unsettling to not just believe a man who could be so reviled could be so successful for so long but was also one who was not defeated by an external enemy. "We are taught from a very early age that good defeats evil," writes historian Ericka Gladnow in a Washington Post opinion piece in 1994, "so when that evil winds up victorious, as it did with Rotler, it upsets everything we have come to know. Furthermore, we would like to think that we ultimately defeated Rotler in the end, but it was really Rotler who defeated himself."
Atima Flack, the Khorsuni-Casaran general who freed Casara from German rule in the late 1960s, dismissed ideas that Rotler could not have been defeated. "Many who were smarter and more successful came before him," she wrote in her 1998 memoirs, "and all of them suffered the same fate, be it Napoleon, be it Montezuma or be it Nero. There is no reason to think that we could not have defeated Rotler ourselves if we had the chance, for there is no one who is that powerful."
Hans Landa, the one who eventually arrested and tried Rotler and sent him to trial, agreed in an October 19, 1990 interview on CNN. "In order to arrest and later convict him, I had to outsmart him," said Landa. "I hate to toot my own horn, but it is true- I did defeat him. So I reject the idea that had Rotler not defeated himself that he never would have been defeated."
Still, Rotler's success has meant there are many who are fearful that copycats may emerge, emboldened by Rotler. Much of these fears are tied to the decline of democracy (see section for more details), as Rotler's opponents feared that his success would legitimize the idea of dictatorships in the eyes of the public.
What Rotler is arguably best known for is the Holocaust. It was this massacre that turned public opinion on him for good, being what arguably turned him from simply being "a dictator" into arguably being known as "the worst dictator in history". For it was not just the sheer number of those who were killed, for a which an official total is not known (estimates vary from 20 million to as high as 100 million), but also the sheer scale and efficiency of the operation.
What the Holocaust is best known for is the effective end of Europe's substantial Jewish population and culture, one that had been in place since the Medieval period. Again, estimates vary on the exact number of deaths but it is known that, within the territories Germany wound up occupying, the Jewish population there declined from a high of 53.4 million in 1957 to only a few thousand barely ten years later. Many fled the country and emigrated to Rome and North America, which caused their plight to reach a grander stage worldwide.
There is considerable debate about the source of Rotler's decision. Most historians believe Rotler was acting purely out of paranoia, since he only began exterminating the Jews once he believed they were actively undermining him- he wasn't known to be any more anti-Semitic than any of his contemporaries, and some argue in his early days that he was actually less anti-Semitic than his contemporaries, pointing to correspondence between him and Hitler where he confronted Hitler on his views on the subject. On the other hand, of the many groups Rotler targeted, he only fingered the Jews for total annihilation- other ethnic groups were spared such a pronouncement.
Many in Casara, though, argue that Rotler was just as harsh on them as he was on the Jews. On pure numbers alone, more Casarans (66.2 million) than Jews (53.1 million) were either killed or fled German territory under Rotler's rule, and, since the vast majority of Casarans found difficulty fleeing the Republic (owing to the colour of their skin), it's estimated that as much as 99% of that 66.2 million were killed off in camps. 41 million Casarans did survive the terror, but the vast majority of those- especially those who lived in Africa- were slaves for Rotler. The oppression of the Casarans was so complete and thorough that many Casarans hold that racism is the only reason why the Holocaust is remembered as mostly a "Jewish event", and, indeed, several movies made about the Holocaust either ignore or downplay Casara's involvement. More recently, several notable Jewish historians- including Oded Arison and Ruth Jacobs- have sought to change the narrative surrounding the Holocaust by including the oppression of the Casarans, with Arison noting that the Casarans and Jews often worked "in solidarity" in their attempts to oppose Rotler.
Effective End of the British Empire
Britain was Rotler's closest ally after the Soviet Union, but, unlike the Soviets following Rotler's arrest, the British government refused to rescind their support, causing massive outrage across the Empire. The British attempted to move on these riots and put them down but, since Rotler was Britain's primary financial backer, his ouster meant the British no longer had the resources to hold on to their massive Empire. With their hand forced, in 1969 the British announced numerous regional plebiscites, giving those regions the choice to stay with the Crown or not.
However, the British had no intention of honouring the votes, so even when many- though not all- of the territories voted to leave the British Empire, wars broke out all over the Empire. Only the intervention of several countries- among them America in Ireland and India and Canada in southern Africa- forced the British to finally acknowledge the plebiscites through the Treaty of Nairobi. Britain treaded water following the Treaty until it was revitalized and retooled after World War III as the English Empire.
Death of Democracy
Rotler's chief political position- the one he would maintain for his entire life- was the destruction of democracy as a form of government. It arose out of the Weimar Republic's own failures and received mass support because of it, but later in his life Rotler would rail against democracy as a way of undermining his opposition.
Nevertheless, Rotler's success as a politician and the heights he brought Germany to did inspire a worldwide trend of masses of people rejecting democratic principles, either in part or outright. Raina Surinder estimated that, by the time of Stalin's death in 1955, of the 75 world polities that she describes as "democratic", only 13 remained, with that number falling to as low as nine by 1968. Surinder estimated that in 90% of those cases the influencing agent was Rotler, who was more directly involved in those changes in the 1950s. Many of those changes, Surinder notes, are still in effect today, as, although the number of democracies has risen to 25 countries, the percentage of world governments who are democracies has remained steady at 12% (25/210).
Others dispute the extent of the catastrophe as Surinder described it, as Surinder counted as "democracies" those countries that had democratic bodies, even if the national government did not truly respect them. Some have even argued that democracy was never truly dominant on the world stage because there are so few that could be considered "functional". Nevertheless, the one matter of consensus among political scientists and historians is that Rotler's success shifted thoughts on democracy worldwide. Before Rotler, democracy was seen as the "paragon" of government, the ideal form that almost every country strove to achieve. After Rotler's success, perceptions of democracy declined precipitously, as not only did populaces see Rotler's success, they contrasted it with the failure of the Weimar Republic, seeing that as further proof that democratic institutions did not work.
Even in those countries that seemingly rejected Rotler's anti-democratic revolution and managed to stay democracies, many were influenced by Rotler's style. Nowhere is this more evident than in Britain, allies of Rotler, and America, who considered themselves as Rotler's archenemy. In Britain, after Rotler got personally involved in the 1950 general election in order to defeat Clement Atlee, the Conservative Party grabbed onto power and held it firmly for the rest of Rotler's reign, using Rotler's tactics such as smear campaigning and antagonistic messaging, with reports of electoral fraud and violence being perpetuated against their opponents. Even after Rotler's demise, the Conservatives have continued to hold on to power in Britain (and its successor state, England) aside from a five-year period in the late 1970s, using many of the same tactics. The Conservatives' dominance has led to political scientists declaring they have an "effective one-party dictatorship", although this is hotly debated.
In America, Joseph McCarthy, despite declaring himself "the archenemy of Rotler" and saw himself as the "only President who can stand up to The Roc", was ironically labelled a dictator himself by his political opponents. This is because McCarthy often employed draconian measures in fighting against people he believed were Roc sympathizers, such as maintaining a publicly-accessible list of suspected sympathizers, which was simply a list of people who were being investigated but it served to cripple the lives of those who were on the list. When McCarthy unexpectedly won re-election in 1956, the alt-left movement emerged, with one of their tenets being that "democracy only breeds dangerous populists", with some in the movement even seeking to turn America into a left-wing dictatorship. The result is a transformation of the mainstream political parties from holding on to moderate, centrist policies into parties that are more ideologically driven and are more firmly entrenched in their political positions, resulting in a deep political polarization that some political scientists have described as "mini-dictatorships", as the ruling party effectively rules by decree until they are voted out.
For more information, see Mesopotamianism
One attempt to curtail the association of Rotler with dictatorships is the concept of Mesopotamianism, an offshoot of the philosophy of modern classicism. Though it has its influences from Roman and Greek philosophers of the ancient world, the movement has its base in the major cities of Mesopotamia, primarily Nineveh and Babylon, in the latter part of the 20th century. It later became the guiding principle of the Aramean Empire and its successor state, the Assyrian Empire led by Anatu, who has ruled by its very principles.
Many within the movement claim they are interested in a more "people-driven, pragmatic government", led by a "philosopher king" who, while still able to rule by decree, only rules based on the whims of his people's wishes. In a sense, modern classicists often seek a government that, on paper, is a dictatorship but is one that, in practice, acts like a democracy. The prime example of this in action is the Assyrian Empress Anatu, who has the ability to rule by decree but often polls her people and engages in many town hall meetings, among other ways she engages the public.
Though Goring- who died in 1990- never met Anatu, he still scoffed at the idea of Mesopotamianism. "First of all, the Mesopotamianists are clamouring for a governor who ruled just like Rotler did in his prime, so it is ironic they are 'against' Rotler," he said in a 1987 interview with the Roman Free Press, "but, more importantly, if these guys think they can set up a government where they expect their dictator to listen to the people when he doesn't have to, they're in for a rude awakening. Even Rotler fell to the concept of 'absolute power corrupts absolutely', because dictatorships always eventually lead to a narcissist who angers his people too much."
For more information, see The Virus
A twist on "Rotlerism", according to some political scientists, is the emergence of The Virus, a firmly anti-establishment, anti-government, pro-social justice movement. Though The Virus has someone widely seen as its mouthpiece, Danforth Grayson, The Virus lacks a true central authority or an organization of any kind. Rather, what unites people within the movement is a simple adherence to its philosophy, even though those who act in its name don't often act in similar ways to each other.
The central concept of The Virus is the encouragement of its members to personally seek retribution for injustices committed against them. Several online Viral communities have sprung to assist its members in this process, often providing tips on how to beat law enforcement. The sites are of questionable legality, and those that escape criminal prosecution are those who do not discuss specifics of law enforcement agencies, such as naming actual police stations or discussing specific technologies (unless these are public knowledge). Nevertheless, crimes have been committed in its name, which has led to the organization to be considered a terrorist organization by both Rome and the Virtue Federation, as well as many other national governments.
Analysis of The Virus have led to many political scientists describing its members as "personal Rotlers". This distinction comes about not just because The Virus believes its members should take matters into their own hands but also because it believes this form of "anarchic vigilantism" is preferable to other forms of conventional government. Scholars question the viability of this kind of society and find its wide appeal "strange", with many activists labelling The Virus as "scary". Grayson has shot back against this kind of analysis, stating that "the overthrow of the government has never been a Viral policy", and has repeatedly said that The Virus is simply a tool to help the most hopeless get what they need. "If governments and their various bureaucracies were actually helpful," said Grayson to The Pontus Chronicler in 2017, "then we would not need The Virus. Unfortunately, governments routinely abuse their powers and serve only themselves. We are simply there to keep them honest."
- Personality politics
- Falken Party
- German Republic