This is the latest installment in the Drowned Baby Timeline, an alternate history where Adolf Hitler drowned at birth and where World War II never took place. Nevertheless, following a German invasion of Poland in the spring of 1936, a defeated Germany was divided into zones of occupation by the victorious allies. The Poles annexed their zone, while the British and French set up independent states in theirs. However, few Germans are happy with the situation . . .
Hanover City, Kingdom of Hanover
20 April 1946
"I say, Konrad old chap, what's all this talk I hear about us joining Poland?"
Edward of Saxe-Coburg und Gotha, former King of Great Britain and current King of Hanover, spoke flawless German with a pure Thuringian accent his royal great-grandparents would have been proud of. Nevertheless, his upbringing in England had had a noticable effect on his manner of speaking. Konrad Adenauer had become accustomed to it over the course of two years as Edward's Prime Minister, and now he hardly even noticed.
"Pay it no mind, Your Highness," Adenauer replied. "It is simply the Communists trying to stir up trouble. Your subjects no more wish to join the Polish Commonwealth than they would wish to join the United States of America."
"Well that's a relief, I must say," the King said. "Abdicating one throne was tiresome enough. Abdicating a second would be terribly monotonous. Not to mention what the Queen would say."
"As you say, Your Highness. However, your mentioning the subject has brought a related matter to my mind, which I desire to bring to your attention."
"By all means, old thing, feel free. I'm all ears."
Adenauer remained silent for a moment as he marshalled his thoughts. "Your Highness, while it is true that your subjects have no wish to become Poles, they nevertheless still wish to become Germans."
"But they are Germans. Aren't they?"
"I fear not, Your Highness. They are Hanoverians, Bavarians, Brandenbergers, Silesians, and Prussians, but they are not Germans."
"Ah, I see what you're getting at, Konrad. They miss the old reich, do they? The old fatherland."
"They do, Your Highness. But they also know that after the excesses of the Röhm regime, the rest of Europe will not allow them to recreate a German reich."
"It's a pretty problem, isn't it, Konrad? They can't live with us, and they can't live without us."
"Indeed, Your Highness. And given these circumstances, it has become clear to a number of Germans throughout the former reich that our only hope for reunification is as part of a more general European Union."
"My word, that's a bit farfetched, don't you think?"
"Farfetched it may be, Your Highness, yet it is our only hope. And if a united Europe is our only hope for a united Germany, then it is to a united Europe that we Germans must dedicate ourselves."
"Konrad old chum, I see that this European Union business is one that is close to your heart, and I certainly admire your dedication. Still, I have to wonder if anyone apart from us Germans is going to see any merit in the thing. I daresay the English won't be too keen on it."
"Your Highness, I have been in contact with a number of men outside Germany who agree with us on the desirability of bringing the nations of Europe closer together. Monsieur Schuman of France, for one, and Señor Prieto of Spain as well."
"Sterling fellows I've no doubt, but I can't help noticing that neither one holds any actual office at the moment."
"Perhaps not, Your Highness, but Foreign Minister Masaryk of Czechoslovakia has also expressed an interest, as has Prime Minister Mestrovic of Yugoslavia. And while the current British government is, as you say, not too keen, Mr. Eden of the Opposition feels otherwise."
"It sounds to me as if you're leading up to something, Konrad."
"Your Highness is perceptive as always. My discussions with these worthy gentlemen, while fruitful in their way, have remained both unofficial and unpublicized. It is time, I feel, to advance to the next stage of the process: the convening of a general conference in which the notion of a European Union may be given a public airing. Hanover is, I believe, ideally situated to act as host for such a conference. If it please Your Highness, I wish for you to issue a general invitation to the statesmen of Europe to meet together in Magdeburg."
"Ah, because Magdeburg is where the old postwar zones of occupation came together."
"Precisely, Your Highness. Magdeburg is at the confluence of Hanover, Bavaria and Brandenburg. It forms the keystone of Germany, and hence of Europe as a whole. If we are to build a united Germany within a united Europe, then Magdeburg is the logical starting point."
"I can't imagine you'll accomplish much at this conference of yours."
"Your Highness, as the Chinese say, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. At this point, we simply wish for the people of Europe hear of our enterprise. It is not necessary for them to support us, or agree with us, or even take us seriously. Those will be tasks for the future. For now, all we require is their attention."
"It could all come to nothing you know, Konrad. Your conference could turn out to be a total fiasco, and we'd all end up looking quite the Guys. It might be better to simply forget the whole business and let things remain as they are."
"I do not believe that, Your Highness. I cannot and will not. Europe will be united, and when that day comes, men will look back upon our conference and see it as the work of visionaries who laid the first foundations of future greatness. One day, Your Highness, you will be honored as the founding father of a United Europe."
"I say, Konrad, do you really think so? Gosh, that would be something, wouldn't it? Very well, then, send word out to all your chaps and tell them to come round to Magdeburg. It's time to get this whole European Union thingie moving along!"