The world of the "Inglourious Basterds"
(Some bits deftly lifted from other AH.com folks who have speculated on the subject)
Although the German defensive position in the west temporarily fell into disarray as orders from the center became conflicting at best, in the East Germans kept fighting: they had no illusions of what would happen if they tried to surrender to the Soviets. After a bloody and confusing few weeks, the Army won out over the SS and the second-echelon Nazis who tried to grab the Fuhrer’s mantle without any clear support, although not until late August were the reins of command clearly in the hands of the “Junta”, which from July had been sending out feelers for a negotiated peace that would leave Germany with pre-Munich borders (not to mention the 1914 Polish border). The allies, which had agreed to unconditional surrender a while back, and which considered “Prussian militarism” as much a threat as Nazism, ignored such overtures. The Junta continued to desperately negotiate while trying to trade space for time in the West and stop the Soviet advance in the east: in the meantime, all their allies jumped ship as fast as they could. The generals finally gave in to the inevitable and surrendered in October, with Allied troops in the Rhinelands and Soviets within a hop and a skip from East Prussia.
Stalin was not at all pleased with his occupation zone, especially after being given an enclave in Berlin surrounded by allied territory. (The last Soviet forces left by 1949, after thoroughly looting the place. There was some talk of maintaining it as a part of Soviet Prussia, but the idea was dismissed as absurdly impractical). Nor was he pleased with the ultimately doomed effort to keep him from occupying western Poland. As a result, negotiations for a Soviet entry into the war in the east were protracted, and the Soviets successfully negotiated the entry of Korea and Manchuria into their “sphere of influence.”
Hungary managed to avoid Soviet occupation by surrendering early enough, but ended losing its regained Transylvanian territories to Soviet forces, which went on to “liberate” Yugoslavia.
The invasion of Japan had been in progress for only two months when US atom bombs began to fall, but in that relatively brief period, as US forces responded to the mass use of civilian “suicide bombers” and other last-ditch defensive periods with massive use of chemical and incendiary weapons, some 70,000 allied troops and over 1.5 million Japanese military and civilians perished: combined with the use of atomic weapons on Japanese cities and the Soviet overrunning of Manchuria and Korea, there was less resistance to surrender than OTL.
Mao, never liked by Stalin, found himself out in the cold when Stalin created a puppet Red government for Soviet Manchuria (extending well south of Beijing) excluding him: with his legitimacy fundamentally undermined by Soviet disdain on the one hand and a strong anti-Communist sentiment arising from Soviet opportunism at Chinese expense, he was unable to bring off a victory against the Nationalist government. He was finally forced to flee to Soviet territory in 1951: shortly after he was “discovered” to be a secret Japanese agent, tried, and shot.
The Cold War slowly grinds into gear, but less energetically than OTL. There is no divided Berlin, no Korean war, no great Red victory in China, and Red Europe is smaller than OTL. OTOH, there really is a cohesive “Soviet Block” extending from the Oder to the Yellow River, and Stalin starts assembling a conventional, chemical, and after 1951, nuclear arsenal in Soviet Prussia aimed at intimidating the hell out of Germany, and outright incinerate it within a day of WWIII starting, if such eventuality should occur.
Israel became independent. Indian independence was negotiated on a somewhat more relaxed time schedule with different British faces at the table. The Soviets saw to a purge of the Korean leadership in 1955, in which a certain Kim Il Sung was among those sent into internal exile. The hydrogen bomb was developed. The French occupy both north and south Vietnam with Chinese help, but soon find the Viet Minh a bigger nuisance than the Algerian rebels. With most of China still in Nationalist hands, the US fails to find the preservation of Vietnamese rump regimes an important priority.
Rumors circulating in Germany are squashed by Allied authorities. There never was a group of Jewish terrorists evenhandedly murdering SS officers and young army recruits, torturing prisoners, etc. all over France called the “Bastards” (or “Basterds”, for that matter). Sure, it was a US operation that carried out the “decapitation”, but the stories about vengeful Jews under US employ are simply German paranoia, and if any Germans were scalped or had swastikas carved in their foreheads, it was the French Resistance (hey, don’t the French call their street toughs “Apaches?”). Germans are dubious, but the US sticks to their story. And then someone in 1968 found some old papers belonging to the recently deceased Henry Morgenthau, Jr. and the crap really hit the windmill.
Gandhi’s last political triumph is the Kashmir plebiscite, which ends with the bulk of the state ending up in Pakistani hands. He would be assassinated on May 11, 1948 in the Indian Parliament, shot by an infuriated Hindu-nationalist representative: his legacy remains controversial. There have been no Pakistani-Indian wars, although relations went into a deep freeze for many years after India refused overflight permission to the Pakistani military during the Bengali independence struggle.
The withdrawal of France from Vietnam in the late 50s and the takeover of united Vietnam by a Communist regime led to raised hackles and a fair amount of finger-pointing, if not as much as OTL 1949, and led to an expansion of US “counterrevolutionary” activity and third-world intervention in the 1960s: the often violent radicalization of the Civil Rights movement in the late 60’s is often attributed to the effect of black US veterans who had taken part in the various dirty little African wars by which the US helped save the continent for capitalist investors and properly right-wing kleptocrats. In Cambodia, the last rebel groups laid down their arms and came out of the jungle to join the government a decade ago: the government in question is increasingly querulous about the massive military base the US has maintained right outside the capital since the mid-60s.
The takeover of Tibet by the Nationalist Chinese raised some eyebrows, and the Manchurian People’s Republic (AKA the Democratic People’s Republic of China) and its Soviet sponsor made a great deal of propaganda hay over Nationalist “expansionism”, “violation of national sovereignty” and other such, and managed to get a finger-wagging resolution against China passed in the UN. In the end, it proved another tempest in a teapot: China still runs Tibet today, and although the non-atheist government has largely left Tibetan culture alone as long as it did not contradict Chinese law (the Tibetan legal system has been replaced by the Chinese one, and although few Tibetan monasteries were sacked , many were forced to shut their doors or “scale back” when they lost their revenues from the serf classes), they have been almost as enthusiastic about promoting Chinese immigration as the OTL communists. In the US, few save the weirdo left fringe make much of a fuss.
The Potala palace and its immediate surroundings have an independent status similar to that of the Vatican in Italy, and although Chinese Buddhism is different from Tibetan practices, the Dalai Lama is a respected figure (and a very adept self-promoter).
Anti-Semitic paranoia is worse than OTL, although on the positive side the US Jewish stereotype is less Woody Allen nebbish. Jewish gangster movies are almost numerous enough to be a trope.
The trial of the “Black Bastards” divided the nation like none before, and many feared the outbreak of race warfare. The odd couple of Martin Luther King and Barry Goldwater managed to bridge the gap and keep the cities from burning.
What exactly happened in Paris that fateful night remains unclear, in spite of all the books that have been written about it: Raine’s official reports are marvels of obfuscation and understatement. (Raine himself, bored with training killers in peacetime, vanished into a Southeast Asian jungle in the early 50s and was never seen again. Various crazy stories float around the Saigon bars, including the one about him becoming the king of a tribe of hill people or the one placing him as an Opium warlord in the Laos badlands as late as 1970). A Frenchman of African extraction might have told much, but he kept his mouth tightly closed until his death in Marseilles in 1990. As for colonel Landa, his 1950 death in an unfortunate boating accident and the apparent nonexistence of a book he had told friends he was working on provides nothing but rumor and suspicion.
The Soviet 1972 intervention in Red Manchuria became necessary when the local party leadership diverged from the script to the extent of talking “peaceful reunification” with the south, and the local premier was too wily to accept an invitation to Moscow. While OTLs crushing of the Prague Spring, although successful, was a bit of a logistical cluster-fuck, the Manchurian Intervention – meant to reestablish Soviet authority in a nation with eight times Czechoslovakia’s population and over eleven times its area – proved a disastrous mess. Many will mark the next fourteen bloody months – in which the Soviet Union comes close to declaring war on US ally Nationalist China – as the beginning of Soviet decline.
The Soviet got rather less in the way of German rocket scientists and equipment than OTL, and the US beat the USSR into space by about six months in 1958. Admittedly the science packet delivered to orbit was rather smaller than the Soviet *Sputnik, but General Secretary Molotov was not pleased. The situation in 1969 was similar, if reversed. The shoe-string Lunar lander brought just one Soviet Cosmonaut to the moon, wearing a spacesuit so crude and stiff that he had to have a sort of hula-hoop arrangement around his waist to allow him to get up without too much trouble if he fell down, but it still outshone the rather better funded – not to mention less hilariously dangerous – three-man US landing the next year.
Later, a Mars expedition would prove a wee bit beyond what either side was willing to budget for, but the fuss and feathers would take most of the 70s to die down.
Given the success of the Basterds, the US government post-war would invest rather more effort into Special Forces activity, specialist assassination teams, and other murky activities. Unfortunately, there was perhaps a lack of understanding that 1.) It’s hard to find genius leadership (and although undeniably a borderline psychopath, Aldo Raine was a genius), 2.) It helps if most of the population of the country you are infiltrating is basically on your side, and 3.) There is such a thing as “blow-back.” US furious disavowals at the sight of the row of bullet-riddled corpses that Cuban state television claimed were murderers sent after Castro failed to convince people, especially after the US government suggested that the famous half-mask and glove El Jefe Maximo wore in public from then on didn’t actually cover gruesome burns inflicted by the firebomb attack on Punto Cero. Rather worse was the Soviet tit for tat attitude, which guaranteed that a fair number of pro-US third-world dictators suffered from unexplained airplane accidents and the like. Finally, after one “special wet-work team” gone rogue nearly started world war III, the US and the USSR quietly and behind the scenes of the late 80s negotiated an end to such fun and games.
Nationalist China suffered from left-wish agitation, ham-handed government counter-reaction and corruption through the 50s. It also exported a lot of opium. Economic growth was slow at first, and the rather paranoid government was only gradually convinced to drop a variety of legal restrictions that purported to prevent any foreign-run “comprador” capitalism from taking control of the Chinese economy. Not until the late 60s did the economy really begin to take off, and industry was hampered by the loss of Manchurian resources.
Exact death tolls for the Holocaust remain hotly debated in this world – outright deniers are far more numerous – but the number was not much less than OTL: the great majority of the killing had been accomplished by the summer of 1944, and only a few hundred thousand more Jews survived. Still, this was enough to accomplish some substantial butterflies in the history of Israel. Roughly half of the West Bank of OTL is directly incorporated into the state of Israel: the other is part of a Jordan run by the Palestinian Liberation Movement, which since the Soviet Union stopped sponsoring it has suffered a nasty economic collapse. The frontier fortifications between the two nations are impressive enough to have featured on a couple of National Geographic specials.
The first two automated landers sent to Mars both crashed rather messily, leading to US to stop and reconsider its approach for dealing with Mars’ tricky atmosphere. The Soviets had paused to reconsider when their single-stage ground-to-orbit nuclear rocket had rather spectacularly blown up. Mars is still under consideration, and many committees are kept busy. In the meantime, the US atomic rocket has found a useful function as a shuttle between Space Station Goddard and the Lunar Orbiter station.
Germany was reunited with the “Prussian Socialist People’s Republic) (Silesian, Prussian and Pomeranian territories) in 1997, as Soviet forces withdrew from Prussia and later Yugoslavia, Poland, Romania and Finland to deal with increased troubles back home. Neutrals Hungary, Bulgaria and Slovakia promptly applied for membership in NATO. The Fatherland Party and its demands for union with Austria were greatly strengthened by the addition of some 8 million authoritarian-minded voters. Albania promptly declared its independence from Yugoslavia, and the first shots were fired in the Struggle for Albanian Independence.
In 2010, Iran has made the shaky transition from one-party leftist rule (think Egypt with oil money) to multi-party democracy, which has had a negative effect on its long-standing anti-Soviet alliance with the US. The government is currently paralyzed as the religious parties are refusing to allow any new legislation to pass until prohibition of alcohol is implemented.
What with the Crisis of ’96 having transitioned into the Meltdown (1997 to 1999), followed by the brief Stabilization under KGB head Pavel Fedoseev (and the accompanying Spring Purges and secret famines), and the Time of Troubles (2001-2004) after the Army blew up the Kremlin, the general Russian mood is grim. General Bulgarnoff’s regime controls most of the former USSR, and through some fairly draconian controls and substantial foreign aid has managed to keep people fed for the last few years, but the economy remains a shambles. Radical economic reform is promised, but the people are skeptical, remembering the half-assed efforts of the late 80s and early 90s and the wild flailing after solutions of ’97-‘00. Several million Soviet citizens are in exile abroad in China, Iran, and other places, and the Baltic States, western Ukraine and Xinjiang are independent states. Hey, on the up side, only one city got nuked.
Unified Korea is communist, nuclear armed, and really no more awful than OTL 2010 Vietnam, although it tends to make threatening noises at Japan occasionally (which always plays well with the Korean-in-the-street). Japan, a bit poorer  and tradition-minded than OTL, also sticks closer to the US. India remains leftier than OTL and kinda technocratic, while Afghanistan remains blissfully untouched by modernity, the Soviets having had enough of a warning with Manchuria to avoid stick their dicks in that meatgrinder. South Africa is fragmented and full of UN peacekeepers, and none of the three pieces of former Belgian Congo is as poor as OTLs unified Congolese state.
Poland is smaller than OTL, having lost most of its Ukrainian and Belorussian territories without gaining compensating territory from Germany, aside from German-free Gdansk. On the other hand Warsaw was not demolished as OTL and a great many pre-war architectural gems survive (not that the Poles notice, bemoaning the horrendous ugliness of Communist-era architecture and “improvements.”). As OTL, the Czechs kicked out their Germans, although once passions had cooled some were allowed back by a democratic republic: there are currently about three quarters of a million Germans living in the Czech Republic. France is quite Philo-Semitic, and is an Israeli ally of long standing, which leads to some annoying problems with the Muslim immigrant minority: the recent expulsion of some 30,000 “anti-social elements” to Africa has caused a bit of an international furor.
The US uses more nuclear power than OTL – the atom bomb in popular culture was slower to acquire apocalyptic cachet after WWII, given that the nuking of Japan was seen more as the straw that broke the camel’s back rather than a war-winner in of itself. Culture wars and racial prejudices still exist, although in ways that are a bit orthogonal to our world: the first US Jewish president was elected in 2008 – most think the country is not yet ready to elect a Black man. Popular culture has a stronger element of Thud and Blunder fantasy and war stories and what might be called Muscular Patriotism with a straight face: the Small Band of Heroes that overthrows an empire was real, once, and although the US has gotten up to some very nasty stuff in the third world it has never had a drawn-out, enervating disaster like Vietnam. On the other hand, the conspiracy theorists are louder and more mainstream – if the government has done thus and so abroad, what might they had done at home? The US is really not much more paranoid than OTL, but is so in different directions, and leftists have domestic arsenals just as big as the right wing.
The German problem raises its head once more.
The apocalyptic finale failed to take place, the fat lady did not sing, the Soviet occupation of the east was orderly and, although quite loot-y, was fairly low-rape. Germans did not have their noses rubbed in their utter defeat, and kept their capital and a greater percentage of their nation. Some secret pardons and immunities were part of the package of the “unconditional” surrender, and in the end, with the leadership dead, only a few stood trial for the crimes of the Reich. At the same time, the integration of Germany into Europe was slower and more painful than OTL: the French in particular were reluctant to see their enemy rehabilitated as quickly as cold war exigencies seemed to demand. There was no Berlin airlift, and a German army was recreated only in the 1960s.
Of Course there was a new “stab in the back” myth. Their leaders had been assassinated by Jews, and the half-assed generals who took control still held almost all of Germany (plus much of Poland, N. Italy…) when they gave in to foreign demands for an unconditional surrender. And of course the Left had been involved too: the Soviets were still east of the Vistula when the fighting stopped, and the “fiend Rosenfelt” had ignored pressures to keep the Soviets out of the administration of Germany and given them an occupation area east of the Oder. And the Holocaust? Well, nobody knows who gave the orders and in any event the event was probably greatly exaggerated: it’s a pity about all those records vanishing between July and the surrender in October of ’44: and even moreso that so many involved in the actual operations were summarily executed, but what could the Allies expect when the Wehrmacht saw what had been going on entirely without their knowledge all that time?
Germans felt they had not been beaten fairly. And they were being held guilty for crimes which the “Hitler dictatorship” was guilty, not them. Germany was being held down, suffocated.
There were of course plenty of liberal Germans desirous of making a fresh start and moving to genuine democracy, who strongly opposed such misguided whining. But a taint of poison was there from the beginning, and as the decades went on and those who truly remembered what the Third Reich had been died off, it grew. The Fatherland party called for a nation like any other, a nation not unfairly burdened by guilt for what had happened long ago.
In 2009, in a stormy referendum, Austria narrowly voted against joining Germany. There were immediate howls of vote tampering and pressures brought to bear by the Soviets, who had grumbled about the “distinct dangers” posed by German expansionism. Many nations gave a sigh of relief, but others wondered that the vote had been close as it was. The European project, never as sturdy as OTL, seemed to be fraying at the seams even as the European economic region expanded to take in the nations emerging from the Soviet shadow. Germany had begun to challenge France for leadership as early as the 70s: the UK had remained an “associated” rather than full member of the European economic zone.
Some predict a split between French and German Europe: some suggest Germany will simply get booted out of Europe altogether. Germany, like OTL France, feels that they are more than just a piece in the European puzzle. They have paid their dues and have no reason to hide their light under a bushel. Germany has a sizeable space industry combined with a nuclear industry which, nervous foreigners point out, would allow it to have nuclear ICBM capacities within months. Germans are always huffy when this is pointed out, and deny any such intentions (although they often then spoil it by asking why they should not have atomic weapons when such a crapsack nation as Korea has them?)
The Fatherland Party, although right-wing, cannot be exactly called fascist: it is rationalist and technocratic as well as furiously nationalistic, and is pretty racially tolerant. Aside from big subsidies for childcare and extra children and tax breaks for marrying and having kids , the Party’s “program for 100 million Germans” includes a policy of completely open immigration and easy naturalization for people of European ancestry, even Poles or Greeks, and is energetic in seeking out friendly relations and economic ties with other right-wing, nationalistic people’s abroad: if Germany cannot make itself the leader of Europe, it may still provide leadership abroad.
Indeed, some have spoken of an emerging “German-Chinese axis”: relations between Germany and China were cordial even back in the days of Hitler, and China, recently reunified, booming economically after recovering from a reunion-induced recession, is looking for allies and high-tech business partners other than the Japanese or the US (there have been some nasty trade disputes of late, and the Chinese are a little sick and tired of the US’s “little asian buddy” attitude towards their allies). And there are those in China and Germany with even larger ambitions: those who wish to challenge the very US-dominated international scene that has existed since the Soviets turned inward in the late 90s. China and Germany are hardly short of potential allies: Muslims, Latin Americans, and Africans, especially those who have felt the heavy hand of the US, either through military intervention or through the work of ruthless and unseen “agents of democracy…”
The shadow of the Basterds is a long one.
 The Chinese took a couple more decades to get the kinks, so to speak, out of their army.
 More war damage to Japan, and the Korean and Vietnamese wars were a big economic boost for Japan OTL.
 Or the "bachelor and spinster tax" as Germans mockingly call it.
Now here's a cold-war era map...