Ten Ways You Know Your Evil Empire Is Doomed

Ten Ways You Know Your Evil Empire Is Doomed


“I’m in deep doo-doo.”

I just finished reading Antony Beevor’s Berlin: The Downfall 1945 as part of my research for my Volkssturm novel. For sweep, excitement, and fine attention to telling detail, it rivals Lords of the Atlas as my favorite history book.

One of the things that had me shaking my head all the way through Beevor’s book is just how great the level of denial was on all levels of German society, especially at the top. With the Russians rolling across the border and most German cities already in ruins, the Nazi high command was still obsessed with petty power struggles and dinner parties. The common people had a bit more of a clue, but still clung to a desperate hope that somehow everything would turn out OK. In the interest of history not repeating itself, here are ten signs that your evil empire is about to collapse. This may come in handy some day.


Go home, kids. You’re too young to be on the wrong side of history.

  1. The most common order you get from High Command is “Fight to the last man and the last bullet.”
  2. The main topics of conversation among the High Command, besides petty bickering, are escape routes and methods of suicide.
  3. Your frontline commanders send a special order to the quartermaster department for more candy, because many of the new recruits are too young for the tobacco ration.
  4. Your factories start making a smaller-sized helmet to fit all the children you’re sending to the front. Even with the small size, many of them have to stuff the helmets with newspaper to keep them from slipping over their eyes.
  5. It only takes a day to walk from the western front to the eastern front.
  6. A popular joke is, “Optimists are learning English, pessimists are learning Russian.”
  7. Your industrial base is so destroyed that you start making hand grenades out of concrete.
  8. The most popular item for sale in pharmacies are cyanide pills. . .
  9. . . .but you don’t have to go the pharmacy to get them because your national youth organization is handing them out at concerts.
  10. Your military’s last offensive is to break out of encirclement by the Russians in order to surrender to the Americans.



The skull and crossbones your elite troops wear is a hint that you aren’t the good guys.


Nazi prisoners march to rear as Americans move forward. Private Frank Kolly (center), military policman of the Third U.S. Army's Fourth Armored Division, leads a group of Nazi prisoners to the rear as an American half-track rolls forward towards Bastegno, Belgium. Lieutenant General George S. Patton's men stabbed north from the Saar front to relieve on December 27, 1944, the U.S. forces which held out at Bastegno for nine days against all German attacks. By December 31, the German counter-thrust into Luxembourg and Belgium had cost the enemy more than 15,000 men taken prisoner by U.S. forces. U.S. Signal Corps Photo ETO-HQ-44-31309. Serviced by London OWI to list B-1 certified as passed by shaef censor

“Well, at least we got to surrender to the Americans.”


Photos courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Sean McLachlan is the author of the historical fantasy novel A Fine Likeness, set in Civil War Missouri, and several other titles. Find out more about him on his blog and Amazon author’s page. His latest book, The Case of the Purloined Pyramid, is a neo-pulp detective novel set in Cairo in 1919. It just won the Kindle Scout program and will be published late in 2017.

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Martin Christopher

“But why skulls?!” 🙂


In 1992, a guy called Helmut made the curtains for my new home and told me the following story. He was 62 at the time, but old enough to be one of the kids who were pressed into action near the end of the war.

Helmut says he was given an anti-tank weapon and stationed in some shrubbery to take out any American tanks that came his way. At length, there was an ominous rumble and a tank came into view over a rise. As he prepared to fire on the enemy, a second tank followed … and then two more.

At this point, he threw aside his weapon and bolted!

Scenes like that must have played out many times in early 1945.

John ONeill

In 1997, we bought a house in St. Charles from Harry Kinschek, who’d come to the US as a German POW at the end of the war.

Harry was a teen when he was pressed into service at the very end of the war. He said his entire, short period of service in the Wehrmacht was filled with terror, and “the happiest day of my life was when I surrendered to American soldiers.”

Interesting guy. He had some stories.

Aonghus Fallon

‘I’ve got loads of great ideas for Germany!’ 🙂


The Death Head pre dates the era alluded to. There are also different style death heads. Just like the sowilo rune (meaning victory) pre dates it’s current connotations.

John ONeill

> The Death Head pre dates the era alluded to.

I would assume so. That didn’t mean it didn’t become a symbol of terror and oppression around the world during the Nazi era.

Martin Christopher

Supposedly the symbol originally meant fighting to the death with no surrender. Which actually fits.

Whatever a skull means to you, it certainly is a statement.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x