Two Wars At The Same Time:
A bit of an ASB scenario requested by CJManson involving the Winter War of 1939 leading to war between the Allies and the Comintern. A lot of the decisions behind this scenario were to add flavour. In this world the relationships between the Soviets and the former Entente is even worse than OTL. This doesn't stop the Nazi's rise to power in Germany and the policy of Appeasement is still employed until it backfires, providing Nazi Germany with more resources and power like OTL.
World War Two began in much the same way as OTL, the Nazis and Soviets still divided Eastern Europe in the initial stage of the war thanks to the Nazi-Soviet Pact but things changed from there. The British were able to arrive in Norway early and even secured it successfully. This shook the confidence of the German army just enough for their Blitzkrieg's to fail. France was still conquered but it was a slower and more hard won conquest that left Germany exhausted and the Western Allies far more confident. Things would reach a stalemate in Europe, resources were low for the Germans but their borders were too heavily fortified for the British to assault them, besides Japan was becoming a higher priority. However the Nazi economy was already beginning to flounder again and the chances of invading Russia were disappearing. This led to Hitler refusing to assist in an Italian attack on British colonies in North Africa.
With more troops to spare, a slower conquest of France and a greater fear/contempt towards the USSR the British and, officially the other Western Allies, declared war on the USSR as well when the Soviets invaded Finland. They sent troops to reinforce Finland and secure Scandinavia which would be saved from the Axis shortly after the opening of the Finland theatre of the war. Granted the actual war with the USSR was a lot more difficult, the only active theatres with the USSR were in Scandinavia and, later on, the Middle East.
The Second World War was savage and multi-directional. The USSR spent most of it building up their war machine whilst the Nazis floundered in Europe. The British eventually abandoned the Western Front in favour of focusing on the Japanese and Soviet threats, making an uneasy peace with the Axis. Finland was overrun by the Soviets before becoming bogged down in Sweden and Norway. In the Pacific the Japanese and British navies engaged one another before the Japanese overstretched themselves. An invasion of India took place and a poorly planned landing happened in Northern Australia. All this did was boost Japanese overconfidence. Things finally changed in 1942 when the Japanese attacked the Philippines, drawing the USA into the war on the side of the Allies. Then the Nazis finally began their invasion of the USSR, delayed but just as devastating, even with the years of Soviet build up.
The three way world war was a confusing mess but soon enough the theatres of war solidified. The Nazis success against the USSR turned around earlier than OTL and with greater casualties for the Axis. However the Soviet retaliation into Nazi occupied Eastern Europe was also difficult, the Nazis had built up a lot of fortifications and the European theatre became a quagmire of trench and siege warfare. However the Soviets had numbers that the Nazis didn't. In retaliation the Nazis turned the fluid border between the Axis and the Soviets into a wasteland poisoned by chemical and biological weapons. The USSR continued to fight on, gas masked and biohazard suit wearing soldiers trudged over the toxic ruins of the battlefields of Eastern Europe but progress had slowed exponentially and the casualty rate had risen immensely.
In the Middle East the USSR had more luck but the attempts to attack India through Afghanistan didn't go so well. The Japanese invasion of India also turned nasty as the British and local Indian forces forced their way back into Bengal and Burma. The British navy made incursions into Indonesia and Malaysia, supported by local resistance whilst battling fierce Japanese defences. At the same time the Americans were encroaching on the Home Islands and the Chinese were rising up in areas under Japanese occupation. The pacific Theatre was closed in 1945 with an invasion of the Home Islands that finally led to the Emperor overruling the army and surrendering to the Allies.
Finally in 1946 the British and Americans successfully demonstrated their atomic bomb. The weapon had been successfully developed and tested the year before but not used in favour of conventional warfare in the Pacific theatre. However the Middle Eastern Theatre became the site of its first public use, namely against the USSR. The exhausted Western Allies demanded an end to the war which the USSR reluctantly and begrudgingly accepted so that they could focus on the Axis in Europe. The Allies demonstration had proved to the Nazis that nuclear weapons were not only feasible but practical as well. So with time bought by their defence system and copious use of chemical weapons they finally bought enough time to finally develop their own crude atom bomb. They were only able to build a few but supplemented them with the toxins from their experimental reactors which were dropped from conventional bombers over battlefields and a few cities. A ceasefire was called that finally put an end to the Second World War in 1947.
New borders were eventually solidified, especially after the USSR got their hands on design plans for nuclear weapons and successfully tested their own in 1948. A tri-polar developed as the three power blocs worked to spread their influence and undermine their rivals. Nuclear weapons made direct conventional war too dangerous to consider so proxy violence and political demonstration became the tactics of modern war. The Soviets sent agents into the Third World, the Allies propped up the Kuomintang and the British Commonwealth and the Axis spread their own tendrils into French Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
The United States is the ruling great power though they are not an unrivalled hyperpower in this world. After the end of the Second World War and the consolidation of the Cold War factions the US reformed the remnants of the Western Allies into a new power bloc, funding the recovery and development of their new allies in order to boost their economic and political strength. There was their period of extreme paranoia in the early days, especially as nations fell into the camps of the Axis and the Comintern.
The United States is a far more militant and conservative nation than OTL. The 2nd Russian Civil War caused a few cities to be hit by Soviet missiles in a last ditch attempt to annihilate civilization as they were on the verge of defeat. This in turn led to a fairly nasty reaction in American politics that thankfully failed to bring about the moralistic state that they wanted and eventually died down. The Civil Rights Movement still took place thanks to the efforts of African Americans in the army, the examples set by multi-racial cooperation in the Commonwealth and the desire not to look like the racist states that make up the Axis. There are still issues concerning racial relations, especially around employment opportunities but segregation is now over and the status of blacks and other races in America is now at the same status as OTL.
American culture is rather different. The fact that WWII ended in a rather strange and tense stalemate has tempered the crusader ideas that had begun to emerge. However the undeniable victory in the Pacific has given the USA a clear cultural and social confidence that still exists to this day. There were no counter-culture like OTL and society on the whole remained much more conservative throughout the 20th Century but there have still been some breaks from traditionalism by certain generations though not to the same degree as OTL. Women's Rights and feminism never really emerged as they did in OTL but there was a fight against sexism. Woman can seek employment and higher education but they're not often encouraged to and are still expected to marry and have children. Homosexuals however are still discriminated against, though not criminalised, and receive rather harsh treatment by whatever communities they live in should they ever be discovered.
The Commonwealth is clearly second fiddle within the United Nations but is a far stronger and more united entity than OTL. They floundered through the early years, even with American help and funding, until India imploded which removed the subcontinent's cultural and economic pressure. The Commonwealth is somewhere between an economic bloc and an actual federal superstate with a very complex internal makeup and various stages of political autonomy. The British, in an effort to alleviate the problems with communist and soviet attempts at subversion began the process of integrating the local populations of their colonies, often trying to Anglicize them whilst doing so. They have had a remarkable amount of success in most areas though Africa is still much more backward than the white and Asian dominions. The United Kingdom is officially the symbolic head of the Commonwealth with the monarchy as the head of state. There is a system of parliaments that handle the affairs and organisation of the Commonwealth in a tier system of control and responsibility.
China is the third most powerful member of the United Nations and a black sheep amongst the great powers in the UN. The Nationalist government is very authoritarian and has a history of militancy, censorship and heavy handed government control. This has been excused largely due to their borders with Communist China and the USSR but even then they receive extensive criticism. Japan and South Asia have also received extensive support for their own industrialisation and without Communist China bordering them to give active support the communist groups in South Eats Asia were eventually crushed.
The Soviet Union is dead and died in fire. The Second World War ended inconclusively for them, they had suffered terrible losses for very little gain and they did not have as much loot from war to help rebuild their ruined lands. What's more the territories they had won were just as ravaged by war. They had also been the ones to be invaded by both the Allies and the Axis and still they had not defeated them. The economic downturn didn't help matters and finally in the 70s a famine started a revolution that saw the Politburo overthrown and replaced by a military junta. Eventually the leader of the junta, a competent but highly religious and repressive military leader declared himself Tsar of All the Russias and rebuilt the USSR in the image he desired. This in turn caused a slight economic stimulus that he capitalised for his own benefit in ingratiating the people.
The Russian Empire is a clerical fascist state with an oligarchic government and a near absolute monarchy. Most of the trappings of the old Soviet surveillance and police state have been appropriated and reworked to serve the imperial government after the organizations that ran them were ideologically purged first. Despite being fascist the Russians and their remaining puppets do not support the Axis and see nationalist fascism to be just as distasteful to their religious brand of authoritarianism as capitalist democracy. A far more capitalist economy which is rather ruthless has helped reinvigorate the Russian economy. However working conditions are horrendous for most industries and they still focus on primary industries. Race is no object to the government but religion is. The Greek Orthodox Church is supported and endorsed by the religious government, other forms of Christianity are tolerated though under copious observation by the secret police. However Muslims and Jews are legally discriminated against and subject to heavier taxes, general abuse and government conversion missions.
The Comintern has mostly collapsed but there are a few socialist states leftover from the USSR' heyday that still carry their old torch. Communist China survives in isolation having built up its military complex in preparation for whatever war of annihilation they believe will one day come their way. Socialist India on the other hand is an industrial nightmare with huge industrial cities and complexes dumping tonnes of toxins and other pollutants across their country. Other communist states still exist as well but many of them have either fallen to some form of fascism or devolved into a form of despotic failed state.
Third and weakest of the great powers/blocs is the Axis. Nazi Germany and their allies have changed since the end of WWII. Hitler made it to 1949 before succumbing to his own debilitating dementia which caused a short civil war in the Third Reich that managed to end before Germany's weak nuclear arsenal was employed. Today the Third Reih is a fascist oligarchy with power divided between the party and the army. Nazi pseudo-science has been abandoned in favour of more practical stuff though there is still a distrust of most scientific fields. Biology has suffered from the continuation of their eugenics program which was not abandoned until the 80s. The birthrate has been falling in recent decades and the female population are no longer willing to live as they did in the heydays of the Nazi regime. Instead there are now numerous protests calling for the end of numerous traditional laws and greater liberties for the German population at large.
Germany proper long ago ended the extermination of unwanted ethnicities and has instead turned to deporting the completely unacceptable ones and culturally assimilating the more acceptable ones. Standards of living in the Axis are fairly low and fall behind the UN with every year. This has led to several German officials allowing the pass of certain reforms that lower the restrictions on the economy and promote some of the less controversial fields of education. The secret police and the surveillance state have been geared back to what the government agree is the bare minimum of coverage.
Most of the Axis are no longer properly fascist but instead belligerent and nationalist democracies. In many they have multiple party democracy even if all of the accepted parties are some variant of right wing. All Axis states still discriminate against some form of minority if they have them but it rarely goes beyond OTL 60s American segregation.
Overall technology is at the same levels as OTL but far less available to the public. Computer technology is just as efficient but not as compact and not as available. There is also no internet equivalent though there are several regional information networks, many of which are compatible and interactive with the networks of their allies. The intelligent and adventurous will also often hack into the networks of other nations. All of these systems are subject to monitoring and censorship of course. Certain medical fields such as transplants are actually more advanced thanks to the efforts of the Axis and the Comintern/Russian Empire due to having less issues concerning donors and volunteers.
Culturally this world is on the whole more conservative. Despite efforts at integration the UN states have mostly spent time trying to westernise the states in their spheres of influence through cultural assimilation. Music and other forms of media are less sensationalist and more prone to censorship. The lack of internet has made cultural fads far more limited though there have been growing trends of adopting or adapting foreign trends and fashions as well as entertainment. In the Axis the traditionalism that the bloc ran on is beginning to be abandoned by a youth that, whilst still rather conservative, are not as prone to supporting the repressive standards of their parents. The world overall is more religious and the atheist movement is still rather small. The environmentalist movement is stronger thought hanks to the fascist fascination with wildlife and the environment which has deterred a few people from supporting it thanks to it's association with fascism. Still there has been an upswing in renewable energy projects due to lobbying from environmental groups and environmental reclamation and recycling programs are very widespread.
The space race was even more intense than OTL and was ultimately won by the UN through sheer scale even though it was the Russians who first landed, the cost of the space program also contributing to the economic collapse that caused the 2nd Civil War. The Nazis have been toying with the idea of a Moon base for decades now but the cost s still far too high to consider it anything but a joke or an impossible pipe-dream.