I’ve got a few issues with how the worldbuilding of this is set up. Keep in mind, I’m not saying you should change anything- it’s your story, after all- and while some elements may be unrealistic, that doesn’t mean they don’t make a good story.
That being said, however, I am going to list several issues I have with how you’ve constructed this.
A: Starting out with the most obvious issue here: Das Volksreich Nordamerikas. Firstly: Why would their name be German in the first place? Yes, Minnesota and plenty of other places do have some German heritage, but you have to keep in mind that most German immigrants came to the area around 1870 or so. Currently, it’d be more probable for any post-apocalyptic Minnesotan state to be named in Somali instead of German. Of course, the chance is still downright negligible either way.
Second, Nazism making a comeback is laughable. Yes, they do make good villains, but it’s just so preposterous that a dead ideology from what is, in-universe, a century ago, would actually be popular enough to form any basis for a functioning state. That, and if a Nazi regime wanted to actually function in a post-apocalyptic environment, the legitimately “Nazi” aspects would have to be more or less window dressing; with population so low, racism and culls would be quite potentially one of the most suicidal things possible. Plus, the Nazi economic model would be non-functional in the apocalypse under any circumstances. This isn’t, of course, implying that it would be functional outside of the apocalypse.
B: The Midwest Federation also has a lot of issues. From what you’ve said about it, it sounds as if it’d be incredibly unstable and would have a barely functioning central government; considering how vast the territory it holds is, how decentralized the government is, and how horrible logistics and transportation in the apocalypse would be, it’s a surprise it hasn’t broken up already. In fact, it’s a surprise it even got together in the first place. From what you’ve written, it sounds like the one thing it doesn’t have a major deficit in is a military; being mostly made up of the remnants of the U.S army in the region. So, in review:
- Unstable and weak central government due to high degrees of local autonomy and decentralization, in addition to the general devastation brought on by the apocalypse
- Even more unstable due to fact that transportation and other logistics in the apocalypse on such a large scale would be nigh-impossible due to the incredibly low level of infrastructure; and, as such, the central government can’t even enforce the little power that it does have
- Professional, equipped, and well-trained military
- More or less self-sufficient towns and cities, some with basic levels of industrialization
The Midwestern Federation is basically just an apocalyptic Republic of China. It shares the same attributes; mostly agrarian population with several semi-industrialized cities, incredibly poor infrastructure, very large, weak central government, and a very strong military. And it’s no coincidence that the founding of the Republic of China also inaugurated the Warlord Era; and as to why, exactly, it’s called that- well…
But hey, I’m not against some interesting historical parallels. The issue is, however, these issues wouldn’t be isolated to just the Federation; any sufficiently large state within this post-apocalyptic world would soon suffer the same issues, assuming that the entire U.S army didn’t just decide to join the Midwestern Federation for some reason. The issue is, however, with the way you’ve written it, the Midwestern Federation is a (relatively) stable, functional state; this, obviously, is not the case. If the apocalypse started in 2019 or so, by now the Federation should plainly not exist; or, at the very least, not as such a massive empire. Maybe a tenth of the size. This criticism also extends to such states as the Republic of Lakota or the Volksreich, although in that case it’s a tad more excusable considering the low population density; but not by much really. A world such as this would be a lot more fragmented, and a lot more divided; most places would be around the size of Toledo and Cincinnati, and that would be on the good end of things. Large states around the size of Ohio Interim Republic would most likely be the upper end in terms of area, and they would be serious powerhouses of their respective region; if they have the strength and organizational capacity to maintain control over such a large swathe of territory given the current situation, they would be very powerful indeed. Of course, this would by no means be the permanent state of affairs; but if you’re going to set it only 10 years or so after the apocalypse, things are going to be rather fragmented.
Footnote: These republics better be republics in name only. Democracies are not very stable affairs, particularly when they are created out of the war-(or zombie) torn ashes of a former state. For evidence, look at interwar Europe.
C: Population density would most likely not be high enough for functional states. Zombie outbreaks and large cities would go hand-in-hand in an environment like this, which would stall or at the very least heavily delay an already languid economic recovery. If the entire U.S is sent back to virtually pre-industrial times, it’s going to take quite a bit of time for it to recover; even highly advanced countries such as Germany took around 7 years or so to fully recuperate after WWII, even with billions of dollars of aid pouring into their country every year. Plus, considering that the political situation would be chronically unstable, any legitimate economic recovery would take decades to develop; and a return to pre-apocalypse living standards would most likely take generations. As of such, the ability of states to produce meaningful amounts of arms and ammunition would be severely hampered, or even the ability of states to raise a decently sized army; given that their populace would be incredibly poor, taxes wouldn’t really work well either. In fact, modern state-craft becomes somewhat impossible in this state of things; you basically have a return to pre-industrial society. Feudalism would most likely become a necessity if one wanted to organize a functioning state.
Apocalypses suck, don’t they?
But, that aside, this is an overly pessimistic take on things. The final point usually has to be disregarded in post-apocalyptic fiction for the simple reason that, if they were taken realistically, there really isn’t much to write about. Apocalypses are apocalypses; they are, more or less, the end of the world.
Now, I am not saying that your worldbuilding must be changed. Hard realism does not automatically mean a story is interesting; but if you are attempting to make a story that is focused around a rather cerebral subject such as geopolitics, one must include some level of realistic storytelling.
But it is, and remains, your story; at the end of the day, it’s about what’s interesting to view, not about what exactly makes sense.