As longtime readers know, we dabble in alternate history. Well, I do. Ken's a political science major who thinks history began in 1968. But it's all wanking, as much as the long title of this post.
Still, for those who delight in this sort of wanking as much as I, here's a nifty, if deeply flawed, "counterfactual" of the Second World War with an utterly implausible (yet plausible to Hitler) thesis:
Then, too, what if Poland had agreed in 1939 to join Germany in an invasion of the Soviet Union, as Hitler wanted? If Poland had allied with Germany rather than resisting, Britain and France would not have issued territorial guarantees to Poland, and would not have had their casus belli in September 1939. It is hard to imagine that Britain and France would have declared war on Germany and Poland in order to save the Soviet Union. If Poland’s armies had joined with Germany’s, the starting line for the invasion would have been farther east than it was in June 1941, and Japan might have joined in, which would have forced some of the Red Army divisions that defended Moscow to remain in the Far East. Moscow might have been attained. In this scenario, there is no Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, and thus no alienation of Japan from Germany. In that case, no Pearl Harbor, and no American involvement. What World War II becomes is a German-Polish-Japanese victory over the Soviet Union. That, by the way, was precisely the scenario that Stalin feared.
Implausible for three reasons: First, it assumes that the Poles would, or could, have caved in to the Nazis, becoming a giant Finland as Hitler wished. For those who appreciate such things, here's an old Polish joke that isn't derogatory to the noble people of Poland:
Q: A Polish soldier is confronted by a German soldier approaching from the west, and a Russian soldier approaching from the east. Which does he shoot first?
A: The German. Duty before pleasure.
Second, the larger work, which speaks of ways Hitler could have won the war, is flawed because it ignores its central character: Hitler. Hitler was no more capable of doing the "right" thing in war than he was of doing the "right" thing in politics. A Hitler who could have sat back and let the Prussian General Staff dictate the course of the war to him would never have propelled the National Socialists to power in the first place, nor held power for six years before war, nor have scared the Russians so badly they'd made a deal to give Hitler a free hand, and cheap oil and minerals, while he dealt with France.
Third, the larger work ignores the singular character of Churchill, in his way as odd a man, and every bit as exceptional, as Hitler:
If we agree with Roberts, as we should, that Churchill personally helped lengthen the war by keeping Britain from seeking peace terms after the fall of France, then we are also implicitly saying that, absent Churchill, peace might have been made. The war-winning alliance of the United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union was sealed only in December 1941, and could not have been achieved had Britain left the war.
"Absent Churchill" is a tall order, in that the man was on the scene. Removing Churchill takes us from the realm of alternate history into "what if Stonewall Jackson had survived Chancellorsville?" territory: not alternate history, but The Man In The High Castle, or Doctor Who prevents the creation of the Daleks level science fiction.
Still, for those who care, this is some fantastic semi-science fictional wanking.
Via Angus, who in an alternate reality co-blogs with the Governor of North Carolina.
(Hey, I voted for his co-blogger, even if no one else did.)
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