Monday, August 30, 2010
I am something of an alternative history buff. Alternative history features quite a lot in Sci Fi and I used to read a lot of Sci Fi once so maybe that is why.
It seems to me that there were two great turning points in the 20th century which would have left us with a very different world today if they had been decided differently.
The first is the distinctly odd decision of Britain to enter what became WWI in support of their old enemy: France. It led to a slaughter of Britain's young men to rival the American North/South War and what did it achieve? Had Britain stayed neutral, the outcome of the war would surely have been similar to the Franco Prussian war of the 1870s: A flag-waving German withdrawl with a few small bits of German-speaking France hacked off and returned to German rule -- and a resumption of Edwardinan calm by all.
OK. I know why Britain did not go down that road. They were rightly spooked by Tirpitz's Luxusflotte. And in the one big naval engagement of the war -- the battle of Jutland -- those fears were amply confirmed -- with admiral Scheer running rings around admiral Jellicoe.
The second big turning point was Hitler's decision to make himself Oberkommando des Heeres (army chief). If he had given that job to the man who most deserved it -- Von Manstein (the conqueror of France) -- Russia would have been conquered, no doubt about it (Von Manstein destroyed two Russian armies even AFTER the Stalingrad debacle). And what a different world that would have been! How different goes beyond even my alternative history imagination.