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The Counter-Factual History Thread


Monte Carlo

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Here is what I posted on the "Ask Ender" thread:

 

Had Erwin Rommel decided not to visit his wife for her Birthday on June 6th, 1944 and correctly concluded that the Allies would land at Normandy and not the Pas de Calais, would the events of June 1944 to April 1945 have been significantly different? These are the only two variables, though. Rommel will still be implicated in the plot against Hitler and he will be wounded by allied strafing.

 

Counter-factual history is one of my favourite time-wasting activities. It's fun because you can't really lose, although there are a few basic rules. For example, you can't really invent wacky variables to "escape" the original question or issue.

 

So, in the above example, you can't say "Well, on June 7th Hitler choked to death on a sandwich and the German High Command sued for peace, so there was an Armistice in October 1944." However, you could ask, as a totally separate question, Hitler choked to death on a sandwich on 7th June 1944. What happened next?

 

Of late, I've been wondering about these:

 

1. What would have happened if Martin Luther had recanted, as requested, by Rome?

 

2. The Germans persuade the Mexicans to open a second front against the US in 1943. Discuss.

 

3. Eisenhower agrees with Churchill that the Allies should take Berlin before Stalin, in order to prevent the dictator carving up huge swathes of central Europe. Would World War 3 have been inevitable?

 

You don't have to discuss these, they are only there to give a taste of the sort of stuff I mean. You could ponder questions on any aspect of history; social, cultural, religious, even sport.

 

Cheers

MC

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What if Julius Caesar had not gone to the Senate on March 15th?

 

The assassination of Caesar paved the way for the monarchy to rule in place of the republic, and brought in some very notable and colourful historical figures. The Roman empire underwent the greatest expansion and development under it's emperors. Would Rome have ultimately developed similarly as a republic? Would Julius not being assinated merely set back the move to a monarchy?

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Well,

 

(A) They could have conceivably re-scheduled the assassination, "et tu tomorrow at eight, Brutus?"

 

(B) Rome could have steered a more conservative course, and the Fall might not have happened as dramaitcally as it did...meaning that early Christianity might never have caught on (discuss!) and gone the way of any other cult/ fringe religion of the time.

 

© A less spectacular but steady development might have seen Rome go the way of the Byzantine Empire...i.e. a slow but inexorable decline leaving behind the seeds of all sorts of ethnic and religious discontent that might have re-defined utterly the way we view Europe today.

 

(D) Ceasar's Rome might have acted as a booster for a super-civilization that survived well into the Renaissance, leading to the development of technologies hundreds of years before they were actually developed (I once read a counter-factual argument that specualted Romans landing on the Moon in the 1700s).

 

Cheers

MC

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Well, if Martin Luther had recanted:

 

My guess is that instead of the major fighting and battles being between the Catholics and Prodestants in Europe, the major battles would be between the Scientists and the Catholics.

 

If the Prodestants never showed up to battle and show another way into heaven then just the Catholic way, the Enlightenment would have never taken off as it did, because the Church would be to powerful to be contested to such a scale. The scientists would be forced to flee to some powerful ruler who diobeyed the Church, and this really powerful leader that stood up against the Church backed by science would fight against the Church. I'm not even going to get into how the countries could have turned out: can't think on short notice with so many variables!!!

 

My alternate history question is: If during his conquest, Alexander spent more time in India and therefore never died during his conquest, how would the world be different? (Got this idea from A Gun For Aristole by deCamp, if anyone's interested)

"I'm waiting for someone to say something really stupid, and then I can quote them." -Anonymous

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1) Kara Mustafa does not wait for Vienna to surrender, in order to keep all the spoils, and instead assaults Vienna and takes the favourable position before the poles can even mobilize.

 

2) If Hitler does not declare war on Russia, or the United States, and no longer treats Italy as a soveriegn entity.

 

3) If the United States never reckognized the Zionist State formed in Palestine.

 

4) If only the Persian, (or was it the arab, not important) Caliph left that little mongol caravan be on its way.

 

5) If the Byzantines never asked the pope for help against the turks.

 

6) If Richard did not sodomize Phillip.

 

7) If the Spaniards never expelled the Jews.

 

:p If Hannibal never took Scipeos Africanus bait and instead sacked Rome.

 

9) If Constantine picks another cult.

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Hah, I like thinking of counter-factual history, though I'm not sure I could write anything coherrent about it.

 

How about:

 

What if Gavrilo Princip failed to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo?

 

What if the USSR did not assault Afghanistan?

 

What if Abraham Lincoln had not published the Emancipation Proclamation?

There are no doors in Jefferson that are "special game locked" doors. There are no characters in that game that you can kill that will result in the game ending prematurely.

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What if Gavrilo Princip failed to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo?

 

This is a favourite of counter-factualists, for obvious reasons. I think the broad consensus is that WW1 was inevitable for a variety of reasons and the spark would have occurred elsewhere. Of course, my history professor always argued that the Autumn of 1914 was a crucial factor because of the factor of mobilization of armies during the period....i.e. in January none of the protagonists could have possibly deployed, and the Germans couldn't have embarked upon the Von Schlieffen Plan. This would have given the great powers some time for negotiation. So, technically, perhaps WW1 would never have happened and therefore the reparations issue that boosted the NSDAP and Hitler wouldn't have happened either......hmmmm.

 

Yet German imperial ambition was insatiable at that time. The s*** was going to hit the proverbial fan and Princip merely lit a cigarette in a foreworks factory waiting to go off. Or not.

 

What if the USSR did not assault Afghanistan?

 

This is a good one I've not encountered before. Well, there are several interesting "what ifs" here, aren't there?

 

* Does the hardline Soviet regime under Andropov stagger on for another decade or three, head-butting the hawkish Reagan/ Thatcher agenda? :: BOOM ::

 

* Had the disparate strands of radical Islam not mobilized under the banner of the anti-Soviet jihad would there have been an al-qu'ada? Would Osama be building motorways in the UAE instead?

 

* Most crucially, Rambo 3 would have never been made.

 

What if Abraham Lincoln had not published the Emancipation Proclamation?

 

Well, American history isn't quite my bag and I'm sure some of our colonial friends here might have more to say on the subject. Would it have meant that the Civil War as the defining moment in US history might've instead become an intractable issue that meant a permanently divided continent, with the South going it's own way? If so, our history would be utterly different, with no significant power to intervene and stop Europe tearing itself to pieces for the first fifty years of the twentieth century....

 

[T]hough I'm not sure I could write anything coherrent about it.

 

I'm sure you could.

 

Cheers

MC

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Yet German imperial ambition was insatiable at that time. The s*** was going to hit the proverbial fan and Princip merely lit a cigarette in a foreworks factory waiting to go off. Or not.

I think it was the Russian ambition that started the war. The assination led to the Third Balkan wars, however, it was the mobilization of the Russian miliatary and alliance with France that led to the First World war. So why did Russian ambition start th war if Germany was the first to act, because they were so friggin paranoid that Russia at some point was going to invade the eastern portions of the German Empire, that they thought it would be better to attack now then later. Yeah, and Germany was pretty ambitious, but no more so then the other imperial powers. Like those that started the Boer War. ;)

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I am wondering how the world would be different if Hitler developed the Atomic Bomb and rocket technology before the US and was fully willing to use them against his enemies.

The V2 would have had nukes in it and Brittain would have issued an unconditional surrender.

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He'd have nuked everything East of the Urals, sued for peace with the US and settled down to many years of quasi-Cold War with the Americans, basically replacing Stalin.

 

Hitler's War Aims were pretty clear; define Germany as the crucible of a radical new European power with a "racially appropriate" population, create living room in the East for the growing Aryan race, create amicable terms with the British Empire and destroy world Jewry. Atomic weapons would have allowed him to do all of this and more. Of course, he also believed (as did Trotsky) that War was a constant dynamic for a revolutionary regim so before long he'd have kicked it off again with the US and/or China. Now that is interesting, imagining a world where China and the US were close allies in a world war....

 

Cheers

MC

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Yeah, and Germany was pretty ambitious, but no more so then the other imperial powers.  Like those that started the Boer War.

 

Ah. Americans. Your perspective on Empire is so....cute. Especially as you're the biggest friggin' Empire-saurus since Rome. You just don't care to admit it. I recommend Niall Ferguson's Colossus as a tremendous read on the subject.

 

By 1914 the European powers had more or less carved up the readily available world. The Germans were left with, er, Angola. And a few other bits that really didn't chime with Germany's power as a European super-state in waiting. Look at the Belgians. A tiny country with the military power of my little sister dominating the whole bloody Congo! Ditto Holland.

 

So it wasn't an issue of nasty, evil Imperialists. It was simply an issue of the Kaiser wanting toys commensurate with the size of his pram.

 

As for the Boer War. Hmmmm. A war between (A) a colonial power and (B) settlers from another colonial power. If you'd pitched the Zulu wars instead I'd have given you a C+.

 

Cheers

MC

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Yes, German Drang Nach

There are no doors in Jefferson that are "special game locked" doors. There are no characters in that game that you can kill that will result in the game ending prematurely.

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Ah. Americans. Your perspective on Empire is so....cute. Especially as you're the biggest friggin' Empire-saurus since Rome. You just don't care to admit it. I recommend Niall Ferguson's Colossus as a tremendous read on the subject.

Would you believe me if I said you were 100% right?

 

As for the Boer War. Hmmmm. A war between (A) a colonial power and (B) settlers from another colonial power. If you'd pitched the Zulu wars instead I'd have given you a C+.

 

Its hard to know what would be more obscure to a more educated person. ;)

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Yes, but I simply cannot see it happening at Russia's initiative. There was simply too much turmoil in Russia for it to go out and attack Germany without Germany attacking first.

 

Russia was rich (as a country) and huge. Russia didn't need more land as desparately as Germany did.

There are no doors in Jefferson that are "special game locked" doors. There are no characters in that game that you can kill that will result in the game ending prematurely.

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Yes, but I simply cannot see it happening at Russia's initiative. There was simply too much turmoil in Russia for it to go out and attack Germany without Germany attacking first.

 

Russia was rich (as a country) and huge. Russia didn't need more land as desparately as Germany did.

This maybe the case. However, it was Russia's mobilization, which set WW1 wheels in motion. Aside from the 3rd Balkan wars that is.

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I don't know what you consider to be the 3rd Balkans war, as we do not mention such a thing in our history books.

There are no doors in Jefferson that are "special game locked" doors. There are no characters in that game that you can kill that will result in the game ending prematurely.

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The mobilization issue is very important.

 

I think we find it difficult to imagine a world where policy-makers make decisions based on telegrams and hand-delivered letters. Making important strategic decisions must have been like steering a big heavy boat....look at a point in the distance then start turning the wheel a while before and hope you're pretty much on target.

 

So the domino-effect of mobilizing armies (Germans look at the Russians who look at the Germans) explains a lot. However, the Tsars in 1914 were in no shape to fight a coherent war of European domination; it was a virtually medieval country with a Victorian monarchy bolted on top of it. It seems that they mobilized out of (A) hubris and (B) the fear that the Germans were mobilizing.

 

So August is important. In January, for example, the bulk of the Russian army would have been sewn into its clothes for the winter, shivering in its villages. In August it was up and about ready to manage the harvest. Had Princip decided to do the deed at Christmas there would have been little realistic thought of mobilization until Spring, and by then diplomacy may have bought the necessary amount of time.

 

My contention is that the Kaiser would then have despatched his agents to seek new causes of discontent to justify his expansionist tendencies, delaying WW1 by six months.

 

Cheers

MC

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Had Princip decided to do the deed at Christmas there would have been little realistic thought of mobilization until Spring, and by then diplomacy may have bought the necessary amount of time.

Doubtful, really. The war was declared after Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to Serbia, demanding the right for their investigators to enter our soil and uncover the people controlling Young Bosnia (the organization Princip was a member of). This ultimatum was impossible to comply with because 1) we saw this as an act against our sovereignty (which it was, considering that Austria had open territorial desires in the Balkans) and 2) because Apis, leader of the Black Hand (which was behind Young Bosnia), controlled much of the government, including our king at the time (it was Apis who brought Peter I to power after Black Hand's orchestrated assassination of our previous king in 1904).

 

So, I don't think diplomacy could have solved anything. Austria was bent on war (so were Germany and Russia, certainly), and a cause would have been found.

 

Now, some theories say that Apis and the Black Hand were funded by both Russians and the British (or one or the other). While it seems plausible that Russia wanted the war and thus ordered the assassination, it is also likely that Britain wanted to make it appear as if the Russians provoked the war, what with a certain conflict between Britain and Russia that happened a few years prior...

There are no doors in Jefferson that are "special game locked" doors. There are no characters in that game that you can kill that will result in the game ending prematurely.

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It is true that I haven't heard of a 3rd Balkan War either. My country fought in the 2 Balkan Wars, if there was a third I believe I would have known :lol:

You might be referring to the Bulgaria+Turkey vs Greece+Serbia as a balkan war, but I usually add that conflict to WWI in general.

 

And a question that I often like to ask myself is: what would have happened had the Greeks a) launched that campaign to capture Constantinople in 1922, ignoring the threats of the English/French, and b ) defeated Mustafa Kemal's movement in the Asia Minor Campaign of 1918-1922, forcing him to accept the conditions of the Treaty of Serves...

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Doubtful, really. The war was declared after Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to Serbia, demanding the right for their investigators to enter our soil and uncover the people controlling Young Bosnia (the organization Princip was a member of). This ultimatum was impossible to comply with because 1) we saw this as an act against our sovereignty (which it was, considering that Austria had open territorial desires in the Balkans) and 2) because Apis, leader of the Black Hand (which was behind Young Bosnia), controlled much of the government, including our king at the time (it was Apis who brought Peter I to power after Black Hand's orchestrated assassination of our previous king in 1904).

Agreed, the ultimatum was uncompliable because Austrians had the guarantee of the Germans that they were locked. As MC points out this puts the cards in Russias hand, do they balk, or do they fight. Again the Russians were not ready then, but the Germans felt that they would be ready soon and better hit now then later. So what started as the third balkan wars turned into WW1 when Russia mobilized.

 

IMO, WW1 would have happened no matter what. The Brittish did everything they could to divert the war, but it would not happen. Furthermore, while Germany was building a Navy to contend with the Brittish fleet, had they known that the Brittish were to unconditionally join the entente, then that would have delayed things.

 

@MC, as far as the medieval land with the monarchy, the ottomans were worse... But I guess thats not either here nor there.

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It is true that I haven't heard of a 3rd Balkan War either. My country fought in the 2 Balkan Wars, if there was a third I believe I would have known :)

You might be referring to the Bulgaria+Turkey vs Greece+Serbia as a balkan war, but I usually add that conflict to WWI in generall.

This is an alternate history thread. If the conflict started by the assination does not escalate into a full world war, it would have just been the 3rd balkan wars. Many historians suggest that WW1 started as the third balkan wars.

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Well if Caesar hadn't died there probably would have been another proscription alla Sulla or some sort of bloodletting to get rid of his opponents, but the big thing would be that Rome would have been helenized as opposed to following the reactionay classicising course of Augustus. Perhpas, because of the lack of another major civil war there would have been less toadying, since as many historians assert, all those of bold nature were killed off leaving only the obsequious. As for long term ramifications, who knows?

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