Kenneth Hite (princeofcairo) wrote,

[Alternate Mondays] Reilly's Second Reich

I don't have a lot of time today, so I figured I'd link to John J. Reilly's discussion of a victorious Germany in World War One:
Am I saying then that German defeat in the First World War made no difference? Hardly. If the war had not been lost, the establishment would have been much less discredited, and there would have been less room for the ignorant eccentrics who led the Nazi Party. Certainly people with no qualifications for higher command, such as Goering, would not have been put in charge of the Luftwaffe, nor would the Foreign Ministry have been given over to so empty-headed a man as Von Ribbentrop. As for the fate of Hitler himself, who can say?

The big difference would have been that Germany would been immensely stronger and more competent by the late 1930s than it was in the history we know. That another war would have been brewed by then we may be sure. Hitler was only secondarily interested in revenge for the First World War; his primary goal had always been geopolitical expansion into Eastern Europe and western Asia. This would have given Germany the Lebensraum to become a world power. His ideas on the subject were perfectly coherent, and not original with him: they were almost truisms. There is no reason to think that the heirs of a German victory in 1918 (or 1919, or 1920) would have been less likely to pursue these objectives.
I've done my share of Kaiserreichen, but I usually default to "crumbly old Hohenzollerns rapidly outpaced by events." If only as a refreshing changeup from my own gingerbread-junta imaginings, I like Reilly's notions that lebensraum, "Weimar kultur," masscult populism, and völkisch claptrap will still be features of the victorious Second Reich. Italy and Japan, after all, technically won WWI and both developed a very similar complex to Germany's, and France got the Popular Front instead of La Cagoule, but not by very much one way or the other.

Either way, Reilly's site has lots of other good things to read on it, too, many of them alt-historical. He even takes his own stab at reformulating Hite's Law. ("All alternate histories produce zeppelins.")1

1] "All Change Points, from Xerxes to the last presidential election, create worlds with clean, efficient Zeppelin traffic. Changing history may produce Zeppelins as an inevitable by-product, much as bombarding uranium produces gamma rays. Often, the quickest way to tell if you are in an Alternate History is to look up, rather than at a newspaper or encyclopedia. From this premise, it is not outside the realm of Plausibility that our history between 1900 and 1936 was, in fact, an Alternate History. It would, at least, explain a lot." - Kenneth Hite, "An Alternate-Historical Alphabet," January 14, 2000.
Tags: alternate history
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