From time to time I like to purpose a historical what if…..an alternative history if you like…..
This time it is what if the Germans had won World War One?
People who see a divine hand or the iron laws of dialectical materialism at work in human affairs bridle at the question: “What if things had turned out differently?” To EH Carr, historian of Soviet Russia, to speak of what might have happened in history, as opposed to what did happen, was just a “parlour game”. To EP Thompson, author of The Making of the English Working Class, such counterfactual speculation was “unhistorical shit”.
Other historians have confessed to being more intrigued. “The historian must constantly put himself at a point in the past at which the known factors will seem to permit different outcomes,” wrote Johan Huizinga. It is important to recognise that, at any moment in history, there are real alternatives, argued Hugh Trevor-Roper.
For us historians and history geeks these types of games help the mental process……