2018 is the 100 year anniversary of the end of World War One, the Great War……come November the celebration on Veterans Day….eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month…..
This war does not mean as much to Americans as it does to Europeans but the after effects were for everyone….it gave the US its standing as a world leader……but a what if here….Germany had won WW1….
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.
These ‘what ifs’ are interesting…like what if the institute that Hitler had applied to had accepted his application….would WW2 have happened? Or if a baseball team had signed Castro would he had lead the Cuban revolution?
‘What Ifs’ are fun for historians to play with….and fun for me to write about…..