The Second Version

14/07/08

Alternate Timelines: WWI

Thinking about the events of World War 1 in Europe, and even more so the events that occurred later and led to the immense carnage of WWII, I have begun to think that WWI didn't finish in the best of ways.

Fascism and Nazism gained power also exploiting the frustration and thirst for revenge of the Italian and German populations: Germany had been punished with a humiliating (or at least perceived as such) peace, while Italy was rewarded with almost nothing despite her considerable military effort at the side of France and Great Britain. Instead, these two powers happily shared the spoils of victory and told the rest to screw themselves.

True, history is unfair and neither the winners of a war have an obligation to be nice, but in any case the people of Italy and Germany felt as they had been slighted. The behaviour of France and Britain contributed to the creation of the conditions in which a mass-movement could prosper, and at that point Hitler and Mussolini became just the wrong people at the wrong time.

But what if Germany and the Austrian Empire had won the war instead? Nobody can tell exactly what would have happened, but I am very confident that things couldn't have gone much worse.

Only Britain stood apart as a matter of rights and liberty of its citizens, and even so Britain did not shy away from doing plenty of nasty things, especially in the colonies and when dealing with competing powers. All other European nations except Russia were, IIRC, constitutional monarchies rather close to each other as a matter of the amount of liberty allowed to citizens, propensity to war and such. In particular, Germany of those years was nothing like under the Nazi rule.

So, what if the other side had won? Britain would have had to suffer a certain reduction of its power and influence, and France a severe one. Things would have continued more or less as before in the other countries (the details depend on the specifics: if Italy had lost after allying with Britain, things would had been rather bad for us), but with important differences: no conditions for the rise of Fascism and Nazism, and strong nations in Central Europe to contrast Communist Russia. A net gain for the world.

Who knows, that's the nature of the what-if game.

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