Alternate History: No WWII

I recently was reading an article (I can’t find it now) about Jews leaving Europe in record numbers and going to Israel. Apparently there is an upsurge in Anti-Semitism in Europe, especially in France. A lot of factors were given, but it got me to thinking.

What if there was never a holocaust? A lot of the tolerance for Jews in Europe seem to have come out of guilt about what happened to them (perhaps I’m wrong about this?). So, what if Germany’s bid for world domination was nipped in the bud, if Hitler had of fallen from power and the Nazi’s with them? Certainly if there was no war (and no expansionist Germany) then there most likely wouldn’t have been a German holocaust…or would there have been?

Some things to consider for the debate:

  1. What would Europe be like today if WWII hadn’t have happened, or at least if Germany’s war of aggression would have died still born?

  2. What would the Soviet Union be today if they had never been invaded by Germany? Would they still be there stronger than ever, or would they have collapsed in the 40’s or 50’s? Would THEY have launched a war of aggression into Europe? Poland perhaps?

  3. What would the US be today without WWII? We were an isolationist neutral nation until Europe (and admittedly Japan) dragged us into the war. Our military was a joke and our orientation would have been to keep it that way…why pay for a military when there are other things you can spend your money one? What would be today without a strong military, and how would the world be different?

  4. What would France and Britain be today if they hadn’t been so ravaged by war? They were both still colonial empires before WWII…would they still be? They were both world powers before the war, but afterward they were so ravaged that they couldn’t maintain their status and fell. What would countries like India and Indochina be today…still under British/French domination, or free nations?

  5. What would have become of Germany if Hitler and the Nazi’s war had of been squashed by the allies and they would have fallen from power? Would they still be militaristic? Would the old republic re-asserted itself with Hitler’s fall? Would the nation go communist?

  6. What would the plight of the Jews be today? There would probably be no Israel (or would there?), so no ‘Jewish homeland’. Would Europe have grown more tolerant of the Jews or less? What would their current status be?

  7. What would the Middle East be like today without WWII? Without an Israel, what would the various ME nations be like? Would it be peace on earth, or would they be basically tearing each other apart?

Feel free to diverge from the above all you like. I’m interested in peoples thoughts on what the world would be like if there never was a WWII (at least, not a WWII in the late 30’s through mid 40’s between the axis powers and the allied powers…feel free to speculate on OTHER wars and other alliances).

Regards and hope its an interesting debate,

Forgot China…would it have gone communist (assume that Japan would still be expansionist into China/indochina and the pacific rim)? How about Japan? Would they still attack the US without Germany as an ally? What would they be today? Would the US and Japan still go to war over the Pacific rim, and how would that effect Europe? Would Britain have allied with us against the Japanese or stayed out of it? France?


Or else the population of Israel would be 6 million people larger. We can’t know.

Zionism was founded a long time before WW2, and the Jewish settlement in Palestine was well on its way toward stateshood by the 30’s (Tel Aviv, for instance, was founded in 1919 and was a fairly large Jewish city by the time the war broke out). Perhaps the absence of war would have delayed the dissolution of the British Empire, but they would have withdrawn from the Mandate sooner or later, and when they did, the Jews already there would have done their utmost to carve out a state.

Harry Turtledove, who’s written about 5000 alternate history stories, wrote one with the premise of your OP - what would be the general treatment of Jews if there hadn’t been a Holocaust? In his story, he surmised that without the Holocaust, anti-semitism would still be acceptable in western society.

On some of the other issues that were raised: In my opinion, the Soviet Union wouldn’t have launched a war of agression against Eastern Europe. Stalin was completely averse to taking risks and war is a huge gamble. My guess is that Stalin would have continued the “revolution in one country” policy he espoused in the 30’s. After his death, the Soviets might have opened up some on the international front but the opportunity to expand by military means would have passed. The US probably would have remained isolationist. And poorer - it was the expansion of military industries which finally ended the depression. England, France, and the other European colonial powers probably would still have their empires. Only the overwhelming strain of the world war was enough to overcome the conservative inertia of keeping the colonies. Germany and Eastern Europe would be second rate powers and probably mostly dictatorships. Regardless of whether or not Israel existed, oil would eventually make the Middle East a strategic hot spot. But without a world war, industrialization and transportation would have moved a lot slower and oil needs would also lag far behind our history.

My problem with the OP is that I just can’t think of a plausible scenerio where Great Britain and France (henceforth abbreviated as GB&Fr.) wouldn’t have eventually gone to war with Germany once Hitler and the Nazis rose to power.

European politics in the 1930s were based on one unavoidable fact: GB&Fr. were scared ****less of another Great War, and Hitler wasn’t. A “warmonger” like Churchill simply couldn’t get elected until the western powers got tired of Hitler playing them for chumps; and by then it was too late to stop Germany.

Let’s suppose that the remilitarization of the Rhineland had been instantly and resolutely opposed by GB&Fr. Politically this would have been extraordinarily risky for the leaders of those countries; they might have been voted out of office just for having risked another war. But let’s say that they bluffed Hitler down and he backed off. Then what? I don’t think GB&Fr. could or would have been able to maintain a “containment” strategy against Germany indefinitely. Hitler would have kept pushing, and sooner or later the political will just wouldn’t have been there.

Alternatively, suppose that GB&Fr. had decided to try a “devil vs. devil” strategy: abandon Eastern Europe and give Germany tacit permission to attack the Soviet Union. That’s what Hitler really wanted anyway, and it might have bought the west some temporary security; but the cost would have been too high. Again, the political element comes into play: After WW1, GB&Fr. had invested enormous political capital into establishing the new eastern European nations out of the ashes of the pre-WW1 German, Austrian and Russian empires. Abandoning them would have tossed away twenty years of work, have been a huge embarrassment, and left whichever power that did win the struggle as the hegemon of Eastern Europe (which in 20/20 hindsight is what happened anyway with the Soviet Union).

Given the realities of the time and what the nations’ leaders knew at the time, the result was what actually happened: a muddled response that led down a slippery slope towards WW2.

I thought I’d read all of his stuff, but don’t remember this one. Do you recall the name of the story or, better yet, the name of the book/collection it appeared in?

Quite possibly a Fascist Europe in one form or another

Of that , I am guessing at some point there would have been an army coup d’etat and stalin put up against the wall and shot, quite probably a civil war.

Carrier warfare would have been ten years further down the road , japan would have been a police action leading to an armistice or treaty and reduction of forces in China. Japan was running out of space and availability of material items anyways , China was a natural expansion point. Plus the Japanese thought they got screwed by the treaty of washington anyways.

ITs probable that the French would have had a war with the Germans , its been said in a few threads here , that their leadership was an anomaly compared to the population in general , for remaining pacifistic.

Britain , would have probably lost India , without the threat of both the japanese and Nazis , Ghandi probably would have started his peaceful revolution earlier. The only major change that can’t be mapped at this time, is that Great Britain has more disposable income , from not having to buy up american arms, and replace cargo ships lost to the U-boats.

Canada and Australia were already fully separate nations with full approval of GB , In time GB would have maintained some parcels of land , but in general its colonial days were over.


IMHO, the rise of the Nazis made war inevitable. So perhaps the jumping off point should be earlier than the early 30’s. Say Hitler is killed in World War I, or is hit by a bus in 1920 or is afflicted with horrible stutter so he can’t be the master orator he was. If the Weimar republic survives, does the war still occurr?

Hitler or someone akin to Franco(but German) , was inevitable with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, this created the conditions and social conditions that led to the rise of Hitler.

For an earlier Jumping off point in your OP , several come to mind. The Russian debacle in 1921 , which if properly done , would have ended communism, and restored the russian monarchy.

The 1936 spanish civil war , which gave the germans a test bed for their tactics

1938 , the sudatenland , which hitler retook the portions of the czech republic which could have stopped him cold , and kept huge amounts of czech arnaments and factorys out of his hands.

To sum up , remove or modify the versaille treaty , Germany probably survives the depression better allowing a more sedate population.

A war will happen , but its more likely to be an invasion or muddling around inside the soviet union doing a regime change.


When and how would you have this alternate history branch off?
As far as Germany is concerned, it makes a huge difference whether the republic is able to defend itself, possibly with outside help, or the communist revolution finally reaches Marx’ home country or the British and French invade.
Also Germany as a nation state was little over 60 years old at that point and you cannot rule out it breaking apart.
The time also matters. Even if you assume that Hitler already managed to seize power but WWII hasn’t happened yet, it makes a difference whether he is removed in spring 1933 or summer 1939. In the first case the Third Reich might have remained a freak episode in German history like the Munich Communist Republic, in the second case a lot of damage would have been done already.

You should include the Italian Fascist invasion of Ethiopea. The Europowers looked the other way, whistled, & the League of Nations went POOF! then & there.
Germany was emboldened, Japan was emboldened, & Mussolini thought he was Julius Caesar/Rudolph Valentino/Einstein, all in one.

It is interesting that Alex Toland in several of his books makes the assertion that if Hitler died sometime between 1936 and July 1939, history would probably record him as the greatest German to ever live.

But back to the subject – I happen to think that some version of WW2 happens no matter what, due to the political realities post WW1. Japan was a military empire, lacking resources and space, and had delusions of Pax Asia. Several countries in Europe had the “Liebesraum” (sp) dream – not just Germany. If Churchill somehow regains power in England (doubtful without Hitler’s influence, but maybe), he definately goes after some communist country and eventually after Stalin himself. Roosevelt was anti-isolationist and pro-industry (particularly, international sales of weapons), and might have gone out of his way to pick a fight with someone, probably Japan. The attack at Pearl harbor was probably a dumb move on Japan’s part, but attempting to secure the South China Sea (and the Phillipines) was probably an inevitable trigger to US participation in war.

Keep the Nazis but lose Hitler.

You’re correct that England and France wanted to avoid war, so no change in their domestic policies are necessary to eliminate WWII. And Hitler was bent on having a war at some point and couldn’t have been disuaded. But there was considerable German opposition to Germany going to war, even within the Nazi leadership. Many German military and political leaders feared Anglo-French military and worried they would lose a war. But Hitler was firmly in power and overruled them.

But it’s certainly plausible that Hitler could have been removed from power (there were numerous coup and assassination attempts made). If he had been, some faction of the Nazi party might have taken power that would have decided on a more risk-free policy of avoiding a general war and focusing their attention on domestic issues.

Harry Turtledove may have written 5000 stories, but I was wrong to think this was one of them. The story I was thinking of was “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” by Lawrence Watt-Evans which was included in the anthology Alternative Presidents.

How the heck do I do a quote box? In any case…

Keep the Nazis but lose Hitler.
Nope, that doesn’t work. Hitler was a nut case. With no Hitler the Germans might have fought a rational war, and so may very well have won.

Further, Hitler was a moderate Nazi. As long as he was allowed to kill the Jews and fight his war, German society was left largely alone. Had a hardcore Nazi (think of Himmler, for example) in charge, all bets would have been off.

A mass extermination of the old ruling-class? The destruction of the Christian churches? A mass use of poison gas in a surprise attack on (fill in the blank)? It is hard to rule anything out. Sort of a Pol Pot in charge of a modern industrial state. Scary stuff.

Hitler dies , or is assasinated , then its a race to see who would inherit the mantle of leadership. Officially it was herman goering, but even with himmler as you mention, its likely national socialism would have fallen by the way side.

What may have happened was a re milatarized germany with someone like Adm Raeder or FM Rommel in power , aka Bizmarck.


The interesting thing is, the history of WWII really is an example where one man made a huge difference. Remove Hitler, replace him with some other strongman, and WWII need not happen. Hitler constantly had to push Germany into war, and every early battle that he won convinced him the Germany was invincible. And of course that and his idiosyncratic ideology are what eventually caused Germany’s defeat. A different dictator would almost certainly be more cautious than Hitler, wouldn’t have believed that a knockout attack could work against France or Russia.

I can’t image Japan declaring war on Britain, France and the US without Germany’s success in Europe. Yes, Japan would attack China, yes they would resent the European and American colonial powers, but would they have the chutzpah to attack?

Hitler removed a psychological barrier to war, by showing that it was possible to attack a country with a modern military and win, that the crushing stalemates of WWI weren’t inevitable. So Japan might have continued with it’s occupation of China, but they wouldn’t have dared to attack French, American, or British colonies for a long time.

The question then becomes, how long do the European parafascist governments last? Franco survived into the 70s. But Spain was a basket case under him. Dictatorship would ruin Germany and Italy economically. Without the war to destroy social norms I don’t see how a Nazi total reorganization of society would be possible, without the war mass anti-semitism would rise, violence against Jews would rise, lynchings and arson would rise, but mass extermination wouldn’t have happened.

The war also paradoxically revitalized the Soviet Union, creating the Red Army. Winning the war that was forced on them allowed the Soviets to conquer eastern Europe and gave them confidence that the Red Army was the equal of any western power. It’s one thing to crush uprisings and militias and rebellious ethnic minorities, that’s the job of the military in any dictatorship. It’s another thing to crush Germany’s military machine. So with no WWII there would be no cold war, the Soviets would be (as long as the regime existed) another third world style dictatorship that was awful but had only regional aspirations.

So…no Holocaust, no Cold War, Japan in control of China but with no war against European powers unless Soviet Russia was on the verge of collapse and the Japanese thought they could scoop up the Russian far east. Fascism remains a credible political ideology.

But that assumes no paraWWII. Remove Hitler and we don’t have WWII, just like when the Paratime organization removed Emilio Lederstein (remember him? Of course not!) in our universe and we didn’t get WWIII. But the cold war we had instead was pretty tough sledding. WWII led to a radical global reorganization. Without that reorganization paraWWII could have broken out 5, 10 or 20 years later, triggered by anything…a Soviet-Japanese war for instance. Who knows how that would have turned out. At least we survived to 2004 without a nuclear holocaust in our universe.

A good part of the changes in Race in America stems from WWII. The desegregation of the Armed Forces, and the empathy of the Jews that participated in the Civil Rights Movement owes a big part to the events of WWII.

Would the Civil Rights Movement had happened if you didn’t have the irony of Black Soldiers fighting for the Freedom of others, then returning home to a segregated USA or the survivors of the Holocaust seeing FIRST Hand what happens when government allows the treating people as less than?

Thanks. I’ll look for it. (I have at least one other collection in that series, Alternative Generals)

I have to disagree. I think Hitler represented the extreme edge of the Nazis. Granted, Himmler was another extremist who wanted to totally remake the world.

But for that very reason, Himmler would have been an unlikely successor to Hitler in the 1930’s. (Although he may not have seen it that way - there’s evidence Himmler was behind some of the early attempts to kill and replace Hitler.) More likely Goering or someone like that would have been the new Fuehrer - someone who was a dictator but was willing to respect a few limits.

I also agree with pretty much everything Lemur said in his post.