The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

On this 60th anniversary of D-Day, when the Germans--somewhat oddly and not without some controversy--joined in the celebrations for the first time, some of us wonder about how the invasion might have come down if a few circumstances had been different:

- Since we're allegedly in wartime conditions now, a question of how D-Day might have been covered by the modern media gives us some food for thought;

- Giving us a taste of the above premise, CBC News set up an online package of the "real-time 1944 Internet" coverage of the invasion;

- Finally, and for an alternate history purist like me, the most serious look at historical divergences as historian David Stafford ponders what might have happened to Europe had the D-Day operation failed:
Delaying the landings much longer would almost certainly have resulted in such a disaster.

And then? With Allied forces in disarray, and the Wehrmacht on full alert, no repeat invasion could have been tried again that summer and the Allies would have had to wait another 12 months.

Meanwhile, Hitler would have focused all his attention on the Russians in the East, although to no avail.

The Red Army by now was unstoppable and eventually Stalin's forces would have not just taken Berlin, as they did, but advanced further west to the Rhine, and perhaps even to the North Sea and English Channel.

The whole of Germany and western Europe would then have been behind the Iron Curtain, and communism would have been enforced on the end of bayonets.

In a repeat of 1940, Britain would have again stood alone, except for the United States and its overseas allies.

In these circumstances, the US might well have retreated across the Atlantic into isolation, and Britain forced into some disastrous compromise deal with Stalin. The whole post-war history of Britain, of Europe, and of the world, would have been radically different.
Radically different, in that the economic and political powerhouse that a combined Western Europe and U.S. was for the post-WWII world would not have materialized. The postwar American hegemony would not have lasted as long as it did, probably peaking by 1960. Replacing the capital that traditionally resided in Western Europe would have been a major chore; I don't know that Latin America or Asia would have been a viable substitute (although it's intriguing to think that, occupied in Europe, the USSR wouldn't have cared about Mao, and therefore perhaps no People's Republic, or perhaps one that controlled only the northern part of China).