Sunday, March 3, 2013

Interval Ten - What If?

                                   What If Hitler Had Won the War?


Relevant to this assumption, we can  quote Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of  Buckingham,  who said about his victory over Napoleon:  “It was a near thing, the nearest thing you ever saw.”   So it was


with the Allies' victory over Hitler—“a near thing.”  although it is little realized today how near a thing it was. Let’s see why that statement can be made.

Hitler was developing advanced weapons.  He had a building staffed with hundreds of top-notch engineers and scientists  whose goal was to build the most advanced weapons of war. To indicate the caliber of those engineers,  Von Braun was among their number.  Here are Just one two examples of the weapons they developed, and which were used to attack London:  The V1, commonly known as the buzz bomb, and the V2, the prototype of every rocket used today in space exploration.  The people of London were particularly vulnerable to such  weapons as they were still in a state of shock from the unremitting bombardment they had suffered from the assault of Hitler’s Luftwaffe  during The Battle of London.  Let’s look a little closer at the two weapons and how they affected the London populace.

                                                            The V1

V1—The Buzz Bomb: This is a glider powered by simple engine—a “pulse jet”— comprising a combustion chamber with shutters at one that which would open and shut as the engine fired, propelling the glider forward, and  making a buzzing sound.  And it was tipped with a high explosive.  The fear and trepidation it engendered as you waited for it to hit made it particularly dangerous.  For you knew it was coming by the buzzing, and if it kept on buzzing, you knew you were safe.  But if it stopped buzzing, you knew it was coming down in your vicinity—but where?— anywhere within a square mile of where you were. The adverse psychological effect on the Londoners can be imagined. It was terrifying, and they were coming over London at the rate of 100 a day, However, because V1 was slow moving, it was vulnerable both to fighter planes and anti-aircraft guns.  A fighter plane could come alongside it and flip it over by wing-to-wing contact (preferably over the Channel!).  And the Allies quickly caught on to where they were coming from and intensely bombed  manufacturing and launching  sites. (Peenemunde was one such site.)  

                                                The V2

V2The first Intercontinental Ballistic Missile is a rocket.  Every space-reaching rocket used today is built on the basic technology of the V2. Unlike the buzz bomb, it struck without warning like “a bolt from the blue.” It too was tipped with a high explosive. But it was also vulnerable to countermeasures, and the sites where it was launched that produced the materials needed for its production were soon heavily bombed. 

Originally, both were designed to carry poison gas or a weapon of mass destruction, such as bio-weapons, or agents of  “germ warfare.”  But Hitler thought better of using such weapons, not because of any sense of humanity, but because his own country was particularly vulnerable to such weapons, and he knew that the Allies had a full stock, and were prepared to use them if need be.

It has been said that the effect of these weapons on the London populace had become so intolerable that many were willing to surrender than have the war continue.


                           Big Boy. The bomb that destroyed Nagasaki

Hitler would have won World War II . . .  if he had had the atomic bomb.  He would have  first shown  its destructive power by a “demonstration” of its power, much as the U.S. did with Hiroshima and Nagasaki, by turning London or Moscow into a charnel house. The U.S. wasn’t ready with its atomic bomb, so it to, would very likely experienced  such a "demonstration” by means of a long-range bomber, with an Eastern coastal city (perhaps New York City?) as the target.  Then, what country would, or could, oppose Hitler?  Quick surrender of the entire world to his demands would be the only option, as shown by the quick surrender of Japan after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. 


But Hitler made two mistakes.  First, confident that Western Europe was secure, he made the same mistake as Napoleon—he attacked Russia, and with his first-line troops. And they, like Napoleon’s forces, were soon trapped by Russia’s natural defenses—the intense cold of its winters, and mud!—for the western plains of Russia become much like bogs due  to the early winter rains. This natural Russian defense is so effective that  the Russians have personified mud with a high military rank:  General Mud. And if those crack German troops  had been available when the Allies invaded France, there is no way the Allied troops could have succeeded in invading France.  As it was, the Allied troops faced tremendous difficulties landing and breaking out toward Paris. Had those crack troops on the Eastern front  been available, Hitler could stopped the invasion, and very likely, the war would become a stalemate, leaving Hitler and his gang in power, rather than the unconditional surrender it turned out to be. 


Secondly, Hitler made the  mistake of purging the Jewish physicists from the ranks of German academia. Those that could fled to Europe and America.  Chief among them was Albert Einstein, and many others of his caliber, and architects of the atomic bomb.[i]  As a result, not enough of the physicists remaining in Germany could work toward effectively toward the creation of the bomb. It is well that the Jewish physicists escaped, for they were instrumental in creating the bomb in the United States though the Manhattan Project.   For if Hitler had succeeded in  his world conquest with an atomic bomb, he would have hunted down the Jewish population world-wide, with the intent of total extermination, as he demonstrated in Europe. What a chilling thought!


With that chilling thought in mind, let’s look forward to the next Episode of A Ball for Genia. The day is drawing to a close, and all in Wachter’s house are again in peril, for as the Rabbi said: It is a night of bombs. So look forward to  Episode Eleven, which will be published on Monday, March 11. 

In the meantime, please read the anonymous comment below Interval Nine. It is in response to who wrote regarding fellow writer Thora Lawrence and her comments on living theatre that we offered that Interval.  The comments are from a founder of theaters, and an admired director of many plays.  

And here are some of the effects that the bombing of London had on the lives of Londoners - 

Here is the plaque in the entrance hall of Balham, South London, tube station, where 64 people were killed and more than 70 injured as they tried to shelter from the bombs. You can read more about this terrible night here.

Sheltering in the tube was common during those long nights of German bombs.

And how many fell?  You can track the number and location of bombs during the Blitz on this fascinating new website: 

There is even an app for it!  It is a truly fascinating project.

 So, don't forget to look out for Episode Eleven on Monday, March 11th.

[i] For the complete story of the atomic bomb and its creation, go to the invaluable Wikipedia and the Wikipedia article titled the Manhattan Project. And please note:  The illustrations for this article were also taken from  Wikipedia. If Wikipedia ever asks for a donation again, please be generous!

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