I was born in 1964. As such, I’m part of the last of the ‘Boomer’ generation.  This makes me a bit of a historian.  I grew up with a particular interest in WWII.  While I’m no expert, I know a lot about that era.  As a child (and to this day) I can identify assorted tanks, aircraft and small-arms from both Axis and Allied forces.  I understand that the war was probably won on the Eastern Front.  I also know that tyranny is tyranny, whether it was enacted by the Japanese on the Chinese, the Germans on the Jews or the Russians on anybody who spoke out against The Boss, Joseph Stalin.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the war.  And I wonder, what would the world have looked like if Hitler’s Third Reich had actually won the war?  What if Hitler had decimated the British as they waited to leave Dunkirk? It was in his power.  What if the Germans had used nerve agent in Normandy, aborting the landing and killing untold numbers of troops who were completely unprepared for chemical attack?  What if Germany had been wiser in its invasion of Russia, and hadn’t become mired in the vast, white death of the Russian Winter, which caused German generals to read the works of the French generals who faced the same devastation while fighting for Napolean?

It’s certainly not outside the realm of what could have happened.

Now, imagine that the Reich still existed to this day. And that they held basically all of Europe, what we call the UK, and much of Russia.  And imagine, for a bit, that they were not only ridiculously powerful but also so economically prosperous that we had decided to allow them to be our trading partner.  What if their manufacturing and tech, coupled with no small amount of slave labor (extermination of some groups being less useful than their servitude), had give us access to vast amounts of commercial goods, and also enormous markets for our own?  German scientists, engineers and mathematicians have always been superb, after all.  (If this had happened they might well have beat us soundly in the space race.)

Next, what if that ongoing Reich donated billions to American universities to establish institutes to advance their ideology? Call them ‘Teutonic Institutes,’ which taught the wonders of the rich German culture as it applied to modern Nazism. And if professors and administrators welcomed students from the Reich (and their tuition dollars) to study in their universities, especially in science and technology.  (Even though some of them were working for the now very savvy modern SS and stealing information as well as conducting industrial espionage.)

It’s not hard to consider.  Culturally, genetically and certainly historically, Americans have a deep connection to Germany.  How hard would it have been to ignore all that ‘late unpleasantness’ as Southerners sometimes describe the Civil War?  We could simply have moved on to better pastures, greater economic prosperity and a kind of agreed upon passivity, in full knowledge that if they hadn’t already, their ultimate goal was the conquest of the United States.  The  US, which was the constant target of their ever-ready nuclear weapons, and whose coast was always patrolled by German nuclear submarines, and viewed from above by aircraft and satellites.

Now, what if because of a miscalculation (and no small amount of carelessness) a dangerous virus escaped one of the Reich’s high level virology labs.  They were, of course, dishonest about its potential and did not engage it in the early phases when it might have been stopped before spreading around the world.  Imagine that virus killed millions and sent the global economy into a tail-spin, causing unemployment, devastation of businesses and ultimately (in much of the poorer parts of the world), famine and mass starvation.

Would we shrug?  Would we blame our own leaders? Or would we be willing to call out the source of the pandemic and point the finger at the Nazis who let it happen, and who had never, really stopped being Nazis?

Who knows. It’s a hypothetical exercise.  But it seems to me, there’s a very real parallel in the world today.

If I need to say it explicitly, then the study of history and the general ability to perceive both evil and irony is lost to the modern mind.

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