Alternate Endings for WWII – What was possible?

Every war is, essentially, a massive chain of cause and effect. WWII was an extreme example of this to the very end. The very entrance of most nations into the war was essentially a cause and effect chain of various nations being attacked, after which their allies felt the need to join the war effort. Once WWII was over, many people wondered if there could have been an alternate end to that which occurred. Now, historians believe they have some answers.

Many believe that one large factor leading to the end of WWII was Germany’s decision to attack the Soviets. At one point, the intended target had actually been the United Kingdom. Many expected this to happen, which would have been easy considering treaty agreements between the Soviets and Germany; however, Hitler opted for a different route. Had he gone ahead with his original plan, Hitler might have pushed British rulers out of the nation (a severe injury to morale after the bombings they incurred during WWI) and given himself an extra foothold in Europe.

It is well-known that America almost stayed out of the war completely, which may have remained the case had the attack on Pearl Harbor never occurred. Had Japan not forced America into WWII, then by war’s end it may have turned into a battle primarily between Germany and the Soviets as they attempted to wrest control of Europe. Of course, this hypothetical battle between Germany and the Soviet Union could also have been avoided if they had either taken their pre-existing treaty agreements to the furthest extreme and reached their own terms of alliance, or if Germany had simply taken Moscow when planned instead of delaying the operation by over a month. If two or more of these outcomes had come to pass, Germany would have seen less of their forces diverted and had a much easier fight against the British, the io9 News reports.

Some are unaware that, after WWI, Winston Churchill was not too keen on the idea of fighting on a Western Front once more. Had he gotten his way, the horrific battle at Normandy would never have occurred. France may have been left to suffer at the hands of invasion, but there would have been a higher concentration of Allied forces storming into Axis-controlled territories, which may have given the Allies the edge. Of course, they would have had an even stronger edge in WWII if not for the failed assassination plot. It is uncertain that the success of Operation Valkyrie would have resulted in the war’s end, or even an end to fighting between the Allies and Germany, but it certainly would have changed the course of history. Although, some suspect it would have rallied Nazi troops to become even more aggressive.

Some possibilities for WWII were absolutely horrific, and it is for the best that they never came to pass. For instance, the Soviet Union could have easily fought their former Allies after capturing Berlin. Then there is the very opposite of that same possibility, which is that Britain considered fighting the Soviets after taking down the Axis. Instead of a Cold War following the end of WWII, there would have been an all-out Third World War. Less horrific would have been an Allied decision never to drop the A-bomb on Hiroshima or Nagasaki, but the resultant Allied invasion of Japan would still have been horrific on a more personal scale.

Speaking of the A-bomb, many worried during WWII that the war might come to a premature end should Hitler ever discover such technology himself. He was a big fan of experimental weapons, so if he had nuclear weaponry it can be assumed he might have used it. There is no telling what this would have done to the world as it is known today, but it most likely would have put an end to Western civilization as we understand it. Such an action may not have ended WWII, but it certainly would have given Germany a much stronger hold over the Allied forces, and there is no solid reason to believe that the Allies would have come back from such an attack.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE