WW2 Alternative History
Writing historical fiction is fun, but the need for historical accuracy can impose artificial restrictions on the narrative flow. In the same way that world-building provides a blank canvas for fantasy writers, allowing them to escape the restrictions of real life and stretch their imaginations, alternative history provides wriggle room for the historical fiction writer.
What is required here is to pose ‘what if’ questions and see what the imagination comes up with. Robert Harris’s Fatherland is a good example. His book is set in London following a Second World War lost by the Allies, where England is under the Nazi jackboot.
Consider what would have happened if the Japanese had not bombed Pearl Harbor. Would the Americans have entered the war, and if not, who would have won?
How would the war have turned out if the code-breakers in Bletchley Park had failed to crack the German coding machine, the Enigma? Or if the Nazis had discovered that their coding system had been broken?
Or what if Hitler had settled for the territories already conquered and hadn’t invaded the Soviet Union in December 1941?
Or what would have happened if any one of the many attempts to assassinate the Fuhrer had succeeded? Who would have taken his place, and would the outcome of the war have been any different?
What if the Nazis had realised before D-day that the Allies had chosen Normandy for the landings and not Calais?
What if Hitler had invaded England in 1940, when it was at its most vulnerable?
And what if the Nazis had developed an atom bomb before the end of the war?