10 of the Biggest “What If” Scenarios in History

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The world is full of “what ifs?” What if JFK hadn’t decided to go cruising through Dallas in an open-top car? What if Gandhi had never got teed-off with the British Empire? What if we’d been wearing pants that time the cops pulled us over? That’s the nature of things: we can never truly know. But we sure as heck can speculate. And, thankfully, Earth’s long, long history has given us plenty to speculate about.

The following are all turning points in our planet’s story where things could’ve easily gone the other way. Some are pretty big, and some are kinda small. But they all have one thing in common. Had things turned out differently, they would’ve all led to a world very different to the one we live in today. And, for once, we don’t just mean one where our nickname at the station isn’t “the pantless DUI guy.” Ready to go delving into the murky world of alternative history? You’ve come to the right place.

10. The Nazis Finish Their V3 Supergun


“Nazi superweapon” is such an overused phrase that it’s practically a collocation (two or more words that are frequently used together as a single unit. You’re welcome). Part of this fascination may be to do with the fact that none of them actually worked. The V1 flying bombs were supposed to kill 100,000 Londoners a month, but instead killed less than 10,000 total. The V2 rockets were terrifying, but killed more people in their construction than they did landing on Britain and Belgium.

The V3 could have changed all that. A top secret Nazi supergun, it was only discovered when the Allies overran its bunker on the north French coast. The gun wasn’t yet finished, but let’s rewind history and imagine it had been. Imagine the Allies – for whatever reason – didn’t take northern France for a few months longer. What would the outcome be in this alternative reality?

Simple. There would be no such thing as London.

The V3 could’ve rained one shell a minute onto the British capital, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It wasn’t designed to turn the war in Hitler’s favor so much as ensure the Allies’ only reachable capital went down with him. The Allies would likely still have won, but at the cost of the entirety of southern England, and hundreds of thousands of UK civilian deaths. Postwar Britain would’ve been an economic ruin. Such poverty could’ve changed anything from how the Marshall Plan was allocated, to whether Britain ever gave up India, to whether the UK today had representation on the UN Permanent Security Council.

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