It is debatable when the history of the Japanese Empire began. One can go back to the Meiji Restoration of 1868, but wasn’t the 1894-95 Sino-Japanese War, fought over influence in Korea, really the starting point of Japanese imperialism?
Or the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War? Fought for influence in Korea as well as Manchuria.
Or 1910, when Japan annexed Korea?
A watershed moment came in 1931, when Japan occupied Manchuria. There was no doubt at that point the island nation had become a colonial and an expansionist power.
Continue reading “The Rise and Fall of Japan’s Empire in Maps”
The way Germany was divided into Western- and Soviet-aligned republics after the Second World War was hardly a straightforward process. The Allies started thinking about whether and how to dismember Germany in the middle of the war and considered several options.
Some, like the Dutch request for territorial compensation, were ignored. Others, like President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s suggestion of a north-south split, would morph into the east-west divide of the Cold War. Continue reading “How Germany Was Divided: A History of Partition Plans”
Many a what-if has been written about a German victory in World War II. Alternate histories of a German victory in World War I are less popular, but they exist. Indeed, people started thinking about the consequences of a German victory during the war itself and feared it might give way to a German empire spanning nearly the whole of Europe.
Here is a look at some of the maps that were produced to show a German victory in what was at the time called simply “the Great War”. Continue reading “What If Germany Had Won the First World War?”
Before the rise of Adolf Hitler in Europe, American military strategists seriously considered the possibility they might do war with Britain in the Pacific.
During the 1920s and early 30s, a Joint Planning Committee (the precursor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff) developed a series of color-coded war plans. “Plan Red” prepared for a conflict with the British Empire, then the world’s declining but still premier military and political power. Continue reading “The Anglo-American Pacific War That Wasn’t”
At a glance, this doesn’t look too different from your average Cold War map. Take a closer look, though, and you will notice some oddities. Half of Austria seems to be missing. East Germany is much bigger than it should be. Greece isn’t in NATO, but Sweden is.
What happened here? Continue reading “How Finland’s Defeat in 1940 Could Have Changed the Cold War”
In the spring of 1941, Nazi Germany controlled of all of Western Europe and the question was where Adolf Hitler would strike next? Would he finally attempt an invasion of Great Britain? Or would he move into the Middle East instead and grab the oilfields? (Few anticipated at the time he would break his nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union.)
Life magazine argued in March of that year that an invasion of the Middle East by way of North Africa was most likely. This would allow Hitler to avoid aggravating the United States on the one hand, which might get involved if Germany invaded England, and Turkey on the other, which had resisted German overtures for an alliance.
“The one little hitch is the open space of water between Italy and the African mainland,” the magazine wrote, otherwise known as the Mediterranean Sea. Continue reading “Hitler’s Feared Invasion of the Middle East”
These days, we worry the Arctic is getting too hot. Half a century ago, the Soviets wished it was warmer — and they thought of a way to thaw the frigid North.
Popular Mechanics reported in June 1956 that Soviet authorities were considering building a 55-mile dam between Alaska and Siberia. The barrier would keep icebergs and arctic currents out of the Pacific, allowing warm southern currents to sweep unchecked up the eastern shore of Siberia and down the western coast of North America. Warm water from the Pacific Ocean would be pumped back into the Arctic and transform the once-frozen region into a “blossoming landscape”. Continue reading “The Soviet Plan to Thaw the Arctic”
Last year, we featured a map of North America from the title credits of Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, which shows the United States divided into German and Japanese zones.
The second season of the series, which is also based on Philip K. Dick’s 1963 alternate-history novel and started streaming in December, gives us a fuller picture of the world. Continue reading “The World of The Man in the High Castle”
For British conservatives of a certain persuasion, the idea of uniting their country with its former white dominions plus America has long had a special appeal.
Outside Britain, not so much. Few Americans, Australians or Canadians, much less the Irish and South Africans, have ever relished the prospect of an English-speaking union.
One exception was Robert E. Sherwood, an American playwright who would write speeches for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Second World War. Continue reading “Robert Sherwood’s Union of the English-Speaking Peoples”
After Germany had overrun France and the Low Countries in the spring of 1940, an invasion of Britain — then the only nation still free in Europe — seemed like a distinct possibility. German fighter planes and bombers waged a months-long air war with their British counterparts over the Channel and the south of England in the summer of that year. The Germans meant to follow up with an amphibious assault once the Luftwaffe had established air superiority.
Of course, the Germans never managed. Prime Minister Winston Churchill congratulated Britain’s airmen in August, saying they had “unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger” and were “turning the tide of the world war by their prowess and by their devotion.”
“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few,” he said.
The British had been outnumbered and outgunned yet managed to fend off the Nazi air assault and give Adolf Hitler his first defeat.
Even if they’d failed, though, it is doubtful that a German invasion of Great Britain would have succeeded. Continue reading “How the Nazis Planned to Invade Great Britain”