WI No Nazis. Who starts World War 2?

Who starts World War 2 if the Nazis don't take power?

  • Germany

    Votes: 24 12.0%
  • Italy

    Votes: 9 4.5%
  • Soviet Union

    Votes: 110 55.0%
  • Poland

    Votes: 4 2.0%
  • France

    Votes: 2 1.0%
  • United Kingdom

    Votes: 3 1.5%
  • United States

    Votes: 3 1.5%
  • Someone else

    Votes: 11 5.5%
  • No great war in Europe for over a century

    Votes: 34 17.0%

  • Total voters
    200
The various treaties which ended WW1 created all sorts of anomalies and resentments which would have sooner or later led to new conflicts in Europe.

We forget there were two wars in the Balkans immediately prior to WW1 so a Europe fully at peace seems illusory.

Hungary felt badly treated by Trianon and issues over Transylvania with Romania weren't going to go away. Yugoslavia was, as it proved to be later in OTL, another potential flash point with Serbs, Croats, Bosnians and Slovenes in an often dysfunctional union.

Absent Nazi Germany, my money would be on a future Yugoslav Civil War dragging in other powers - the irony of WW2 starting in the same place as WW1 wouldn't be lost on anyone.

There's also the political flashpoints of conservative, liberal and communist forces moving from peaceful debate to violent opposition such as occurred in Italy and Spain .

It's quite possible the 20th century would continue the tradition of previous centuries of various small-scale European conflicts.

In time, I suspect, the mutual antipathy toward Communism would have promoted a broader European notion of collective defence (think EATO - European Alliance Treaty Organisation, ostensibly the Franco-German rapprochement but slowly expanding to include most European powers including the UK). Whether that would at some point have led to a broader European conflict against the USSR I don't know - it didn't in OTL because the USSR collapsed due to its own internal contradictions.
 
Sustained German-Soviet cooperation to me seems the norm that would happen In most timeline if not for the Nazi
You do seem to be correct in that regard. Weimar Germany was cooperating with the Soviets during the 1920s and it may have continued without the Nazis primarily for economic reasons. Some people (like for example Hans von Seeckt) during that time were even calling for a German-Soviet alliance to destroy Poland. On the other hand, some people (like for example Gustav Stresemann) during that time didn't want Germany to get too close to the Soviets as they feared that it could even start an immediate war with France, the Soviets were also viewed as untrustworthy. Still, it does seem unlikely that Germany ITTL will ever attempt to invade the Soviet Union to overthrow it and impose a new Brest-Livotsk treaty.
 

Garrison

Donor
yes but brutal, expansionist, and untrustworthy also applies to a lot of other countries in the past including the British Empire.

Also, one saying the Britain started WW2 is not me saying it was WRONG for them to start WW2. No one is shifting responsibility it is in fact the absolute right thing to do. And it is absolutely correct that Hitler is the reason why WW2 started. But the key word here is reason.

Also let's use an analogy, for example I attacked your best friend despite you repeatedly warning me not to and you ended up killing me. You can certainly say that through my actions you I was asking for you to kill me. But did I specifically attacked you and started a war?
Not planning to get drawn into a pedantic display of semantics, the Nazis started the war, nothing more to be said.
 
This poll is actually wrong from the very start because it was Britain who started WW2 to protect Poland from Nazi aggression. (Or put it in another way, prevent Germany from becoming too powerful to threaten Britain and France). Remember in 1939 there was no holocaust, just Jewish persecution (that was also happening in the USSR) so the main motivation was not because everyone knew Nazi's were evil in 1939 (unless they had crystal balls)

And once again, you can argue logically that WW2 stared in Pearl Harbor

And the stab in the back myth was always there. Germany was eventually going to start a war no matter what anyway, Hitler or no Hitler. They were already cheating the treaty WAY before Hitler.

Nazi's or no Nazis, it is very likely that it will still be Britain that will start WW2 to prevent continental hegemony by a European country. It could be Britain declaring war on the Soviets.

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Even if you want to argue that the war really began with Franco-British involvement, that doesn’t change the fact that the impetus for the whole thing was the Nazi invasion of Poland, no Nazi invasion = no war. Britain and France were obligated to back Poland so as soon as the Wehrmacht started going east, they were going to get involved. The initial German invasion and the subsequent declarations of war by Britain and France are the same conflict, it didn’t turn from one war to another just by them getting involved any more than the US getting involved after Pearl Harbor made it yet a different war. If we count a country joining in the conflict as a new war, than there is no WWII, just several dozen mini-wars that happen to be connected.
 
You'd likely see Japan attacking European colonies in the Pacific

What's going to be the trigger point for this in the no Nazi TL.

In OTL, the Japanese ultimately danced *around* European and American colonies, and even concession ports in China for over three years of its war with China.

What will get them to stop doing that, and work up the nerve to grab white man's land?
 
This poll is actually wrong from the very start because it was Britain who started WW2 to protect Poland from Nazi aggression. (Or put it in another way, prevent Germany from becoming too powerful to threaten Britain and France).
Amazing, literally every claim you made is wrong.

Anyhoo, frankly still Germany. Weimar didn’t fall because of Hitler. It fell because the right in Germany hated it and was looking for a dictator to establish a fascist state, and Hitler was the best candidate to do so. That isn’t going to change. A fascist is going to end up in control of Germany once the Depression hit. Because the right was looking for any excuse to do so.

And that government is going to start a war when it feels up to it. Hitler didn’t drag the powerful of Germany into war against their will. They went happily and willingly.
 
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Japan.

All jokes aside, if there has to be one... Italy? Maybe? Maybe some flashpoints after an Italian invasion of Yugoslavia or Greece (if Italy doesn't get whacked)? I'm not too sure. I don't think there would be one without Hitler, honestly, and I say this as someone who fucking hates Great Man Theory. Hitler is really one of the sole exceptions to Great Man Theory, given that his whims drove Nazi Germany more than any other state in history outside of, like, North Korea. A fascist regime would likely still rise in Germany, sure, but it wouldn't have the insane genocidal drive of Hitler. Demands in Poland would happen, but without Austria and Czechoslovakia (Austria and maybe a bit of the Sudeten at most; I do not believe a non-Hitler led Germany would invade Czechoslovakia in its entirety) I don't see any reason why the Allies wouldn't give Germany what it would want --- even if Poland denies it. A German-Polish war would likely still happen, which Germany would probably win, but I don't see a full annexation in the veins of Hitler. Maybe the rest of Silesia and Poznan plus the Corridor + Danzig and some favorable economic stuff.
 
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the problem with Italy starting a World War is that Italy is the weakest of the Great Powers by a long-shot. If a World War breaks out with Italy as leader of one side its going to be a quick curbstomp as Italy gets flattened by whatever Great Powers it is fighting. Italy couldn’t win the desert war OTL even after Britain lost so much materiel in France. It was driven out of Greece by the Greeks (with British backing of course.) Can you imagine what would happen if say France was in that war too? It wouldn’t be a world war, just a brushfire.
 

Garrison

Donor
You'd likely see Japan attacking European colonies in the Pacific and maybe a couple small wars (Italy v. Greece, Hungary v. Rumania) in Europe, but nothing like WWII and overall it would be seen as an era of peace.

Nuclear arms and economic integration would likely make it so a big war could not happen after.
Would they though when the colonial powers aren't either conquered or fighting for their lives in Europe? The Japanese only moved into Indochina once France was beaten, and they hoped that they could cripple the US Pacific fleet while seizing the colonies belonging to the British and Dutch in a quick campaign. If the British and French can focus their full attention on South East Asia then I think even the most rabid militarists in the Japanese leadership will think twice, probably.
 
I agree. That was the assumption underlying my "Great Pacific War" thread. Japan was on the path to conquest with or without Hitler.
But would a war that Japan started inevitably spill over into Europe? (Even if, say, they attacked Russia by invading Siberia?)
 
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But would any war

But would a war that Japan started inevitably spill over into Europe? (Even if, say, they attacked Russia by invading Siberia?)
For the story line which I'm crafting along that assumption there was no internal fighting in Europe during that time, but also no great military buildup on the part of the European (and American) powers in fear of Hitler. Then, when Japan's expansion ran into conflict with the Anglosphere, Britain and later America were drawn into the conflict. In that story the USSR aligns with Japan, not with troops but as a source of raw materials and petroleum. The net outcome is a Europe not devastated by war as in OTL but one with the Anglo powers locked into a nuclear 'cold war' with USSR, the other neutral powers of Europe uneasily in the middle, and Japan soundly thrashed and rebuilding. Again, just a fictional TL for setting the background to a story.
 
That's why I didn't vote on the poll. Too many butterflies for me to make a call on 100 years of European peace. (Would we have had the last 75 without the threat of nuclear Doomsday hanging over all of Europe's head?)

I'm looking at the topic, not as a historian, but as a writer trying to set up a story that he really wants to tell. And the setup I'm trying to reach to get where I'm going to is no war in Europe (after the War To End War), but a Cold War with the Soviets dancing around the ring with the Anglo-American bloc. Very briefly, here's how I get there:
  • Hitler is accepted to architecture school. While Europe may still be a latent powder keg, it's no longer a dry one.
  • Japan goes expansionistic as in OTL and rolls over China, Korea, and Indochina (1937-1942).
  • Soviets are their 'cool' allies. No troops, but regular supplies of raw materials and petroleum...in exchange for cash, of course.
  • Japan takes on the British Empire in the Pacific (mid-1942). Hong Kong, Singapore, and eventually lands an invasion force in Australia.
  • Britain begs and pleads for assistance from an initially reluctant USA (someone other than Roosevelt is in the White House), eventually receiving the kind of help Japan is getting from the USSR but with a much longer logistics train (obviously).
  • Japan wants to cut the head off that snake, and plans and successfully pulls off a near-analogue to OTL's Pearl Harbor attack in October 1943.
  • Rather than sink back into its lair and sulk, though, the USA is galvanized into action as in OTL. Japan is Public Enemy Number One. USSR is Public Enemy Number Two.
  • However, USSR never commits troops and is wise enough not to give an overt casus belli.
  • The USA, although much less prepared than OTL since there was never a military buildup starting in the mid-30s, spins up the Arsenal of Democracy and goes on the offensive.
  • Japan retrenches and consolidates, mostly in the northern Pacific. The USSR is quick to move in and fill the vacuum, ostensibly playing both sides of the street. Nobody trusts them now.
  • While the Manhattan Project (OTL; TTL Project Prometheus) gets a late start and is missing a good bit of the German brain trust (some are persuaded to defect by American agents; although no Nazis TTL America is a friendlier place for Jews) it nevertheless succeeds in producing an atomic weapon in mid-1948.
  • With atomic weapons in play and now outnumbered and outfought by the combined Anglo-American armies, Japan surrenders as in OTL. USSR picks up a few choice tidbits but is still hated.
  • USSR had a mole inside Project Prometheus and detonates their own nuclear weapon in 1950. Cold war under way.
  • Cuban revolution much as in OTL. "Our aircraft carrier (words of USSR)..."
  • Hmm, looks like Cuba is a fine place for some ballistic missiles...
That's where my story picks up in (alternate) 1962.
The problem with this is any attack the British Empire will have to include French and Netherlands Imperial locations if not also the US ‘Not Imperial’ locations.

Also Britain and France not distracted by war with Germany (no fall of France, battle of the Atlantic etc) are each able to outbuild Japan by several orders of magnitude.

France in 1940 was the 2nd largest producer of tanks after Russia, while the UK was the largest producer of aircraft and trucks.

In global manpower both have a significant advantage over Japan as well as having access to the world resources and banking system

Begging the USA is unlikely to be necessary in this example as both Britain and France could rely on their own industry as well as afford to ‘cash and carry’ stuff from the USA at a much lower level than OTL

The combined fleets of Britain and France are much larger than Japans and their combined ship building industry is also far larger.

Japan is at a severe disadvantage here
 
The problem with this is any attack the British Empire will have to include French and Netherlands Imperial locations if not also the US ‘Not Imperial’ locations.

Also Britain and France not distracted by war with Germany (no fall of France, battle of the Atlantic etc) are each able to outbuild Japan by several orders of magnitude.

France in 1940 was the 2nd largest producer of tanks after Russia, while the UK was the largest producer of aircraft and trucks.

In global manpower both have a significant advantage over Japan as well as having access to the world resources and banking system

Begging the USA is unlikely to be necessary in this example as both Britain and France could rely on their own industry as well as afford to ‘cash and carry’ stuff from the USA at a much lower level than OTL

The combined fleets of Britain and France are much larger than Japans and their combined ship building industry is also far larger.

Japan is at a severe disadvantage here

Not arguing, but just stating that my story scenario has other divergences from OTL going back to the 1860s (Lincoln wasn't assassinated and Reconstruction was much milder with little of the lingering bitterness on the part of Southerners), as well as Taft's re-election in 1912 and being succeeded by another Republican (story character, unknown to OTL) in 1916 who was inclined to stay out of European conflicts. Without US support the Entente and the Central Powers fought to a stalemate until both sides were bled dry and sued for a white peace leaving Germany stronger than OTL and Britain and France much weaker. I'm not arguing that my "Great Pacific War" TL would have happened as I project, but I believe it's arguable that it could have.
 
The problem with this is any attack the British Empire will have to include French and Netherlands Imperial locations if not also the US ‘Not Imperial’ locations.
The problem is that France can't exactly weaken its position in France to deal with a Japanese strike at Vietnam, and its not at all clear that the UK would help Vietnam.
Especially if Japan had the least bit of sense (fair caveat) and structured its activity as anti-colonial rebellion, after all a large part of its reason for striking was interrupting aid to China, an anti-colonial insurgency should work for that aim.
 
The problem is that France can't exactly weaken its position in France to deal with a Japanese strike at Vietnam, and its not at all clear that the UK would help Vietnam.
Especially if Japan had the least bit of sense (fair caveat) and structured its activity as anti-colonial rebellion, after all a large part of its reason for striking was interrupting aid to China, an anti-colonial insurgency should work for that aim.
Anti colonial while grabbing huge chunks of China?
 
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