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Hitler's Demands Spark Demographic Study by Jeff Provine

Author says: we're very pleased to present a new story from Jeff Provine's excellent blog This Day in Alternate History Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).

On September 14th 1938,

the day after Sudetenland Germans broke off relations with Czechoslovakia, Germany's Chancellor Adolph Hitler gave yet another rousing speech about the importance of self-determination. Citing American President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points, Hitler and others such as Sudeten German leader Konrad Henlein made clear that the borders of Germany were not what they should be. Hitler had set the ultimatum of October 1 as the hand-over of the Sudetenland, which was demographically German, to Germany, and it looked as if the rest of Europe were going to agree.

What if borders actually followed the bounds of national majority?Most newspapers reported lightly on the speech, focusing more on the significant rioting as introduction of Czechoslovak troops into the region.

"1. Alsace may have been German by language but the people regarded themselves as French 2. Luxembourg would have vanished not grown - the people regarded themselves as a type of French in the manner of the Walloons 3. the Sudetenland problem was two fold - there was no neat ethnographic boundary that wouldn't still leave hundreds of thousands of Czechs and Germans on the wrong side of the line and second that the rump Bohemia had no natural lines of defense. The border forts were all in German areas." - reader's commentGilbert Hovey Grosvenor, editor of National Geographic for nearly forty years, happened upon the story, and it put a thought into his head: What would Europe look like if state borders actually followed the bounds of national majority?

Preempting a story about the modernization of Hawaii, Grosvenor leaped into the project with many of his staff. They followed census data and made international calls, simply asking local editors what they thought each town would prefer. In the October 1938 issue, Grosvenor published his map, which gave a similar, yet ghostly, outline of Europe. The often fought-over Alsace-Lorraine between France and Germany was split, with a much larger area given to Luxembourg. Poland shifted slightly southeast. The Balkans followed much of their divides from being broken up in 1918 but with wider boundaries for Bosnians. Other people groups had countries that did not exist, such as the Basque of Spain.

"As was a considerable part of the industry. " - reader's commentAfter his takeover of Sudetenland, Hitler came upon the article and used it as propaganda, saying that even the Americans agreed. Much of Europe was unsettled by the thought of lines being shifted, while in the United States, the map was noticed only with anthropological interest and general academic humming. In the following months, Grosvenor would produce a series of such maps for Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the many Native American settlements in western United States and Canada.

"Not to mention banking and financial centers. " - reader's commentWorld War II swept across Europe, Africa, and the Pacific for the next six years. As it came to an end, diplomats began arguing over the reassigning of borders. When the old National Geographic map was shown to him, Franklin Roosevelt was impressed with his predecessor Wilson's ideas of giving people self-determination, so much so that he was willing to overlook its use by Hitler. He pushed for such restructuring during the Yalta Conference, and Truman pushed harder at Potsdam. As the United Nations took form, these principles became critical to international policy, causing several borders to be reshuffled. "I've seen a map of Central/Eastern Europe showing ethnic groups, and the only way you'd have every ethnic group governed by itself would have been a hodgepodge of Ruritanian-style principalities that would make post-Westphalia Germany look like a sane setup." - reader's commentThe later National Geographic maps helped create the numerous nations of Africa and India during decolonization, following demographic populations rather than old imperialistic treaties.

With minimal reason for civil disputes (excluding internal affairs, such as the Chinese Civil War and the Restructure of Ireland of the 1980s), most wars during the latter part of the twentieth century were blocked by means of UN peacekeepers defending borders and diplomats discussing alternatives. Some instances required further breakup of nations, such as the dissolution of Iraq into Sunnistan, Kurdistan, and Iraq proper in 1963 and North and South Sudan in 1972.

Other instances, such as the Korean Police Action, ensured that the people of Korea were properly represented in democratic election of their pseudo-socialist republic in 1950.

Author says in reality Papen could not be convinced to aid Ireland more directly than a promise of liberation should the war bring Germany to the Emerald Isle. Roger Casement was captured just days before the Easter Uprising and executed for treason some months later. The battles during the week of Easter 1916 in Ireland would be bloody, and the rebellion would be ultimately crushed as 16,000 British troops arrived in Dublin. Some 20,000 German rifles and 10 machine guns were given to the Irish by the Germans, but they were scant in comparison with Irish needs and no German officers came to offer training for the newly developed weapons.
To view guest historian's comments on this post please visit the Today in Alternate History web site.

Jeff Provine, Guest Historian of Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today. Follow us on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.


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