For: Professor M. Mitrovich
University of Chicago
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but some are worth much more. Many pictures, taken years apart, however, can tell an entire story. Four of these pictures, that of the famed luxury liner Titanic arriving in New York on its maiden voyage, the raising of the Rising Sun over reclaimed Iwo Jima, and the Stars and Stripes over the German Reichstag, both in the Second Great War, and then the Hammer and Sickle being planted on the Moon by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics are perhaps the four most famous pictures of the past century.
However, all four can be tied together, to show that, not only are part of the mosaic of history, but they can all be linked together as a single story. It may seem ridiculous, and down-right silly, but it is possible, and I am to show it in this essay.
On April 16, 1912, the R.M.S. Titanic arrived in New York City, after a maiden crossing that nearly ended before the ship left England less than a week earlier, when the ship nearly collided with another ship. However, except for a minor detour traveling through an ice field, the ship arrived safely. Among those on board was future President John Jacob Astor IV, who ran for the Republican Party of the US in 1916, and won over incumbent Democrat Woodrow Wilson. He was a staunch isolationist, and instead of drawing closer to the Allies in the First Great War (which had started in 1915 after the destruction of the Lusitania in Liverpool, England, blamed on German saboteurs) as Wilson had done, Astor continued to push for progressive reforms at home, and ignored the international situation.
In 1918, after the Dual Revolutions in Russia that toppled Czar Nicholas II and the Empire, and established the first Communist government in the world, Germany was able to force their way through the deadlock of the Western Front by attacking through the demoralized French forces. This resulted in the fall of Paris in May, 1919, and the encirclement of the British Army in Northern France after German forces reached Caen in Normandy. With France already out of the war, and facing a Communist revolution of its own, Britain gave up. In the Peace of Potsdam, France had to give up most of its colonial empire to Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy, while Britain had to grant independence to India.
Through the 1920s and 1930s, the prosperity that covered the world before the war was slow in returning, and had only begun to pick up speed when the Vienna Stock Market crashed in September, 1934. In the next few years, neither Britain nor France was able to salvage its democratic government, and both became “National Socialist” dictatorships, the former under Oswald Mosley, the later under Pierre Semard. After their brutal rise to power and the alienation of the Soviet Union, led by Leon Trotsky since the death of Lenin in 1929, the two nations formed a new alliance in 1937 and attacked the German Empire in 1940, forcing the Kaiser and the German government to flee to Austria, while the Soviet Union remained neutral, though expressed contempt for the “Corrupted Marxism of the West.” However, German and Austro-Hungarian (called the “Teutonic”) forces were able to prevent the French and British from south to Vienna, the whole of Bohemia and Moravia turning into a First Great War battlefield with trenches and bombed out towns and ruined mines and factories.
In 1942, the United States under President J. Edgar Hoover was thrust into war when British and French troops, based in Canada, attacked the US for abandoning the Allies in the First Great War. The unprepared Americans were finally able to check the Allies at Philadelphia, Bismarck, North Dakota, and Portland, Oregon after a miserable winter of fighting, and began the liberation of occupied America, and later into Canada, with the help of the German Navy in cutting supplies (although the British and French Fleets were more than a match, most of the force was still in European waters to protect against invasion). The able leadership of Hoover, and military officers such as Patton, Eisenhower, and German General Adolf Hitler, who was sent to train the Americans in modern warfare, helped turn the tide of war.
As America fought the British and French, the Japanese launched a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and quickly captured the Philippines, much to the shock of the US, but they were too busy with their own invasion to do much about it. After the French and British were evicted from North America, the US launched an attack on Iwo Jima, hoping to threaten Japan into making peace by taking this strategic island. However, the Japanese quickly counterattacked, and in a bitter battle against green and untested American soldiers, where victorious, raising their flag over Iwo Jima again. The battle, however, made both Japan and America realize that neither would be able to win against the other, so signed a peace treaty in 1945.
America focused its attention to Europe, but it took months of hard fighting with the help of her German allies to whittle down the British and French fleets to allow a secure crossing. In 1946, after the massive and deadly Battle of the Atlantic, the US felt secure enough to mount an amphibious assault on Britain, to use the island as a springboard into Europe itself. The shock of the landing forced the overthrow of Oswald Mosley, and German/American forces were able to secure the British Isles as a base to attack the French.
In the summer of 1947, American forces landed in the Netherlands, and in a three pronged assault strove to cut off the majority of forces in occupied Germany by racing to the Swiss border, while pushing east from the Rhine toward Berlin, and west toward Paris. After cutting off the majority of forces from supply from the French homeland, the Teutonic armies began the long hard slog, liberating Prague in the spring of 1948. A few months later, the armored spearheads of America reached the outskirts of Berlin, and in a massive battle that nearly leveled the city, the US managed to occupy the German capital, and raised the Stars and Stripes over the Reichstag.
With the Liberation of Berlin, all forces were directed against France proper. The death of Pierre Semard in a bombing raid in Bordeaux in August 1948 made the National Socialist state collapse in on itself, and France sued for peace. The British and French had the remainder of their colonial empires striped away, while Scotland and Ireland were granted freedom from England, while France was divided into multiple states, including Aquitaine, Brittany and Normandy, with Germany and Spain taking over a large amount of territory.
But the supreme victor of the war was the Soviet Union. Trotsky’s neutral policies, as well as selling weapons to the Teutonic and American forces, ensured its survival and prosperity, in comparison to the ruined cities of the US, Germany and the defeated France and Britain. The vast resources of the Soviet Union were used to build a perfect socialist state, the temptation of which was too much for the weakened German Empire which succumbed to Marxism in 1952. The Empire of Austria-Hungary survived, but was dependent on the trickle of American aid to survive.
The US struggled to rebuild its homeland, as well as control the rebellious Canadian territories that they occupied in the war. It wasn`t until the late 1950`s that America was truly on its feet again, only to surfer the blow of watching the Soviet Union launch the Space Race, sending rocket after rocket with many experiments into orbit: the first man-made satellite, the first animal, the first human and the first spacewalk, with nary a tragedy (or, at least, as far as we know).
Although the US under President George Patton tried to catch up to the Soviet Union after he was elected in 1960, it was too late. The premier goal of the exploration of space, the moon, was achieved by the USSR in 1963. The US seemed to enter a low period, while even the Hapsburg Empire at last succumbed to the inevitable march of Communism, and all of Europe was Red by the 1980`s. Japan holds on, with a large East Asian Empire to support it.
So, the picture of the Titanic arriving in New York in 1912, the flag raising over Iwo Jima and the Reichstag in the Second Great War, and the Soviet Flag on the Moon are all connected. Because the Titanic made it to New York, a future President of the US survived, who in turn insured that Great Britain and France would be defeated in the First Great War. In revenge, they would launch a war against the US, followed by opportunistic Japan which would end with the destruction of both of the European empire`s and the realization of Japanese strength, which resulted in two of the photographs: of the Japanese re-occupation of Iwo Jima and the American flag over the Reichstag. Because of the weakness of the Western powers after the war, only the Soviet Union could launch men into space, and eventually land on the moon and begin to build its far flung space empire. These four photos, when seen apart, are just points in history. When taken together, they show how interconnected the history of the world is.
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Tyler “Tbguy1992” Bugg is a Canadian History Student currently on summer break, and, if he can find time in between video games (ALTERNATE HISTORY video games, mind you), work and such, he tries to write. If he could find a job writing for a video games company for an Alternate History story set in Canada, the world will most likely stop turning for a moment while everyone comprehends it.