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Shape of European economies without WWII or the Cold War

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  • Shape of European economies without WWII or the Cold War

    I was going to originally ask this as a much smaller: How much more wealthy would OTL East Germany be if it had been part of the Bundesrepublik? But that started to strike me as unambitious; grandiosity seems to be a flaw of mine, among others. So here's the multi pronged questions:

    1. Assume it is 1939. Adolf Hitler is overthrown on the eve of the occupation of Czechoslovakia. The military liquidates the Nazis (I have no doubt without Hitler they would) and begins to try and slow the economic train wreck Hitler was creating. Germany will not start World War II. Assume too that the Soviet Union will not make any aggressive moves either with a powerful German and Entente both available to fight them over Finland.

    How would the economies of Europe (UK, France, Germany, Poland, even the USSR) look today in comparison to their OTL counterparts? For instance, how much industrial capital would Russia have in say 1991 in a world where most of the USSR's industrial heartland wasn't chewed up in the Ostfront? Would Poland be better off with it's grand east, than the resources it appropriated from Germany in 1945? Would Germany still be a major producer of coal with Silesia? Could Germany become a major farming country in Europe with land reform, mechanization and the retention of the east (which IIRC was 1/3 of their food supply anyway)? I have few doubts that all of Europe would be better off without WWII, but just how much better and in what ways are things I hope to learn.

    Now let's take it one step further: assume WWII, the same outcome the same post war borders. NOW, assume that the USSR is unable maintain postwar occupation of the east, so that it is unable to create satellites. For this discussion, this is a premise, and it needs no justification, only acceptance. Assume too, Marshal Plan money to non-Stalinist Europe, as was the plan. How does Eastern Europe develop differently? I ask this to try and separate the damage of the war, and the damage that communism inflicted thereafter. A clear sense of difference is important to understanding both.

    Well, have at it! Thanks for your time and thoughts!
    How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
    275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird

  • #2
    notice how many are interested in your thread?
    "Ask not what your country can do for you"

    Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

    you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
      notice how many are interested in your thread?
      Whud I say? :?
      How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
      275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Wolery View Post
        Whud I say? :?
        Can I think about this and give a reasoned answer when I'm less tired?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Wolery View Post
          1. Assume it is 1939. Adolf Hitler is overthrown on the eve of the occupation of Czechoslovakia. The military liquidates the Nazis (I have no doubt without Hitler they would) and begins to try and slow the economic train wreck Hitler was creating. Germany will not start World War II. Assume too that the Soviet Union will not make any aggressive moves either with a powerful German and Entente both available to fight them over Finland.
          This is actually entire possible. Halder plotted a coup if war occurred over Czechoslovakia.

          Without the millions of dead,wounded and missing all economies of all countries would be better. GDP would be higher for everyone. The SU having suffered the worst would of course benefit the most. Poland would be next most improved.

          Germany benefits as well because it isn't bombed into the stone age.

          The biggest economic loser would be the US. Without the massive transfer of wealth from France and the UK, the US economy would have grown much less whereas the French and UK economies would have grown more. France and the UK would still be colonial powers for a few decades more. The US boom of the 50s is lessened as there are still competitors.

          Does Japan's war with China and the US's reaction to it still happen in your timeline? Is there still a pacific war? China is a big question here? What does a world where Mao never rules China look like?

          There are probably 3 major power competing economic blocks. The democracies, the central European powers and the communists. Over time the central European powers merge with the democracies. Eventually the communist collapse.

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          • #6
            The worst of the Great Depression was over. New technologies like automobiles, aircraft, radio, petroleum production, diesel engines; were ready to replace older industrial tech like passenger rail, coal power, steam locomotives, ect... I'd predict a earlier run up to the rising prosperity of the 1950s & 1960s.

            Politically there was still the Japanese/China conflict. How that might play out is a tough one. having avoided war in Europe Britain & France would be reluctant to be involved in a Asian war.

            Even if the USSR ceases support of a active Communist revolution there is still likely to be social & ethnic tension across Europe & elsewhere.

            In the US Roosevelt may very well lose the 1940 election & certainly 1944. His health might also discourage him from running in 1944 anyway. Even if Roosevelt runs & wins in 1940 Congress is likely to pick up more Republicans.

            The largest effect globally would be the reduced stress on the European empires. France, Belgium, Portugal, Italy, Britain, Netherlands, ect.. would be no worse off in 1948 than in 1938 as far as control of the colonies goes. perhaps a few 'protectorates' would follow the Phillipines to independance, but the European empires should still be fairly stable a decade later in 1950.

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            • #7
              One stange effect of war is the rapidity of technologies, without WW2 how far behind would we be in current technologies, just think about it.

              Would Jet aircraft have progressed as it did without war, computers (to break codes and computational calculations of ballistic trajectories) Radar, chemistry, atomic research (It may have been decades before we had atomic weapons), space exploration, without the Germans and their V-2's we dont have the US and Soviets having a base to conduct a space race.

              Telecommunications, for a start we would not at this point have an internet, personal computers would still be decades away, mobile (cell) phones would not exist today, we would most likely have the most primative communication satellites, certainly we would never have sent a man to the moon, not would we have sent any probes further to the moon.

              Without WW2 we would be technologically wise have the level of technology of the 1950's.

              On political issues, without WW2 every European colony in Africa would still be under colonial rule, the State of Israel would not exist. Nationalist Socialism would still be in charge of Germany, the USA would still be relatively isolationist and a vastly smaller military influence and certainly would never have risen to any meaningful worth on the Political scene.

              China would have continued to be occupied by the Japanese for several more decades before finally being defeated by sheer weight of numbers, Mao would fade away into obscurity, China to emerge as a strong democracy to act as bulwark against Japan, however Japan retains Manchuria and Korea as part of any peace deal. Without communism in China and it's spread places like French Indo China stays French no Vietnam war, nor does a military junta in Burma. India however does gain independence. Austalia still under direct power of the Monachy and still have the White Australia Policy.

              Anything else i'll add later

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              • #8
                Tricksy there, Wolery - two questions for the price of one.

                I'll answer the "no WW2". Germany will still be a strange amalgam of militarism and extreme right-wing politics for many years, which would tend to limit investment in consumer goods. The one benefit the Germans got out of losing WW2 was having everybody else pay for their defence, so they could spend the money on social programmes instead. France would also be spending heavily on arms for several years, and I'm not sure if the Third Republic would have survived too much longer. It really was politically unstable. The war actually stabilised French politics. Further east, in Poland, Hungary and Romania, the rise of right-wing authoritarian regimes prior to WW2, mostly in response to the Bear next door, may have prompted a degree of regional instability - it all depends on how Stalin responds. But I can't see a political change until he goes. Without the ravages of war, most of these economies will continue to grow, with Poland perhaps modernising more, as they still face the twin threats of Germany and the USSR. Czechoslovakia is the one bright spot, but is and economy I know too little about. By 1939, the Depression has more or less finished and international trade is picking up. Those countries that make goods the world want will be cashing in.

                The one big difference is that there will be much less social change. Because Nazism/fascism hasn't truly shown how evil it can be, the politics will be more toward the hard right in border states, and workers' rights will be retarded. And certainly there will be no EU.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Roddoss72 View Post
                  One stange effect of war is the rapidity of technologies, without WW2 how far behind would we be in current technologies, just think about it.

                  Would Jet aircraft have progressed as it did without war,
                  By the present day? Yes. The surge of wartime development would have been much less, but there were huge incentives to convert to jet engines during the 1950s & the development would have caught up.

                  Originally posted by Roddoss72 View Post
                  computers (to break codes and computational calculations of ballistic trajectories)
                  Those were well developed before the war. IBM had been selling tabulating machines in bulk for fifty years & electronic developments were just around the corner. Military fire control computers were well developed as well & again the conversion from mechanical to electronic was in the research phase in the 1930s. yet again the war created a surge of development, that would have been covered over another decade anyway.

                  Originally posted by Roddoss72 View Post
                  Radar,
                  The foundation of radar development was established by 1939. The PoD here would not affect that.

                  Originally posted by Roddoss72 View Post
                  chemistry, atomic research (It may have been decades before we had atomic weapons),
                  The USN budgeted its first research for atomic weapons in 1939. As you say there would be a delay due to the lack of urgency.

                  Originally posted by Roddoss72 View Post
                  space exploration, without the Germans and their V-2's we dont have the US and Soviets having a base to conduct a space race.

                  Telecommunications, for a start we would not at this point have an internet, personal computers would still be decades away, mobile (cell) phones would not exist today, we would most likely have the most primative communication satellites, certainly we would never have sent a man to the moon, not would we have sent any probes further to the moon.
                  I think you are grossly overstating the course of development. To understand the trajectory of industrial & technological development you need to look at the period of the 1890s through to 1929. The global depression of the 1930s stagnated R & D for many years, but this was not the norm for the 20th Century. Taking a broader look at industrial development from the begainings of the industrial revolution in the 18th Century one can see a accelerating pace of technology development through the 19th & across the 20th Century. Periodically this has slowed momentarily during widespread economic disruptions, like the interwar depression. However the overall trend has been a ever steeper curve upwards.

                  It is possible the post WWII economic situation actually offset the wartime surge in technology development. With much of the worlds industry in ruins, or misaligned towards military needs it took nearly a decade to rebuild & revamp industry to take full advantage of the technologies developed since the middle 1920s. That is industrial development did not 'normalize' to the trends established 1890-1925 until after 1950.

                  Originally posted by Roddoss72 View Post
                  On political issues, without WW2 every European colony in Africa would still be under colonial rule, the State of Israel would not exist. Nationalist Socialism would still be in charge of Germany,
                  That assumes the NASDP does not muck it up completely & is 'removed'. There is strong evidence from more than one historian that the NASDP government was only a year or two from severe bankruptcy by early 1939. Internal party fights & another severe fiscal crises could have wrecked the nazi vision.

                  Originally posted by Roddoss72 View Post
                  the USA would still be relatively isolationist and a vastly smaller military influence and certainly would never have risen to any meaningful worth on the Political scene.
                  The US already was meaningfull on the world political scene. The concept of superpower from post 1950 would not have applied. With a much changed world ecnomy & hence political weight for Europe there would still be multiple centers of power, vs the bipolar political scene of the Cold War. The principle weight of the US would still be in the Western hemisphere & Pacifica. Beyond that there is the effect of a potiential US/Japan war.

                  Originally posted by Roddoss72 View Post
                  China would have continued to be occupied by the Japanese for several more decades before finally being defeated by sheer weight of numbers, Mao would fade away into obscurity, China to emerge as a strong democracy to act as bulwark against Japan,
                  I'm unsure if democracy would have developed in China. The KMT was in all essentials facist & totalitarian. The warlords were not a democratic alternative. The best possiblity is a development of a single party industrial state something like the communist government of present day China. Alternatively the corruption & incompetence of the KMT leadership might not have improved, leading to further economic stagnation & yet another revolution or some sort.

                  Originally posted by Roddoss72 View Post
                  however Japan retains Manchuria and Korea as part of any peace deal. Without communism in China and it's spread places like French Indo China stays French no Vietnam war, nor does a military junta in Burma. India however does gain independence. Austalia still under direct power of the Monachy and still have the White Australia Policy.
                  Those appear plausable. Exactly what happens to Japans empire is something of a wild card. Perhaps a US/Chinese war against Japan ends the 'China Incident' with a humiliated Japan making do with its Manchria/Korean territories. Over the longer haul I suspect another Japnese war of the latter 20th Century to satisfy Chinese revanchists, but that assumes China recovers enough economically to realistcally contemplate a war.

                  Perhaps if the USSR does collapse & become substantially weaker Japan may take a shot at the "Northern Resource Area". As in 1904 the US might have something to say about that.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by AdrianE View Post
                    Does Japan's war with China and the US's reaction to it still happen in your timeline? Is there still a pacific war? China is a big question here? What does a world where Mao never rules China look like?
                    Hi Adrian!

                    I haven't given any thought to the Far East issues, partially because they are even murkier than the European issues. It is my firm belief that the US will NEVER go to war against a great power ever again after WWI unless they are attacked first (I say this in light the Wye Commission, and the conduct of the Cold War/ World War II was an aberration and American involvement only possible with Pearl Harbor). If you except that, there is going to be no gallant American action to save China, and I do not believe that even an embargo is possible without the occupation of Indochina, and even then, the British and Dutch will not agree to it for a host of reasons.

                    So I will guess, not premise, that China will become Japan's Vietnam: China is unconquerable by the Japanese because of their occupation policies and horrid logistics, and the Military Shogunate has no idea what victory in China looks like. Eventually, they will withdraw due to economic constraints, or repeat Kalan Gol and strike north and be punked by the Red Army. Now, I do believe that Stalin would try and conquer Europe if he was sure he'd win, but Stalin's not stupid enough to tangle with a pristine Wehrmacht. In Asia, the Red Army can wipe the floor with the Japanese, I mean it would be A LOT more painful than August Storm, but the Red Army was larger and superior to the Japanese Army in every way but troop discipline (and yes, that counts for a great deal). But, as I understand it, there's nothing in Asia Stalin wants, and nothing he couldn't get far cheaper through peaceful means.

                    This question was actually more towards utilization of resources questions. Simply put, caring the continent in two and bombing it's major industry to pudding carries great cost. For instance, let's run with the longer colonies aspect. I seriously, SERIOUSLY, doubt the Europeans will groom their colonies for independence at all. Even as last as 1954, European politicians were crowing about never giving up the colonies. But would those colonies have been better off in output to have become independent or to have stayed under the colonial boot? Would they have the exploding populations of today, or would European medicine have come with mass education and cheap birth control? What does a more stable Africa look like? Would a place like Bangladesh have been better off without the death of the Raj?
                    How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
                    275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Crap! Did I kill my own thread? I thought I had one of the more useful WWII counterfactuals here...
                      How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
                      275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I think the question might have been too broad - people couldn't decide which variation to answer, so they didn't. Maybe narrow the question down a little, or make it more controversial - Hitler attacks a capitalist Soviet Union.

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                        • #13
                          It is a difficult subject. Aside from being broad most folks here dont have a broad enough knowledge of 20th Century economics & social trend to wrestle with the question.

                          Anyway, Asia with its emerging imperialist Japan & the sickend giant of China is where the tensions of the 1940s & 1950s would mostly lie. If Japan stumbles into war with either China, the USSR, or the US it would be the event of the decade.

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                          • #14
                            Definitely. Japan saw the USSR as the natural enemy in the Far East, and hence the excursion into Manchuria (not official policy). The Japanese were after autarky and thought Manchuria would help, but they were chasing phantoms much as Nazi Germany was in that regard.

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