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Old January 25 2014, 11:11 AM   #16
rhubarbodendron
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Re: If Nazi's had not been defeated space timeline reasonable?

valid point.

Yet I think it fits here allright as it deals with how Germany might possibly have developed in the scientific and technological sector.

Also, due to it mentioning Nazis, I think it'd be too controversial a topic for MISC. While here in the Science forum people can be trusted to discuss things in a way that's not too emotional, over there the thread would very likely derail and get dangerousely close to a flamewar.
You might now reasonably point out that it might in this case be better moved to TNZ. But in that case the flame war would almost be pre-programmed since by the very act of posting the thread there, the general focus would be shifted to the political aspects rather than the scientific ones.

In the end it's a matter of interpretation and individual preferences. (And of course the thread starter's and Moderators' decision.)
Personally, I have to admit that while I usually feel highly uncomfortable with Nazi-ish topics (for danger of being misinterpreted and consequently flamed), I find myself unexpectedly enjoying talking this topic over with scientific-minded intelligent people.
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Old January 25 2014, 12:07 PM   #17
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Re: If Nazi's had not been defeated space timeline reasonable?

Nothing's wrong with hypothesizing or speculation. We can learn a lot about the real world by doing that. For example, we might wonder what the consequences might have been, if, in 1940, a nationally prominent social worker in the US, who had gotten her start in a New York soup kitchen and who had once narrowly escaped being run over by a car, urged the President not to send the Pacific Fleet to Pearl Harbor, under the premise that it would be interpreted by the Japanese as a hostile act.

However, the OP has provided no link to the source of the timeline given in the OP post and no discussion of the methodology upon which it was based. He's tossed out some hypotheticals, but he didn't connect anything up with the timeline given in the OP. DarthTom is apparently in contact with the person who created the timeline given in the OP. By my first question, I was implicitly hoping that he could disclose some of the methodology upon which it was based, or at least spell out the major assumptions, by consulting with the person who came up with it in the first place.

Since that hasn't happened, I'm not even sure what's being discussed. Is the discussion in relation to the OP timeline, or is this more a general discussion now of various what-if scenarios?

In my second post, I was primarily objecting to the idea that "Any assumption is as good as any other", because in science that is not so. In science, plausibility matters, and if an assumption is implausible it really must be identified as such. You seemed to concede that that was a valid point, which is the main thing I was looking for there. If it's not the case that any idea is as good as any other, then I believe that this discussion can fit in the context of science.

However, I would like to know what the purpose of the OP was. Are we helping someone write a science fiction novel, or what? If we are, then I think that that really needs to be disclosed.
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Old January 25 2014, 12:22 PM   #18
rhubarbodendron
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Re: If Nazi's had not been defeated space timeline reasonable?

ah, now I get what you meant! I totally second that. It'd be interesting to know on which basis this educated guess was made.
I find the time frame a bit cramped. We Germans pride ourselves to be good inventors but I don't think we could have developed space ships that quickly, even under optimal conditions (intact industry, lots of money, no shortage of materials). We have an unfoortunate tendency to second-guess each and everything, including ourselves. That costs a lot of time (but also saves a lot of "If only we had"). I'm curious to see why in this model the development was assumed to be so fast.

I can see what you disliked about my "one guess is as good as any other". I should perhaps have elaborated a bit more clearly.
In my experience, the very same facts can often be interpreted very differently, depending on many factors (education, cultural background, frame of mind, even a bad hair day might influence our way of looking at things). Therefore it's very likely for quite different theories being made from the same vantage-point.
Usually, reality will sooner or later prove one of these theories to be correct or at least more likely.
However, as we are talking about a completely imaginary scenario, we are deprived of this practical proof. And a purely analytical proof would again be based on our different interpretations and thus lead us back in a circle. Everyone would be convinced that he or she was right, because everyone instinctively tends to rate one's owns ideas higher than those of others.

Because neither theory could impartially be proved to be the correct one, I concluded that each theory would be of as much worth as any other.
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Old January 25 2014, 12:36 PM   #19
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Re: If Nazi's had not been defeated space timeline reasonable?

Rhubarbodendron wrote: View Post
If I, being a native German, can accept the topic and discuss it without calling people ignorant for no other reason than them disagreeing with me, why can't you? ...

... It's only natural and very human to feel so loyal but in a discussion one must attempt to put loyalties aside and remain fair and open-minded.
I put forward that the person who invented this what-if timeline was/is ignorant of World War II. Specifically, I meant ignorant of what Nazi's were. I'm not implying anything further, or trying to insult this person.

The Nazi government poured enormous resources into engineering technology to improve their military might and some of what they came up with remains quite impressive. Particularly in the area of rocketry. And I can well-imagine someone imagining about those impressive technical implications and what those machines would've been able to evolve into, from an engineering point of view.

However, this treatment of Naziism as a viable mechanism for governing a nation is where this person's imagine is in error. Nazi Germany was also pouring enormous resources into its death camps: the transportation of huge masses of people and the desposal of enormous quantities of corpses. This was a willfull, deliberate drain on the German economy, which was not robust, to begin with. There was a lot of "Creative Marketing" going on, just to maintain the illusion that it was.

Nobody else's opinions mattered to the Nazi Party, except for their own. And whomever was not of them was going to get humiliated, tortured and murdered, including (but not limited to) Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals, the mentally challenged, the physically impaired, the weak, any and all dissidents (proven to be, or otherwise) and anyone they arbitrarily didn't like the looks of. That was their ambition and even if they'd won the war, the financial, logistical and physical drains on the german government would've simply forced The Fatherland to collapse into destitution and chaos.

The Nazi Party was not The Cardisassians, or the Klingons, or some work of fiction that had a future that could be played out according to an imagination without a rule book. If you're going to use this "what if" scenario on an actual party group, in this case, the Nazi's ... then you are going to have to play it by their rules. Especially, if the intentions for this exercise are trying to be sincere, at all.
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Old January 25 2014, 05:07 PM   #20
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Re: If Nazi's had not been defeated space timeline reasonable?

2takesfrakes wrote: View Post
The Nazi Party was not The Cardisassians, or the Klingons, or some work of fiction that had a future that could be played out according to an imagination without a rule book. If you're going to use this "what if" scenario on an actual party group, in this case, the Nazi's ... then you are going to have to play it by their rules.
I agree with this and with much of 2takes' other commentary on the structural flaws of Nazism, and the Reich's ultimate basic unsuitability for becoming a viable space power.

The really basic problem is working out just how much has to be changed to produce a "victorious" Nazi Germany at all and figure out what that country looks like. The leadership's obsession with astrology and occultism and suspicious, inconsistent and chancy embrace of rationalism wasn't a feature of just Hitler's personality; it was a fundamental feature of fascism, a built-in part of the whole exercise of building a party and state around a cult of sub-rational ultra-nationalism and the semi-magical collective "will" of a people as embodied in its leader. Was there a way to make this project into any kind of long-term viable modern state at all? It's really very hard to say, but I lean toward agreeing with 2takes that the answer is probably "no"... at least not without the result being Nazi in name only, a route which robs a lot of resonance from the idea of a Third Reich space programme.

Some of the Nazis' most famous technical achievements as it is just barely survived being snuffed out by intra-party rivalries. This includes the V-2 rocket program -- which at an rate ultimately delivered little practical benefit to the war effort, the benefits were reaped mainly by the Americans after the war -- as recounted in The Rocket and The Reich by Michael Neufeld.
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Old January 25 2014, 09:04 PM   #21
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Re: If Nazi's had not been defeated space timeline reasonable?

I highly doubt that alternate scenario would have worked if the Nazis won (for the sake of argument we believe they won even though realistically they had no chance).

For me it comes down to pure economy.. there was no sustainable Nazi economy at all. It was running on credit since the Nazis took over and if they hadn't started WW2 they would have collapsed sometime in the 40s.

Given that a Space Program takes up huge ressources especially in the first stages Germany would be hard pressed to finance this. It would take up valuable ressources both in money and engineering/science staff needed that could be better used elsewhere.

However it is proven that given the right motivation the timeline doesn't seem unreasonable. Just look at the US after the Sputnik shock and what a big nation with ressources can accomplish if the whole nation sets their mind to it. If the US didn't roll back tremendously after the first moon landings we'd have space stations by the 90s and might be on our way to Mars by now.
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Old January 26 2014, 12:35 PM   #22
rhubarbodendron
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Re: If Nazi's had not been defeated space timeline reasonable?

But we'd very likely also have a situation like in Orwell's 1984 and would be spied on and threatened by a system of satellites armed with nuclear missiles.


While I very much agree with the gist of the last 3 posts above, I would also like to point out that these developments were and are not restricted to Germany in the 40s. There are horrifying parallels in our time and in countries that we tend to consider as civilized. The scary and utterly frustrating thing is that the whole world looks away.


As for the German genocide: I was very astonished about these figures myself:

Number of people killed in WW2 (including civilians): 65 millions
Number of slaves imported by what is now the US: 29 millions (of which 4.6 million survived)
Number of people killed in WW1 (including civilians): 17 millions
Number of people killed in Viet Nam (including civilians): 4 Millions
Number of people killed in concentration camps: 1.1-1.5 millions

Pretty horrible list, isn't it?
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Old January 26 2014, 12:59 PM   #23
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Re: If Nazi's had not been defeated space timeline reasonable?

Rhubarbodendron wrote: View Post
But we'd very likely also have a situation like in Orwell's 1984 and would be spied on and threatened ...
It's more than a little ironic that this is exactly what the United States itself has been up to and continues to engage in, on it's own citizens. It's so bad that the NSA, DEA, FBI and all down the line can actually hide their tracks in an open court of law, so that whatever evidence is presented is not linked to spying as the source - and doesn't get thrown out. We don't have termination camps, but the U.S. has surely taken more than a few pages from facism, since the Fifties, to preserve power over its own. And yet, we're the country whom The World is expected to admire and imitate.

Rhubarbodendron wrote: View Post
As for the German genocide: I was very astonished about these figures myself:
...
Pretty horrible list, isn't it?
Again, all of the technology they developed, all of the Nazi Party's resources went towards extermination and slavery of others. They also had to finance brooming as much of this as was necessary to hide it from the German people. These great achievements of this person's imaginary timeline simply could not apply to the Nazi Party. That's not what they were about, or were aiming for. They were not destined for greatness ... even if, and especially, if they'd won the war.
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Old January 26 2014, 02:02 PM   #24
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Re: If Nazi's had not been defeated space timeline reasonable?

as a matter of fact, I meant to refer to the Bush administration's spy satellite programme. It was a reply to the last sentecne of FPAlpha's post.
It's a great comfort that the American population (at least part of them) feels the same about such a scenario as we do.


I differ a bit with you on the second issue. I don't think extermination and slavery were the main issues. At least not from the start. They became a necessity only much later.
In order to understand the situation in Germany in the early 30s you have to take the historical background into consideration: according to the Versailles Treaty made immediately after WW1, Germany had to bear the full weight of the reparation payments (even though Austria had started the war and we were just forced by a contract to assist them). The victors of WW1 stripped Germany of allmost all factories. Literally! They disassembled them and reassembled them in their own countries.
With their economy having been totally destroyed and the last cent pulled from their pockets, the people naturally would follow anyone who tolerably convincingly promised them a better life.


[warning: use of direct speech in the following does NOT express my views. My personal opinion is in fact quite different. But this way it's easier to show you how people thought]

It's quite revealing that WW2 started with an invasion in Poland: they had rich soils and huge wheat fields. Conquering them meant having bread.
However, an army and a supply system requires money. Where to get that? You can't take it from your fellows - they'd kill you. You need a scapegoat. Rich and foreign, preferably. That's how the Jews got into focus. Since the middle ages they had been forbidden craftsmanship. So they became merchants and money lenders (the latter being a profession the Church explicitly forbid to Christians). 6 or 7 generations later, their families had naturally amassed some wealth (if they had survived previous genocides of which there were galore).
Nobody likes a rich banker. And if he has a funny religion and generally doesn't quite fit in he makes a wonderful scapegoat. And if the Jew is no banker but a shop owner, you can still give his business to one of your followers. One content voter more plus you show that you care for your people. Nice advertizing for free.

That's how it started. Killing gipsies was the next logical step: not fitting in, not being socially accepted, considered scum. Let's get rid of them. And while we are at it, how about all these scary and weird insane people? They are an eyesore and a disgrace. Everybody wants so much not to see them. But keeping them in asylums is pretty expensive in the long run. Let's cut the costs and just put them all to sleep. It's so much more humane as well. After all, what kind of a life would they have?

And at some point along this development it all got out of hand. More money was needed for more weapons. That required more conquering. POWs were made but they were expensive to feed. Best put them to work and earn their living. On second thought, cancel the living - we'll get new ones in the next battle.
And once the victories ended and the defeats started there was the population to be kept under control. The intelligent ones had to be silenced and the stupid ones kept busy.
At that point they stood with their backs to the wall and knew it. It was just a matter of keeping face from then on, and to do as much damage to the enemies as possible. The inmates of the concentration camps were to be collected and destroyed. There were few trains and so they had to walk. Hundreds of miles. The death marches they called them, and that they were. It is rumoured that more people died then than in the camps (I am not sure if that's true - there are no documents from that time, only a handfull of secretly made photos).
That - only a few weeks before the capitulation - was the point when the majority of the population learned the truth about the concentration camps. Before that there had been rumours but I would like to give at least the more simpleminded villagers the benefit of the doubt. In my opinion the vast majority could have known with a little effort but was simply not interested in finding out.
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Old January 26 2014, 03:54 PM   #25
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Re: If Nazi's had not been defeated space timeline reasonable?

Dolph was quite clear in Mein Kampf and the Table Talks Bormann had transcribed, the whole point was there were the Aryans and the Jews along with other lesser folk. He intended to wipe out that lot and leave just the Aryan standing. Leaving them to parade around on idyllic farms with bimbo blondes serving the men and slaves doing the work. There was no use for space exploration in the Nazi mind. Science and technology were nothing but a means to that end. The man was turgid, but not ambiguous.
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Old January 26 2014, 08:27 PM   #26
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Re: If Nazi's had not been defeated space timeline reasonable?

Rhubarbodendron wrote: View Post
There are horrifying parallels in our time and in countries that we tend to consider as civilized.
Our era is apparently keen to experiment with how exactly it can reproduce the preconditions that led to historical fascism (and revolutionary communism) from governmental gridlock to rotting zombie-economies propped up by Pinkertonian authoritarianism to rampantly idiotic gilded-age neo-aristocracy... I guess in a sort of blind bet that none of the really bad stuff will happen again because of reasons.

This however has nothing to do with whether the alternate timeline is plausible.
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Old January 26 2014, 10:26 PM   #27
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Re: If Nazi's had not been defeated space timeline reasonable?

Why is it always the Nazis? What about someone who actually did more than destroy half the world at the time? I mean the Romans. Why is nobody asking if the Romans couldn't have gotten us to Mars by year 1000? They had such potetnial and momentum that if they had chosen to focus much on research and discovery, who knows what might have happened. Advances to material sciences and technology, an industrual age a millennium earlier...

Yeah, pretty unlikely, but at least it wasn't someone who was spending all their resources on destruction and going backwards.
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Old January 27 2014, 11:31 PM   #28
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Re: If Nazi's had not been defeated space timeline reasonable?

How about the opposite question? What if the Nazis and the other factors that led to WWII had been defused or dealt with quickly so that it never happened, or at least so that it never escalated into a World War? My opinion is that any modern space program would be even less advanced than what we have now.

I'm no historian and couldn't even guess at a timeline. But at the very least FDR probably wouldn't have been re-elected (and I'm not sure Churchill would have come to power at all). The U.S. probably wouldn't have pulled out of the Depression any time soon without the war driving it. There'd be no push to make a lot of the industrial and technological developments that were driven by the war, including nuclear weapons.

On the other hand, the rivalry between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. probably would have occurred regardless and might have resulted in full-scale war without the nuclear deterrence we had. Perhaps sooner or later that would have spurred a lot of the same developments anyway?

Opinions? Feel free to shoot down any of my points.
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Old January 28 2014, 12:01 AM   #29
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Re: If Nazi's had not been defeated space timeline reasonable?

Silvercrest wrote: View Post
How about the opposite question? What if the Nazis and the other factors that led to WWII had been defused or dealt with quickly so that it never happened, or at least so that it never escalated into a World War? My opinion is that any modern space program would be even less advanced than what we have now.

I'm no historian and couldn't even guess at a timeline. But at the very least FDR probably wouldn't have been re-elected (and I'm not sure Churchill would have come to power at all). The U.S. probably wouldn't have pulled out of the Depression any time soon without the war driving it. There'd be no push to make a lot of the industrial and technological developments that were driven by the war, including nuclear weapons.

On the other hand, the rivalry between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. probably would have occurred regardless and might have resulted in full-scale war without the nuclear deterrence we had. Perhaps sooner or later that would have spurred a lot of the same developments anyway?

Opinions? Feel free to shoot down any of my points.
For a long time, I was flabbergasted at how much of the space age was pioneered during WWII. Now that I'm more used to it, I'm only continually amazed.
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Old January 28 2014, 12:07 AM   #30
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Re: If Nazi's had not been defeated space timeline reasonable?

Basically, the early space age was a byproduct of the age of rocketry and ballistic weaponry. In any situation where these (and their necessary support and targeting systems, as CC reminds) develop, something analogous to our space age will develop, although the details and specific timeline will vary.
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