Saturday, January 07, 2012

Hitler's Britain ~ What ifs & Revisionism

I've recently watched Hitler's Britain on DVD. This was originally a documentary film shown on TV in the UK in 2002, later in Canada, and, I think, on PBS in the USA.

The film, a detailed exercise of the "what if" variety, describes the consequences of a hypothetical German victory over Britain in World War II. The key ingredient is a reversal of the actual British victory in the Battle of Britain. The film has the Germans as victors, allowing them to pursue Operation Sea Lion, a documented plan to invade and occupy Britain. World War II newsreel footage, actual German documentary evidence, modern mock-ups, and interviews with survivors of the war, are combined to present a vision of how life in Britain would have progressed, had a full-scale German invasion occurred.

I usually enjoy "what ifs", but this one was a little too close for comfort. I was a very young baby when World War II broke out, living in one of the country's key east coast ports. I, along with many thousands of others would certainly not have lived the life I have been able to live if this particular "what if" scenario had taken place.

The film covers a lot of ground, ends on a dismal note after revealing much I didn't know about a secret "resistance" army that was in place, at least in the south of England, where much of the attention is focused. The north was to be under the thumb of Lord Halifax, said to have been friendly to the Germans, along with an un-abdicated Edward VIII and his princess Wallis ensconced in Scotland as puppet royals.

Oddly, maybe deliberately, nothing much was said about Britain's powerful Royal Navy, or what remained of the Royal Air Force after Battle of Britain. They would have doubtless put up a strong secondary fight at the time of any attempted German invasion. It was presented as "a piece of cake" - bit too easy; poetic licence I guess. Churchill had been killed. George VI and family had been shunted off to Canada....not that they'd have been of much use in any case. Britain's Jewish residents, and others, brightest and best from Britain's universities, businesses etc. would have been dealt with in much the same manner as their counterparts in German occupied Europe: gotten rid of in the nastiest ways imaginable!

One good thing about watching films like Hitler's Britain: the experience makes one feel thankful for the present, warts and all.

In looking at a few reviews of Hitler's Britain I came across some peculiar revisionist views on World War II. I look on revisionism as the other ugly sister of conspiracy theory - decent sister being honest "what if" exercises. In all cases factors involved are real enough, but have been swivelled and skewed, moulded and twisted to present something different. That's fine if it's purely a creative mental exercise, a result of curiosity, never presented as an alternative truth.

Anything in life is "revision-able", nothing is sacred to revisionists, or to the most determined of conspiracy theorists, especially if the result will sell books and lectures.

I'm not intending to imply that everything we are officially told is always pristine truth. I'm not naive enough to think so. There's always more than enough wiggle room for backroom deals and known unknowns. Even so, Occam's Razor is a fine tool to keep handy.


Vanilla Rose said...

The "Daily Mail" would probably have been pleased if the Nazis had invaded.

Twilight said...

Vanilla Rose ~~ They might have had a few nasty shocks coming to 'em too, VR! ;-) And it would've served 'em right!