An International Blogfest for February 22nd


"The waters around Great Britain and Ireland, including the whole of the English Channel, are hereby declared to be a War Zone" (Admiral Hugo von Pohl)

An Englishman Alternate Historian writes - On this day Imperial Germany instituted unrestricted submarine warfare.

Great Britain had made a similar declaration three months earlier, using the Royal Navy to starve the Germans into defeat by classifying "food stuffs" as contraband. The severity of the British blockade did not go over well in America.

Alternate Historian
Blatantly provoked into retaliation by the British Admiralty, a fleet of twenty German U-boat moored at the Belgian port of Ostend began to sink Allied Ships at an alarming rate of two vessels per day, one hundred tonnes per month.
Because of the misuse of "false flags", neutral shipping was also put at risk and indeed von Pohl, the commander of the German High Seas Fleet warned that "it may not always be possible to prevent attacks on enemy ships from harming neutral ships".

On this day in history
The German Chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg argued that "shoot without warning" would antagonize the United States and other neutrals such as Brazil, and although he was overruled, he was of course proven to be quite right. Now Germany was demonized; rather than Great Britain, the Fatherland soon became the target of popular outrage in the United States.

Lured into a disastrous misstep, Imperial Germany had taken the first step on the road to war with America. And the continuing brutalization of the twentieth century moved forward, with a frightening pace. Such is the tragedy of war.

What if Robert Stewart did not ascend the throne of Scotland and found the House of Stuart in 1371?

A German Dirk Puehl writes - With high probability Robert Stewart’s rebellion of 1363 marks one of the turning points of history in England’s troublesome north and the end of the independent medieval kingdom of Scotland. Even though the English suffered a serious drawback or three, the Battle of Neville Cross and the capture of the King of the Scots, David II, was the beginning of the end. David, in English confinement since his 17th birthday returned to his native land almost an Englishman and with no heirs but King Edward III’s pressure at his back to remit his enormous ransom in favour of naming a scion of the House of Plantagenet as successor to the throne of Scotland, he was a rather unwelcome monarch.

Robert Stewart who ruled Scotland after a fashion would neither accept David as a king nor an even stronger English dominance in his homeland. Invoking again the so-called “Auld Alliance” with France and buying continental mercenaries from the money that was intended as first instalment for David’s ransom according to the Treaty of Berwick, he and his conspirators, the Lords of Douglas and March, suddenly proved themselves to be a real threat in Edward’s back while he was campaigning in France.
Unable to put down the Stewart’s revolt with his own meagre resources, King David fled to York to await Edward’s reaction, while the rebels quickly threatened Northumberland and moved South with considerable strength and took Durham in late July. Edward acted promptly. Withdrawing his support for Pedro the Cruel in Northern Spain, he recalled his sons Edward of Woodstock and John of Gaunt from that theatre and hurried them and their battle-hardened troops north to Normandy to cross the channel before the beginning of winter.

An alternate history by Dirk Puehl
While the Stewart’s undisciplined troops occupied themselves with plundering Northumbria and Durham, the Plantagenet’s princes’ army arrived in the North in October 1363. Lord Douglas’ hastily assembled contingent was defeated at the Battle of Barnard Castle, Robert tried to withdraw back to Scotland but his withdrawal went slowly and was hindered by the large baggage carts filled with plunder that his men insisted to bring with them.

Dirk Puehl
His column was literally rolled up by the English and what was left defeated on November 1st in the All Saints’ Battle near Bamburgh Castle. The Stewart was taken captive and executed in London in 1364.

With a victorious Plantagenet army at his back, David could return to Edinburgh but had no choice to name an English prince as his heir – John of Gaunt was named heir apparent on Christmas Day 1363 and acceded the throne as John II of Scotland after David’s dead on February 22nd 1371.

A last glimpse of Scottish independence in the Middle Ages was at least in debate, when King John II fell out with his brother Richard II, King of England, but, after the latter’s untimely death in 1400, John’s son Henry was crowned King of England and Scotland, the name of Scotland being a historical footnote for “The North” for a very long time.

..Watson & Crick combine with Pauling and Franklin to propose the double helix model.

A Dutchman Marko Bosscher writes -

Watson and Crick abandon search for DNA structure. "At once I felt something was not right. I could not pinpoint the mistake, however, until I looked at the illustrations for several minutes."

An alternate history by Marko Bosscher
As the fifties started the race for the structure of DNA was about to begin. In 1951 Linus Pauling had accurately described the helix structure of proteins and he was confident he could do the same for DNA. In the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge Watson and Crick were discussing the structure of DNA among themselves, although they were not officially allowed to work on this subject. Meanwhile at King´s College in London Rosalind Franklin was working with Maurice Wilkins and Ph.D. student Raymond Gosling on X-ray diffraction images of DNA

Marko Bosscher
The race was on! And it officially became a three horse race when the head of the Cavendish Laboratory, Sir Lawrence Bragg, finally gave Watson and Crick permission to pursue their search for the structure of DNA.

Franklin meanwhile had a hard time of it. Only just arriving in King´s College after years of successful work on X-ray diffraction in France she immediately came into conflict with Wilkins, who had been conducting DNA research with Gosling. As a compromise the research team was split between Wilkins and Franklin, with Gosling assigned as her student. Pauling was a experiencing problems of a different kind, his nuclear activism had led to his passport being revoked. Leaving him unable to visit conference in England attended by the other major players, his assistant Robert Corey would take his place.

Under pressure to gain results quickly Watson and Crick created a preliminary model of DNA, with a triple helix structure. In Cambridge Wilkins and Franklin were on a collision course, as Wilkins became convinced that DNA had a helix structure Franklin came to the opposite conclusion. Franklin´s direct and often abrasive personality didn´t help matters either. After regaining his passport Pauling did visit England, but he did not take note of Rosalind Franklin´s images. Perhaps Corey had failed to realise their importance. Or perhaps he was too preoccupied with his own triple helix model.

At the start of 1953 things came to a head, Franklin had decided to leave King´s College and DNA research behind forever. But not before sending out manuscripts describing her research, among the papers were two that described a double helix structure. Pauling meanwhile had decided to publish his triple helix model of DNA, and a prepublication version was circulated at the end of January, Watson and Crick having read the Pauling paper realised it was flawed. Watson approached Franklin for cooperation in a final attempt to beat Pauling, but she dismissed them. Because they did not have a valid competing model Watson and Crick were forced to call of the hunt.

While the race was seemingly over Wilkins and Gosling continued to work on DNA, building off the work in previous years. Although Watson, who was friends with Wilkins, had a large amount of input on the final work it was Franklin whose name would appear on the paper. Wilkins, Gosling and Franklin became famous as the discoverers of the structure of DNA, while the important work of Watson and Crick was unjustly ignored.

In reality: After the row between Franklin and Watson in early 1953 Wilkins gave Franklin’s data (including the vital 'Photograph 51') to Watson and Crick, who used it to create their double helix model of DNA. Franklin’s paper was published as as a supporting piece and generally overlooked.

..and Ngo Dinh Diem is assassinated in 1957

An American Professor Jeff Provine writes -

While touring an economic fair in Buon Ma Thuot, President of the Republic of Vietnam Ngo Dinh Diem was shot pointblank by communist agent Ha Minh Tri. The president was killed immediately, causing an anti-communist uproar in South Vietnam and creating a wave of instability in the young state.

Following colonial expansion through military conquest in the 1850-80s, the Kingdom of Vietnam that was controlled by the Nguyen Dynasty became French Indochina along with further regions in Southeast Asia. The French built up plantations and sought to convert the populace to Catholicism.

The Vietnamese, however, reacted with increasing demands for civil liberty and nationalism that would be largely dismissed.
When France was defeated in Europe by Nazi Germany in 1940, the colonies were turned over to the Japanese in 1941, and the Viet Minh communist/nationalist movement led the rebellion under its leader Ho Chi Minh. After the liberation of France, the French Far East Expeditionary Corps arrived to combat Japan but instead went about suppressing the Vietnamese and reinstalling French Indochina. Supported by the Soviet Union and communist China, the Viet Minh fought on until 1954 when victorious at the Dien Bien Phu.

An alternate history by Professor Jeff Provine
Ho Chi Minh sought peace in the resulting Geneva Accords, and Vietnam was separated with a communist north and capitalist south along the 17th Parallel. It was to be a temporary separation to pacify both territories and lead to a nationwide election by 1956.

In South Vietnam, however, Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem overthrew Emperor Bao Dai in a 1955 referendum. Even at the time, the election was suspect when he won 98.2 percent of the vote. From the numbers of votes (which were counted by agents of his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu), Diem received more than 100 percent support in several regions; for example, out of 450,000 registered voters in Saigon, Diem managed 605,025 votes. Diem proclaimed a Republic of Vietnam with himself as head and created a legislature that was simply to give popular support to his actions. Bao Dai warned world powers such as France and the United States not to trust Diem, but they saw this as the opportunity to block the spread of Communism in Asia after China had fallen. With international approval, Diem cancelled the 1956 national elections, claiming that had been an agreement made before the existence of the new Republic.

Professor Jeff Provine
Initially, Diem's term seemed beneficial. Citing his Catholic upbringing for his policies, he closed opium dens, brothels, and the organized crime of Binh Xuyen. However, his Catholicism proved extreme, and Diem soon turned state forces against the Buddhist Hoa Hao organization.

The sweeping executions of potential enemies caused Diem to lose public favor, but he maintained power through public relations, diplomacy with the United States (who shared his fervent anti-Communism), and Nhu's use of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam Special Forces. In the midst of the oppression, Diem's rule was cut short as another photo op allowed Ha Minh Tri to walk up and shoot the president.

Nhu quickly seized power, but, despite his often public self-applause for his intelligence, he was not popular. His ARVN was exposed as a personal army already clashing with locals as well as Cambodians, and hubris led to further exposure of corruption, such as his wife's extortion schemes. Since Nhu had never been elected, protests called for new elections, and international opinion agreed.

Pressure forced Nhu to begin elections in 1958, already planning to move troops, censor papers, and ensure his victory. Nhu did not possess the Teflon class of his brother, however, and even his own ARVN turned against him, leading to his exile in Australia. With open elections in 1959, physician and prominent government critic Phan Quang Dan became president and quickly began to reconstruct the nation along genuine democratic grounds.

Dan's government proved nationalist as well as anti-communist. Ho Chi Minh, now seventy years old, had conducted mass support of insurgency through the late 1950s, primarily through assassinating local leaders and installing supporters of communism. With a policy of "armed propaganda", he instructed, "If an assassination is necessary, use a knife, not a rifle or grenade. It is too easy to kill innocent bystanders with guns and bombs, and accidental killing of the innocent bystanders will alienate peasants from the revolution. Once an assassination has taken place, make sure peasants know why the killing occurred". While Diem and Nhu had combated this with violent witch hunts, Dan proved more able to win popular support and show communists as the antagonists. He was friendly with US support, but did not take in luxuries and military aid as the previous presidents had.

Ho Chi Minh stepped down from party leadership as Le Duan rose to power. In 1960, North Vietnam organized the National Liberation Front to unify communists in the South, but by 1963, it had lost much of its support despite Le Duan's warmongering. Ho worked behind the scenes to motivate the North Vietnamese government into coming into peace with the South, which was readily accepted by Dan. The two Vietnams lived side-by-side, eventually warming to one another as the horrors of the Khmer Rouge were seen across the border in Cambodia. Following the restructuring of communism in 1986, new bids for peaceful reunification grew, and Vietnam was again whole in 1997.

In reality, Ha Minh Tri missed Diem entirely, hitting only the Secretary of Agrarian Reform in the arm before his weapon jammed and he was subdued. Diem and his family would face another assassination attempt by air force officers bombing the palace, but he would remain in power until a coup in 1963 led by General Duong Van Minh. Minh was himself overthrown the next year, and continued turnovers in government along with the spread of the Vietnam War resulted in the fall of Saigon in 1975.

And last, but not least, Robbie A. Taylor writes -

1345 AH
Sukarno, Caliph of the Sumatrans, is overthrown by his highest general, Suharto. For two years, Caliph Sukarno had been dependent on Suharto's military prowess to defend himself from rebels within his nation, and had become too weak to resist Suharto when the general decided to seize power. 

Comrade Ambassador George Kennan sends his famous "Long Telegram" back to the Soviet States of America (S.S.A). In it, he details that the European monarchies cannot foresee "permanent peaceful coexistence" with the communist Americans. He said that the monarchies would "do all that they could to weaken the power and influence of the Western Powers on colonial, backward and dependent peoples". This telegram provoked the S.S.A. into a long-running Cold War with the European powers.

A selection of alternate histories by Robbie Taylor1998
The deadliest series of tornadoes in Florida's history provides the impetus for Vice-President Al Gore to begin a study of climate change. Already an environmentalist, Gore was alarmed at the massive changes in the climate that many scientists were predicting could soon become irreversible. He runs for the presidency with a passion and urgency that moves the nation, and sweeps in a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives to aid him in his work. The Senate is split evenly, so his vice-president, Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, is more important than any VP in decades. With Gore's skills and commitment, the warming of the earth was slowed, and Wellstone continued his former boss' work when he was elected president in 2008.

Robbie's latest e-book "The Tree Of Knowledge (The Chelsea Perkins Trilogy)" is now available from Amazon
Georgia's Governor Archibald Bulloch thwarts an assassination attempt as a Loyalist steward brings him a cup of wine laced with arsenic. When he accidentally spills the cup, the enraged Tory tries to strangle him, but Bulloch wins their struggle. The governor then uses the near-total powers he had been granted by Georgia's rebel government to rally the state's colonists and send them into war for the rebel cause. Bulloch is such a successful leader in the revolution that he maneuvers himself into the newly-created office of president of the new nation after the revolution, and influences the writing of the constitution to give himself powers similar to his near-complete control of Georgia. The other states chafe under his presidency, and the formerly united states dissolve into regional war in Bulloch's 5th year in office. The wars end when Bulloch is shot dead by a member of his staff, Thomas Paine, who had been planted close to the president in order to get the opportunity to kill him. Another Constitutional Convention is called to rewrite the document that had granted so much power to the president, and a tripartite government is born from the ashes of Bulloch's dictatorship in 1797.

Robbie Taylor, Creator of Today in Alternate History Alternate Historian, Editor of Today in Alternate History Dirk Puehl, Editor of #Onthisday Professor Jeff Provine, Editor of This Day in Alternate History Marko Bosscher, Guest Reader of #Onthisday

Today's quintiple post forms a new and exciting development of the structure of our weekly collaboration: Alternate Historian writes about a real event in German History, whilst the Reverend Robbie A. Taylor, Professor Jeff Provine, Dirk Puehl and Marko Bosscher write about a fictionalized event in American and English Alternate History.

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