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Entertainment & Arts

The Man in the High Castle Universe: How the Axis Won WW2

Exactly what the hell went so wrong to create the High Castle dystopia? Second World War historian Paul K. DiCostanzo examines the possibilities.

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The British Empire & the Alternate Life of Winston Churchill in The Man in the High Castle Universe

Winston Churchill giving the “V for Victory” salute, no Churchill would have leant in a major way to how the Axis won WW2 in The Man in the High Castle universe WikiCommons

In the Man in the High Castle, there may never have been the famous “V for Victory” salute

Only on select instances in the first three seasons of The Man in the High Castle has there been any sight – let alone mention – of Sir Winston Churchill.

Dubbed history’s “Last Lion,” outside of the world of High Castle Churchill served as Britain’s legendary wartime Prime Minister and, prior to that, stood as the highly unpopular, staunch anti-Nazism advocate in the 1930’s.

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For many historians and those who were members of the British government in 1940, the overwhelming consensus in hindsight is that Winston Churchill was the only leader present that could have rallied the British Empire in their desperate fight against Hitler.

So, what could have happened to Churchill in the High Castle universe?

Winston Churchill & His Many Death Defying Exploits

Churchill is a man that escaped imminent death many times in his life, and lived to age 90, passing in 1965.

He served in the British Army as a young man on the British Raj’s northwest frontier and in Sudan.

While still a young man Churchill also worked as a war correspondent in Cuba, assigned to cover the Spanish-American War.

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Churchill was even famously kept as a POW during the Boer War as a non-combatant reporter – famously engineering a daring escape that launched his political career in the House of Commons soon thereafter.

For his final personal combat adventure Churchill fought in the trenches during the First World War on the infamous Western Front. He deployed after resigning as First Lord of the Admiralty subsequent to his hand in the disaster at Gallipoli.


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WWI Out Of The Trenches And Into Perspective: The Great War Project


According to British historian and Winston Churchill biographer Andrew Roberts, the man had no less than 20 documented near death experiences.

Winston Churchill could have died at any of the aforementioned points, however in the world of High Castle it seems most plausible that his fate was sealed crossing a New York City midtown street.

Sir Winston was hit by a taxi on 5th Avenue in Manhattan on December 13th, 1931. The accident – which cracked two ribs and lacerated his scalp – was another brush with death he amazingly survived, and one that very nearly realized his mortal demise.

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Had he perished, the future Prime Minister would never have lived to undertake his “wilderness years” out of government, advocating his incredibly unpopular stance about the dangers of Nazism and the desperate need for British and French rearmament in the late 1930’s.

In The Man in the High Castle universe, a fatal accident of 5th avenue would unexpectedly contribute to how the Axis won WW2British National Archives

Churchill in a wheel chair leaving Lenox Hospital

With the national trauma afflicting the UK and France following their horrific First World War experience, there is a strong possibility Britain and France may have been even less prepared for the coming war than they were historically if there was no Churchill hectoring from the wings.

More disturbing yet, the Western Allies may have decided to negotiate a peace agreement with Adolf Hitler – similar in spirit to the shambolic Munich Pact. Historically, there was a so-called peace party in government following Churchill’s appointment as Prime Minster. Theirs was a small group that may have had greater influence in Churchill’s absence.

As portrayed for dramatic effect in the 2017 blockbuster Their Darkest Hour, there was briefly a debate early in Churchill’s War Cabinet that considered approaching Germany via Italy for peace terms that would have ended the conflict in June 1940.

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Lord Halifax, then British Foreign Minister and well known arch appeaser in the Neville Chamberlain government, probed the Italian ambassador in London exploring the possibility of then neutral Mussolini to mediate said peace agreement to achieve a general European end of hostilities.

Despite Hitler’s claim in June 1940 that he desired a peace that “[Great Britain] felt honorable,” in which Britain would recognize German conquest on the continent and keep British colonial holdings. As it is well documented, Hitler venerated the British. Yet he was clearly revealed to be a man one could never negotiate with in good faith.


“You take Hitler for another Wilhelm I, the old gentleman who took Alsace-Lorraine from us and that was all there was to it. But Hitler is Genghis Khan.” – French Prime Minister Paul Reynaud, June 1940


In the words of then French Prime Minister Paul Reynaud in 1940, “You take Hitler for another Wilhelm I, the old gentleman who took Alsace-Lorraine from us and that was all there was to it. But Hitler is Genghis Khan.”

Churchill’s conclusion was that any peace agreement with Nazi Germany would have likely included the surrender of the Royal Navy – a devastating possibility. Had such an arrangement come to pass, it would have bolstered the paltry Kriegsmarine – the German navy – of 1940, making Nazi Germany significantly stronger strategically. 

The Swastika at Sea – Deutschland Rules the Waves?

How the Axis won WW2 in The Man in the High Castle universe would find its greatest of achievements by seizing control of the high seasWikiCommons

Kriegsmarine Admiral Graff Spee scuttled in Montevideo, Uruguay at the Battle of the River Plate

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In preparation for a general European war, the Kriegsmarine undertook Plan Z – a massive construction project for both the surface fleet and U-Boat arm that would have created fighting parity with the British Royal Navy which traditionally it did not have.

Plan Z however was not scheduled for completion until 1943, four years after Nazi Germany invaded Poland and launched Europe into war.

At that juncture in 1940, Germany’s naval presence – with the exception of the devastating U-Boat campaign in the Battle of the Atlantic – was deeply mismatched against Britain, the greatest marine superpower in 1940. It was a serious strategic deficiency for Nazi Germany at war.

With the absence of Winston Churchill, Germany could complete a peace in the West, one that would likely include the surrender of the Royal Navy. With the Royal Navy absorbed into the Kriegsmarine at Germany’s disposal, the remaining Allies faced a grand strategic nightmare of Germany’s challenging control of the worlds ocean’s.


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GARBO: The Man You Never Knew That Saved The Second Front in WWII


The fear of Germany gaining a significant blue water navy presence was so visceral by June 1940 that Churchill ordered the attack and seizure of French Naval warships, most infamously at the Port of Oran in Mers El-Kabir.

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While the French did not have the presence on the seas as did the British, it was enough that the British did everything possible to see that Hitler did not gain its powers after the historic armistice with France. Should the Germans have seized it in fact, it may have given Hitler his bridge across the English Channel, and a genuine opportunity to invade the British Isles he never realistically had. 

As for the grand strategic situation of the US, the Royal Navy in German hands could have made the invasion of North America possible, albeit at a later time. According to historian Gerhard Weinberg, it was a war that Hitler believed was the final step to world domination – likely following his death.

Achieving such a Carthaginian peace with the Western Allies would negate the use of significant Wehrmacht divisions to defend occupied France from cross-channel invasion. Germany would also be spared from the British Royal Airforce (RAF), and its nighttime area strategic bombing campaign.

Such a scenario would have created many new opportunities never available to Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Namely, a full-scale attempt at Hitler’s great personal crusade: the destruction of the Communist USSR.

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Paul K. DiCostanzo is the Managing Editor for TGNR. He is a noted public speaker, an emerging historian of the Second World War, a vocal advocate for Crohn’s Disease/Ulcerative Colitis, and highly regarded interviewer. Prior to TGNR, Paul has a background in American National Security and American Foreign Policy. He has served as the Managing Editor for TGNR since March 2015.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. christophervalin

    January 18, 2019 at 3:53 PM

    In the book, the split happened when Giuseppe Zangara successfully assassinated FDR.

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CadreCinematique

Mourning Filmstruck

The death of Filmstruck is the latest symptom of our rapidly devolving film culture: This is a look at what we’ve lost, and what lies ahead.

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Filmstruck logo
Image Credit: Filmstruck

The demise of Filmstruck is a major loss to the world of cinema. If you were to log on to film Twittertm – that specialist ghetto of cinephiles (“or what you’d call film buffs” as Matthew remarks early in the late Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers) you would realize that many of us are in mourning for a rapidly depleting film culture.




Across the country, most Americans do not have access to an art house theater, and it’s even less likely that they would have access to a repertory theater. Those in New York City can pick their poison between the Metrograph and Film Forum and Village Quad Cinema. Heck they’ve even got the NiteHawk in Williamsburg. Those in LA have the New Beverly. Most of us, however, are just plain out of luck.

Two years ago Filmstruck seemed like the solution. A collaboration between Warner Brothers and the Criterion Collection, Filmstruck was a hand-curated outfit that seemed like film school on a Roku. From Rohmer to Ozu, Sembene to Akerman – world cinema was at your fingertips. You want to spend 83 minutes with Alma from Persona? Sure can. You could check in with Guido Anselmi or Sam Spade or Mabel Longhetti or any of several versions of Orpheus by just pressing a button…and now it’s gone.

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A Half Remembered Dream Factory

Claudia Cardinale in Frederico Fellini's 8 1/2Francinex/Cineriz

Claudia Cardinale in Frederico Fellini’s 8 1/2

Every day we seem to forget more of our history. Hollywood is no exception. Often they seem to be leading the way. Hollywood has always been America’s dream factory, and there are some real talented and nice people out there – people who care desperately about movies.

Yet, because of the vagaries of corporate America, and the rush to the all-mighty dollar that capitalism surely compels, Hollywood has become a system that is ruled by puffed-up Harvard MBA’s in slick two-button suits looking for ten percent profit on the next remake.

Now, I don’t really have anything against these people, it’s just that many of them don’t really know or give a lick about the classic days of the industry, the history of world cinema, or even current world cinema beyond their own distribution pacts. They only worry whether their new one hundred million dollar piece of content is going to be allowed to play in China, and whether it will allay some its substantial budget with international pre-sales.



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In turn, we have the creation of these monster conglomerates through very big mergers such as Disney buying Fox, or in our case AT&T buying Time Warner, which has led directly to AT&T shutting down Filmstruck.

See, they want to invest only in core businesses that will generate substantial return. This makes complete sense from a business perspective. Except, in the olden days of Hollywood the guys that ran the place, like Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg, saw the picture business as more than just a profit machine. They understood they were creating a product that was intangible – a motion picture, not a widget.


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Ingmar Bergmans 'Persona' | Cadre Cinematique


Sure, they were interested in making money, they damn well weren’t commies, but at the same time they were making something near Art and they were passionate about it.

Cinema Homogenized

Lillian Gish in D.W. Griffith's Broken BlossomsD. W. Griffith

Lillian Gish in D.W. Griffith’s Broken Blossoms

There was a time when it felt like cinema could change the world. In his review of The Dreamers (to circle back), Roger Ebert reminisces that back in ’68, Chicagoans were lined up on the sidewalk in the rain to see Godard’s Weekend. Imagine that now? Wouldn’t happen.

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AT&T closed Filmstruck because they believed it was niche. Great cinema like Casablanca and King Kong, The Seven Samurai and Weekend, which all those people lined up for all those years ago, is now just niche content.


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Keye Luke: An American Son


What’s the use of going to a movie theater if movies are just content no different from a YouTube video? Hollywood has forgotten its heroes. Cinema seems to have forgotten what cinema is all about – stories that move us or elucidate the world around us – or even sometimes elucidate feelings or emotions so deep-seated they would never stir without that silver-screen mirror.

Agnes Varda's HappinessAgnès Varda

Agnes Varda’s Happiness

The last three movies I watched on Filmstruck were the creepy Japanese ghost story Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan (1959), the vibrantly alive magical realist bossa nova-driven romance Black Orpheus (1959), and Mikio Naruse’s masterful Floating Clouds (1955). Maybe my feeling towards Filmstruck and cinema itself is like Naruse’s lovers’ warmer brighter past in French Indochina – a deeply romantic paradise to which we can never return.

I certainly hope that’s not the case. I hope the future of cinema and the future of repertory streaming services spreads out before us like a mighty bounty.

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To ensure this, we all have do our part. Watch movies. Buy movies.  All movies.  Become cine-literate in everything. Especially the classics.

(Article Continues Below...)

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Preservation in the Post-Filmstruck Era

Lourdes de Oliveira in Marcel Camus' Black OrpheusDispat Films/Gemma/Tupan Filmes

Lourdes de Oliveira in Marcel Camus’ Black Orpheus

What’s next? The terrific physical media company The Criterion Collection is starting their own streaming channel. Will it succeed? Only if enough of us are interested in preserving our globe’s sometimes shared, sometimes divergent cultural heritage.

Mikio Naruse's Autumn Has Already StartedMikio Naruse

Mikio Naruse’s Autumn Has Already Started

Films are doorways into past and future worlds. These stories have shaped us, and allowed a plethora of fascinating cultures to share their preoccupations, hopes, and fears with other, sometimes very different people, in every far-flung nook and cranny of this astonishing world.  These dreams, stories, and feelings are too important to be allowed to just fade away.

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Please preserve them.

Write to David B. Sporn at dbsporn@tgnreview.com

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10 Things Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Must Do to Avoid Epic Failure

Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery is the swing season for the series. These are several directives to ensure this newest season gets it just right.

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Star Trek: Discovery season 2 Captain Pike
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Over the past two months new information about the greater Star Trek franchise have hit fans at warp speed. Between the announcement of a new series featuring Patrick Stewart and the contractual standstill leading perhaps to the fourth film in the Kelvin timeline’s demise – there has been no lack of blockbluster headlines. However, the project which will shortly eclipse all the rest is the upcoming sophomore season of Star Trek: Discovery with viewers paying particular attention to where the showrunners wish to take the series. Not to be left out, the following are ten guidelines – directives as it were – to ensure Star Trek: Discovery season 2 will not fall on its face. We begin with the introduction of a new-familiar face: Mr. Spock.

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1. A Tale of Two Spock’s: The Delicate Introduction of Ethan Peck in Discovery Season 2

Star Trek: Discovery season 2 Ethan Peck and Zachary QuintoWikicommons

The two Spock’s: Ethan Peck & Zachary Quinto

I fully concede the pragmatic reality of the entertainment industry, and that Zachery Quinto was very unlikely to assume the role of the prime universe Spock in Star Trek: Discovery season 2 – but I cannot help stopping and thinking, “What the crap?”

With the announcement that Ethan Peck will play Spock in Star Trek: Discovery season 2, there are now two actors, in the prime of their career, portraying effectively the same character at the same time: Quinto on the big screen and Peck on my iPhone. Lets all be honest with ourselves, that’s really friggin’ weird.

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Though Alex Kurtzman and the current Star Trek braintrust were nothing less than effusive in praise for the talented Peck, there are greater factors at play by having more than one Spock.


“We searched for months for an actor who would, like them, bring his own interpretation to the role. An actor who would, like them, effortlessly embody Spock’s greatest qualities, beyond obvious logic: empathy, intuition, compassion, confusion and yearning. Ethan Peck walked into the room inhabiting all of these qualities, aware of his daunting responsibility to Leonard, Zack and the fans, and ready to confront the challenge in the service of protecting and expanding on Spock’s legacy. In that spirit, we’re thrilled to welcome him to the family.” – Alex Kurtzman, Star Trek: Discovery Executive Producer


The Reality of Dueling Spock’s

To be fair there has been a Spock duo before, however those were very different circumstances. It was clear for those who have eyes to see that it was a passing of the torch. The beloved Leonard Nimoy, in the best of Star Trek tradition, played the role of a venerated character sanctifying the newest Trek foray with his saintly presence. What Trek fans are dealing with now, whether they yet realize it or not, is a competition that is at best irksome.

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10 Things Star Trek: Discovery Must Do to Avoid Epic Failure

Depending on their performance, as well as their dictated place in the narratives they inherit, one of them will ultimately be accepted as THE Spock while the other will be relegated to “Other Spock,” a second class citizen in Trek canon. Not only will this be unfair to the actors who portray him, it is a profound disservice to the character himself to assume this baggage.

The best one can hope for under these circumstances is that Peck will knock this role in Star Trek: Discovery season 2 out of the park. In the end that is always what will matter most and that each “Spock” can be appreciated in there respective spheres.

Speaking of troublesome duplicates…

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Amazon Releases “The Man in the High Castle” Season 3 Date; New Trailer at SDCC

Fans of Amazon’s “The Man in the High Castle” see light at the end of their tunnel, as the two year wait for season 3 is coming to a confirmed end.

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Screen shot from The Man in the High Castle newest trailer from SDCC

San Diego, CA – This weekend at San Diego Comic Con (SDCC), after a seemingly interminable wait, fans of Amazon’s hit series The Man in the High Castle finally have the answer to their biggest question: when is the show coming back? To the audience’s delight, Amazon confirmed that season three will premiere on October 5th, 2018.

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To further whet their fans’ appetites, the series’ showrunners also released a new trailer for the upcoming season during their panel at SDCC. 

SDCC 2018 & The Longer than Expected Road to High Castle Season 3

Season two of the show debuted in December 2016, after which there had very few indicators of when season three would see the light of day.

In February of 2017 Amazon Prime renewed High Castle for its third season, and filming began in late June of last year.

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Additionally first reported by Deadline, Amazon publicly released their order to renew the series for its fourth season as well. No date for its release has yet been revealed.

At this weekend’s San Diego Comic Con, The Man in the High Castle announced not only the answer to the most burning question – thats is, when season 3 will debut –  but also shared its first substantive trailer regarding season three since October 2017.

Though only a minute in length, the powerful sneak peak will further stoke the flames for the show’s ravenous fans.

(Article Continues Below...)

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New High Castle Trailer: Further Exploration into Science Fiction, and a Mobilizing Resistance

This newest trailer for High Castle season three covers an exceptional amount of ground and leaves the audience with little question as to what the newest installment will focus upon.

The clip depicts further collaboration between Juliana Crain and Hawthorne Abendsen – the so-called “Man in the High Castle.”

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Specifically, they are working to combat the Greater German Reich’s experimental weapon which allows them by means of technology to traverse the series’ multiverse; all courtesy of Nazi R&D. This marks the shows most forward foray into The Man in the High Castle‘s science-fiction origin up to this point.

Moreover, it depicts a revitalization of the American resistance against the respective occupying Axis powers Germany and Imperial Japan. 

The Man in the High Castle is one of Amazon Prime’s most watched series, based on Philip K. Dick’s novel of the same title published in 1962.

The series is set in the United States, in a fictional 1962 in which the Axis won WWII – and occupying a defeated US.

To enjoy the sneak peek, click at the top to watch the newest trailer for High Castle season 3!

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The Man in the High Castle is exclusively available for streaming on Amazon Prime

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