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.
The United States Minus Franklin D. Roosevelt & Its Role in How the Axis won WW2
One clear cut explanation for the differences between the High Castle universe and the one we know today is the fate of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In both the original novel and Amazon series, it is made clear that FDR was assassinated in 1933. This tragedy occurred during first year of FDR’s first administration by Italian anarchist Giuseppe Zangara.
The absence of FDR would have created horrific implications to the High Castle timeline, both in how and when the war was fought – as well as managing the nightmarish Great Depression.
The Great Depression & Preparation for Global War
In this fictional scenario, one must figure how the American President managed the Great Depression historically, as well as FDR’s personal operating belief that Nazi Germany posed an imminent exstitential threat to US interests.
FDR’s revelation occurred years prior to most of the American public and many politicians, and the stalwart isolationist lobby of the 1930’s and early 1940’s.
In the High Castle Universe, it appears clear that his Vice President successor John “Cactus Jack” Garner was not up to the task.
It is reasonable to extrapolate that the isolationism that was common in the 30’s and early 40’s was more prolonged and heavier in the High Castle timeline. So much so that by the time the US did become involved, the country stood extremely ill prepared, nay lost, against their seasoned and emboldened Axis enemy.
Yet whatever the lack of assertive foreign policy by the US with Germany and Japan, much of the country’s eventual fate would be rooted in how the US managed it’s Great Depression experience.
American Life in the 1930’s – Managing the Great Depression
FDR’s management of the Great Depression fortified American industry and began to put many people back to work. As a result, the country was primed for the incremental wartime mobilization necessary when war broke out.
New Deal creations, for example, like the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and its other departmental contemporaries provided electricity and other vital national infrastructure to a wide swath of the US without which, wartime mobilization would have been far more difficult.
Perhaps even more critical is how the New Deal influenced the attitudes of many Americans, and how they viewed their democracy’s response to the crisis.
American Attitudes toward Democracy in a Harder Depression in The Man in the High Castle Universe
FDR may not have solved the Great Depression but programs that came to be from his New Deal did help soothe ailing Americans at a loss for work. Lest one forgets, unemployment figures at the height of the Depression were near 33%.
There was also a national psychological factor to the New Deal, providing a necessary comfort and confidence for Americans that their nations government was churning 24/7 to improve the economic situation.
When you consider that European Facism, specifically Nazi Germany, was able to come to power had much to do with a desperate nation looking for a solution to their woes.
The Great Depression was crippling for Germany. Germans experienced mind boggling inflation and unemployment. Between crushing reparations payments for the First World War, and a complete economic derailment it was a historic disaster.
Moreover, the democratic government of Weimar Germany was inept and ineffective causing many to lose faith in democracy’s capability to address the needs of the nation. It was an opening for the belief that a single strong leader was necessary to handle Germany’s future.
This was the opening that allowed Hitler’s successful journey to power. If such an outcome occurred in a western nation as advanced as Germany, America was no less vulnerable.
There is no doubt that had FDR not been able to implement the New Deal and ease some American pain, similar attitudes may have had far more widespread support. Attitudes leading perhaps to the American people arriving at similar conclusions to those in Europe.
When considering how the Axis won WW2 in The Man in the High Castle universe, American feelings towards its government would have been instrumental to Axis success. In so far as Americans developing a more tolerant attitude toward Axis occupation of the United States.
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A Woefully Unprepared US Military
With a missing FDR, chances are it would have led to greater militarily ill preparedness. Due to the subtle and gradual political machinations by FDR in 1939, the US managed to quietly begin its necessary preparation for the looming war.
There are a number of measures that may not have come to pass in FDR’s absence. Undoubtedly one such example may have been lapsing on legislation such as the Two-Ocean Navy Act in 1940, designed to increase the size of US Naval forces by 75%. This act of Congress ensured that, by its completion, the US would be the foremost maritime power in the world, surpassing even the Royal Navy.
Just as important was providing the British Empire material support through the Destroyers for Bases Agreement in 1940, revising the Neutrality Acts of the 1930’s, and ultimately the cornerstone Lend-Lease Act.
Lend-Lease is the all important legislation that extended indefinite credit to supply the UK and eventually the Soviet Union in their fight against Nazi Germany and Japan.
Prior to full military mobilization in 1941-42, the US possessed a minuscule Army of little more than 100,000 members in 1939. The entirety of which was outfitted with antiquated equipment of First World War vintage.
Furthermore in 1939, the US was several years away from creating the vaunted United States Army Airforce (USAAF) that helped bring Nazi Germany and Japan to their knees. Allied air power was instrumental in the defeat of the Axis, and could only reach its zenith by American industrial power.
Any lack of foresight on the part of US leadership that resulted in lack of even preliminary preparation would have left the US extremely vulnerable to Axis aggression in the longterm, despite the traditional oceanic barriers.
Without Roosevelt at the helm, it is difficult to envisage an American President that would have taken the required steps to prepare the US for war, or serve as a power to strongly bolster their invaluable Allies in that titanic struggle.
One must conclude in the High Castle Universe where the Axis was successful in invading the eastern and western seaboard of the United States, none of these steps were adequately taken.
In the High Castle timeline, the atomic bombing of Washington D.C. on 11 December, 1945 lead to the collapse of the US Government, and complete victory in the summer of 1947. In short, “Goodnight Vienna.”
The Man in the High Castle Universe and the Nightmare of How the Axis won WW2
By any fair measure, the idea of how the Axis won WW2 in The Man in the High Castle universe is a nightmare. The Man in the High Castle as a celebrated piece of alternate history and science fiction is both entertaining, and meant as a cautionary tale.
Today many think the Allies winning the Second World War was a fait accompli, however it was not. Though the entire High Castle universe is based on a major historical counter-factual, only a small number of events occurring differently may have lead to an entirely disastrous outcome, lending greatly to how the Axis won WW2 in fiction.
The Man in the High Castle universe and other similar fictions helps reaffirm the appreciation for the accomplishments of our near ancestors effort for prosecuting the war. As well as their tremendous sacrifice required to prevent such a devastating world order.
Do you have a question about The Man in the High Castle, or WW2 in general? E-mail Paul at the WW2 Brain Bucket Reader Q&A – the monthly column that answers all your WW2 related questions.
Want to learn more about alternate history of WW2? Listen to Paul K. DiCostanzo’s D-Day interview on KFAB 1110 with Gary Sadlemyer about if D-Day failed!
Write to Paul K. DiCostanzo at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also follow Paul on Quartz
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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.
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.
A Half Remembered Dream Factory
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To ensure this, we all have do our part. Watch movies. Buy movies. All movies. Become cine-literate in everything. Especially the classics.
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Preservation in the Post-Filmstruck Era
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.
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.
Please preserve them.
Write to David B. Sporn at email@example.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.
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.
1. A Tale of Two Spock’s: The Delicate Introduction of Ethan Peck in Discovery Season 2
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.”
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!
The Man in the High Castle is exclusively available for streaming on Amazon Prime
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