Alternate History

Timeline (Cold War variants)

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This is meant to list the possible alt-histories arising away from OTL, rather than being coherent of itself.

Additions to the list and ideas for development are welcome, as are links to althistories.

Prior to 1917

  • Karl Marx/Friedrich Engels create a coherent Theory of Communism.
  • Various groups take up communist ideas and get into positions of political authority in the late19th/early 20th century with varying degrees of success.
  • Like Wilfrid Voynich, Lenin and other future communist leading figures are diverted into other fields of operation.
  • Early 20th century Tsar Nicholas II's son Alexis does not have haemophilia or it is so mild that it can be controlled without recourse to Rasputin.

Russian Revolution and after

  • 1913-1919 In Albania both Otto Witte (a German) and CB Fry (UK) are offered, and accept, the monarchy, with Zogu (of local extraction) following suit: the situation is resolved through a series of cricket games (Fry being a noted cricketer).
  • 1917 Russia: Lenin and other Communists do not take over the Russian state:
  • The "Sealed Train" is not sent or
  • The various Communist leaders do not get a chance to take power.
  • 1917 Russia: The Communist leaders decide to play the long game, and persuade the population to develop towards socialism and Communism.
  • Sidney Reilly succeeds in his plan to overthrow the fledgling Soviet state, and killing its leaders.
  • 1918-19 Communist takeovers in Europe are successful in at least the middling term - Bela Kun in Hungary, the Spartakists, various parts of Germany etc: a mosaic of political structures emerge.
  • 1918-20s The Russian Civil War develops differently - the Communists are ousted, or forced to compromise; the Czech troops on the Trans Siberian Railway establish a semi-permanent entity etc; different regional entities emerge in the former Russian Empire.


  • The assassination attempt on Lenin is successful, and a power struggle among the various Communist leaders ensues, with White Russians, "Greens" (being a party name, rather than an ecological association), other local groups, some of them of a nationalistic or state-creationist intent, and outside forces intervening, making use of the situation.
  • Early-mid 1920s As Lenin becomes increasingly ill (possibly not dying in 1924), the power struggle among the Soviet leadership develops differently - Stalin gets marginalised (whether or not as a result of Lenin's "last testament").
  • In one variant, Leon Trotsky becomes head of the Soviet entity and promotes 'permanent revolution'/the export of the revolution (as against Stalin's 'Socialism in one Country'). *The Soviet Union (as we would now call it) becomes a more federal entity.
  • 1920 State of Tannu Tuva established: becomes an actually independent state, rather than a puppet state which is absorbed into USSR as in OTL.
  • 1922 On the death of Karl, sometime Emperor and King of Austria-Hungary, his son Otto is made ruler of some of the territories following various negotiations (and various possibilities for Otto thereafter).
  • 1926 The General Strike, UK is successful in some manner (likewise equivalents elsewhere).
  • One of the assassination attempts on Benito Mussolini is successful.
  • Adolf Hitler and associates remain a marginal group - other groups achieving a dominance.


  • Adolf Hitler does not achieve power in Germany, or if he does, moderates his policy. A Europe with three different political systems emerges - right-wing dictatorships, democracies, and communist, which develops further when the dictators die due to the leadership cults and absence of political heirs.
  • 1936-9 The Republicans win the Spanish Civil War.
  • The Great Purges and Great Famine lead to denunciations of Stalin's policies, and he is ousted.


The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact is not signed.

  • Stalin is ousted as a result of military defeats.
  • Late WWII/post-war period Communist control spreads over more of Europe (Greece and Italy being the most obvious candidates).
  • Alternatively the Communists are prevented from gaining the dominance across Eastern Europe that they did in OTL - whether excluded totally or joining in 'mixed' governments.
  • Neutral Germany - or North Germany and South Germany (the fault line being much clearer than between East and West) - established.
  • The Berlin Blockade is not challenged, and it falls wholly under Communist rule: alternatively the Western Powers attempt to reach Berlin by land/challenge the Soviets.
  • In China the Communists are unsuccessful - or at most remain only regionally powerful.


  • Effects of Stalin's death are different.
  • 1951 In the wake of the Burgess-Maclean defections in the UK, Moura Budberg's comment on Anthony Blunt (that he is a member of the Communist Party) is believed and he becomes the Third Man.
  • Senator Joseph MacCarthy is challenged earlier.
  • The Korean War develops in a different manner.
  • The Hungarian Uprising leads to successful seccession from the Warsaw Pact
  • Sputnik is unsuccesful - or only after a Western equivalent is put into orbit.
  • Fidel Castro and associates are unsuccessful in Cuba.


  • The Berlin Wall is not built.
  • The Vietnam War develops differently
  • Nikita Khrushchev stays in office, or is replaced by someone else.
  • The Prague Spring leads to a more general political reform


  • Detente does not happen.
  • 1970-3 The Salvador Allende Government is allowed to continue in Chile/is succeeded by a different regime
  • 1976 Different succession in the PRC.
  • Late 1978 John Paul II is not Karol Wojtyla.


  • Solidarity does not emerge.
  • Mikhail Gorbachev does not become Soviet leader, or is not seen as someone whom business can be done with.
  • Rudolf Hess lives two years longer, until mid-1989, resulting in different perceptions of German reunification.
  • The events of 1989 proceed differently.


  • The end of the Soviet Union - does not occur, or happens in a different form - possibly more overt power struggles at the top, civil war etc. The August Coup manages to hold on for a while; Shevardnadze rather tha Yeltsin emerges as the leading figure in the collapsing Soviet Union.
  • The wars of the former Yugoslavia proceed differently (including the relationship between Greece and Yugoslav Macedonia).
  • Czecholovakia does not break up (but political tensions increase).
  • The wars of the former Soviet Union proceed differently.

21st century

  • 2000 There is a service to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Katyn massacre similar to the 70th anniversary event in our timeline: as with that event there is a plane crash disaster killing a number of notables on the Polish and/or Russian sides: and/or Pope John Paul II
  • More or different countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and Former Soviet Union join EU and/or NATO (or separate regional entities emerge).
  • The 2010 Katyn plane crash does not occur, or different people are killed (eg the Russian side) - or it leads to increased tension between Poland and Russia.

See also

Phoney Cold War

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