Alternate world history

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Alternative world stories are an elaboration of the science fiction genre and are called allohistoria , parahistory , virtual history , imaginary history , unheard history , potential history , eventual history , alternate history , alternative history or Uchronie ("non-time", from ancient Greek οὐ- "Not-" and χρόνος "time") known.

In historical studies , such thought games , which, however, refer to historical sources , are referred to as counterfactual history .

The stories of these works take place in a world in which the course of world history has deviated from what we know at some point (at the so-called divergence point ). While science fiction operates with the potential , the counterfactual story operates with the unreal , thus asking the question: "What could have been if ...?" The genre was developed particularly in the English-language literature of the post-war period.


Alternative world stories are often used as a means of satire .

Historical events - mostly striking such as battles or political decisions - serve as the background for alternative world stories, which are used as the starting point for an alternative history by changing or removing certain factors of these events. Well-known and often used events include a .:

In addition, there are also parallel world narratives in which both possibilities of history develop independently of one another and later, mostly in the present, come into contact with one another.

Literary works (selection, alphabetical)

Films (selection)

Documentary fiction

  • The Third World War (1998) ("Documentation" about an alternative course of the Eastern European reform movement in 1989, which culminated in the invasion of the Soviet Union in the Federal Republic and ultimately in the nuclear exchange)
  • CSA: The Confederate States of America (2004)

TV Shows

Computer games (selection)

  • Wolfenstein 3D : At the end of the game you kill Adolf Hitler.
  • Imperium Romanum (Adventure) : Time travel pirates bring modern technical achievements to ancient Rome and thus change history
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert : In 1946, scientists in New Mexico, led by Professor Albert Einstein, decide to prevent World War II by eliminating Adolf Hitler before he can take power in the German Reich. This triggered the Second World War from the Soviet Union under Stalin.
  • Enigma: Rising Tide : The RMS Lusitania was not sunk by a German submarine in 1915. The US does not enter World War I and the German Reich wins the war. In 1937 three powers (German Empire, USA and an alliance from Japan and the British colonies) are fighting for supremacy.
  • Homefront : In the near future, Kim Jong-un and the united Korea attack the United States during an oil crisis, the protagonist joins the resistance against the occupiers.
  • Homefront: The Revolution : Continuation of the first part, but without connecting to its plot, only the framework story about the US occupied by North Korea is taken over.
  • Interstate '76 : The oil crisis worsens to such an extent that the entire public order of the United States collapses and police, bandits and vigilantes fight on the highways.
  • World in Conflict : At the end of the 1980s, the USSR surprisingly attacks several European countries and, with the help of China, starts an invasion of the northwest coast of the USA.
  • Turning Point: Fall of Liberty : Winston Churchill died in 1931 and Great Britain cannot withstand Germany and the Axis powers. They later succeed in installing a president they control in the USA.
  • Sniper Elite (series) : In several parts of the series you can kill Adolf Hitler, although it is not always clear whether it is a double. In the add-on Zombie Army Trilogy, there is an alternative timeline in which Hitler lets fallen soldiers return as zombies and then becomes a zombie himself.
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order : Germany won the Second World War and rules the world, the main character in the game joins a resistance and fights underground against the regime.

Role play

  • GURPS Infinite Worlds: With a machine called the Parachronator, mankind has succeeded in making parallel world trips and exploiting these worlds for their own economic purposes.
  • Deadlands : After an invocation, evil spirits rule the western United States, California was turned into an island landscape by an earthquake and the Civil War has been raging for 15 years.
  • Space: 1889 : A steampunk setting at the end of the 19th century, in which the ether theory proves to be true and mankind colonizes Mars with airships.
  • Crimson Skies : In the wake of the global economic crisis, the United States has disintegrated into several warring individual states, which are also being harassed by the remaining great powers.


  • Emmanuel Carrère : Cleopatra's nose: Little history of Uchronie , Gatza, Berlin 1993, ISBN 3-928262-09-2 .
  • Johannes Dillinger : Uchronie. Unhappened story from ancient times to steampunk . Schöningh, Paderborn 2015.
  • Uwe Durst: On the poetics of parahistorical literature , in: Neohelicon , XXXI, 2/2004, pp. 201–220.
  • Uwe Durst: Three basic alienation types of the historical sequence , in: Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte DVjs , 2/2009, pp. 337–358.
  • Hans-Heinrich Freitag / Peter Hühn (ed.): Literary views of reality. Studies on the constitution of reality in English-language literature. To honor Johannes Kleinstück , Frankfurt a. M., Bern, Cirencester / UK: Lang 1980 [Anglo-American forum; Vol. 12].
  • Jörg Helbig: The past that wasn't. About parahistoric literature. In: Wolfgang Jeschke (Ed.): The Science Fiction Year 1989, Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, Munich, ISBN 3-453-03139-3 , pp. 391-403.
  • Jörg Helbig: What if ... 150 years of parahistoric literature in Great Britain and the USA, in: Quarber Merkur 91/92, Franz Rottensteiner's literary magazine for science fiction and fantasy, Passau 2000. ISBN 978-3-932621-32-1 .
  • Harald Husemann: When William Came; If Adolf Had Come. In: Anglistik und Englischunterricht: Images of Germany 29/30, 1986, pp. 57–83.
  • Hans-Peter von Peschke: What if? Alternative history , Theiss, Darmstadt 2014, ISBN 978-3-8062-2795-6
  • Gavriel David Rosenfeld: The World Hitler Never Made. Alternate History and the Memory of Nazism . 2005, ISBN ( review )
  • Georg Ruppelt : After Martin Luther became Pope and the Allies lost World War II. Literary alternatives to the best of the worlds. Wehrhahn Verlag, 2007. ISBN 978-3-86525-096-4 .
  • Erik Simon (ed.): Alexander's long life, Stalin's early death, and other weird stories. Stories and reports from Parallelwelten, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-453-14912-2 .
  • JC Squire (ed.): If Napoleon Had Won At Waterloo, And Other Outlandish Stories. Stories and reports from Parallelwelten, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-453-14911-4 .
  • Andreas Martin Widmann : Counterfactual representation of history: Investigations on novels by Günter Grass, Thomas Pynchon, Thomas Brussig, Michael Kleeberg, Philip Roth and Christoph Ransmayr. (= Heidelberg studies on historical poetics. 4). Winter, Heidelberg 2009, ISBN 978-3-8253-5610-1 (also: dissertation, University of Mainz).
  • Fergusson, Niall: Virtual History - Historical Alternatives in the 20th Century , Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft Darmstadt 1997

Web links