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Telling It Like It Wasn'tThe Counterfactual Imagination in History and Fiction$
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Catherine Gallagher

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226512389

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226512556.001.0001

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Nazi Britain: The Invasion and Occupation That Weren’t

Nazi Britain: The Invasion and Occupation That Weren’t

(p.190) Chapter Five Nazi Britain: The Invasion and Occupation That Weren’t
Telling It Like It Wasn't

Catherine Gallagher

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines the British historical counterfactuals surrounding the critical period, from the summer of 1940 through the winter of 1941, when a German invasion and/or occupation of Great Britain was widely anticipated. Starting with the 1930s’ debates over appeasement, an interest in how Britain might have been subjugated by Nazi Germany has remained a staple topic in the country’s historical and political discourse. Nazi Britain counterfactual speculations were used at a number of critical junctures in British history during the last half of the twentieth century. Winston Churchill’s 1940’s speeches about the coming invasion created a heroic image of how his countrymen would react, and after the war, alternate histories of how Britons would have behaved during a Nazi occupation have been important to the concept of national character. That concept describes what historical actors (individual and collective) were capable of doing under different circumstances, not just what they did under the circumstances they happened to face. As Britain’s role in the world shrank, its population diversified, and its place in Europe was questioned, the desire for national uniqueness kept reviving speculation about the might-have-been wartime subjection.

Keywords:   appeasement, Battle of Britain, Winston Churchill, German occupations, invasion summer, Nazi Britain, Operation Sea Lion

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