People in the future will look back on the 20th century and see the rise and fall of Communism and Fascism, they will see 2 World Wars from which
humanity is still recoiling from the horror of. They will see industrialisation of China and India. The fall of the British Empire from the long
standing by and far the most powerful country in the world to a European Union state struggling in the face of the rise of the east.
And they will attribute this to the political ideals and enlightenment of millions of people, huge advances in technology.Largely the actions of major
figures such as CEO's, activists, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Premiers and generals. They will point out how the World Wars were decided at the gates
of Moscow, at Midway, over the English Channel and in the fields of France. Truly a century written in blood.
However, this is not always the case. Sometimes it is the most unlikely, and in some people's opinions unqualified of people who held the entire fate
of the human race in their hands and their actions, or inactions will echo throughout the entirety of human history. In this case I want to talk about
Annie Oakley, and the below is an actual event which did take place which could have changed everything.
Annie Oakley was a legendary sharpshooter who was the star of the "Buffalo Bill Wild West Show". She was so good, she could even shoot the cork out of
a champagne bottle at 20 feet. The show was quite varied and had many acts from hunting and battle renactments, rope tricks, animal shows, and most
relevantly- trick shooting.
The popularity of Wild West shows had exploded worldwide, and weren't long confined to Buffalo Bill's Oklahoma venue and at the turn of the 20th
century he was well known as the most reputable showman in the entire world.
I digress. In 1890, the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show was touring Europe. One of the staunch fans of the show was a young Friedrich Wilhelm II, later to
become Kaiser Wilhelm II who dragged France, and thus Britain and thus the world into World War 1. He had been to several runs of the show already,
and was especially fascinated by Annie Oakley's shooting.
One night when Annie was doing her routine, she asked for a volunteer from the audience who would be happy to hold a cigar in their mouth from which
she would shoot the ashes. Usually the request was just met with laughter and her husband Frank Butler would begrudgingly be put in the firing line.
But tonight was different.
A voice from the Royal box pipes up from a young Friedrich Wilhelm II, eager to put her abilities to the test. Now, she was in a difficult situation.
She couldn't deny his request as it certainly wouldn't instill any confidence in her legendary abilities and lack an expected degree of showmanship.
On the other hand, this was the Crown Prince of Germany. No doubt a mistake here would end Annie's career, and probably her life too. She smiles with
her usual swagger and invites the Prince down to the stage.
The Royal Guards realised that this wasn't just one of Friedrich's jokes and that he was deadly serious about going through with this. They moved to
intervene however his father, then Kaiser Frederick III told them not to, that if it was what the Prince wanted to do, they shouldn't get in the way.
Giving, perhaps, a little too much faith in Annie's abilities.
He lit up a cigar, took a few puffs sharing a bit of banter with Annie (He spoke fluent English) before standing on horizontally to her, cigar in
mouth. She took a few paces before turning around. She levelled her sights and after tense few moments, pulled the trigger.
What happened next set the stage for the rest of modern human history. If the bullet had landed squarely in Willhelm's temple, killing him instantly
then there would not have been a World War 1. As a result there would not have been a World War 2 as there would have been no Treaty of Versailles and
no sentiment by which Hitler could have been voted into power.
Further than this though, Lenin would have remained in prison. Meaning no Russian Revolution. Karl Marx would be a writer only a select few students
would learn about in philosophy class. No Russian Revolution would have meant no Chinese revolution and maybe today we would have the Republic of
China ruling the whole country, not just Taiwan. Monarchy's would have remained the status quo.
Europe would still be the center of the world as America would remain largely backwards isolationists and would pale in comparison to the bold,
powerful British and French Empire who wouldn't bankrupt themselves twice in the next 60 years through fighting wars. They would retain their colonial
holdings across Africa and Asia.
Perhaps to even greater consequence, we would have been spared the deaths of the 20,000,000 people who died in World War 1, and the 72,000,000 who
died in World War 2. Out of those, how many of those contained the next Einstein, Wright Brothers or Newton? Or had the potential to have children
with those qualities.
This would have also meant no Israel as there would never have been a holocaust. An event which made Europe's previous vibrant Jewish community almost
Would there have ever been any nuclear weapons without any world wars? Massive advances in rocketry, radar, communications, medicine and so on were
all because of World War 2. Would we have computers if Alan Turing didn't have to father them in response to German ambitions?
The world wars made the world weary of mass conflict, and the other wars we have had in the 20th century were minuscule in scope compared to those of
the previous 500 years. Would we go to war over slight differences and disputes as we did in the 19th century today if we hadn't been mortified in
World War 2 by what human beings can do to one another?
But of course, the bullet flew true and the tip of the cigar exploded in a flash of embers. She was met with a standing ovation and instead of being
taken to a morgue, Friedrich retook his seat to enjoy the rest of the show.
And this is just one such example throughout history. It's such a strange state set of coincidences that set us on our current course. And the only
reason that we are in our impossibly unlikely situation is because "Something had to happen." Sometimes the biggest changes can be brought on by the
At the onset of World War 1, Annie realised what her meeting with the Kaiser may have wrought. She even went as far as to send him a letter, asking if
she could take another shot.
The Kaiser never replied.
edit on 6-5-2012 by sajuek because: (no reason given)
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edit on 6-5-2012 by sajuek because: Spelling and sentence scrubbing.
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edit on 6-5-2012 by sajuek because: Fifth time's a charm.
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edit on 6-5-2012 by sajuek because: 20,000,000 people died in WW1, not 200,000. Last edit. Promise.
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