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As pointed out in email
Plot holes in World War II

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

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I've long thought you'd have a damn hard time convincing someone from a parallel timeline that a random Austrian, who attained the rank of Corporal in the German Army in World War 1, would go on to be dictator of Germany a mere 15 years after that war ended.

from Viv Forbes, "Think Right" (not the first place I found it):

A conference was held by the German Furniture Manufacturers’ Guild in Munich in 1928. To help them plan their future the Germans invited the greatest political prophet in Europe to forecast the conditions they could expect in 5, 15, 20, and 40 years’ time. He gave the five year forecast first.

“In 1933,” said the prophet “Germany will have 5 million unemployed and will be ruled by an unstable dictator using emergency powers and an army of secret police”.

This disturbed the burghers, but they were reassured by his 15 year forecast.

“By 1943, I predict that Munich will be part of a Greater Germany which stretches from the Volga to the Atlantic and from the Arctic to the Sahara.”

While the burghers were still dreaming of the market possibilities of Greater Germany, the prophet went on.

“But in twenty years from now, in 1948, Munich will be part of a tiny German nation that stretches only from the Elbe to the Rhine, whose cities are ruined and whose factory production has been as low as 10% of the 1928 level. An Iron Curtain will stretch across Europe and seventeen million Germans living east of this line will be locked up in a Russian prison”.

The shocked burghers waited in silence for his next forecast.

“In forty years from now, in 1968, the real income per head of Munich will be four times greater than it is now. In the year after that, 90% of German adults will sit looking at a box in the corner of their lounge rooms which shows live pictures of a man walking on the moon.”

The burghers called the police and had the prophet locked up as a madman.


This must be a very common idea. I was ready to accuse someone of plagiarism, but it looks like an independent take on the same idea that "Letter From a Higher Critic" uses. And now I'm wondering if someone else before Stewart Robb also thought of it.

I remember something similar for the 2008 US election. Something about what a total Mary-Sue Obama was....

Also a story in which archaeologists in the future are highly doubtful of the legend of this "Abraham Lincoln" fellow.

That sounds a bit like a short story in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine I have a vague memory of.

My history professor George Kren used to joke that people in the future would never believe the story of Rudolf Hess parachuting into Scotland.

I recall reading of a version current in the 19th century and focused on Napoleon. I'm afraid I can't pin it down more precisely, though I recall one of the key items being the parsing of Napoleon's name as ``N Apollon'' or ``N Apolleon'', tying his identity to that of Apollo. Good luck searching.

In the 30th century, they’ll use that clue to tie down the date of the Apollo mission.

Historic Doubts Relative To Napoleon Buonaparte is one example

by (Anglican) Bishop Richard Whately [apparently no relation to the Whatelys of Dunwich, Massachusetts]. Whately was arguing against the Higher Criticism by the method of _reductio ad absurdum_.

Project Gutenberg etext available at

However, quick text searches suggest this is may not be the one recalled by Mr. Dern, as Whately appears to make no analogy to Apollo. He does engage in some philological inquiry, though:

Is it not just possible, that during the rage for words of Greek derivation, the title of "Napoleon," (Ναπολέων,) which signifies "Lion of the forest," may have been conferred by the popular voice on more than one favorite general, distinguished for irresistible valour? Is it not also possible that "BUONA PARTE" may have been originally a sort of cant term applied to the "good (i.e., the bravest or most patriotic) part" of the French army, collectively; and have been afterwards mistaken for the proper name of an individual?

I referenced Letter from a Higher Critic on Facebook, so here I will point to Motel of the Mysteries for another example of future archeology.

That reminds me -- a friend of mine was trying to figure out which sf short story involved aliens trying to figure out what now-extinct Earthlings were like from an old movie. Of course the movie turned out to be Donald Duck or something. Anyone remember?

This. Is "history lesson" by Clarke

I had an answer in email: apparently it's Arthur C. Clarke's "History Lesson." Thanks!

That brings back memories. My parents, both archaeologists, thought that book was hilarious at the time.

Well, I say memories, but all I can remember is illustration of the wife of the expedition leader modeling the ceremonial toilet-seat headdress.

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