What if Germany's Reichswehr had launched a putsch against Adolf Hitler on par with the Egyptian Army's recent overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi?
Highlighting the unenviable choice today for most western governments between accepting a fundamentalist Islamist regime or a military dictatorship, Weidenfeld wrote:
Let us imagine that in the summer of 1934, one year after Adolf Hitler's rise to power through free democratic elections, after which he brutally and deliberately established his Third Reich (think of the Reichstag Fire, concentration camp terrorism, the persecution of the Jews, and the Night of the Long Knives), the Reichswehr generals had declared war against him, placed him on trial for treason, and had used deadly force to sweep him and his militant supporters from the streets?
How would the Germans -- and the world -- have reacted?
The world would find out ten years later.
In other words, on July 20, 1944, the Wehrmacht failed in its effort to overthrow Hitler in the ill-fated Stauffenberg Valkyrie plot.
The lesson? Dictators are better overthrown sooner than later.
Chalk up another triumph for counterfactual reasoning.