The choices you make can change your history
Are you really certain of your choices? Some decisions can have a major impact
Then Hitler decided to invade Moscow. Some 5.5 million soldiers headed off in summer khakis into the teeth of a Russian winter.
Barbarossa would mark the turning of the tide for Hitler. German forces, highly trained and supplied as they were, could not cope with the harsh conditions of war in Russia.
By winter 1941, the Soviet army had the upper hand and Germany was now committed to a two-front war it couldn’t possibly win. The late addition of the USA to the western front was the final straw. If Hitler hadn’t invaded Russia, he might still have lost the war, but the cost could have been even higher.
4 The man who turned down The Beatles
“Guitar groups are on the way out,” said the man from Decca Records, explaining the decision, in 1962, to sign Brian Poole and the Tremeloes over four lads from Liverpool.
In recorded history, worse decisions have been made. Someone gave Vanilla Ice a record deal, for example. But turning down The Beatles at the very beginning of the most legendary period of rock and roll is perhaps not the savviest example of forecasting. John, Paul, George and Ringo would go on to make little-known ditties such as Strawberry Fields Forever, Hey Jude, Yellow Submarine and Eleanor Rigby, while everyone is familiar with the global success of Brian Poole and the Tremeloes. Right?
5 If Rosa Parks had changed seat
The bus journey on December 1st, 1955 should have been like any other in Alabama. Segregation was still an article of faith in the southern states: blacks and whites were expected to stay in their boxes. The murder of teenager Emmet Till only months before served as a brutal reminder of the consequences of crossing the line. But for Rosa Parks, exhausted after a long day of work, that line was about to be moved for her.
She obediently sat in the “coloured section” but as the bus filled up, the driver, James F Blake, decided to reallocate seats in white people’s favour, demanding that the black people sitting in the middle section give up their seats so whites didn’t have to stand. Rosa refused, was arrested, and dragged through the courts.
Much later, in her autobiography, she wrote: “People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was 42. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”
The civil rights movement would have existed without Rosa Parks. Too much inequality and cruelty for too long was unsustainable, but sometimes one moment can bring a truth to the world’s ears. Parks’s defiant refusal to move made her an inspiration to millions and accelerated the pace of change.