Perhaps back then it wasn't clear (germany, ottoman, russia), it merely seemed like they were the king of the north. But now they are saying that it the light is brighter and it's very clear. But I agree, if it wasn't as clear back then just say so, as in: "the king of the north perhaps is the USSR"
Germany from 1920 to 1945 was the autocratic power of the time.
Relevant sections from Your Will Be Done on Earth: