Let’s Kill Hitler
Every time someone brings up time travel, someone mentions killing Hitler.
“If you could go back in time and kill Hitler as a baby, would you?”
It’s either kill him as a baby or kill him as an adult. As a baby he hasn’t done anything wrong yet. Plus, killing babies is less than savoury for most people (whereas killing adults seems to be totally fine). As an adult, he may have already done too much damage to stop by just removing him from the equation.
EDIT: After being linked this by three different people on three different social networks, I thought I’d better add this in:
To properly answer the question, you first need a Year 9 Humanities class brief history of Adolf. Here are some excerpts from one of my students from last year:
“Adolf Hitler was born from Klara Polzl and Alois Hitler on the 20th of April, 1889 in a small town in Austria named Braunau, and is most commonly known for being Germany’s leader during World War 2. Hitler was the fourth child Klara had given birth to, as the three before had died. Hitler had a younger sister named Paula. “
“Alois was a strict senior customs official who took beatings upon his wife and even his son. After Hitler read that the brave man gives no sign of being in pain, Hitler told his mother: “father hit me thirty-two times… and I did not cry”. Klara, Adolf’s mother, was a very kind woman who only wanted Adolf to succeed and do well in life, as she did not want to lose another child.”
“While Hitler disliked most of his teachers, he had one which he paid respect to, which was Leopold Potsch, his history teacher. Potsch, being a German Nationalist, taught Hitler and his pupils about Germany’s victory over France. Hitler was inspired by Potsch in the long run to be a Nationalist.”
“Throughout his life, he had consistent bad grades with the exception of his skill in art. When his entry to an art school was declined, he was shattered, and lived in Vienna pretending to be an art student trying to make his mother proud. While he lived in Vienna, he mostly walked parks, observed buildings, and visited libraries. In the summer of 1909, Hitler lived on the streets.”
Caught up? Good. By 1925 it was pretty much too late. He’d written Mein Kampf, been to prison and had a following of people that would probably have continued with the reich even if Hitler was out of the picture.
So any killing of Hitler needs to be done before then, probably around 1909 when he was living on the streets.
Bloodthirsty bastards! Why do we have to kill Hitler? Why bloody our own souls? Here’s an alternative that doesn’t come up very often: Be nice to Hitler.
Let me present you with a scenario: Someone is coming back to kill you from the future. In about five years’ time you will do something that will cause the death of billions of people. With the invention of time travel, all of this death can be avoided simply by killing you. Are you ok with that? Or would you like to see someone try an alternative option first?
Wow. Hitler is sort of like Sarah Connor.
Hitler hated his teachers. He was bored at school. He was excluded from art college, he was beaten by his father. He was lazy but intelligent. He only had one testicle.
I can’t do anything about the last one, but as a time traveller, especially if we can travel about willy-nilly to do what we want, we could negate a number of bad influences in his life, making him, if not a good person, at least one who is politically ambivalent, not disposed to prejudices towards certain races and safe out of the way in an artist’s colony somewhere.
Here’s the plan:
- Ditching Alois – the father, were you not paying attention? – by causing a bar fight between him and a burly psychopath in a pub somewhere. The man drank a lot. He also looked after bees. Strange.
- Work at his high school, being a mentor to the young Hitler and giving him challenging books about being nice to people. Let’s get this Potsch teacher fired as well.
- Bribe someone at the arts school to get him accepted. A Hitler making a living at art is not a Hitler trying to take over the country.
- Finally, get someone to hire him, somewhere well out of Berlin.
- Oh, and every time he tries to grow a moustache, shave it in his sleep.
Voila! No more evil dictator.
If I wanted to go further, I’d be talking to the leaders of France and England and suggesting that if they don’t want a second world war, they should go a bit easier on the country they just defeated. If they hadn’t been so heavy-handed in their sanctions, German Nationalism wouldn’t have received so much support from the general populous.
Of course, maybe people have been trying this for decades. Changing time and each time getting someone worse, until last time, when the time traveller stopped the evil dictator Gordon Champott, who had destroyed most of the civilised world from his seat in England, and when he got back, found that Hitler had risen to power in his stead.
And maybe a world war at this point in time, before the rise of nuclear weapons, was better for the planet as a whole.
But seriously, if someone gives you a time machine, just think about your actions before you go and murder someone, just to see what happens.
I do like the whole canon of SF stories that end up with worse things happening when time travellers kill Hitler. Sure Hitler was bad, but it is amusing to consider if things could get worse if his example did not exist.
At the least perturbance level fascism was discredited by Hitler, as was eugenics, both of which had very strong followings around the world (especially in the US and England). Without the examples of the extremes it could be taken to who is not to say that it would not be widely adopted. Remember that eugenics is not breeding a Nietschean Superman but rather culling the gentically inferior from the genome. The horror of nuclear war is not an abstract thing to us because it was dropped on a city. Imagine if war had happened later before anyone had this counter-example. Remember also that killing Hitler wouldn’t stop the Ethiopean War or the Sino-Japanese War. The Israelites finally get their homeland thanks to the combined guilt of the allied powers at refusing them admission to Jews when they tried to leave Germany in the 1930s. It’s interesting to consider the behaviour we can point to the Nazi regime and show it as a valid counter-example because they took it to such a great extreme.
There is also the Steam Engine Time argument that the individual is not important and that social pressures would have forced another individual into the role. The Weimer Republic was failing, and failing badly, so it is likely another nationalist would take up the reigns, especially given the very unpopular Communist agitation. You have to remember that whilst Hitler was insanely charismatic people didn’t laugh at him (well the people in charge did, but they didn’t realise how out of touch they actually were post WWI). What if this individual wasn’t mad enough to launch an unprovoked attack against the Soviets before they were ready. Or didn’t allow the BAE to escape Dunkirk by not believing how successful the attack against the Great Enemy of WWI was and ordering a halt to the blitzreig. And followed up with Operation Sealion immediately, denying a convenient staging point for later US involvement in Europe. Without a convenient base the US would have to stage through Africa – which would be hard. Not to mention a peace in the East as the Empire didn’t interfere in Japan’s attempt to defy the US oil embargo. Or at the very least that Japan could ignore the threat posed by the remaining Empire forces. They might even have ended up as Free Empire forces (much like Free French in Noumea, and lie them not accomplish much). Or perhaps he wouldn’t let Mussolini mess around in Africa and actively support him with the three corps Rommel needed to guarantee success. Without allowing the British time to defend Egypt and Persia, the acquisition of which would have made the Mediterranen an Axis pond and solves Germany’s critical oil shortage. The US Monroe Doctrine was very popular, and many were against US involvement with Europe; it was their problem, we helped them once alread, and they are doing it yet again. And, when the US did enter the war, what if Germany did not honour their treaty with Japan and declare war against the US (as many counselled Hitler)? In a lot of places it was Hitler’s psychology that was often the greatest hinderance in the German war effort. Competency in these matters could have resulted in a vastly different result (Hitler really was a former corporal and not a general officer). [Then again, I freely admit that it took a certain degree of initial insanity to postulate the level of success that was actually initially achieved.]
Of course, things could have been much better, but then that doesn’t make for as an interesting time travel dilemma story if everyone lives happily ever afterward.
[reposted at request from G+]
Brilliant. So it’s better to go to the future and check out the lottery numbers.
I’m reading Hollow World at the moment. It’s a lot of fun, looking at how the future might be. But I’d like to be able to get back afterwards.