What's Happening

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Night: This was badly in need of somebody with a serious grounding in WW2 history, so let's establish a few things.

Germany was going to lose the war. When? That's dictated by three separate factors.

1: Germany did not have the manpower to defeat the USSR. Nothing short of a complete collapse of the USSR's government could have allowed Germany to beat them. This would require assassinating Stalin and most or all of the second echelon of Soviet leadership. If we remove Operation Barbarossa, factor 2 takes over.

2: Germany did not have the industrial might to defeat the United States. Assuming they never attack Russia, then there is a real possiblity Operation Sea Lion goes forward and they invade the British Isles. However as anyone with a firm grounding in naval history can tell you, Operation Sea Lion was never going to work. The Germans simply didn't have the ships or the know-how to make it work, the Royal Navy would have fouled it all up with or without the RAF. The United Kingdom holds. The US will eventually enter the war, as it was going to do, as FDR wanted to do, regardless of the fact Japan is never going to attack the US if Germany does not attack Russia. (The US was already fighting the war in the Atlantic for six months prior to Pearl Harbor, it simply hadn't been declared.) The full might of the US is brought to bear in Europe, so sometime in 1943 between carrier and land-based air the Luftwaffe is crushed. With the full US carrier fleet at its disposal D-Day could be staged in the Baltic at Antwerp or on the German coast. No long campaign in France is necessary. Landing there cuts off German forces in Western Europe from home. The war ends as the US throws ashore a huge army within a couple hundred miles of Berlin and the Ruhr valley. Unless Germany pulls back in the face of this and lets France and Western Europe go by default. In which case factor 3 takes over.

3: The atomic bomb. Little Boy and Fat Man were developed with the explicit understanding that they would be used on German targets. Even assuming Germany holds out until summer 1945, then the war will end. The first atomic bomb will detonate over Berlin, not Nagasaki, and Germany would surrender whether the government wanted to or not.

Boone: How about the impact on colonialism? World War II showed the hypocrisy of it as European nations had to fight for their independence, and a whole host of colonies were promised independence in exchange for military help.

The trope brings this short story immediately to mind, but as to whether it fits in the entry... perhaps I am biased.

Ununnilium: Heeheehee... awesome.

Tzintzuntzan: Love that story! It occurs to me that although Hitler is a special case, time-travel stories in general are fond of "any change you make will be for the worse." The old short story "Aristotle and the Gun" by L. Sprague de Camp shows this, as do a gazillion others. Invader Zim took it to the logical conclusion — in the Zim-verse, it is an immutable law of physics that altering history always makes things worse specifically for the person (or Irken) who alters it.
  • At the risk of stating the obvious, this seems like a very specific and widespread Family-Unfriendly Aesop, especially if you generalize it to the present (and in many examples there's no reason given why you couldn't). "Never interfere in anything" mb? —Document N

Morgan Wick: Is the Red Alert thing really an exception?

Seth: It's an exception inso far as they do actualy kill him and he stays dead.

Morgan Wick: From the entry: Also, everyone "knows" that without Hitler, somebody else far smarter would have ruled Germany and they would have won. If someone actually does stop Hitler, they'll almost always have to "undo" it to prevent this. It appears a cosmic law that something bad has to go down in the period between 1930 and 1946-47. Under that paragraph, the Red Alert example fits perfectly.

HeartBurn Kid: Well, except the part about anybody "undo"ing what they've done.

Burai: And the part about someone smarter ruling Germany during WWII and winning, and (as I understand it) "something bad going down between 1930-1947" (only know the game by reputation, but, doesn't Europe remain peaceful in the game for that period, with the Stalin badness coming after?)

On a tangent ... is it just me, or does there seem to be an intertwined idea here that preventing Hitler from coming to power magically thwarts fascism from taking hold in Italy (invaded Ethiopa almost two years before the Axis was formed) and Japan (in Manchuria since 1931)? One would think the best Einstein could do with his Chronosphere, for instance, is buy a shorter war with less players.

Robert: Arguably, with Hitler, Mussolini would have been just another Franco. His main motivation for war seems to have been he was as tough as Hitler. No European threat means Britain has more forces in the far east, with unguessable consequences, but I suspect the real reason Japan gets ignored is because it's seen as a sideshow.

Tulling: A strange detail in Red Alert is that on the map you see between missions the German-Polish border seems to follow the Oder-Neisse line, when you'd expect it to remain like it was post-WW1. On a different note, are there any scenarios in which time-travellers try to off other dictators, like Lenin or Mussolini?

Space Ace: Well, the core of this trope is that killing Hitler makes Nazi Germany more powerful, ergo; it doesn't work. In Red Alert is does work, even though the cost is the same, but with a different dictator.

Ununnilium: This trope seems to have three main variations. One, where a time-traveller tries to kill Hitler, but fails. Two, where Hitler dies, but it's undone. Three, Hitler dies, and something even worse takes his place.

IMHO, it should be rewritten to reflect that, rather than the outright "Nope, can't kill Hitler."

Later: Okay, I'm-a do that.
Silent Hunter: Personally, I'd stop Lenin from boarding the train to St. Petersburg in 1917. Stops Hitler and Stalin in one go.

Ununnilium: Oh, that's a good one. Personally, I'd see if I could stop Caesar before he got started.

Seven Seals: Why stop there? Why settle for bombing people back to the Stone Age when you could bomb the Stone Age, or at least the guy with the pointy stick?

Ununnilium: But how will you know who the bad guy is? They didn't have strokable cats or expensive white suits back then!

Seven Seals: It shouldn't be that hard — the first villain probably invented the Evil Laugh.
Red Shoe: At the risk of whatever, I want to point out that nowadays, every time I hear about the rise of "neo-fascism", I think to myself, "Does this mean we're allowed to go back in time and kill Hitler now?"
Seven Seals: Took out this: "However, since the Holocaust, especially with its Final Solution phase with the death camps, appears to have been averted, one could make the argument that this timeline could be an improvement." I could add speculation about how Stalin's gulags and ethnic cleansings would probably intensify, making the alternate world no picknick either, but that would rapidly spiral into a "who would suffer more" argument that can benefit no-one. Red Alert isn't trying to answer questions like these, and we probably shouldn't either, at least not here.

Fake Nog: Well, considering how many Soviets died in WWII as it did happen, all of the ethnic cleansing might only add up to a different twenty-one million deaths... erm, close gallows not-even-humour tag.
SteveMB: Actually, (unless my memory is playing tricks on my) the Wings of the Valkyrie scenario is considerably different from the description. The original inteverntion took out the whole leadership of the Nazi Party in the early 30s (long before 1944 bomb plot). In the alternate timeline, communists rather than fascists took over Germany, initially allying with the USSR and then falling out with them. The results included Second and Third World Wars with even worse destruction than our WWII (including several nuked cities) and the beleagured US sliding into homegrown fascism.

I thought I'd 'quit' TV Tropes, but ... turns out there's a comic, too.

TheyCallMeTomu: You know, thinking on this... what if you went back in time, killed hitler, *and wore his skin?* I mean, c'mon. You can always pretend to be Hitler. You'd avoid another dictator getting the position (until you got shot and killed). Granted, it involves spending ones own natural life in the past but, hey: sacrifices must be made and all that jazz.
Fast Eddie: Too many quotes

"...time travel and Hitlers are always a bad combination."

"Back from 1916 France I come, having at the last possible second prevented Hitler's early demise at the hands of JudgeDoom and, incredibly, restrained myself from shooting JudgeDoom and sparing us all years of correcting his misguided antics. READ BULLETIN 1147, PEOPLE!"
SilverFox316, Wikihistory

Po8: Excised this example:

  • A possible example could be the third Indiana Jones, where Indy is face-to-face with the guy, so he could have just shot and ran.

Apparently some troper believes that Indy meets Hitler through time travel.

Po8: If we have to pick one quote for this, I chose the Bazillion quote instead of the Pratchett. Pithy and on the nose. I thus removed this:

Shoot the dictator and prevent the war? But the dictator is merely the tip of the whole festering boil of social pus from which dictators emerge; shoot one, and there'll be another one along in a minute. Shoot him too? Why not shoot everyone and invade Poland?
Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies

Clerval: Except part of the text doesn't make sense now.
CA Lieber: Does anyone ever reverse the trope, going back and kill someone even nastier, with Dolfie arising in his place?

Clerval: What about the fact that a time traveller who did manage to prevent the events Hitler caused would probably undo his own existence too, creating some kind of time loop? I mean, my grandparents met in a bomb shelter and with such gigantic disruption, I imagine that almost nobody could have had the identical marital or sex life they would have had if it hadn't happened and thus that there's scarcely a person born since the war that would have been born without it.
An interesting point to the Midnighter story is that the hero gets the chance to pursue the guy deep into his final bunker. He doesn't...Hitler by that time is so fucked up it scares even the Midnighter. And that's saying something.
The Dr McNinja link is kinda one-sided. If you looked around, Rene Engstrom was very clear why the strip came down, it's the kind of thing women do when large numbers of people start threatening to murder their children if they don't. Ironically her Jewish children at that.

Document N: Link?
You know, I've always wondered why time travellers don't tell Franz Ferdinand to stay out of Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. Do that, and you not only stop Hitler and World War II, but also prevent Dolchstosslegende and preclude the Holocaust. And while WWI was probably inevitable, it would get pushed off by a few years, possibly foiling the Bolshevik Revolution. No WWI, no Treaty of Versailles, and thus no German reparations. The lack of those obligations might alter economics sufficiently to prevent the Great Depression. The lack of Soviet influence might have prevented China from going Communist, as well.

So to sum up: Save Ferdinand, and you stop one world war, delay the other, foil two communist revolutions and prevent the Great Depression.

Minor gripe: Wouldn't it be better to change "Hitlers" to "Hitler", so the lack of punctuation isn't obvious? —Document N