Killing Hitler- Why It Would Make a Difference
Hitler had a major impact on the rise of the German radical Right and the conduct of World War 2 (including the fact that it was fought at all). It is extremely
unlikely that killing him at various points, especially as a child or offing his parents before he was born, would have had no significant impact on world history.
The Nazi Party began as the German Workers Party; the National Socialist part was added to reflect a rise in their popularity- largely caused by Hitler's speeches; for the occasion, their manifesto (or what passed for it) was re-written and made more ambitious- Hitler was a co-author; the Party was founded and led by an unimaginative nobody called Anton Drexler- Hitler eventually pushed him aside, where he languished into political obscurity; the Beer Hall Putsch was a planned by a number of German far-Right politicians, but they decided to abandon it- Hitler went ahead anyway and forced them (at gunpoint) to go along with it. Epic Fail
ensued, but he and his movement became nationally famous for his actions.
After a brief jail term and a lengthy absence from politics, he returned and used his infamy from the Putsch to push the more Left-leaning Fascists who had taken over the Party aside, converting several to his own including Joseph Goebbels, who helped him codify the cult of personality into the Party structure, forming the basis for his personal dictatorship, as opposed to the authoritarian Soviet / Nationalist hybrid-type model the Leftists seemed to have in mind. The Strassers were also much more open to friendly relations with the Soviet Union and some level of (not necessarily friendly) co-operation with the German Communists, while Hitler was dead-set on war and on crushing Bolshevism in general.
The popularity of the Nazi Party during the Great Depression owed much to both Hitler and his political allies within the Party, such as Himmler and Goebbels and Rohm, who might have had different roles without him, and several prominent figures in the Third Reich owed their position to their support of or loyalty to Hitler. Without him, assuming the Party even existed, at the very least their conduct in the general elections would have been handled differently, and nobody in the Party had the charisma or popular appeal that Hitler did. If their fortunes didn't flounder, their politics would have been different. Gregor Strasser was offered the role of Vice-Chancellorship at one point; he only turned it down because Hitler ordered him to.
Hitler pushed the racist element to the forefront of Party policy (it would have been present without him, but it likely would not have been as radical) and was also the main proponent of a totalitarian (as opposed to hardline authoritarian) regime. He pushed for war more eagerly than the others, and made gambles to recover or gain German territory more sane politicians and military minds thought were great risks. While Anti-Semitism was a staple of the German Far-Right, it is known that the order for the Holocaust originated with Hitler. World War II
might have happened without him, but it would have been very different; the Holocaust almost certainly would not, though Jews would still have been singled-out and oppressed.
The Great Depression, the collapse of German democracy and the rise of political extremism in Germany and elsewhere would obviously all have occurred with Hitler or without, but the nature
of political extremism would likely have been very different and given how fragmented the far-Right was before Hitler came along the rise of Left-Wing extremism was more likely (especially since the biggest enemy of the German Communists was their boss abroad Josef Stalin
, who ordered them to not
oppose Hitler politically or ally with the moderate Socialists, because he thought Hitler was useful). A Left-wing authoritarian regime (which might or might not have included a more Leftist Nazi party) and / or Civil War
with the German Right would probably have been the alternative outcome, and probably prompt the intervention of the Soviet Union
and possibly the Western powers and / or Fascist Italy
, which might well have resulted in a war, though probably not as none were prepared for it.
The Soviet Union
would have been much more of a threat, but their military was woefully incompetent after the purges and even after recovering they weren't too fond of an outright war with Western capitalism that they had very uncertain chances of winning, preferring to pit the other powers against each other. (Indeed, the Soviet Union originally intended the Axis Alliance to be a way to easily invade Europe when weakened by war. Stalin was shocked when Europe was conquered in six weeks
, and immediately turned the front towards the unprepared Soviets) The Soviet Union was unlikely to start World War II
on its own, although it would have found other ways to exert its power, which would have been more formidable since Hitler hadn't temporarily crippled them by invading. Fascist Italy
might not have invaded Abyssinia without Hitler making Mussolini look bad with his successful aggressive foreign policy, though Japan would have invaded China (it might not have attacked Pearl Harbor though).
And in the wider sphere it is likely that Israel would not exist, the British Empire and others would have declined at a much slower rate without a war of such hellish scale to ruin them, and Spain might also not have fallen to Franco without Hitler backing him up, assuming a right-wing dictatorship didn't come to power in Germany and support him anyway (maybe more openly). Basically, the world without Hitler would probably have been... pretty authoritarian, as the other dictators would probably have been more cautious without Hitler forcing their hand / making them look like sissies, so Stalin and Mussolini would likely have just died peacefully and been replaced by someone more moderate (as Stalin was anyway). World War II
might or might not have occurred, but for all the tensions it wasn't inevitable and would probably not have been as bloody, since Hitler wasn't there with his Blood Knight General Failure
attitude to bare. The world would have been different...yet not so different at all.
The Italo-African Empire
Prior to the formation of the Axis alliance, Fascist Italy
had successfully conquered its former ally Ethiopia
after a protracted and costly war. The nation set about establishing its claim to the territory via military occupation and putting down the remaining pockets of La Résistance
. Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia was in exile, passionately speaking out for his nation and against the Fascists in general. In a stirring speech to the League Of Nations
delivered the Cassandra Truth
"It is us today. It will be you tomorrow."
By 1940, however, embargos and international pressure failed to make Italy surrender its claim, and even some of the last six nations to refuse recognition to Italy's claim to Ethiopia in 1937 (China, New Zealand, the Soviet Union, the Republic of Spain, the United States, and most staunchly, Mexico) were beginning to consider grudging acknowledgement of what seemed to be a decided issue. At this point, Italy was seen as a role model and a reflection of what Hitler wanted to the third reich to be. So began the Axis alliance, and the downfall of the fledgling Italo-African Empire. Encouraged by Germany to join in the Spanish Civil War as well, Italy's still regrouping military found itself once again fighting a bloody war, but this time stretched thin and undersupplied as a result of simultaneously devoting large amounts of its already war-weary men and depleted stockpiles to the occupation of Africa, suppression of civil unrest at home, and the Spanish front. Outraged anti-fascist Italians quickly jumped borders to join the cause
against their own military, resulting in morale-destroying confrontations of an army with its own nation's citizens.
The result, predictably, was disastrous, leaving the once formidable Italian military a crippled shadow of itself.
Had Italy never joined the Axis Alliance, it is likely that they would never have entangled themselves in the demoralizing Spanish civil war, as Mussolini had previously been keenly aware of public opinion in Italy, and was a master of the Orwellian Opinion Flipflop
, having a been a journalist prior to his military stint in WW1
. Its also notable that he spent this stint as a Sniper
, and learned the value of patient and methodical warfare. Had Mussolini ignored Hitler's blatant goading of his pride
, and simply stuck to the original plan of establishing its claim on East Africa's rich oil deposits and mineral reserves, then bode his time while Spain imploded and stepped in to clean up the remnants of both sides, Italy could easily have had the resources, veteran officers, and momentum to conquer the entirety of Southern Europe and North Africa just as Napoleon had done a bit more than a century before.
Instead, the threat of the Axis Powers and the audacity of their aggression finally spurred Europe into acting on the previously empty threats leveled against both Germany and Italy. Haile Selassie, with a vanguard of British, Free French, and Free Belgian troops, rallied the scattered resistance groups and remaining military of Ethiopia into a rout of the remaining Italian occupation, and Italy itself fell soon after in a handful of Curb Stomp Battles