Must be Monday. New podcast! Just click on the fancy logo below.
Killing Hitler- Why It Would WorkHitler 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 Socialism 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, as did very likely the idea. Himmler, who actually organized the whole thing, even thought it was too extreme (though he obviously obeyed, and proceeded to justify his actions to himself on various grounds of "toughness" and the like). 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 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 Socialist-type 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, to the point of Stalin thinking cavalry were still in the game, and they weren't too fond of an outright war with Western capitalism that they stood no chance of winning, preferring to pit the other powers against each other. 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 Harbour 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.