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We Didn't Start The Führer
"Whatever he was once like, Anu likes destruction now. It's almost as if it relieves his frustration, and it's probably part of his whole addiction to power, as well. But whatever causes it, it's real enough. He and his people certainly proved that a hundred years ago."
Colin nodded again, understanding completely. He'd occasionally wondered why Hitler had proved so resistant to assassination[...]. No wonder the bomb plot had failed; a man with full enhancement would hardly even have noticed it. And if anyone had ever shown a maniacal glee in taking others down with them, it had been the Nazi elite.
Empire from the Ashes: Mutineer's Moon

A specific type of Historical Villain Upgrade and Beethoven Was an Alien Spy focused on Adolf Hitler.

It is revealed that Hitler was not just a (particularly disturbed) human being, but was supernaturally evil, and existed with the primary purpose of deliberately going about causing large-scale misery. Aliens may also stand in for supernatural beings. Either way, the message is that World War II was inflicted on us by otherworldly forces, not something mankind brought about by itself.

As befits a trope that's more about the legacy and legend of the War than its actuality, it's often done as backstory for the villain (à la, "How evil is he? Well, you remember Hitler...?"), rather than directly in a World War II setting.

Like Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act, it could easily be done with other famous warmongers, but in practice almost never is, except as part of a Julius Beethoven Da Vinci where Hitler was also several other famously evil people (in which case, there's a good chance he was also Genghis Khan and Jack the Ripper). At least, this is the case in Western media. Japanese media have something similar going on with Oda Nobunaga; see Demon King Nobunaga for this trope's Jidai Geki counterpart.

The trope can obviously overlap with Stupid Jetpack Hitler and/or Ghostapo.


    open/close all folders 

Examples:

     Anime & Manga  

  • The Legend of Koizumi seems to be heading in this direction, as not only does it play Stupid Jetpack Hitler and Ghostapo completely straight (there's a Nazi base on the Moon, for crying out loud!) but Hitler is described as "the greatest sorceror of the twentieth century" and has ridiculous occultic mahjong powers. He got in a psychic duel with the Pope, a man who literally had God on his side, and won.

     Comic Books  

  • The French series Mutafukaz has as the Big Bad a bunch of Shapeshifting monsters who have infiltrated all levels of the American government (including the President); their backstory not only shows they helped the Nazi party out, but also at one point killed and replaced him. Fortunately a secret society of Mexican wrestlers saved the day (it's complicated...).
  • In EC Comics' Weird Fantasy #14, the story "The Exile" concerns an alien criminal exiled to Earth. Three guesses what the twist ending is.
  • In Wonder Woman Vol 1 2 it is claimed the God Mars, who has conquered the planet Mars, is responsible for war on Earth. His three lieutenants, the Earl of Greed, the Duke of Deception and Lord Conquest, are influencing the Axis Leaders. In the second chapter Greed is shown contacting Hitler, Agent NZ-1, whose 'warped mind' picks up the radio waves. When Greed in astral form speaks to Hitler, Hitler thinks it is his own intelligence.
  • The French comic Iznogoud has Hitler be an emissary of the Devil who was sent to our world to create destruction and terror.

    Literature 

  • In Prince Ombra by Roderick MacLeish, a supernatural evil from beyond time is periodically embodied on Earth to cause trouble. Last time around, it was Hitler.
  • In The Secret Visitors by James White, aliens are trying to wipe out the human race so they can take Earth's riches for themselves. The protagonist learns that Hitler's mania was caused or at least aggravated by the aliens, who deliberately egged him on in the hope that the Second World War would do the job for them. (The first World War was all our own doing, though.)
  • Implied in Operation Chaos by Poul Anderson, where a group of demons in Hell includes one who bears a striking resemblance to Hitler (although the protagonist, being from an Alternate History, doesn't recognise him).
  • In the Callahans Crosstime Saloon story "Unnatural Causes", the alien Broodseven-Sub-Two Raksha claimed to have been Hitler and the entirety of WWII an alien plot designed to push humanity into developing atomic weapons.
  • The Lensman prequel Triplanetary says that Hitler was actually an Eddorian agent in disguise. The same agent was also Kaiser Wilhelm and the guy who started World War III. (This would require him to be in two places at once, since Hitler and the Kaiser were both alive at the same time, but this is hardly the most implausible thing in Triplanetary, which E. E. “Doc” Smith originally wrote as "a yarn in which scientific detail would not be bothered about, and in which his imagination would run riot". In First Lensman he compounds the improbability, perhaps lampshade-wise, by adding Mussolini to the list.)
  • In the beginning of the Empire from the Ashes trilogy, Hitler is singled out as having been one of the starship mutineers who have been manipulating humanity since the rise of civilization. He was doing it For the Evulz.
  • It seems that Hitler himself was totally human in Night Watch, but he and the Nazis in general were strongly influenced by the Night Watch's attempts to create a utopia. (There have actually been several such attempts, and they all backfired horribly in one way or another.)
    • In another novel by the same author, Autumn Visits, Hitler had a supernatural clone, the Vector of Art, who competed with six others like him (e.g. Stalin's clone, the Vector of Power, who killed and replaced the original) for World Domination and lost.
  • In James P. Hogan's Giants' Star, Terrans discover that a group of humans from another star system have infiltrated us for millennia, teaching superstition and bigotry, trying to hamper our development and later to make us destroy ourselves. During a confrontation, a Terran spokesperson says the enemy intended World War II to be an all-out nuclear exchange, but didn't quite manage it, and asks:
    What happened to the real Adolf Hitler? Or perhaps you operated from behind the throne—Alfred Rosenberg, perhaps?
  • Another James P. Hogan book, The Proteus Operation, has it that in himself Hitler did not amount to much - the Beerhall Putch fiasco in 1923 was the peak of his career and in the "original timeline" and he faded into obscurity after some years in prison. The world went on to prosper, the League of Nations was a great success and went on to unify the world, eliminate war and reduce the gap between rich and poor in a worldwide social democratic utopia. But the people who didn't like losing power and privilege went back in time, funded and advised Hitler into power, and in 1942 provided him nuclear bombs to conquer Russia - but when the privileged and powerful people of the future got ready to pack their bags and go to the nice spot which they prepared for themselves in the past, Hitler cut the line and kept the power to himself, engaging in further conquest and genocide in Africa. Then, in the 1970's President John Kennedy in the US, knowing that nuclear war with Germany and Japan was a just a matter of time, that the US was likely to lose and that in any case there will not be much left of the world, sent his own team into the past - whose interference created the world we live in.
  • It is revealed in The Lost Hero, the first book in the second series of books for the Percy Jackson series, that all major world wars are actually fought between the Greek and Roman demigods, who, being natural military types, end up leading mortals into conflict. Since the series also tends to portray prominent historical figures as demigods, Hitler may have been a demigod, perhaps a child of Ares/Mars or Eris/Discordia. Also it is claimed the Titan Kronos influences people to conquer the world, one being Hitler.
    • Implied in The Son of Neptune that he is actually a son of Pluto, due to looking very similar.
    • Also implied in the original series, where the destruction of the second World War (fought between sons of Zeus and Poseidon on one side and sons of Hades on the other) was supposedly the reason the three of them swore not to have demigod children again. Ironically, Hades was the only one to take this vow seriously— his youngest children were all born in the 1920s and '30s.
  • For a non-Hitler example, the novel The Presidents Vampire by Christopher Farnsworth has Osama bin Laden as a Deep One.
  • Harry Potter strongly implies that the rise of Grindelwald and the First Wizarding War may have had something to do with the Second World War; both events take place during the same time frame and mirror each other in quite a few ways (for example, Grindelwald's imprisonment in a Spandau-like prison). Word of God is that every last bit of the similarities are intentional, but is vague on whether Grindelwald actually influenced or helped Hitler.
  • In Orson Scott Card's The Magic Box, the protagonist struggles with a villain who wants to unleash an evil entity on the world. It's explicitly stated that World War II was caused by the entity the last time it was released. Whether it directly possessed Hitler or effected the world in a more general way is never stated.

     Live Action TV  

  • The Tomorrow People episode "Hitler's Last Secret" had neo-Nazis possessed by the same alien power that had been Hitler.
    • An earlier episode, "The Medusa Strain", featured a completely different "explanation" for Hitler: He was a con artist from the future who'd travelled back in time to evade justice. Although at least he was still human in that version.
  • Related: On an episode of The X-Files, they meet a Jerkass Genie who was responsible for Mussolini's rise and fall.
  • The Star Trek episode "Wolf in the Fold" has an entity that was Jack the Ripper on Earth.
  • In Grimm, an episode had some ancient coins as an Artifact of Doom, giving their holder great charisma, but were addictive and drove the user mad. The hero's partner and later his captain were under their influence, and the villains of the episode were searching for them. It turns out their effects were responsible for Hitler and several other historical Big Bads.
    • Not only that, but it's revealed that Hitler was in fact a Wesen of the Schakale variety, who are socially skilled, though violent and aggressive Child Eaters.
  • In Supernatural, the demon Alistair implies he had a hand in the creation of the extermination camps in Nazi Germany.

     Video Games  

  • Rocket Ranger didn't have Hitler, but it put forth that Nazis were aliens who established their base of operations on the moon.

     Web Comics  

  • The webcomic Good Ship Chronicles reveals that Nazi jokes are no longer PC as it was discovered all Nazi activities were the result of an alien mind-probe.

Twists:

     Comic Books  

  • In The Ultimates, it's revealed that the shape-shifting alien race known as the Chitauri were highly involved with the Nazis. However, it's unclear how much of what the Nazis did was their idea, and in fact it seems like the Nazis had a greater influence on the Chitauri, as post-WWII, they mention that they kept the Nazi uniforms and symbols because they liked them.
    • It is also implied that the Chitauri did not really approve of the racism and death camps, regarding them as forgivable excesses for the greater good which, to them, was the eradication of individuality.

    Film 

  • Downfall took some criticism in Germany for portraying Hitler as a flawed and broken human. The director actually invoked this trope in his defense: if we continue to act like Hitler was some alien monster teleported to earth to do very bad stuff, we as a nation and a race are never going to learn from the past.

    Literature 

  • Played with in the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Timewyrm: Exodus, where Hitler separately receives covert assistance from two different groups of aliens attempting to further their own ends — but neither is able to control him, and what he does with their assistance is all entirely his own idea.

     Tabletop Games  

  • Inverted in the classic World of Darkness. Though the setting attributes many historical events to hidden supernatural causes, the creators felt putting one of the (many) supernatural groups in the Fantasy Kitchen Sink behind the Nazis' horrors would be in bad taste. If any supernaturals were involved in the conflict, they were either a) corrupted monsters (the Sabbat, Black Spiral Dancers and fomori, Nephandi, etc.) picking at the sides of the conflict, or b) trying to stop the carnage.
  • Played with in In Nomine Satanis / Magna Veritas, as well as their American version, In Nomine: Although some notable historical events (such as the Crusades) resulted from celestial or infernal intervention, Hitler's actions were independent and a complete surprise to both Heaven and Hell. Then again, a lot of other important historical events weren't directly caused by angels or demons, as a running theme is that most of them really aren't as good at playing "secret mastermind" as they think.

     Video Games  

  • Played with in Persona 2: Innocent Sin. Hitler is apparently revived using the power of rumors and a conspiracy theory that he escaped the bunker instead of committing suicide; however, it's revealed that this Hitler is actually none other than Nyarlatothep.
  • In the Assassin's Creed Alternate History, Hitler was actually a Templar, using the Apple of Eden to control Nazi Germany to start World War II. In an interesting twist, Hitler was working with Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin, who were also Templars, and the entire point was to reshape the world order to be more favorable to the Templars. It is worth noting that in one of the letters than can be read in the game, it is all but outright said that Hitler was a lunatic anyway. And they would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those darned Assassins!


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