Follow TV Tropes


Piggybacking on Hitler

Go To
The rest is history... Alternate History. In the annals of the Marvel Universe, Adolf Hitler is but a footnote to his Dragon Ascendant.

"You are a fool. You think we're equals because I allow you to participate in this struggle. You fight to control nations — we dominate entire worlds... we extend our will across time."

A villain joins the Nazis during World War II, impresses Adolf Hitler enough to get his own squadron/unit, then uses these resources for his own gain. This villain often sees Hitler as just another obstacle to overcome later. This trope also works if you substitute Hitler/Nazis with any other historical dictators (Joseph Stalin, Kim Jong-Il, Pol Pot, etc.) or Evil Colonialists (such as Hernán Cortés, Francisco Pizarro, etc.), but those examples are less prevalent without Historical Villain Upgrade.

Expect Stupid Jetpack Hitler or Ghostapo if the villain in question comes from the future or has access to mystical powers.

Compare/contrast with Dragon with an Agenda; here you don't need to be The Dragon, and with this trope you get an instantly recognizable yardstick of evil for the villain to compare himself to and to rob of funds. Contrast with We Didn't Start the Führer, which is when Hitler himself was some sort of eldritch or alien creature.

Examples Involving Hitler:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • In Atomic Robo, Robo's arch-nemesis (or at least one of his arch-nemeses) Baron Von Helsingard uses this trope to seek ultimate power, and gains quite a following in the process. And later in the series, two leading members of Hitler's Weird Science division are revealed to be secretly working for the cloned brain of Helsingard all along.
  • Batman: Ra's al Ghul allied with the Nazis to further his goal of wiping out 90% of the human race to stave off overpopulation, including taking part in the Holocaust. According to a later retcon, one of his own daughters and her family were among the victims — she survived, they did not, and she was rather upset with him for it.
  • Captain America:
    • The Red Skull was personally trained by Adolf Hitler and, having Gone Horribly Right in that regard, made no secret to the Führer that he had ambitions of his own, but was willing to bide his time. Though interestingly, he actually respected and liked Hitler enough to never actually move against him. After all, the Skull knew that Hitler intended to retire after the war was won, and thus he could just wait and be his successor. This was not the case in the movies, of course.
    • This is also the case for HYDRA (which the Red Skull wasn't originally part of in the comics), most notably in the Captain America: Hail HYDRA! miniseries, which establishes HYDRA as an Ancient Conspiracy whose goals happened to coincide with the Nazis at the time.
  • Inverted in Flash Gordon: Zeitgeist where Ming The Merciless making Hitler his representative on Earth and backing the Nazis with alien technology.
  • Rasputin in Hellboy got Hitler to back his Project Ragna-Rok with the claim that it would change the course of the war. He turned most of the Nazi scientists assigned to him into disciples who were fully aware that his real plan was to bring about the apocalypse. Technically he didn't even lie, as an apocalypse would definitely change the war.
  • Herr Kleiser in The Ultimates. He was Captain America's chief nemesis during World War II, but was actually an alien known as a Chitauri (a.k.a. a Skrull) that ate the real Kleiser and impersonated him, backing Hitler by giving the Nazis advanced weaponry. Really, this was just a scheme to soften the Earth up for a full-scale invasion.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • While Hitler was at the time a current figure rather than a historical one every one of Wondy's early villains were allied with/working with him or other Axis powers, the stand out example being Paula von Gunther who it turned out was being forced to work for them as the Nazis were holding her daughter hostage.
    • The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016): Tomas Byde/The Duke of Deception is here presented as a barely contained Nazi collaborator of immense power. Priscilla Rich/Cheetah is on the other hand a much more eager Nazi ally, with far more blood lust, power hunger and disregard for the sanctity of life than Byde.
  • The X-Men villain Mister Sinister was a doctor in Auschwitz performing unethical human experiments and looking out for mutants. He used his real name, Nathan Essex, but was nicknamed Nosferatu and he scared even the Nazis. Magneto remembers him and recalls that he used to give candy to kids in exchange for blood samples. That's a real detail based on Josef Mengele, who would hand out sweets to the children he was about to kill and dissect.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Captain America: The First Avenger, the Red Skull (Johann Schmidt) sets up HYDRA like this. It's not until his Nazi allies notice that Berlin is on his list of targets that they realize he isn't exactly on their side. It later turns out (in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) that HYDRA is actually an ancient cult much older and more powerful than the Nazis that manages to vastly outlive them.
  • Rasputin in Hellboy (2004). With the Second World War turning against them, the Nazis provide Rasputin with the resources and technology to open a portal to summon the Ogdru Jahad to fight for them, unaware Rasputin intends to let them start the apocalypse instead.
    SS General: Five years of construction and research, Grigori! Five years! The Fuhrer doesn't look kindly on failure!
    Rasputin: There will be no failure, General. I promised Herr Hitler a miracle...I'll deliver one!
  • Indiana Jones films like this trope.
    • First was Belloq in Raiders of the Lost Ark, then Walter Donovan in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
      Donovan: The Nazis want to write themselves into the Grail legend, take on the world. Well, they're welcome to it. But I want the Grail itself, the cup that gives everlasting life. Hitler can have the world, but he can't take it with him. I'm going to be drinking my own health after he's gone the way of the dodo.
    • Elsa, meanwhile, claims to have sided with the Nazis simply to get the Grail. Although as Indy bluntly chews her out on, she's already been corrupted into a Nazi.
  • Played with in X-Men: First Class. Sebastian Shaw, alias Klaus Schmidt, jumped on the Nazi bandwagon mainly because it would further his research of mutation; however, he holds one of Nazism's tenets (Master Race and all that stuff) in very high esteem, and later adapts the ideology for mutant use.

  • Doctor Who New Adventures: In Timewyrm: Exodus, the War Lords do this. This results in an alternate timeline where the Nazis win the war.
  • In the backstory of Fate/Apocrypha, Darnic Prestone Yggdmillennia allied with the Nazis in order to take the Holy Grail from Fuyuki, Japan during the Third Holy Grail War that occurred during the time of World War II. Apparently, the idea of a supposedly-omnipotent wish-granting device was quite tempting. While they failed to make the Holy Grail properly manifest, they did succeed in successfully stealing the Greater Grail mechanism that was key to the ritual and would allow them to start another Holy Grail War at a later date to try again. En-route back to Germany, however, Darnic betrayed and killed the entire unit in order to take the Greater Grail back to his homeland of Romania, where he went underground for the next 60-70 years to set up his next war. Indeed, everything suggests, like the major villains of the Indiana Jones films, Darnic didn't care at all about Nazi ideology and just used them as one of many Unwitting Pawns for his own gain.
  • Dean Koontz's Frankenstein novels have this as part of Victor Helios' (a.k.a. Victor Frankenstein's) Backstory. Same example fits under type two, as Victor was also friends with Stalin (and attempted a life-extension operation that resulted in Stalin's insanity).
  • In A Pearl for My Mistress, Eugen von Frenzel is a rather mundane example. He is hardly an ardent National Socialist; however, he panders to Nazi ideas in his research and writing in hope to advance his own academic career.
  • In the President's Vampire series, the first book reveals that Konrad worked for Hitler, using concentration camp victims to create Unmanschensoldaten for the German armies. And ever since the war, he's continued to trade his services to other groups for the same reason, not caring who pays him, so long as he gets the support to continue his work.
  • Skulduggery Pleasant: Rancid Fines has been trying for over a century to use the Crystal of the Saints to bring back the Faceless Ones, so he's teamed up with whoever could provide him with the resources he needs to study the Crystal, including Hitler. In the present day, he tries to get help from the crime boss Christopher Reign, but Reign has no interest in working with a former Nazi. None of Rancid's justifications for working with Hitler sway Reign, who decides he'd rather destroy the Crystal and ruin all of Rancid's efforts.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Boys (2019): Dr. Frederick Vought, the founder of Vought International, was a geneticist ahead of his time, to the point that Hitler appointed him chief physician at Dachau. There, Vought used Jewish prisoners as test subjects for Compound V until 1944, when he got spirited away to the Allies and started providing them with Supes of their own like Soldier Boy.
  • In the Star Trek: Enterprise two-part episode "Storm Front", a race from the 29th century find themselves back in time on 20th-century Earth, during World War II. They side with the Nazis, offering to build advanced weapons in exchange for the resources they need to build a time machine. When the Nazis complain that the Aliens aren't helping them enough, the alien leader (quoted above) lampshades the trope by bluntly stating that the Nazis conquer countries; they conquer planets.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed: Hitler was a Templar. Need any more proof that they're the bad guys? Also, taking Refuge in Audacity, this trope applies to the series' versions of Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill, who all colluded with Hitler to arrange the war.
  • In the BloodRayne series, this applies to the main villains: the first game was Jurgen Wulf, a Nazi scientist gathering the body parts of the original Devil to empower the Nazis with supernatural aid, while the second game's Big Bad was the vampire Evil Overlord Kagan, whom thinks of Hitler as an idiot, but works with him to learn how to build an army. Kagan's Elite Mooks even have Putting on the Reich uniforms in the present day.
  • Guns, Gore & Cannoli: The sequel reveals that a Not Quite Dead Frankie is working with the Nazis as one of their top researchers in developing wonderweapons projects, which includes the zombie serum. Through this position, he eventually hopes to succeed Hitler by monopolizing the zombie cure, and lead the Nazis once the tide of the war turns. Unfortunately for him, Vinnie puts an end to his dreams.

    Web Animation 

    Western Animation 
  • In the Justice League three-parter "The Savage Time", Vandal Savage in the present builds a time machine and sends a laptop back to himself during World War II, containing future history and schematics for technology. Vandal then joins the Nazis and rapidly rises through the ranks until he usurps Hitler himself, becoming the new Führer. Vandal Savage didn't really care about Nazi ideals; he just wanted to use them to conquer the world for himself.
  • What If…? (2021): In "What If Captain Carter Were The First Avenger?", Schmidt, much like in the Sacred Timeline, also sets up HYDRA as a full division under the SS as part of Hitler's war machine, albeit as the Nazi Supernatural Sciences Division rather than as the Deep Science Division. Unlike in the main timeline, however, they don't manage to develop any wonderweapons designs powered by the Tesseract, thanks to discovering it much later, and getting it and Dr. Arnim Zola captured by the Allies before they could do anything with it. Schmidt, following a series of defeats and losing Hitler's favor, ultimately deserts HYDRA from the Nazi cause in 1945, knowing that the Third Reich's own defeat is imminent.

    Real Life 
  • SS Sturmbrigade RONA had been made up from rebellious Soviet people from the Lokot area after the German invasion of 1941 and led by the Russo-Pole Bronislav Kaminski. Their cruelty, looting and total lack of military competency during the Warsaw Uprising was used by Himmler as a pretext to have the Führer execute Kaminski and disband the unit.
  • XVth SS Cossack Cavalry Corps had been formed by the German high command from anti-Soviet Cossacks to fight partisans under the command of General Helmuth von Pannwitz. They were later forcibly repatriated to the Soviet Union by the Western Allies and faced execution as traitors. (This is used as Alec Trevelyan's Freudian Excuse in GoldenEye).
  • A number of conservative factions in Germany supported Hitler because they thought they could control him. This bit them hard.
  • During the Munich Crisis in 1938, Poland sided with Nazi Germany to claim the disputed Teschen territory from the Czechs, only to be invaded by the Germans only a year later. The Slovaks and Croats sided with the Nazis to gain independence for their countries. The Finns, Hungarians, and Romanians sided with the Germans to retake lost territories from their neighbors (Russia, Romania, and Russia again, respectively). The list can go on and on.
    • This extended to the rogue elements within the Soviet Union such as the Chechens and Ingush peoples that resented being under communist yoke and welcomed the Nazis when they invaded Russia. When the Nazis were routed, Operation Lentil happened.

Examples Involving Other Dictators:

    Films — Live-Action 

    Video Games 
  • Command & Conquer:
    • In the alternate history timeline of Command & Conquer: Red Alert, Kane and his Brotherhood of Nod are using Stalin's Soviet Union to get to power.
    • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, Yuri aided the Soviets in their rise to power, but has his own plans. He was using the war as a smokescreen so he can set up his Psychic Dominators to mind control the world when the Allies and Soviets aren't looking. There is some implication that he was genuinely loyal to Stalin in the Red Alert 1 days, who was the one who established the Psi-Corps program, but Stalin's Soviet Union lost before Yuri was in a position to help, and by the time Red Alert 2 starts he's scheming to take over the Soviet Union while the Soviet Union takes over the world, or failing that use the opportunity to set up his own mind control bid for global domination.
  • Valkyria Chronicles 4 has a rare fantasy version of this. Heinrich Belgar is a Mad Scientist who works for the East Europan Imperial Alliance, which is basically Soviet Russia with the warmongering tendencies of Nazi Germany. Belgar openly admits he only joined the Empire because they gave him unlimited funding and are allowing him free reign to do whatever experiments he wishes without any ethical restraints. He doesn't care about their larger goals and is dismissive of their Emperor. One almost gets the feeling that he would have gladly joined The Federation if they were willing to be less restrictive ethically. In turn, Forseti does this to Belgar himself, with him joining up with the Empire, and thus Belgar, just for the opportunity to rescue Federation Valkyrias powering the Snow Cruisers. He intends to take the Valkyrias and his sister Leena to a neutral country after this is done.


Video Example(s):


The Dark Don

The mysterious Dark Don, revealed to be a not-so-dead Frankie the Fly, tells Vinnie Cannoli how he decided to help the Nazis during their rise to power in the 1930s, how he helped them in their war effort by providing them with wonderweapons research, and how he eventually plans to usurp Hitler once he takes over the world.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / PiggybackingOnHitler

Media sources: