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, or was himself either possessed or being directly manipulated by otherworldly forces (of evil). 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. Expect this to happen in a Weird Historical War set in WWII. If the villain was The Dragon for Hitler, but Hitler himself remains more or less the same as the historical one, see Piggybacking on Hitler.
- 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 sorcerer 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.
- 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 is sent to our world to create destruction and terror.
- In Red Raven's Mercury comics (based on the god of the same name), Expy "Rudolph Hendler", the dictator of "Prussland", is secretly the god Pluto (Everybody Hates Hades). Since the time of writing, Marvel has acquired the character, retconned him into Makkari of the Eternals, and Pluto into Warlord Kro the Deviant. No word on Hendler's status.
- Nemesis the Warlock: It turns out that Hitler was one of the past incarnations of Big Bad Torquemada, who is a warmongering fascist dictator in his own right, but unlike Hitler already rules over all humanity in the far future, so his enemy are the "alien vermin"
- Flash Gordon: Zeitgeist: Adolf Hitler is a puppet to Emperor Ming of Mongo, who is backing the Nazis to take over the Earth and rule it in his name. Granted, this series is set in a alternate timeline and the planet Mongo serves as a portal to The Multiverse, meaning Ming just influenced a different Earth than ours.
- The Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse arc "Mr. Wormwood Goes to Washington" casually mentions that the Third Reich was due to mass possession of its leadership by a malevolent extra-dimensional parasite species known as the Ghorass Fungus.
- In the 1923 flashback issue of The Wicked + The Divine, it is revealed that the 1930s dictatorships and hence World War II were at least partly the result of a ritual by three particularly elitist and anti-democratic members of the Pantheon (Baal, based on T S Eliot, Set, based on Virginia Woolf, and Woden, based on Josef Goebbels) intended to set Earth's history on a path that would be agreeable to them.
- A story in the sixties weird-humor comic Plop! invoked this at the end of a story that intentionally invoked many old comic book cliches with the biggest cliche of all...when the guy whose face you don't see until the end turns out to be Hitler.
- Infamously done in Until the End of Time's second act, in which Goku fights Adolf Hitler, only to find that the latter is a Saiyan and that he had transformed into a Super Saiyan.
- Downplayed in the Day of the Barney trilogy. In the prologue to Part III, Adolf Hitler is still human, but his life is saved and his plans encouraged by the Animalistic Abomination Big Bad Barney.
- Iron Sky's upcoming sequel, Iron Sky: The Coming Race, has Hitler surviving to the present day as a Tyrannosaurus rex-riding David Icke-style reptilian in the Hollow Earth, who presumably orchestrated the events of the first movie and will use the resulting chaos and destruction to try to Take Over the World once more. Enjoy the trailer.
- 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 Callahan's 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 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, implied to be a child of Hades/Pluto. 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, who lost the war, 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.
- 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.
- The Dresden Files: Bob implies that the evil necromancer Kemmler is ultimately responsible for WWII (he works with corpses and needed raw materials). Whether or not he's involved specifically with Hitler is less clear.
- In the Dutch YA novel Face in the Mist (by Paul Van Loon), it's mentioned that the demonic Cult villain used to be Adolf Hitler in one of his past incarnations.
- In The Shadowspawn, vampiric race admixture is the explanation for the ruthlessness, high intelligence, nocturnal habits and uncanny luck of many historical dictators: they are just enough vampire to have some low-key magic and typical mental characteristics, though not enough to hunt for blood. Hitler is said to be one example, with such abilities helping him survive his dangerous duties in World War I and later aiding his rise to power. Mildly subverted, in this instance, in that Hitler wasn't either a conscious vampire scion or in any way in on the vampires' massive global conspiracy that secretly rules the world; if anything, he actually fought against it, with the Western Allied nations and the Communist USSR being its firmest strongholds during World War II. He just had some unusual abilities and talents that helped him pursue his own objectives.
- In the Magitek-based Alternate History of The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump, the Hitler-analog is widely suspected to have born with "apsychia", meaning he had no soul. Hence, he felt no fear of damnation, no matter what horrors he wreaked.
- The Tomorrow People (1973):
- The 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.
- 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.
- The series was fond of doing this with other historical characters as well. Like Caligula allowing alligator Wesen to live in his aqueducts, or implying Rasputin was a Wesen whose mystic deeds were all done by giving off natural chemotherapy.
- The demon Alistair implies he had a hand in the creation of the extermination camps in Nazi Germany. However, given the nature of demons in Supernatural, it's possible that the Nazis are supposed to have started Alistair instead.
- In a later episode, the Horsemen War comments that he was over in Germany to cause havok during both World Wars.
- The Twilight Zone (1959): The episode "He's Alive" suggests that Hitler is some kind of supernatural being able to give advice (and orders) to those venerating his image.
- The Great Leader of Shocker from ``Kamen Rider`` is not only implied to have been behind Hitler's rise, but also is secretly several 'later' Showa Rider main villains, due to him being a living embodiment of evil. He's also an alien... or a mutant... or a demon...
- Rocket Ranger didn't have Hitler, but it put forth that Nazis were aliens who established their base of operations on the moon.
- 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.
- In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, Adolf Hitler himself was just a run-of-the-mill genocidal madman. His senior advisors, on the other hand, were mostly devil-worshiping sorcerers bound and determined to bring down human civilization in the name of their ungodly overlords, and they played Hitler like a puppet.
- 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.
- In the first arc of George Perez's run on Wonder Woman, Ares, the God of War, wanted to get all the glory of an atomic war. When he shows up, moments before the bombs were fired, Wonder Woman described him as the architect of all the madness around them. But Ares pointed her that she was overestimating him: he simply took the already existing madness, and shaped it for his own agenda.
- 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.
- Played with in 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.
- 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.
- Seriously, though— inverted, not averted. The lack of supernatural involvement in the Nazi atrocities is distinctly notable in a world that otherwise takes Beethoven Was an Alien Spy to its limits. There's a joke in the fandom that the reason Hitler went insane(er) was from realizing he was the only normal human being around.
- 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.
- Also, in the American In Nomine, Hitler's success at bringing about the Holocaust without infernal assistance actually torments the Demon Prince of Death, who becomes obsessed with finding a way to top it.
- In Nephilim while there were some Nephilim who incarnated in Nazis, noone is sure if Hitler was. Or wants to take credit.
- 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!
Examples not involving Hitler:
- Wonder Woman features General Erich Ludendorff as the primary Big Bad. He is given a Historical Villain Upgrade with him murdering the German High Command and intending to continue World War I (that the Germans already effectively lost) with a new gas weapon that can murder hundreds of civilians. This, combined with his War Is Glorious speech, convinces Wonder Woman that Ludendorff is really Ares, the God of War, in disguise and that killing him would end the war immediately. Subverted: When she finally did kill him, to her dismay, the Germans still continue to fight and the real Ares reveals that while he did gave humans new weapons and formulas over the eons, he never pushed them into war... They went to war by their own choice.
- Sleepy Hollow had Judas Iscariot's coins, artifacts which caused the holder to turn against the friends, family, and deeply held beliefs. One holder was Benedict Arnold.
- The Star Trek episode "Wolf in the Fold" has an entity that was Jack the Ripper on Earth.
- On an episode of The X-Files, they meet a Jackass Genie who was responsible for Mussolini's rise and fall.
- In an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the musical demon Sweet (who causes people to spontaneously burst into song and dance until they catch fire and die) claims to have given Nero his first fiddle. Another throw-away line suggests Caligula became a vampire and later the serial killer called Jack the Ripper.
- Warhammer 40K: The daemon prince known as Doombreed is one of the strongest and oldest of his kind, ascended by Khorne due to the immense bloodshed he'd caused. About his mortal life, little is known, and while there is no shortage of warlords causing wanton slaughter on such vast scales, it is strongly implied that he was originally known as Genghis Khan. Which makes the existence of the White Scars Space Marines even funnier (being heroic Space Mongols with bikes and boltguns instead of horses and bows).