Would you go back in time and kill Hitler?

Attentat vom 20. Juli 1944
Besichtigung der zerstörten Baracke im Führerhauptquartier
Attentat vom 20. Juli 1944 Besichtigung der zerstörten Baracke im Führerhauptquartier "Wolfsschanze" bei Rastenburg, Ostpreußen (v.l.n.r.: X, Bormann, X, Göring, Bruno Loerzer - Generaloberst der Luftwaffe; X)

The conference room at the Wolf’s Lair soon after the July 20th 1944 assassination attempt, via Wikipedia

Most people would make killing Hitler their first priority if they could travel back in time.

Hitler was responsible for killing more than six million people throughout Europe, including around three quarters of the region’s Jewish population. Other groups killed included communists, gay people, Roma and gypsies. Not even to mention all the soldiers and civilians that were killed in his war of conquest.

A recent survey, which interviewed over 6000 people about questions of a moral nature, asked people if they would travel back to the 1920s, before Hitler wrote Mein Kampf and destroy him. In the answers, more men than women were prepared to kill Hitler. Women definitely found it harder to commit to murder, even if it meant saving the lives of more millions of people.

Personal moral believes come into play when considering killing one person so that many more can live. Germany’s own Immanuel Kant stated that actions in their own right are with wrong or right, regardless of their impact or follow-on consequences. Therefore murder has to be a moral criminal act, even if the person you are murdering is one of the biggest villains of history. Some might argue that saving the lives of millions would outweigh the moral considerations of killing Hitler.

Even if someone could go back in time and kill Hitler, there is always the risk that someone else could have taken his place. In the 1920s and 1930s Germany’s economy, politics and society was in a terrible state mainly due to its losses in World War One and the losses suffered around the world from the Wall Street crash and the Great Depression.

Germany was full of radicals who wanted to take Germany into a new direction, the National Post reports.

Many attempts were made on Hitler’s life during his leadership of the Nazi party. Every single one of them failed.

So even if someone had been able to travel back in time and kill Hitler it is first unlikely that they would have been successful and second that they could have ensured a much worse fate for the world with someone who was even more radical and crazy than Hitler.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE