Essay The World War II, The Holocaust, And Their Myriad Side Effects

Essay The World War II, The Holocaust, And Their Myriad Side Effects

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If you were given the power to travel through time and Set Right What Once Went Wrong, what would you do to prevent the atrocities of the past? For many, the answer is obvious: kill Adolf Hitler. This would prevent World War II, the Holocaust, and their myriad side-effects... right?
Unfortunately, it doesn 't work that way.
First of all, it often proves near-impossible to kill the man in the first place; like most dictators he 's protected by various bodyguards and security forces. After all, the guy survived about 42 (known) real life assassination attempts — maybe one of them was (or will have been) yours! Trying to circumvent these by targeting him before his rise to power begins will usually turn out to be ludicrously difficult as well. Locating a lone, disillusioned war veteran wandering around post-WWI Europe is perhaps the ultimate needle-in-a-haystack search.
Secondly, even if you do manage to kill him, something as bad or worse will appear in his place: an even smarter and crueler Führer who wins the war; or Josef Stalin takes advantage of the fact that Germany isn 't invading Russia in this new timeline and the Soviet Union starts World War II; or Japan starts its own invasion with giant mecha. In addition, if it wasn 't for Hitler 's nightmarish slaughter of "undesirables" that took place under his leadership, the rest of the world wouldn 't have experienced the sort of collective shock upon discovery of the Holocaust that spurred them into beginning the process of purging racist elements from their own nations. After all, the American Civil Rights movement, the end of colonial minority rule in places like India, and other rejections of systems of "racial superiority" only started to take place seriously after the Holoc...


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...ing and futuristic technology against a 1930s-era failed artist would be a Curb-Stomp Battle. Is it moral if someone just shoots him before he does any evil?
Ironically, it would seem that neither FDR nor Churchill (or even Stalin, when allied with them) has this immunity, because stories come up all the time about heroes having to undo a mad would-be Nazi 's altering the outcome of World War II using time travel. Clearly, this is because villains simply don 't care about any of the stated consequences.
Compare Joker Immunity and Godwin 's Law of Time Travel. This is a sub-trope of Precrime Arrest, where anyone is punished for crimes they 've already committed from the perspective of the time-traveler. This is one case where attempts to Prevent the War are ultimately counterproductive.
See the Analysis page for musings on how this trope might have worked in Real Life.

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