General Question

ucme's avatar

If Hitler had been assassinated, could the holocaust & world war II have been averted?

Asked by ucme (50037points) August 19th, 2010

I was watching a documentary yesterday in which it was stated that Hitler was the subject of as many as forty two known assassination attempts throughout his infamous reign. It was further claimed that as a result of surviving these numerous failed attempts, he thought it was divine intervention that he was immortal/invincible. However if any one of those plots had succeeded in ridding the world of this abhorrent threat, would it have had any effect at all on the wretched turmoil that was soon to unfold or not? I realise of course that it’s not an exact science predicting what might have been but would appreciate your best guess on the matter.

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19 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I think there is every chance that things would have been changed. His generals thought his conduct of the war was wrong.

I am not at all sure there would have been the will to see the Holocaust through.

tedd's avatar

The only thing that would’ve been different had Hitler not come to power, is that world war 2 would’ve been fought against the Russians. Stalin was arguably worse than Hitler, and was only side tracked from his own world conquest goals by Hitlers.

“When you kill 60 people, its a tragedy! When you kill 600,000…. its a statistic.” -Joseph Stalin

Nullo's avatar

World War II was essentially an extension of World War I and the Cold War an extension of WWII. Things would have been different, but I don’t think that they would have been entirely averted.

softtop67's avatar

I will answer in two parts
Yes I believe without Hitler things would have been different as he did make decisions that affected the course of History.

But would the Holocaust been completed avoided, I am not so sure. Anti Semite laws were in effect in many European countries Pre Nazi Party, so I believe there would have been persecution to some extent although I am not convinced the “Final Solution” would have taken place

Recommended reading on the topic
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitler%27s_Willing_Executioners

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

As @Nullo says, WW2 was an extension of WW1. The nature of the Versailles Treaty forced that. As General Foch commented at the time “This is not a peace treaty, it’s an armistice for twenty years” and he was right almost to the month. Germany was treated like an utterly defeated power when, on the battlefield, the war ended in virtual stalemate. The right wing in Germany drummed away at this in the 20s, arguing that Germany had been “stabbed in the back” by the left, which overthrew the monarchy and incited the sailors of the High Seas Fleet to mutiny rather than attack the Allied blockade. It was this sea blockade and the resulting food shortages that forced the German government to sign the lopsided Versailles pact.

This takes us to the late 1920s. The National Socialists (Nazis) were only one of about a dozen parties on the right, all chanting the same slogans. An assassination of Hitler at this point would have meant another right party would have taken the lead, with about the same results, only with a von Papen or Ribbentrop at the helm.

By the late 30s, the Nazis had taken credit for an economic turnaround based largely on rearmament and public works projects. An assassination at this point would have left the Nazis in power, but with someone like Hermann Goering in power, another ideologue amateur strategist. Remember, the German General Staff were genuinely nonpolitical, cared only about strategy and logistics and were indoctrinated to serve whoever was in charge.

By the time the war had expanded into the East, June 1941, the Allies had adopted a policy of unconditional surrender. Nothing short of that would satisfy Stalin or Churchill; Germany was committed to a war to the finish, regardless of who was in charge. After the fall of France in 1940, Germany had attempted to negotiate peace with the U.K. to no avail (the attempt was largely symbolic, neither Hitler nor Churchill really wanted a negotiated peace). Any assassination after 1941 would have found a new German leader in a position of either surrender unconditionally or fight to the end. Only an assassination prior to June 1941 might have averted disaster for Germany.

Had German expansionism stopped at some point (say, after the annexation of Czechoslovakia), a major war would have been postponed but not averted. But this would have meant a 180 degree turn in German foreign policy, unlikely even with Hitler out of the picture. Stalin was as eager to seize Polish territory as Hitler was, as well as domination of the Baltic states, destabilization of Romania, Bulgaria, etc. A delayed war would have been at least as costly, only with different alliances and battlefields; say an Anglo-German-Italian-Finnish army fighting in the Urals, France and the Low Countries neutral and the U.S. fighting a separate war in the Pacific. Now we’re into Harry Turtledove territory.

Void's avatar

“You must admit that the genesis of a great man depends on the long series of complex influences which has produced the race in which he appears, and the social state into which that race has slowly grown….Before he can remake his society, his society must make him.”——-Herbert Spencer

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Void Good point. The First World War created many potential Hitlers. If Hitler had never been born, WW2 would have happened. The Versailles Treaty stirred up too much hatred in Germany for it to go unavenged.

theglennnn's avatar

i think the holocaust could have been averted, but i don’t think the war against the axis powers could have. the war wasn’t just about hitler, there was also japan and italy. We were also just coming out of the great depression and the war-time production pulled us out of that financial slump big time. So it was definitely in the U.S.‘s interest to be involved in the war, in order to be come the new super power.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@theglennnn Yes, the Holocaust could have been averted. Arguably, Germany would have been stronger militarily if the Jewish people had not been persecuted.

chocolatechip's avatar

@theglennnn

The US didn’t enter the war “to become a super power”.

cazzie's avatar

Anti-Semitism was rife. Even the initial constitution of Norway included a section that was anti-jew. It was quickly rescinded, but it’s an embarrassing part of Norway’s history.

@theglennnn Hitler played on the powers in Italy… and let’s not forget what had been going on in Spain as well! The Japanese effect was a long brewing thing that has been going on with mainland China and snowballed into a crazy nationalism that expanded at the same time as WWII and was a bit coincidental, but opportunistic, as Hitler was being.

Hitler’s popularity occurred for a reason (reasons), so we can’t think that perhaps another zealot would NOT have taken his place.

I look forward to Mattbrown’s reply.

cazzie's avatar

Oh.. and I forgot to say, that before America joined WW2 the Russians were trying to take over Finland! I can’t believe I forgot to mention that. Norwegians were up there fighting in 1939. It was called ‘The Winter War’. As well as 16 DAYS after the German’s invaded Western Poland, the Soviet’s invaded the Eastern side.

flutherother's avatar

Without Hitler I do not believe the Holocaust would have occurred. I’m sure the Jews would have been persecuted but there would have been no mass extermination. And had there been no Holocaust there would be no Israel.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@theglennnn You have the scenario backwards. At the outset of WW2, the US was strongly isolationist and had to be prodded even to given material aid to the UK. After WW1, the US had shrunk its military back to prewar levels. If not for the perceived threat from the Soviet Union, the US would likely have done the same again in 1945.

@cazzie The story of the Winter War and the Continuation War is fascinating. Finland fought for her existence against 10:1 odds, stopped the Soviet forces, having to sue for peace only because the rest of the world was slow to send help. Even when Finland took the offensive again at the side of Germany, Finnish troops only took back what the Soviets had taken from them, refusing to advance further. Even then, they were forced to make a separate peace with the USSR in 1944 and had to fight a costly battle in Lapland to eject the remaining German troops. Sweden came close to entering the war against the USSR at one point.

Nullo's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land It makes me wonder about German politics if National Socialists are considered right wing. Perhaps they were using a different floor plan in their legislative chambers?
You might enjoy the story of Simo Häyhä, who fought in the Winter War.
Assuming that you haven’t enjoyed it already.

cazzie's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land and @Nullo Max Manus is a great movie if you like movies from this era. The movie was a hit here, of course, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1029235/

It didn’t do well in the US.. was written up by a few critics that called it ‘hype’.. not believing the story was true.. but trust me… it was true.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Nullo “White Death”, over 500 confirmed sniper kills using a standard rifle with iron sights. National hero, died a few years ago in his late 90s.

@cazzie I saw it with German subtitles. Great flick. US critics are useless except for pablum intended for the masses.

Nullo's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land At an average rate of 100 kills per day.

seeallguy's avatar

The ramifications of hitler and the nazi’s in general still affect our world till today. More than likely world war II would have happened anyway, but the exterminations may not have been as wide spread, depends on how many of his inner circle where as demented.
The sad thing is, like abused children who abuse thier children, the isreali’s, the spawn of WWII, are now treating the native Palestinian population just like the jews were treated and worse(if you don’t include the death camps, although those palestinian refuge camps are pretty close). I’m sure thier grandparents are rolling in thier graves to see that thier children are inflicting the same horror upon another defenseless “other” race…sad sad sad….

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