Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Go back in time- Kill Hitler

I love time travel stories, particularly tales of travel into the past and thoughts of "What would I do if I could go back in time?  What would I try to change?"

There are lots of events in my own past I'd be tempted to change.

Beyond the personal, there are so many events I would like to witness first-hand to see for myself how badly misinformed I am due to errors of history or willful disinformation.

But one almost universal thought I hear connected to the idea of time travel is the assertion that "If I went back in time I'd kill Hitler."

Regardless of whether they'd smother newborn Hitler or shoot him just before he began to kill the innocents, they seem to be saying that they would, with the wisdom of information about the future, be bold enough to do something that would be seen by most contemporary observers to be an act of evil.  In order to prevent an actual evil that would then (probably) never come to pass.  They might even go down in history as an evil assassin.  Or a baby murderer.

Sadly, by the time that killing Hitler was obviously the right thing to do, his security apparatus made chances of success almost nil.

I wonder what would happen if I could somehow send a message back in time to the 1930s, to people who might encounter Hitler before it was too late.  Back before the tides of history became obvious.  Back when an assassin would have been seen as evil.

Maybe we have dodged that bullet before.  What would people say to the purely hypothetical claim that JFK was just days away from becoming a mass-murdering despot when he was shot?  It seems highly unlikely, but since he was killed and we can't know what he would have done the next day, there could never be any real proof.  A time-traveling assassin could do a lot of good while being judged to be a monster.

What would a time traveler from 50 years in our future do if he showed up tomorrow?  Or, if he couldn't physically return to this point in time, but could send you a message, what might he tell you?  What would you do about it?

Funny thing about today- it will be history soon enough.  You are living in someone's "history" today.  How will our grandchildren and their grandchildren view us?  How do we view the Germans of the 1930s?  I wonder what their ghosts might say to us if they could communicate.