How will Hitler be viewed 500 years from now?

Exactly the point I was making about Richard III. He made a great story (it helped that you had the greatest writing in history writing it) and he’s still well-known today. It had everything – betrayal, scheming, murder, and “My kingdom for a horse.” It’s been over 500 years and people are still debating whether he was as bad as portrayed in the play (probably not, but he clearly was not a good guy, either).

Hitler has drama behind him. Napoleon, too, for that matter.

Yup, I gotta agree with you. The usurpation of Richard III is really no more historically significant (or on its merits horrible) than dozens of others that are forgotten, even assuming, as he probably did, that he killed the princes in the tower/had them offed.

What is different is the story.

Just a bit, but at least 97 of those 100 still won’t know who you’re talking about. That Empire is most closely associated with the explorers in the public imagination. Joe Schmoe knows Columbus. Hell, he might even know Cortez or Magellan. He’s less likely to know Charles V.

As far as Hitler is concerned, there is probably more descriptive literature about World War II than there is about any other episode in European history, and Hitler comes off unsympathetically in nearly all of it. Further, the ultimate conclusion of his work was that fascism was as thoroughly discredited as any ideology ever has been. You can argue that communism/socialism was just as bad, but these lines of thought have not been vilified to nearly the extent that fascism has.

I doubt there will be a major reappraisal of Hitler in the coming centuries. When you talk about Napoleon or Mao, you’re talking about people who had reputable defenders in the decades after their deaths. Adolf Hitler is the most thoroughly vilified human being in historical discourse. He’s not making a comeback, except among fringe groups.

Mussolini is another story. So is Tojo, for that matter.

Perhaps 500 years from now Hitler will be best remembered for the V2 rocket program, which led to the Apollo program, which (I hope) leads to further exploration and colonization of space.

Perhaps Hitler and the Nazis will similarly be remembered mostly as the villains of all of those 500-year old stories and movies.

Descriptive literature? We’ve got video playback!


It’s like the difference between Raiders of the Lost Ark and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. A big part of that difference is that Nazis are cinema gold - commies as the baddies simply can’t compete.

There simply is not a similar figure of ultimate bad guy status as convincing. They will still be useful as such into the foreseeable future.

I hope in 500 years he is still remembered as history’s greatest villain. If he isn’t something is going to go very, very wrong in the next five centuries. I really wouldn’t want to experience somebody worse.

An argument could be made that, in terms of sheer body count, we already have: Mao killed more by way of internal oppression than Hitler (Hitler’s body count is only higher if we attribute the WW2 war deaths to him). And of course he mostly came after. :wink:

But yeah, I sure hope we never see a period like the middle of the last century again - when most of the world’s population was subject to the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Japanese imperialists.

The only thing I can think of as comparable is the era of Mongol invasions.

Edit: including, of course, your namesake. :wink:

Well go back 500 years from today and find a king or queen or such who conquered a bunch then lost it in 5 years. He’ll probably be viewed the same. Can you think of any one, before 1500 like that? Do you remember him much?

Well, they had a longer run that that, but what about the Mongols? European-descended folks still remember them, even though their actual incursions into Europe itself were quite brief and unsuccessful (well at least, they did not stay :wink: ).

Who cares?

I do - because it is an interesting topic for speculation, which shines some light on the nature of historical memory.

You know who else cared about how Hitler would be remembered in 500 years?

Yeah, but sheer body count is not my primary criterion. Hitler’s has just about every base covered in categories: types of evil. As horrible of butchers as Stalin and Mao were, the only semi-comparable figure to Hitler in my mind is Pol Pot. And PP just didn’t have the same level of global impact ( and yes, a lower body count to boot ).

Hence my fervent hope that Hitler always remain the gold standard in evil. Either that or he is forgotten completely* and the new gold standard becomes that guy in Cleveland who lets blackberry and bamboo grow wild in his yard and invade his neighbor’s properties. Now that would be a world worth living in ;).

  • Not gonna happen in 500 years. I’d be willing to bet money :D.

Okay, I laughed. :smiley:

I think Hitler will be remembered (until someone better comes along) as a supreme example of man’s inhumanity to man, along with the followers that installed him and acquiesced to his madness.

Either that, or his ability to paint an entire apartment in one afternoon. Two coats!

He was also a terrific dancer. Not many people know that.

Will we even be Human, then?

Post-humans, more likely.

He will be forgotten.

Yeah, but he didn’t fuck with people’s religion.

Muhammad, on the other hand, probably didn’t direct the killing of as many people in his entire life as Genghis Khan did on a good day, but any Conservative Christian will tell you that he is one of history’s greatest mass murderers.

So I’d guess Hitler will never be considered anything but a huge villain.