So let’s get more realistic. The brief - fuck the Nazis over in World War II (moreso than they were in history). Our means, sending back a T-1000 to Berlin, Germany, January 1st, 1920. We can only program it to shank one person, Hitler obviously excepted.
Whose death best accomplishes our brief?
I’m torn between picking one of Hitler’s best generals like von Manstein and Guderian, who aren’t the most evil but whose ability in servicing their masters allowed more time for their ghastly purposes, one of their architects of death like Himmler or Heydrich, try to made the Holocaust less organised, or one of Hitler’s more competent servants in other areas, like Albert Speer who worked wonders in production for Hitler. Whatdya reckon?
My knee-jerk reaction is to say someone like Himmler but lets face it; there was no shortage of anti-Semites in Germany (or anywhere else for that matter) at the time. I am thinking more towards Speer or Goebbels ----- make it Goebbels. His use of the Big Lie may have been the most efficient, and his propaganda the best, we have seen in that century. Even Shepilov is a distant second.
I’d go with killing Albert Speer. Even though he seems like one of the more decent Nazis. His work kept German production higher and much more efficient than it would have been without him. And that resulted in more actual guns to shoot at Allied soldiers, etc.
Whereas Goebbels’ propaganda just kept the German people working for Germany – which they were already doing anyway. It wouldn’t matter how well the propaganda had motivated German soldiers to kill allied ones, if the death of Speer had prevented them from having the gusn or ammunition to shoot.
Stop killing Albert please! (he’s my favorite nazi war criminal)
Goebbels is my knee jerk choice. Seems to be the biggest blow to the Nazi movement to lose the propaganda genius that created and spread the memes that hypnotized everyone. I’m sure you could find a competent architect somewhere else, but finding a communication genius at that time would be much, much harder.
Also… killing Albert actually means killing the only one that ended up surviving the whole ordeal. And who also seems to have been among the least evil of the whole crew. That seems a bit unfair.
I think your candidate of Reinhard Heydrich was on target. He was arguably the most evil of the Nazis and one of the best organizers and leaders they had. Himmler was evil and efficient but had a personal distaste for the killing, and his speech at the Wannsee Conference indicates he was troubled by moral implications of the Final Solution (he wanted to believe that they had all remained “decent fellows”). Heydrich, nah. He was into it and was probably a big influence on Himmler’s decisions (he had to look tougher than this other high-ranking SS man). I think the Holocaust would have happened without him, but it likely would have killed far fewer people, since it would have lacked both Heydrich’s planning ability and nihilistic enthusiasm for death.
I’m tempted to kill Mengele. It wouldn’t change much, but he was such an evil sadistic bastard, not to mention he ended up escaping and living a long life. Son of bitch should’ve been hung like the rest of them.
Well, Heydrich got assassinated anyway and his death really didn’t have much effect on the war. Yes, there were cruel reprisals, but to not much effect on the war. Anyway, what date do you want to send the T-1000 to? You know, even without a time traveling assassin, we beat them. Now, just let me suggest taking out Otto Skorzeny. Besides managing to free Mussolini, post-war, he was essential in setting up the “ratlines” to smuggle Nazi war criminals and booty into South America.
Sure, taking out Adolf might have been good in the really early days, late teens, very early 20s, when lack of him would have resulted in the Nazi party in just being yet another right wing group. Himmler, Goering, Goebbels, and Heydrich might have been good in the early days too, but after 41 or so, I think your target should be someone who was incredibly competent. Yeah, Speer and Donitz would be candidates, but I think Skorzeny should be considered too.
There weren’t many Jews in France. As the Dreyfus affair showed the world, the French establishment wasn’t much less antisemitic than the Russians. And the Germans didn’t need Heydrich in France as the French police were more than happy to round the Jews up for deportation.
But I’m working under the presumption that I’d want to avert as much human misery as possible, but I’m also wary of causing too much change to the timeline—say, by killing some higher up who wasn’t actually that competent or sane, leaving someone with more skill to take their place. Or even just by shifting the balance of power too much in the other direction, but causing some unforeseen calamity—possibly even a worse one—down the line.
So, in the end, if I wanted to take my chances, I’d have to go with a simple little butcher who nevertheless didn’t really make much of an impact on the progress of the war, and did not long survive it, anyway.
'Might still make things worse, true. That’s why I’m generally hesitant about employing strategic time travel. (Well, unless this is a universe where time travel only makes causality loops…in which case, it doesn’t really matter what I think about it, does it? )
I would make the case for Hermann Göring - altough too incompetent to properly run the Luftwaffe and therefore a detriment to the Nazi war effort during the war - his Hero status post WWI lended the Nazis a very important air of respectability during the critical early 20s.
Had not Göring so strongly supported Hitler in those days, the Nazi party might have remained a rather interesting footnote in Bavarian local politics.
He was made (and kept on as) Hitler’s No. 2 guy for a reason.