The time machine fantasy of killing Hitler
At some point in all of our lives, we have either had the thought or conversation about what we would do if we had access to a time machine. If we could suddenly travel to any point in the past, what would we do with that power?
As humans, our immediate instincts are selfish. We’d go back in time and bet on the Super Bowl, knowing full well the outcome. We’d go back in time and buy stock in a company that was about to explode. We’d go back in time and have a conversation with an important historical figure, like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln or Don Draper.
Then the moral side of you or someone in your group kicks in, and you realize what your first answer should have been — killing Adolf Hitler before he rises to power.
Damn. Yeah. Right. Oh yeah, that’s what I’d do too. Totally. I’d kill Hitler too.
It’s an answer we all accept, but it’s an answer no one really thinks about. Sure, killing Hitler is the way to go, but do you have any idea how hard it would be kill Hitler?
Let’s say that just now, you have a time machine. And you also have some time off. I’m not exactly sure how time travel works. Like, if you go back in time and spend a couple days there, does time continue to move forward from the original point from which you departed? I’m not sure. So plan to kill Hitler over a holiday weekend or burn some personal days in advance.
OK. You’re inside the time machine. Time to punch in the time and geographical coordinates to which you wish to go. See? You have no idea what year Hitler was just hanging around before he became a mass-murdering psychopath and where he was doing it. So now you have to Google “Adolf Hitler before Nazis” and hope the CIA doesn’t come to your door before you go back in time.
Based on a Wikipedia page that we have to hope wasn’t vandalized, he lived in Vienna beginning in 1905. That’s a great starting point. It says he was homeless in 1909, but it’s not like there’s an address for the shelter. Hitler wasn’t checking in on FourSquare while being a failed painter, so it’s not like we can do a Twitter search and see he checked in at Vienna Coffee House on Vienna Street in Vienna.
But we have a solid target range, so let’s set the time machine for Vienna, 1906.
Where are you going to park the time machine in Vienna? You simply can’t pop up in the middle of downtown Vienna in a time machine. People probably thought witches were still a thing at that point, so upon exiting the time machine, you will be arrested and/or killed by villagers with pitchforks.
That means you’re going to have to find a nice wooded area to land. Luckily for us, there are plenty of wooded areas just east of Vienna and that seems like the safest bet for hiding a time machine. If that’s not done properly, it’s possible the technology can fall into the hands of the Nazis, which would make them far more powerful and perhaps invincible, all because of you. Idiot.
We are now in Vienna. What are you wearing? Jeans, Crocs and a Nike shirt that says GO HARD OR GO HOME? Really? You think that’s discreet? You’re on an assassination mission, not going to the store to buy beer. That means before you even take off (I’m using terms like “land” and “take off” because I’ve always imagined time travel like flying so leave me alone) you need to buy some old-timey Austrian clothes so you can blend in while you are dropping by to commit a murder.
Where does one find those clothes?
A search of “vintage clothing Austria” yielded this site, which seems, well, like it’s not going to aid in our plan. It also seems to be all women’s clothing, so that’s not helping me. I’m not against cross dressing, but wearing women’s clothing isn’t helping with the blending in thing. That means the person who must travel back in time must be a woman and must wait a week for shipping on all domestic online orders.
OK. Hello, hero lady. You are now dressed in what we hope will pass for early 20th century clothing and you are ready to kill Hitler.
You have landed in a wooded area near Vienna and it’s now time to head toward Vienna and…
Jesus, Vienna is 160 square miles? How are we getting around? I’m pretty sure Uber had a completely different meaning 100 years ago, so that’s not an option. A man by the name of Siegfried Marcus, who lived in Vienna, invented some sort of car there in the 1870s, so great, a car is an option for us. That’s a whole lot of ground to cover, but we are going to cover it, for we are here to kill Hitler.
Just pay a man some money for a car and…
…oh damn it, we don’t have any Austrian currency from that era.
Where the hell are you supposed to get Austrian-Hungarian Krones in 2014 that you can bring back to 1906? God, killing Hitler before he rose to power is SOOOOOO hard, you guys. Do you have any idea how much vintage coins cost? And you have to buy enough to be able to get around Vienna for a couple days? Murdering Hitler is becoming quite the pricy endeavor.
Luckily for us, they were dealing with paper notes back then as well. There are images of this currency on the Internet. That’s helpful, so I think we can print some counterfeit stuff. If we can print guns, we can print enough extinct money to get us through a weekend in Vienna, 1906.
OK, great. We have money, clothes and a super cool time machine. Let’s go back in time and kill us some Hitler!
We park in the woods, get out of the time machine, emerge from the woods, get to town, and now it’s time to shop for a car or a horse or some sort of transportation.
"Yo, historical dude, where can I buy a car or a horse?"
"Was sagst du? Ich kann dich nicht verstehen, weil Sie nicht Deutsch spricht!"
Oh, right. We don’t speak German, the official language of Austria.
Jesus, killing Hitler is hard. We have to learn a completely new language to facilitate his death? Come on, man.
Sure, you could learn a couple of key sentences that can help you buy a car or horse or food or beer, but you are on a manhunt. You need to have conversations with people about how to find a guy no one knows who is living inside a 160-mile radius. People need to give you directions, all kinds of information, so we’re going to have to come back to the present and learn German or enlist a German lady who is down for some Hitler killing.
No way, though. This is your mission and you have accepted it.
OK. It’s been a year and you know enough German to get around Vienna.
You have your money. You have your transportation. You have a map of the city. You have the language spoken by the locals. It’s time for us to do some Hitler killing.
How are we going to do it? Gun? Knife? Poison? Push him off a roof?
I think our best option here is a knife, although bringing a gun back with us works too. The one thing we’re not considering in this murder, as noble as it may be, is our getaway plan. Remember: our time machine is way the hell out in the woods, far away from us, and we need to get there right after the murder happens. A gun shot is loud, but a knife requires getting super close. And where are we going to kill Hitler? To get close to him, we have to get him to trust us, so a lady telling him his paintings are great and hey do you live in around here should do the trick.
We certainly can’t kill anyone in the getaway, because that would be wrong and no longer makes us ethical killers, just killers. So it needs to be quick and neat and allow us enough to time to flee.
You could forego the getaway and allow yourself to be captured, but what would that to do the space-time continuum? We are already killing Hitler, so maybe that doesn’t matter, but what are you going to tell authorities? Nothing? Just sit in silence in an Austrian prison for the rest of your life? Are you going to go with a cyanide capsule after you kill him? That’s quite thoughtful of you, but I’m pretty sure after all this effort and the fact you can get rich off a time machine once you’re done here, you want to get away.
So we’re stabbing Hitler in his apartment. You will use your feminine wiles to get him back to his place and bam, you’re stabbing Hitler. Stab stab stab. Bye, Hitler.
You clean yourself up and head out. You hurry to the woods. You get to the place where you left the time machine, only it’s not there. Did someone steal it? Did it fall into the wrong hands? How can it not be here?
Well, it’s not there because the time machine was built by Jason Hitler, a descendant of Hitler who no longer exists because you killed his grandfather. Great job killing Hitler, but now you are trapped in Vienna forever with like 10 bucks and you are also wanted for murder.