My friends and I got into a discussion on what would happen in an alternate universe if we did kill Hitler and whether or not it would make the world overall better or worse. It's a curious thought experiment with no right or wrong answer.
Our theoretical alternate timeline would pan out as follows.
Following the Great War (WWI), the United States enjoys a period of great power and economic influence. However, the Great Depression strikes and brings the US to it's knees as well as the rest of Europe. Germany suffers from hyperinflation and without a major war to kick start military demands, the United States is unable to rapidly improve it's economical condition.
Meanwhile, back in the 1930s the Empire of Japan has invaded China and in a devastating war, leads to the death of millions of Chinese. Shortly after, the Empire of Japan attacks the USSR for the 2nd time in order to prove to the west its strength as an imperialist country. The Soviet-Japanese war is mostly a stalemate with Japan unable to engage effectivly in a landwar and the Soviets unable to compete with Japanese air and naval superiority. The Soviets lose million of lives without losing much territory.
By the late 1950s, the war between Japan and the USSR have ended. and the world is mostly at peace. Many European countries, Japan and USA continue to colonize Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia. While the US is heavily independent of the the world politically, it becomes the manufacturing powerhouse of the west. Japan converts its military factories towards manufacturing and uses mainland China to rival that of the US. This leads to increased economical tension as the US and Japan compete. Most of Europe reverts to mercantilism.
With the advances in ships, and trains the world meanwhile has become more closely tied through a global economy thus minimizing and future major wars. Trains, more than cars or airplanes are the primary form of continental travel as a interstate highway system and passenger airplanes do not develop. The United States doesn't join the League of Nations until the 1970s. The strongest countries around the world are the Empire of Japan, the USSR, the United States, the British Empire. Eventually, the League of Nations adapt to a more powerful organization regulating international law, and economic development. Other branches such as a IHO (International Health Organization) emerge to combat world sickness.
Technology only advances as quickly as the international market allows for and modern computers aren't developed until the 1990s. While space program eventually develops in Europe, without the backing of large government and military funds, it sends out satellites to space and probes onto the moon.
The advantages of this alternate timeline:
WWII doesn't happen, directly saving millions of lives.
The Holocaust doesn't occur.
Nuclear weapons aren't developed via the Manhattan project or used in war.
The Cold War doesn't occur as there aren't struggling European nations becoming Communist.
USSR isn't devastated by WWII the attempt to keep up economically in the Cold War.
As such, it doesn't undergo Stalin's 5 year plan that killed millions.
The middle east isn't upset by the US's interference during the Cold War.
There isn't a nuclear arms race.
There is no Vietnam war, Korean War, McCarthyism or other Cold war events
The Gulf War, 9/11, Terrorism, The war against Iraq/Afghanistan don't occur.
The west is more open minded towards socialism and communism ideals.
Colonized countries in Africa are probably more stable than they are now.
The disadvantages of this alternate timeline:
The Soviet-Japanese war results in several million deaths in China and the USSR
The world doesn't undergo decolonization after WWII
The economical depression in the US and Europe last longer and are worse.
The League of Nations takes longer to become as "powerful" as the UN.
Without the WHO, polio and smallpox take longer to be eradicated.
Medicinal research in general advances more slowly
Without women taking up manufacturing during WWII, women rights don't advance as quickly.
Without a Cold War backing military research, technological advancement is slower.
The space race doesn't happen. Aeronautics and space research is takes much longer.
Colonization lasts much longer indicating prevalent racism in western cultures.
Countries such as Brazil are unable to experience significant growth due to colonization.
Technological advances take longer without the push of WWII and the Cold Wars
Some other "neutral" changes:
Japan is a world power, China is not.
The USSR stays as the USSR as it doesn't compete with the USA leading to its economic collapse.
Trains are probably more prevalent in the US. Modern commercial airlines don't get invented soon enough and the Interstate highway system isn't created right after WWII.
The UN is now the League of Nations.
There isn't a large immigration of scientists to avoid WWII. Einstein, Bohr and many others stay in Germany.
The large amount of manufacturing may lead to faster climate change.
Given these differences, would killing (kidnapping) Hitler really be a good thing?
What other changes do you think would happen without Hitler?
If you think this is completely wrong, what's your take?
NOTE: This alternate timeline is completely fictional and many many variables factor in that may have been missed. It would be impossible to account for all of them.
I think there could still be apartheid in many African colonies or freed states to this day, and maybe even in most southern US states as well(although not necessarily). Europeans would still be as über nationalist and racist toward minorities, and as distrustful and unreasonably competitive towards our neighbors as we always were, so no chance in hell that WW2 would not have happened eventually. Terrorism would still be rampant, possibly even more, as Europeans would probably still be busy playing Empire in the ME the old school way. Human Rights ideals would never have been lifted up and ratified with such an overwhelming consensus, if not for the horrors of WW2. TV-journalism would eventually have brought the injustices of the world into our homes, but it is unknown how many would actually care.
You have a lot of attention around US and Japan. Very little is given to USSR. Although you point it stays on the map, you have no other ideas about it. But USSR is already bigger than US. It had really big acceleration of development back in time. It would probably take over the world or at least half of it someday. And it's very likely that this way would be very greate for humanity on a big scale. USSR was very strong in new technology developing, and scientific research. Life today could've really look like the one from Strugatsky brothers books. And wars, they do influence technology developing. People in wars understand the position they're in, so the government really can influence them into working as hard as they can for food in the rear.
Also, the negative side is all of us would not have been born. What a boring world would it be without nerdfighters, right?
The assumption that removing hitler would prevent world war II is wrong. There would have been people similar to hitler at the time (they may even be some in our current century that think hitler had the right idea). Removing Hitler probably would not prevent WWII as Hitler was the spark that lit the fuse. There were many other reasons for the second world war (i.e. the treaty of versailles) that would have eventually resulted in WW2 even without Hitler, but it would most likely have been later on, maybe around now there is no telling.
And anyway, even if we did somehow manage to remove hitler and WW2 would not happen, that would be the worst thing imaginable. All of the best discoveries are made during a time of war. We had improvements in medicine, technology, science, travel, everything. So, if I had the opportunity to travel back in time and kill/kidnap hitler I would not do it. He was one of the worst men in history, but without him, it would have taken longer for world war 2 to begin, and the depression would possibly have continued.
Think about, we could only now (if hitler was killed) be discovering new ways to save lives, we could only now be inventing basic computers.
I agree. At the time, the Weimar Republic (Germany's attempt at democracy) was becoming incredibly weak. The people were unhappy the the Republic and it was widely unpopular. Even without the help of Hitler, the Republic would have fallen and an extremist group would have taken over anyways. The Communist party was also very popular in Germany at the time, and without Hitler it's influence would have continued to grow until they eventually took over Germany. So many nations at the time were so anti-Communist, who is to say that World War Two wouldn't have been started over the issue of Communism?
I think if you just took Hitler out of the picture that doesn't mean that Germany's actions would have been different. After World War 1 and the Treaty Of Versailles, the German people were in a deep depression due to the millions they had to pay in war debts. This created an angry community which lead to Hitler's rise. Remember, Hitler was elected. Yes, if Hitler hadn't existed the Holocaust might not have happened because Hitler took a radical stance but the ideas he rested on, that one race is better than others, was not an uncommon thought of that time. Yes maybe Hitler brought out some extremes but you can't know that it would have been different without him. One man can't come into power without first public support.