A witty time travel trope and common paradox is the argument: time travel has yet to be invented because Hitler still lived.
The argument (while paradoxical and illogical) speaks volumes towards a global hatred for the mustache twirling nemesis of World War II. Despite the United Stated historically failing German refugees in 1939, the Holocaust remains a vivid scar on the international psyche. While Pearl Harbor is memorialized as the moment when foreign war touched native soil, Hitler’s genocide remains a tragic symbol of hatred and the dangers of vicious propaganda and national indoctrination. World War II reminds us what happens when intolerance turns to supremacy, when supremacy turns to justification, and when justification turns to violence. The crimes perpetrated by Hitler’s Germany are unfathomable and enduring. Despite the death camp at Auschwitz, Poland, and its capability for death, “2,000 people an hour could be killed with Zyklon-B gas.” (Oakes et al., 2015, p 734) United States assistant secretary of war, John J. McCloy “dismissed it as a humanitarian matter of no concern to the army.” (Oakes et al., 2015, p 734) While the Manhattan Project races to create the most devastating weapon known to man ahead of its enemies, the tag team bent on totalitarian domination, Japan, and Germany, wage thoroughly modern warfare against Allied forces on multiple fronts. Both Germany and Japan engage in wartime practices enough to outrage the American public, and yet Japan remained the foremost target upon the US entering the war, and was the victim of the Manhattan Project’s final solution.
The United States, content to lick its wounds after World War I and a harrowing financial Depression, continued its isolationist leanings and enacted policies enforcing military neutrality despite the World War brewing overseas. Nazi Germany was continuing to devour European Nations, urging Germans to “defend themselves against the Untermenschen, subhumans, in their midst – Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals” (Oakes et al., 2015, p714) and the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan continued to pose a threat the British forces were opposing nearly singlehandedly. Despite sly “surplus” aid granted Britain by the US, they did not enter the war until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. On December 7, 1941, “181 planes had bombed and strafed airfields on Oahu, destroying or damaging more than 200 planes” and “96 ships of the US Pacific fleet” were attacked by bombers. (Oakes et al., 2015, p717) “Pearl Harbor was a kind of godsend, in a way, to Roosevelt. Because it was such a shock to Americans that it united them behind the war, and very quickly”. (Pearl Harbor Attack brings U.S. into the World Conflict) Germany, allied with Japan, declares war on the United States following the US declaration of involvement.
What followed was a bloody war fought on multiple fronts that propelled US technology, engineering, manufacturing, and employment at such speeds that can only be seen during wartime. While strategic victories (and the suicide of its genocidal leader) lead to a German surrender on May 8, 1945, Japan’s tenacious, vicious, and frightening determination continued in the face of a devastating onslaught. “Each side treated the other without mercy, killing prisoners, mutilating the dead, and fighting with ‘a brutish, primitive hatred.'” (Oakes et al., 2015, p 737) Determined the Japanese forces would not surrender, and “As Americans neared the Japanese home islands, defenders fought with suicidal ferocity” (Oakes et al., 2015, p 739) the US resorted to what can be considered the most devastating acts in the history of war. Harry S. Truman, newly minted commander in chief, having received word of success from the Manhattan Project, lets loose an atomic bomb on August 6th, the target, Hiroshima. Three days later on August 9th, Nagasaki would receive the same treatment. The horrendous weapon had its desired effect, and despite Japanese determination, they would surrender on August 14th. Having met its aim, total surrender, the atomic bomb and the Manhattan Project may be classified as a success. However, there are other considerations. Germany despite the genocidal humanitarian crimes failed to receive the “city busting” attentions of the United States. Refugees from the Holocaust were denied entrance to the US, Hitler was gathering “subhumans” in death camps for extermination and torture, and the German people were being indoctrinated on hate and the supremacy of the “Arian Race” long before US involvement. Collective history remembers Germany as an enemy worthy of villain status, and yet Japan suffered greatest at the hands of a weapon no man had ever known before. Was use of the atomic bomb effective? Yes. Was it justified, are its use and creation justified? Can we knowingly create a weapon of destruction so vast that it poses and planetary threat, and justify our actions with “They may have built it first.”? I do not know. Fear and brilliance made the bomb, and fear dropped it, but an entire planet mutually assuring its own destruction has paid the price since.