What If Hitler Had Been Assassinated In 1938?

Foreign Minister of Hungary Kálmán Kánya and Prime Minister of Hungary Béla Imrédy on a visit to Hitler (1938). Public domain.

The recent assassination of the notorious Iranian general Qassam Suleimani has sparked wide criticism among American Democrats and in Europe, but, before condemning President Trump’s decision, it would be useful to have a look at history, and the consequences of certain actions by various leaders.

According to the loudest voices of the global media, the world is now a more dangerous place after this incident, and the U.S. President is leading the world into a new major war.

The very same logic was seen and heard in 1938 when the so-called Munich Agreement had been reached between Nazi-Germany, and Great Britain, France and Italy on the other side as they accepted the German claim to annex the Sudetenland to Germany. This all was done on Hitler’s terms and without any representatives of Czechoslovakia whose area was in question.

The key motive behind this agreement was to avoid the war Hitler had threatened to undertake, but, as we all remember, the war broke out only about a year later. Despite the great Munich agreement.

The Munich deal of 1938 reminds me of President Obama’s appeasement policy to enter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, or “the bad Iran deal”. The main action of this deal was to release and return the frozen Iranian funds – worth hundreds of billions of dollars – to the ayatollahs of Tehran in return for their “promise” to halt uranium enrichment which they obviously never did.

As we now see, the money has been used, not to support the Iranian citizens or its weak economy but, rather, for state-sponsored terrorism in the region of which Mr. Suleimani was in charge.

And then back to history:

Europe was in flames already in 1939, but the United States wanted to stay out of the war and entered into it only when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941. In the European theater, American troops showed up only in 1943.

For years, President Roosevelt had been asked to take decisive measures to save European Jews from the hands of Hitler, but his answer was “Rescue through Victory,” meaning that the Jews would be saved after Hitler was defeated.

We all know what happened to the Jews of Europe as a result of FDR’s wrong judgment, in failing to do the right thing.

Based on the history of WWII, I understand President Trump’s action. I also understand President Harry Truman – who entered the Oval Office on April 12, 1945 after FDR’s unexpected death – and his difficult decision to end the war against Japan with the atomic bomb in August 1945. Had President Roosevelt remained alive, the war would have probably continued with many more casualties.

Unfortunately, delayed action always results in more casualties, more tragedy, more tears….and, at worst, victory for the enemy.

From a traditional Christian perspective, employing violence has always been questionable. Jesus taught his followers not to resist an evil person (Matthew 5:39): If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. On the other hand, Jesus didn’t criticize a Roman centurion about his profession as an officer as they met when the centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant (Matthew 8:5-13). Actually Jesus’ answer was very surprising: I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith… Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

In Romans 13:4, the Apostle Paul describes the government officials as God’s servants and even agents of wrath: “For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”

Consequently, I believe the world would have been a better place had Hitler been assassinated before he started the war.

Maybe we can learn something from history. I think we should.

About the Author
Risto Huvila, a public speaker, pianist and writer from Finland, observes European and American Middle East policies and antisemitism through evangelical lenses. As chairman of the Federation of Finland-Israel Associations and vice-chair of the Finnish Holocaust Remembrance Association, he is an active advocate for Israel. Risto has authored the book The Miracle of Israel and President Truman and he appears frequently in media.
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