Friday, February 15, 2008

The man who almost killed Hitler

I stumbled across this on the BBC Web site today, and found it so remarkable, I had to post it.

This is the story of one Henry Tandey, a private soldier in the 5th Duke of Wellington regiment during the First World War. An exceptional soldier, he was awarded the DCM, the MM, and the Victoria Cross for bravery under fire. In fact, he left the service in the 20's as the most decorated private soldier of the War.

The most fascinating part of Tandey's amazing story is his actions around Marcoing on 28th September 1918. On this day, the day he also won his VC, he had a dazed and wounded German infantryman in his sights. Tandey held his fire, as the battle-weary enemy soldier never raised his weapon. The young German, a corporal from Austria named Adolf Hitler, nodded in thanks and walked off.

I'll leave to you to read how both men, and, ultimately, the world found out the identity of the parties involved. It's entirely plausible that Hitler was the German spared by Tandey, and is, in fact, likely.

History is full of what-ifs. It's pretty pointless to wonder most of the time - what if Franz Ferdinand hadn't gone to Sarajevo, what if the Germans had taken Moscow in 1941, what if Khrushchev hadn't backed down over Cuba, what if Gore had contested the election more aggressively? Those things happened they way they did, and no amount of wondering will change it.

However, it's pretty compelling to consider what the world would be like if Private Tandey had squeezed the trigger...

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