Adolf HitlerRecorded in the annals of history are plenty of genocidal dictators with comparable blood on their hands (e.g. Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot) but only the name Adolf Hitler has become synonymous with Evil.
Universally hated since World War II, Hitler is our best evidence for the infeasibility of time travel. The obvious killer app for a working time machine would be to murder this guy before he could set the Third Reich in motion.
[Handy tip for would-be chronoassassins: Don't bother trying to infiltrate the fortified bunker; instead, plan on catching him asleep in that Viennese flophouse during the homeless years.]
Hitler's most pernicious impact on everyday life (aside from providing an endless supply of source material for the History Channel) has been in the domain of rhetoric. His fiery brand of speechmaking has all but disappeared, but his name is invoked in arguments all the time as a form of litmus test. In any debate, Hitler's opinion on the subject is automatically the evil one, so it had better be contrary to the side you're arguing.
Conversely, you can attack an opponent simply by declaring his position to be consistent with Hitler's. This tactic has long been a fixture of the Usenet newsgroups, which eventually prompted Godwin to formulate his famous Law of Nazi Analogies:
As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.
In case you deem it necessary to play the Hitler card pre-emptively, here's a handy chart for quick reference:
But truth be told, he wasn't actually much of a vegetarian... or at least, not a principled one. Hitler promoted the myth that he was following a healthy regimen, insisting that the ideal man did not consume meat. But this was probably just a rationalization, as he himself could not digest meat without suffering from excruciating stomach cramps and embarrassing flatulence. Nevertheless Hitler's diet included the occasional serving of Bavarian sausage, liver dumpling, caviar, ham, or wild game.
For that matter, he wasn't really religious either, except insofar as it provided a theological justification for his racial policies. That way, even the Fuhrer would have the option of claiming that he was only following orders. Hitler viewed Christianity first and foremost as a repudiation of Judaism. He even posited Aryan ancestry for Jesus Christ (aka "King of the Jews"). Although little Adolf had been raised Catholic and even served as an altar boy, later in his adult years he had no enthusiasm for the God stuff. He might even have been an atheist, depending which sources you believe. It probably would have amused him to know that he would later be inducted posthumously into the Mormon church in 1993.
One subject for which he felt genuine zeal was the fight against cigarettes. Hitler was a diehard anti-smoking crusader. The Reichstadt imposed the world's most comprehensive suite of tobacco regulations, which included bans on cigarette smoking in workplaces, public buildings, and transit systems. In March 1942, Hitler went so far as to attribute his success to nonsmoking:
"I am convinced that if I had been a smoker, I never would have been able to bear the cares and anxieties which have been a burden to me for so long. Perhaps the German people owe its salvation to that fact."
But his true passion, of course, had always been Jew-baiting. Hitler didn't invent anti-semitism, but it certainly never had a more ardent supporter. And no one else in modern history had ever found themselves in such an ideal position to pursue those beliefs. The Jews served as his inexhaustible scapegoat. They were the ultimate source of crime, disease, and immorality.
Without having the international cabal of Jewry to blame for everything, Hitler's career would have been a total nonstarter. Not to mention his personal fortune; the success of Mein Kampf had made him a multimillionaire. The bestselling book was a relentless assault on the Jews, second only in ferocity to the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion (the authenticity of which Hitler wholeheartedly championed).
In the same way that everything Hitler liked has now become tainted by his association, he felt the same way about Jews. Any policy, idea, or invention which had sprung forth from a Jewish mind was deemed to be part of a conspiracy to bolster Jewish totalitarianism. Thus, even the theory of relativity was dismissed as "Jewish physics" simply because it was the brainchild of somebody named Einstein.
For his rigid inflexibility on issues of race, Adolf was the hero of antisemites the world over, including the United States. Industrialist and antisemite Henry Ford formed a mutual admiration society with Hitler; the Fuhrer hung a large portrait of Henry over his desk, and even sent Ford a medal for his birthday in 1938. It was the Grand Cross of the Order of the German Eagle, the highest honor the Reich could bestow on a noncitizen. Also in 1938, American hero Charles Lindbergh traveled to Germany to accept the Service Cross of the German Eagle, the second highest honor available to foreigners.
By 1942 Hitler had become a regular methamphetamine user, receiving daily injections of Pervitid from his personal physician. This was in addition to narcotic pills for sleeping and anti-flatulence pills containing strychnine and belladonna. At one point, Hitler was taking as many as 28 separate medications. No one can be sure what effect the drug cocktail had on the man, whose increasingly erratic behavior was causing his staff serious concern.
A competing theory was that the Fuhrer was suffering from syphilis. Hitler had a long if somewhat murky history of womanizing. It's unclear which women in his past he had actually fucked, and which were just close admirers. Did he fuck director Leni Riefenstahl? Maybe. Film actress Renate Muller? Perhaps.
Or how about his 19-year-old niece, Geli Raubal? According to a 1943 report produced by the Office of Strategic Services, in addition to fucking her uncle Geli was obliged to piss on him:
Hitler made her undress... he would lie down on the floor. Then she would have to squat over his face where he could examine her at close range and this made him very excited. When the excitement reached its peak, he demanded that she urinate on him and that gave him real sexual pleasure.
Regardless what had bent him originally, Hitler was definitely getting even weirder.
He suffered from chronic insomnia and became twitchy. He was constantly irritable, and had a tendency to fly into rages. Hitler also had a habit of breaking things. There were stories of him tearing up curtains and throwing himself to the floor when he became apoplectic. These tales prompted subordinates to give him the nickname "Carpet Biter."
In the end, of course, things did not go well for the Reich. The tide of the war turned, and Allied troops made their way inexorably toward Berlin. True to form, Hitler continued blaming his misfortunes on the Jews, right up to the very end. In his suicide memo, he even pointed the finger at them for causing the war:
"It was wanted and provoked solely by international statesmen either of Jewish origin or working for Jewish interests. [...] the sole responsibility for the massacre must be borne by the true culprits: the Jews."
According to legend, during the fall of Berlin the Soviet army came upon a man's body having only one testicle. The Russians conducted an autopsy and somehow identified the monorchid corpse as Hitler's. They classified the report and secretly buried the body in a secluded bomb crater. Some years later, fearing that the site would be discovered, Hitler's body was exhumed and cremated.
The Russians had been concerned that neo-Nazis would make a shrine out of Hitler's final resting place. They wanted to avoid an endless parade of Nazi pilgrims. Which is perfectly understandable when you look at something like Jim Morrison's crypt in Paris. Those fans have no sense of propriety.