8 June 2018

Published June 6, 2018 by rochellewisoff

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Genre: Speculative Fiction

Word Count: 100

DAY OF ATONEMENT

“Pardon me, Frau, what year is this?”

            “Why 1889, of course.” The young mother lifts her son from his wicker pram. “5 October to be exact.”  

            My heart thumps. Weinstein, that lunatic genius has done it. It’s 200 years ago. 

            “Could you direct me to Salzburger Vorstadt 219?”

            “That’s our address.”

            “Frau—Hitler?”

            “Ja.” She presses her cheek against the baby’s. “Adolf, let’s show the nice man the way.”   

            I tighten my hand around the gun in my pocket. The child gazes at me with innocent blue eyes.

            What can I do? I’m doomed to let history run its course.

 

It’s a rhetorical question. Think hard before answering. Given the opportunity, could you pull the trigger? 

*Note: October 5, 1889 was the highest of high Jewish holidays, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. What better day to off the future Fuehrer?

This is a bit unusual for me, but one FF’r took it upon herself to write her story as a solution to my protagonist’s dilemma. Here’s the link to Melody Pearson’s post. 

127 comments on “8 June 2018

  • How interesting that we both saw assassination in the image. A well told tale and great moral conundrum. Of course, no child is born evil. And the Second World War was an inevitable consequence of the First. A minor historical point, but wasn’t Hitler’s real name Schickelgruber?

    Liked by 1 person

  • Great imagination and an excellent question. I don’t think I could do it either. I like Liz’s idea. Would it have mattered if he’d been raised differently, or was evil in his DNA? I’ll have to read about his childhood.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Jan,

      And question “nature vs nurture” goes on. My brother-in-law was killed in a car accident in 1974 when his son was only 2. Now in his 40’s, Jesse’s sense of humor and mannerisms are so close to Jerry’s it’s startling. I know that doesn’t answer the question…just my own musing.
      Here’s a link to the book I read to research for my last novel. https://tinyurl.com/yd9re5c3 The Young Hitler I Knew. It was dark and some historians question the truth of it, but it was written by his boyhood friend.
      Thank you re your comments on my story. (I couldn’t pull the trigger.)

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • I once wrote a wee tale about two young Jewish agents who use a time machine to kidnap Adolf Hitler while he was recuperating from wounds in a World War One field hospital. They had the same argument about whether or not to kill him.

    Liked by 1 person

      • That would be a terrific idea.

        Yes, it’s actually a philosophical question. Is the murder of a single (then) innocent person justifiable if it prevents the deaths of millions? Of course, even if someone killed Hitler, who do we know an equally evil person wouldn’t take his place? Maybe history demanded that the Nazi’s rise and Hitler was the most convenient candidate and catalyst.

        I just re-read my piece on the same topic, You’re Too Early. It’s a lot more conflicted.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Susan,

      This story was the catalyst for a lengthy discussion at a recent writers conference when I read it for Open Mic. The consensus was that Himler might’ve stepped up to the plate. I, myself, have often wondered what would’ve happened if Hitler had been accepted to the art school in Vienna instead of rejected. Personally, I couldn’t have pulled the trigger either. The irony is the number of babies the Nazis murdered, shooting them outright. 😦
      Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • Hitler thought he knew how to create Heaven on Earth. By traveling through time in order to kill Hitler, someone else would be doing the same thing, taking complete control where none is permissible. That’s why the older and older I get the more and more an interest I have in Christianity. A myopic eschatology is very dangerous and we can’t afford the My.Utopia.can.beat.your.Utopia mentality

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Josh,

      I love time travel movies. And it’s fun to imagine the what-if’s. I couldn’t shoot a baby no matter who I knew him to be. I haven’t read that many time travel books (if any) but love movies and shows that deal with it like Quantum Leap. Mind boggling stuff. Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • Rochelle.. There is something to be said about allowing time to run it’s course. I don’t think killing Adolf would have changed anything. I think it would have just been someone else that did all the horrible things he did. And who knows what else would have changed. It is the all important dilemma when it comes to changing history. One of my absolute favorite books is called 1963 by Stephen King. It is about a man who goes back in time to try and prevent the Kennedy Assassination. Great read and one of the best books he ever wrote in my opinion!
    Kim~

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Kim/Courtney 😉

      I love pondering the what-ifs of time travel. I’ve never read 1963, but might have to put that on my ever-growing list.
      I, too, believe if not Hitler there would’ve been someone else. After all the same atrocities have been going on for centuries. The pogroms in Eastern Europe only 30 years prior didn’t get the same media coverage the Nazis were so adept at. (Take that deniers.)
      Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Rochelle,

    Well now… not only did you give us a great story, you’ve left us with a loaded question… Why, only a Nazi could kill an innocent baby. Because as babies, aren’t we all innocent? I don’t believe true evil is inbred. As many have said, if not him, some other monster would have come forth. Just have to look at history. Men (and I mean humans) have had their monsters all throughout.

    Fabulously written, as usual.

    Lotsa love,

    Dale

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Dale,

      You know that most of the time I’d shove bamboo shoots under my fingernails before leaving a question after my story. However, since I’ve asked myself the question, I felt the need to pass it on. Of course it’s rhetorical, there’s no time travel and what’s done is done.
      A few of us had a lengthy discussion about it after I read this piece for open mic at OWL. Perhaps Himmler would’ve taken Hitler’s place in history. Or some other monster. As we know, Russia had already been dealing with the “Jewish problem” for decades. Not to mention, how many others before them.
      Thanks as always for being in my corner and for forgiving me for ending with the extra question. 😉

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

      • LOL! Yes, I do… It is a rhetorical question and one that definitely gets a conversation going…
        Since the beginning of time, there have been monsters who thought they were better than others. It is a major flaw in mankind… Makes you wonder just why we were created thus(ly)?

        Liked by 1 person

  • A strong story, with a stronger question. I think my answer is that morality has to be limited to the personal and individual – so, no, I wouldn’t kill baby Adolf. But that argument leads inevitably to the conclusion that it is immoral to bear arms and kill others for a cause, no matter how good – or indeed to kill others to defend a nation.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Rochelle, this is your best piece of writing yet and you’ve really stirred up an ethical dilemma, and it says a lot about your character that you wouldn’t kill the baby Hitler, despite what he went on to do to your people. I’m not sure about the whole great man/monster of history versus the social movement. I think it’s some mixture of the two.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Rowena,

      I do believe a good part of it was the social movement, the temperament of society, etc. No doubt another monster would’ve taken Hitler’s place. Himmler perhaps? We’ll never know.
      Thank you so much for such a glowing compliment.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • A great moral dilemma Rochelle. I think if there was a guarantee that it would change the course of history then some could be persuaded, but as mentioned, others would have simply taken his place and the result may have been exactly the same. One to get the mind thinking for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I would be too afraid thinking what would happen if I pulled the trigger. According to various theories, I would either split the universe into two or because of the butterfly effect, the present will be so much more different. Great take on the prompt. Time travel is really an interesting topic to discuss.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I find your story emotionally powerful, and chilling. I couldn’t kill a child, even baby Adolf. You pose a profound question, I think, about where does ‘evil’ originate, and whose is responsible for a chain of immoral events. And how do we enact our own humanity… I don’t know the answer. Thank you for raising these questions.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I’d probably have jumped back to a different time so I wouldn’t feel quite so bad about shooting him, even if getting the job done would be harder.

    Then it would just be a matter of going back to my time and checking to see if someone else took his place.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Alice,

      No matter what time you went back to to do the deed, when you returned you would see some changes. A different Fuhrer, perhaps? Thank you for coming by and taking part in the discussion.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

    • Dear Björn,

      I’ve often wondered how different Hitler might have been had he been accepted to art school. He really did have some artistic ability. At least what I’ve seen isn’t bad. A question that will never be answered.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • Dear Rochelle

    I loved your story! The travel back in time reminded me of “A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury which identifies the repercussions for the future of an action taken on a journey back into the past. The narrator faces a real dilemma. The use of the word “doomed” says it all.

    Best wishes

    Edith

    Liked by 1 person

  • I would not remove the child. But how do we prevent such ‘malicious’ people causing harm, I wish I knew. At the present time, around the world to many individuals are following the path of evil. Rochelle you have encourged me to think about history and the the views of various past philosophers, which is a long term interest of mine. Even if I lived for another five hundred years I don’t think that I would find answer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Mike,

      Unfortunately, (or fortunately) we can’t go back and change history. Even if we could, should we? Who knows what the repercussions might be? Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • As you’ve already mentioned, Rochelle, this question is one that’s been asked and debated many times, but you personalize it well in your story. Like others on this feed, I suppose I’ve read too many time travel novels and especially dystopias not to worry that changing one terrible thing could actually make things even worse. And to have a murder of innocent baby on my conscience to boot? I couldn’t do it. Before reading everyone else’s answers, I thought about it and decided that I might feel justified in taking baby Hitler somewhere else, to be raised and socialized differently. Certain aspects of personality are influenced by genes. it’s true, but no baby is born with their whole destiny laid out.

    Interesting topic you’ve raised!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Joy,

      We could get into a whole nature vs nurture debate couldn’t we? At any rate, I agree that going back to change one terrible thing could be the catalyst to create more horrors than it might prevent. Who knows? Himmler might have done the same thing had there been no Hitler. So many questions that can never really be answered, although it’s kind of entertaining to reflect and imagine, isn’t it?
      Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • Wonder what the alternative history would had been like? Would it be better, or would it be worst? For 60 million who died during WWII, it would had been better. But then again, would there had been something else. Oh shuck, I could play this mind game all day.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Interesting story, Rochelle. I think with these time travel stories we always enter a dilemma mainly because that time period brought about so much change. The deaths, the destructive weapons, the fact that the space age came to being because of German scientists.

    I don’t watch much TV, but I have been watching Timeless, a time travel show which likes to deal with the questions of what happens if you alter history…do you shoot John Wilkes Booth or do you let him kill Lincoln? What happens if you interfere?

    Liked by 1 person

  • An interesting dilemma and scenario. Where would the world be if Hitler had not grown up to lead Germany through atrocities? Or would the same events have occurred but with a different leader?

    Liked by 1 person

  • A wonderful historical fic! And to answer your question: If I could travel back in time with the knowledge of what was to be, I might not shoot him, but I would intervene to put him in a better place where he could flourish and become a better person, mentally and physically. Where do I come by that? I’ve read about his childhood and youth, and in some ways I totally get where he came from…those kind of stresses can turn anyone in upon themselves to the point of mental breakdown. One has to sit back and ask, what was the trigger point in which his psyche broke down. No better example of mental illness has existed in this world, except…well, not gonna go there…. Anyway, I read your story and it touched me…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Jelli,

      The terrifying thing about Hitler’s mental illness is that a nation followed him. There seems to be something almost demonic about narcissism. I like your solution and wonder what other monster might’ve taken his place. Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

      • A different monster taking his place…now, THAT IS a terrifying prospect. Well said. Watching history repeat itself is a ——… awww, I promised not to cuss thiis week.

        Like

  • You wrote another thought-provoking story. What a dilemma for the time traveler. I couldn’t kill a child. In the nature vs. nurture debate on child development, I lean more toward the nurture side (influence of environment on the development of personality). Therefore, I enjoyed Melody Pearson’s sequel to your story. Well-done!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Could we? Would we? I think killing a baby with a gun is hard. Perhaps smothering might be easier? Or better for your protagonist to sacrifice their old life and stick around to influence Adolf’s development and life choices. You have certainly put us on the horns of a dilemma this week. Wonderfully done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Sarah Ann,

      Smothering as opposed to shooting. Why does this make me smile? Seriously, your other solution is interesting as well. How much influence could this time traveler really have on the boy? That might be a subject to explore. Although I do see my protagonist as Jewish. 😉 Thank you for such a thoughtful comment.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • Well they say cometh the hour cometh the man and I agree with others that someone else would have emerged. Your story echoes the Roald Dahl tale where the midwife struggles to save baby Adolf. I really appreciate the way you write, Rochelle.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Rochelle,

    This was a good story. I think I would have used the ability to time travel to win great sums of money via some well placed bets on sporting events. With that money I would have worked to influence the administration members of the art school that rejected young Adolf the airing artist. With my money and influence ensuring his acceptance (and a career) in the world of art, I would then travel to Dallas on a certain November day and year to check out the grassy knoll…

    You get that time machine working, let me know, we’ll have lots of fun.

    Yours,

    D.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Doug,

      What a pleasure to see you face and read your words here in Purpleville.
      I’ve often wondered how different Adolf might have turned out if he’d been accepted to the art school. His work wasn’t bad really. But, I fear there would’ve been someone to fill the role of Fuhrer. Himmler perhaps? Or perhaps Stalin would’ve been left to his own solution to the Jewish problem.
      As for Dallas. How might things have been different? Fires the imagination, doesn’t it?
      At any rate, I’m so happy to see your imagination at work in you lovely comment.
      I’ll keep you posted on the time machine. Fun indeed.
      Give herself my love.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle SD

      Like

    • Dear Sabina,

      The holiest of days…Yom Kippur…although I’m not sure I’d call it a feast. 😉 More of a fast.
      I realize I raised a question no one can really answer. But it did get the discussion going. Thank you for being part of it. Glad you caught the meaning of the title.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Rochelle,

    I have a gentle heart but even I would kill the boy if I could. However, Melody Pearson’s story would be the better solution. Your story is bold just like you, and a departure from the way you usually write. Unfortunately, this is an evil spot in history that can never be righted. It seems too mild to say all we can do is learn from it and not have it happen again.

    The survivors are getting older and so many more have perished along with their stories. We are lucky to have the USC Shoah Foundation that have interviewed and recorded the history and memories of thousands and thousands of survivors. We have to remember to dust off the old books as it were, and share stories of atrocities done to humankind so that the evil that men do is never repeated.

    I truly believe this is the only way we can do our part to eradicate evil.

    Sincerely,
    Renee

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Renee,

      I, too, loved Melody’s solution. It would be a difficult choice knowing what we know now, wouldn’t it? I fear that another madman would take his place.
      Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I heartily agree about the Shoah Foundation. Although I’ve been immersed in the history, having relatives and family friends with numbers tattooed on their arms, I wasn’t prepared for the rush of emotion when I visited Yad V’Shem in Jerusalem. It’s a subject that’s embedded deep in my kishkehs (innards) and I’ll write these stories whenever the muse sees fit. 😉 Thanks again, my friend.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

      • I can’t imagine what your family has gone through. It is not something I can even begin to wrap my head around. I think Gerda Weissman Klein said it best during an Oscar acceptance speech in 1996 :
        “I have been in a place for six incredible years, where winning meant a crust of bread and to live another day …. In my mind’s eye I see those years and faces of those who never knew the magic of a boring evening at home.”

        The hostess tried to move Gerda away from the podium, but she was determined to speak her mind. She was phenomenal.

        Like

  • What a can of worms you’ve opened here, Rochelle! Excellent. I’ve read about this before, writers wondering what would have happened if he had never been born. For instance Stephen Fry’s Making History. Kidnapped and raised in the US? You’d have had the situation you have now already back then if you had allowed him to get power. This sentence from the book you quoted for your research above gave me the chills: “capable of bursting into hysterical fits of anger if anyone disagreed with him” — narcissist. The only solution I see is to prevent people like this to have too much power. The safety mechanisms of democratic governments fail. Acting honourable or by unwritten codes is too easily abused. Love your story and the discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Gabi,

      That was some book, wasn’t it? Although the person who wrote the introduction refuted the truth of the Kubisek’s remembrances. I, for one, think there’s a lot of truth in that book. Who better to write about young Hitler. Very dark and disturbing.
      It’s somewhat entertaining to wonder and think about the what if’s and what could have been’s, but we’ll never really know, will we? Thank you for your thought provoking comments.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • Querida Rochelle,
    Gripping …. my eyes teared at the thought of the child being killed. Who knows what we are destined to be at that age. History would certainly be different or maybe not. Another would rise from the ashes to become the cruel dictator. I always learn a great deal from your FF stories. The dialogue between you and Neil has another bit of historical information I enjoyed learning. Sometimes, when I read about a monstrous evil person I wonder why??? Is it destined and why this child??? Five star words in this one, mi amiga, 5****.
    Abrazos y Shalom,
    Isadora 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  • Ooh, you’ve caused such debate and rightly so. Do I think it’s right to kill a baby to save others? I’m swimming against the tide of opinion, but I honestly don’t know. If I could be sure history would change, that we could save millions by sacrificing one life – perhaps. Could I do it? No. But there will be thousands who would volunteer for the job.
    As others have suggested though, the evil of the Holocaust was not committed by one man but by a group of people, an ideology. Perhaps National Socialism would not have grown to such heights without Hitler – the German people voted him into power and we often vote for our leaders with our hearts, not our heads. Would a NS leader without Hitler’s charisma have grown the party as he did? I don’t know enough about the early years of National Socialism to say.
    The glimpse into his early life is fascinating and as you say, the debate over if he was born that way or made could rage forever.
    I’m just glad I don’t have to make the decision your narrator has to make and Melody’s solution is perfect.
    Beautifully written and thoughtful as always Rochelle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Lynn,

      I’m not sure I could pull the trigger on a baby, no matter who and what he’d grow up to be. At the time of Hitler’s birth, atrocities were being carried out against the Jews in Eastern Europe. That time period didn’t have the media coverage that was possible later. And before Czar Nicholas there were other beasts who had their own solutions to the “Jewish problem.”
      I do love Melody’s solution, too. 😉 Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments that make writing this kind of story worthwhile.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re right, of course, persecution of the Jews did not begin with Hitler, or in the twentieth century or even the 19th. An on going tragedy, sadly.
        And Melody’s solution was perfect. Very clever.
        Nice to chat with you, Rochelle

        Liked by 1 person

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