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I'm looking for the title of a short story I read maybe ten or fifteen years ago. A time traveller decides to kill Hitler (don't they all?) but when he arrives in the past Hitler's bodyguards immediately recognise him as coming from the future but tell him that once he actually meets the man he'll abandon any thoughts of killing him. He's ushered into Hitler's presence and finds him to be a kind, avuncular man, with no trace of the murderous megalomaniac that history has presented to us. He's still trying to come to terms with this when another time traveller arrives - this one is a neo-Nazi who has come to worship at Hitler's feet and is so outraged at what he sees as a betrayal of all his values that he kills him. After the assassin is taken into custody the guards discuss what to do next, and come to the conclusion that they have no option but to

replace him with Hitler's insane clone.

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1 Answer 1

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This is The Pacifist by James P. Hogan. It can be read here.

A few relevant passages:

The larger of the two looked Kunz up and down. He had heavy cheeks and a thick black mustache, and a fleshy sausage-neck overflowing from his collar. "Don't tell me," he said amiably in German, "You've come back from a future age to assassinate the Führer."

Kunz gulped disbelievingly. "How . . . how do you know?" he stammered.

"Oh, they've been showing up in dozens all night. You'd better come with us. The line starts a block farther along the street."

which leads to

"What's happening?" Kunz asked, finding his voice at last.

"Why, the Führer is coming here to talk to you. He's heard all the terrible things you people are saying about him, and he's very upset."

which leads to

As Hitler spoke on, the atmosphere around the room changed. One by one, those of the audience who were on their feet sat down. Many of them exchanged puzzled looks. Something was very wrong. Was this the fiend who had gone down as one of the arch-villains of history?

"I must confess to being somewhat bemused," Kunz heard the English voice whisper behind him. "He seems to be quite a decent sort of chap, really."

"Yeah," the Brooklyn voice breathed in reply. "Dis ain't de way I hoid it. Dat guy's okay."

which leads to

Kunz looked furtively around. Everyone's attention was on what Hitler was saying. And then Kunz's hand was reaching out stealthily toward the butt of the revolver. He was aware of it in a strangely detached kind of way, as if his arm had initiated the motion of its own accord, with the rest of him a spectator. And before he had fully realized it he was on his feet and leveling the gun between both hands.

which leads to

"Oh dear, oh dear . . ."

". . . three bullets, dead center. Didn't have a chance . . ."

A tired but triumphant smile crept onto Kunz's face. It was done! It didn't matter what happened to him now.

which leads to what's hidden behind the spoiler.

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    Hi, welcome to the site. Could you edit to explain why you think this is the right story, i.e. the ways in which it matches the one described in the question? Feb 6, 2022 at 3:36
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    Nice find, and most likely correct. You should still include a few quotes (3 key paragraphs would be best) in case the story you've linked to goes down some day.
    – DavidW
    Feb 6, 2022 at 3:43
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    Yes, that's the one! I wasn't quite remembering the ending correctly (specifically, who actually kills the kind Hitler) but it's definitely the story I was thinking of. I dug out my copy of the collection you linked to and that's obviously where I read it.
    – GordonD
    Feb 6, 2022 at 10:58

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