HISTORIC ‘WHAT-IF?’: TWO SOLDIERS

WW I Soldiers

There is some disagreement as to exactly where, when, and for some, even if, this incident actually happened, but the two major participants both said it did.
The Place: France.
The Time: The last days of WW I.
The Scene: As British troops were putting the German army into retreat, a 27-year-old British private named Henry Tandey spotted a wounded 29-year-old German dispatch carrier unable to flee with his comrades. Though he had killed multiple times in the course of the war, Tandey usually tried to spare any wounded men he had within his sights.
He spared this one too, but in 1940, he said, “If I’d known who he’d turned out to be I’m darned he’d have got off. I’d give ten years now to have had five minutes of clairvoyance then.”
The reason for his regrets? The soldier he spared was Adolf Hitler, who later said he took this miraculous escape from certain death as a sign of divine favour that proved he was destined for greatness and would become the saviour of the German people.
Ask kids to speculate about how the world would have been different if Tandey had pulled the trigger, and whether or not they think he should have.
Older kids might like the Walter Pigeon movie, Man Hunt, which is about a man who once had the drop on Hitler but failed to follow through and after a series of run-ins with Nazi villains, sets off to try again. Man Hunt was made in 1941. By the next year, some disillusioned real-life Nazis were also plotting assassination, but as shown in the 2008 movie, Valkyrie, they weren’t successful.

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