Yeah, I know it sounds crazy. But this guy Hitler took over Germany, started a big war, conquered Europe and killed 6 million Jews. Or would have if I hadn’t gone back in time and stopped him.
In fact, it did happen. But my little trip back into the past altered things so you don’t remember and, for all practical purposes, none of it happened.
I’m Dr. Rivers and even though my doctorate was in philosophy, I managed to build a time machine. It was only capable of one round trip, so I had to pick carefully. People were pretty emphatic that I had to do something about that Hitler guy, so I did.
Let’s take it from the beginning insofar as that term applies to time travel.
I’ve always been mechanical. So, I built this thing and attached a clock to it and realized, hey, this is time machine. But it’s a disposable one. I used cheap materials.
It was good for only one round trip. I talked to friends and they said I had to stop Hitler. I wanted to romance some movie star—maybe Audrey Hepburn, before she made it big—but my friends weren’t having it. I buckled.
It was the 1930s, bad times in Germany. I saw Hitler on a bridge painting a pretty dull landscape. He had that stupid narrow mustache and slicked down hair. The man had no taste in grooming or art. But he could control a brush. He’d need work.
I became an art dealer. I represented artists, but I was only interested in Hitler. He signed and I began my work in earnest.
I told him he needed to be clean shaven and to stop slicking down his hair. But then he looked bland, so I had him wear a grey duster and a red wide brimmed hat worn low over one eye. If you want to be famous, you need a distinctive style. Now Hitler had one. But his paintings…deadly dull.
I had him experiment. Putting on the paint extra thick. Using inappropriate colors. Making objects flow into each other. Basically, moving him away from realism which was passé even back then.
He finally found his style, uniquely his, and I finally had something to sell. But he was temperamental and anxious and had trouble producing the volume of work I needed for his first exhibition. I taught him lithography, which he enjoyed and he made the deadline. With my expert promotion, it was a success. The biggest buyers were Jewish and he decided Jews weren’t so bad after all. Hitler was crazy and bigoted but he wasn’t stupid.
Anyway, after a certain point he became pretty famous and made some real money. At the top of his game, he made a brilliant career move and died suddenly during one of his typical fits of apoplexy. I took one of his best paintings and returned to my own time.
I had no idea how successful he would be, standing the test of time. The painting was very valuable and I sold it for a huge sum of money—and retired.
But I’m most pleased that I arranged for us to avoid a Second World War—Great War to you. I’m happy you could join me for a chat over lunch at my favorite Jewish deli here in Nuremberg. There’s some irony about this but it would take too long to explain.