In A Nutshell
Adolf Hitler, one of the most heinous and ruthless dictators to have ever lived, caused a preposterous amount of pain and suffering through his career. As the story goes, a man named Henry Tandey could have prevented Hitler’s crimes against humanity with a single bullet in 1918. Regrettably, he did not take the shot.
The Whole Bushel
On September 28, 1918, in an event that would go down in World War I history, Private Henry Tandey, a British soldier who served near the French village of Marcoing says he came face to face with a wounded 29-year-old Adolf Hitler. It would have required minimal effort for Tandey to take a fatal shot and end Hitler’s life considering he had been shooting at Germans all day. However, as a wounded, limping soldier appeared from the smoke into his sights, Tandey stood his ground and held his fire.
Hitler nodded his thanks and disappeared. Tandey could have changed the course of history within seconds, but he felt sympathy towards Hitler. Tandey would not recall this event for another 20 years.
In order to avoid the outbreak of war in 1938, the UK prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, visited Adolf Hitler in Germany. Hitler invited Chamberlain to his retreat in Berchtesgaden in Bavaria. His retreat was extravagantly and splendidly enhanced with works of German art. Hitler had a copy of Fortunio Matania’s depiction of Private Tandey hanging on the wall, and this magnificent work of art stood out for Chamberlain. Chamberlain inquired Hitler regarding the painting, Hitler’s response was:
“That man came so near to killing me that I thought I should never see Germany again; providence saved me from such devilishly accurate fire as those English boys were aiming at us.”
Hitler requested that Chamberlain would pass his many thanks to Private Tandey, which Chamberlain later did by phone call. The next year, war broke out. Tandey narrowly escaped death during the Blitz, and he later informed a journalist, “If only I had known what he would turn out to be. When I saw all the people and woman and children he had killed and wounded, I was sorry to God I let him go.”
Tandey was haunted for the rest of his life by his failure to kill Hitler in 1918. At the age of 49, our brave hero attempted to rejoin his old regiment, informing everyone that Hitler wouldn’t escape a second time. He was however, unsuccessful. Private Tandey died aged 86 in 1977 in Coventry, significantly outliving Adolf Hitler.