The Man Who Didn’t Kill Adolf Hitler

“A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority.” —Henry David Thoreau

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.

Show Me The Proof

British soldier allegedly spares the life of an injured Adolf Hitler
The Birmingham soldier who had Hitler in his sights in WW1…and then let him go

  • Jamie Frater

    Hitler shouldn’t get all this bad rep, he was a hero. I mean he killed Hitler

    • Kenneth Browning

      Yes. But he also killed the man who killed Hitler.

    • Da Silva

      It wasnt really funny the first one hundred times i read that joke. Not funny at all this time..

      • First time I heard the joke. It was pretty funny. I’ll let you know it 99 more times 😉

      • I’cia( ❤ My Falcons)

        First time I’ve heard it, I found it rather funny

  • Brp Goyo

    this man gets your pain mr. british man

  • Exiled Phoenix

    Mercy is a great tenant to live by, but this is still scary. What if you unknowingly had been able to stop a future monster.

    • Liege_Lord

      Its a catch 22, you either know or you don’t. There is no way Tandey could have known, so IMO he should not feel guilty whatsoever. In fact, he was trying to do the right thing by showing mercy in a time when societies humanity was more or less in question. The world around this guy was reducing to chemically gasing people, and he had the audacity to spare an enemies life.
      I hope he felt more regret than guilt.

  • Zareef Hossain

    Idiot Thandey, just because of you we have to read so much for history class.

  • blazelux

    If I was Tandy I would have killed everyone I could. Can’t believe he let a soldier go

    • Rainer Spott

      This behaviour is called chivalry, and this kind of true bravery made the man the great and highly decorated war hero he was (Mr Tandey, not Mr Hitler, who as well showed some chivalry by a nod and peaceful retreat, if it actually was the later Fuehrer).

      What you suggest is barbaric manslaughter, the art of war of (post)-modern times with drones and nukes and treachery far below the ancient warrior code. (Interestingly Adolf Hitler always opposed against such industrial WoMD as gas, atomic bombs or suicide attacks, while his henchman ran down the Jews in Europe – very puzzling, isn’t it!)

      • blazelux

        Chivalry has been outdated with about 500 years. Kill as many as u can or they’ll come back to kill u. Didn’t know that about Hitler though very interesting even though it almost makes u sound like a sympathiser haha

        • TheHumanSub

          Maybe you should consider moving to Africa and rising the ranks to become a warlord of a country? You’ll fit the job to the letter.

          “Kill everyone I could. Can’t believe he let a soldier go.”

          Are you a psychopath?

          • blazelux


          • Rainer Spott

            … and I would have guessed blazelux is just a kid stuck deeply into puberty …

  • Melissa Tanchingco

    This reminds me a lot of the manga/anime Monster. What’s funny is that Johan was supposed to be the next Hitler.

  • rallierf1

    Tandey was valiant. I would do the same and every healthy thinking human being should. You cannot know the future. Otherwise “He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
    — Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil.

    Also keep in mind that Hitler was a WWI hero for Germany and his best friend was a Jew who actually put him into his Chancellor position. At first glance it does seem Ironical but if you are to make a deep research you shall see that it is not. I just came to understand that Hitler was just a puppet who thought he was his own puppet-master. Other’s paved the way for him and his destiny and WWII predetermined long ago.

  • Sender

    Man, some people would take that as a lesson about mercy and how valuable life is. It made Hitler think he was invincible instead.

  • dud

    hell this would make for a great old school sci fi eman that could have killed hitler jumps back into his delorian and tried to finish the job he started..let the wacky hijinxs commence

  • matthewmess

    It would’ve stopped Hitler, thats all you can say. Its not guaranteed that it would’ve stopped WW2 or the Holocaust. Hitler was not the only Nazi just its most vocal proponent, nor did he create National Socialism. He wasn’t the only one who was anti-semitic, anti democracy, anti communism. Wasn’t the only one who wanted revenge for the Versailles Treaty, wasn’t the only one who believed in the “Stab in the back”, wasn’t the only one hated the Weimar Republic, wasn’t the only one who wanted Lebensraum. With Hitler out of the way the path is open to someone who could have much, much worse and militarily competent and political astute as to not invade the Soviet Union and declare war on the US.

  • Rayan Alam

    Dude stop being so hard on Tandey, all you jerks are probably all pussies compared to him. He couldn’t have known that the man he spared would become a cruel dictator.
    First thing to do when time machine invented: Tell Tandey to shoot Hitler

  • Rayan Alam

    Heh no good deed goes unpunished

  • imsmi

    What sad knowledge to have to live with. That said, Tandey was one of many who chose the path of humanity during one of our darkest times. Tandey and those like him deserve nothing but praise, respect and admiration.