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Opinion: What if Hitler had become an Artist? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Small events make big history. This is a brief interpretation of the so-called historical coincidence. What if Führer Adolf Hitler’s dream of becoming a famous artist had come true; What would the world’s destiny and the course of human history have been like?

History is a complex series of interconnected events that are too minor to be considered predictable.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was killed by coincidence. After failing to intercept the official motorcade of the Archduke, the Serbian assassin decided that his assignment had failed and went to a café located in a side street only to find himself face-to-face with the royal car. Due to this coincidence, the First World War broke out. A casualty of the war was the Ottoman Empire (or Caliphate), and its downfall sent psychological tremors throughout the Muslim world that was loyal to the “Supreme” state. The shock was embodied in the emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood in a series of events stretching up to the present day.

A few days ago a German auction house said it would sell off a Hitler watercolor, saying it could fetch as much as 50,000 euros and cited a strong global interest.

Hitler painted the piece around 1914 and his autobiography Mein Kampf describes how his hopes of becoming an artist were dashed by his repeated rejection by Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts.

What if Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts had accepted the young man and entertained his artistic ambitions, even if they were modest?

What if the Americans had not released Ibrahim Awwad, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s self-declared Caliph known as Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, from prison a few years ago?

What if Osama Bin Laden had not entered King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, where he first met Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, the father of global jihad?

What if Saddam Hussein had drowned in the river as he fled Iraq over his opposition to the government in the early years of his Ba’athist career?

What if Gamal Abdel Nasser had been killed during the siege of Faluja in Palestine before he formed the Free Officers Movement?

What if Abdel Moneim Aboul Fatouh had been the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for the Egyptian presidency, instead of Mohamed Mursi?

Dozens of minor and major coincidences would make for a parallel history had they happened. One school of history argues that history is nothing but mere inevitable events with no room for coincidence. The First World War would have taken place whether the Archduke had been assassinated or not, the Second World War would have broken out whether Hitler had become an artist or not, and so on. According to this theory, the role of individuals, or minor incidents, are details that feed, but do not make, major events. But who knows what the future holds?

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as on Saudi affairs. He is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page editor. Mr. Zaydi has worked for the local Saudi press, and has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.

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