Time travel is the concept of traveling between different points in time in the same way that we travel between other points in space. Time travel could involve traveling backward to a moment before the starting point or forward in time to the point’s future without the traveler having to experience the intervening period. But did you know that the Novikov Self-Consistency Principle of Time Travel was featured in The Twilight Zone?
In a 2002 episode of “The Twilight Zone,” a woman, played by Katherine Heigl, goes back in time to kill baby Hitler, addressing the Novikov self-consistency principle of time travel. She succeeds, but his mother adopts and raises a child named Adolf. He grows up to become the leader of the Nazi Party.
What was the Plot of The Episode: “Cradle of Darkness”?
Andrea Collins played by Katherine Heigl travels from an unknown time to April 28, 1889, in Braunau am Inn, Austria, and works as a housemaid for the Hitler family. She plans to assassinate Adolf Hitler as an infant.
Her initial attempts fail due to interruptions and her inability to kill a baby. Collins enters a church to confess after being unable to kill the baby. She tells the father that someone in the city will kill 60 million people and that she will kill him, to which the father responds that no one knows the future, but even if it is true, only God has the authority to kill that person.
Collins completes her plan by stealing the child and jumping into a river. Kristina, another housemaid, however, having followed Andrea and witnessed her jump, buys a homeless woman’s baby – ironically a Gypsy – and passes it off as Adolf, presumably the one known to history in the first place. Collins effectively murdered an innocent child while creating Adolf Hitler. (Source: Twilight Zone)
The Butterfly Effect Theory
The oft-cited butterfly effect states that minimal changes in a very complex system can have enormous consequences. There are many valid reasons to criticize Hitler, but one thing he was not was “insignificant”; if he were, there would be no desire to assassinate him. Even if you were to succeed, given his impact on so many people’s lives, you’d drastically alter the future/present, even if it turned out to be better without Hitler.
Assume whoever replaced him was ineffective, and the war ended with less death and destruction. Perhaps no German rocket scientists ended up in the United States in this timeline.
The space program loses some of its brightest minds, and progress is slower (or not at all?) The space race resulted in astounding scientific advancement and spinoff technology, one strand of which eventually led to time travel. Because time travel was not invented during your lifetime, either you vanish, and the whole thing is undone, or your time machine vanishes. So you’re stuck in wartime Berlin. And you’ve just assassinated the beloved leader of one of history’s most powerful military machines.
What would you do to prevent atrocities in the past if you could travel through time and Set Right What Once Went Wrong? For many, the solution is obvious: assassinate Adolf Hitler. This would have prevented World War II, the Holocaust, and its numerous consequences. (Source: Twilight Zone)