There are many events throughout the course of any normal day that will impact the future. Not many, however, might have the power to prevent the largest loss of life in human history depending on the outcome. Especially when the event is a heroic act of mercy.
In 1894, a 4 year old Adolf Hitler was running amok atop the frozen waters of the River Inn in Passau, Germany, playing tag with his friends, when the ice gave way and he plunged into the freezing water. The underwater current was strong and Adolf struggled to fight against it and return to shore. Johann Kuehberger, a boy who was around the same age as Hitler, was determined to save his life. He pushed through the ice and dragged the future Führer to safety.
The near-drowning episode was detailed in a German book called ‘Out of Passau- Leaving a City Hitler Called Home,’ by Anna Elisabeth Rosmus. She wrote; ‘The banks of the River Inn provided an idyllic setting for the children to play. In 1894, while playing tag with a group of other children, the way many children do in Passau to this day, Adolf fell into the river. ‘The current was very strong and the water ice cold, flowing as it did straight from the mountains. ‘Luckily for young Adolf, the son of the owner of the house where he lived was able to pull him out in time and so saved his life.’
According to Max Tremmel, a priest who went on to become one of Europe’s most famous organists, his predecessor Johann Kuehberger was the boy who rescued a terrified Hitler. Johann apparently conveyed this story to Max during his tutelage.
30 years later, an adult Adolf would have many bids against him to take away the life that Johann Kuehberger had provided; around 42 assassination attempts occurred during Hitlers rise to power through his suicide in 1945.
While there is no way to predict what might have happened had Hitler died as a child, it’s a near certain bet that the world would have been a different place had he not made it out of that icy, swirling river.