Assassination of war leaders

Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
I understand there were quite a few attempts on Hitler's life and at least a few on Churchill.

I would have thought the assassination of significant war leaders, on all sides, would have had a high priority. Apart from Heydrich, I can't think of any more. What about bumping off top generals?

Was this because: The fear of quid pro quo, as in Dresden fo Coventry. ? Not a high priority? Limited appropriate resources (such as suicide squads)? There were plenty of attempts, but they all failed because those involved were rubbish at assassination.? Lastly, and the least satisfying they failed due to random chance ? ( I don't believe in luck) This question has always niggled me, but I'm not sure there is a rational answer.

Be most interested in any views. On this topic, imo there are no stupid answers and no wrong answers. However, God's grace and interference by aliens go on the 'highly improbable' list.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,750
SoCal
It's possible that the Allies would have viewed Hitler's death as being counterproductive due to the possibility of someone more competent coming to power in Germany after his death. Plus, there was no possibility of a separate peace dividing the Allies as long as Hitler was in charge.
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
It's possible that the Allies would have viewed Hitler's death as being counterproductive due to the possibility of someone more competent coming to power in Germany after his death. Plus, there was no possibility of a separate peace dividing the Allies as long as Hitler was in charge.
Fair enough.

The notion of a separate peace was not one I had seriously considered. I couldn't see how it could work.

What about the Axis powers having a comprehensive assassination programme? I suspect that would have appealed to comrade Stalin, murderous psychopath that he seems to have been. The Japanese would have had no problem developing a unit of suicide assassins.

I have long thought that assassination is a rational tool of war, and have always wondered why it has not been used more. There is of course, a simple, rational explanation: All sides have in fact used assassination. (as say the CIA and KGB) But, such actions were and remain classified. It's a secret.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,750
SoCal
Fair enough.

The notion of a separate peace was not one I had seriously considered. I couldn't see how it could work.
AFAIK, Hitler was stubbornly resistant to the idea of a separate peace--especially with the Soviet Union. If you get rid of Hitler early enough and replace him with Goering, there might be a chance of a separate Nazi-Soviet peace coming about (I doubt that the Western Allies would agree to a separate peace).

What about the Axis powers having a comprehensive assassination programme? I suspect that would have appealed to comrade Stalin, murderous psychopath that he seems to have been. The Japanese would have had no problem developing a unit of suicide assassins.

I have long thought that assassination is a rational tool of war, and have always wondered why it has not been used more. There is of course, a simple, rational explanation: All sides have in fact used assassination. (as say the CIA and KGB) But, such actions were and remain classified. It's a secret.
Stalin was extremely paranoid and cautious. AFAIK, he never left Soviet-occupied territory during World War II. Thus, I would think that it would be very hard getting an assassin close enough to Stalin for him to be killed.
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,770
Australia
Assassination of political leaders is of limited value against a western democracy. The assassination of Churchill or Roosevelt for example would have caused outrage, but the governments of the UK and US would remain functioning and the war effort would continue. Only in absolute dictatorships where there is a cult of personality surrounding the leader would there be any chance of a power vacuum and the collapse of the system.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,750
SoCal
Assassination of political leaders is of limited value against a western democracy. The assassination of Churchill or Roosevelt for example would have caused outrage, but the governments of the UK and US would remain functioning and the war effort would continue. Only in absolute dictatorships where there is a cult of personality surrounding the leader would there be any chance of a power vacuum and the collapse of the system.
Very true. Of course, even in an absolutist dictatorship, if a country is winning a war, it could remain cohesive for the duration of the war. It's when an absolutist dictatorship is losing a war that things could get unpredictable and go bonkers.
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,728
Dispargum
When the opportunity arose to kill Yamamoto part of the debate centered on the legality of assassination, was such an attack an assassination or was it a legitimate act of war, etc? They went ahead with it and got him.
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
When the opportunity arose to kill Yamamoto part of the debate centered on the legality of assassination, was such an attack an assassination or was it a legitimate act of war, etc? They went ahead with it and got him.
A pretty hypocritical discussion I think.

Of course it was a legitimate act of war. But then, I accept terrorism as a legitimate act of war, especially when the enemy is stronger. Evil? Absolutely. I'm not pro terrorist, I'm anti war, which I consider to be murder.

In any case, they were not going to be tried for a war crime, because their side won the war.
 
Jun 2011
313
The Old Dominion
Yamamoto was an armed enemy, in uniform, in an armed enemy aircraft, operating in a war zone. Any three of those four made him a legitimate target.
 
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Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
Yamamoto was an armed enemy, in uniform, in an armed enemy aircraft, operating in a war zone. Any three of those four made him a legitimate target.

Ok. Then why the discussion about legitimacy? An overabundance of caution?