Still, I love a good guess, so I’m thinking that the answer about Hitler would be that someone else might well have stepped up and done a different kind of damage, but damage nonetheless. Many of the players were in place, and instead of Hitler, it could well have been a guy named General Kurt von Scheleicher. (See The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, W. L. Shirer, 1959, at page 150). General Scheleicher was by all accounts a sneaky power monger, who was quite dangerous. Would he have established a military dictatorship? Probably, if given half a chance he would have done so, and eventually, he would have launched a war. In fact, for the world at large, he would have been as, or perhaps more, dangerous than the schmuck we got.
As for Stalin, there were countless scoundrels waiting in the wings, and in a cut throat society, especially during hard times, there never seems to be a shortage of vermin to step up and take control. What if? Simply put, the “what if” is likely not going to be all that different from the “what actually happened,” at least when it comes to the ultimate conclusion. This just sets up the question for us today, which is simply, “if not Putin, then whom?” ~ Michael S. Pauley