Generally, I don’t interfere when humans fight as I feel they, the self-anointed greatest creatures on earth, should and must cooperate to prevent conflicts from starting or, once unleashed, summon all creativity and emotional self-control to quell hostilities. From 1914-1918 I in anguish observe vast armies slaughter almost twenty million people, maiming many more, and naively agree, or at least hope, that the Great War will indeed be the war to end all wars. I’m afraid I’m only a little less imperfect than beings on earth and elsewhere – you’re not alone in the universe – and too slowly realize that far greater problems are metastasizing.
In early September 1939 the Great War, a quaint and anachronistic designation, becomes World War I, as the Germans, intoxicated by Adolf Hitler, unleash number II, devouring Poland from the west while the Soviet Union tramples in from the east. The conquerors behave with equal barbarism, targeting civilians as well as soldiers, and in 1940 the Germans strike to their west and knock out France but then fail to vanquish England from the air, and now everyone but Joseph Stalin knows the Germans, massing for months on their eastern defense line against the Russians, are preparing to attack. I conclude this is going to be a bloodbath unprecedented even by the standards of bestial humans, and wonder why we shouldn’t instead settle this by proxy, and put Stalin and Hitler nose to nose.
I don’t explain. I don’t have to. I have certain prerogatives. I simply arrange for the two dictators to appear at a private and unoccupied spot near their seething frontier, and from the heavens decree they alone will determine the outcome of hostilities. Stalin grimaces. So does Hitler. You boys aren’t afraid to fight, are you?
I was an Iron Cross winner in the Great War, Hitler proclaims.
I at the same time was a brave leader in battle, Stalin states.
Wonderful, gentlemen, welcome once again to the world of combat. I understand you’re both self-proclaimed heavyweight leaders but for our purposes today you are what you are, middleweights, each of you about a hundred sixty pounds. You’re fortunate, for this battle would take place even if one of you were twice as large. The rules are simple. Take off your clothes down to your underwear. I said take of your clothes, Hitler. I have no desire to humiliate you. This, in a relative sense, is merely a matter of peaceful adjudication. The winner, naturally, is the final man on his feet. Fight as you like.
At age sixty-two Stalin’s ten years older than Hitler and three inches shorter but more aggressive and confident as he huffs and growls and spits before charging the Fuehrer, who’s better at retreating than allowing his troops to do so. He continues backing up fast, and Stalin pursues, grasping air, and Hitler, with superb timing, doubtless inspired by Max Schmeling, braces and uncorks an overhand right that nails the Man of Steel on his jaw and buckles him. He would’ve fallen but, like a veteran, throws his arms around Hitler’s, pinning them, and they verily dance several seconds until Stalin launches his right knee into the Fuehrer’s groin, crumpling the German, via Austria, to his knees. The Russian, via Georgia, fires a left hook to Hitler’s jaw, knocking him onto his left side on hallowed ground from which he counters Stalin’s attempted right-foot stomp to the face, catching his foot and twisting it to bring him also to earth.
Still more clearheaded than his foe, Stalin clambers on top of Hitler, a leg on top of each side of the fallen Fuehrer, and begins a textbook raining of rights and lefts onto the Fuehrer’s face and crown, and a Russian victory seems imminent until Stalin, winded from his exertions, stops punching and goes down horizontally on Hitler, seizing his neck and squeezing, and Hitler weakly grasps at his muscular forearms and appears ready to succumb as he pulls his left arm inside the chokehold and thrusts his index and middle fingers into his opponent’s right eye. Stalin screams and releases Hitler’s neck to pull his hands over the wounded eye until realizing one comforting hand will suffice, freeing his left to gouge the Fuehrer’s right eye. Both men roll onto their sides in fetal position and, as if divinely coordinated, they shout it’s time for another German-Russian treaty.
Like the Friendship Pact that allowed you two heathens to divide and devour Europe?
This time we’ll keep our word, says Hitler.
We will as well, Stalin says.
Sorry, gentleman, but since neither of you is standing I must declare both of you losers.