History is filled with evil dictators who ruled through fear and violence, a scourge to their subjects and other nations alike. But, much like a broken clock is right twice a day, some of the most infamous dictators have occasionally done something right. This list is not remotely intended to excuse the atrocities of the men involved, just to point out that hell can freeze over just enough for bad men to do good things.
10 Hitler Led One Of The First Anti-Smoking Campaigns
Introducing a health program that saved the lives of 20,000 women would be a huge achievement for any politician. Well, unless that politician was Adolf Hitler, a man who infamously ordered the mass murder of at least 11 million people he considered undesirable, including Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, communists, and the disabled. A mere 20,000 really does pale in comparison.
The health program in question was actually one of the earliest government anti-smoking campaigns. Hitler was obsessed with the idea of an Aryan “master race” and viewed smoking as a threat to the health of the German people. He often boasted that he had quit smoking in 1919 and appeared on anti-smoking leaflets warning that “every German is responsible to the whole people for all his deeds and omissions, and does not have the right to damage his body with drugs.”
Meanwhile, Nazi scientists were encouraged to research the dangers of smoking. In 1939, Franz Muller produced the first epidemiological study linking cigarettes to cancer. By 1943, German researchers had conclusively shown that smoking causes lung cancer. Sadly, the studies were forgotten in the chaos that followed the war and it took another decade before American researchers started to reach the same conclusions. Still, the Nazi anti-smoking campaign is estimated to have saved the lives of at least 20,000 women (who were targeted more than men, often with “police force”). Which, again, rather pales considering that many of the same doctors who led the anti-smoking program also organized a euthanasia program that killed at least 200,000.