Hitler And Stalin Essay, Research Paper
During the period leading up to World War II, there were two famous dictators
who were on opposing sides, yet had similar records. These men were Adolph Hitler and
Joseph Stalin. They were each triumphant in their rise to power in their countries and they
were very comparable in the ways that they succeeded. Their success was mostly
attributed to their new ideas and their politics.
Although Hitler and Stalin hated each other, the two leaders were similar in many
ways. Hitler and Stalin each rose to the highest position attainable in their respective
countries, and there were three main reasons that they were able to do this. Both men
were skilled users of propaganda, each was amoral, and they both had the ambition to
make their countries powerful in the world. Since each was a skilled user of propaganda,
they could use their words to twist and manipulate the minds of people into believing that
what they were saying was the absolute truth. Using this power, they would get people to
do anything for them, which proves their amorality. Since their countries were still trying
to recover from World War I, they desired to restore the power back in to their countries.
These three reasons will prove that Hitler and Stalin were similar in many ways.
The names Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin are synonymous with the word
propaganda. In order to understand how Hitler and Stalin used propaganda, an
understanding of what the word means, is required. According to Merriam-Webster,
“propaganda is the spreading of ideas to further or damage a cause; also the ideas or
allegations spread for a purpose”. Hitler and Stalin each used propaganda as their tool to
further their ideas and help them gain the backing of the people in their countries.
The form of propaganda that Hitler used, and was successful in using, was his
words. Hitler made many speeches, but the one that greatly stood out from the others was
his final speech at his trial for treason. In this speech he gave his views and opinions on the
events preceding the trial. This is an excerpt from his speech: “…I aimed from the first
to….become the destroyer of Marxism….The army that we are building grows more from
day to day, from hour to hour. Gentlemen, not you who will be the ones that deliver the
verdict over us, but that verdict will be given by the eternal judgment of history, which will
speak out against the accusation that has been made against us….That court will judge
us….as Germans (who) wanted only the best for their people and their Fatherland, who
fought and were willing to die. You might just as well find us guilty a thousand times, but
the goddess of the eternal court of history will smile and tear up the motions of the states
attorney and the judgment of this court: for she finds us not guilty”. 1
After Hitler gave this speech, the court was sympathetic towards him, and he was
sentenced to only five years in prison for his crime. After nine months of his sentence had
been served, he received parole. Being able to gain Nazi party control and gain enough
supporters, proves that he was an efficient user of propaganda. Hitler also had his own
minister of propaganda when he became leader of the country. This proves that Hitler was
a big user of propaganda, but Joseph Stalin was not as blatantly obvious with his uses of
Stalin did, however, use propaganda in his speech to the Fifteenth Congress in
1927. Stalin said in this speech: ” Evidently, the opposition prefers to be outside the party.
Well, let it be outside the party. There is nothing terrible, or exceptional, or surprising in
the fact that they prefer to be outside the party, that they are cutting themselves off from
the party. If you study the history of our party, you will find that always, at certain serious
turns taken by our party, a certain section of the old leaders fell out of the cart of the
Bolshevik party and made room for newer members. A turn is a serious thing, comrades.
A turn is dangerous for those who do not sit firmly in the party cart. Not everybody can
keep his balance when a turn is made. You turn the cart – and on looking back, you find
that someone has fallen out”.2
After Stalin said this, an immediate applause was heard. Stalin was telling the
people what they wanted to hear and he used this speech to further his cause. This speech
helped to further his cause by gaining support from the people, and by justifying why
Trotsky was not the choice for leader. Stalin was also demonstrating with this speech that
he was the “bandwagon” and that he was taking people in the right direction. Everyone
who became a supporter of him, would be getting into the right cart and would be heading
down the proper road.
Hitler and Stalin did not only use spoken propaganda, they were masters of using
propaganda, so they would use many forms of it. Another form of propaganda that they
used was through photographs. These photographs promoted their “nice” personalities. In
these photos each dictator would be depicted as being a hero. He would be helping the
poor families, or be holding a small child. It was in these photos that Hitler and Stalin
became appealing to the public. The photos gave the people of their countries the idea that
they were caring, loving and completely concerned for the well-being of the people. The
use of propaganda was a big contributor to the success of both men.
Since Hitler and Stalin were able to manipulate people with their propaganda, they
could convince the public of just about anything. This proves them to be amoral. Both
would do whatever they thought was necessary to further their cause, with no remorse
about what they had done.
In 1922, Lenin, the leader of the communist party, had a stroke.3 Over time his
condition got worse and he became less involved in the party’s affairs. When Lenin died in
January 1924, he left two men in contention for the party’s leadership.4 One was Joseph
Stalin, and the other Leon Trotsky.5 These men had opposing ideas on how the party
should be run. Stalin was a more aggressive candidate, and therefore had one of his
supporters kill Trotsky. He felt that if he eliminated his only threat, it would mean less
opposition to his ideas. This assured Stalin full control over the communist party.
Once Stalin was in control, anything was used as an excuse for an arrest: not
clapping loudly enough or long enough after one of Stalin’s speeches, or buying groceries
from a former kulak. People went to work one day and simply did not return — they were
either killed immediately or sent to the GULAG, a network of forced labor camps in the
Soviet Union.6 Because of Stalin’s want to destroy any possibility of future conspiracies,
academics and writers came to expect arrest, exile and prison as part of their lives. All in
all, Stalin got rid of anyone who could conceivably become a member of a regime that
might make the attempt to replace his own. He did this to maintain his power.
Hitler was the other example of an amoral person. He demonstrated this after he
got into power with the Holocaust, but he also foreshadowed his amorality before he
became the leader of Germany. One incident of his amorality was shown when he killed all
of his opposition. The first major victim of the Nazis was the powerful German Trade
Union movement. It was a possible breeding ground for Socialism and Communism, and
therefore opposition to Hitler. On May 2, 1933 many Trade Union leaders were arrested
and beaten up. Their offices were looted and their funds and property seized. A Nazi-led
“labour front” was established to control the workers and ensure the peace in factories and
workshops. A week after the destruction of the Trade Unions the Social Democratic Party
suffered a similar fate, soon to be followed by the Communists. All of their property,
possessions and funds were seized and both parties were banned.7
The Center Party, which had supported Hitler in return for vague promises,
collapsed in July 1933, along with the few others still remaining. 8After Hitler became
Chancellor, he passed a law that prohibited the existence of any party in Germany other
than the Nazis.9 By doing all of these things it was giving us a glimpse of what he was
going to be like when he got into power. These examples show that both Hitler and Stalin
were amoral and would do what was necessary to further themselves.
With Hitler and Stalin being such amoral people and willing to do anything, they
did what they could to benefit their countries. Each of their countries had suffered great
losses in World War I, and were still trying to recover when they came into power.
Restoring the power back into their countries was of great importance to both men. After
World War I, Russia had 9,150,000 casualties and Germany had 7,142,558 casualties10.
These losses were immense. Stalin believed that if he forced industrialization upon Russia,
that it would help the country to rebuild.
Collective farms was another one of Stalin’s plans. “Engel’s general formula about
the destiny of the Socialist state in general cannot be extended to the partial and specific
case of the victory of socialism in one country only, a country that is surrounded by a
capitalist world, is subject to the menace of foreign military attack, cannot therefore
abstract itself from the international situation, and must have at its disposal a well-trained
army, well-organized punitive organs, and a strong intelligence service. Consequently,
must have its own state, strong enough to defend the conquests of Socialism from foreign
attack”. 11This shows that Stalin’s aspiration was to make his country strong, and that he
had some ideas of how to go about it.
Hitler’s Germany also had a lot to recover from. Hitler promised the German
people work and bread and he delivered both. As most shrewd politicians are capable,
Hitler gave the people what they wanted the most. He launched a massive public works
program to pull Germany out of the Depression. Superhighways, office buildings, huge
stadiums and public buildings were constructed at a rapid pace. By 1936, however,
government spending was now being directed almost entirely to the military, necessary for
the coming war Hitler had already specified in Mein Kampf (My Battle), a book he wrote
while in prison. 12Meanwhile, unemployment dropped steadily. In January 1937,
unemployment stood at 7 million. Twelve months later it had fallen to 1 million and by
1938, Germany witnessed a shortage of labor. The standard of living increased by 20%
and business profits were finally increasing. 13
“Hitler had plans for Germanic unity and German living space. German unity meant
the gathering together of all Germans in Europe, one people into one empire, ruled by one
leader. This involved people living in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Danzig, Memel and other
isolated pockets. Germany did not have enough farmland to feed her population of enough
raw materials to supply her factories. New lands to the east would then have to be taken
over. Hitler intended to destroy the power of France forever. He hoped to take Great
Britain into partnership after settling the question of the former German colonies”. This
demonstrates to us that Hitler aspired to make Germany strong and feared. He wanted to
reunite the German people. His goal was clearly seen in Mein Kampf, in which he stated:
“Germany will either be a world power or will not be at all.”14
Both dictators succeeded in making their countries strong once again, at least for a
while. In conclusion, Hitler and Stalin were similar in many ways in their rise to power.
However, three reasons stand out the most. They were gifted in the ability to use
propaganda and brainwash people, which in turn proves that they were both unethical, and
they desired to make their countries better and stronger. Both men succeeded in doing all
of these things.