Essay, Research Paper
The year is 1933. An Austrian radical named Adolf Hitler takes over the troubled country of Germany and sets forth on a jihad of Aryan conquest that ultimately results in the deaths of over 50 million people and affects the entire world. The most destructive war in the whole of human history, started by a nationalist Austrian painter, who took advantage of a grave situation in a country filled with hard working, strong people. Some claim that the cause of the ascent of Hitler was due to his incredible leadership, persuasiveness, or strategic brilliance, but most agree that without the conditions in Germany during the Great Depression and the dissatisfaction of the German people, Hitler and his war would never have happened. Another reason pointed at by the historians of WWII is the mishandling of Hitler and Germany by the Allied Nations in the previous years while Hitler was rising to power and when he assumed power, their diplomatic failure to stop the formation of the Axis, England and France?s failure to protect Czechoslovakia, and Austrian conquests, and America?s hesitancy to fight in a European war. The main factors contributing to the rise of fascism and a warlord government can also be seen in the second world power created by the WWII, USSR, or, as it is called now, Russia Federation.
.Germany in the late 1920s and early 1930s was a broken country, their economy was in collapse, their pride in Germany was severely reduced by the Treaty of Versailles, they had severe hyperinflation, they were not used to the Weimar Republic Democratic rule, and their government was extremely weak. The primary reason for Germany?s embrace of Hitler was his promise of the return of a powerful, rich, idyllic Germany. All of these factors that Germany had in the 1930s have corresponding factors in modern Russia following the collapse of the USSR.
The National Socialist Party, or NSDAP or Nazi Party was retitled from the German Worker?s Party that was formed in Munich in 1919. Their basic premise was a united German people, but they embraced anti-Semitic doctrines and socialism. Socialism was such an important part of the Nazi Party; their name even included a reference to it. Socialism and communism were once used interchangeably. The ultimate goal of all socialists is a classless cooperative commonwealth in every nation of the world. This is a goal also once shared by the Russian people, when they overthrew the czars in favor of Bolshevism. This was also partly one of Stalin?s goals, and Russian agents worked in a variety of countries to try to subvert them to Communism. One such example of their influence is the revolution of Cuba. The ideals that are imprinted into the minds of Russians by the endless flow of USSR propaganda, Communist Party influence, and over a generation of general USSR rule, are akin to those of the National Socialist Party as headed by Hitler, except substituting anti-Capitalism for anti-Semitism.
The most important and scarily close parallel between Russia in 1998 and Germany in the late 1920s and early 1930s is their faltering economic situation. When people do not have enough to feed themselves or their children, drastic and often terrible or hasty measures are taken. The German economy definitely showed signs of economic ruin. In addition to recovering from a world war that they had lost, and recovering from reparations paid to European countries for starting the war, Germany had to deal with a depression. Despite the ingenuity of the German people, and their fierce competitive nature, Germany didn?t recover from the war, they got worse. Much worse. In 1929, economic depression hit the world. During the depression, German money suffered terrible hyperinflation, not to mention the bad inflation suffered generally during the 1920s. The Russian economy, a newcomer to the fierce world of global Capitalism, is in a similar dilemma. The Russian government is up against the wall — caught between demands from workers who haven’t been paid in months and the need to pay back a spiral of debt to international lenders. The Russian stock market is down 80%; the financial mess has been worsening over the past two months because of the government’s chronic inability to collect taxes, a reduction in oil export revenues and an exodus of international investors. It does not look good for the Russian economy. Primakov, Russia?s Prime Minister, admitted that Russia would likely print more money to cover its massive debts. Printing money is the worst solution to an economic problem, as the money supply is increased, so the money is worth less. This leads to hyperinflation, much the same as the hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic. Russian inexperience with the ways of Capitalism as well as their mishandling of their depression is much the same as Germany?s disadvantages in their economic situation.
For almost 70 years, a Communist government ruled the Russian people. In 1990, the USSR collapsed, the great Russian Empire lost some of its lands and peoples, but still is the largest country in the world in terms of land area, 6.6 million square miles. It?s been only 8 years since the collapse of the USSR, so any adult remembers the old government, and the young people have the legacy. Capitalism and Democracy are alien to the Russian people, who for the almost 70 years were taught in schools and by propaganda that America and everything was evil, and that America was weak compared to Russia. Now they are faced with the hard truth that their only claim to being a superpower is their immense collection of atomic weapons that match ours. The German people of the 1920s and early 1930s were used to rule by a King, and unlike the other great nations of Europe, France and England, had never tried to usurp the power of the despotic leaders (except for in 1848, but that was short lived and everybody was doing it). Their culture dictated a strong government, and they had strong military heritage (Prussia). During the Weimar Republic, the people of Germany did not get ruled with an iron fist, they had a weak republic which could not solve the problems that required strong action, and many of the individuals in the Weimar Republic were corrupt, which led to dissatisfaction of German citizens. The concept of Democracy was alien to the Germans then, and is alien to the Russians now.
In addition to the people of both Germany and Russia being unused to the governments that rule them, the governments are inefficient and weak. Germany?s government, the Weimar Republic was extremely weak, climaxing its weakness at the hyperinflation of 1923, but never a very strong government. The conniving of senior establishment politicians (e.g. Von Papen) resulted from a mixture of their own self-interest and a wish to see Germany stay out of Communist hands. To the conservative elite (including business) Hitler seemed the lesser of two evils, a demagogue swept forward on a temporary wave of despair, and supported by his thugs. The current government in Russia also is very weak and inefficient. The current President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, is weak physically, he recently checked into a sanatorium, after doctors ordered him to cancel a trip to Austria because of high blood pressure and extreme fatigue. The main authority in Russia is the gangsters, and the increasingly powerful Russian Mafia, corruption in Russia is rampant. In a single year, Russian Deputy Defense Minister and Chief Military Inspector Konstantin Kobets received official praise from President Boris Yeltsin — only to be fired, charged with abuse of power, taking bribes, and misappropriating tens of billions of rubles. ?In order to get anything through sometimes you have to bribe, sometimes you have to co-opt a bureaucrat,” said political analyst Andrei Kortunov. “There is no clear dividing line between business and state, between what is legal and what is illegal.” n the army, many officers in Chechnya sold guns, ammunition and information, pocketing the huge profits. In peacetime, some generals build their dachas — weekend houses — using questionable money, while many soldiers and officers have no places to live. Russian Mafia is on the rise, and has reached levels and penetration of cities akin to the 1950s Italian Mafia in New York.
The last similarity between the conditions that led to the rise of Nazism in Germany and the current conditions in Russia is a blow to the collective psyche of the nation. In Germany, before WWI, great military achievement and economic achievement was attained. Germany, a united nation of the Germanic people, began to excel in the modern world of their time. Part of the message of Hitler?s campaign and regime was that Nazis were going to make Germany united and great as it was before WWI. This led many Germans to vote and help the Nazi party, and it gained the support of many generals in the German military of the time. Russia also has a certain kind of impressive past on which the people look back. The defeat of Germany, the revolution over the czars, Communism, superpower status, the huge land area, the entire space program of USSR, the nuclear weapons and other weapons, all add to the feeling of importance in Russia. The Russian people are proud of their past, and many are advocating a return to Communism. This revolutionary spirit directed against democracy, as well as the feeling in the country that they are being robbed of greatness, all could be used by a strong leader to lead Russia into WWIII. Russia has all the capabilities to launch a 3rd world war, however nobody knows how a war with nuclear weapons will work, not to mention germ warfare, chemical weapons, space based weapons, or any of the incredible advances in weaponry we have amassed since the inception of the Cold War. A strategist, who could predict the exact way new weapons could be effectively used as well as handling the diplomatic and economic aspects of a war, like Adolf Hitler, could gain a huge empire for Russia.
The World laughed at Hitler, the middle aged, failed painter with a bushy little moustache. No one anticipated the conquest that could be made with tanks and planes, and no one saw the growing anti-Semitic measures taken by the Nazis. The failure to consider the power of Germany almost doomed the world to despotic rule by Hitler, and Hitler doomed himself and the Third Reich by failing to consider the power of America, Russia and the Russian Winter. Those who do not consider History are doomed to relive it.