Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler were leaders of Soviet Russia and the Nazi Germany respectively. Both were born into modest backgrounds and experienced impoverishment during their early lives, but rose to be powerful leaders. Although Stalin and Hitler never met, there are many similarities and differences between them with regard to their social, political, and economic ideologies. The two advanced socialist beliefs, but their idea of socialism was different. While Stalin was a strong supporter of communism, Hitler was a strong adherent of Nazism. A common aspect between these leaders was their lack of tolerance, which made them result to killing people they considered threats to their leadership. As a result, Hitler and Stalin were responsible for the deaths of over 30 million with the latter having a 2 to 1 ratio, over 20 million deaths and Hitler over 11 million deaths.
Power was the key motivating factor for Stalin’s actions and his rise from a humble background to a de facto leader of the Bolshevik. As such, he could do anything in order to ascend to power and once he was at the helm, he did everything in his power to remain there. In order to understand the extent to which Stalin was ready to go in order to acquire power, it is important to evaluate his actions before becoming the leader of the Soviet Union. First, he became a member of the fledgling Bolshevik movement. Recognizing that Stalin was capable of doing anything in order to achieve his ambitions, the Bolshevik leadership gave him the task of raising funds for the movement. To accomplish his task and in a bid to impress the leadership within the movement, Stalin began to organize criminal activities such as kidnappings and ransom demands, extortion through violence and threats, as well as organizing bank robberies. He began to move up the ranks within the Bolshevik party from raising funds for the movement to being a member of the Central Committee, editor of the Bolshevik newspaper, People’s Commissar for Nationalities, General Secretary of the party, and eventually becoming the leader of the communist regime in Russia. As he rose from one position to the next, Stalin gradually set up a power base by enlisting and employing his allies to strategic positions within the party and in government. It is important to note that even when in government, Stalin was ruthless in dealing with those he considered a threat to his power regardless of their rank, status, or whether they were friends or enemies.
On the other hand, although Hitler wanted to be in power, his biggest motivation was the superiority of the Aryan race. He was able to work with anyone, even those he considered his enemies, or destroy anyone, including his friends in order to create a master race. As such, his major focus was to eliminate those he considered lesser humans, by any means. Among the group that he considered subhuman were the Jews, the gypsies, and majority of the Slavic population. However, he believed that some of the subhuman races could be integrated into the Aryan culture but the ones who could not had to be expelled, enslaved, starved, and exterminated. His devotion towards eliminating the subhuman reveals that he was more interested in creating and maintaining the superiority of the Aryan race and power was only a means to an end. Given the chance, Hitler would have eliminated all the non-Aryans and those he considered a danger to the Aryan race from the world because he believed that power belonged to him and his kind and everyone else dishonored the human race.
It is apparent that Leninism perspectives of an ideal society shaped Stalin’s socialist ideologies. Leninism advocated for the eradication of national differences as well as national languages and replacing them with one nation and adopting one common language. In accordance with Leninism, Stalin believed that in order to eradicate oppression within the society, it was necessary to eliminate national differences and establish one language that everyone should use to communicate. This explains why he began to associate himself with Russians and why he was getting rid of the high-raking non-Russian leaders from his government and replacing them with Russians. Conversely, Hitler was not keen on the eradication of boundaries, but wanted to eliminate people who he believed were a threat to the well-being of the third Reich.
It is also important to note that on the issue of the economy, the economic policies of Stalin were purely socialist while Hitler was not as keen on enforcing socialism. Stalin enforced collectivism in a bid to improve agricultural production, which he would sell abroad and have the funds he needed to reinforce the armed forces. Although, this strategy worked in the beginning, the success was only on the equipping the military, but the policy caused serious problems to the people within the Soviet Union because it led to a devastating famine. As such, military successes in the Soviet Union came at a great cost, thereby causing the people to become unhappy with the government under Stalin. Ultimately, he did not care about whether the people loved him as long as he was still in power.
On the contrary, Hitler’s kind of socialism was one that aimed at making his people happy. First, he ensured that the rate of unemployment fell from six million to nearly zero. He managed this by staffing the military through conscription. Accordingly, military needed to acquire equipments hence the Nazi air force provided employment to engineers, fitters, and designers. Consequently, the regime was in need of thousands of prison guards and clerks. Further, the Farm Law of 1933 guaranteed sales for the peasant farmers who organized themselves into controlled groups. Although, Hitler’s regime controlled businesses, the control was more about wages and employment in order to make people happy hence, it was not a total immersion of the economy into the strict socialist principles as was the case in the Soviet Union under Stalin.
Another difference regarding the beliefs between the two leaders is with regard to their style of leadership. Stalin was a domineering leader who thrived through intimidation and creating fear among his allies and enemies. In order to effectively rule, he appointed a council consisting seven people who were staunch supporters of his ideas and formed a close-knit group that implemented his policies unquestioningly. In contrast, Hitler was a charismatic and persuasive leader and only used his charisma to persuade people to support and implement his beliefs in order to make their lives better. As such, many of Hitler’s supporters joined his regime in order to carry out orders. In his speeches, he cultivated an image of a hero and a person who cared deeply for his people and his country. Unlike Stalin, who rarely addressed the people, Hitler was able to combine his oratory skills, charisma, and propaganda to great effect as his audiences remained spellbound and did whatever he ordered them to do enthusiastically.
With regard to the foregoing, it is clear that although communism and Nazism were two different philosophies, Stalin and Hitler made the implementation of those ideas so similar because of their intolerant nature. For instance, it is clear that they instigated the deaths of millions of people for the sake of their selfish bigoted ideas. The major differences are that Hitler was charismatic and Stalin was conniving, and while the latter tried to use underhanded tactics to eliminate national differences and exercise power over a large territory, regardless of the races, Hitler wanted to wipe out every race that was a danger to his perceived superior Aryan race and therefore to his leadership.
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