To what extent were Hitler and Stalin similar? Hitler and Stalin were both cruel dictators around the time of WW2, but to what extent were these two men similar? Firstly they were both dictators throughout WW2; however they were both of different beliefs. Hitler was a fascist and Stalin was a communist, however they were both such extreme versions of these beliefs that they were, in many ways alike. Starting with childhood, Adolf Hitler was born on April 20th 1889 in a small Austrian town called Braunau, near to the German border.
His father, Alois Hitler was an abusive drunk similar to Stalin’s father, Besarion Vanovis Jughashvili. This evidence suggests that perhaps the bad relationships these men had with their fathers, who made very poor role models, may have had some contribution to the turnout of these dictators. Stalin did not graduate, unlike Hitler; instead he devoted his time to the revolutionary crusade against the Russian monarchy. He spent 15 years as an activist, who was arrested on a number of occasions and exiled six times in total.
In 1913 Stalin was captured for the sixth time, and was exiled to a region in Siberia near to the Arctic Circle called Turukhansk. He was then released for a final time in March, 1917, by Alexander Kerensky’s revolution. When you compare Hitler’s life before dictatorship it is obvious that this portion of the men’s life was extensively different. Stalin rose to power as general secretary covertly, into one of the most dominant communist parties at the time. And when revolution leader Vladimir Lenin died in 1924, control was thought by the Russian public, to belong to Leon Trotsky who was the head of the red army.
However Stalin rose to power instead and, although he incorporated fear into his tactics of leadership, like Hitler did, his actual claim of control over Russia was visibly dissimilar. Hitler’s early adulthood was difficult, after leaving his school in Vienna he was devastated by the loss of his mother to cancer. Shortly after which he was struck by another heavy blow, as he was rejected from art school and forced to give up his dream of becoming an artist.
He was now very poor and living in a doss house with the homeless, it was at this time many historians believe he developed his hatred of Jews as they were generally well-off people thriving in a time when he had nothing, this hatred would later play a major part in the mass genocide he lead during his dictatorship. When Hitler rose to power in 1933 Germany was facing a crisis, the great depression had struck, and America had stopped funding them or buying their goods, causing 6 million people to lose their jobs, on top of that the restrictions Germany had already suffered due to the treaty of Versailles were catastrophic.
So, the public began to question their current democratic leadership. For Hitler turning the public against democracy and communism was easy, they already doubted the democratic leadership and since the communist uprisings between 1919 and 1920 that had caused a major panic and the horror stories from Russia and Stalin, people already disliked the communists greatly. He used the similar beliefs between himself and the people to strengthen their relationship and allow them to worship him. Similarly, when Stalin came into power he influenced the people to turn them against his opposition by pointing out their similarities.
Stalin was a man of the people, a peasant who had fought in the revolution, and was in the public eye having attended and given the main speech at Vladimir Lenin’s funeral. However, his opposition Leon Trotsky was a Jewish Army leader who did not attend Lenin’s funeral (however sources tell that Stalin tricked Trotsky into not going). This was similar to Hitler because they both focused on what they had in common with the public , and ensured they kept themselves in the public eye as the hero when in actual fact they turned out to be the villains.
Another likeness between the two leaders was their use of terror to control their country. Both of the dictators enforced the secret police, who were one of the biggest fears of both countries public, in Russia the secret police were called ‘Cheka’ and in Germany they were known as Gestapo. The secret police were the secret force put together by the government to spy on and capture those who spoke out against them, in Hitler’s case for example the Jews. Once captured by the secret police the prisoners would either be executed or taken away to concentration camps, gulags or ghettos to be tortured and forced to work manual labour.
Both men additionally, believed in using children to spy on their parents, in many schools across Germany and Russia the dictator’s beliefs were broadcasted to young children, they were taught to snitch on their parents if they spoke out against the government. When using propaganda Hitler was linked to Stalin through their use of twisting the public’s mind. Many historical sources depict images of Hitler or images of Stalin hugging women and children and leading the army, in addition to this almost all of their osters depicted their political parties symbol, which with Nazis symbol (swastika)ironically meant good fortune and peace. A major difference was that Stalin’s posters were much more general, much more of Stalin loving the public whereas Hitler’s posters clearly defined his policies. For instance Nazi propaganda was widely images of the Hitler youth army, the Aryan race (the race Hitler believed to be superior to all others- blonde hair/blue eyes) and many images of ugly Jewish people perhaps eating German babies.
Often when observing Hitler and Stalin people overlook the changes they made for the good. In Hitler’s case he promised policies such as Lebensraum (the need for living space) -the reclaiming of land lost in the treaty of Versailles and, he promised to increase the army size from 100,000 to 1,400,000. He also came up with the Hitler youth army providing leisure events such as holidays, trips and sports events, moreover he gave the Germans cheaper cinema and theatre tickets and provided them with better meals.
He greatly improved the quality of German working facilities, as well as providing loans to married couples, and encouraging the birth of children by saying that the more children you had the less you had to pay back form the loans. Overall the main thing he provided to the poor Germans who had lost so much since WW1. Stalin gave the public hope for triumph for over the cruel grip of fascism taking the current revolution a step further. He made his country a world power alongside the USA, not like Hitler who made Germany suffer a colossal loss after WW2.
He greatly improved Russian industries and economy, the farming in Russia increased by 200 %. Additionally Stalin increased by decades the life expectancy of many Russians, he also enriched the lives of many Russians who lost faith especially throughout WW2. Furthermore, during Stalin’s rule he significantly enhanced the standard of women’s rights by allowing them to receive education and employment and permitting them to give birth in hospitals with prenatal care. Opposing Hitler immensely, who sacked hundreds of women believing their purpose was to stay at home with the children, and cook and clean.
On June 22nd, 1941 Hitler, feeling himself losing the war and growing paranoid of Stalin’s communist power invaded Russia calling it Operation Barbarossa. It was a foolish decision which lost him a large portion of his army, and the war essentially. Stalin triumphed and by mid-April of 1945, Soviet forces had pushed their way into Berlin, and Hitler and his wife Eva killed themselves in order to escape the terrible punishments of losing the war. Stalin died later on in 1953 on March 5th, 1953 a stroke.
In conclusion although they were both at the furthest ends of right wing communism (Stalin) and fascism (Hitler), they were indeed so extreme, that in a way, they were a like. There methods of control, torture and advertisement were so remarkably alike and, their mass genocides will go down as two of the most dreadful, but painfully similar events in history. So to a certain extent I do agree that these dictators were very similar from a particularly young age, though at many significant points in their lives they did show great dissimilarities.
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