Hitler vs Stalin
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Hitler vs. Stalin
Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, two very brutal men, belonging to an extremely brutal period, were similar yet very different from one another. These two figures clashed on the Eastern European frontier of the Second World War, which resulted in one of the bloodiest battlefields in human history, with the loss of nearly a 30 million lives during the conflict (Krivosheev 304). Both, in spite of being considered by ruthless murderers by the majority, are often looked upon and worshiped as exceptional leaders by a few cult followers. Hence, it would be interesting to look at the lives of the both the men and their influences in the professional and personal spheres that make them stand out in the history of the modern age.
The Soviet leader Joseph Stalin ruled with an iron fist. Deporting, torturing and devastating his rivals wherever they were to be found. Born on December 17th, 1878, he was an exceptionally talented politician, who was feared by his rivals for his ruthless ways and tacit political maneuvers that left his enemies in the political wilderness with little support. As the leader of the USSR, he often implemented economic and social reforms that transformed the economy of his country (Wettig 285). The brutal methods often used by Stalin also helped in modernization and industrialization of the USSR, which had become significantly weakened due to the devastation caused to Russia by the First World War. He proved himself to be an effective commander during the military crisis of the Second World War, when he pinned down and finally drove back the German offensive using much inferior technology and little direct support from his allies. Even after the war, he remained a global leader and was the undisputed leader of the communist bloc in the East and for the first time led a significant challenge to the Western Europe-centric global order for many centuries.
Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945 is another particularly reviled leader of the 19th century. Around 5.5 million Jews died during his reign due to his anti-Semitic policies and actions along with the death of around 19.3 million civilians. Much like Stalin, Hitler was a despot who sought to exterminate his enemies in every possible way. After the First World War, when Germany was reeling under the particularly high war repartitions and humiliation to the sense of nationalism, Hitler seized the opportunity by exploiting a perceived political vacuum by promising strong leadership, rectification of the past humiliations and destruction of the enemies of the German people. To the Germans who were particularly hit hard by the Treaty of Versailles after the First World War, he appeared as a messiah, and was able to install in them a perverted sense of self-confidence of the White/German race that continues to inspire ultra-nationalists and white supremacists around the world even to this day. He was also the chief instigator of the Second World War, which indirectly weakened the colonial powers and led to the gradual decolonization of Asia and Africa.
An initial observation of both the characters, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, provides us with a few basic similarities. Both were highly autocratic in their ways of functioning and in their policies. Neither cared too much about human lives when formulating there strategies and were feared, rather than respected by most of the people in their circles. Additionally, it may also be mentioned that the effect that both these political figures had on the Western Colonial powers is roughly similar in nature. As a matter of fact, Stalin was regarded by the west as a greater threat than Hitler, a reason that the British intelligence agencies did very little to thwart the rise of Hitler and often even provided covert support to the Nazis as a barricade against the growing threat of communism in Europe. Another factor that united these two enemies was their beliefs in their respective political philosophies. Hitler truly believed that he was the leader of the supreme Aryan race who would be destined to rule the world, while it was the belief of Stalin that the revolution that was sparked in Russia would soon engulf the whole world.
One of the foremost dissimilarities between Stalin and Hitler was the latter’s lack of political acumen to the level of the former. Concerning political tactics and maneuvering Stalin was a master, who succeeded in bringing even his perpetual enemies on the Western front to his side in his fight against the Nazis. As mentioned earlier, the West did consider the USSR a much greater threat than the immediate danger posed by the Nazis. Hitler did depend to a certain extent, on his public image, which he honed as an excellent curator. Stalin on the other hand did never care much for his public image. Apart from their very obvious ideological differences, they also saw very different goals to which they aspired. Stalin looked at the uplift of the working class as his endgame while for Hitler it was the global domination of the Aryan race.
The figures mentioned, both Hitler and Stalin, were both products of their age. It was the chaos of the late 19th and early 20th centuries that bred them and they did change the world around them forever, although in a much different way than they may have wanted to.
Krivosheev, G.F. Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century. Greenhill Books. 1997. Print.
Wettig, Gerhad. Stalin and the Cold War in Europe: The Emergence and Development of East-West Conflict, 1939-1953; The Harvard Cold War studies book series. Rowman and Littlefield. 2008. Print.