Hitler and Stalin: the rise to power

During the period leading up to World War II, there were two men
who were on opposing sides, yet had many traits that made them much
alike. One of these men was someone whos name is instantly recognizable
to almost anyone today–Adolf Hitler. The other man was a major player
in world history as well, but his name is not so infamous–Joseph Stalin.


These men 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, especially in
Hitlers case, their politics.

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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 the most 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
were able to get people to do nearly anything for them, which shows their
amorality. Since each of their countries were still trying to recover
from World War I, they desired to restore the power and glory back to
their countries.


The names Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin are synonymous with the
word propaganda. In order to understand how Hitler and Stalin used
propaganda, one must understand what the word itself means. According to
the Merriam-Webster dictionary, 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 very successful
in using, was his words. Hitler made a great number of speeches, but one
speech that became very famous was his speech at his trial for treason.
In this speech he gave his views and opinions on the events preceding the
trial. Here is an excerpt from this 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.
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 was granted parole.


Being able to gain Nazi party control and lure enough supporters to his
cause shows that Hitler was a very skilled and efficient user of
propaganda. Hitler even had his own minister of propaganda when he
became leader of the Germany.
Having a minister of propaganda pretty much proves that Hitler
was an avid user of propaganda, however, Joseph Stalin was not quite as
blatantly obvious with his uses of propaganda. One example of
propaganda Stalin used can be found in his speech to the Fifteenth
Congress in 1927. Here is an excerpt from 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.


After Stalin said this, an immediate applause was heard. Stalin
was telling 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 in the right direction; at least
what he believed to be the right direction.


Hitler and Stalin did not limit themselves only to spoken
propaganda, but would use many forms of it. One form of propaganda that
they used was through photographs. These photographs promoted their
nice personality. In these photos they would be depicted as being a
hero. They would usually be helping poor families, or be holding a small
child. It was through the use of these photos that they became appealing
to the general public. These photos would give one the idea that they
are caring, loving, and just completely concerned for the well-being of
the people. The use of these photos 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 people of practically anything. This
shows that both of them were 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. Over time his condition got worse and he became less involved in
the party’s affairs. When Lenin died in January of 1924, it left two men
in contention for the party’s leadership. These two men were Joseph
Stalin and Leon Trotsky. The 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 (murder) Trotsky. ( Having one of your
opponents murdered also shows that you are amoral! ) This happened after
Trotsky was exiled, but while in exile Trotsky continued to preach world
revolution. Stalin sent one of his agents to kill Trotsky, who was in
exile in Mexico. Stalin felt that if he eliminated his only threat, it
would result in less opposition to his ideas. This assured Stalin full
control over the communist party.
Hitler was another example of an amoral person. He demonstrated
this after he got into power with the holocaust; but he did not
foreshadow his amorality much before he got into power. One incidence of
his amorality was when he killed virtually 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, was possible opposition to Hitler. On May 2, 1933, many
Trade Union leaders
were arrested and literally 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 peace in the 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. The Center Party, which had supported
Hitler in return for vague promises, collapsed in July of 1933, along
with the few other parties still remaining. After Hitler became
Chancellor, he passed a law that prohibited there being any other party
in Germany other than the Nazis. By doing all of these things, he gave
us a glimpse of what he was going to be like when he got into more
power.


With Hitler and Stalin being such amoral people, willing to do
practically anything, they would do whatever 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 the men came into power.
Restoring the power back to their countries was of great importance to
both men. After World War I, Russia had around 9,150,000 casualties and
Germany had about 7,143,000 casualties. These losses were immense.
Stalin believed that if he forced industrialization upon Russia, it would
help the country to rebuild. Collective farms were one of Stalin’s
plans. One of Stalins ideas about socialism and its spread and
protection is expressed in this excerpt from one of his speeches:
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.


This shows that Stalin’s aspiration was to make his country
strong, and that he definitely had some ideas of just how to go about it.


Hitler’s Germany had a lot to recover from as well. 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 (Hitler, no less). This involved people
living in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Danzig, Memel and other isolated
pockets as well. Germany did not have enough farmland to feed its
population or enough raw materials to supply its 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 that Hitler aspired to make Germany strong, powerful,
and feared. He wanted to reunite the German people.
Both Hitler and Stalin succeeded in their conquests. They made
their countries feared. They made their countries powerful. They made
their countries strong once again; at least for a while. But most of
all, especially in Hitlers case, they both made names for themselves.