Hitler and Stalin: the rise to power

During the period leading up to World War II, there were two menwho were on opposing sides, yet had many traits that made them muchalike. One of these men was someone whos name is instantly recognizableto almost anyone today–Adolf Hitler. The other man was a major playerin 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 countriesand they were very comparable in the ways that they succeeded. Theirsuccess was mostly attributed to their new ideas and, especially inHitlers case, their politics.Although Hitler and Stalin hated each other, the two leaders weresimilar in many ways. Hitler and Stalin each rose to the highestposition attainable in their respective countries, and there were threemain reasons that they were able to do this. Both men were skilled usersof propaganda, each was amoral, and they both had the ambition to maketheir countries the most powerful in the world.

Since each was a skilled user of propaganda, they could use theirwords to twist and manipulate the minds of people into believing thatwhat they were saying was the absolute truth. Using this power, theywere able to get people to do nearly anything for them, which shows theiramorality. Since each of their countries were still trying to recoverfrom World War I, they desired to restore the power and glory back totheir countries.The names Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin are synonymous with theword propaganda. In order to understand how Hitler and Stalin usedpropaganda, one must understand what the word itself means. According tothe Merriam-Webster dictionary, Propaganda is the spreading of ideas tofurther or damage a cause; also the ideas or allegations spread for apurpose.

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Hitler and Stalin each used propaganda as their tool tofurther their ideas and help them gain the backing of the people in theircountries. The form of propaganda that Hitler used, and was very successfulin using, was his words. Hitler made a great number of speeches, but onespeech 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 thetrial. Here is an excerpt from this speech: …

I aimed from the first to…become the destroyer of Marxism…Thearmy 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, whichwill speak out against the accusation that has been made againstus…That court will judge us..

.as Germans who wanted only the best fortheir people and their Fatherland, who fought and were willing to die. You might just as well find us guilty a thousand times, but the goddessof the eternal court of history will smile and tear up the motions of thestates attorney and the judgment of this court: for she finds us notguilty. After Hitler gave this speech, the court was sympathetic towardshim, 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 hiscause shows that Hitler was a very skilled and efficient user ofpropaganda. Hitler even had his own minister of propaganda when hebecame leader of the Germany.

Having a minister of propaganda pretty much proves that Hitlerwas an avid user of propaganda, however, Joseph Stalin was not quite asblatantly obvious with his uses of propaganda. One example ofpropaganda Stalin used can be found in his speech to the FifteenthCongress in 1927. Here is an excerpt from this speech: Evidently, the opposition prefers to be outside the party. Well, let itbe outside the party. There is nothing terrible, or exceptional, orsurprising in the fact that they prefer to be outside the party, thatthey are cutting themselves off from the party. If you study the historyof our party, you will find that always, at certain serious turns takenby our party, a certain section of the old leaders fell out of the cartof the Bolshevik party and made room for newer members.

A turn is aserious thing, comrades. A turn is dangerous for those who do not sitfirmly in the party cart. Not everybody can keep his balance when a turnis made. You turn the cart – and on looking back, you find that someonehas fallen out.After Stalin said this, an immediate applause was heard. Stalinwas telling people what they wanted to hear and he used this speech tofurther his cause. This speech helped to further his cause by gainingsupport from the people, and by justifying why Trotsky was not thechoice for leader.

Stalin was also demonstrating with this speech thathe was the bandwagon and that he was taking people in the rightdirection.Everyone who became a supporter of him would be getting intothe right cart, and would be heading in the right direction; at leastwhat he believed to be the right direction.Hitler and Stalin did not limit themselves only to spokenpropaganda, but would use many forms of it. One form of propaganda thatthey used was through photographs. These photographs promoted theirnice personality. In these photos they would be depicted as being ahero. They would usually be helping poor families, or be holding a smallchild. It was through the use of these photos that they became appealingto the general public.

These photos would give one the idea that theyare caring, loving, and just completely concerned for the well-being ofthe people. The use of these photos was a big contributor to the successof both men.Since Hitler and Stalin were able to manipulate people with theirpropaganda, they could convince people of practically anything.

Thisshows that both of them were amoral.Both would do whatever theythought was necessary to further their cause, with no remorse about whatthey had done. In 1922 Lenin, the leader of the communist party, had astroke. Over time his condition got worse and he became less involved inthe party’s affairs. When Lenin died in January of 1924, it left two menin contention for the party’s leadership. These two men were JosephStalin and Leon Trotsky. The men had opposing ideas on how the partyshould be run.

Stalin was a more aggressive candidate, and therefore hadone of his supporters kill (murder) Trotsky. ( Having one of youropponents murdered also shows that you are amoral! ) This happened afterTrotsky was exiled, but while in exile Trotsky continued to preach worldrevolution. Stalin sent one of his agents to kill Trotsky, who was inexile in Mexico. Stalin felt that if he eliminated his only threat, itwould result in less opposition to his ideas. This assured Stalin fullcontrol over the communist party. Hitler was another example of an amoral person.

He demonstratedthis after he got into power with the holocaust; but he did notforeshadow his amorality much before he got into power. One incidence ofhis amorality was when he killed virtually all of his opposition. Thefirst major victim of the Nazis was the powerful German Trade Unionmovement. It was a possible breeding ground for Socialism and Communism,and therefore, was possible opposition to Hitler.

On May 2, 1933, manyTrade Union leaderswere arrested and literally beaten up. Their offices were looted andtheir funds and property seized. A Nazi-led “labour front” wasestablished to control the workers and ensure peace in the factories andworkshops. A week after the destruction of the Trade Unions, the SocialDemocratic Party suffered a similar fate; soon to be followed by theCommunists. All of their property, possessions, and funds were seizedand both parties were banned. The Center Party, which had supportedHitler in return for vague promises, collapsed in July of 1933, alongwith the few other parties still remaining. After Hitler becameChancellor, he passed a law that prohibited there being any other partyin Germany other than the Nazis. By doing all of these things, he gaveus a glimpse of what he was going to be like when he got into morepower.

With Hitler and Stalin being such amoral people, willing to dopractically anything, they would do whatever they could to benefit theircountries. Each of their countries had suffered great losses in WorldWar I and were still trying to recover when the men came into power. Restoring the power back to their countries was of great importance toboth men. After World War I, Russia had around 9,150,000 casualties andGermany had about 7,143,000 casualties. These losses were immense.

Stalin believed that if he forced industrialization upon Russia, it wouldhelp the country to rebuild. Collective farms were one of Stalin’splans. One of Stalins ideas about socialism and its spread andprotection is expressed in this excerpt from one of his speeches:Engel’s general formula about the destiny of the Socialist state ingeneral cannot be extended to the partial and specific case of thevictory of socialism in one country only, a country that is surrounded bya capitalist world, is subject to the menace of foreign military attack,cannot therefore abstract itself from the international situation, andmust have at its disposal a well-trained army, well-organized punitiveorgans, and a strong intelligence service.

Consequently, must have itsown state, strong enough to defend the conquests of Socialism fromforeign attack.This shows that Stalin’s aspiration was to make his countrystrong, 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 hadplans for Germanic unity and German living space. German unity meantthe gathering together of all Germans in Europe, one people into oneempire, ruled by one leader (Hitler, no less). This involved peopleliving in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Danzig, Memel and other isolatedpockets as well.

Germany did not have enough farmland to feed itspopulation or enough raw materials to supply its factories. New landsto the east would then have to be taken over. Hitler intended to destroythe power of France forever. He hoped to take Great Britain intopartnership 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 madetheir countries feared. They made their countries powerful. They madetheir countries strong once again; at least for a while. But most ofall, especially in Hitlers case, they both made names for themselves.