Hitler y Stalin

Historia Universal. Orígenes ideológicos. Régimen dictatorial. Fascismo. Comunismo. Dictadores # Repression. Dictators. Leaders. Political. Russian. Germany. Nazy. Ideology. Soviet

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According to Cambridge dictionary, repression means: `when people are controlled severely, especially by force' and power is: `the amount of political control a person or group has in a country'. According to these meanings this essay is going to show some aspects of how Hitler and Stalinist dictatorships applied them in their respective countries. We will see how their political ideology already implied it if they wanted them to work. Throughout the work I will show how repression, manipulation, terror or abuse of power was used in all structures which compound Hitler's and Stalin's. Those spheres I have talked about are, their ideologies, their domestic and foreign policies, the different institutions such as, security forces, culture, education or propaganda and mass media, and finally I will widelly show the extreme cases which were decisive points of their terrorist policies. Finally a conclussion with a personal opinion about the topic.

Hitler and Stalin's dictatorships are famous because of their repressive and terror policies towards Germany and USSR society respectively, they persecuted mainly people who belonged to the opposition - which is the case of both dictatorships- or to those they belonged to an “inferior” ethnicity -the case of the Nazis. So the matters I am going to talk about here are: how did they carry out these brutal actions.

Starting with their ideology, from the moment Hitler achieved power in spring 1933 he quickly restricted democratic rights such as the autonomous workers' organizations where Germany's trade union leaders were arrested and instead they created the only union organization allowed in Nazi Germany, the German Labour Front (DAF) or Hitler also created in the same year the “Law Against the Formation of New Parties” through which legal opposition was eliminated, so Nazi party would become the only one of the German State and Hitler would name himself Führer and Reich Chancellor, this is to say, the main power of the State. The policy which Hitler claimed did not hide the radical rejection towards Jews, Bolsheviks, the hated Treaty of Versailles, the announced aggressive foreign policy and he also promised reduction of unemployment by rearmament (production of tanks, explosives, ships and so on).

Maybe Stalin's ideological policy did not seem to be -in theory- as clearly aggressive as that of Hitler. Stalin's perspectives to Communist USSR, was transforming and modernizing the society in interest of the people -but imposing his rules-, turning “backward, agrarian and bourgeois Russia into a socialist, urbanized, industrialized giant with modern technology and a literate workforce”. Despite the fact that Soviet Communists did not include in their ideology the leader principle, Stalin behaved in practice like that, like a paternalist figure towards Soviet population.

So what we can see from Hitler and Stalin's ideologies is that those points they are going to have in common are on the one hand that they would become the main figure of power of their regimes, also their policy of discrimination to certain social groups and finally their ambition of improving their countries sometimes using hard policies towards their people.

Policy of terror in both dictatorships started from the very beginning. After the death of President Hinderburg in 1934, Hitler, who was already Chancellor, took personal command of the armed forces and named himself Führer and Reich Chancellor (as it was said before), in that way he would concentrate the main political power in his hands. In the same year, he replaced the SA -the former army of Nazis which played an essential role to Nazi's achievement of power- by SS -an elite under control of the SA which behaved as bodyguard and party's police- in a violent act which lasted 3 days called “Night of the Long knives”, because Hitler thought they could be a potential enemy towards the party. Hitler legalized this action through a law which stated that these acts were justifiable in order to defend the country.

Laws like this were created so thus Nazi leaders were able to make most extreme outrages towards certain sectors of the population when they thought necessary and for attracting the Führer's attention, who each time cared less about the domestic policy. To join together all these people who did not belong to Nazi party, they already created concentration camps from the same 1933 onwards -firstly for political opponents, later would join those who did not belonged to the Aryan race- across the whole Germany and later on the occupied countries.

So we find that the policy of repression and abuse of power in the name of their ideology existed from the very beginning.

In the case of USSR, when Lenin died and Stalin got the power in 1927, party membership was important to advance in Soviet Russia. Admittance was not easy, each member was hardly investigated to see if he or she was a good Communist, also workers and poor peasants were favoured, and however something that was quite harder for office workers and professionals.

Leaders of the left opposition were also expelled of the party, so right opposition were scared as they thought things would be worst for them, and then this last group weakened. And if that small opposition, which remained, did any meeting, was hardly punished as Party considered that they were having “anti-Soviet discussions”.

Another repressive point was that before 1920's there used to be political debates about Marxism in Soviet Union, but from the moment Stalin got the power any critical political theory and ideas against the regime became dangerous, even for the selfsame Communists.

There were also concentration camps for these people, the Gulags, and also people who was not wanted in the Soviet USSR was expelled from their houses or deported to Russian North areas.

So from the moment Hitler and Stalin started to rule, they both begun to eliminate those people they thought a danger to their regimes and as we can see, they carried out a policy of discrimination where use of force and intimidation was guaranteed.

The economic policy that Hitler used in the new German was the rearmament, in that way he will raise employment and at the same time he would prepared Aryan Germans to the occupation of other European countries, this is what Hitler would call the conquest of Lebensraum (living-space), the second important point of his economic policy was autarchy, which implied the setting on the other countries because Germany did not have the necessary resources to maintain the different aspects of its economy.

On the other hand opponents and those race considered inferior were not included in Hitler's Germany, so concentration camps, in charge of Himmler - Chief of the SS-, would became an important part of the domestic and international structures, as there was plenty of people to distribute among them. These prisoners were used as labour forces, working long hours under inhumane conditions with very little food, and violence and tortures were used against them.

Stalin also “had to” use repressive policies towards society if he wanted his ideological and economic ambitions to work.

He started with forced industrialization and collectivization of lands, peasants were forced to it and those who offered resistance were denounced as `kulaks' -5 million were deported to concentration camps (the `gulags') of east and north ragions or were killed-. The same fate had those who critized this policy such as union leaders who tried to (in words of Paul Hayes) `give voice to workers' resentment' or non-party intellectuals who were considered as (according to Hayes) ``bourgeois' elements in every academic, professional and educational field'. Respecting the programme of industrialization, 19 million peasants migrated to cities in about 13 years.

Similarities and differences we find in both dictatorships respecting repression in their domestic policy are the compulsary service of the population to serve the regimes aims and as it was obligatory the consequent creation of concentration camps and `Gulags' for those who dare to resist or those who were considered not to belong to the regimes; Jews and Slav in the case of Germany and kulaks and burgeoisie in the case of USSR. Both tried to eliminate these people for ideological reasons, Hitler did it mainly because of racial prejudicies and Stalin because his ideological policies implied this elimination, though Hitler's reasons also imply his ideology.

Respecting the international policy, what they sought on these lands was (in Fulbrook's words) a “self-sufficient war economy sustained by territorial expansion and exploitation of the raw materials and labour of conquered territories”. They started in 1937, when they were already rearmed. Some countries were considered as close Aryan cousins, these were Danish, Norwegian, Dutchman and Flemish but most of these people did not feel comfortable with Nazi policies. Farmers and merchants followed Nazis rules without any sympathies towards them, feeling frightful of any punishment. The kings of Norway and Denmark tried to support morally their people, including Jews, for example wearing the yellow star - which was compulsory for Jews- in an act of solidarity. Holland, despite the fact of being one of the privileged countries, also was against the Nazi anti-Semitism, finally it was also compulsory for Dutch Jews wearing the distinctive yellow star. In the case of Belgium people -mainly king Leopold III, elite, the Church and civil servants- they adapted to the invaders without offering too much resistance especially because they did not want to suffer again the outrages of the First World War.

The case of France was different from that of the countries Northern countries and the Slaves ones. It remained divided in two parts, one of them occupied by Germans and the other one remained French. Some French movements supported the German invasion; the main reasons were - in words of Gabriel Jackson- `the sometimes enthusiastic, sometimes masochistic acceptance of the defeat and efforts purely opportunistic to obtain a small piece of power and personal favours of the winners'. Anyway French peasants and civil officers had to obey also German commands.

Finally the Slav countries were looked down on by Nazis, so when they achieved countries such as Poland or Hungary, they despised them, they confiscated those necessary resources and food needed. A lot of people became prisoners and brought to concentration camps leaving them dying, but then Nazis realized they needed a labour force to maintain those territories, so native people were used for that purpose.

The same as Nazy Germany, also USSR got a great empire. When Stalin got the power Russia already had many territories annexed from Europe and from Asia inherited, after the Revolution and civil war, from Romanov empire. On the economical and political level, main administrator territories were those from Russian ethnicity; but we have to take into account that the original Soviet regime had an internationalist and non-racist ideology - despite of the fact that there was a certain degree of hiden anti-Semitism.

Stalin's government added in 1940 the Baltic states. During the last phases of the Second World War, the Red Army occupied Albania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania and Bulgaria which would become satelite states, economically subdued to URSS . According to Yalta's treaty in 1945, those countries had to choose their new governments in free elections where all non-fascist parties -as these countries belonged to Nazi Germany- had the right of participating. But few years later Stalin stablished the most strict ideology and police control. For example demobilized soldiers might be sent to the gulags for telling admiring comments of things that they had seen at the `liberated' Europe. (Gabriel Jackson)

Stalin's policy was that of puting dictatorships which governements were just disguised Soviet entities, and presidents, rulers chosen from the Kremlin and which were nucleated at the Kominform -information office of Communist parties.

So people, for instance from East Germany, just had the choice of accepting the new Soviet regime or leaving the country. At Soviet Germany, secret police controlled -as at the other Soviet countries- any expression of opinions, emigrants lost their properties (as in Nazi times) and authority was imposed everywhere.

The other satelites countries also were mainly dependent from Russian orders, some of them with more or less repressive distators. Hungary was one of those countries which had a severe dictatorship, where all the explotation rules and purge of any trade union member who tried to keep the least independence, were extrictly imposed.

We see here how similar policies were applied in both dictatorships, with an important role of security forces in both countries and the policy of discrimination again used. Thus any dictatorship where terror policy is used, security and intelligence service role are very important.

This was the case of Hitler's Germany. The main security forces were the SS, headed by Himmler and the Gestapo, an important figure in Nazi Germany, he even became State Ministry of the Interior. He was allowed to arrest, detain, imprison, torture and murder arbitrarily. So fear of arresting, and fear of informers, led to public conformity and the leading of a double life for many Germans.

Soviet case was not very different. On a way Soviet forces were also arbitrary choosing their victims because they forced people to state things they have never done. Russian Secret police, the KGB and the CHEKA, as German SS and Gestapo played a decesive role in internal and external policies of their own countries to make each countries policies work in people. For example Himler was the one who stablished the main concentration camp in Dachau. In both dictatorships they were who killed, torture and so on, party dissedents, which were their main victims for Soviets, and especially Jews which were Nazis main aims. They did the role of intimidate people and keep their countries `clean' of those who were considered a danger or they were not seen as members of their regimes.

Science, culture and education also reflected these oppresive regimes. At Nazi Germany, means of communication, propaganda and culture were controlled from Goebbels' Ministry of Propaganda and Enlightenment, created in 1933. In this way a lot of acts of repression started, burning of mainly Jews and socialists books, with the subsequent emigration of many authors, thus cultural life in Nazy German was reduced to `German art', which was a kind of realism in painting and grandiose scheme in architecture; films were used as an effective means of propaganda, many times glorifying the Führer, showing adulation of population and celebrating what the nation had got thanks to the `national awakening' but also showing anti-Semitism; press was also controlled by Nazis, they controlled editors, journalists, applying censorship when they thought necessary, it was quite similar with radio.

At the Soviet Union also all these institutions were hardly controlled and manipulated. When Stalin's dictatorship was consolidated, wisest and older artists changed from expressionism or constructivism style to the conventional oil portrait of party leaders and exemplary peasants and workers. Soviet films used to show shining, healthy, smiling peasant and factories girls and both sex workers did not wandered anymore but their went happily towards future. Politics was also a main issue in films, as in Nazi German, and also experienced censorship, for example, director Prokóviev showed the heroic Moscow's salvation in XIII century against an invasion of Teutonic knights; this film, won the Lenin Prize in 1939 and was removed some months later, when the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed the non-agression treaty. This also an example the dictatorship controversies. Manipu

So we can see often, in propaganda of both dictatorships the glorification of their leaders, also, common people was represented as happy, healthy (as I said before), proud of that country or regime to which they belonged.

They both liked to show their strong soldiers, as preapared phisically, morally and ideologically prepared to fight the enemy. Here these two popaganda pictures show these feelings:

Education was also manipulized by both regimes. There was a purge of teachers from schools and universities who were replaced for those who did not belong to the main race in the case of Germany and to those who had diferent political views, this is the case of both regimes. Many important academics were forced to leave, for instance, Albert Einstein, from Germany. Subjects such history, biology or German were changed to Nazi point of views, and a new subject was added called Rassenkunde where Nazi point of views about heredity and racial purity were shown. Also a new subject was added at the Soviet Union, social science were replaced by instruction in Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism, a subject which became compulsory for all pupils. By means of these subjects, regimes ideology could be stablished on their future generations.

Science was a subject and institution where many outrages were made in the name of the ideological regime. Nazi main manipulation of science and that in which they based their main regime principle was that of `Evolution of species' by scientific Darwin, Nazi used his ideas applicated to races (despite the fact they were not the only ones who used these theories, also Western colonialist based on them), so for them the main race was the Aryan, the more evolutionated from human being, and the worst were Jews. As a consequence of these ideas, as they were not even considered human beings, most horrifying scientific experiments were done using this poor people as Guinea-pigs.

Stalinist regime also adapted science to its ideological interest. For example at psychological and psychiatric field. The Pavlov's theory about the dog which consisted in that the animal was conditioned to salivate not when it was hungry but when a bell was rung, and systematically starved men and women were likewise conditioned to behave inhumanly in the hope of being fed. So in 1928, Stalin told Pavlov to write a tour hundred book about how to control human being through nerves. Which was an inconsistent theory because human beings have a more complex psyche. Even Soviets also where able to consider politic dissident as mental sick people and these people were sent to mental hospitals.

One reason why many times scientific theories were manipulated was to give an authority to their inconsistent or non realistic ideologies.

German concentration camps and Soviet gulags were often where scientific atrocietes were carried out, or where supposed inneficient mental people were deported to.

In each regime there was a terrifying climax related to use of terror and repression, having as most significant places these concentration camps and gulags. These outrages happened for different reasons in each one, but the results were very similar, these results were mass deportations and millions of innocent people killed. The German case was the Holocaust or Final Solution and the Soviet case was the Stalin purges.

As I said before, Jews were the most hated race by Nazi, but there were also another victims such as Slaves, homosexuals or hereditarily deseased. Despite the fact that, persecution and deportation had already begun from 1934; but till 1941 concentration camps had not the primary intention of killing prisoners, besides euthanasia programme started oficially in 1939. Deportations en masse started to Sachsenhausen, Buchewald and Dacha. Their leaders thought carefully a more radical and definitive solution about the `Jewish problem'. From then systematic slaughters of Jews started, included thousands of children, at Estern Europan countries... In order to make easy the death of thousands of human beings, the RHSA organized trucks, which used to be to transport mental deseased. These trucks were totally closed and they gave off carbon monoxide inside. In this way, thousands of deported Jews were killed from Chelmno camp. But this method was quite expensive, so SS leaders thought about another cheaper method. Thus they decided to use the Cyclon B gas, first concentration camp where it was used was in Belzec, and then it would extend to the rest. The Wansse conference in January 1942 planned the acceleration of the `Jewish problem' in Europe. Like this, six million Jews died from 1941 to 1944.

With Stalin purges, also millions of people died. `In the summer of 1932 Joseph Stalin became aware that opposition to his policies were growing. Some party members were publicly criticizing Stalin and calling for the readmission of Leon Trotsky to the party. When the issue was discussed at the Politburo, Stalin demanded that the critics should be arrested and executed. Sergey Kirov, who up to this time had been a staunch Stalinist, argued against this policy. When the vote was taken, the majority of the Politburo supported Kirov against Stalin.

In the spring of 1934 Sergey Kirov put forward a policy of reconciliation. He argued that people should be released from prison who had opposed the government's policy on collective farms and industrialization. Once again, Stalin found himself in a minority in the Politburo.

After years of arranging for the removal of his opponents from the party, Joseph Stalin realized he still could not rely on the total support of the people whom he had replaced them with. Stalin no doubt began to wonder if Sergey Kirov was willing to wait for his mentor to die before becoming leader of the party. Stalin was particularly concerned by Kirov's willingness to argue with him in public. He feared that this would undermine his authority in the party.

As usual, that summer Kirov and Stalin went on holiday together. Stalin, who treated Kirov like a son, used this opportunity to try to persuade him to remain loyal to his leadership. Stalin asked him to leave Leningrad to join him in Moscow. Stalin wanted Kirov in a place where he could keep a close eye on him. When Kirov refused, Stalin knew he had lost control over his protégé.

Sergey Kirov was assassinated by a young party member, Leonid Nikolayev, on 1st December, 1934. Stalin claimed that Nikolayev was part of a larger conspiracy led by Leon Trotsky against the Soviet government. This resulted in the arrest and trial in August, 1936, of Lev Kamenev, Gregory Zinoviev, Ivan Smirnov and thirteen other party members who had been critical of Stalin. All were found guilty and executed.

In September, 1936, appointed Nikolai Yezhov as head of the NKVD, the Communist Secret Police. Yezhov quickly arranged the arrest of all the leading political figures in the Soviet Union who were critical of Stalin. The Secret Police broke prisoners down by intense interrogation. This included the threat to arrest and to execute members of the prisoner's family if they did not confess. The interrogation went on for several days and nights and eventually they became so exhausted and disoriented that they signed confessions agreeing that they had been attempting to overthrow the government.

In January, 1937, Karl Radek and sixteen other leading members of the Communist Party were put on trial. They were accused of working with Leon Trotsky in an attempt to overthrow the Soviet government with the objective of restoring capitalism. Thirteen of the accused were found guilty and sentenced to death. Radek and two others were sentenced to ten years.

The next trial in March, 1938, involved twenty-one leading members of the party. This included Nickolai Bukharin, Alexei Rykov, Genrikh Yagoda, Nikolai Krestinsky and Christian Rakovsky. They were accused of being involved with Leon Trotsky in a plot against Joseph Stalin and with spying for foreign powers. They were all found guilty and were either executed or died in labour camps.

Stalin now decided to purge the Red Army. Leopold Trepper, head of the Soviet spy ring in Germany, believed that the evidence was planted by a double agent who worked for both Stalin and Hitler. Trepper's theory is that the "chiefs of Nazi counter-espionage" led by Reinhard Heydrich, took "advantage of the paranoia raging in the Soviet Union," by supplying information that led to Stalin executing his top military leaders.

In June, 1937, Mikhail Tukhachevsky and seven other top Red Army commanders were charged with conspiracy with Germany. All eight were convicted and executed. All told, 30,000 members of the armed forces were executed. This included fifty per cent of all army officers.

The last stage of the terror was the purging of the NKVD. Stalin wanted to make sure that those who knew too much about the purges would also be killed. Stalin announced to the country that "fascist elements" had taken over the security forces which had resulted in innocent people being executed. He appointed Lavrenti Beria as the new head of the Secret Police and he was instructed to find out who was responsible. After his investigations, Beria arranged the executions of all the senior figures in the organization.'

The results of these purges were that about 8 million people were executed or imprisoned in Gulags, where many of them would die because of the bad conditions of those places.

Similarities about these two great persecutions and executions are abviously death, we could say a lack of any moral or ethics towards human being, despite the fact that we can take out from these cold actions, that these people was not seen, by the executers eyes, as human beings.

Referring to the different motives which why these dictators executed these actions. We would say that that of Hitler was his personal hate towards Jewish culture, this is to say, subject reasons, I think that was also a kind of fear towards a Community of people who was able to develop efficiently economically with very little things. Stalin's main motives were basically founded because as he behaved as a totalitarian leader, where even party's ideology could not be questioned, this brought as a consecuence, a lot of hate again him. He perceived and just decided to destroy any possible opposition or little criticism.

In relation of the use of terror policies of these dictators, there were not real motives to carry them out, only or mainly personal reasons lead them to do those outrages, that repression, death and so on. I think there were only personal ambitions, as becoming well-known in history books, as the one who acchieved a great empire at the expense of enslaved population, because not only Jews or kulaks were victims, but also `accepted' Germans and Soviets suffered the humiliations by parties sectors such as the secret police and the treatment as only instruments, in order to rise just a personal empire.



Cambridge Dictionary Online: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/define.asp?key=62015&dict=CALD

Sheila Fitzpatrick, Everyday Stalinism, Oxford, 1999, p. 15

Mary Fulbrook, History of Germany 1918-2000 The Divided Nation, Second edition, Ed. Blackwell Publishing, 2002

Paul Hayes ed., Themes in Modern European History 1890-1945 General editor: Michael Biddiss, University of Reading, 1992, p.162

Class photocopies Soviet Union, 1917-1953

Mary Fulbrook, History of Germany 1918-2000 The Divided Nation, Second edition, Ed. Blackwell Publishing, 2002, p. 67

Gabriel Jackson (Spanish translation by Carmen Aguilar), Civilización y barbarie en la Europa del siglo XX ( Original titol:Civilization and Barbarity in 20th Europe), 1997, p.260

Gabriel Jackson (Spanish translation by Carmen Aguilar), Civilización y barbarie en la Europa del siglo XX ( Original titol:Civilization and Barbarity in 20th Europe), 1997, p. 390

Mary Fulbrook, History of Germany 1918-2000 The Divided Nation, Second edition, Ed. Blackwell Publishing, 2002, p. 60

Mary Fulbrook, History of Germany 1918-2000 The Divided Nation, Second edition, Ed. Blackwell Publishing, 2002, p. 62-63

Pavlov's psychology http://freedom.lronhubbard.org.mx/page102.htm

Mary Fulbrook, History of Germany 1918-2000 The Divided Nation, Second edition, Ed. Blackwell Publishing, 2002, p. 88

Abstract from an article about The `Final Solution': http://www.artehistoria.com/frames.htm?http://www.artehistoria.com/batallas/contextos/4246.htm

Stalin's Terror: http://www.johndclare.net/Russ12.htm

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