Compare and Contrast the rise to power of Hitler and Lenin

Authors Avatar

Compare and contrast the Rise to Power of Hitler and Lenin

The regimes of Hitler and Lenin were both products of war. For Hitler the war gave his life purpose, and the defeat and the Treaty gave him a grudge. The army, which shared his feelings, gave him the work which led to his joining the Nazi party, and got him out of his little problem after the Munich putsch. For Lenin the War was the last convulsion of imperialism, and though he did not predict the combination of circumstances which provoked the February Revolution, these circumstances were indeed exactly the kind of thing which his analysis of imperialist war would have involved (shortages, casualties etc). Ironically Lenin, like Hitler, owed much to the German army, whose intelligence department brought him to St Petersburg on the famous sealed train.  The Bolshevik USP was Peace, the Nazis were supported for promising to revise a Peace.

On the face of it Hitler and Lenin were impelled by precisely opposite ideas. Adapting Low’s famous cartoon Lenin was to Hitler ‘the scum of the earth’ and Hitler to Lenin ‘the bloody assassin of the workers’. Closer inspection reveals similarities between Socialism as Lenin saw it and National Socialism as Hitler did: both were authoritarian, aggressive and contemptuous of cherished progressive ideals such as democracy, liberty, equality, and universal natural rights. Fraternity for Hitler excluded non Aryans, and for Lenin the bourgeoisie. The first instinct of both was for direct action, but the ‘Moscow putsch’ was more successful than the Munich one, so Lenin never had to go through a long democratic agony like Hitler’s prior to 1934. (Instead he went through a short charade of supporting the Constituent Assembly). Not many Russians had seen Lenin’s ideas in print before 1917, whereas ‘Mein Kampf’ was a best seller long before Hitler became Chancellor. For this reason, though we can contrast Lenin’s advocacy of international brotherhood, with Hitler’s nationalism and anti-semitism, such ideas publicly-stated played a much less important role in Lenin’s rise than Hitler’s. On the other hand profound study of Marxism was a marked feature of Lenin’s career and a reason for his supremacy among the Bolsheviks, whereas Hitler had spent more time in doss-houses and trenches than in libraries.

Join now!

Economic dislocation was a crucial factor in the rise of both men. For Hitler the post-war difficulties culminating in the hyper-inflation, and then the effects of the Slump were powerful influences, and for Lenin the Bread crisis of February and the question of landownership were equally important in winning support pre-November.  Hitler won support on a programme of job creation, which he sincerely implemented (partly by removing the Jewish placeholders); Lenin promised all land to the peasants, which was the opposite of his real intentions. Hitler took care to have the owners of the means of production and exchange (Thyssen, ...

This is a preview of the whole essay