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Compare and contrast Hitler and Stalin roads to power.

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Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin were the most recognisable and known totalitarian leaders in Europe. They both had a great impact on the world’s history. Adolf Hitler was the Fuhrer of the III Reich and a leader of the Nazi Party – the NSDAP. He is to blame for the break out of the II World War and for the creation of an ideology which caused the holocaust and suffering of many nations. Stalin was a leader of the Soviet Union until 1953. He was the initiator of the Great Purges in 1937 and the collectivisation which have caused a huge amount of victims in his own country. They both were very cruel and strict leaders, however, it is not the target of investigation of this essay. The author would like to analyse and compare the roads of powers of both these tyrants.

First of all, it is necessary to consider the circumstances which enabled Stalin and Hitler to become important figures. In Russia it was the November Revolution in which the Bolsheviks under leadership of Lenin have seized the power. Later Stalin became very close to Lenin and he gained his trust. After Lenin’s death Stalin climbed on the career ladder and in 1929 he became the only ruler. Germany, defeated in the First World War, were transformed into a parliamentary democracy – the Weimar Republic. This, however, didn’t last long and in the beginning of 1930’s declined. It happened so because the President – Paul von Hindenburg – dismissed the governments very often and also between Germans there was growing support for more authoritarian government caused mainly by bad living conditions. Hitler and his party used it and won the elections and as a result Hitler became the chancellor on 30 January 1933.

The circumstances in which they took power can be said to be similar because either Hitler or Stalin have taken advantage of destabilisation of the state. The method of taking the power was, however, different – Stalin built his positions slowly and had to remove many contenders whereas Hitler’s road to power was much shorter and he fully became the only leader of Germany in 19 months. But how was he able to gain public support which enabled him to earn such a position ? Hitler joined the German Workers Party in 1919 and soon converted it into Nazi Party becoming its leader. This Party didn’t mean much then but in the beginning of 1930’s as a result of the radicalisation of the political views of the German society they became the most significant party in Reichstag. When Kurt von Schleicher, who was a chancellor failed to create a coalition he was replaced with Hitler by the President Hindenburg. Then by many wise political actions (like for example the Fire of Reichstag) the Nazi have won huge importance and on the 14th July banned any other parties and Germany became single party state. It can be said that the power was taken by the Nazis legimately because with use of democratic election, it is different later when they aimed at destroying the democratic system.

Stalin’s road to power looked differently because it started in a state which has already been authoritarian and he has already been involved in it. He didn’t have to win support of masses as Hitler did but had to eliminate his contenders and strengthen his position inside the party. In April 1922 he became the Secretary of the Communist Party. In that time this was, however, unwanted and not a very important post, however, it had a great influence on those who joined the Party – so Stalin could fill the Party with his supporters. After death of Lenin Stalin ruled the Party together with Zinoviev and Kamenev – the Party Centre, Stalin abandoned Trotsky’s idea of internaional revolution on favour of the ‘revolution in one country’. In 1929 Trotsky was exiled as a result of successful ‘triumvirate’ with Kamenev and Zinoview. After that , however, Stalin soon consolidated with Bukharin (right-wing) to remove them. After winning over the over the Left Stalin outmanoeuvred Bukharin, who was one of the victims of the Purges in 1937-38 which have removed the last opposition to Stalin.

Summarising, the roads to Power of both Hitler and Stalin were different. Hitler took the power as a result of appointment as a chancellor and having a solid base in his party – NSDAP which gained very big social support in the elections. Later he has strengthen his position quickly and became the leader. For Stalin it took more time because, despite his important position in the Party he had to remove his contenders, who were very strong and popular, and he managed to do it by very complicated political actions – such as changing the sides and outmanoeuvring the contenders. After gaining the unquestionable power they both ‘cleaned’ their surrounding by Great Purges in the USSR and the Night of Long Knives in the III Reich.


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