Totalitarianism is when all three powers of the state (judicial, executive, and legislative) are controlled by one person. This is what happened in the twentieth century when Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin became the dictators of Germany and Russia. They were similar in many ways but had completely different fundamental ideas.
Hitler was born in 1889 in Austria . He left school with no qualifications and fought in the First World War. Stalin was born in 1879 in Georgia. His original name was Iosif Dzugashvili but he changed it to Stalin (which means “man of steel”). Both Hitler and Stalin had relatively low backgrounds.
Both Hitler and Stalin came to power in difficult times. After loosing the First World War, Germany was in dept. There had been a hyper-inflation and the Germans were eager for change. Russia on the other hand was in the middle of a revolution and communism was being installed. Both Hitler and Stalin were capable of using the current economical situation to help them to power; promising everything the Germans and Russians wanted. Unlike Stalin, Hitler was very good at making speeches but they were both devious and ruthless leaders.
Neither Hitler or Stalin believed in democracy but they still had very different beliefs. Stalin was a member of the Russian Communist Party. He thought that a country could only progress under this regime where everything belongs to everyone and there are supposedly no rich and no poor; everyone is equal. Hitler was fascist: he believed that all Jews, homosexuals, mentally ill and gypsies should be killed and only the Aryan race should live (white Europeans who had blond hair and blue eyes). Hitler also wanted to destroy the communist party and rebuild his army to expand Germany. Both leaders wanted to rebuild their country and make it more powerful.
Hitler and Stalin both used terror to keep people in line. They had a large secret police that they would use to crush any opposition. In both countries people and children were encouraged to report on one another. People who criticized or opposed Hitler or Stalin were arrested tortured and killed or sent to gulags (in Russia) or concentration camps (in Germany) where they did forced labor. Gulags were often situated in Siberia and the prisoners were badly fed and dressed and not payed. Hitler and Stalin would not hesitate to kill or exile any political opponents or people seen as threats within or without of their party. Both dictators banned all other political parties.
Hitler and Stalin were both able to control what the population though and what information it received. They controlled the cinema, education, arts, the media (newspapers and radio)… They also controlled religion; in Russia belief in God was replaced by belief in communism and Stalin. Propaganda played a big roll in both their dictatorships. In Russia, paintings, films, plays and posters gave a positive image of Stalin, promoting him as the best leader. In Germany, propaganda was used to show that the Nazis were doing the best things for the Germans. Propaganda always exaggerated and promoted Nazi achievements and ideas. In both cases failures were hidden from the public.
Both Hitler and Stalin changed life a lot for the people of their countries. They created a lot of jobs but the workers were very badly paid and worked for long hours. Stalin created jobs in the industry and farming and Hitler in the military and infrastructure. Stalin believed that women should work too and in 1937, forty percent of workers were women. Hitler on the other hand believed that women were to stay at home and take care of the children. When Hitler came to power he sacked most women that were already working. In both cases their were very few women in politics. Children were taught that Hitler/Stalin were heroes. Schools were used to promote communism and fascism. Girls were taught baking and childcare. Outside of school children were encouraged to join the Hitler Youth (in Germany) and the Pioneers (in Russia). Boys were shaped to become industrial workers or soldiers and girls to raise and take care of a family.
Under both Hitler and Stalin’s dictatorships the lives of the Germans and Russians were changed a lot. They both controlled what information got to the people and used terror to maintain order. They were also both able to use to their advantage many things like the economical crises. Though both rulers had different goals they had similar means to achieve them.
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