Hitler vs Stalin
A blog post about Hitler seems pretty light-hearted. A blog post about Stalin equally so. A blog post about Hitler AND Stalin? You might as well be at a stand up show right now.
You may be wondering where this post is going now, but worry not, I’m not going to attempt to defend either of them, they’re both evil men who inexplicably killed millions of people. No, I want to ask a question about the two of them and the perception of their respective political views. Hitler and Stalin, Fascism and Communism. The go-to evil dictator tends to be Hitler. That’s perfectly understandable as he’s probably the highest-profile historical dictator, having ideas of, essentially, world domination, as well as igniting the worst war in human history and executing one of the worst examples of genocide anywhere in the world. However, Stalin was at least equally as terrible, despite fighting on the Allies’ side in the war, he had the Gulags, on the same level as the concentration camps and carried out the genocide of De-Kulakisation in which he killed over 15 million Kulaks, more than twice the number of Jews Hitler is said to have killed. If you don’t know, the Kulaks were a race of more intelligent, more aspirational peasants in Russia.
It has also been argued that this atrocity was, in some ways, worse than the holocaust as Stalin was exterminating his own people whereas Hitler (and this is in no way a defence or justification) was targeting the people he believed were ‘Untermenschen’, that is, Sub-human, and therefore he believed that he was not killing people, but rather animals. Stalin held no such delusions, his was a case of hatred, no more. The question I wish to pose, is why is Hitler viewed as the worse of the two?
Could it be due to which side they were on in the Second World War? Stalin fought alongside Britain to thwart Hitler and his domestic actions are then almost entirely overlooked? Maybe it’s because Hitler seemed so desperate to conquer Europe whereas Stalin appeared more interested in domestic matters. I’d like to postulate an alternative theory. Fascism as a political concept includes racism, as well is inbuilt unequal distribution of wealth, an unattractive idea to the majority. Stalin was the leader of the communist party. In reality, Stalin’s Russia was far from a communist state, being a dictatorship loosely masquerading as communism. So far was it from Marx’s original idea that Stalin has been referred to as a ‘Red Tsar’ due to the striking similarities his regime had to the autocratic rule of the Tsars who had ruled Russia before the rise of communism in 1917.
Despite the fact that Stalin didn’t rule in a communist manner, communism as a concept can often seem almost idyllic. A place where everyone is equal, there’d be no poverty as wealth would be distributed equally amongst the population, and it’s a system meant to be instigated by the ‘proletariat’, the working classes, rather than the upper and middle classes. Better, right? Could it be that this simple difference is why we rank ‘Der Fuhrer’ as worse than Lenin’s successor?
Maybe there’s far less to it than that, Hitler was simply more directly involved with us, giving us a front-row view of his crimes against humanity whereas Stalin was over in Russia, helping us rather than attacking us and keeping his interests to his own country.
Then again, maybe it’s just because we’re told about Hitler earlier in our lives. That could be all there is to it.
Or it might be the moustaches.