Josef Stalin, a politician from the earliest beginnings of his life, strove to achieve a national sense of power during his reign over the citizens of Russia. Adolf Hitler, however, a born high school dropout somewhat longed for a place in life. He rather fell into his role as a politician, after his brief shortcomings in arts and sciences. These two individuals developed varying ideas to put their controlling minds to work to lead their political parties in the direction of total domination of the state. In the beginning Josef Stalin was a worshiper of his beloved Vladimir Lenin.
He followed his every move and did as he said to help establish and lead the Bolshevik party. Much of the early part of his political career was lost due to his exile to Siberia for most of World War I. It wasnt until 1928, when he assumed complete control of the country were he made most of his success. After Lenins death in January 1924, Stalin promoted his own cult followings along with the cult followings of the deceased leader. He took over the majority of the Socialists now, and immediately began to change agriculture and industry.
He believed that the Soviet Union was one hundred years behind the West and had to catch up as quickly as possible. First though he had to seal up complete alliance to himself and his cause. Stalin saw a need to sure up the allegiance to him by all who were under him. Therefore, he needed to fight out against those who opposed him. So for the rest of 1924, the Politburo continued to argue about the future of the Soviet economy. The fiercest argument was between Stalin and Trotsky over Trotsky’s theory of permanent Revolution. Trotsky thought that Communism could not survive in the USSR alone.
He argued that the capitalist countries of the West feared Communism and would try to destroy it. For this reason, he said, it was necessary to spread Communism to the countries of Western Europe and to their overseas colonies. This would be done by giving help to revolutionary groups and parties in Western Europe. Stalin put forward an opposite theory – the theory of Socialism in One Country. He argued that the USSR must always come first in the government’s plans. The rest of the world must take second place. The Communists should concentrate on building up the economy of the USSR, not waste money on helping revolutionary groups abroad.
With a strong, modern, and prosperous economy, the capitalist countries would never dare to attack the USSR. Trotsky’s theory was not popular among Party members. The Russians had set up an organization to help revolutionaries in other countries back in 1919. Its name was Comintern, short for Communist International. Comintern had already backed several attempts at revolution in European countries over the past five years, and all had failed. Trotsky’s theory therefore looked unworkable. Faced with mounting criticism from Party members, he resigned from his government post as Commissar for War in 1925.
During his argument with Trotsky, Stalin joined forces with the Rightists: Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky; who wanted to continue Lenin’s New Economic Policy. Stalin joined them not because he agreed with NEP, but because he hoped they would help him to drive Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev out of the Politburo. Sure enough, with the help of the Rightists, Stalin made sure that Trotsky was always voted down in the Politburo. He also arranged for his supporters to vote against Trotsky in meetings of the Party Central Committee. He even saw to it that his supporters booed Trotsky’s supporters in public meetings.
At the end of 1925 Stalin’s position was strengthened when the Party Congress elected three of his old friends to the Politburo. With their help, Stalin was able to secure the dismissal of Trotsky, Kamenev and Zinoviev from the Politburo. In 1927, Trotsky and Zinoviev were also expelled from the Party. Now that Stalin had gotten rid of Trotsky and his supporters, he turned against the Rightists who wanted to continue with NEP. In 1928, Stalin argued in favor of ending NEP, and expanding industry as fast as possible. Bukharin and the Rightists tried to argue against him.
But now that Stalin had a majority of supporters in the Politburo, their arguments fell on deaf ears. At the start of 1929, Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky resigned from the Politburo. Meanwhile, in 1928, Trotsky had been deported to Alma Ata in Soviet Central Asia. In 1929, he was exiled from the USSR all together. Stalin was now supreme leader of the USSR. Trotsky, however, had not heard the last of the argument, for Stalin was determined to wipe him out of political life all together. While Trotsky went to live in Turkey, and then in France and finally in Mexico, Stalin made sure that all traces of his life in the USSR were wiped out.
Trotsky’s name was removed from all official publications and photographs of him were destroyed. As we shall see, his supporters in the USSR were purged from the Party and, in many cases, imprisoned or killed. Finally, in 1940, the NKVD, the secret police, arranged for Trotsky to be murdered. Posing as a supporter of Trotsky, one of their agents talked his way into Trotsky’s heavily guarded house, pulled out an ice-axe from beneath his coat and buried its point in Trotsky’s skull. Trotsky died of his wounds a day later, on 21 August 1940.
As Stalin fought to assure a sound political foundation, he was very interested in turning around the economy to make Russia a world economic power. His first agenda was to instill his first five-year plan. The Soviet economy at the time was concentrated in agriculture. Stalin believed that Russia had to modernize and become more industrialized. He believed that this could only be achieved by creating a command economy and forcing farmers and the industry to modernize. Stalin set high goals for the industry and by the second year of his plan he had a growth rate of 50%. Collectivization was also part of his plan.
This was an attempt to modernize the industry by taking over all firms and businesses. Each business or factory was given a target that it had to meet every year for a five-year period. Punishment for failing to meet objectives was brutal, and the extreme extent was the execution of the factory managers. One of the major results of the five-year plans was the impressive industrial and agricultural development throughout Russia. Adolf Hitler, started out in a different setting than his power hungry counterpart Josef Stalin. Hitler was born in a completely different country than which he choose to command power in.
Since there are strong similar ties in bloodlines between Austrians and Germans, Hitlers father had a few relatives who were of German decent. He spent most of his early childhood failing out of grammar school and dreaming to become a famous artist. Upon his mothers death he officially moved to Vienna, where he tried to attend the Academy for the Arts. His portfolio was not up to the standards of the Academy for him to be admitted as a student; so for much of the remainder of his time in Vienna, Hitler sold his paintings and attended shows and concerts as a member of the middle class would.
He put up this front living off of the pension from his father to support his costly lifestyle as a fraud. Adolf Hitler later moved to Munich and after a brief attempt to flee from the drafted service into the Austrian army, Hitler joined the German army to fight on the front line in World War I. He was a communications headquarter runner on the eastern front of the German side for most of the war before being discharged and sent home due to injury in the line of duty. After being discharged from the hospital, Hitler was determined to take up a political role in order to destroy the peace settlement that he denounced as intolerable.
Like many Germans, Hitler was shocked and dismayed by Germany’s defeat in the First World War. By chance, he attended a meeting of a newly formed political party in Munich in 1919. He decided to join, and within a short time, he had gotten rid of the original leaders and begun to shape the party in ways that reflected his own ideas. The party was the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. It was a ‘nationalist’ party in that it wanted Germany to recover the power and prestige that it had lost as a result of its defeat in the First World War.
It was ‘Socialist’ in that it attacked the rich in a number of ways, for example, demanding the abolition of unearned income such as profits from stocks and shares. The combination of nationalism and a kind of ‘Socialism’ was unusual. It was one that Hitler hoped would win much support from ordinary Germans. The importance of the Nazi Party at this time should not be exaggerated. It was only one of many small parties that sprung up during those years in Munich. However, it was a force to be reckoned with. Hitler proved to be an excellent orator capable of arousing great enthusiasm in an udience. With uniforms, marching songs, cheerleaders and the changing of slogans, Nazi meetings were carefully planned to rouse people to frenzy.
Hitler also formed a section of the party known as the Sturmabtellung, or storm troopers. Their job was to deal with hecklers at Nazi meetings as well as to break up the meetings of Hitler’s political opponents. The wave of discontent arising out of the French occupation of the Ruhr in 1923 led Hitler to feel that the time had come for him to try to seize power in Bavaria, as a first step to taking over control of the government in Berlin.
The Nazi beerhall putsch (so named because it was in a Munich beer cellar that Hitler announced the formation of his new government of National Revolution) was a fiasco. When Nazi brown shirts marched on the center of Munich, loyal troops opened fire. Sixteen Nazis were killed and many of their leaders, including Hitler, taken prisoner. Hitler however, turned this failure to his advantage. His trial, which was reported throughout Germany, gave him the opportunity to make known his views to a much wider audience. He received the most lenient sentence possible: five years in prison.
In fact, he only served nine months of the sentence, in conditions of considerable comfort. In prison he found the time to write the account of his political views known as Mein Kampf, (My Struggle), this book became the ‘bible’ of the Nazi Party. The Nazis failed to increase their support in elections during the prosperous years 1924-29. This period, however, saw many developments in the organization of the Party: the creation of party units in northern Germany, the formation of a Hitler youth movement, the establishment of a Nazi trade union known as the German Labor Front, the holding of mpressive annual party rallies. Hitler had realized that it had been a mistake to try to seize power by force. Such actions only lost the sympathy of groups such as the army and the middle classes whose support he was hoping to attract. In 1929, Hitler joined forces with the conservative National Party in a campaign against the Young Plan. This helped the Nazis appear more respectable. At the same time it brought Hitler into contact with some of Germany’s leading industrialists, from whom the Nazi Party was soon to receive a great deal of financial support.
On the evening that Hitler was appointed Chancellor in January 1933, huge crowds filed past the Chancellery building in Berlin. Carrying lighted torches and shouting ‘Heil, Heil, Sleg Heil’ ,the hundreds of thousands of them marched until the early hours of the morning. Hitler, standing on the balcony taking the salute, must have felt that the hour for which he had been waiting for so many years had at last come. That same evening many other Berliners stayed in their homes, depressed, anxious and frightened about the future. Hitler had come to power with the support of the President, the army and many conservative politicians.
They all hoped to be able to use him for their own purposes. Hitler, however, was determined that this would not happen. His aim was complete power for himself. His first step was to announce new elections for the Reichstag, hoping this time to gain an overall Nazi majority. Now that he was in control of the government, he was able to use new ways of influencing people: censoring the press, dismissing civil servants who opposed the Nazis, giving police duties to the SA. The whole election campaign was marked by extreme Nazi violence against political opponents, especially against the communists.
A week before the election, the Reichstag building in Berlin went up in flames. Blamed on the communists, the Reichstag Fire provided Hitler with the excuse to issue an emergency decree suspending all liberties guaranteed by the Weimar Constitution. The Fire was almost certainly started by the Nazis, but most German people did not suspect this at the time. As a result of the fires, fifty-one anti-Nazis were murdered. The Nazis suppressed all political activity, meetings and publications of non-Nazi parties. The very act of campaigning against the Nazis was in effect made illegal.
Nazi newspapers continued to print false evidence of Communist conspiracies, claiming that only Hitler and the Nazis could prevent a Communist takeover. Joseph Goebbels now had control of the State-run radio and broadcast Nazi propaganda and Hitler’s speeches all across the nation. The Nazis now turned their attention to election day, March 5. All of the resources of the government necessary for a big win were placed at the disposal of Joseph Goebbels. The big industrialists who had helped Hitler into power gladly coughed up three million marks. Representatives from Krupp munitions and I.
G. Farben were among those reaching into their pockets at Goring’s insistence. With no money problems and the power of the State behind them, the Nazis campaigned furiously to get Hitler the majority he wanted. On March 5, the last free elections were held. But the people denied Hitler his majority, giving the Nazis only 44 percent of the total vote, 17,277,180. Despite massive propaganda and the brutal crackdown, the other parties held their own. The Center Party got over four million and the Social Democrats over seven million. The Communists lost votes but still got over four million.
This is the deviant plan which helped Hitler reach is ultimate goal of a complete governing power by himself with no one to question his authority. These two men were very demanding in obtaining what they thought should be the rule of a nation by their own personal control. Stalin and Hitler were very close in the same way that they had an aggressive vigor to force a type of commanding dictatorship into their respective countries. Each had a special army that they put in high regard politically to where they were considered special police agents.
These armies were under different orders, but their main objectives were to stop anyone who opposed, or were thought to be in opposition to the head of state. Also, both Stalin and Hitler had ideas to improve the education levels and economic prosperity of their own countries, each trying to put their own at the top of the world in industry and commerce. Although Hitler and Stalin were opposed to each others own strategies and political stance on being a world dominator, they were very similar in the way to which they fought for political power.