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Published 2022-03-24
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People Think Vladimir Putin Is The New Adolf Hitler. Are There Any Similarities?

With the ongoing war in Ukraine, many were quick to draw comparisons between Vladimir Putin and the leader of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler, pointing out that both were war criminals. One is responsible for the horrors of WWII and the other for the horrors that are currently happening in Ukraine. Though just how many comparisons are there between the two men? Are they more alike than some people think? And was the way they conducted business similar? Read on to find out.

Both Disguised As Peacekeepers?

At the start of the millennium, in the early 2000s one of the things that the entire world feared the most were terrorists. And in light of the 9/11 attacks it was no surprise why, no one wanted the same thing, or worse, to happen in their country. At that time, in his speeches, Vladimir would often talk about “the solidarity of the Russian Federation in the fight against global terrorism”. And here it is worth pointing out that things were similar after the nightmare that was the First World War, where the leading countries were most afraid of another war starting. So here in his 1933 speech, presenting his foreign policy program to the members of the Reichstag, Adolf Hitler was also about peace, “War is a boundless madness. Germany is ready to eliminate not only its offensive weapons but also its entire army if only peace would be preserved.” But what other similarities are there? Read on to find out.

Political Bluffing In Face Of War?

Some historians had pointed out that where both men are concerned, they did not openly say that they were going to start a war. After all, Putin and his propaganda government are still keeping up the guise of this being a “peacekeeping mission” which aims to “de-nazify” Ukraine. Though for now let us go back to March 1935 when Hitler, who was preparing to destroy the peace system, addressed the West from the parliamentary rostrum. In his speech, he went on to say, “National Socialist Germany does not want a war because it understands very well: in any war, the blossom of the nation perishes…We are not planning on conquering other nations at all. Germany needs peace, it wants it!” Now let’s look back at March 2014 when Putin had addressed the people of Ukraine after annexing the Crimean peninsula, “Dear friends, do not believe those who frighten you with Russia. Those who shout that it will be the turn of other regions after Crimea. Russia does not want the division of Ukraine, we do not need it.”

Attempt At Peace Treaties

It is also worth noting that both men had, as experts called it, tried to or successfully tricked countries into “renewing peace treaties”. In the case of the Fuhrer, it was with regards to Austria and Czechoslovakia, where under the threat of force he would make the local governments accept the German terms of peace which involved promising not to violate the neighbors’ sovereignty. Vladimir had done a similar thing in 2014 when the Russian Federation tried to impose a similar peace proposal on Kyiv after invading Crimea. Their terms were that in exchange for a new peace agreement Ukraine would become a federation, let the peninsula go, declare eternal neutrality, recognize the Russian language as the state language, and not interfere in church affairs. Even now, in light of the 2022 war, Putin’s government has been making such demands. Once again those insist on neutrality, allowing Russia to “finish” the demilitarisation of Ukraine, and for Kyiv to recognize the breakaway regions as independent and once more, the loss of Crimea.

Complying With The Rules

At times in the past, both men had done something to make sure it looked like they were not breaking an international treaty, therefore making it look like they were complying with all the rules. In the case of Hitler, prior to the creation of the Wehrmacht being announced, those working for Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda, had made sure that the phrase “General Staff” did not appear in the press. Why? Because the creation of such a body was prohibited under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, the leader of the Third Reich did not want to take risks. While the world knew that Germany had a shadow General Staff, formally it did not exist and therefore the agreement was allegedly not violated. Looking back at 2014, it was clear that Ukraine was occupied by the Russian military on Russian equipment with service weapons. However, there was a catch. Formally in this army, there were no chevrons of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and so officially it looked like there was no war and therefore the Budapest agreements were not violated. At the time, Putin had sworn that he followed the current rules of the game by saying that Russia was not like that and that they stood for peace.

Belief Of The People

Here it is worth pointing out that one key thing that both of those war leaders had was the faith of the people. Of course, they gained it in different ways and it crumbled at times but for a time it was a very important thing. By 1937 many Germans, even some of his opposition had believed in their leader. After all, he did what no republic-era government had succeeded in doing. He overthrew the dictates of Versailles, returned the army, and bloodlessly restored the German honor. As a result, his popularity grew to a height that was never before reached by a single German ruler. While there were fears among the army and the people that the French would resist, they believed that Hitler was wiser, a genius and that they should trust his instincts as he would save Germany. Of course, when it comes to Russia, partially due to the government propaganda with regards to state television and news, the people believe that too. That what Putin is currently doing is good and right and that he is helping defeat “nazis” in Ukraine. The fact that their leader was on the right side of history was a mentality that had been around for a long time and already in 2014, an Odesa political technologist that had worked for the Kremlin for ten years had revealed that he realized one horrible thing when it came to the power of the Russian government, “The main thing is Putin. Everything is based on him.”

Appealing To People Speaking The Language

In the past, Hitler would appeal to people who spoke German who might not have been living in the country. At one point the German Reich had declared the protection of foreign Germans living along their borders. In some countries, such groups of people would have been seen as minority groups, as most people spoke the language of the country. With Adolf’s government offering them protection, stating that they would no longer be minorities, it was almost as if stating that they were unique and would be a part of a magnificent empire of winners should they have supported Hitler’s regime. In the same year, 1938, Hitler would announce the program “Returning [home] to the Reich”. A thing that Vladimir would later seem to take inspiration from. According to media reports from the time, when Putin’s forces annexed Crimea, many statements were made by pro-Kremlin people. Such as, “Let the stones fall from the sky, we are in our Motherland!”, “Crimea has returned home”, “...to the native harbor”. The Kremlin was also instrumentalizing Russian-speaking citizens of other countries by inviting them to voluntarily become the fifth column in the service of the dictatorial regime. They had appealed to the people in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. In the past, they had even tried to appeal to the people of Latvia during their 2018 elections with a message posted by hackers on Latvian social media which read: “Comrades Latvians, this is for you. The Russian border does not end anywhere. The Russian world can and should unite all those who cherish the Russian word and Russian culture, wherever they live, in Russia or abroad. Use this phrase more often – the Russian World.”

Propaganda - Blaming Neighboring Countries

To this day Russia is keeping up the guise that they are on a peacekeeping mission and that Ukraine is very much to blame for everything that is going on. The Kremlin and pro-government propagandists have put out a variety of claims accusing Ukraine of carrying out bombings, blaming the country for nonexistent attacks, and warning of nefarious future Ukrainian and Western plots. All these claims have included a car bombing, and an alleged attempt by Ukrainian saboteurs to blow up a chemical storage facility. All to create an impression of the country’s onslaught and that they are to blame for all the horrors. Experts have compared this to September 1939, when German authorities would deny the very fact of war by stating that the actions of the Wehrmacht cannot have been called a war as they were simply the actions caused by constant Polish attacks. Now, these were descriptions weren’t very consistent with the thousands of tonnes of air bombs that were dropped by the Luftwaffe on the Polish capital. However, the minister of propaganda, Goebbels had managed to cover all that up, and not long after headlines in German newspapers appeared which read: “THE POLES ARE BOMBING WARSAW!” And many of these historians had noted that it worked, even on smart people, as on the first day of WWII, the British Ambassador to Berlin had sent a message to London which read: “Information from Göring! After the Reichstag meeting, Hitler can meet with me one last time to try to keep the peace.”

Both Rebuilt Their Country

It can also be argued that the fact both men had helped rebuilt their countries surely helped with public opinion. Germany surrendered before it was invaded in the First World War, and the Entente hadn't bombed it like they would in the second war. Though, according to an article from History, it does not mean there wasn’t any devastation to be found in post-war Germany. From the harsh, humiliating terms of the Treaty of Versailles, to hyperinflation that was a result of war reparations payments and, eventually, the Great Depression, the country was ripe to be taken over by violent extremists. Now, as per a Wall Street Journal article, Putin also had come to power during difficult times for Russia. They were by themselves after the USSR’s collapse and trying to find themselves in a Western-style market economy and the idea of democracy was new to them as well. However, as the article highlighted rampant poverty, corruption, and an immature and unstable democracy, not to mention decades of propaganda under the Soviets, made people especially vulnerable to a strongman like Putin, who promised to restore the nation's dignity with strength.

What Are The Differences?

Of course, there were some differences. First, the leaders weren’t exactly a 100% carbon copy of the other but when it came to their actions and decisions making, which seemed similar in many cases, had some major differences. One of the things that an article from Grunge had pointed out was that compared to Putin, Hitler had the time given that he was younger, aged 50 when the war started, compared to Vladimir being 69. They had also added that times had changed and now the leader of the Russian Federation is facing much more formidable foes…especially NATO. Given that Germany lost WWII it does not mean that their opponents were weak but the combined NATO force and more modern weapons do make a difference.

Can you think of any other comparisons between Hitler and Putin? Let us know in the comments and if you enjoyed this article do not hesitate to share it with your friends and leave a Like on our Facebook page!
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