How far was Stalin’s Russia more of a totalitarian state than Hitler’s Germany? The degree of totalitarianism in a country is a very controversial topic between historians. Yet, in this essay it a personal opinion is given towards proving that Stalin was more totalitarian than Hitler. In order to start this persuasive essay, the time period of both regimes and context must be known. Firstly, Josef Stalin was a Georgian man, who ruled Russia Between 1929 and 1953 and made it a totalitarian state.
He came to power after Lenin had died using many ways and opportunities such as the Lenin testament, disputes over NEP, and his cunning character and position. As compared to Adolf Hitler, who was also not born in the country he ruled (Germany) but was an Austrian. Hitler came to power due to reasons such as economic crisis, impressing the people by promising them things far different from pervious government, Versailles Treaty. Since the context of both regimes are now known, one must be first clear on the definition of a totalitarian before claiming which ruler was more totalitarian than the other.
A totalitarian state is one that is centralized or in other words ruled by one party, it is also dictatorial and enforces complete subservience to the government. Therefore due to the evidence that is found, it is argued that: Stalin’s rule over Russia seemed more totalitarian than Hitler’s regime over Germany in regards to actions taken and goals set towards politics, society, and the economy. Stalin’s political policies seemed to be more totalitarian than Hitler’s policies in respects to opposition, propaganda, religion and minorities.
For example Stalin’s goals for opposition were to destroy anyone who seemed like a threat no matter who they were and no matter how small a threat they were using methods such as purging, torturing, and public trials. This is as opposed to Hitler whose aim was to try to homogenize the entirety of the people except for those who are Jewish, gypsies or homosexual. Hitler chose to alienate the previously mentioned group of people and not destroy them as Stalin had through propaganda, socialization and legal discrimination.
Both dictators had survived the oppositions and succeeded in their aims and methods all the while protecting their images. Yet, Stalin’s purges had gone a bit out of control and many innocent people were purged in the process. This is very similar to the actions taken by both dictators to wipe out the minorities. Both dictators aimed at getting rid of all other possible parties and in Hitler’s case, to purify the German race. Stalin used the same methods he used for the opposition including dismissal from parties, which later granted him the utter success in getting rid of the opponents and creating a one party state.
While Adolf Hitler boycotted Jewish shops, and created a law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring to achieve his goals including killing the millions of Jews. Both of these policies were totalitarian since they opposed the creation of all other parties. Yet, Stalin’s was more totalitarian since the paranoia that caused the death of many innocent and guilty that Stalin possessed was a totalitarian aspect. As for religions, according to some historians Josef Stalin had wanted to either limit or according to others eliminate religion.
Hitler did not seem to have any set goals set against religions (other than Judaism) except for the fact that they obviously were tortured if they led any acts of rebellion. Stalin had decided to close down all mosques and churches and convert them into schools or movie theaters. He also melted religious icons and banned meetings throughout the country. Hitler in return signed a concordat in 1933 with the Nazi State to stay safe from the Kulturkampf Culture struggle).
Hitler was successful in coming to an agreement with the church and even later on creating a Nazi church yet he failed at keeping the Protestant ministers & Catholic Bishop Galen from leading protests against the Nazis banning law in the state. While in the case of Stalin it is hard to judge whether he was successful or not in achieving his goals since there is a dispute over whether Stalin wanted to limit or eliminate religions. Therefore if Stalin wanted to limit religion, then he was definitely successful since 500 churches out of 50,000 still open.
This policy seemed very totalitarian in the case of Stalin. This is due to the fact that he had tried to take away the freedom of being able to worship whomever the people wanted. While according to Layton, this policy did not have any totalitarian aspects, as Hitler had not fully controlled the church. Therefore, Stalin seems to be more totalitarian than Hitler in his policies for Minorities, Religion, and opposition due to his paranoia and the larger number of purges.
As for social policies, it may be split into two aspects, the education and the women and family. Regarding the education, in Adolf Hitler’s Germany, the goals set were to teach only pro-Nazi materials, and to teach children to respect German past, have faith in what the Germans are doing and have faith in the future of the country. These goals were accomplished through purging any unreliable teachers and having a Hitler youth group. Hitler was therefore able to gain a lot of his support and success from the children who were taught to love Hitler above all people.
This is as opposed to Josef Stalin’s goals, which included training the young to be ready, to participate in the 5-year plans, lowering illiteracy rates and educating the children into becoming socialists. He was able to indoctrinate children by changing the history and to create organizations to teach the children to be socialists and communists. He was successful in regards to lowering the illiteracy rates significantly with a large number of schools.
Both Germany’s fascist regime and Russia’s communist regime’ educational plans were totalitarian since the history was propagated and teaching the children only what the party had wanted them to know made the younger population of the countries more closed-minded to the world and worship their leaders. Concerning the women and family, both Stalin and Hitler encouraged families to have more children through giving awards to families with a certain number of children and so forth.
The aspect in which they had differed in was the fact that Stalin had wanted to create an equality between men and women when it came to work while according to Layton Hitler believed that women should stay home and take care of the house and the husband. Both dictators were successful in raising the birthrate and in Russia the divorce rates decreased and the number of soviet worker women increased greatly. Yet, though the women were allowed to work they were not given the same reward as men leaving the goal of equality at a failure.
Stalin’s rules were totalitarian as they controlled if marriages were allowed or not to get a divorce and Made childbirth necessary if pregnant. While in Hitler’s Germany women were confined to their homes and were restricted from working and doing, as they like. Therefore in this aspect, it is hard to decide which dictator was more totalitarian since both their policies were very similar. In regards to economical policies, Stalin also seemed as more totalitarian than Hitler. For example, Stalin had decided to end private land ownership, take money from peasants and give it to the state and modernize Russia in order to compete with foreign ountries. While Hitler decided to reduce unemployment, rearmament and to make the German stable, make her independent of any kind of foreign help. Which may seem very similar at first glance yet when looked at more closely regarding the methods they were achieved it is clear that Stalin was more totalitarian. In Hitler’s Germany, in years 1933-1936 the state decided to dedicate this period for creating jobs for the people and with this he was able to increase exports. While in Stalin’s Russia, collectivization, industrialization and five year plans were put to action.
Collectivization was the way that the state had decided to take over all the farms and to take most of the produce in order to sell it for profit and industrialize Russia ending all private land ownership and giving all farms to the State. Industrialization was the process of building up the country in order for it to compete with foreign countries. The five year plans were put to work with the aim of setting certain goals and being able to achieve them such as steel produce ect. It in return did expand the industrial output and enabled the USSR to survive the 1941-45 war.
Yet, Collectivization led to catastrophic fall in food productions, hunger and famine and the government failed to deal with the famine yet it did collect the amount of money aimed for in the end. Since Stalin had ended private land ownership which is a major aspect in a totalitarian state, he seems to be more totalitarian than Hitler. In conclusion, Stalin seems to be more totalitarian than Hitler since he ended private land ownership, possessed paranoia that Hitler didn’t and forced the women to work. It is also noticeable that Stalin wanted people to worship him while Hitler wanted people to worship the ideology.