Comparing Fascism, Communism And Nazism Essay
Comparing Fascism, Communism and Nazism
Fascism, and discontent go hand in hand. After WWI Europe was devastated, the people had lost hope in the systems, neither the liberals, nor conservatives had been able to prevent the terrible disaster that was the war. Socialists were the closest one, however not happy with socialism either, a group of socialist joined and formed their own ideology. The difference between this new ideology, and other that had originated before, is that the first thing that comes to mind when you talk about fascism, is not what they stood for but what they hated most. Fascist hated socialism because of its internationality. They hated liberals because specifically because their ideology center in the individual strength of the human been, and in sharing when a variety of thoughts are in conflict, not imposing. They hated conservatives because they like to preserve the system, and for them change had to be very small, and slow, while fascist wanted radical change now.
Fascism and communism had a lot in common. They both wanted radical change, and they both believe in the use of violence to achieve their goals. In fact this is exactly what the Russian revolution was about, so why did the fascist hate the communist too? First, they were reacting to the Russian Revolution, and their relation to WWI. People lost faith in everything that existed before after the War, and the Russian Revolution was part of that. A radical difference between them and communists is that while communists emphasized the struggle of classes; fascists in the union of all classes.
There are a lot of similarities between Fascism, and Nazism. For example, both believe in the union of classes. In order to reach this goal it was necessary to reach each and every person, so they put great emphases in providing massive awareness through rallies, programmed tv, and radio. They put great emphasis in symbols, and they consider their leader to the greatest symbol since they had to embody the ideal of the nation. Both of them attempted to militarize politics, which is...
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A number of authors have carried out comparisons of Nazism and Stalinism, in which they have considered the issues of whether the two ideologies were similar or different, how these conclusions affect understanding of 20th-century history, what relationship existed between the two regimes, and why both of them came to prominence at the same time. The answers to all these questions are disputed. During the 20th century, the comparison of Stalinism and Nazism was made on the topics of totalitarianism, ideology, and personality. Both regimes were seen in contrast to the liberal West, with an emphasis on the similarities between the two, while their differences from each other were minimized. The American geostrategistZbigniew Brzezinski and political theorists like Hannah Arendt and Carl Friedrich were prominent advocates of this "totalitarian" interpretation.
The totalitarian model was challenged in the 1970s by political scientists who sought to understand the Soviet Union in terms of modernization, and by the functionalist historians Martin Broszat and Hans Mommsen, who argued that the Nazi regime was far too disorganized to be considered totalitarian. The comparison of Stalinism and Nazism, which was conducted on a theoretical basis by political scientists during the Cold War, is now approached on the basis of empirical research, since greater information is available. However, it remains a neglected field of academic study.
Though the Nazi Party was ideologically opposed to communism, Adolf Hitler and other Nazi leaders frequently expressed recognition that only in Soviet Russia were their revolutionary and ideological counterparts to be found. Hitler admired Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and Stalinism, and on numerous occasions publicly praised Stalin for seeking to purify the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of Jewish influences, noting the purging of Jewish communists such as Leon Trotsky, Grigory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev and Karl Radek.
Stalinism and Nazism mutually emphasized the importance of utopian biopolitics, especially in regards to reproduction. This emphasis alone was not unique, as many other European states practiced eugenics at this time, and the Stalinist and Nazi ideals were vastly different. The key similarity was the connection of reproduction policies with the ideological goals of the state — "part of the project of a rational, hypermodern vision for the re-organization of society". There were nevertheless substantial differences between the two regimes' approaches. Stalin's Soviet Union never officially supported eugenics as the Nazis did—the Soviet government called eugenics a "fascist science"—although there were in fact Soviet eugenicists. The two regimes also had different approaches to the relationship between family and paid labour—Nazism promoted the male single-breadwinner family while Stalinism promoted the dual-wage-earner household.
Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and fascist Italy were all highly concerned over low fertility rates and applied extensive and intrusive social engineering techniques to modify it. Reproductive policies in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were administered through their health care systems—both regimes saw health care as a key pillar to their designs to develop a new society. While the Soviet Union had to design a public health care system from scratch, Nazi Germany built upon the pre-existing public health care system in Germany that had been developed since 1883 by Otto von Bismarck's legislation that had developed the world's first national public health care program. The Nazis centralized the German health care system in order to enforce Nazi ideological components upon it, and replaced existing voluntary and government welfare agencies with new ones that were devoted to racial hygiene and other components of Nazi ideology.
Political violence and violent societies
See also: Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact
Both the Soviet Union under Stalin and Nazi Germany exhibited militarism. Both placed a major emphasis on creating a "party-army" with the regular armed forces controlled by the party, in the case of the Soviet Union Political commissars, and the introduction of the equivalent "National Socialist Guidance Officers" in 1943. Both Stalinism and Nazism utilized mass violence.
Both the Stalinist Soviet Union and Nazi Germany utilized internment camps led by agents of the state – the NKVD in the Soviet Union and the SS in Nazi Germany. Both regimes engaged in violence against minorities based on xenophobia – the xenophobic violence of the Nazis was outspoken but rationalized as being against "asocial" elements while the xenophobic violence of the Stalinists was disguised as being against "anti-soviet", "counter-revolutionary" and "socially harmful" elements – that was a term that targeted diaspora nationalities.
Both Stalin's Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were violent societies where mass violence was accepted by the state, such as in the Great Terror of 1937 to 1938 in the Soviet Union and the Holocaust in Nazi Germany and its occupied territories in World War II. The Stalinist Soviet Union established "special settlements" where the "socially harmful" or "socially dangerous" who included ex-convicts, criminals, vagrants, the disenfranchized and "declassed elements" were expelled to. The "special settlements" were largely in Siberia, the far north, the Urals, or other inhospitable territories. In July 1933, the Soviet Union made a mass arrest of 5000 Romani people effectively on the basis of their ethnicity, who were deported that month to the "special settlements" in Western Siberia. In 1935, the Soviet Union arrested 160,000 homeless people and juvenile delinquents and sent many of them to NKVD labour colonies where they did forced labour.
Similar to Nazism, Stalinism in practice in the Soviet Union pursued ethnic deportations from the 1930s to the early 1950s, with a total of 3 million Soviet citizens being subjected to ethnic-based resettlement. The first major ethnic deportation took place from December 1932 to January 1933 during which some 60,000 Kuban Cossacks were collectively criminally charged as a whole with association with resistance to socialism and affiliation with Ukrainian nationalism. From 1935 to 1936, the Soviet Union deported Soviet citizens of Polish and German origins living in the western districts of Ukraine, and Soviet citizens of Finnish origins living on the Finland-Soviet Union border. These deportations from 1935 to 1936 affected tens of thousands of families. From September to October 1937, Soviet authorities deported the Korean minority from its Far Eastern region that bordered on Japanese-controlled Korea. Soviet authorities claimed the territory was "rich soil for the Japanese to till" – implying the Soviet suspicion that the Koreans could potentially join forces with the Japanese forces to unite the land with Japanese-held Korea. Over 170,000 Koreans were deported to remote parts of Soviet Central Asia from September to October 1937. These ethnically-based deportations reflected a new trend in Stalinist policy a "Soviet xenophobia" based on ideological grounds that suspected that these people were susceptible to foreign capitalist influence, and based on a resurgent Russian nationalism.
After Nazi Germany declared war on the Soviet Union in 1941, the Soviet Union initiated another major round of ethnic deportations. The first group targeted were Soviet Germans, between September 1941 and February 1942, 900,000 people – over 70 percent of the entire Soviet German community – were deported to Kazakhstan and Siberia in mass operations. A second wave of mass deportations took place between November 1943 and May 1944 in which Soviet authorities expelled six ethnic groups (the Balkars, Chechens, Crimean Tartars, Ingush, Karachai, and Kalmyks) that numbered 900,000. There were also smaller-scale operations involving ethnic cleansing of diaspora minorities during and after World War II, in which tens of thousands of Crimean Bulgarians, Greeks, Iranians, Khemshils, Kurds, and Meskhetian Turks were deported from the Black Sea and Transcaucasian border regions.
Two ethnic groups that were specifically targeted for persecution by Stalin's Soviet Union were the Chechens and the Ingush. Unlike the other nationalities that could be suspected of connection to foreign states that had their nationality, the Chechens and the Ingush were completely indigenous people of the Soviet Union. Instead, the Soviet Union claimed that these peoples' culture did not fit in with that of the Soviet Union as a whole – such as accusing Chechens of being associated with "banditism" - and claimed that the Soviet Union had to intervene in order to "remake" and "reform" their culture. In practice this meant heavily armed punitive operations carried out against Chechen "bandits" that failed to achieve its forced assimilation, resulting in Soviet authorities in 1944 carrying out a massive ethnic cleansing operation that arrested and deported over 500,000 Chechens and Ingush from the Caucasus to Central Asia and Kahzakstan in order to "relieve" the Russian minorities (30 percent of the population) of the Chechen-Ingush ASSR. The deportations of the Chechens and Ingush also involved the outright massacre of thousands of people, and severe conditions placed upon the deportees – they were put in unsealed train cars, with little to no food for a four-week journey during which many died from hunger and exhaustion.
The main difference between Nazi and Stalinist deportations was in their purpose: while Nazi Germany sought ethnic cleansing to allow settlement by Germans into the cleansed territory, Stalin's Soviet Union pursued ethnic cleansing in order to remove minorities from strategically important areas.
Antisemitism and genocide
Not long after the 1917 October Revolution, the Soviet Union undertook practices to break up Jewish culture, religion and language. In the fall of 1918, the Soviet Communist Party set up the Jewish section Yevsektsiya with a stated mission of “destruction of traditional Jewish life, the Zionist movement, and Hebrew culture.” With their main emphasis on assaulting Jewish religion, the Yevsektsiya considered Judaism to be “bourgeois nationalism.” By 1919, the Bolsheviks began to confiscate Jewish properties, Hebrew schools, libraries, books, and synagogues in accordance with newly imposed anti-religious laws, turning their buildings into "Communist centers, clubs or restaurants." If caught, any Jew practicing his or her religion in private would be met with severe punishment. There were cases where any Jew who defended Judaism in public was “arrested on the spot” and in mock trials, sentenced with a "death verdict." Soviet policy was to have Jews "removed from the category of 'unsolid', 'floating' people," where they were to "disappear as soon as assimilation was intensified."
After Joseph Stalin rose to power, anti-Semitism continued to be endemic throughout Russia, although official Soviet policy condemned it. Stalin's personal anti-Semitism came to light after his death when Khrushchev and other communist leaders disclosed that Stalin's resentment against Jews existed long before the 1917 Revolution. Stalin's secretary, Boris Bazhanov, confirmed this prejudice, revealing that Stalin repeatedly uttered crude, derogatory comments against Jews prior to Lenin's death in 1924. On August 12, 1952, Stalin and his anti-Semitism became more visible, ordering the execution of the most prominent Yiddish authors in the Soviet union, known as the "Night of the Murdered Poets".
Early in his political career, Hitler publicly made known his anti-Semitic intentions in a 1920 speech called "Why We Are Anti-Semites", declaring that “Since we are socialists, we must necessarily also be antisemites because we want to fight against… materialism and mammonism… How can you not be an antisemite, being a socialist!”. During the 1940s, Hitler went on to kill approximately 6,000,000 Jews.
Since Nazi-Soviet collaboration started as early as 1937 to expel foreign Jews from Russia, the Stalin’s regime could be considered an accomplice in Hitler’s Holocaust. Under a secret agreement, Soviet Russia’s NKVD handed over to the Gestapo mostly German Jews, who had originally sought asylum. As revealed in the European Parliament (Union for Europe of the Nations) documentary film "The Soviet Story", archival records were found that listed thousands of German Jews who were arrested by NKVD (People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs) and handed over to Gestapo or SS officials from 1937 to 1941.
Works by historians such as Ernst Nolte, Andreas Hillgruber and others in the 1980s compared the policies of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, and drew a parallel between the concentration camp system in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. Soviet dissident Mikhail Heller highligted the similarity of the use of terror by both systems:
Soviet camps were known officially as concentration camps until the mid-1930's, when disloyal competition on the part of the Nazis, who adopted the same name, made it necessary to put the term "corrective labor camps" into the Soviet legal vocabulary. That name for the Soviet camps expresses exactly their dual function: while remaining the most important instrument for engendering fear and terror, the camp becomes also a model of "socialist labor".
A member of the Communist Party of Germany, Margarete Buber-Neumann in her memoirs from both communist (1937–1940) and nazi (1940–1945) concentration camps found methods of both regimes to be very similar. After she was released from Ravensbrück concentration camp she summarized her observations as follows:
Between the misdeeds of Hitler and those of Stalin, in my opinion, there exists only a quantitative difference. To be sure, Communism as an idea was originally positive, and National Socialism never was positive; it was, since its origin and from its beginning, criminal in its aims and its programme. I don't know if the Communist idea, if its theory, already contained a basic fault or if only the Soviet practice under Stalin betrayed the original idea and established in the Soviet Union a kind of Fascism.
Politically-based ideological systems often rely upon the philosophical doctrine of determinism in a belief that existing conditions of cause and effect can result in only one outcome. Such a theory gives determinists a philosophical reason to postulate that “the individual is not free to choose” because human behavior is completely resolved by "factors over which we have no control." Main variants of determinism in the Twentieth century, based on ideological and totalitarian frameworks are "biological determinism", "social determinism" (a.k.a. "sociological determinism") and historical determinism.
In memory of the countless men and women of all creeds or nations or races who fell victim to the fascist and communist belief in Inexorable Laws of Historical Destiny
— Karl Popper, The Poverty of Historicism, 1957
Biological determinism is a belief that a "racial biology" predisposes certain human behavioral traits that are solely determined by an individual's "genetic make-up" or some other integral element of their physiology. This ideological construct based on the racial determinism of biology can lead to widespread beliefs in eugenics, forced sterilization, racial inferiority, bioengineering, and racial superiority. According to R. J. Overy, the merger of Nazism’s political structure with Hitler's anti-Semitism was responsible for “producing an ideological determinism that led to the Holocaust and the pursuit of world power.” This race-based determinism is also known as scientific racism, which is now considered as a pseudoscience that was used to justify racism.
The other type, social determinism, is the theory that social interactions, customs, and constructs alone determine the behavior of individuals. This perspective contends that “human behavior is the outcome of social forces,” determined through culture, class, and education. Under the Soviet Union’s policies, government force was applied to expunge undesirable social classes who were considered unchangeable due to their socio-economic class designation. Martin Latsis, a Bolshevik revolutionary, put forth an argument to achieve purity of class: “We are no longer waging war against separate individuals. We are exterminating the Bourgeoisie as a class.”
Politically designating the worthiness of one socio-economic class over another, Stalin’s dictatorship systematically liquidated classes deemed more affluent than others. The peasant farming class (kulaks) in Ukraine, were persecuted as “class enemies of the Soviet regime.” By December 1929, Stalin declared that the Kulaks must be “liquidated as a class.” Although Stalin’s definition of a wealthy kulak was "peasants with a couple of cows or five or six acres more than their neighbors,” Lenin had earlier characterized them as "bloodsuckers, vampires, plunderers of the people and profiteers, who fatten on famine.”
The National Socialists were also committed to a form of social determinism, viewing and treating the Jewish population as a socioeconomic class of “selfish and profit-seeking exploiters” who symbolized the detested capitalist and bourgeoisie caste. This notion complemented the Nazi’s advocacy of racial-biological determinism.
Both German National Socialism and Russian Stalinism sought the establishment of a classless society with equal social rights for all legally recognized citizens. The Soviet socialists under Stalin, following the basic Marxist tenets of equality, strived “towards the earlier objective of classlessness, by eliminating the kulaks as a class.” One of the primary goals of communism has been a classless society in which nobody is born into a particular social class.
Hitler took a similar stand early in the Nazi movement, promoting the concept of classlessness in his Mein Kampf, writing that "The National Socialist State recognizes no 'classes'. But, under the political aspect, it recognizes only citizens with absolutely equal rights and equal obligations corresponding thereto." Under the National Socialist Volksgemeinschaft or "people's community", Hitler sought to paint Nazi Germany as a "classless society with a shared ideology."
To show their commitment to a collective equality and a classless society, Nazi officials organized bonfires and instructed school children to toss their varying colored caps into the fire to signify their opposition to class differences. Moreover, in the 1935 Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will, Hitler declared during a massive Hitler Youth rally that: “We want a society with neither castes nor ranks and you must not allow these ideas to grow within you!”
Both the National Socialists of Germany and the Soviets in Russia, as well as Benito Mussolini, supported the concept of social justice. When the Bolsheviks came to power, they had an “ambitious programme of measures designed to ensure social justice and improve the lot of the poor.” After the death of Vladimir Lenin, Stalin took his commitment to economic and social equality further, determined “to make Lenin’s social change even more radical,” which included the “Bolshevik policy of removing all social distinction and wage differentials.” But by the early 1930s he pulled back from some of his radicalism by renewing privileges, which were “conferred by the state as rewards for loyalty and service.”
Following in the footsteps of Lenin and Stalin, Adolf Hitler extolled his version of social justice in an August 15, 1920, speech in Munich. In an attempt to equate socialism with the “final concept of duty”, Hitler declared: “we do not believe that there could ever exist a state with lasting inner health if it is not built on internal social justice.” Hitler continued to speak on social justice issues throughout his regime, proclaiming to factory workers in 1940 that he sought “the creation of a socially just state, a model society that would continue to eradicate all social barriers.” According to Andrei A. Znamenski, what made Hitler’s “National Socialism novel and different from earlier forms of socialism was an attempt to blend the ideas of social justice and revolutionary nationalism.” As for the results, National Socialist’s “policies were remarkably friendly toward the German lower classes” in an attempt to soak the wealthy and “redistributing the burdens of wartime to the benefit of the underprivileged.” In 1944, Joseph Goebbels touted the accomplishment of Hitler’s extensive welfare system in an editorial called “Our Socialism,” boasting that “We and we alone [the Nazis] have the best social welfare measures. Everything is done for the nation…”
Equality was one of the ideological themes that permeated the economic, political and social spheres of German National Socialists and the Russian Soviets. Under Nazi Germany, Völkisch equality was a legal practice which ascribed a racial equality of opportunity, and full rights only to those who carried the proper Aryan genetic makeup. This “equality of type” was based on the “homogeneity of race,” which exclusively allowed only those of a particular race to enjoy full legal rights and equality of treatment under the Nazi law. The National Socialist’s principle of equality “was not guaranteed as an individual subjective right,” but as something “obtained merely as an impersonal constitutional principle.” To the Nazis, equality meant “equality of national comrades (Volksgenosse)” that demanded “integration, duties and obligations,” a sort of collective equality where “rights of the individual metamorphosed into the right of the all to the same obligation.” In this sense, “Volkisch Equality was group justice over individual justice,” which placed the “value of the collective over the value of the individual.”
According to German historian Gotz Aly, the Nazi movement represented an effort to merge “social equality with national homogeneity,” and although their traditional form of socialism devalued individual freedom and autonomy, the Nazis “did not radically deviate from many other forms of equalitarianism.”
Orthodox Marxist literature tended to be rather sketchy and vague about “a just society, where people would be equal in some way or another.” Nonetheless, the Bolsheviks under Lenin treated equality as “an absolute virtue,” by reducing most social distinctions and wage differentials, along with undermining distinctions in army ranks. But by the 1930s, the initial Bolshevik equalitarianism had been mostly abandoned when Stalin and other Soviet Union leaders abolished "wage equalization" and introduced a centralizing hierarchy in industry and the Communist party. Determined to bring back privileges and rewards and even return to distinctions in army ranks, Stalin modified the old Marxist tenet “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” to a new maxim: “from each according to his ability, to each according to his work.”
Other historians argue that Stalin had assaulted the collective nature of egalitarianism headlong by reintroducing a "structure of privileges and inequality" that was greatly amplified. According to historian Richard Stites, Stalin had little respect for the deep Russian tradition of equalitarianism and launched a campaign "against the revolutionary utopianism of the previous decade."
The welfare state
Both the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the National Socialist party in Germany appeared resolute to provide an array of social welfare services. From the very beginning of the October Revolution, the Bolsheviks announced the "establishment of full social protection (for the inability to work, medical assistance, maternity, unemployment, death of the head of the family), financed by workers’ withholdings." Yet, the original plan "soon foundered upon financial problems", due to Soviet Russia’s economic collapse in 1921.
After the New Economic Policy (NEP) went into effect in 1921, social welfare insurance funds were established through payments provided by companies, not state agencies. But the financial burden was too great, resulting in a small minority of citizens being eligible for social insurance.
To remedy the situation, Stalin's 1936 Constitution prescribed a host of welfare rights that were to be constitutionally protected. According to Mark B. Smith, those social rights included:
Work was a duty but it was also a right; citizens had the right to a job and to be paid in accordance with the amount and quality of the work they undertook. When they did not have to work, they enjoyed the right to leisure, based on a seven-hour working day,… annual paid leave, and access to "a widespread network of sanatoria, houses of rest, clubs." When they could not work, they enjoyed the right to material provision in old age and also in the case of illness and loss of capacity.
Despite the 1936 Soviet Constitution's level of theory and presentation, such far-reaching provisions led to an approach that "threatened further to undermine even the abstract coherence" of Soviet welfare rights. Written out of the history books in Soviet Russia, Leon Trotsky was one of the first to doubt the integrity of Stalin's social rights. In The Revolution Betrayed, Trotsky chided Stalin for instructing local Soviet organizations not to provide work to "oppositionists", to let them instead slowly starve to death, in an effort to use food as a political weapon. Trotsky's response was that the old Soviet "principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced with a new one: who does not obey shall not eat." Moreover, many of these social welfare guarantees were not practiced for many other Soviet citizens, especially during the Soviet famine of 1932–1933 and similar ones, where millions of Ukrainians perished due to the lack of adequate nutrition.
Engaging in social policies to punish opponents and minorities was the hallmark of the National Socialists in Germany. When Hitler became Chancellor in 1933, Germany was already considered the first modern welfare state, going back to Otto von Bismarck in the 1880s. According to Robert Paxton, "All the modern twentieth-century European dictatorships of the right, both fascist and authoritarian, were welfare states."
But Hitler was determined to create a more elaborate, equal and generous welfare state but only under the condition that it was reserved solely for Germans of pure Aryan blood. He enlarged the German welfare state by creating the National Socialist People’s Welfare (NSV) in May 1933, and ordering its new chairman, Erich Hilgenfeldt, to “see to the disbanding of all private welfare institutions.” By nationalizing charity, the National Socialists employed their social welfare system as a means to control society through social engineering, politically selecting who could and could not receive benefits.
On the local level, Nazi welfare bureaus would spend considerable effort into “cleansing of their cities of ‘asocials,’ labelling many of them “biologically degenerate.” Jews, Gypsies and other racial minorities were denied access to welfare programs “where individuals could receive support only with the acceptable genetic certificate.” Focusing on the socialism and racism of National Socialism, German historian Götz Aly characterized the Third Reich as a “racist-totalitarian welfare state.”
Called by the regime the "greatest social institution in the world," the NSV provided a long list of programs and sub-agencies that arranged everything from universal socialized healthcare to old age insurance, holiday homes for mothers, subsidized rent, extra food for large families, over 8,000 day-nurseries, old-age homes, unemployment and disability benefits and no-interest loans for married couples. Other programs included aid for pregnant women, nutrition, relief for poor families and welfare for children. In an effort to help troubled youth, by 1941 the NSV had 30,000 branch offices of The Office of Youth Relief, which provided “corrective training, mediation assistance,” and was to avert juvenile delinquency. Saddled with generous social benefits and large war armament expenditures, the Nazi regime “was just barely avoiding bankruptcy” by 1938, where Hitler’s “only hope was to go on the offense.” Some argue that the threat of a financial crisis, lower standards of living, and worker unrest forced Hitler to engage in foreign adventurism in order to plunder neighboring nations and later minorities.
German federalism and its “low concentration of centralized powers” dates back to the Holy Roman Empire, and continued with the reforms of the Peace of Westphalia to the constitution of the German Empire from 1871. Under the Weimar Republic, regional autonomy became more limited since the “Democrats and Social Democrats were ideologically opposed to federalism,” and “tended to prefer a centralized Reich.” Within months of the National Socialists taking power, the autonomous statehood (Eigenstaahichkeit) of the Länder (federal states) “was brutally swept away.” With the passage of the Enabling Act of 1933 the Nazis were able to strip away the state-rights tenets of federalism and centralize Germany by liquidating state governments, which made the Reichstag impotent. Local governments were also targeted in accordance with a January 30, 1934 “Law on Reconstruction of the Reich” that “abolishes all states’ rights.” In many cases, armed stormtroopers and SS units would raid and occupy town halls, “terrorizing mayors and councils into resigning” and then install their own replacements.
The Soviet Union, according to historian Richard Pipes was “a unitary, centralized, totalitarian state such as the Tsarist state had never been.” Others viewed the Soviet Union’s superstate, with its almost complete power vested in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, as unable to develop a fully centralized authority until after its prospect for world revolution had diminished. After that point, Soviet Russia’s “domestic policies turned towards centralization,” with a corresponding decrease in “cultural and administrative autonomy.”
Like the National Socialists in Germany, the Bolsheviks in Russia courted workers to join their movement to help advance benefits and working conditions. Soon after the October Revolution, all independent trade unions and factory committees were made subservient to the new Soviet Union state, essentially nationalizing Russia’s labor movement. According to Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, not only were the state-controlled unions no longer autonomous, but workers “do not have the right to strike,” nor could they elect their own officials without government approval. Gompers accused the Soviet government of “persecution of organized labor”, establishment of a workers’ “State-slavery”, obligatory “80 hour” work weeks, “compulsory labor”, and a Soviet legacy that “constitutes the gravest danger that has confronted labor for centuries.” Compulsory labor was considered, according to Trotsky, "the backbone of Soviet communism." After the Bolsheviks banned all independent labor unions and closed down the Factory Committees, one unionist "described the unions as 'living corpses.'"
A number of foreign socialist parties have criticized Stalin's union record. One, the Socialist Party of Great Britain, asserted that after Stalin’s government had brought "the unions under complete State control," the Soviets were "not to try to improve wages and working conditions but rather to reduce cost, keep wages down and increase production. As a result wages began to fall and working conditions to deteriorate."
The National Socialists in Germany named their party after workers, labeling their political organization the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP). During the 1920s the foreign international media simply referred to them as the “National Socialist Labor Party.” Despite their differences, the Nazis and Germany’s communists occasionally worked together on labor issues. In 1932, Hitler’s SA brownshirts and the Communist Party of Germany marched together in solidarity with Berlin’s transportation workers, destroying any buses that failed to join the workers’ strike. Hitler often praised workers, once declaring in völkischer Beobachter that “I only acknowledge one nobility—that of labour.”
After Hitler became the German Chancellor in 1933, he declared May Day to be an official paid holiday and arranged celebrations that saw marches, fireworks, and music under the slogan of “Germany honors labor.” Most unions, including the German Free Trade Union, gave their approval and encouraged members to participate. The very next day, Hitler nationalized all autonomous unions. Like the Soviet Union, the National Socialists outlawed strikes, walkouts, and lockouts, adopting the Marxist tenets of prohibiting independent or private institutions. Union membership became compulsory, as reported by Italian historian Gaetano Salvemini, who wrote: "In [fascist] Italy and [Nazi] Germany the official unions have been made compulsory by law, while in the United States, the workers are not legally obligated to join the company unions but may even, if they so wish, oppose them."
Although referring to workers in the Third Reich as "industrial serf", William Shirer noted that Hitler and his officials “were accustomed to rant in their public speeches against the bourgeois and the capitalist” in defense of the workers. By June 22, 1938 a special decree established labor conscription, obligating “every German to work where the state assigned him.” These workers could not be fired by business owners without approval by the government employment office, providing job security rarely known during the Weimar Republic.
Hitler’s new union, the German Labor Front (DAF) pledged “to create a true social and productive community of all Germans.” Considered an instrument of the Nazi party, the DAF enlarged and developed new social, educational, sports, health, and entertainment programs for German workers via Strength through Joy, which included factory libraries and gardens, periodic breaks, swimming pools, low-priced hot meals, adult education programs, periodic work breaks, physical education, sports facilities, gymnastic training, orchestral music during lunch breaks, free tickets to concerts and opera and subsidized vacations that saw over 10.3 million Germans signed up by 1938. The DAF built two 25,000-ton ocean liners and chartered up to 10 other ships to handle increasing tourism, charging dirt-cheap prices for vacationers on sea or land. For land-based vacations, the DAF built summer resort complexes, the largest located on Reugen island with 20,000 beds.
The takeover of the institutions of education by the state was the hallmark of the National Socialist of Germany and the Soviets in Russia to indoctrinate the youth with a party-sponsored creed.
During the 12-year Nazi reign in Germany, most private schools were closed or taken over by the state. The National Socialist party mandated an educational system of public, government-operated schools where “no private schools were to be allowed, unless they followed the dictates of the state to the letter,” Moreover, prior to 1933, German public schools were decentralized, operating “under the jurisdiction of local authorities,” while the universities were under the individual German States. In short order, they were nationalized and Nazified under the Reich’s Ministry of Education.
In 1935 Joseph Goebbels suggested that the German youth is owned by the Nazi state, remarking: “The youth belongs to us and we will yield them to no one.” Earlier, Hitler referred to his proposed educational system for Germany as “The whole education by a national state.”
When a skeptic refused to agree to the Nazi’s vision of state-operated education, Hitler confronted him and said:
Your child belongs to us already… What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.
In Nazi Germany, textbooks were quickly rewritten and the curricula changed to reflect the “compulsory” education of pupils in the “spirit of National Socialism” and “racial science.”
Teachers encouraged students to “inform” on their parents. In other cases, students were promised money if they “denounced” parents or neighbors. The same treatment towards parents occurred in the Hitler Youth, which required children to write essays entitled, “What does your family talk about at home?”
Due to the 1933 Concordat agreement with the Vatican, the Nazis had agreed to allow parochial schools, but within a short period, they too were being subjected to infringements, closures or seizures by the Nazi Ministry of Education. In 1936 Hitler issued a decree (Hitler Youth Law) to make membership in the Hitler Youth compulsory, thereby outlawing any religious or private youth organizations, a “flagrant violation of the Concordat.”
Under the Soviet People's Commissar of Education, the Soviet Union's education was organized as a systematic structure of highly centralized government-operated schools, which during Stalin's years was established with "rigid political indoctrination", where the Communist Party achieved "total control of every facet of Soviet education and society."
Similar to the National Socialist policies, Soviet “children were encouraged to inform on parents,” trained among a technocratic structure where it was common for "agencies" to "replace parents as the main socializers of youth."
The Communist Party established youth organizations to develop loyal party members, beginning with the Little Octobrists, ages 7-9, the Young Pioneers from the age of 10 to 14, and then the "Komsomol" (Young Communist League) with an age spanning from 15-27. Indoctrination permeated every stage of Soviet education, where the “emphasis in education is not for the enrichment of the individual for the individual’s sake, but exclusively for the state’s sake.”
One American observer of the educational system in the Soviet Union remarked:
It is not the individual around whom the educational system is built, but the state, which, by identifying itself with the pursuits of the common good, attempts the ruthless subordination of the individual—his rights, tastes, choices, privileges, and his training—to its own needs.
Schooling was compulsory, and the curriculum relied on “overemphasizing specialization” that appeared to be “almost ignorant of the sort of liberal arts education known in the West.”
Lenin assured that education in the Soviet Republic should be beholden to a form of social determinism of class-based consciousness, writing that “all education work… should be imbued with the spirit of the class struggle being waged by the proletariat for the successful achievement of the aims of its dictatorship,…”
All ideological dictatorships of the 20th century manifested a hostility towards the clergy and theology. The Soviet Union was famously and militantly antireligious, founding the League of Militant Atheists in 1924, which operated under the purview of the Soviet Communist Party from 1925 to 1947. To the Russian Soviets, religion was to be vanquished through the power of “scientific explanation”, which represented a “single truth.” Besides banning all religious instruction in schools, the state liquidated church-owned property, which was gradually accomplished in 20 years.
When hundreds of clergy refused to recognize the Soviet Union as their “civil fatherland”, they were sent to the Solovki prison camp where up to one-fifth of the prisoners were clergymen. By 1941, it has been estimated that “40,000 Christian churches and 25,000 Muslim mosques had been closed down,” and eventually turned into schools, cinemas, clubs, warehouses and grain stores, or Museums of Scientific Atheism. During this period many “Muslim priests were imprisoned or executed,” Sharia courts outlawed and by 1935 Muslims were prohibited from taking pilgrimages to Mecca. Even the holy day of Sunday was abolished from 1926-1940.
From the very start, Hitler regarded the nation-state as a deity, saying that “We do not want any other god than Germany itself. It is essential to have fanatical faith and hope and love in and for Germany.” According to British historian Michael Burleigh the National Socialists hated “Christianity for its Judaic roots, effeminacy, otherworldliness and universality.” Most Nazi leaders were either atheistic or had a tendency toward paganism. Otto Strasser, an early Nazi Party member and German politician, wrote that Hitler “was profoundly imbued with German paganism.” Strasser also asserted in his 1940 book, Hitler and I, that “Hitler is an atheist.”
The National Socialist, like the Russian Soviets, engaged children to disseminate their contempt for Christianity. Members of the Hitler Youth at the 1934 Nuremberg Party rally sang:
No evil priest can prevent us from feeling that we are the children of Hitler. We follow not Christ, but Horst Wessel. Away with incense and holy water. The Church can go hang for all we care. The Swastika brings salvation on earth. I want to follow it step by step.
Hundreds of monasteries in Austria and Germany were expropriated by the National Socialists, removing all of their occupants, clerics, laymen, and novices. Beginning in the mid-1930s, at least 2720 clerics were interned at Germany’s Dachau concentration camp culminating in over 1,000 deaths.
Hitler told insiders and confidants that he planned to abolish all religious institutions after he won the war, concerned that if he attempted to do it earlier, he would be subjected to serious political fallout.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt had received information confirming Hitler’s intentions to abolish all religions within his control. During an Oct. 27, 1941, speech, FDR declared:
Your Government has in its possession another document, made in Germany by Hitler’s Government… It is a plan to abolish all existing religions—Catholic, Protestant, Mohammedan, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jewish alike. The property of all churches will be seized by the Reich and its puppets. The cross and all other symbols of religion are to be forbidden. The clergy are to be forever liquidated, silenced under penalty of the concentration camps, where even now so many fearless men are being tortured because they have placed God above Hitler.
Creating the "New Man"
See also: Propaganda in the Soviet Union, Communist propaganda, and Homo Sovieticus
Both Stalinism and Nazism share an ideological vision of creating an ideal "new man", both identified the "bourgeois" world as the old world that was obsolete, and both involved a total rejection of liberalism as well as individual rights and freedoms, in which they sought to create a new, illiberal modern society. This vision of the New Man differed between them, the Stalinists conceived of the New Man as necessarily involving the liberation of all of humanity - a global and non-ethnic goal, while the Nazis conceived of the New Man as a master race that would organize a new racial hierarchy in Europe. Both systems made heavy use of propaganda, with Stalinism attempting to reshape the new "Soviet man".
Anti-capitalist and anti-bourgeois sentiments were rampant among the leadership of both Stalin’s Soviet Russia and Hitler’s National Socialist Germany. Hitler described the forces opposed to Nazi Germany during World War II as the wealthy classes of the capitalist West. On April 6, 1941, Hitler issued an order extolling his past military victories, affirming that “German Armies [had] defeated the legions of capitalism and plutocracy.” Goebbels favored the Bolsheviks over the capitalists, writing in his diary that “it would be better for us to go down with Bolshevism than live in eternal slavery under capitalism.” Goebbels was not hesitant to designate the economic battle lines between England and Germany, arguing in 1939 that “England is a capitalist democracy. Germany is a socialist people's state.”
The Nazis distributed propaganda posters targeting working class districts, often focusing on anti-capitalism. One read: “The maintenance of a rotten industrial system has nothing to do with nationalism. I can love Germany and hate capitalism.” British historian Richard Overy asserted that National Socialists created a “command economy,” which rejected economic liberalism and made Hitler not only “an enemy of free-market economics,” but forged a “reluctant dirigiste.” Another reason for Nazism’s disapproval of capitalism was the alleged Jewish root of financial capital, speculation, banking, and usury. One Nazi poster in 1933 attacking the Jewish bourgeoisie in Germany read: “Because Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich wants social justice, big Jewish capitalism is the worst enemy of this Reich and its Führer.”
Stalin is considered as one of the leading anti-capitalist revolutionary leaders, following in the footsteps of Marx and Lenin. Others, such as Tony Cliff, described “Stalinism as state capitalism,” which he considered as “a form of capitalism where the state takes the role of capital.”
Historian Conan Fischer argues that the Nazis were sincere in their use of the adjective socialist, which they saw as inseparable from the adjective national, and meant it as a socialism of the master race, rather than the socialism of the "underprivileged and oppressed seeking justice and equal rights." Historian John Toland, referred to “Hitler’s socialism” as “his own and subordinate to his secret aims” and that “his concept of organized economy was close to genuine socialism,” but he would change his policies to fit his greater goal.
Further, while Hitler for "tactical" reasons had rhetorically declared a 1920 party platform with socialist platitudes "unshakable," actually "many paragraphs of the party program were obviously merely a demagogic appeal to the mood of the lower classes at a time when they were in bad straits and were sympathetic to radical and even socialist slogans...Point 11, for example...Point 12...nationalization...Point 16...communalization.... put in at the insistence of Drexler and Feder, who apparently really believed in the 'socialism' of National Socialism." In actual practice, such points were mere slogans, "most of them forgotten by the time the party came to power.... the Nazi leader himself was later to be embarrassed when reminded of some of them."
History and scholarship of the comparisons
There is a long tradition of fascism and communism, or more specifically, Nazism and Stalinism, being compared to each other. In the 1920s, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), under the leadership of Chancellor Hermann Müller, adopted the view that "red equals brown", i.e. that the communists and Nazis posed an equal danger to liberal democracy. In 1930, Kurt Schumacher famously said the two movements enabled each other. He argued that the Communist Party of Germany, which was staunchly Stalinist, were "red-painted Nazis." This comparison was mirrored by the social fascism theory advanced by the Soviet government and the Comintern (including the Communist Party of Germany), according to which, social democracy was one of many forms of fascism, along with nazism and other ideologies. After the 1939 Nazi–Soviet Pact was announced, even The New York Times recognized the close connections between Nazism and communism, editorializing that "Hitlerism is brown communism, Stalinism is red fascism."
Those close similarities were also apparent in the early 1930s when Nazis and Communist party members were repeatedly switching their party affiliation as political situations for either party improved or declined. An infamous joke in Germany identified the switchers as "Beefsteaks"—"brown on the outside and red on the inside." The public also dubbed the switchers as "Nazi brown outside, Moscow red inside." Political ideologues, especially from the SA ranks, could see little difference between the National Socialists and the Communists. Even Joseph Goebbels once spoke about such minor differences, declaring in a 1925 speech that "Lenin is the greatest man, second only to Hitler, and that the difference between Communism and the Hitler faith is very slight."
Marxist theories of fascism have seen fascism as a form of reaction to socialism and a feature of capitalism. Several modern historians have tried to pay more attention to the economic, political and ideological differences between these two regimes than to their similarities. Michael Geyer and Sheila Fitzpatrick, in Beyond Totalitarianism: Stalinism and Nazism Compared (2009), have stated that "when it comes to one-on-one comparison, the two societies and regimes may as well have hailed from different worlds."
The Origins of Totalitarianism
Hannah Arendt's seminal work, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), describes and analyzes the two major totalitarian movements of the twentieth century, Nazism and communism. She concludes that both Nazism and communism were totalitarian movements that sought to eliminate all restraints upon the power of the State.
A number of research institutions are focusing on the analysis of fascism/Nazism and Stalinism/communism, and the comparative approach, including the Hannah Arendt Institute for the Research on Totalitarianism in Germany, the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes in the Czech Republic and the Institute of National Remembrance in Poland.
In modern politics
The comparison of Nazism and Stalinism has long provoked political controversy, and it led to the historians' dispute within Germany in the 1980s.
The 2008 Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism, initiated by the Czech government and signed by figures such as Václav Havel, called for "a common approach regarding crimes of totalitarian regimes, inter alia Communist regimes" and for
reaching an all-European understanding that both the Nazi and Communist totalitarian regimes each to be judged by their own terrible merits to be destructive in their policies of systematically applying extreme forms of terror, suppressing all civic and human liberties, starting aggressive wars and, as an inseparable part of their ideologies, exterminating and deporting whole nations and groups of population; and that as such they should be considered to be the main disasters, which blighted the 20th century.
The Communist Party of Greece opposes the Prague Declaration and has criticized "the new escalation of the anti-communist hysteria led by the EU council, the European Commission and the political staff of the bourgeois class in the European Parliament." The Communist Party of Britain opined that the Prague Declaration "is a rehash of the persistent attempts by reactionary historians to equate Soviet Communism and Hitlerite Fascism, echoing the old slanders of British authors George Orwell and Robert Conquest."
Since 2009, the European Union has officially commemorated the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism, proclaimed by the European Parliament in 2008 and endorsed by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in 2009, and officially known as the Black Ribbon Day in some countries (including Canada).
The President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering, argued that "both totalitarian systems (Stalinism and Nazism) are comparable and terrible."
In some Eastern European countries the denial of both fascist and communist crimes has been explicitly outlawed, and Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg has argued that "there is a fundamental concern here that totalitarian systems be measured by the same standard." However, the European Commission rejected calls for similar EU-wide legislation, due to the lack of consensus among member states.
A statement adopted by Russia's legislature said that comparisons of Nazism and Stalinism are "blasphemous towards all of the anti-fascist movement veterans, Holocaust victims, concentration camp prisoners and tens of millions of people ... who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the fight against the Nazis' anti-human racial theory."
Hitler in 1938
Stalin in 1930