Home > Critical Thinking, Musings, Reason, Skepticism > The Most Peculiar Similarity Between Hitler and Stalin

The Most Peculiar Similarity Between Hitler and Stalin

I am certainly not the first person to note that Hitler and Stalin shared some similarities- from their humble origin, extreme paranoia, rapid and somewhat unexpected rise to power, total domination of the government to the large genocides perpetrated under their rules. But there is one more similarity that is rarely, if ever, mentioned.

They did not use their power to accumulate and hoard wealth.

Leaders throughout human history have consistently looted their own countrymen. The post-looting behavior of leaders is also consistent and involves some combination of hoarding money, investing it outside their own country or using it to build extravagant palaces or venues for their recreation. Most totalitarianism leaders also use their power to bed tons of attractive women and helping their progeny inherit their wealth. This pattern is seen in groups as diverse as members of the Chinese Communist Party, Politicians in India, Arab Kings and Dictators, African Dictators and Warlords to old-money WASP and other influential families in the USA and UK.

Hitler and Stalin stand out as two of the very few leaders of note who did not use their power to enrich themselves. While they certainly lived very comfortable lives compared to their countrymen, it never approached the level of obscenity seen in otherwise comparable rulers. They also never used their position to get endless amounts of hot young pussy or try to install their children and relatives into positions of power.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. Thin-Skinned Masta-Beta
    July 23, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Every society has its own peculiar exchange rates between the most coveted assets, power, wealth, fame and status.

    But they are hardly infinitely fungible. See the feeble efforts of Hollywood celebrities to impose their fashionable political agendas on the public or influence policy makers.

    Most politicians have to settle for their bribes taking the form of campaign contributions which can only with great difficulty be transformed into the finer things in life. Consider the extraordinary efforts that John Edwards had to take to channel donations through an aide to hush his slut baby-mama, Rielle Hunter. Not even my favorite Prince of political chutzpah Illinois Governor could successfully turn the Senate seat vacated by President Barry O into cash that he could actually use. I admire Blago for the honesty of his corruption. Instead of hiding behind that pathetic figleaf of “political contributions” he tried like a bastard to get access to the cash for his own personal use – whether it was for his kids braces or their college tuition or something more worthwhile like blow and whores. Am I the only one who views Blago’s form of corruption as a form of “honest dealing” unfortunately so rare to politics?

    Also consider how ineffective attempts to “buy” higher office are. Shel Adelson couldn’t get Newt Gingrich the Republican Presidential nomination and Michael Huffington, Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina show that self-funding “Daddy Warbucks” candidates can hardly buy their seats at power.

    Of course none of this diminishes the real impact of campaign cash that enables special interests of all persuasions to buy attention, influence and results on the things that really matter – like the favorable details hidden in the tax code, health care or defense that are too complicated and arcane for mere citizen voters to understand.

    Interesting observation – I like that you highlight this bit about Stalin and Hitler. Never really thought about it before. They didn’t really care about themselves, they were indeed “artists” in to sculpt the world into what they thought would make it a better place. Altruists indeed… I admire their strength and persistence even if their visions horrify. It’s too bad that fear and hatred are more essential to rally people to such powerful action than equality, fraternity and solidarity. Imagine what more constructively focused Tea Party or Occupy Movements quit the passive whining and started building the kind of civilization that they envision.

    It’s too bad that Adolf and Josef lacked the wisdom to see that neither the German Volk nor the Peasants and the Proletariat of the World were worthy of elevation to National or Socialist “equality, fraternity and solidarity.” Nobody really wants equality. It’s just what the slaves and serfs say – lip service – until they are they themselves are sitting on the thrones of their former masters.

    • jhbowden
      July 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm

      They didn’t really care about themselves, they were indeed “artists” in to sculpt the world into what they thought would make it a better place.

      What explains the selflessness of Hitler and Stalin? Hitler, complete fanaticism; Stalin, complete cynicism. Pure idealism on the one side, pure realism on the other. Indeed, Hitler, literally a failed artist, imagined a purified world; he loved to drink his own Kool-Aid. In contrast, Stalin, expediency incarnate, practiced gangsterism from early childhood, having a violently aggressive temperament. For Hitler, nothing could be compromised; for Stalin, everything could be compromised.

      My favorite twentieth-century supertyrant is Mussolini, a rare combination of brawn and intellect only seen today in cartoon bad guys.

      • Thin-Skinned Masta-Beta
        July 24, 2012 at 8:57 pm

        Maybe we’ve got it all wrong?

        If Stalin and Hitler were both worshiped and feared like gods, then they hardly needed cash to buy any cheap trinkets as status signifiers. Furthermore I wonder how it worked if they went into any workshop, store or restaurant… I imagine that the proprietors spontaneously offered whatever their finest without being asked or requiring payment – perhaps with the honour of their virgin daughters thrown in as a nice little bonus. So these two monsters perhaps were not merely post-material barbarians who fancied themselves sculptors of civilization. Certainly their status was secure as was their personal enjoyment of any comforts or luxuries – whatever their black little hearts could desire.

  2. P Ray
    July 24, 2012 at 2:37 am

    On the other hand, neither have Pol Pot, Kony, Radovan Karadzic or Ratko Mladic enriched themselves either…

    • P Ray
      July 24, 2012 at 7:58 am

      Jeepers, I forgot Ho Chi Minh.

  3. July 24, 2012 at 4:13 am

    You are kinda wrong Stalin was a bank robber and more or less operated in a criminal way. Some of it sure improved his living and family as well. No idea what your talking about.

    Did his kids inherit great wealth or power?

    • anonM
      July 24, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      His daughter died in an regular old folks home in Wisconsin last year.

      • July 25, 2012 at 4:14 am

        Political refuge… also you gotta look at the country structure.

        Even if he amassed great wealth he couldn’t buy anything with it most things were built and ‘earned’ via connections or seniorage or being a party member. Power was the only thing he could amass and he did.

  4. July 24, 2012 at 4:54 am

    Google.

    Hitler, It Seems, Loved Money and Died Rich: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/08/world/hitler-it-seems-loved-money-and-died-rich.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

    I believe every word in an NYT article about Hitler (sarcasm). Seriously the British (empire atrocities) and American people (various genocides, slavery etc) have records that make the Nazis look OK.

    Stalin’s Private Summer Home: http://www.euroheritage.net/stalinshomegallery.shtml

    You are closer to correct when you speak about Stalin, because there is no reason to believe he hoarded *money*, but money and wealth are not synonyms. Stalin presided over what was essentially a giant slave-state; money did not need to be transacted for his wishes to be fulfilled (indeed, this was kinda the point) but this does not mean he wasn’t wealthy. A true accounting of ‘wealth’ surely must incorporate the extent to which you can bend others’ labor to fulfill your aims, wishes and appetites (or to speak loosely, how many slaves you ‘own’ x how devoted/obedient/terrified they are), and under such a metric it’s likely Stalin would have come out one of the wealthiest men of his time.

    As another commenter notes, you will make this same mistake if you focus on leaders who rely heavily on terror and murder; they may look non-wealthy in monetary terms but this could just be because, who needs money when literally everyone’s afraid you’re gonna murder them? It would be beyond perverse to use such traits as the basis for praise.

    I just pointed out that totalitarian leaders who cannot be bought do exist unlike your average totalitarian leader who can be bought or influenced.

    • July 24, 2012 at 7:34 am

      re: NYT article, ok so you dispute the claim that Hitler was wealthy? I’d be happy to look at your facts to the contrary, do you have any? Note: changing the subject to ‘who was more genocidal’ doesn’t help, this topic has nothing to do with genocide/atrocities, it is about whether these guys accrued wealth, remember?

      re: the idea that (I guess you are saying) Stalin ‘couldn’t be bought’, what does that have to do anything? So he was massively wealthy (in real/power terms), and (not coincidentally) couldn’t be ‘bought’. Well, if so, that was probably because of having all the power and comfort he could possibly ask for, and all. So sure, he ‘couldn’t be bought’. This was…a good thing..? *boggle*

    • anonM
      July 24, 2012 at 12:08 pm

      Hitler made a lot of money from sales of Mien Kampf. They are still fighting over royalties.

  5. Jim
    July 24, 2012 at 5:46 am

    They were totalitarian rulers. Their wealth was concentrated in the state. When you have a huge military and in Hitler’s case, a nation that will follow, send their children to your namesake youth camps, and hold their noses at the stench of humans burning in the ovens, you are richer than any monetary value can give you.

    Stalin was brutal and unforgiving. His wealth was concentrated in the sheer terror he was allowed to carry out. Even though those that did it for him were sometimes victims of it. Hence the purges and on demand executions of even his most loyal followers.

  6. July 28, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Dunno how true but I remember hearing that Genghis Khan allowed his subordinates the wealth of pillaged villagers, while he took all the women.

  7. Perry (http://www.PLATYPUS.com)
    March 17, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    PLATYPUS

  8. Bevis (http://www.PLATYPUS.com)
    March 17, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Liars! Stalin only had 28749132878973140707309847897359087 children. Not 3! Where do you IDIOTS get your info! China or something. And on second thought Hitler did drop a nuke on Great Britain. Not on Paris. All you people are starting to sound like Obama!

  1. July 28, 2012 at 5:25 pm

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