Who was worse and why: Hitler or Stalin?

Evil is evil- it just is. Stalin and Hitler were both horrible men, horrible leaders, and they did horrible things to their own people and others. That said, I think Hitler is the more evil of the 2.

Asking this question is kinda like asking “what’s worse dying of rabies or being lit on fire”. They both just really suck. I’m not a fan of historical antler measuring contests but regardless- it’s a common question so let’s address it.


Hitler took power in 1933 and reigned in Germany as dictator until 1945 when Germany fell. During this period of time

  1. He started the largest war in world history where some 60 million people would die
  2. He would spearhead and order the largest genocide in human history
  3. He would destroy his own nation and in the end, his final orders were for SS units to destroy the remaining German infrastructure because “the German people failed me”

Now Hitler really stands alone when it comes to horror.

During WW2 the Nazis would directly kill 35 million civilians. This is an insane number. Now, these are not people killed by accident when a factory was bombed nor are these indirect deaths from German actions. No- I mean Germans shot, gassed, tortured, and intentionally killed 35 million civilians.

  • 6 million Jews were either killed in camps by gas chambers, worked to death, or murdered by mobile killing squads. At Treblinka, entire trains full of children arrived and were gassed and killed on the spot.
  • 20 million Russian civilians were killed by Germans. In many (if not most) cases the Germans just slaughtered any civilians they found. In other cases, they besieged their cities and let them starve.
  • 2.5 million Poles were killed in camps, murdered by mobile killing squads, or shot to death.
  • 3 million Soviet POWs were killed inside German concentration cams
  • 300,000 disabled people were murdered by Nazis in their infamous T4 program.

These are just the primary crimes against humanity Hitler ordered and inspired.

In his 12 years in power 35 million died. This means that for every year that man ruled Germany, 3 million civilians died on average. These deaths were intentional, horrific, and make your blood run cold


Stalin was no angel either though.

He made his name in the communist party by committing various crimes to raise funds. He was known as a violent sociopath with little regard for human life.

When Lenin died though Stalin quickly found himself in power and from 1922 to 1953 Stalin would rule the USSR as its absolute dictator.

Stalin would cause famines, kill political enemies, and kill innocent civilians alike. He maintained power through fear, torture, brutality, and ruthlessness.

How many died under his rule though? Well this is hard to say.

Now, most of you will say “20 million” but that number is a bit tricky. First off there is no evidence for 20 million being valid. In order to get to 20 million you have to include every possible famine, wildly overestimate realistic death tolls, and stretch the truth.

The only historians to conclude “20 million” as the number are famously anti-socialist and this is important to note.

I conclude that 10,300,000 were killed due to Stalin.

  • 4 million in the Holodomor which was a famine in Ukraine.
    • Note that famine is different from genocide. It’s debated if Stalin intended for famine to occur or not. I think he likely did so I include it but there is a strong debate that he did not intend for this to happen. Intent matters- it’s the difference between murdering your room ate and accidentally killing someone in a car crash.
  • 300,000 in the Decossakization (arguably genocide)
    • Some estimates peg this number as low as 10,000 though
  • 1 million in The Great Purge
  • 200,000 in Operation Lentil
  • 50,000 in the deportation of Crimean Tatars
  • 500,000 killed in Kulak Deportations
  • 100,000 additional killed in Gulags (most are already included in the above events)
  • 4–5 million Germans were killed in WW2
    • 2.5 million civilians were killed due to war crimes
    • 1 million POWs killed
    • 600,000 killed after post-WW2 deportations
  • 150,000 Polish POWs killed

Now many of these were extremely brutal. After German atrocities in the USSR the Reds wanted revenge and brutalized the German civilian population.

Moreover, life in the USSR was terrifying for many. Stalin’s government was horrifyingly cruel and often killed at random simply to inspire fear.

My total of 10 million can be debated though. Famines are disasters and its hard to include them as intentional killings. Additionally, records are really incomplete here and while I am not on the high end- I am also far from the low-end estimates


Every year Hitler was in power 3 million people died on average

Every year Stalin was in power 300,000 people died on average.

Hitler is responsible for 3 times more killings than Stalin and he achieved this number in 1/3rd the time.

Also, Hitler intended to kill every single civilian that died– in fact, he wanted to kill many more but was thankfully stopped. With Stalin, it is not so clear. We can attribute many millions of deaths to him- but not all were intentional or desired.

Either way they were both horrible people.

How & Why Germans Bought Hitler’s Pitch

This clip from a 1 hour PBS television documentary I made called ” How Hitler Lost the War.” The film takes a unique point of view. Rather than talking about who won the war, my colleagues and I explored what Hitler did that helped lose Germany the war. Although it happened so long ago, it is still a frightening story. Some of the interviews I conducted in this segment were fascinating to me and I hope they are to you as well.
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Timothy Snyder: The Ancient is the Modern

Russia recategorizes their problems wiith “Eternal Politics”.
France solved their national problems by invading other countries. (15 min)

Russia displaces all their problems on foreigners. (25:24 min)

Russia is innocent and had a virgin birth, immaculate empire achieved through a series of defensive battles and no internal politics. (30 min)

Ilyin’s Hegelian thought: God created the world as a process of self-liberation but was unable to enfold the world back into “himself” at a higher level (35 min)

God failed because the middle classes are so wedded to material existence and they stopped God because of their civil societies with pluralism (38 min)

Ilyin thought Jesus was a failure and reinterpretted Jesus’s sayings as the opposite. (43 min)

Everything that has happened in history

One must come from beyond history, from beyond rationality, from nowhere

Ilyin defends Mussolini and Hitler and believes that facism is wonderful.

Russia can not be divided.  It has no minorities. (47 min)

Ilyin had a German mother, all his influences were German (Freud, Hegel) he wrote his first version in German (57 min)

History is used to provide a myth of innocence (1 hr 00 min)

 

 

 

How & Why Germans Bought Hitler’s Pitch

Get the entire film at https://www.createspace.com/204551. This clip from a 1 hour PBS television documentary I made called ” How Hitler Lost the War.” The film takes a unique point of view. Rather than talking about who won the war, my colleagues and I explored what Hitler did that helped lose Germany the war. Although it happened so long ago, it is still a frightening story. Some of the interviews I conducted in this segment were fascinating to me and I hope they are to you as well.

Road Runner Populism

But, of course, it is only a question of when, not if, the economic reckoning will come. Populism is not only about promises to give more to more people; but, without those promises, all of the cultural elements of populism would look merely outdated and reactionary. And even reactionaries do not like reactionary politics if it hurts them in their wallets.

.. In the United States, the midterm congressional elections in November will be decided by whether enthusiasm about the state of the economy is strong enough to compensate for the widespread disapproval of Trump’s personal style and divisive, sexist, and racist rhetoric. Yet it is precisely on this issue that the conventional wisdom breaks down.

.. Classical economic liberalism assumes that bad policies will be punished immediately by bad outcomes. Over the past 25 years, bond-market vigilantes have argued that all-seeing, forward-looking financial markets will always anticipate the future consequences of populist policies and impose risk premia.

According to this logic, as borrowing costs rise, populist governments will not be able to deliver on their rash promises, and sanity and orthodoxy will eventually return.

Economists who study populism generally draw lessons , where past episodes of nationalist over-promising have quickly led to massive fiscal deficits that could not be financed. In these cases, populist economics always produced cycles of inflation, currency depreciation, and instability, because global financial markets and other outsiders were skeptical from the start.

The problem is that the Latin American experience is not universal. Bond markets are not as predictable as many seem to believe; nor can they be relied on as an ultimate source of discipline. Like markets generally, bond markets can be captured by a popular narrative (or what might euphemistically be called the management of expectations) that overstates the prospects of a certain outcome.

.. The most extreme response to the Depression came from Hitler’s Germany. The Nazis did not miss an opportunity to boast about how quickly their programs had wiped out unemployment and built new infrastructure. With the German government keeping inflation in check through extensive price and wage controls, there was much talk about an economic miracle.

The Nazis’ apparent success in defying economic orthodoxy looked to many conventionally minded analysts like an illusion. Critics outside Germany saw only a deeply immoral polity pursuing a project that was doomed to fail. They were right about the immorality, of course; but they were wrong about the imminence of the project’s economic collapse.

In 1939, the Cambridge University economist Claude Guillebaud published The Economic Recovery of Germany, which argued that the German economy was quite robust and would not collapse from overstrain or overheating in the event of a military conflict. Guillebaud was widely vilified. The Economist, that bastion of classical liberalism, pilloried him in an unprecedented two-page review, concluding that not even the chief Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels could have improved on his interpretation. His work, the editors lamented, was emblematic of a “dangerous tendency among democratic economists to play the Nazis’ game.”

.. Guillebaud was also excoriated by other academics who were far more famous than him, such as the British economist Dennis Robertson. And yet Guillebaud was fundamentally right: Nazi Germany was not an economy on the brink of collapse, and the Western powers would have done well to start mobilizing a proper defense.

.. today’s populists have benefited from a general recovery that began before they arrived on the scene. When the next downturn comes, they will quickly find that their own reckless policies have severely constrained their ability to respond. At that point, Orbán, Kaczyński, and other Central European populists may decide to pursue more aggressive options.

.. If populism had an avatar, it would be the immortal cartoon character Wile E. Coyote, who, in his futile pursuit of the Road Runner, routinely sprints over cliff edges and continues to move forward, suspended by the logic of his own belief. Eventually, he realizes that there is no ground beneath his feet, and he falls. But that never happens immediately.

In the 1990s, when Russia was feeling the pinch of economic reforms, the Russian political provocateur Vladimir Zhirinovsky asked, “Why should we inflict suffering on ourselves? Let’s make others suffer.” The ultimate danger of nationalist populism always reveals itself during a setback. When things start to go wrong, the only way forward is at the expense of others.

As in the past, when the illusion of today’s painless economic expansion ends, politics will return to the fore, and trade wars may lead to troop deployments.

The Weinberger Doctrine

He lists six cautions or tests for U.S. forces to be sent into combat abroad:

  1. The commitment must be deemed vital to our national interest or that of our allies.
  2. It should be made “wholeheartedly, and with the clear intention of winning.”
  3. Political and military objectives and the ways to meet them must be clearly defined.
  4. As conditions change, whether the commitment remains in the national interest must be reassessed.
  5. Before a commitment is made, there must be “some reasonable assurance” of popular and congressional support.
  6. A commitment to arms must be a last resort.

.. Secretary Weinberger, who came of age in the 1930s, is still stirred by the failure of the democracies to respond to Hitler in a timely and forceful way. What is more on his mind now, however, is a Vietnam-type situation in which the United States may succumb to the “danger of (a) gradualist incremental approach which almost always means the use of insufficient force.”

.. In a sense Mr. Weinberger is simply distilling the post-Vietnam consensus — in a way that, strangely, relates to Gary Hart’s minority plank on “the selective, judicious use of American military power”

 

A New History of the Second World War

Although it was a high-tech conflict with newly lethal weapons, he writes, it still followed patterns established over millennia: “British, American, Italian, and German soldiers often found themselves fortifying or destroying the Mediterranean stonework of the Romans, Byzantines, Franks, Venetians, and Ottomans.” In many instances, military planners on both sides ignored the lessons of the past. Some lessons were local: it’s always been hard to “campaign northward up the narrow backbone of the Italian peninsula,” for example, which is exactly what the Allies struggled to do.

.. History shows that the only way to win a total war is to occupy your enemy’s capital with infantrymen, with whom you can force regime change. Hitler should have paused to ask how, with such a weak navy, he planned to cross the oceans and sack London and, later,Washington. At a fundamental level, it was a mistake for him to attack countries whose capitals he had no way to reach.

.. Before the war, the United States produced a little more than half of the world’s oil; Axis leaders should have known this would be a decisive factor in a mechanized conflict involving tanks, planes, and other vehicles. (The Nazis may have underestimated the importance of fuel because—even though they planned to quickly conquer vast amounts of territory through blitzkrieg—many of their supply lines remained dependent upon horses for the duration of the war.)

.. Axis leaders believed that Fascism could make up the difference by producing more fanatical soldiers with more “élan.”

For a brief time at the beginning of the war, Allied countries believed this, too. (There was widespread fear, especially, of Japanese soldiers.) They soon realized that defending one’s homeland against invaders turns pretty much everyone into a fanatic.

.. the Allies had bigger, faster factories and could produce more guns and shells. “The most significant statistic of the war is the ten-to-one advantage in aggregate artillery production (in total over a million large guns) enjoyed by the British Empire, the Soviet Union, and the United States over the three Axis powers.”

Russia, meanwhile, excelled at manufacturing cheap, easily serviceable, and quickly manufactured tanks, which, by the end of the war, were better than the tanks the Nazis fielded.

.. had Hitler chosen not to invade Russia, or not to declare war on the United States, he might have kept his Continental gains.

.. But temperance and Fascism do not mix, and the outsized ambitions of the Axis powers put them on a collision course with the massive geographical, managerial, and logistical advantages possessed by the Allies

.. The Axis powers fell prey to their own mythmaking: they were adept at creating narratives that made exceedingly unlikely victories seem not just plausible but inevitable. When the Allies perceived just how far Fascist fantasy diverged from reality, they concluded that Axis leaders had brainwashed their citizens and themselves.

.. The Axis countries lived in a fantasy world—they believed their own propaganda, which argued that, for reasons of race and ideology, they were unbeatable. The Allies, meanwhile, underestimated their own economic might in the wake of the Great Depression. They allowed themselves to be intimidated by Fascist rhetoric; justifiably horrified by the First World War, they wanted to give pacifism a chance, and so refrained from the flag-waving displays of aggression that might have revealed their true strength, while hoping, despite his proclamations to the contrary, that Hitler might be satisfied with smaller, regional conquests.

“Most wars since antiquity can be defined as the result of such flawed prewar assessments of relative military and economic strength as well as strategic objectives,”