Is Putin like Hitler?

It’s the question that everyone has been talking about recently.  It’s possibly what even more people have been thinking to themselves. Is Putin acting like Hitler?

Putin has on more than one occasion said the fall of the Soviet Union was a catastrophe.  It’s hard to find anyone from Eastern Europe who thinks that.  These nations that Soviet Russia conquered during WW2 and whose people were so desperate for freedom that they were shot trying to escape or simply disappeared if they didn’t appear loyal enough.  I have family in East Europe, friends from there and have visited countries there several times and none of them like Russia and none of them want to have anything to do with Russia.

Almost all of the former Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe are unrecognisably wealthier and freer than under communism.  Tiny little countries like Estonia who face daily intimidation from their former rulers in Moscow.  The reason is that their governments and their people cherish freedom and they spend their money on improving the lives of their people rather than vast armies and bribery of officials.  In fact only two European countries have barely improved; Belarus the only dictatorship in Eastern Europe whose leader is a close ally of Russia and Ukraine itself that never managed to join the EU and was repeatedly trapped under Russian influence.

Putin’s big hero is Stalin.  Stalin of course is famous for being one of only two people (the other being Mao Zedong of China) of being responsible for the deaths of more people than Hitler.  The glorious Soviet leader saw off 40 million souls whilst the hated Hitler exterminated 30 million people.  It is also worth noting that Stalinist Russia sided with Nazi Germany in WW2, something never noted in the Russian victory parades.  Whilst no-one would dishonour the millions of brave though badly led Soviet soldiers who gave their lives in the fight Nazism, Soviet Russia under Stalin occupied parts of Finland, the Baltic States, eastern Poland parts of Romania and other areas.

Ribbentrop-Molotov.svg

How Putins hero Stalin conspired with Hitler. After the war the Western Allies immediately gave Western European states their freedom.  The countries on the map above were not so lucky.

Three major nations declared war upon Nazi Germany before they had to.  Britain and France when Poland was invaded and then 2 years later, the United States after Pearl Harbour.  The only major country with a tarnished record is Russia who kept up an alliance with Germany until one day they woke up and found that the Nazi’s had invaded them.  Again after the war, the Allies didn’t ever consider keeping the nations they liberated unlike Russia.

There is no reason at all that Russia couldn’t be an extremely wealthy and happy country, the only thing stopping this is the system of government and self-serving leadership.  Russia has more natural resources than any other country, it is one of the very few that is in no way at any risk of being over-populated.  Those relative few Russians who make money soon move to London, the USA or the French Mediterranean but few if any western billionaires move to Moscow.

This week Prince Charles hit the news when in a private conversation with an elderly Canadian Jewish lady heard how she narrowly escaped the Nazis when they invaded Poland even with some of her family being murdered.  It would be hard not to sympathise with her which is what the future King of England did when he continued to remark that “And now Putin is doing pretty much the same as Hitler”.  She later told the media:

“I must say that I agree with him and am sure a lot of people do.

“But I was very surprised that he made the comment as I know they [members of the Royal Family] aren’t meant to say these things.

“I told the Prince that while my family and I were lucky to get a permit to travel, many members of my relatives had permits but were unable to get out before the war broke out on September 1.

“They were sent to the concentration camps and died.”

Whilst Prince Charles has a chequered history of stating his personal views, he is most likely thinking what many reasonable people are thinking.  As a private citizen he is allowed to say what he wants, whether or not we agree with it or whether or not there should be a monarchy and the leaders of the 3 main British political parties all vaguely agreed with his sentiments.

Strangely the state controlled Russian media which is never unhappy to argue with Britain or other western states have downplayed the comments.  Perhaps many people agree with the sentiment or more likely Putin doesn’t want to encourage discontent in his country by bringing up the comparison in the first place.

So what similarities do Hitler and Putin have?  Those who disagree most strongly with Prince Charles point out that whilst Hitler himself killed millions of people, Putin hasn’t yet done so.  However both men picked on minorities.  Hitler on Jews and ethnic groups, Putin on homosexuals and minority groups.

Putin Lingerie

In a real democracy you can portray your leader however you like. This painting is just one of many seized in Russia for portraying Putin in an unflattering light.

Both men had problems with dissent.  Hitler had the opposition imprisoned and killed.  Putin trumps up accusations of treachery and fraud against political or business leaders and even girl bands who annoy him whilst investigative journalists are murdered and foreign dissidents are poisoned.   If you disagree with President Obama or Prime Minister Cameron, you can protest to your heart’s content.  Good luck with the anti-Putin protests in Russia.

Hitler of course was many things but he wasn’t a total idiot.  He knew it was better to conquer as much of the world as he could without a war and so in the 1930’s he quietly occupied various territories.  He militarised the Rhine Valley, then occupied Austria and later annexed parts of what was Czechoslovakia.   The Great Powers condemned him but were afraid to confront Hitler and get into another big war. Instead the policy of appeasement gave Hitler the chance to invade Poland before WW2 was declared.  Hitler didn’t care what the people’s of these lands thought just as Putin doesn’t care what those of his neighbours think.

Vladimir Putin

This near old age pensioner is more concerned like looking tough than acting his age.

I’ve been asserting that Putin is a dictator on the roads to Hitler like stardom since 2000 when he led a second Russian invasion of independent Chechenya with over 250,000 civilians killed and almost as many more vanished.

in 2008 Putin occupied a substantial part of northern Georgia without anyone helping the tiny country.  He supported Assad in Syria and saw no opposition and now has invaded Crimea and is up to no good in eastern Ukraine.  He says he is there to protect Russian citizens but they are only there because of the Soviet tactics of moving people’s around to colonise lands in much the same way China does with Chinese immigrants into Tibet and its western provinces.  Crimea is not a traditionally Russia area, it was for centuries a Greek territory and then for 330 years an Ottoman Turkish province.  It became Russian after it was conquered in 1783 where it generally stayed until 1954.  By my terrible maths, it seems going by Putins logic it should be Greek or Turkish rather than Russian.  Or maybe the whole of Russia should just be ruled by Mongolia seeing as the Mongols once ran the whole vast country before there was a real Russia.

Topless Putin

Putin on his way to Brokeback Mountain

Another element Hitler and Putin have in common is propaganda. We in the west don’t even believe our leaders when they say they have done something which they have indeed done.  Hitler was great at propaganda.  He was a powerful orator and under Joseph Goebbels as Propaganda Minister Nazi Germany made patriotic movies, books, posters, radio plays, marches, rallies, newspapers and posters on everything from German superiority to Jewish hatred to complaints on how much money disabled Germans cost the nation… in order to create an atmosphere where they could be disappeared.

Putin Archaeologist

Putin discovers priceless artefacts just in time for state ran Russian TV news. This was absolutely NOT a set-up. Fine don’t believe me.

Putin doesn’t kill disabled people but like the West of 50 years ago, they are ignored and hidden away rather like gays and ethnic minorities.  Nashi summer camps are held where teenagers and young adults partake in patriotic fun where as well as camping, over 100,000 a year are taught how to insult political opposition figures and foreign groups and nations.  Not a little unlike the Hitler Youth.

Putin though is an expert at propaganda.  He is quite simply the combination of James Bond and Indiana Jones in a single muscle-clad middle-aged and rather homosexual looking body.    Whether he is bareback horse-riding in Siberia, hunting in the forests, sometimes with no top on, fishing again sometimes with no top on, playing the piano (this time with a top on), scuba diving and discovering priceless artefacts, racing cars, flying helicopters, playing hockey then Putin is your man.  In fact the only thing he doesn’t seem to be very good at is democracy and improving the welfare of his people, which is a little unfortunate for a President.

That’s probably why Putin has spent the week with that other major power well-known for democracy, intimidating neighbours and strong civil rights, China.

Whether Putin is really like Hitler or not, he doesn’t seem like a very nice chap to me and as someone who has studied the past and present situation a great deal, I think more than ever it is a fair comparison.   Whilst I’d be very happy for Russian WW2 veterans to attend the upcoming D-Day events this June, I wouldn’t have Putin as I don’t believe OUR fallen soldiers would want to be honoured by his presence.

Russia yesterday lashed out at Prince Charles for comparing Vladimir Putin to Hitler, publicly questioning his fitness to be king.

As controversy continued to rage around the world, Russia’s foreign ministry said his remarks were ‘unacceptable, outrageous and dishonourable’ and ‘not worthy of a future British monarch’.

Russian diplomats insisted on meeting counterparts in London, where they are understood to have demanded an official explanation. But the frosty 40-minute talks at the Foreign Office in London ended without agreement when British officials flatly refused to discuss Charles’s words – and instead attacked Russia for seeking to destabilise eastern Ukraine.

Of course it is not just Ukraine, Russian politicians and strategic advisers have been commenting on possible Russian ambitions on several European countries from Finland in the north to Moldova in the south.  Russian jets and bombers frequently enter and threaten to enter the airspace of their neighbours and the RAF scrambles fighter planes every month, sometimes several times a month to intercept Russian military aircraft heading into British airspace.  None of these are friendly actions and British airspace is never threatened by any other nation.

bear-bomber-raf-typhoon-with-one-of-the-russian-tu-95s

RAF Typhoon shadowing a Russian “Bear” nuclear bomber off the coast of the U.K.

In a real democracy people are allowed to criticise their leaders, we do it all the time even on prime time tv shows.  We insult our leaders, mock the Royal Family, laugh at foreign leaders too if they are particularly bad.  Maybe Putin isn’t used to hearing what people really think of him and he is finding that the truth hurts.  One doesn’t have to share every attribute with another person to be compared unfavourably with them and so on that basis I’d say if the boot fits, wear it.

Putin Hitler

Two dictators, one nightmare of global domination.

 

 

 

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About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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20 Responses to Is Putin like Hitler?

  1. Geoff Coupe says:

    Good analysis. Putin is a worrying figure. Following the Eurovision result this year, the Dutch “Volkskrant” newspaper had a rather good summary from its resident cartoonist: The Clash of Civilizations – http://media.cagle.com/225/2014/05/12/148361_600.jpg

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  2. Thanks Geoff. I think that cartoon is excellent. I was just thinking how much can be summed up that the Russian summer camp is about war and hatred whilst all the teenage camps across Europe attract students summer learning tolerance making friends and an appreciation of the neighbouring cultures.

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  3. Francis says:

    Good insights and I generally agree with your comments on the situation having also visited the Ukraine within the last ten years.

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  4. msauthorette says:

    Wow, this is a great post. I appreciate how you articulate the points and show the similarities between Hitler and Putin. Really enjoyed this.

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  5. Amusing and insightful. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

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  6. Boyer Writes says:

    Stephen, I am happy to see a follow-up and a more in-depth writing since my blog on Moldova. I have sent this one to over 100 of my readers. I really do not think anyone can put their “head in the sand” when it comes to the loss of freedom. Too many have died in past wars to be certain that all countries have the right to chose liberty. It should be their choice and theirs alone.

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    • Thank-you. I believe the very fact that no country or senior world leader has really spoken up about this really goes to highlight the similarities of appeasement in the 1930’s and today.

      Then Britain and France understandably wanted to avoid another world war so close to the last one, Russia didn’t want to be invaded and so thought they could side with Germany and share the spoils and the United States was very isolationist.

      Today the USA and Britain don’t want to fight because of memories of Iraq and Afghanistan and Europe doesn’t want to upset Russia not realising parts of it may be next up for invasion.

      Just because our nations fought for our freedoms 70 years ago doesn’t mean very much to aggressive nations today. They are only interested in whether we would fight to save ourselves or protect innocent, peaceful smaller nations today.

      Back then there was at least one leader who saw the dangers, Churchill. Today it’s hard not to get the impression that only strong leader going is sat bare-chested inside the Kremlin.

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  7. kiwiskan says:

    good comments. Shared on Facebook

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  8. Pingback: Chuck, Vlad, and Godwin’s Law | Geoff Coupe's Blog

  9. A really good and insightful post! I learned a lot about Putin that I wasn’t aware of.

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  10. Compelling. Great post.

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  11. Rosemarie says:

    Excellent post, Stephen. The comparison of Putin to Hitler is a valid one. And I love your caption on the shirtless horseback photo….heading to Brokeback Mountain. Tee hee! The biggest homophobes so often have something they are trying to hide.

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  12. Very interesting write-up indeed, though I disagree with much it does not mean it is wrong or flawed! I just think at each layer of this issue one discovers more information. I am not able to compare Putin to Hitler, because Hitler was simply to awful to be compared to anyone. As for Prince Charles, he is not responsible for our foreign policy and therefore cannot make such statements in the public arena, as much as anyone can pretend it was private: he was on official duty. If he wants to campaign on his opinion he is welcome to as a politician.
    The problem with Russia is that pre-Putin it was totally and completely out of control. Putin smashed the corrupt oligarch mafia and frankly Russia is nothing like it was in the 1990s. Of course he has overstayed his welcome, but like it or not his popularity is higher than it has ever been, and it is not our remit to choose the leaders of foreign countries…well, not usually, though we took it upon ourselves, as the ‘West’, to do so in the Ukraine, and did so illegally,whatever the moral justification might be. Yanokovitch was an unpleasant despot, but no ally of Russia – he is the one who signed all the gas exploration deals with Chevron, Exxon and Shell, but when he committed himself not to use violence he was then persuaded to leave very quickly. At the moment the Ukrainian government is composed of 6 fascist ministers, including a public prosecutor that has buried any investigation into the false flag killing of demonstrators. Russian fears of fascism were genuine. Crimea was illegal, but not totally indefensible, and the verdict is open as far as I am concerned on Eastern Ukraine. Yes, generally Russia behaved provocatively, but I saw what the U.S. did in Nicaragua in the 1980s, and the record of U.S. governments in Latin America easily mirrors that of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe, and I think is much, much worse.
    Fascism is on the rise in Hungary, and remnants of fascism are unpleasant in the Baltic states, who went through much pain to be where they are today. am not sure what is going to happen to Ukraine, but believe me, Hungary very much covets Ruthenia, the Western tip, and openly supported Putin’s pronouncements, rather bizarrely, hoping they could get a piece of the pie.
    Granted, Milosovics was a bastard of the worst kind, but Tudjman in Croatia was not much better at all.
    No one can deny the Soviets were cruel regarding Eastern Europe – however, Russia has another, completely different side to it, and a justified paranoia about being derailed and attacked by the West.
    Chechnya was horrific. I was in Azerbaijan a the time ofone of the Chechnyan wars. The Chechyans were busy beheading innocent Russians as fast as they could, and the Chechnyan mafia, too, was particularly vile. There was horror on both sides.
    Putin is not a pleasant man at all. He works in Russia’s interests, and arguably avoided a war in Syria. I am surprised to hear that his hero is Stalin, but am prepared to accept that, even though it goes against his way of thinking in my opinion, in that Stalin was a murderous inefficient buffoon. Anyway, those wee some of my opinions!

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    • Hi there! thanks so much for your great comments. I’m sorry for the late reply, I had two all day guided tours to do.

      Yes in many ways Putin has done to Russia what Saddam, Assad and Mubarak have done for their countries in that to various degrees, the people have agreed to limit their freedoms in order to guarantee a certain level of security and I’m certainly not against that if it is a temporary measure that stamps out unrest and crime even if by temporary I mean several years.

      We’ll just have to hope that the new Ukrainian government both have the wisdom to not behave provocatively but also that the country is further stirred up by foreign agents of either side. If minorities have legitimate complaints, invading vast territories shouldn’t be the way to resolve the problem.

      I’d agree about the U.S. meddling in Latin America and interestingly much of the area still has relatively hostile “socialist” states that want as little to do with the USA as they did 30 years ago. Perhaps that is a possible lesson for Russia, no matter how much you try and manipulate things, in the end the deep down perceptions of the people will always come through. I’d agree that America was far worse in Latin America, perhaps worse again because it goes against the so-called American ideals whilst sadly with modern-day Russia, no-one really expects much better.

      I think the situation in Hungary is very worrying, before the Ukraine situation I’d say they were the most worrying state in Europe. It’s incredible that having come so far and benefited greatly that fascist voices seem to be gaining in prominence there. I’m surprised the EU haven’t done something about them to be honest.

      I’d agree that the whole situation in Chechenya was terrible and that sections of the Chechen population behaved like animals but when it comes down to it, like everyone else, they are entitled to their own country.

      I realise that Russia has residual worries, particularly from WW2 but it’s unimaginable that any external force would invade Russia. Surely being paranoid about Western interference says even more about not just Putin but the ruling culture in general. If they were really committed to democracy and “western” levels of governance and rights the country could easily become a leading “western” power like Japan or Germany.

      Personally, aside from the suffering of various groups in Russia and those who want change, I’m not any more bothered about Putin than many other dictators but I do think that we should be more consistent in our dealings with him, particularly Germany.

      In many ways I’d agree with you about Charles and it can’t be good to have a senior Royal member from a major country saying something that alienates another country.

      I’d also agree that Putin acts for the good of his country even if it is in a different way than many leaders in the west would. I’m all for anyone who stands up for themselves whether it is strikers in France or occupied Palestinians.

      It was great hearing from you, I always say it is better to have a disagreement with someone with an opinion than someone with no real opinion (hello European Elections). Stay well friend!

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      • Very interesting comments made. I ‘ll just answer one now and think about the others in a bit. I do agree with John Pilger and think the ‘extra push’ to get Yaukovych out just after he’d disarmed all his forces was to get that interim government in, with Yats, Turchy and their mob of ultra-nationalists in order to cancel or not renew the lease on Sevastopol, and thus open the possibilities of it becoming a U.S. base. Putin’s hand was almost forced in my opinion. U.S. earnt from Iraq, and put the right word in the right ears to have the U.S. VP’s son and Kerry’s campaign manager in the largest gas company. They also secured large nuclear power contracts for fuel rod supply and production, without tender, so they got a bit out of that interim period. But a base in Sevastopol would have shaken Russia. If Tatarstan could have independence it would take it, so might Kalmikiya, as maybe Tuva and Yakutia, or Tatarstan’s cousins with oil, Bashkortostan, sening weakness. The U.S. has surely imagined that scenario. Letting Chechnya and the oil go is one thing, but watching Ingushia and Daghestan go also is a lot. Not sure how many in Chechnya wanted independence. Interesting.

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  13. thepoliblog says:

    A very insightful post. Putin seems to me to be a blend of Mussolini and Hitler, rather than either of them in pure form.
    As for the claim by one of the commenters that Putin pushed out the oligarchs, he didn’t. He boosted some of the oligarchs while squashing the others.
    He may want to help Russia, but he damages it. He is too much like a mafia boss to really help it. He wants all of the wrong things, and is pulling it backwards.
    Prince Charles has every right to use his bully pulpit. For example, he does all of us a service by reminding us of the dangers of our environmental carelessness.

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