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Hitler and Stalin Two Fanatical and Ideological Opposed Leaders and Their Psychology

A senior air warrior, graduate from the Staff College, and a PG in military studies. He is qualified to write on war and allied matters

hitler-and-stalin-two-fanatical-and-ideological-opposed-leaders-and-their-psychology

Introduction

Two characters in the 20th century have dominated world history. Both of them to an extent had a diabolical effect but at the same time, you cannot ignore them. During the same period, two other men who were democratically elected also figure. The relationship between these four men dictated some of the greatest events in world history. The men I am referring to are Hitler, Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt.

On July 6, 1940, Adolf Hitler celebrated his victory in Europe. During the celebrations, his army chief General Haldar called him the "greatest warlord in world history." From Moscow, Hitler's collaborator, Joseph Stalin sent his congratulations. In London, the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was morose while across the Atlantic the American president Roosevelt kept a stony silence. In the coming five years the relationships between these four men would change and events that can never be forgotten took center stage. These four men not only commanded large armies but also fought a battle of the mind. These four men were also egotist and their decisions decided the further course of events during the next five years that shape the world as we see today.

The end of the war saw the demise of the great empires of the last 200 years and these traumatic changes were spearheaded by two ideological opposed men, Hitler and Stalin. These men played a game of upmanship against each other without any scruples thinking to outsmart the other. I am going to discuss the period from August 1939 to June 1941 which was a period of great intrigue, changes, and also affected millions of people. It led to changes in the world order and shaped the world as it is today.

hitler-and-stalin-two-fanatical-and-ideological-opposed-leaders-and-their-psychology
hitler-and-stalin-two-fanatical-and-ideological-opposed-leaders-and-their-psychology

The beginning

In August 1939, at Salzburg a beautiful place in Germany Hitler was pondering over the future course he should take. He had set his heart on invading Poland and his generals told him that he must attack before the autumn rains came. A fly in the appointment was that Britain and France had said that in case Germany invaded Poland they would go to war. He was also apprehensive of a Russian attack from the east and was aware that this two-front war had proved the nemesis of Germany during World War I. He decided that there was only one way forward and that was to have a pact with his greatest ideological opponent Joseph Stalin.

Stalin was the dictator of Russia and he had been poring over Hitler's autobiography 'Mien Kampf' written 15 years earlier. He red the book repeatedly underlining those passages which he felt showed the mind of Hitler and his animosity to Russia. He had no illusions about Hitler yet he had a feeling that the German dictator was feeling insecure and so accepted his proposal for a visit of the German foreign minister to Moscow.

Hitler's propaganda minister Dr. Gobbles wrote in his diary on 22 August 1939 that a nonaggression pact with Russia was in the offing and now we can sleep safely. On 23rd August the German foreign minister Von Ribbentrop landed in Moscow. Hitler was an extremely insecure man and he sent his photographer Heinrich Hoffman to photograph the ear lobes of Stalin to ensure that Stalin did not have Jewish blood. Stalin reportedly passed the test but this as bizarre as it gets.

On 24 August 1939, a Non-aggression pact was signed between Russia and Germany at midnight, along with the secret protocol that accepted the division of Poland between the two states. Both leaders were aware that this pact was a facade and hid the real intentions. Stalin thought he was getting the upper hand and to keep up appearances at a banquet proposed a toast to Hitler saying, " know how much the German people loved Hitler..."

Stalin was under no illusion and the very next day in a meeting with his generals he explained that Hitler thinks that he has fooled me but it is I who has fooled him. Both men were however mass murderers. They were of the view that what they did was right as history only remembers the conquerors like Changez Khan and Ivan the terrible and not those they butchered.

Immediately after the pact was signed Hitler invaded Poland. England and France declared war on Germany. Stalin supported Germany and made a statement to the press that it is not Germany that has created that situation but England and France who have attacked Germany. For a time both the dictators would be like in the boxing ring dancing around to strike at the right time. Hitler had his first test of mass murder when he got 60,000 Jews executed immediately after the occupation of Poland.

Stalin followed suit and attacked Poland and is guilty of having ordered the NKVD the Russian secret police to kill 20,000 Poles including officers of the Polish army. Their graves were discovered years later. At that time both the dictators who had extreme ideological differences appeared to be hand-in-hand and the British and Americans were nonplussed.



hitler-and-stalin-two-fanatical-and-ideological-opposed-leaders-and-their-psychology

Mind Games

On 10 May 1940, fortified by the Russia-˜Germany pact Hitler launched his invasion of France. Stalin in the meantime decided to occupy the Baltic states Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania and also attacked Finland. Here he suffered a bruised nose and 125,000 Russians died for no cause. Stalin was infuriated and sent his KGB guards to gun down the top generals who had lost the war. All were executed but he failed to realize the real flower of the Russian leadership was destroyed In his famous purge of 1936-37.

Stalin knew it was a matter of time before Hitler turned his attention to Russia. He read Hitler's book again and told his top generals that in due course there would be a war between Russia and Germany but he did not anticipate one in the next three years. He hoped by then Russia would be ready.

The battle in France was over by 20th June and this surprised Stalin and made him even more apprehensive. Hitler celebrated his victory at Munich in which the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini took part and Stalin duly sent his congratulations to Hitler. This was the most bizarre act as all along Stalin knew that Hitler wanted to tie up with the English.

Reading of his book draws out that Hitler was more favorably disposed to rule the world with the English and that was one reason he postponed operations, Sea Lion. The secondary reason was the defeat of the Luftwaffe in the battle of Britain.

An event that of great importance took place. Winston Churchill joined the British government. He wrote a letter to Stalin cautioning him that Germany would someday soon attack Russia. Stalin did not buy this theory and passed the contents of this letter to Hitler. This fueled the mind of Hitler and his calculating brain began to think of endless possibilities. In his mind, Hitler thought he had won the war and he wondered why the British did not want to make peace with him. In a rousing speech on 19 July 1940 he held out the olive branch to the British with certain conditions but Winston Churchill rejected them. General Halder in his diary has noted on 13 July 1940 that Hitler was perplexed why Britain had not accepted his terms of peace when he had won the war. He feared there was some collusion between Russia and Britain. Another incident that perturbed him was the speech by President Roosevelt while accepting his nomination for the third time where he criticized Nazism.

Stalin was watching the developments with interest and he was happy that Britain had not accepted the German conditions. He told his closest generals that it was a good thing that the 2 capitalist states Germany and England would fight each other and in the process, capitalism would be destroyed. He was having a paranoid fear that at some stage Hitler may not join up with the English and attack Russia. During this period Rudolph Hess, the deputy to Hitler took a Messermicht 109 and flew to England. He came with a set of proposals to make peace. Stalin now developed a paranoid fear of an alliance between Great Britain and Germany and he decided to be on guard.

There is a possibility that Hess flew to Britain with the knowledge of Hitler but he quickly denounced him when he realized that this mission had been a failure. Hitler now turned his attention to Russia. He felt he had won the war in the West and he had only to counter one front i.e. the Russian Front. In a secret meeting with the general, he declared that the time had come to look for living space in the east. That meant the invasion of Russia.

With France secure and nothing, much happening on the Western front Hitler moved 1,000,000 troops towards the Russian border. A Russian spy in the Luftwaffe informed Stalin of the German buildup. Stalin was so obsessed with the German Russia peace treaty that he is reported to have said to reject the information of the spy and tell him to drink some vodka and go and F his mother.

During the same time, British intelligence learned of the German attack on Russia. Winston Churchill in a secret letter to Stalin informed him that a German attack was imminent. Stalin thought this was a ploy to divide a wedge between Germany and Russia. He rejected the information. On 19 June 1941 top Russian commanders led by marshals Rokovosky and Zhukov requested Stalin to at least order mobilization and declare alert in the army.

Stalin conditioned by his mind of a British plan to drive a wedge between Germany and Russia ignored the advice of his generals. He reportedly said that if he mobilized or ordered an alert it would anger Hitler. Unknown to him 1 million troops had been amassed on the Russian front and on 22nd June the same day when Napoleon had invaded Russia the German force grouped under three army groups attacked Russia.

Stalin did not react for two full days and hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers were taken POW. He was stunned by the German attack and reportedly said that he never expected it and that the Germans had behaved like thugs.

Aftermath

Winston Churchill who had stood alone against Nazi Germany now realized that there was hope. He was a pragmatist and in his speech said that he would not unsay anything about what he had said about the Bolsheviks earlier but now the greater danger was from Nazi Germany and he offered help to Russia and Stalin.

Just 15 days after the commencement of the operations Hitler's chief of staff General Halder in his diary noted that the Russian campaign has been won in 15 days. He was wrong because Stalin quickly regrouped. Stalin had lost the mind game to Hitler but in the long run, supported by Churchill and later Roosevelt he turned the tide against Hitler.

I would like to conclude by saying that the Russians have never had a war with the Americans and the British in the last 500 years. There has been tension and the Cold War but no hot war.

Russia has canceled or delayed the S 400 missile system and Putin is wary of China, it may be a possibility that in the ultimate analysis the Russians may again side with the West against China.

Comments

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 04, 2020:

Alan, yes I think I agree with you. In the battle of wits with Hitler it was Stalin who was the winner. I think the German leader was too emotional and too committed to his racial policy that he couldn't see reason. Also, his hatred of the Slavs beats my imagination.

Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on October 03, 2020:

Anyway, emge, to get back to your title: I wouldn't say Stalin was fanatical as much as grimly determined. His usual calm was only shaken when the Germans got to within sight of Moscow's walls. It was Hitler who was the fanatic, and lost sight of his 'target' at a time when he was close to it. He abandoned the men who'd won France for him.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 02, 2020:

Tom, Japan missed the bus but in any case, they could not win as the USA had the A-Bomb.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 02, 2020:

Such incidents are so many in history. I recollect General Custer also paid with his life in something similar in a war with the Red Indians. The Japanese missed an opportunity when they attacked the USA and let Russia off the hook. When the time came the Soviet army turned on the Japs after Hitler was defaeted.

This had a big bearing on the victory of Mao over Chiang. The captured weaponry of the Imperial army was handed by Stalin to the communists and overnight they had a strong arsenal. Chiang was surprised and now the tide turned against him.

tom on October 02, 2020:

siberian divisons saved russia,if japan attacked siberia as a part of barabarossa ,russia would lose

Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on October 02, 2020:

Sorge was the Soviet agent in Tokyo, who advised Stalin that the Japanese were busy with plans to attack Pearl Harbor. Therefore a number of the Siberian divisions were free to be transferred west. Stalin had made preparations to evacuate himself, his family and his staff east when they reached Moscow and detrained for the front line.

Their appearance on the scene further demoralised the German senior staff in the region. They knew Hitler had erred in a grand way, by sending troops south to the oilfields and thus dividing their command. A mistake Lord Chelmsford made before the Zulus massacred half his command at Isandlwana nearly a century earlier.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 02, 2020:

Tom, very true I have mentioned in one of my articles/comments.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 02, 2020:

Yes, true, I think his cover was blown and finally he was hanged

tom on September 30, 2020:

hitler executed 84 generals,book by lord allan bullock -hitler and stalin parallel lives

tom on September 30, 2020:

sorge was in tokyo.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on September 30, 2020:

Tom, Richard Sorge I think was the spy in Tokyo.

tom on September 29, 2020:

richard sorge warned stalin, red orchestra soviet spy ring in luftwaffe warned stalin ,1985 soviet warmovie battle of moscow four parts and ten part liberation ww2 movie series

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on August 10, 2020:

Sp Greaney, Thank you for commenting.Hitler and Stalin are dead and gone but we have another in a similar mold. Chinese president Xi. More on him later.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on August 10, 2020:

Your very good at retelling events from history in a manner that keeps you very engaged in reading the article to find out what happens. For anyone who lived during those times, it must have been difficult. Seriously to think of all the lives destroyed by Hitler and Stalin. It's a part of history that no one should ever forget.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on August 08, 2020:

Cheers, look forward to another friendly debate

Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on August 08, 2020:

Between us we've 'wrung' this one dry emge. Where to next? CU soon...

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on August 07, 2020:

I agree, Putin wants to emulate Stalin but in my view, he lacks the historical perspective of Stalin who always got the best deals for Russia whether it was Hitler or Churchill nor Roosevelt. Yes, the perception in Russia is that ˜Stalin did a lot of good and the Russian Orthodox Church is leading it. They forget that Stalin was against the church when he was in power.

Ramón Mercader killed Trotsky, served 20 years in Mexico, and was given the "hero of Soviet Union "award in 1961. Khruschev was in power at that time and this is bit of a surprise.

Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on August 07, 2020:

Trotsky's 'concentration camps' as you put it were 'correctional establishments', the Gulags that housed dissidents - of which political group he was a leading figure, a 'Menshevik' or minority party ideologist as opposed to 'Bolshevik' or majority follower. What Stalin feared about Trotsky was he'd mobilise the minorities from abroad when he went into exile in Mexico, hence the ice pick - a strange item to find in Mexico unless the killer was a mountaineer.

You've mentioned again that Russians have fond memories of Stalin. Unless they're centenarians plus they wouldn't have any personal recollections of him. What you might mean is the 'assumed' memory of Stalin as a strong leader, which Vladimir Putin wants to live up to but may fail dismally. All the 'buzzing' of neighbouring waters, including ours, and air space just wastes resources that Russia can ill afford to waste at this time, and gains nothing of any intelligence value.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on August 06, 2020:

Alan, I concede your point. I have just made a general statement that generally during the time of Napoleon and World War I and II Russians were always on the side of the English. As far as the Civil War is concerned one really can't say it was a war between Russia and the West because the West was supporting one faction who wanted to restore the Tsar and they were opposed by the communists.

I have read a lot of writings of Leon Trotsky. He was a brilliant intellectual but had a warped wind. He is the originator of the concentration camp which was entirely his brainchild. Stalin always feared a threat from him; Maybe he had a grudge about the intellectual prowess of Trotsky. Surprisingly I have observed in Russia that people have fond memories of Stalin and nobody thinks about the concentration camps and the gulags.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on August 06, 2020:

Pamela, thank you for sparing time and commenting.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on August 06, 2020:

Thank you Col. This is a simplistic statement as the philosophy of the two was poles apart.

Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on August 06, 2020:

A final note, regarding your statement, "...The Russians have never had a war with the Americans and British in the last 500 years..."

Allied with the French we fought the Russians in the Crimea 1854-56. Our daftest exploit then was the Charge of the Light Brigade, another heroic failure. At the height of the Russian civil war in the 1920's Soviet forces faced British and American forces, as well as Czech Legion, German Freikorps, Japanese and White Russians under Admiral Kolchak. It makes interesting reading, and the Menshevik (Minority) general Leonid Trotsky somehow managed to direct the Soviet forces on all fronts. He would later be killed with an ice pick in Mexico under Stalin's orders. He was too much of a 'wild card' to be ignored by a man who sought to rule a vast country by himself.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 06, 2020:

These were sure some evil men who didn't mind killing any number of people. I saw the movie lso called 'Mien Kampf' when I was a teen. I have never forgotten it as it showed the horror of the death camps.

Your well-written article sure kept me reading from the moment I started reading it. This is a part of history we should always remember lest we repeat. People too often compare these evil men to various political figures of today and obviously they don't know history. I am glad you are writing articles to keep people informed about the details of the history that turned into WWII.

Lt Col Parduman Singh on August 06, 2020:

Hitler and Stalin were two sides of the same coin. In the toss-up, the coin fell in Stalin's favour and he won.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on August 06, 2020:

You're right Alan, the birth pangs were terrible as violence was a byword with Muslims killing Muslims, Hindus and Muslims at each others throat and Sunni against `Shia and killing of Ahmadiyya Muslims by ˜Sunnis. It was bloodshed and even Gandhi couldn't stop it but thankfully it is stabilized, yet anything can happen. There is the line of thought that all this could have been avoided if the British who controlled the army at that time had been more firm but the British were hurt at leaving India after 200 years and they let things drift.

Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on August 06, 2020:

Emge, at the time he was just PM, Mr Clement Attlee. He knew the writing was on the wall for the British Raj. Winston Churchill, oddly, just couldn't or wouldn't see it. As it was he was partly vindicated in his view that India was not yet ready for independence... as were many Indians who over the decades found their way here (including my ex-son-in-law, who met my daughter working at the Lord's ground) rather than stay in India. Within a short time of being granted independence India tore itself apart into three parts as you know, and bloodshed was the result. A form of 'ethnic cleansing' followed.

Very sad.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on August 05, 2020:

Hitler had grandiose ideas, most of which were not realistic. The India Legion and trying to reach India was one of them.When Rommel reached close to Alexandria nearly a hundred Indian soldiers were parachuted by the Germans in eastern Iran and Balochistan to prepare the grounds for German troops. It was a silly idea. The Indian troops were attached to the SS when captured close to the Swiss border would have perhaps all been shot dead by the French resistance but for the intervention of the Americans. In any case, a few were shot dead because they were identified with the SS. These soldiers were brought to Delhi for a court-martial and severe sentences were imposed. The sentences were commuted by the C.-in-C. India, seeing that the entire Indian army and navy had become restive.

In the east, almost 50,000 soldiers defected to the imperial army and formed the Indian National Army. The cumulative effect of all this was the realization by Lord Attlee that the British days in India were over.

Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on August 05, 2020:

It may have been agents were used to put the idea about that we had plans to set fire to oil floating on the water in the Channel. The Germans obviously didn't investigate the physical likelihood of doing that, and they had no preparations in 1944 to do the same in the Pas de Calais (where they 'calculated' the Allies would land) - it was a scare story, as chances were wave action and rapid currents between Dover and Calais would disperse the fuel. Thankfully (perhaps for both sides) the 'Operation Sea Lion' landings were abandoned on the strength of the scare story.

I was wary of raising the business of the Indians taken prisoner in North Africa, who 'took Hitler's shilling'. What happened to them when they were found by Allied troops in SS uniforms? There were also some who sided with the Japanese and expected something from their switch of allegiance...

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on August 05, 2020:

I liked the bit of info about the Brits wanting to set the channel ablaze to burn the troopships. I don't know if there was really a plan but it looks a sound and ingenious plan. Hitler in his youth was a painter, so I suppose he must have had some imagination. I think he translated that imagination onto the battlefield. His plan as he conveyed to the Indian leader Subhas Bose was that Rommel advance into Persia and then Bose was supposed to get the uprising done on in India. This was a real plan and the name given was 'operation Bajedor.' The India region of captured POWs was one step in that direction. I have just posted an article yesterday on this.

Hitler had good generals and Von Manstein was perhaps the best. He did not listen to Manstein during the Stalingrad battle and lost 93,000 troops. In my view Rommel was a greatly overrated and inflated General. Much is made of Churchills praise of him. The fact is Churchill was smarting at the rout of the British Army and he had to cover it up by saying that they had lost to a superior general.

I have read the comments of Liddle Hart and JFC Fuller on Monty and they rate him a very average general. I will just say that he was lucky, before him Auchinlek and Wavel were not lucky. If by chance Rommel had advanced into Egypt the Arabs would have sided with him.

Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on August 05, 2020:

Hitler's aim of an invasion of England seems to have petered out in 1940 with the Luftwaffe's inability to break the RAF. The home area pilots were an international lot, with the US 'Eagle Squadron' of volunteers ahead of direct US involvement at the end of 1941/beginning 1942. There were also Australians, Czechs, Danes, Dutch, Free French, 'Kiwis' (New Zealanders), Norwegians, Poles and even Sikhs (as you covered yourself in one Hub Page).

There were rumours afoot that the British would let loose thousands of gallons of fuel into the English Channel and set fire to it as the Germans' troop transports reached the ten mile UK boundary limit. Wonder where that rumour came from,,,? (Wink, wink).

And yes, Emge, had Hitler listened to his generals instead of accusing them of a lack of National Socialist ardour, he could've been a formidable foe instead of a clown like Mussolini. It's been mooted he sent Rommel south to head the Africa Korps in a bid to make a pincer movement on the Middle Eastern and southern Russian oilfields.

The Egyptians (like the Libyans and Tunisians before them) were ready to receive Rommel, aided by one of the British officers in Cairo and his Egyptian girlfriend who sent coded messages about the Allies' positions to Rommel via a signal station in the desert. He was found out and 'bit the bullet', Rommel no longer had his source of intelligence and Monty employed various ruses to divert Rommel round the bottom end of the Allied lines to the Qattara Depression. There were several other 'blinds' that had sent the Germans the wrong way by means of tanks disguised as lorries and lorries disguised as tanks along the El Alamein front line.

Monty must've chuckled in his sleep before the fateful assault...

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on August 05, 2020:

Flourish, lovely comment. So glad you, your husband, and father are interested in WW2. So am I.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 04, 2020:

Thoroughly engaging from start to finish, and I enjoyed reading the detailed comments as well. Both my husband and father are very interested in WW2 and I’ve both read and watched a lot of history documentaries on the topic as a result.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on August 04, 2020:

You have a point because Hitler believed in himself more than anybody else. He has bared his philosophy in his book Mien Kampf i.e. colonization of the east and its enslavement. He has written in his book of 'living space' for the German people. Obviously he would be using the resources of these enslaved areas. Hitler's chance of victory was only if he had not entered the North African campaign in support of the Italians and refrained from attacking Russia. War with Russia, in any case, was inevitable but he could have dealt with Russia after he had occupied England. He had his best chance in 1941 when Britain'stood alone and America had not entered the war. He was a prisoner of his own ideas.

Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on August 04, 2020:

Hitler saw things the way he wanted, not as they were. Resources and time were squandered by both him and Napoleon, and like Napoleon he kept looking for a scrap on the perimeter. The Russian weather finished both their ambitions, for different reasons. Hitler wanted to enslave the Russians, expand the Reich's perimeter and use Russian and Ukrainian food resources to supplement those of the Reich, where agriculture hadn't reached the same 'peak' as its industrial and military needs. Hence the need for Romanian and Russian oil.

Nazi scientists had created synthetic fuels, but the calorific value was not as high as natural fuels, likewise its coal resources' lower quality than Russia's or the Ukraine's.

After the USAAF bombed Ploesti in Romania and their leaders threw in the towel Nazi Germany's situation became even direr. Yet still they wasted resources until the end. When the writing was on the wall they couldn't understand its meaning. Hitler's agenda still ruled.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on August 04, 2020:

Interesting points raised by you as far as the birth of Hitler is concerned. I have read Shirer's Rise and Fall of the THIRD REICH, an interesting account. Lenin was the intellectual and he has written a prodigious amount of material. Stalin had no pretence of being an intellectual and basically was a down to earth person. You are right that the Balkan adventure of Hitler delayed the invasion of Russia. It's a point for debate as to what would have happened in case Moscow had been captured. I am pretty sure Stalin would not have been captured and he would have escaped to Siberia and continued the war. In that respect, Haldar's comment that war by Hitler was won in 15 days in Russia appears to be an unrealistic statement. History will record that just as the grand Army of Napoleon was defeated in 1812 so was Hitler's army. My personal feeling is that Stalin was more shrewd than Hitler. He could disguise his intentions and was not solely guided by ideology like at a critical moment he joined hands with Roosevelt and Churchill. Hitler on the other hand was a poor judge of people and I am not able to understand how he kept on supporting Mussolini despite his obvious shortcomings. Mussolini when he seized power in 1922 was greatly lionized but within 2 decades he had become the most hated man in Italy. Hitler wasted precious resources on Italy and Mussolini.

Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on August 04, 2020:

Interesting, everybody believes Hitler was Austrian by birth. Read Shirers book about the demise of the Third Reich. There's a passage in there that might change your perception, about when his mother visited his father at his post on the German side of the river Inn opposite Passau. whilst she delivered his usual 'reindl' (enamelled, sealable steel dish, like a flat billy-can) she went into labour. To level things up, Alois Shickelgrueber paid the family priest on the Austrian side to verify his son's birthplace as Passau.

Vladimir Illych Ulyanov, aka Lenin, was a lawyer, whereas Josef Djugashvili, alias Stalin, was a man of the people. He was sly rather than clever. His foreign minister Molotov met Hitler on several occasions during negotiations and diplomatic shuttling. It would be interesting to read his evaluation of the man who authorised invasion of his country in June, 1941. It might've been altogether different if, instead of attacking the Greeks and Albanians in the Balkans in support of his ally Mussolini, Hitler had marched on Moscow some weeks earlier, and not diverted his advance as he did. The Siberian divisions would've been a rearguard when Stalin headed out east to avoid capture. What kind of 'welcome' would Stalin have been afforded in Berlin?

Stalin had luck on his side in the long run, although the same can't be said for the Soviet soldiers captured in their thousands in the mistaken belief they'd be treated as 'bona fide' POWs. Those Soviet POWs who survived their 'welcome' treatment were regarded cynically as spies by Stalin and were put through years of Gulag purgatory. VERY few survived after two lots of purgatory.

I've mentioned Beria in passing before. He knew he was on a good thing by convincing Stalin of the subterfuge of his generals. On an intellectual level Stalin and Hitler were about level pegging. Psychologically though, Hitler's - and many Nazi's and ordinary Germans' - deranged view of the world played against them.

Many Austrians of that generation and subsequent (old enough for Hitler Youth) that I met in different parts of their country in the mid-1960s held equally 'odd' ideas about the outside world. All Britons were 'Englaender', their war and POW experiences taught them nothing. Nazis exist side-by-side with Reds in Vienna and elsewhere, reflected by several newspapers sponsored by the 'Freie Partei'.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on August 03, 2020:

Hitler by birth was an Austrian and that is the reason he incorporated it as part of Germany. Berchtesgaden, the alpine ski town on the southern edge of Germany, just 12 miles from Salzburg, is now primarily famous for its Nazi history. Hitler loved the place. At that time the German-speaking population was enamored with Hitler and even now we can see his popularity in old films of that period when thousands turned up to lionize him.

Stalin was an enigmatic person. He was not intellectual like Lenin but he gravely miscalculated on his assessment of Hitler. He was a fanatic in the sense that he believed what he did was right. One can see his fanaticism and cold-blooded approach by the way he sent killers to Mexico to assassinate Trotsky who he feared may come back.

I agree as I have pointed out that Hitler misread the resolve of Britain under Churchill. That is why Gen Halder in his diary has noted that Hitler was perplexed that Britain did not sue for peace after he believed he had won the war by occupying France.

Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on August 03, 2020:

Emge, a few things dog your conclusions but first a geographical pointer. In modern terms Salzburg is in Austria, at the time after 'Anschluss', the annexation of Austria in 1938 Salzburg was only politically seen as 'Greater Germany' along with Czechoslovakia.

Stalin was no fanatic. Aside from his fear of a rival Communist takeover (again, fed by Beria) he was a calculating gambler, and ideal poker player who kept his cards close to his chest, whereas Hitler was more the fanatic who possessed little or no overall command of the situation. Hitler misread British intent, underestimated Britain's true military status (due to Luftwaffe miscalculation, based on their own organisation and not on fact).

The one constant from war's beginning to its end was Stalin. The other figures came and went, Roosevelt in death, Churchill by election, Hitler by gross ineptitude. His was not the trail left by a fanatic when he died in 1953. He 'played chess' with Hitler, his moves planned, only ever modified by surprising results.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on August 03, 2020:

Major, I agree, Hitler committed a blunder when he thought he had won the war in the west after the defeat of France. This proved his downfall.

Major Batra on August 03, 2020:

Excellent summing up of a volatile period in World history. Stalin was misled and for once his horse sense failed him. Hitler won the battle of wits but he overreached and by declaring war on the USA as well committed hara-kiri and was the loser in the end.