Totalitarian Dictators in Twentieth-Century Europe Essay

Totalitarian Dictators in Twentieth-Century Europe Essay.

Hitler. Stalin. Mussolini. These three names define World War II. World policy revolved around them for at least a decade or in Stalin’s case for almost fifty years. Much is generally known about each man’s role in the war, but only as it pertains to the outcome. Not many people possess extensive knowledge of these dictators as individuals or as leaders of a particular party. This paper will attempt to shed light on the differences as well as the similarities of they style of totalitarianism that the three men who shaped the middle of the twentieth century implemented in their respective countries.

Benito Mussolini (b. 29 July 1883, d. 28 April 1945) was born into a lower-middle-class family outside of Predappio, Italy, in the Romagna region. His mother was a devout Catholic schoolmistress, his father a revolutionary/blacksmith in and out of employment. Mussolini was proud of his relatively humble beginnings and later sought to exploit this fact in order to identify with the general populace – not unlike some 2004 Presidential hopefuls – going so far as to exaggerate the low station of his youth.

He received schooling from his mother for a while, but she later sent him to a church school. Mussolini was an extremely violent young man who stabbed classmates on several occasions, which eventually resulted in expulsion from the church school and a subsequent higher-level institution. He continued to self-educate by reading books, which were amply available both in his home and in his later employment as a school teacher. He moved to Switzerland for a time, but eventually returned to Italy. He caused some civil problems and was arrested a few times, but was also arrested for political insurrection.

Joseph Stalin (b. 21 December 1889, d. 5 March 1953) was born Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili in Gori, Georgia. His parents had been serfs in childhood (until the emancipation), and at little Iosif’s birth his father was a cobbler and his mother a homemaker. Stalin, like Mussolini, tried to exaggerate his family’s low status, going so far as to actually change official records. His first language was Georgian; he did not learn Russian until he was approximately nine years old. Stalin’s formal education also began in a church school, although he had far less access to literature than Benito. He was employed by a cobbler-friend of his father’s, but still had enough time to get into trouble, for which he was arrested multiple times, specifically for political insurrection.

Adolf Hitler (b. 20 April 1889, d. 30 April 1945) was born into a well-respected family in Braunau, Austria. His father was a customs official, which lent itself to an honorable view by the community. Hitler did not receive as much education even as Stalin, and in fact did not finish school. He was denied admission to the Vienna Academy of Arts, and then traveled and lived a bohemian lifestyle for a few years. At the outbreak of World War I, Hitler volunteered for the German military and gained extensive front-line military experience. After the war he avidly read newspapers and seemed only interested in politics and military technology. He was imprisoned several times, during which he authored Mein Kampf.

These three men from fairly similar backgrounds begin to be very different as soon as one looks at them. Mussolini cut a very striking figure, being tall and intimidating while also being blessed with strong features and broad shoulders. He was very theatrical, and it can be said that he made every decision with tomorrow’s headlines in mind. While this attitude toward propaganda assured his power, it also partially led to his decline. Stalin never grew past five-feet-four-inches and had several physical deformities, including a shriveled arm and irregular toes.

He looked the part of a Russian proletariat worker, with a large moustache and thick, unruly hair. Stalin also knew the value of censorship and propaganda, and used it to shelter Russians from the rest of the world. Hitler was not a tall man, by any means, but looked the part of at least a military leader, if not dictator. More than anything, Hitler’s physical appearance was intriguing to the average observer. Hitler’s use of propaganda was not limited to his own country, but he deceived other nations with it as well, especially Italy.

In a way, all three men rode a revolution of another’s making to power, but the details are vastly dissimilar. In Mussolini’s youth, Italy was experiencing domestic instability due to the election of new parties to Parliament. The majority left-wing socialists were so fragmented that they could come to no compromises and caused Parliament to remain stagnant. The people of Italy were fed up with a king who did nothing, a Parliament that could pass nothing, and a corrupt lower government. Mussolini started his political career as a socialist, and even wrote for a socialist newspaper (all copies of which strangely disappeared from Italian libraries upon Mussolini’s ascension to power), but soon realized that there was more popular support for a party on the right. A very few fascist groups had been formed in Italy, but no official party had yet emerged. Mussolini used his journalistic influence, and a great deal of propaganda, to bring people’s opinion into line with his own and to gain prestige in the community.

Mussolini later claimed that he created the fascist party, and could therefore destroy it if he so desired. Stalin also joined the socialist party, but unlike Mussolini remained a member until his death. Socialism was already a well-established political party in Russia led by V. I. Lenin (1870-1924) himself. Stalin maneuvered himself close to Lenin and eventually gained his favor, although not without opposition. Hitler rode the wave of nationalism/socialism/feeling of injustice in Germany after the Versailles Treaty of 1919 faulted Germany for World War I, forced her to give up territory and colonies, and ordered her to pay colossal reparations for war debts incurred by the Allies. The people of Germany saw this as an insult to her sovereignty and used Wilson’s Fourteen Points to assert the right to self-determination. The Nazi party emerged promising to restore Germany to her traditional prowess, and Hitler quickly rose through party ranks to the top. All three men used assassinations to aid their respective ascents to power which are beyond the scope of this paper.

In World War I Hitler was still a soldier fighting on the Western Front and Mussolini was writing a newspaper, but Stalin was participating in the Russian Revolution. The Bolshevik revolution took place in 1917, and once it started Russia immediately pulled out of the war; an intensive civil war was going on, so Russia needed to focus on internal stability rather than Germany’s quest for an empire. Lenin was head of the Socialist party, and once they won the revolution, he began organizing the government. One of Socialism/Communism’s greatest strengths is governmental organization. Lenin was excellent as delegating responsibility in such a way that the stratification of government was highly effective. This arrangement allowed each individual to focus on his/her own job, lending efficiency and stability to a country used to chaos. Even when leaders were absent, which was not very often, the government could function efficiently and without disruption.

Stalin’s domestic policy was truly socialist. He attempted, at least at first, to put up the façade that all comrades were equal and there was not an oligarchic ruling elite. He stabilized the economy and inflation and instituted many social welfare programs to benefit the citizens. Hitler did the same as far as economy was concerned, but his new government programs were a little more detrimental to society as a whole than were Stalin’s. Hitler, as well as the rest of Eastern Europe, hated the Jews.

There are many myths surrounding this hatred saying that his family was Jewish, particularly his grandmother, or that he had some sort of personal experience with Jewish treachery, but his hatred of the Jews ultimately came down to a cultural stigma. If this had not been true, his pogroms and genocide could not have gone on with popular support for as long as they did. His concentration camps aimed at the “Final Solution” to the Jewish problem exterminated approximately two million Jews and an unknown number of gypsies and political prisoners. The result was not a pure Aryan race as Hitler had hoped, but only great international contempt and a human rights nightmare. Mass graves are still being found in former German-held territories.

Hitler’s regime was especially brutal to women. He used pregnant women for scientific experiments that often caused the baby to die or to be born grotesquely deformed. He thought that all women were inherently inferior to men, and should be treated as subordinates. Mussolini agreed with him on this point, going so far as to assert that Italy was superior to Britain because of the high station women enjoyed in British society. He also expressed his view on the role of women in Italy.

“Already there were in Britain four million more women than men – sexually unsatisfied and hence pacifist by nature, afraid of the pain of childbirth and hence unworthy of empire; when he spoke on this topic he became agitated and vehement to a degree that his hearers sometimes found astonishing…he was confident that if he directed Italians to feel a proper sense of mission they would increase the size of their families to between eight and twenty children…He gave special praise to those who called intellectual women a monstrosity, for which reason higher education for women should preferably be reduced to those subjects which the ‘feminine brain’ could adequately operate – for example, household management. In this way they could be returned from the employment market to their natural function of child-bearing.”

This blatant distaste for women did not mean that Hitler and Mussolini should control themselves sexually; in fact they both had numerous mistresses and were known as womanizers in their youth. Stalin and the Socialists in theory believed in the equality of women, but in practice high-ranking government positions were reserved for men, although many lower and mid-level offices were already held by women.

When Stalin defeated Trotsky, he took over a political machine that could practically run itself. Hitler’s system would eventually be only slightly more centralized, but Mussolini could have learned a valuable lesson from Stalin. Mussolini made several mistakes with the organization of his government in Italy after World War I. Above all, Mussolini craved power – lusted for absolute, pure, unadulterated power. He always had to be in control. He took on more and more personal responsibility as the years went on, when he should have been creating new ministries to deal with those particular issues. Another downfall of Mussolini was that he hated to be contradicted or proven wrong.

As a result, he surrounded himself with generals and politicians who only told him what he wanted to hear and shot anyone who disagreed. These men were not necessarily incompetent, but no man of character could be a “yes-man” for that long. Mussolini also made sure that these men were pliable to his wishes and would not be in a position to undermine his power. He used local “squadristas” to keep any civilian dissidents in line through the use of extremely violent physical force, which Hitler did with his Gestapo, but at least he surrounded himself with excellent military advisors.

Mussolini’s domestic policy was highly questionable, if not completely ignorant. He had no more idea how to run a country than he knew how to organize a government. He wanted to expand Italy to the boundaries of ancient Rome, at least in the Mediterranean. He also wanted a warlike people who were accustomed to hardship and heartbreak, so it comes as no surprise that Mussolini tried to convince Italians that they were constantly in a state of war. He encouraged nationalism to its most extreme form, and even wanted Italians to become supra-nationalists of a superior race. Mussolini’s ideas on race differed from Hitler’s in that he thought that Italians were superior and all other nations were inferior; the only ethnicity he originally had contempt for was the Levantine Italian ethnic group in Southern Italy. But in typical Mussolini fashion, once Hitler began pogroms against the Jews, Mussolini issued a statement that Jews were obviously inferior, too.

In many respects, Mussolini was like that kid in elementary school who argued that his dad could beat up everyone else’s dad; Mussolini did not intend to copy Hitler, but to surpass him or beat him at his own game. Mussolini liked to think that he was the most powerful man in the world with the best country in the world and the best army in the world and on and on and could not stand to see anyone even think they were superior to him. This was his tragic flaw which led to the abuse of propaganda. He deliberately manipulated and even invented facts to impress people both in Italy and abroad.

For example, he boasted that Italy’s air strength surpassed that of Britain in the Mediterranean and that Italy had the superior navy, when he had only a few outdated air force divisions ready for duty and even fewer battleships. He also claimed to have an advanced armoured division that rivaled the Panzers when all he really had were a few heavily-armoured cars; he did not even have any tanks. Mussolini also asserted that his standing army consisted of eight million troops and then twelve million, when he had less than one million men in uniform, and could not even provide them with adequate food and weaponry. Many of these soldiers were forced to wear civilian trousers with a black shirt and may or may not have had a gun. Foreign journalists in Italy often commented on Mussolini’s “bluffing”, and eventually he expelled all journalists who said anything derogatory about him from the country.

Hitler was therefore skeptical about an alliance with Italy, but saw a potential exploitation opportunity, and after reciprocal visits to each other’s country Mussolini and Hitler signed the Pact of Steel in 1939, promising to back each other up in times of military strife. However, Hitler had planned this very carefully and knew Italy’s weakness perhaps better than Il Duce himself. Hitler had been planning to deceive everyone with his defensive alliances. He had signed a non-aggression pact with Poland in 1934 that would be in effect until 1939. During the interim five-year period, Hitler had capitalized on England’s appeasement policy to gain not only Austria, but also the Sudentland and all of Czechoslovakia. He had also signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact as a defensive alliance with Russia, but had also agreed to a secret clause in which Hitler revealed his plans to invade Poland and promised to split it with Russia. Stalin could not have been happier, because he knew he could gain half of Poland without having to do any real fighting – the Germans would do it all for him.

The course of World War II is beyond this paper, but Hitler began to back himself into a political corner as he started breaking the terms of almost every treaty he had signed. Germany began to infringe on its treaty with Rome, so Mussolini negotiated with Britain to be neutral, or as the fascists preferred, non-belligerent, in World War II. Later in the war, Germany attacked the Soviet Union and thereby violated that Pact. Stalin was enraged and immediately switched sides, ensuring Allied support. When it looked like Germany had the upper hand in the war, Mussolini defected against his negotiation with Britain and once again supported the Nazis. This decision was greatly influenced by Mussolini’s need for coal and troops to supplement Italian forces in the Mediterranean.

In reality, Hitler knew that Italy could gain nothing on its own because of its incompetent national leadership. Mussolini continued to assert the superiority of the Italian military and refused German military presence until Hitler forced it on him. From this point on, Mussolini rode on Hitler’s coattails, so to speak, and lost all international credibility. When the British finally reached Italy on their re-conquest of the Mediterranean, freedom fighters gave Mussolini up to them. Hitler discovered where Mussolini was being held hostage and sent a force to rescue him and bring him back to Berlin, thus tying Mussolini’s fate to the success of the Third Reich. Not long after Hitler committed suicide in 1945, Mussolini was hanged by freedom fighters.

Stalin, although the Soviet Union had suffered enormous human losses in the war, continued to run the nation as a socialist state, eventually advancing to Communism. He turned down an American offer for aid, as the economy was in complete disarray and there was a massive famine. Joseph Stalin, the leader of the people, had come to care so little for the proletariat that he had become no different from Hitler or Mussolini. After a series of strokes, his death was welcomed by the general public.

However, Stalin’s legacy continued to affect the world in the form of the Cold War until 1989 with the destruction of the Berlin Wall. Hitler’s legacy, from an optimistic point of view, was the creation of the United Nations to prevent any other government from committing atrocities such as his. Mussolini’s legacy was a lasting distaste for singular leadership in Italy. Modern Italians still prefer a stagnant Parliamentary system to a power-hungry megalomaniac any day. Each of these three totalitarian dictators used different methods to impose their rule and left different legacies behind. What they all have in common, though, is that the world is still feeling the impact of Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini in 2004. These men not only changed the world when they were here, but changed the course of history with their lives.


All references to Mussolini are from David Mack Smith, Mussolini, (London: Phoenix Giants, 1994)

All references to Stalin are from Robert Conquest, Stalin: Breaker of Nations, (New York: Viking, 1991)

All references to Hitler are from Sebastian Haffner, The Meaning of Hitler, tr. Eswald Osers, (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc, 1979)

Totalitarian Dictators in Twentieth-Century Europe Essay

Churchill’s Eulogy for Neville Chamberlain Essay

Churchill’s Eulogy for Neville Chamberlain Essay.

The early period of the 1900 had marked history to all parts of the world with World War I and II. During this time, Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain had been major leaders with different views and beliefs separating them. While Winston Churchill was portrayed as the savior of the nation, Neville Chamberlain was totally the opposite. He had been harshly criticized as a failure who easily fell for Hitler’s unjustified actions. However, Churchill acknowledges this man with magnanimous respect in his determination for peace and love during the difficult circumstance that he was in.

Neville Chamberlain had been well criticized as a guilty man throughout the world. While these two man had been well known for their rivalries, Winston Churchill believed that it is natural for circumstances to take on a certain role of a person by stating , “In one phase men seem to have been right, in another they seem to have been wrong. Then again, a few years later, with the perspective of time has lengthened, all stands in a different setting”(Para.

2). By this statement, Churchill firmly believes how his rival had engaged himself with effort and authority to do what he believed as “the instincts of the human heart and peace”(Para.

3), Churchill seems to respect not only the sympathy that he has witnessed, but the sincerity to strive towards something within his own personal belief. While many people strongly disagreed at the time period, the statements made by Churchill tend to not appreciate the admiration that he had. In our generation, living with principles define a person as having fundamental truth of beliefs. Some of the most crucial ones are justice, honesty and paternalism. Without justice, there will be no such thing as moral rightness. Having justice is significant since it protects the fairness of all individuals.

Without it, nobody will have a firm view on the ideal concept of moral rightness that is based on ethics, law and equality. This can be related to the eulogy, where Churchill is not trying to despise or envy his rival, but instead let others understand who he really was as a leader from the intermediate view. Similarly, honesty is the act of telling the truth and being straightforward with thoughts and words. This principle in society is highly crucial in creating firm relationships with other people. By always maintaining honesty, others will be able to put their trust and faith on the person,

which I believe is effective in the diverse world we live in today. Last but not least, paternalism is also a pivotal principle that can be clearly related to what Churchill had done for Chamberlain. While the world is defined as to assist others in pursuing their significant interests, Churchill took an ironic decision to illustrating his own rival as an “English worthy”(Para. 9). By looking beyond others, Churchill assisted in explaining Chamberlain’s true intention to strengthen the relationships with other countries during the war.

Always holding onto a set of principles lead people in not only having the concept of moral rights, but in assisting others as well. In the eulogy that Churchill shared at the House of Commons, there are latent implications in his sentence structures towards his goal of defining Chamberlain’s action as only for the hope of peace and love with Hitler. He uses the words, “conscience” and “sincerity,” which he looks upon them as significant virtues that all human beings need to have. For example, he states, “The only guide to a man is his conscience”(Para. 2).

In Churchill’s personal perspective, he looks upon these virtues for the people to simply believe in something, just as Chamberlain had. He wants everyone to be firm in their personal convictions, urging us to develop a type of character that we shouldn’t be embarrassed nor feel foolish about. This statement can be related to how his rival did only what he thought was the best choice in the difficult situation that he was in. Also, his statement about Chamberlain acting “with perfect sincerity according to his lights and strove to the utmost of his capacity” (Para.

3) makes an assumption of how he was fearless to reveal his earnestness. Although the results were not the best, Churchill tends to honor Chamberlain’s actions when he states, “this alone will stand him in good stead”(Para. 3). While these two were rivalries, Churchill sets a perfect example of sincerity by firmly stating his belief of Chamberlain as a man with sympathy towards others. Simply imagining a rival of mine speaking negatively at my own funeral tends to be a normal act. However, I personally would have the strong hope of my rival to be sincere and respectful.

I would want him or her to point out who I was as not only what I worked as, but as a person. This may include not only the positive aspects, but the truth that everyone deserves to know even after my death. In addition, it is most likely that a rival experienced a similar type of career as me, which that person will have more lucid feelings about me than what others have since they can relate their lives to my own. Most importantly, the main reason I would want my rival to give a similar speech like Churchill did is because I would have done the same.

Whether it’s a foe or a friend, I believe no grudge should follow a person to the grave. Instead, Churchill had been very clear and confident in trying to support his statements on how he saw Chamberlain as a person. The eulogy that Winston Churchill had for Neville Chamberlain at the House of Commons has been at first surprising. Unlike the majority of people’s view, Churchill believes that Chamberlain died “with the comfort of knowing that his country had, at least, turned the corner”(Para. 8).

While these two were well known as rivals with contradicting ideas, Chamberlain had been widely criticized a failure for signing the Munich agreement with Hitler, which ended up in a disaster rather than peace. However, Churchill had not only been respectful, but magnanimous towards his own rival as having the “physical and moral toughness”(Para. 5). Churchill deeply honors on how his rival had the determination to strive for what he strongly believed in for the best of his country, even through the difficult circumstance that he was in.

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Churchill’s Eulogy for Neville Chamberlain Essay

Was D-Day Worth the risk? Essay

Was D-Day Worth the risk? Essay.

What historical benefit did D-day have in history? If the allies did not succeed in D-day would Europe still be occupied by Hitler? The failure of D-day could have caused the Allies to lose in World War II. The idea of D-day was in process since March 9, 1942 when President Roosevelt said I am becoming interested in the established of a new front this summer on the European continent (Collier 8). With the idea of penetrating a very fortified German front the Allies had their hands full.

The invasion would need a detailed plan on how to defeat the Axis. Without D-day the Allied forces would not be able to have the ultimate goal of victory in Europe.

In early 1944 the US army started to study Omaha beach since at the time it was the only undefended beach. The planers thought until the attack that it would only be defended by a single, under strength, poor-quality regiment (Zaloga 21). To have success in the evasion the Allies needed a tactical surprise.

Allied double agents played a very important role in convincing the Germans that Normandy was only diversionary attack to setup a big attack elsewhere (2007). This role became very apparent on the day of the attack as the Germans were convinced the real attack had yet to happen. The Allies only way to land the necessary force to overtake Omaha beach was an amphibious landing. The Allies were concerned that if Germans suspected an invasion it would force the Germans to stop an amphibious landing. The Allies also were planning to invade other beaches in Normandy that included Omaha, Utah, Sword, Juno, and Gold (Penrose 155).

Hitler knew that the only way to invade Europe would have to be from the coast. The Germans also would need a plan to protect an invasion at Normandy or other tactical invasion points. Rommel a Nazi general was put in charge by Hitler to defend and fortify the most likely places for the Allies to invade (Zaloga 30). The Germans expected the main invasion to be at Pas de Calais. The Nazis thought Pas de Calais would be the most likely place for an invasion. The other possible location that worried the Nazis was the extensive coasts of Normandy. Hitler ordered work to begin to fortify the coasts. The Germans began to build concreted emplacements along the most likely to be invaded coast lines (30).

These concrete emplacements would protect the Germans from air attack as well as let them fire their machineguns and artillery at the beaches in the event of a landing from the sea (31). Since the Germans thought that the attack would come from the coast their goal was to hinder that attack and the initial work was to construct obstruction against landing crafts. They created steel obstruction called Cointet that were designed to block out landing crafts (31). The Germans built 3,700 of these obstacles at just Omaha Beach alone (32).

The final factor in determining the date of the invasion was based on the weather (2007). To complete necessary objectives a full moon was required for light so their bombers could bomb early in the morning and for the spring tide to allow easier landing on the beach (2007). Needing a full moon the invasion could only happen a few times a month (2007). D-day was originally scheduled to begin on June 5th though bad weather made Eisenhower postponed the invasion. If the weather did not improve the Allies would have to return to base and try again next month. Eisenhower had a meeting with his lead meteorologist that informed him that weather should be calm enough for a June 6th invasion 2007). The Germans thought that since there was bad weather it would postpone an invasion for a few days. General Dollman lowered the alert status of all of his troops that were protecting the coasts (Zaloga 42).

Omaha Beach would be the hardest of all the beaches to invade since there was less cover and steeper cliffs. Early in the morning of June 6th the allies sent minesweepers to begin clearing paths through minefields at Omaha Beach (42). At 4:15 A.M the troops were loaded into their landing crafts planning on landing at Omaha Beach in a few hours (43). The sea the landing crafts had to sail through to land at was rough with 3 to 4 foot waves and high winds. This made half of the assault troops seasick before they landed at Omaha Beach. Before the assault troops were to land the Allies scheduled an air bombing to weaken the German defenses and create creator holes for cover. The bombing was unsuccessful most of the bombs landed in empty fields. This crucial part of the invasion could doom the ability to take Omaha Beach. The first assault wave was nearly fifteen hundred men (50). As the landing crafts landed at the beaches the troops were attacked heavily by machine-guns and artillery fire. They were trained to take cover in bomb craters, but such cover was not available due to the failed air attack.

Without the craters the first wave of men had little cover to defend them from enemy fire. Conditions were so bad at Omaha Beach many of the military command were thinking about sending the reinforcing waves to Utah Beach. Though the officials knew how important a victory at Omaha Beach was and sent the second wave of men. The second attack wave had many problems just like the first wave. The second wave had to improvise and help wave one with their goals; this improvising set back their plans. To add to the entire problem, the positioning of the landing crafts with light fog made it tough to land in the correct place (51).

The landings had high casualties from the German machine gun emplacements on top of the bluffs (51). The Germans merely had to place enough fire on the beach to stem the flow, but the sheer numbers would eventually overcome the machine gun nests. The men of Omaha beach started to slowly make progress. Instead of using the non-existent craters they used terrain to avoid fire from the machine guns (56). The invasion force continued to attack the German emplacements and gain ground. At last the forces were able to climb the bluff and take control of the beach. The invasion of Omaha Beach had 2,500 deaths just within the first day of the invasion and only on one of the many beaches being assaulted (Collier 157).

Invasions at the other beaches also had high casualties. Utah Beach was the easiest beach to land on for the Allies since there were fewer obstacles to navigate through (Penrose 155). The air attack the night before was much more successful at attacking the Germans resistance than at Omaha Beach. Though there was a strong tidal current that moved the landing crafts further south than expected they were able to take cover in craters that protected them from German machine gun fire (156).

The invasion force had a difficult time moving through the sandy dunes slowing them down and allowing the Germans to counter-attack much easier (159). Only 197 men died on Utah Beach much less than Omaha Beach (159). At Juno, Sword, and Gold beaches they ran into similar problems as Omaha and Gold. At the end they were able eliminate the German defenses and take the beaches. Even though not everything went as planned, the quick decision making by the high command allowed for Allies to invade Normandy and get one step closer to completing their goal.

D-Day had two main objectives the first was to invade the beach and take control. With the first part objective completed the Allies could move to the second part. The second objective of D-Day was taking over coastal cities and other important areas. The areas were necessary to make a push, but also as a place to establish a foothold in the country side to allow for re-supply and command, but also to send a message to the inhabitants that a superior force could be organized and be counted on for liberation. While all the beaches were held by Allied forces there were still important costal cities that needed to be taken by the Allies. One of the cities was Carentan that was well held by German forces (Penrose 197). This city was in between the two American flanks (197). A tough fight for the city between the two forces resulted, but the Allies were able to take control. This allowed the two flanks to combine and move further inland and eventually succeed to victory in Europe.

By the time the Allies invaded Normandy the Germans were occupying France for 1,453 consecutive days (Penrose 259). D-Day was the first step to liberating France but the first victory of many to eliminate the Axis control in Europe. The significance of D-Day was a boost for the military men but more importantly the morale of the countries and its citizens and inhabitants that had been under control of the Axis power. The ability to invade Normandy and come a step closer to be able attack the Germans showed that victory in Europe would be possible. D-Day showed the ability for the Allies to cooperate with each other. This would prove vital in the Allied attacks in the future.

The ability to have countries set apart their differences and mount a well organized attacked showed how powerful the Allies were to Hitler. The invasion of Normady including American, British, Canadian, Free Polish, Free French, Dutch, and Belgian soldiers created the biggest invasion in history (260). D-Day had many things that did not go right as seen on Omaha Beach. Though the battle of Normandy lasted only 80 days before the Allies liberated France it was a great military achievement that made victory in Europe possible. At the end of battle for Normandy it is estimated that Allied forces killed an estimated 200,000 Germans and captured around another 200,000 making it a very decisive victory (265).

The invasion of Normandy was a difficult decision but a very necessary risk. Since D-Day succeeded, it served as the first step to victory over Nazi Germany. If it failed, it would have been a devastating defeat which would have prolonged the war. It might not have been possible to attempt to invade again leaving most of Europe in German control and losing the political gains with the citizens of the countries that were occupied. Without D-day the allied forces would not be able to have the ultimate goal of victory in Europe. The Allied forces came out of Europe with a win in the end. This was due to the first attack, D-Day, the battle of Normandy, by the Allied forces.

Works Cited

“Battle of Normandy.” Wikipedia. 7 June 2007. 11 Oct.-Nov. 2007 .

Collier, Richard. D-Day. London: Seven Dials, 1992.

Penrose, Jane. The D-Day Compaion. Great Britian: Osprey, 2004.

Zaloga, Steve. D-Day 1944: Omaha Beach. Westport: Oxford, 2003.

Was D-Day Worth the risk? Essay

To what extent was the rise to power of Hitler due to personal appeal and ability? Essay

To what extent was the rise to power of Hitler due to personal appeal and ability? Essay.

Hitler’s meteoric rise from leader of a weak and small party in the 1920s, to absolute ruler of Germany from 1933–1945 is one of the amazing rise to power stories in world history. Many political factors contributed to his rise to power – some external and some internal factors. Along with these factors, Hitler’s personal appeal combined to make him a dictator was both feared and respected as the ‘Fuehrer’. An analysis of various factors that contributed to Hitler’s rise to power shows that his personal appeal was indeed instrumental in his success but it was not the only factor.

Several political, social and economic factors combined to contribute to Hitler’s rise. His rise to power is best studied in phases: Hitler’s formative years, years of struggle and will to power (HEPRG, 2007).

Formative years 1889-1918: In his early childhood, Hitler led a lonely and isolated life. It was during this period that Hitler developed some personality traits that later on proved to be vital to his rise to power.

These traits were inability to establish normal interpersonal relationships, hatred towards the established bourgeois and the Jews; a tendency for showing hysterical and passionate outbursts; and finally indulgence in fantasizing.

He served in World War I and was awarded the Iron Cross in December 1914 and August 1918 (Meier, 2007).  So began his love for war. His military experiences nurtured his beliefs in authoritarianism, inequity, and the heroism associated with war.  This love for war and heroism also were a vital part that contributed towards his rise to power later on.

Years of Struggle 1919-1924 : Hitler joined the German Worker’s Party in Munich in September 1919 and took active interest in politics at the cost of his military career. This party was renamed National Socialistiche Deutsche Arbeiterpartei and referred to as Nazi.  This was a period in history when there was widespread resentment toward the victorious powers of WWI.  Hitler lived the 1920s at Bavaria in an environment of traditional enmity of the republican government in Berlin (Meier, 2007).

Using his talents in oratory,  Hitler spoke to scores of mass audiences, calling for the German people to resist the yoke of Jews and Communists, and to create a new empire which would rule the world for 1,000 years. Thus the Nazi party membership grew as more ex-military personnel, protestors of the republic and members of the Freikorps joined the Nazi party. Hitler took advantage of this growth opportunity and soon in July 1921 he became president of the party with unlimited power (Meier, 2007).  Hitler worked through heavy propaganda through the party newspaper, the Volkischer Brobachter.

This was where his personal charisma helped him. He ensured he had a growing mass of followers by projecting his personal magnetism and leadership qualities. He tried to exploit the lawlessness and opposition to the Weimar Republic by calling for a national revolution against the government in November 1923. However, he was defeated and put in prison. Hitler used this publicity and time in prison to write his book Mein Kempf. Through this book he propagated his political ideas on the superiority of the German class.

Rise to Power 1924:

When he came back from prison, Hitler had to reconstruct the Nazi party. The Weimar Republic was now economically more stronger and respectable. Hitler was not allowed to give public speeches until late 1927. Silently he nurtured the growth of his party and consolidated his position within the party. The economic depression that followed the cold war in 1929 gave rise to a period of economic and political instability (Vean, 2006). Hitler allied with Nationalist Alfred Hugenberg in a campaign and thereby secured access to huge audiences and to the newspapers under the control of Hugenberg. It was through this platform that Hitler received huge political funds for the Nazi party.

His party did not receive many votes in November 1932 (Vean, 2006). Yet, he continued to aim for the Chancellorship. One can see that more than personal charisma, it was the hard work and shrewd intelligence to exploit favorable situations that contributed to his rise to power (Southgate, 2007). In January 1933, Hindenburg offered him the Chancellorship and he accepted it readily.  Once in power, Hitler proceeded to establish an absolute dictatorship.

He called for new elections and the Reichstag fire, on February 27, 1933 gave Hitler an excuse for a law that would curb the freedom of the Reichstag. Under these chaotic conditions, the Nazis polled 43.9% of the votes.  Hitler was soon given full powers by the combined votes of Nazi, Nationalist, and Centre party deputies.  Through this account we find that the economic depression of 1929, the weakness of the Weichmar Republic, the trust Hindenburg placed in Hitler, and the manipulativeness of Hitler contributed to the rise to power of Hitler.

Hitler adopted the policy of trying to win over support of opposition and in case of failure executing them. He thus won the support of the army and when Hindenburg died on August 2, Hitler merged the Chancellorship and Presidency and thus became the supreme commander of the Reich’s armed forces (Meier, 2007). It must be mentioned in this context that the German Minister of Propaganda, Dr Josef Goebbels ensured that Hitler was presented strongly to the public as the Fuhrer – a powerful leader who epitomized all German virtues. He took special care of Hitler’s appearances and speeches.  Goebbels can be seen as the man behind the design of personal appeal Hitler. However, the regime was accepted by the public mainly because of economic recovery and reduction in unemployment (Styles of Leadership, 2007).

Hitler ensured that no person would grow within the Nazi party to challenge his own absolute power. Hitler sought to reunited the German people and expand the German empire. To avoid any suspicion, he posed as the champion of the causes of Europe by taking a stand against Bolshevism. He also declared that he was against the inequalities of Versailles.  Hitler even signed a treaty of non-aggression in 1934. When his own party members under his orders, murdered Chancellor Dollfuss of Austria and attempted a coup d’etat in July 1934, to absolve himself from any kind of suspicion, he executed all those who had acted with his permission.

In January 1934 Hitler renounced any claims on France. In June 1935, he negotiated a naval treaty with Britain. His master stroke was in March 1936, when he used the excuse of a pact between France and the Soviet Union to remilitarize the Rhineland. In October 1936 Hitler established the Rome-Berlin axis and soon after he signed the Anti-Cominterm Pact with Japan. He dismissed or executed anyone who did not accept Nazi dynamism in a wholehearted manner (EB, 2007).

In November 1937, Hitler revealed his plans of German expansion to a secret meeting of his military leaders.  In February 1938, Hitler invited the Austrian chancellor, Kurt von Schuschnigg, to Bertesgarden and forced him to sign an agreement giving the Austrian Nazis a virtual free hand (EB, 2007). When Schuschnigg attempted protest against this forced action of Germany, Hitler immediately ordered the occupation of Austria by German troops (EB, 2007). Hitler was enthusiastically received by the Austrians and hence he annexed Austria.

He met with no resistance mainly due to his careful preparation of the surrounding nations and the public. Hitler ordered Konrad Henlein, leader of the German minority in Czechoslovakia, to agitate for impossible demands for the Sudetenland. In the conflict that followed, Hitler tried to call for a war with Czechoslovakia.  Britain, France and Mussolini of Italy used their influence in preventing the war and asked the Czechoslovakian government to cede the Sudentenland areas to Germany peacefully.

By provoking Slovak discontent, Hitler in March 16, 1939, dissolved the state of Czechoslovakia (Schools History, 2006). He forced the Lithuanian government to cede Memel, on the northern frontier of East Prussia, to Germany.  Hitler strengthened the alliance with Italy through the Pact of Steel – May 1939 and even signed a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union. Signed on August 23, this allowed Hitler to attack Poland on September 1, 1939 (Schools History, 2006). The Polish invasion was quickly followed by a British and French declaration of war.

This account of events shows that it was Hitler’s astute strategic sense that allowed him to rise to the extent of being a dominating power in Europe. Nothing was worked on personal appeal. He manipulated things with shrewd foresight and cold calculations. Hitler occupied Denmark and Norway in April 1940. He then struck against France, by invading through the Ardennes. However, Hitler helped the British to escape from Dunkirk. The campaign as a whole was a brilliant success and Hitler could claim the major credit for its overall planning.

He was the most successful leader in history up to 1941. When the attack against the USSR was launched on June 22, 1941 (Vean, 2006),  Hitler began facing his downfall. Hitler’s rise to power thus is due to a number of factors:  the conditions of post World War I Germany, the shrewd strategic mind of Hitler and to some extent, his personal charisma. Hitler did effectively project himself as a heroic leader through his public speeches, his dress and his manner. His personal appeal also worked in getting support from conventional politicians.

As the Chancellor, Hitler projected to upgrade his image as the Fuhrer – the prophetic leader. This personal appeal worked to a certain extent in bringing huge audiences to his speeches, a large number of votes to his party and friends among the political circle. However, if there was no real suffering of the German people due to economic depression, or in the lack of Hitler’s astute strategy to exploit circumstances to his advantage, Hitler’s rise to power would not have been possible.


HEPRG (2007). The Holocaust Education Program Resource Guide. Virginia War Museum.

Meier, A. David (2000). Adolf Hitler’s Rise to Power.

Styles of Leadership (2007).

Southgate, Troy (2007). Hitler the Demogogue.

Schools History (2006). How did the Hitler and the Nazi party take power?

Encyclopedia Britannica (2007). Adolf Hitler.

Vean, Tolgus (2006). History: Peace to War 1919-1939.

To what extent was the rise to power of Hitler due to personal appeal and ability? Essay