The Essence Of Power – Hitler v. Ghandi In the late 1800s and the early 1900s the people of northern Europe, southern Africa and Asia were in despair. They had no leaders. They were defenseless. India had been taken over by the British Empire and now the 315 million Indians were under the rule of the 100 thousand British soldiers there.
In Germany there were six different political groups; nobody knew what to do. These countries were in shock, they need a change, but more importantly, they needed a leader. Mohandas K. Gandhi was a law student, born and raised in India, but schooled in England. Early on in his career he returned to his birthplace and attempted to practice law there, but he was very unsuccessful. A few years later he moved to South Africa, and again attempted to set up a law practice there.
But South Africa was now in British control and the Indian lawyer was subjected to a lot of racial prejudice. Almost immediately he was abused because of his heritage and his law practice went down the drain. Gandhi began to notice the awful discriminations that all Indians suffered from. In 1894 he began a movement that would shape the way that Indians are viewed even today. He began to take charge; he began to lead his people.
Adolf Hitler was born in Braunau, Austria in 1889, about the time that Gandhi was realizing his mission in life. Like Mohandas K. Gandhi, Hitler was very smart as a child. Being the son of a public servant, he was able to attend the best schools and was able to partake in any extra-curricular activities he desired. All his father wanted was for his son to follow in his footsteps and attain the rank of public servant or even better, but the boy was very stubborn and when his father refused to let him chase a career as an artist, he decided to stop doing his work, and his grades began to fall drastically. When his father died he quit school and for the next few years lived off his familys money.
He did nothing but read books, draw pictures and daydream all day long. When he was 18 (in 1907) he moved to Vienna, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and tried to get into an art school there. But unfortunately for the world, he failed his entrance exams, twice. His mother died a few years later and he inherited quite a bit of money, so for the next part of his life he lived quite comfortably in Vienna as an “artist.” Around this time Hitler became very interested in politics. He joined the military and became a Social Democrat. He developed a huge hatred for Jews and Slavs and became an extreme nationalist.
He recognized that no form of government could ever last as long as the people of all different nationalities were treated equally. When the war broke out in 1914, Hitler immediately volunteered. He was accepted and served as a messenger. But Hitler was too smart to stay as merely a messenger. His knowledge of war and his extreme military tactics helped him to achieve the rank of corporal.
After Germanys defeat in World War I, the country went into a state of turmoil. When Hitler recovered from the shock of having lost the war, he joined a small political group called the German Workers Party. He quickly gained rank and changed the name of the political group to the National Socialist German Workers Party. The NSGWP was soon to take over the title of Nazis. In May of 1929, the NSGWP had only about 3% of the Germans following them, but by the time Hitler took over in 1933, around 35% of Germany were backing the Nazis. In 5 years Hitler had taken over the NSGWP and Germany.
Hitler rose because Germany needed a leader, and that was exactly was he offered them. Hitler and Gandhi both gained the respect of their people in very short periods of time. They both even used some of the same techniques. Both Hitler and Gandhi knew that writing and having his thoughts and ideas published was very important, but the only way to really get the peoples attention was to go out and speak to them. “the people can be moved only by the power of speech.” They both used speech as a weapon and they used it well.
At one point in his life, Hitler even refers to the, “magic[al] power of the spoken word ” Propaganda was also very important to both of these leaders. Hitler introduced the swastika and his infamous, “Heil, Hitler” salute, while Gandhi used his everlasting hunger strikes to stir the nation. Both of these leaders gave their countries what they needed, a person to tell them what to do, a figure of power, a leader. While Hitler and Gandhi both used some similar techniques to gain their power, once in control, they were very different men. Hitler abused his powers, while Gandhi wanted nothing more than to free his people.
“It is not because I value life low ” but Gandhi at any point of his reign would have been willing to give his life for the freedom and safety of his people. Hitler’s ego, greed, and self-centeredness caused him to abuse his great deal of power. He took advantage of what he had, which was a great many people who worshipped and followed his every move. After World War I, the Treaty of Versailles didnt allow the Germans much breathing room when it came to the military, but by the 1940s, the Germans were not being watched as closely and Hitler was little by little allowed to rebuild his army. At this time he instigated the “Hitler Youth Program” which was a compulsory program for all youth of Germany which was run by the schools and government powers.
Every youth over the age of thirteen was forced to join. He introduced his idea of “Blitzkreig” which was a five-step process to take over the world. Within a few years he had most of Europe and some of Asia under his control. His use of brute, “naked force” is what gave Germany the edge they needed to begin on the road to world domination. Hitler cared so little for his people that he would sacrifice thousands of them to get what he wanted. He had power, and he abused it as much as he could.
Thus began Hitler’s biggest attempt at abusing his power. Thus began the Holocaust. Gandhi had a diametrically opposite approach to attaining his goals. First, he did not believe in using violence to get what he wanted. He felt that “Suffering in ones own person is the essence of non-violence and is the chosen substitute for violence to others. ” As Gandhi said on page 200, “I have no weapon but non-violence.” Gandhi felt that the only way to defeat a powerful force that was to sit back and use any non-violent method possible.
If someone died, it was just as big a blow to the opposition as it was to you. But Gandhi, like Hitler was also very stubborn. His stubbornness, was another weapon he used to get what he wanted. When his non-violent marches all of the sudden turned into a brutal murder of 8 British military officers, Gandhi was very upset. The Indians had become powerful and were starting to take over and eliminate their British superiors.
Gandhi thought this to be worse than what they had before and he refused to eat or drink until all the killings has stopped and the Indians once again began to march and use passive resistance to gain their independence (Gandhi often referred to this as Swaraj or self-rule). By this time, Gandhi was so powerful that all the killings stopped, just to save his life. As independence approached and Hindus and Muslims continued to fight and kill each other, Gandhi once again put his belief of non-violence into play. He went on his own to a Muslim-majority area of Bengal, placing himself as a hostage for the safety of Muslims living among Hindus in western Bengal. Once again, within days, the fighting stopped and Gandhis stubbornness had saved the day.
Hitler and Gandhi both had many devices set up to help them not only gain power, but once in power, to keep their power. Hitler chose to scare the masses into following him, while Gandhi chose the less violent, but harder way to go, using only his two most lethal non-violent methods; love and truth. Gandhi loved everyone and everyone was forgiven. Both of these leaders accomplished their goals as well. Hitler accomplished not only killing 6 million Jews, but he also tore apart Europe and especially Germany. And while Hitler was out running his concentration camps, Gandhi fulfilled his dream of having a separate, free India.
He single-handedly freed 315 million Indians, Muslims, and Hindus from British control. When we look back on these two men, Gandhi will forever be known as one of the greatest men who ever lived, while Hitler is what people think the devil would be like. Both of these men had great amounts of power, but each used it differently; one for good, one for evil. Its obvious who came out on top. Bibliography 1. Th.