Comparison and Contrast of Napoleon and Hitler
A Short Summarization of Napoleon's Pre-Emperor Life
Bonaparte is arguably the most controversial leader of the nineteenth
century. With the French army and citizens completely under his control,
he used them to fight incessant wars across Europe. He did not kill as many people
as Hitler, but he did send millions of men to their death without
any remorse, in an age where one million people hardly ever lived
in a single city, and European countries were composed of only a few
million people. Although he served in the French army, he was born
in French captured Corsica. Although his family was poor, they
were of noble blood and profited from their status with the French
conquerors. Napoleon went to a prestigious military school because
of his family's connections with the French. He soon became an officer
in the artillery branch, and performed brilliantly at the battle of
Toulon. His fame rose, and after a incredible series of victories over the Austrians
and Italians with a much smaller force, Napoleon was raised to hero
status. He then conquered most of Egypt, only to be forced to leave
because of the complete destruction of the French fleet by the British.
Nonetheless, he was still viewed as a military genius, and his rise
to glory would shake the world.
More Information about Napoleon's Conquests >>
Summarization of Hitler's Pre-Fuhrer Life
Hitler is arguably the most controversial leader of the twentieth
century. He slaughtered millions of people, and he oppressed millions
more. Although people can compare recent race crimes to Hitler's crimes,
none can compare the scale of the crimes. Before the second World
War, Hitler participated in the first. He was a courier, and took
his position very seriously. Anyone who knew him before the first
World War and saw him during the war emphasized how happy and at home
he was. He received the Iron Cross Second and First Class during this
war. When the war ended, Hitler was hospitalized and openly cried
when he heard of the armistice. He believed that a group of backstabbers
had wounded Germany through the armistice. He vowed to avenge German
nationalism and pride through political, if you can call it that,
He joined a small Nationalist group and turned it into a street-fighting,
terror bringing, extreme left-wing, political machine that witnessed
many ups and downs. He reached office mostly through bullying and
terror, but the citizens cared more for his patriotic words than for
his troops' actions.
More Information about Hitler's Conquests >>
Napoleon: "I shall bury the world beneath my ruin"
Hitler: "We may be destroyed, but, if we are, we'll drag the world
down with us, a world in flames."
Napoleon: "A man like me cares little
about losing the lives of a million men."
Hitler: "I can send the flower of German youth into the hell of war
without the slightest pity."
In reference to Europe,
Napoleon: "A rotten old whore whom I shall treat as I please"
Hitler: "I had to rape it in order to possess it."
- When their countries had exhausted all of their manpower,they
both conscripted children and teens into their service. Hitler conscripted
the Hitler Youth, and Napoleon conscripted the Marie Louises (fifteen
- Hitler and Napoleon were both immigrants in the country they ended
up ruling. Hitler was was born in the small Austrian village of
Braunau Am Inn just across the border from German Bavaria, and Napoleon
- Both censored intellectuals except in military technology. Hitler
was always looking for newer, better weapons, but Napoleon was fine
with the ones he had. They both exiled leading philosophical and
even some scientific scholars in an attempt to filter out the people
who could not be dominated. Hitler also ordered many books to be
burned in order to better establish his dominance over the masses.
- Both conquered most of Europe. Although the map might have told
a different story in Napoleon's case, most countries in Europe were
mere puppet governments of Napoleonic France. Hitler's map made
sure that Germany's boundaries clearly engulfed most of Europe.
- Both thought that attacking Britain would be costly, and then
both attacked Russia resulting in catastrophic defeat. Both viewed
the Russians as barbaric and easily defeated in battle. Not to mention,
both met their Russian turning points during the winter- Napoleon's
at Borodino, and Hitler's at Stalingrad.
- Both called for a fight to the death in their respective capitals
when enemy armies were approaching them.
- Both almost conquered Egypt, although Hitler's conquering of Africa
had nothing to do with his orders. Erwin Rommel disobeyed orders
and went on the offensive. Napoleon, on the other hand, was the
French General who almost conquered all of Egypt. Both leader's Egyptian
enterprises would be blocked by Britain, her navy, and commanders.
- Carl von Clausewitz, Hitler's military mentor, was in Napoleon's
opposing Prussian army in 1806 and in Kutuzov's staff in 1812, again
fighting against Napoleon.
- Both served in the military before they became political candidates
for their country's leadership. They also lived through distinct
poverty after their initial glory days in the military.
- Hitler, under his personal command and planning conquered all
of Poland in only 24 days. Napoleon, under his personal command
and planning conquered most of Austria and all of Sardinia in 9
days. They followed these victories with even larger, faster victories.
Hitler with the conquest of the Netherlands, Holland, Belgium and
France in just 25 days. Napoleon conquered Italy and more of Austria
in less than one year with only 30,000 soldiers to start with against
over 100,000. Hitler's odds were more even. After their campaigns,
they practically raped the loser's territory, sending back bullion,
art, and other valuables. Both captured many soldiers and a large
amount of supplies and weapons as well. Also, Hitler and Napoleon's
tactics were described as "lightening wars" by their oppositions.
- Hitler and Napoleon were accepted as monarchs in a previously
democratic society because of three major reasons: both countries
were hoping for the returning strength of the monarchy, the populace
was tired of inflation, civil war, and threats of invasion, and
both militaries preferred aggressive patriots at their head as opposed
to any professional politicians.
- Their countries were in economic chaos, there was substantial
opposition to their regimes, and there were difficulties with the
church. Bonaparte wished to assert France's dominance over western
and central Europe besides retaining her 'natural' frontiers; Hitler
intended to create a Greater Germany and then to conquer eastern
Europe. In addition, each was intent on building a new type of state
with a new social order. Both enjoyed the advantage of more or less
unlimited power, yet they assumed this power very carefully and
- Both pursued vigorous economic plans that balanced each countries'
budgets, which had not been done in years: Bonaparte balanced the
budget in 1802, the first time it had been balanced in over seventy
years. Hitler managed to balance Germany's budget by 1938. Both
Hitler and Bonaparte ended unemployment in their countries with
nationwide projects. Neither Hitler nor Bonaparte came up with the
ideas. The programs of Hitler were proposed by Georg-Hans Reinhardt
and Hjalmar Schacht, and the programs of Bonaparte came from various
able ministers. By eliminating the economic crises in their countries
and establishing a feeling of national security and pride, they
raised national pride and patriotism to unprecedented levels.
- Both men set up concentration camps at the beginning of their
careers for political prisoners. Both Hitler and Napoleon had notorious
henchman who murdered many men and women for their respective leaders.
Napoleon had the Joseph Fouche, also known as the Butcher of Lyons,
and Rene Savary, the leader of a crack force of mounted military
police used only for the most dangerous assignments. Savary was
used for heavy espionage work such as forging Russian banknotes
in 1812, Austrian banknotes in 1809, and making a clockwork timebomb
to dispose of the Bourbons in 1814. Fouche was used for anything
dirty, including executions, and keeping a spy network. Hitler's
SS acted in the same manner as the French Imperial Guard but were
far more brutal and savage than the French. Hitler's ruthless henchmen
included Heinrich Himmler who headed the security forces and spy
networks, and Reinhard Heydrich- "the Hangman" or "the Blond Beast."
- Both used the Church to attain most of what they needed: Bonaparte
using the church much more and much more thoroughly than the Fuhrer.
However, neither one believed in Christianity. Bonaparte was a deist
and believed in a higher power, but Hitler was an atheist and he
especially hated Christianity and its "Jewish" teachings. However,
because the masses were Catholic, Hitler and Bonaparte were "Catholic"
too, at least in appearances.
- Both Hitler and Napoleon hoped to avoid war in the West. Hitler's
many bluffs were intended only to get what he wanted, without war.
Both Napoleon and Hitler gained favorable treaties before their
large, costly wars began.
- Napoleon and Hitler also agreed on an American policy. They both
decided that America could not involve itself in a European because
of economic reasons as well as the "isolationist" theories. This
would come back to haunt Hitler, and these decisions would influence
Napoleon to sell the newly acquired Louisiana to the Americans due
to its "lack" of importance.
- Hitler once said, "Since the Civil War, in which the Southern
States were conquered against all historical logic and sound sense,
the Americans have been in a condition of political and popular
decay." "The beginnings of a great new social
order based on the principle of slavery and inequality were destroyed
by that war, and with them also the embryo of a future truly great
America that would not have been ruled by a corrupt caste of tradesmen,
but by a real Herren-class that would have swept away all the falsities
of liberty and equality." He told Rauschning, "I am firmly convinced
that in a certain section of the American middle class and the farmers,
the sound fighting spirit of colonial days has not been extinguished."
Hitler was no doubt encouraged by a "wholesome aversion for the
Negroes and the colored races in general, including the Jews. I
guarantee, gentlemen, that at the right moment a new America will
exist as our strongest supporter." He and Napoleon both believed
American troops to be of poor quality, and although Napoleon may
have been right at the time, Hitler was right by no means.
- Hitler was fond not only of new weapons, but also military theory.
Among his eye-opening reading were Hanz Guderian's book Achtung
Panzer and Giulio Douhet's theories on the effects of air raids
on morale. The latter was definitely higher in the Fuhrer's self
esteem because he would continue to deny necessary funds for tank
production for years, and he would not allow leaders the freedom
of command that the "armored idea" demanded.
Probably the most striking difference between Hitler and Napoleon was
their plans or aspirations for the Jews and their role in society. Napoleon
seriously believed that their religious and social disabilities should
be removed, placing them on the same level as Protestants and Catholics;
wherever his armies went he abolished ghettos. He hoped to persuade
Jews from all over the world to settle in France and take a full part
in the nation's life.
- Napoleon once said, "We treat women too well and by doing so have
spoilt everything. We have been very wrong indeed to raise them
to our own level. The Orientals are much more intelligent and sensible
in making women slaves." As he saw it, their sole function was to
bear man children and satisfy his sexual needs. He continues, "What
do most ladies have to complain of? Don't we acknowledge they have
souls ... They demand equality! Pure madness! Woman is our property
... just as the fruit tree belongs to the gardener." Then in complete
contrast, he describes their fighting power, "They are brave, incredibly
enthusiastic and capable of the most frightful atrocities ... In
a real war between men and women the only thing which would handicap
women would be pregnancy, since the women of the people are just
as strong as most young men." The Fuhrer was almost a complete opposite.
Like Napoleon, he regarded them as an inferior species whose job
was to bear children, be good mothers and make homes for men. However,
he quotes, "Marriages that originate only in sensual infatuation
are usually somewhat shaky ... Separations are particularly painful
when there has been a genuine comradeship between man and wife ...
a meeting between two beings who complete one another, who are made
for one another, borders already, in my conception, upon a miracle."
He also refused women in his army because of the sympathies that
male soldiers would bestow on the women, and the role that he felt
they should play in society: Housewife. This is a complete contrast
to Napoleon's dealings with women. Napoleon once told a frightened
young actress, "Come in. Take your clothes off. Lie down." Napoleon
had countless mistresses, but Hitler was with only one woman, Eva Braun, during
- On St. Helena, Napoleon scribed: "I have implemented part of my
scheme. Some excellent Jewish soldiers joined the French army, considerable
wealth entering the country as a result. Had it not been for the
events of the year 1814 many more would have come to France, since
eventually every Jew would have wanted to settle in a land where
equality before the law was guaranteed and where they could aspire
to any honor."
At the other end of the spectrum, Hitler heaped disabilities and humiliations
on German Jews from the moment he secured full control of the State
in April 1933. They were purged from every profession, while in 1935,
they were deprived of German citizenship and forbidden to marry or
have sexual relations with 'racially pure' Germans; nor could they
attend German schools or universities. During Reichskristallnacht,
an attack by organized mobs on November 7, 1938, hundreds of synagogues
went up in flames and seven thousand Jewish shops were gutted. By
the end of 1938, over 30,000 Jews were "relocated" to concentration
- Napoleon enjoyed a large cavalry force. He cherished both his
Imperial Guard and the cavalry above most everything else. On the
other hand, because of the tank, Hitler and most of the rest of
Europe saw the cavalry as both overly aristocratic and outdated.
Hitler once told Speer, "Hunting and horse-racing, the last remnants
of a dead feudal world."
Napoleon and Hitler by Desmond Seward
Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
Age of Napoleon by J. Christopher Herold