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Two Of A Kind: This Is An Essay Comparing The Atrocities Of Adolf Hitler And Chairman Mao.

1167 words - 5 pages

"Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."-Lord ActonMost of us have heard this quote before. Many of us have even used it on occasion, usually to describe a particularly disliked authority figure. However, have we ever truly considered what it means? Can we in the United States really have any idea what it is like to live with absolute power corrupting absolutely? Some would say yes--but as much as any of us have disagreed with our political leaders, we have to concede that compared to the tyrants some other countries have lived under, our leaders seem pretty reasonable and fair. To learn about power and corruption, we need to examine some of the cruel and tyrannical rulers who have been in power throughout history. Looking at Adolf Hitler, former Nazi dictator of Germany, and Mao Tse-Tung, former Communist dictator of China, we discover many similarities in their opinions, actions, and the effects of their power.Both Hitler and Mao, although ostensibly at different ends of the political spectrum, largely shared an ideology of genocide and oppression. Both men believed that large classes of people were inferior, that they were sub-human and should be eradicated swiftly. To Hitler, it was the Jews and other non-Aryans who were seen as lower life forms. To Chairman Mao, it was the bourgeois, the rentiers and the "kulaks"--people in social classes outside the proletariat--who bore the brunt of his "class warfare". He, like Hitler, believed that "the enemy" (land owners, people with any degree of wealth and anyone who dared challenge his Communist regime) should be obliterated. Hitler's intention was to "purify" his Fatherland and abolish all beliefs contradictory to his--and the people who held them. The "impure" (Jews, Gypsies, Catholics, the handicapped, etc.) were seen as a biological threat to Hitler's Aryan "master race".Both Hitler and Mao's times in power were marked by bloody massacres and terrible crimes against humanity. In China in 1959, under Mao's rule, thousands of detainees were systematically tortured. Children were killed, boiled and used as fertilizer. Mao's cadres practiced live burials and tortured resisters with hot irons. Many children were orphaned, but taking them in was banned. Desperate villagers who tried to force their way into the towns were greeted with machine-gun fire. The death rate from starvation reached over 50 percent in some villages; there were many cases of cannibalism and "children were sometimes eaten in accordance with a communal decision" (Margolin et al. 492). Similarly horrible torture was inflicted upon children--especially twins--at Auschwitz, one of the Nazi death camps. Josef Mengele, a notorious Nazi doctor, performed gruesome medical experiments on children of families who had been "detained" because of their Jewish heritage. Mengele would draw large amounts of blood from the children, some who were so young that their necks were the only suitable injection sites as their arms and...

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