Note: I am aware that this forum is for everthing “non-political”. I’m not sure if this counts as political, since it’s more historical than anything else. If the mods deem this inappropriate and thinks it might turn into a huge flame war (which I will do everything to make sure it won’t), then by all means padlock it.
This seriously makes my blood boil everytime someone tells me that Napoleon and Hitler were alike in many, many ways. I think this is a steaming load. Let me quote something from an awesome book, The Campaigns of Napoleon, in lieu of my own ranting.
Since the 1940s it has been fashionable in some quarters to compared Napoleon with Hitler. Nothing could be more degrading to the former and more flattering to the latter. The comparison is odious. On the whole Napoleon was inspired by a noble dream, wholly dissimilar from Hitler’s vaunted but stillborn “New Order”. Napoleon left great and lasting testimonies to his genius–-in codes of law and national identities which survive to the present day. Adolf Hitler left nothing but destruction. In certain aspects, the two do bear some resemblances. Both climbed to power through the use of opportunity in an unsettled period…both overthrew an older society…but there the resemblance ends. Even though it is difficult to form an objective view of Hitler in our own time, there can be no doubt that he was not case in the same mold as Napoleon.
Despite flashes of lucky intuition, Hitler was no soldier. Hitler’s most lasting perverted achievement for which he will always be remembered to the end of history was genocide; Napoleon will always be regarded as a commander of genius and the creator of modern Europe…
Now, I’m a convinced admierer of Napoleon: I believe he never started any of the wars that bear his name (wargamers and a good chunk of historians would drop their monocle at this atrocious statement; Napoleon SURELY was responsible for the Napoleonic Wars! After all, it has his name in it!..), and that he was a positive force in history. The author is right: Napoleon never tried to exterminate people based on their religion or creed (actually, at a time when Jews were prosecuted and forced to live in ghettos in Europe, Napoleon gave them freedom of religion and the freedom to get real jobs), and his dream was to create, in essence, an early European Union. Hitler’s plans were…well, I don’t need to go further.
So I ask: why do people make these ludicrous comparisons between Napoleon and Hitler, who were two completely different people? One was good (although many might disagree and say that he was at least a “good bad man”, one was evil: one is considered the father of modern Europe, one is considered as the scourge of modern Europe. One gave people a unified legal code and basic human rights, the other almost wiped an entire nationality off the map (Poland). These might seem like broad statements; the author did make some convincing resemblances. Regardless, they are small and irrelevant.