Why do people compare Napoleon to Hitler?


  • @UN:

    @calvinhobbesliker:

    Ah yes, its army is, as usual, way inferior to its navy.

    Quite. But by 1813 and 1814 it had improved remarkably, filled with veterans of the Peninsular War. Plus, the British Army was one of the only, if not THE only, Army to have not suffered a major defeat by Napoleon.

    Probably because it hadn’t fought on land yet until Waterloo? Is there any other major battle involving the British army?


  • @calvinhobbesliker:

    @UN:

    @calvinhobbesliker:

    Ah yes, its army is, as usual, way inferior to its navy.

    Quite. But by 1813 and 1814 it had improved remarkably, filled with veterans of the Peninsular War. Plus, the British Army was one of the only, if not THE only, Army to have not suffered a major defeat by Napoleon.

    Probably because it hadn’t fought on land yet until Waterloo? Is there any other major battle involving the British army?

    Well, you had the constant rebellions and quarrels going on in India (which is actually what Wellington was doing before he got involved in Spain), you had the War of 1812, and I recall the British being expelled from Buenos Aires by the Spanish sometime in 1804 or 1805, can’t remember when specifically.


  • None of which were against Napoleon.

    Spain was invaded in 1805, right?


  • @calvinhobbesliker:

    None of which were against Napoleon.

    True. I had thought you just asked broadly during that time.

    Spain was invaded in 1805, right?

    1808. Although again, it wasn’t so much “invaded” as it was the Peninsular War basically just spontaneously erupted, as the French Army was already in Spain and Portugal.


  • Could you also summarize his argument as to why he thinks Napoleon died by deliberate arsenic poisoning? I looked this up and it seems that the arsenic in his hair could have come from his wallpaper


  • @calvinhobbesliker:

    Could you also summarize his argument as to why he thinks Napoleon died by deliberate arsenic poisoning? I looked this up and it seems that the arsenic in his hair could have come from his wallpaper

    I suggest you read this article: Here It goes into how exactly he was poisoned, who poisoned him, and disproves the theories of the arsenic coming from the walls or shaving cream.

    I wish I could give you the short and sweet summary, but I’m not quite sure how to do that; if you want to understand why Ben Weider, Sten Forshufvud, me, and many others believe he died of arsenic poisoning you’ll have to get the full story. It’s not too big of a read, the page just seems big because the article is just sliced up into smaller fragments of writing. Plus, I think Weider made it as short as sweet as he could to the best of his ability.

    Ignore the writing in the box, that’s just the introduction of all of the articles Weider writes. Start at “…THE PURSUIT OF FACTUAL DETAIL
    IS THE RELIGION OF PERFECTION”



  • @calvinhobbesliker:

    So what to make of http://www.livescience.com/history/080212-napoleon-not-poisoned.html then?

    That article does not explain why Napoleon’s arsenic levels showed highs and lows while he was on St. Helena. In fact it’s pretty vague, period. For example:

    The other surprise was that there were no significant differences in arsenic levels between when Napoleon was a boy and during his final days in Saint Helena.

    If that’s true, where’s the proof? The link I showed you had a graph, along with an official statement from the FBI saying that the hair samples are indeed from someone having died from deliberate arsenic poisoning.

    According to the researchers, including toxicologists who participated in the study, it is evident that this was not a case of poisoning but instead the result of the constant absorption of arsenic.

    Which is a blatant lie, otherwise the arsenic levels of the Emperor from 1816-1821 would have been constant, and they were not.

    I really want to know more about the testing of these Italian scientists, but because that article is vague and broad in its findings I can only say that it was a pretty weak experiment compared to the amount of testing and research done by Dr. Sten Forshufvud and Ben Weider.


  • @calvinhobbesliker:

    @ABWorsham:

    Napoleon helped created modern Europe. His conquest spread the ideas of the French Revolution. His occupation of Europe caused the spread of nationalism.

    Which ironically led to his downfall as the German states turned against him

    Napoleon was a great military leader, and certainly did want to spread the ideas of revolutionary France. Napoleon broke the back of the socalled ‘Holy Roman Empire’ and wanted to end feudalism and serfdom in Europe. Todays legal system in most of Europe is based on parts of the ‘code Napoleon’.

    He had his flaws though, he was poor at diplomacy (he was used to dealing with vassals which didn’t help in his negotiating with Alexander), he didn’t want to recognize Spanish and particularly German nationalism and was also personally ambitious for himself and liked to place cronies or brothers on thrones instead of making all republics. The old order was against him because he had overthrown them, and the liberals and progressives ended up disliking him for not taking the ideas of the revolution further.

    Hitler’s legacy? I can’t really think of a single positive thing.

  • '12

    @UN:

    @Zhukov44:

    Hitler probably enjoyed being compared to Napoleon….no reason to hold that against Napoleon…

    Both men were short, both men conquered Europe, both men engaged in prolonged war with United Kingdom, and for both men, their greatest error was trying to conquer Russia.

    Hitler was 5’9. Napoleon was 5’6. =|

    Also, it is very hard to provide any evidence that Hitler was not responsible for WWII, but it can be debated that Napoleon never started any war, even the invasion of Russia. I could debate it here, but that’s not the point; the point is people can argue that Britain started the Napoleonic Wars just as easily as saying Napoleon did (and, to be honest, the evidence is against Britain).

    Napolean was NOT short.  Yes he was 5’6"-5’7", which was actually normal for the time (ever been to see the USS Constitution in Boston? You need to crouch in that ship, the original crew did not). British propoganda porayed him that way and it has stuck for 200 years.  It’s interesting how things like that stick.  One artist did a painting of him with his hand in his jacket and that too became iconic.


  • @13thguardsriflediv:

    @calvinhobbesliker:

    @ABWorsham:

    Napoleon helped created modern Europe. His conquest spread the ideas of the French Revolution. His occupation of Europe caused the spread of nationalism.

    Which ironically led to his downfall as the German states turned against him

    Napoleon was a great military leader, and certainly did want to spread the ideas of revolutionary France. Napoleon broke the back of the socalled ‘Holy Roman Empire’ and wanted to end feudalism and serfdom in Europe. Todays legal system in most of Europe is based on parts of the ‘code Napoleon’.

    He had his flaws though, he was poor at diplomacy (he was used to dealing with vassals which didn’t help in his negotiating with Alexander), he didn’t want to recognize Spanish and particularly German nationalism and was also personally ambitious for himself and liked to place cronies or brothers on thrones instead of making all republics. The old order was against him because he had overthrown them, and the liberals and progressives ended up disliking him for not taking the ideas of the revolution further.

    Hitler’s legacy? I can’t really think of a single positive thing.

    There are still Neo-Nazis that support Hitler.


  • @13thguardsriflediv:

    Napoleon was a great military leader, and certainly did want to spread the ideas of revolutionary France. Napoleon broke the back of the socalled ‘Holy Roman Empire’ and wanted to end feudalism and serfdom in Europe. Todays legal system in most of Europe is based on parts of the ‘code Napoleon’.

    He had his flaws though, he was poor at diplomacy (he was used to dealing with vassals which didn’t help in his negotiating with Alexander),

    I disagree; his flaw was that he was too soft on the conquered. If he had any obsession it was an obsession to have peace in Europe so he could focus on his responsibilities as a statesman. At Tilsit in 1807, he could have asked for anything from Alexander and the tsar could have denied nothing to him. To Alexander’s surprise, Napoleon renounced the constitution of a strong Poland that would have represented the ideas of the Revolution and served the strategic interests of France. Instead he made the Duchy of Warsaw, consisting only of the Austrian and Prussian parts of Poland, while the Russians kept their share.

    Russia was allowed to annex the Danube provinces and take over Finland. If Napoleon was poor at diplomacy I’m pretty sure he would have been much more harsh on Russia at Tilsit.

    I’m not sure where you got he was used to dealing with vassals; he constantly negotiated with other heads of state (not counting the multiple offers of peace to Britain).

    he didn’t want to recognize Spanish and particularly German nationalism

    Wait, what? I won’t go on again of the Peninsular War; you can read my summing up of that fateful trap in an earlier post. He didn’t recognize German nationalism? If that was so, he probably would have just annexed all German states into France and suppressed anything that was German culture. Yes, the Confederation of the Rhine strained as the military situation got worse and worse (no thanks to Napoleon’s warmongering enemies), but while many resented French rule, the majority did not, particularly German scholars such as Heinrich Heine, Schumann, and Goethe.

    and was also personally ambitious for himself and liked to place cronies or brothers on thrones instead of making all republics.

    I’m curious: which “cronies” are you talking about? That would be completely out of Napoleon’s character, to have “cronies” rule anywhere in his Empire. He hated dishonesty, corruption, and inefficiency.

    Also, his brothers ruled quite well in the countries they ruled. Joesph Bonaparte introduced the Napoleonic Code (legal rights, freedom of practice of religion, etc.) improved the infrastructure, opened up schools, and was largely admired by the Napalese people. Even when Napoleon made him King of Spain he gave the country its first constitution and did the same thing he did in Naples, although Joseph was very reluctant to take the throne of Spain.

    The old order was against him because he had overthrown them

    If he overthrew them, why did he not dismantle the Austrian Empire (make Hungary independant, make Austria a Republic), annex Prussia, and just do what Hitler did and just outright absorbed their kingdoms? Napoleon took no part in the French Revolution’s political upheavals; at that time he was still second lieutenant of the artillery.

    and the liberals and progressives ended up disliking him for not taking the ideas of the revolution further.

    You mean the Jacobins?  😄

    Hitler’s legacy? I can’t really think of a single positive thing.

    Same here.


  • @UN:

    I disagree; his flaw was that he was too soft on the conquered. If he had any obsession it was an obsession to have peace in Europe so he could focus on his responsibilities as a statesman.

    He essentially humiliated Prussia by keeping French forces stationed there, at Prussia’s expense (financially). Prussia had ambitions to unite Northern Germany (ie without Austria) under Prussian banner and Napoleon knew it, and wanted to prevent it.

    At Tilsit in 1807, he could have asked for anything from Alexander and the tsar could have denied nothing to him.

    I disagree. Napoleon greatly offended the Russian court (Alexander found himself lambasted when he returned to court in St Petersburg) and his ‘construction’ of the Duchy of Warsaw was seen as the greatest offense, since the Russians feared it would kindle hopes in ‘Russian’ Poland for unification with the Duchy of Warsaw, which Russia was dead set against, because if Polish could harbor hopes of loosening from Russia, so could other nationalities. Furthermore, he greatly underestimated Alexander who started distancing himself from Napoleon not long after Tilsit, mostly under pressure from Russia’s aristocracy, his mother and also the British.

    Russia was allowed to annex the Danube provinces and take over Finland. If Napoleon was poor at diplomacy I’m pretty sure he would have been much more harsh on Russia at Tilsit.

    He was in no position to be harsher because he wanted Russian support for the Continental system. And he was poor at diplomacy because he generally imposed many things on the states that he directly or indirectly controlled rather than negotiate as an equal.

    I’m not sure where you got he was used to dealing with vassals; he constantly negotiated with other heads of state (not counting the multiple offers of peace to Britain).

    Friedrich Karl of Baden, Ludwig of Hesse-Darmstadt, Friedrich of Württemberg and Maximilian of Bavaria all owed the expansion of their realms to Napoleon. Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia had been humiliated at Tilsit and was only kept on by Napoleon because Alexander asked it of him. Napoleon casually moved areas and provinces from one kingdom to another. Napoleon imposed French as an official language on several areas of German states.

    many resented French rule, the majority did not, particularly German scholars such as Heinrich Heine, Schumann, and Goethe.

    The number of people that resented French rule in German areas increased with time. The continental system hit the Germans hardest of all those who were subject to it. Around 1810 his minister of foreign affairs, de Champagny, reported to him that a sizeable revolution was brewing in Germany, fed by hatred against France and the consequences of the continental system. This report led Napoleon to believe that he had to do something about German nationalism, and particularly the reason it kept reappearing: Russian diplomats and spies acting on Alexander’s behalf. Russia had to be dealt with.  If Russia kept agitating for German nationalism and therefore indirectly against French interests, Napoleon would have none of it.

    I’m curious: which “cronies” are you talking about? That would be completely out of Napoleon’s character, to have “cronies” rule anywhere in his Empire. He hated dishonesty, corruption, and inefficiency.

    I should have used the word ‘vassals’, which applies to Friedrich Karl of Baden, Ludwig of Hesse-Darmstadt, Friedrich of Württemberg, Maximilian and Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia.

    You mean the Jacobins?  😄

    No, people like Benjamin Constant and Madame de Stael. The latter wrote a book criticizing the French treatment of Italy. She also wrote a book on German culture which contained so much implicit criticism of Napoleon that he had the book banned.

    He was a great man in history, but one with many flaws.


  • @13thguardsriflediv:

    @UN:

    I disagree; his flaw was that he was too soft on the conquered. If he had any obsession it was an obsession to have peace in Europe so he could focus on his responsibilities as a statesman.

    He essentially humiliated Prussia by keeping French forces stationed there, at Prussia’s expense (financially). Prussia had ambitions to unite Northern Germany (ie without Austria) under Prussian banner and Napoleon knew it, and wanted to prevent it.

    Perhaps, but Prussia knew very well what it was getting into. Despite Napoleon’s personal plea, Fredrick Wilhelm did nothing to prevent the Prussian court from being dominated by the war party.

    I disagree. Napoleon greatly offended the Russian court (Alexander found himself lambasted when he returned to court in St Petersburg) and his ‘construction’ of the Duchy of Warsaw was seen as the greatest offense, since the Russians feared it would kindle hopes in ‘Russian’ Poland for unification with the Duchy of Warsaw, which Russia was dead set against, because if Polish could harbor hopes of loosening from Russia, so could other nationalities. Furthermore, he greatly underestimated Alexander who started distancing himself from Napoleon not long after Tilsit, mostly under pressure from Russia’s aristocracy, his mother and also the British.

    Which makes me sad that Alexander I came to power, period. His father would have been much more adept at guaranteeing peace in Europe and probably wouldn’t have been so influenced by anti-Napoleonic forces.

    He was in no position to be harsher because he wanted Russian support for the Continental system.

    He wanted Russian support, but again, he still had the power to create a march larger Poland at the expense of Russia, but he didn’t, partly because he was so despertate to forge a lasting peace, and partly because he wanted Russian support in the Continental System.

    And he was poor at diplomacy because he generally imposed many things on the states that he directly or indirectly controlled rather than negotiate as an equal.

    I both agree and disagree. In many instances (prominent among them the formation of the Confederation of the Rhine, which I’ll explain in a moment), Napoleon was very touchy about where he drew borders and was interested in what the heads of state of the vassal and allied states would have to say. On the other hand, he needed to guarantee the security of France, and, again, hated inefficiency and corruption, which often led to him being very imperious, as you said.

    Friedrich Karl of Baden, Ludwig of Hesse-Darmstadt, Friedrich of Württemberg and Maximilian of Bavaria all owed the expansion of their realms to Napoleon.

    That’s true, but none of them were inefficient rulers (with the possible except of Ludwig).

    Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia had been humiliated at Tilsit and was only kept on by Napoleon because Alexander asked it of him.

    Yeah, Fredrick got off easy. If Napoleon was the “19th century Hitler” that he’s frequently portrayed as I doubt Prussia as a nation would have even existed after Tilsit.

    Napoleon casually moved areas and provinces from one kingdom to another.

    Might you cite specific examples?

    Napoleon imposed French as an official language on several areas of German states.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean he wanted to ban German as a language, unlike the Japanese in Korea, who basically wanted to destroy Korean culture and language.

    The number of people that resented French rule in German areas increased with time.

    This is true; but remember why, in the first place, Napoleon demanded more resources and troops from the German states, because of the irreversible hatred of the European monarchies, Britain especially. If anyone’s at fault it is the British, who financed coalition after coalition to let Continental troops die for British interests, and who would threaten or outright bombard cities that did not abide by what His Britannic Majesety wanted (i.e. Copenhagen, Lisbon).

    No, people like Benjamin Constant and Madame de Stael. The latter wrote a book criticizing the French treatment of Italy. She also wrote a book on German culture which contained so much implicit criticism of Napoleon that he had the book banned.

    Let me show to you a segment from a book that talks about Stael:

    Germaine de Stael, born of Genevan parents and Swedish by marriage, only became French when Geneva was annexed to France in 1791. Intelligent, ambitious and brilliant, this woman was totally lacking in any moral sense, and her love life would make a racy novel. She was a tireless and dazzling writer, but one who often showed poor judgment. Unfortunately lacking in physical charm, with a rather mannish appearance, she initially felt an ardent passion for the young General Bonaparte, the conqueror of Italy, and she wrote that he was “the most intrepid warrior, the most reflective thinker, the most extraordinary genius.” She even took it into her head to become an Egeria to her hero, after having dreamed of playing that role for Mirabeau and then Robespierre.

    Through Talleyrand, Stael finally managed to get herself introduced to Napoleon. Slipping into the circle of people gathered around him, she called out to the First Consul, asking him who was in his eyes “the greatest woman in the world, living or dead”. “The one who has the most children, madame,” he answered. The interloper made a face but was not flustered, and pointed out to her unwilling conversational partner that he had a reputation “of not liking women much”. He replied, “Pardon me, madame, I like my own very much.”

    Stael was unrelenting, and she laid siege to her idol, a siege Napoleon on St. Helena recalled with amusement: “She almost took me by the pants in my little house on rue Chanteraine. She followed me one day as I went into my dressing room. ‘But madame, I’m going into my dressing room,’ I said. ‘It’s all the same to me,’ she answered. ‘I’m an old woman.’ She said the Empress Josephine was a silly woman who was not worthy to be my wife and that only she, Stael, was right for me. She was crazy about me.”

    The crazy woman wept with vexation after the coup d’etat of 18 Brumaire, which gave France a leader but also, through the favor of the First Consul, gave her lover, Benjamin Constant, a position. She pushed Constant to make a speech against the Consulate regime “of servitude and silence”. She was a fierce Calvinist in spite of her life of debauchery, and when the Concordat was signed with the Holy See she went over to the opposition and began dreaming of the overthrow of the regime with all the determination and malice of a wronged woman. As if to open hostilities, she published Delphine, a defense of divorce, Protestantism and England. She chose her time well! “I hope her friends have warned her not to come back to Paris,” exclaimed Bonaparte, “I would have to have her taken back to the border by the police.”

    He did not need to say this twice. She was seen in Germany, spreading invective against the man who was to become Emperor and plotting against him in all the courts, even with the Bourbons. But she continued to reside at Coppet, near Geneva, where the prefect of the Emperor, the “tyrant”, turned a blind eye to her activities. She was even seen in some regions of France, still trying to get close to Paris. She soon published Corinna, a novel in praise of the emancipation of women, in which the French hero is a good-looking fool and the British hero a beautiful, deep, generous spirit. This further enraged Napoleon, and on St. Helena he said, “I cannot forgive Madame de Stael for having made fun of the French in her novel.”

    Fallen under the influence of a German who was carrying on anti-French propaganda in Austria, the novelist finally brought down upon herself the official wrath of the Emperor, who in 1808 wrote to his minister of police: “Madame de Stael has an ongoing correspondence with a certain Gentz and has become involved with the clique of low characters in London…This relationship with this individual can only be to the detriment of France. You will make it known that until now she has been regarded only as a crazy woman, but that today she has begun to get involved in a clique that is contrary to the public peace.”

    The guilty woman returned to Coppet, still without suffering any “persecution” by the authorities of the department, and started to write her major work, Germany, which gave her an excellent opportunity to exercise her bias against French literature, supposedly mired in classicism, and praise German genius in all its forms. She took a notion to have this volume published in France and went there, but the police seized the manuscript and ordered her to leave the territory. The minister Savary sent her a rather stern letter: “It appears the air of this country does not suit you at all. Your last book is not French; I have stopped it from being printed. I regret the loss to the booksellers, but it is not possible for me to allow it to be published.”

    Can Napoleon really be blamed for approving this measure and refusing to permit the publication of a French book that was offensively pro-German, a book that would lead to a reawakening of the desire for dominance in Austria, only a few years after the dominance of the Holy Roman Empire, and cause the greatest damage to a precarious peace?

    At the same time, Stael, who was now taking opium, secretly married a friend of her son 21 years her junior and, fleeing the discreet surveillance that had been established around her chateau in Coppet, set off on the roads of Europe. She was next seen in the Russian court when Napoleon entered Moscow; she pushed the tsar to make an alliance with Sweden, which she took it upon herself to drag into the war by exerting pressure on crown prince Bernadotte, who was her friend. She dared to write, “The good of France required that it suffer a reversal.” Then she was in London, where she was given a triumphal reception, since she was the embodiment of resistance to Napoleon’s “tyranny”. During the Hundred Days in 1815, assuming that Napoleon would relax his surveillance, she rushed to Paris to claim payment of two million francs loaned by her father, Necker, to King Louis XVI. Could it be that she had changed camps?

    One might believe this when reading what she wrote to Joseph Bonaparte: “The return of your brother is extraordinary and surpasses all imagination.” But this was nothing but an act to gain a position for her son and obtain payment of her two million francs, because she maintained contacts with the enemies of the “tyrant”. One can easily get lost trying to follow the intricacies of her schemes.

    Was Napoleon wrong to check the torrent of words from a woman who worked to set Sweden, Prussia and Austria against France? And could Madame de Stael, who hated Napoleon and her adaptive country with equal force, complain because she was not allowed to publish her book in France? This is the objective perspective from which the issue must be looked at.

    He was a great man in history, but one with many flaws.

    True; but then again, no great leader in history has no flaws.

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