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Comparison between FDR and Hitler

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Adolf Hitler and Franklin Delano Roosevelt shared many common characteristics in the way the lead. They both were know for their charisma, ability to arouse emotion, and rose to power during a national crisis. Even with these commonalities, the result of their power ended very differently. FDR was elected for a total of four terms while Hitler became a dictator killing 6 million Jews, 40 million Russians, and countless others.

There are many similarities, of both leader and the German and American public, that are depicted through FDR and Hitler's inauguration speeches. At the time of each rulers' rise to power, their country was in a time of crisis. This is a critical factor in charismatic leadership. Conger writes that "a time of crisis or situational stagnation...tend to be more conductive to charismatic leadership" (161) . Germany had experienced huge inflation, unemployment, and had to pay a large sum of money to France after WWI. This is similar to the situation that was occurring in the United States because there was a massive unemployment problem due to the fact that the stock-market crashed. In this stock-market crash, many people lost their whole life savings and had to be reassured that it was safe to put their money into banks. It is true that these countries did not face identical problems, but it is interesting how similar situations draw similar leaders.

FDR promises several things in his inauguration speech. He says that while he is president he will make jobs, "make better use of the land", allow for the "strict supervision of banking, credits, and investments", and create a "sound currency". These promises are similar to Hitler's. Hitler states that he will rescue German farmers and help them to produce more, reduce the number of unemployed, create a compulsory labor-service, and provide for the sick and old. The goals of each leader are alike because each leader was faced with similar problems and thus had to fix, and each led with a similar hand.

FDR and Hitler demonstrate several results of leadership. FDR exemplifies the use of charisma to blindly lead his followers, but yet a good outcome is still able to occur. Hitler's leadership showed the devastating results of a charismatic's ability to blindly lead his followers to a genocidal goal. One could say that Hitler's ability to blindly lead his followers is not necessarily bad, but the fact that he created an Aryan race by killing off his own followers, shows that he wasn't blindly leading in his follower's best interests. Each leader had to come to an agreement of submission between the leader and the follower. FDR and Hitler settled with different levels of submission between themselves and their followers. FDR was the president of a democracy, so he wasn't as able to hold all of the control of the United States. This is different than the situation of which Hitler ruled. Since Hitler was the Furher of Germany, there wasn't a strong senate to balance his powers. The Reigstag, could be considered as a balancing power, but after Hitler had it burned so that it would be blamed on the communist party, it's power became lessened.

My definition of a leader is someone who seeks out another for the exchange of goods or services or the completion of a goal, there is a balance of manipulation between the leader and the follower, and the leader must influence the choices made by the follower in some way. I think that if these are not exchanged between the leader and follower, there isn't a true leadership relationship between the leader and follower. FDR, like Hitler, sought out their follows. Through this connection, FDR and Hitler both received votes in exchange that both leaders would improve the lives of their followers through change. FDR was able to lead his followers in a manner where they were manipulated to a certain extent, but he was able to kept them from feeling cut of from this decision making process. In his inauguration speech FDR states, "compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered... we still have much to be thankful for". This told the American public that what they were facing was hard, but that their forefathers had dealt with problems much worse. This gave his people a sense of hope because it caused them to believe that they could overcome the hardship of the stock-market crash, unemployment, and many other jobs.

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toxic.monkey said...
Jan. 15, 2011 at 11:29 am
Well... A leader who gets elected is the one who promises the things that the potential followers desire... So really, most elected leaders are similar in their promises: jobs, stability... the question is will they fulfill their promises?
giggity said...
May 10, 2010 at 9:02 pm
Despite Hitler's blantant disrespect for human life, it is fair to say that the leaders went about attaining power in very similar ways. They knew just how to rise to power in a struggling, poverty stricken nation. They appealed to the people and were brought to power for it. I hate to say i would have voted for Hitler but early on in his administration, he honestly seemed to be doing good for Germany. Not many really knew his true sinister intentions.
Jean_Paul_Borland said...
Oct. 29, 2009 at 7:42 am
bless those poor souls! and may they rest in peace!
Rose_of_the_arctic said...
Sept. 15, 2008 at 8:03 pm
While your comparisions are technically true, comparing former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Adolf Hilter is like comparing Mother Teresea to Osama Bin Laden. It's just plain offensive, not to mention disrespectful to F.D.R's memory. He was a great man and a great president; Hitler was a monster. While I could follow your train of thought, I was too distracted by this obvious fact, and I found your article was much too difficult to stomach.
loofoosikifiod replied...
Oct. 29, 2009 at 7:38 am
i do not like the Hitler treated those people, i mean how would he like it if he was treated like that?
Manda P. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 22, 2010 at 7:58 pm
It's understandable that you would feel that way. But, Hitler and FDR did have some similarities. Hitler and FDR were elected as leaders within mere days of eachother. Also, FDR and Hitler helped their countries through and economic crisis (both having different outcomes, though). Also,they were both very powerful and influential speakers, arousing the citizens of their nations.
nikkigonefishin replied...
Feb. 28, 2011 at 11:39 pm
This is a really interesting topic, I would have never thought of comparing FDR to Hitler for the mere fact that the outcome of their influence is different. But I like it, it is very debateable and made me see the similarities in their leadership:)
Angela F. replied...
Mar. 22, 2011 at 4:20 pm

I agree with Rose_of_the_artic- I find it offensive to compare FDR, who was responsible for the end of the Great Depression, with a man responsible for the genocide of millions. It is not debatable, and your similarities are contrived at best.

First, their rise to power. FDR ended the Great Depression by creating jobs, such as building roads, not forcing men into an army. Even if their goals were ultimately alike, the methods use to achieve them serve to distinguish FDR as a great lead... (more »)

Pickles_are_bomb replied...
Apr. 13, 2011 at 9:09 pm
I do not agree with arctic. If you read FDR's state of the union adress in 1941 titled the four freedoms, it is about hitler's threat. i am doing a report on that speech and i believe that this comparison would very much help and it is not rude.
jessjeckel replied...
May 10 at 2:41 pm
Is everyone on this thread in blatant disregard to Roosevelt's treatment of Japanese Americans during WW2 with Order 9066?
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