This is an essay comparing Hitler and Napoleon and their impact on modern history.
In looking at modern history one can not help but draw parallels between these two conquerors. By the traditional royal families they were peasant upstarts that elevated themselves to royal, almost superhuman status. The idea of “royal” as being a different and better breed of human would amusingly puzzle me to start with, and is a topic for a different discussion. Yet one can only guess how contemptuously the Hapsburgs , Romanovs and the British nobility would look at both of these common men that descended from their serfs.
During my studies in college I have many times heard these two men compared, yet the other day while surfing the web I came upon some interesting facts.
Napoleon was born in 1760
Hitler was born in 1889
( difference-129 years)
Napoleon came to power in 1804
Hitler came to power in 1933
Napoleon entered Vienna in 1812
Hitler entered Vienna in 1941
Napoleon lost the war in 1816
Hitler lost the war in 1945
(difference- 129 years)
Both came to power when they were 44 years old
Both attacked Russia when they were 52
Both lost the war when they were 56
This proves absolutely nothing, having a degree in Philosophy (which also proves absolutely nothing), I can’t help but wonder and question the limit of human knowledge in understanding the universe, again a totally different and even bigger topic for another discourse. What I hint at is the idea of linear time.
I clearly see some kind of a correlation or pattern, but I can’t really understand how. I can only imagine that the universe is much more complex, or perhaps much more simple than I can understand.
I have heard many times that nothing is a coincidence. And God is in the coincidences. I have heard of both Hitler and Napoleon spoken of as anti Christ’s, a saying that I look at as vague and simple minded. In looking at history
These men have always existed and the “idea” of who they are is as part of our human nature as is religion and peace. I would say that War and Peace are polar opposites same as creator is the opposite as a destroyer. It is difficult to correctly categorize Hitler or Napoleon as a destroyer. You are probably saying this guy is crazy how one possibly question Hitler as being a destroyer. Both Hitler and Napoleon wanted to destroy so they could create a new world that they envisioned. I am often perplexed at how the most famous conqueror of all, Alexander the Great, is not automatically thrown in with this lot, is it because he was so dashing. I don’t definitely know, but after having studied Alexander for years I do know that he at times could be as cruel as both of the other fell as.
Again another story from one of my old college professors, Dr. Arnett told of a story when Alexander was in India during his conquests. His famous and favorite horse Bucephalys was stolen. Alexander threatened to kill thousands of people if his horse was not brought back. His horse came back very quickly. The reason that it did so quickly was the word was known that Alexander could be extremely cruel when he wanted to, and would of executed thousands if he did not have his way.
In my opinion Alexander distinguishes himself in his treatment of the people that he conquered. Napoleon could also be extremely cruel, and I have read of some horrendous atrocities of the French soldiers in Spain and in Russia, but nothing to the extent of Hitler. Napoleon wanted conscripts for his Grand Armee, which is why he so quickly take in the defeated country’ soldiers into his army. In some ways this was one of the things that will lead to his downfall. These foreign warriors were the first that got going, when the going got tough. These warriors were most of the time doing the most dangerous work, with the least amount of glory. The Imperial guard was only committed as a reserve, yet it got the biggest part of the spoils.
In examining his 1812 Russian campaign most people think of the disastrous retreat and frozen French soldiers being pursued by galloping Cossacks.
Long before this episode of retreat and icy death, on the way to Russia Napoleon was already in trouble. The Grand Armee which set out in late June with 650,000 men, by the time they reach Moscow in the battle of Borodino are down to 130,000. The retreat was humiliating, and the first time in his illustrious career that Napoleon has been thoroughly beaten. He lost more men on the way to Moscow for as the Russians ran farther and farther back into their endless interior. The foreign soldiers of Napoleon were the first to abandon him. They went into Russia wanting glory yet when things got tough they went back to their homes.
One can not help but draw parallels to Hitler and his use of foreign troops at the Battle of Stalingrad. It was the Romanians and the Italians that would prove to be the Achilles heel of the mighty and invincible German Army.
A clear and definite correlation between these two men would be their arrogance in taking advice. The two of them were not scholars, they were not illiterate to any extent of the imagination but they were warriors. Hitler called himself the greatest strategist that ever lived. Napoleon is looked on by many historians that ever lived. In what I have studied Napoleon was an amazing strategist, perhaps the best while he was in his prime. Hitler self proclaimed himself “the greatest military genius of all time”, after he defeated the French in 4 weeks, largely due to his Ardennes offensive. Where he drove his tank forces through the Ardennes forest, and came out where no one was expecting him. In studying this war plan one learns that this was not Hitler’s idea but General Von Manstein’s. When Manstein told Hitler about this plan, Hitler told him he disapproved, and sacked Manstein at the time. When he invaded France he ended up using his plan for the offensive and called it his own.
In examining Hitler, I would not really think of Hitler as a strategist at all, he was but great pubic speaker, ..loll…perhaps an Anthony Robbins of Nazi ideology. He used his oratory power in seducing the post WW1 resentful Germans. Hitler was a great strategist in coming to power within the political structure in Germany. Once can not help but wonder how a guy that was a failed painter in Vienna in 1918, living on the street, would within 25 years be the most powerful man in the whole world. Likewise, 129 years before a young Corsican artillery captain a French emperor. There is no doubt that Napoleon was a genius as far as being a military strategist. In everything that I have seen, Hitler biggest downfall was his contempt for people that had formally studied military strategy at the military academies. His decision to attack the Balkans in the early summer of 41, his obsession over Stalingrad, and the disaster of Kursk, are 3 consecutive back to back campaigns that cost Germany the war. In each one of those occasions Hitler refused to listen to the men that could see the writing on the wall.
Hitler’s decision to crush Yugoslavia, for it deposed the German puppet government in 41, and than going on to take Greece cost Germany precious time that they would desperately need in December while at the gates of Moscow. It goes without saying that it was beyond arrogantly stupid not to have a back up plan for winter warfare. Anyone that has studied history at all has probably had the chance to look at Napoleons conquest of Russia. The dirt roads, the freezing countryside that engulfed and devoured the largest army this world has ever seen.
It’s not as if he did not know about it. On the contrary, Hitler was extremely envious; you could even say that Napoleon was his idol. That is why when the Russian launched their counter attack along with General Winter, he made his troops dig in, and hold every inch gained. This stubbornness, they say probably saved his army and prevented a rout. This would have disastrous consequences next year in Stalingrad.
Hitler was so obsessed with Napoleon, that he did not want to make the same mistake as Napoleon as far as the route that he took in first attacking Russia.
This explains perhaps why at the onset of the campaign in early June he launches a 3 prong attack, and chooses to simultaneously attack Leningrad, the center of Russia, and south towards Rostov. He attacked along a 1,800 mile front, a departure from Blitzkrieg, the formula for success with had so far conquered all of Europe. In November, he changes his mind and Moscow becomes the goal but it is too late. Once can not wonder what would of happened if he did not go gallivanting around Yugoslavia and Greece, but on June 22, 1941 went straight for Moscow. This seems to be the plan one would think of when he Hitler first said that he will take Russia in 3 weeks. Straight for the jugular, take Moscow first and than go north secure Leningrad, and south to Rostov.
This is all armchair history analysis, but in any of these cases one would think that, “hey these guys might end up spending the winter over there, better get them some warm gear.” Having studied Napoleon’s campaign, he would have known that General Winter will consume whole armies. This is exactly what happened. More Germans died of starvation, sickness and frostbite than from enemy fire. New evidence has recently surfaced, with the fall of the Soviet Empire that in August, after the initial German successes, that Stalin was ready to give large parts of the Soviet Union in exchange for peace. This information was hidden and tucked away, by the Russian secret police once the German offensive froze to a halt.
Another thing that kind of surprises me is that the Germans who are known for their organization and planning did not prepare the vehicles and guns for the winter fighting. The German gun oil would freeze, tanks, motorized vehicles and planes would not start. A minor detail, but comparable to the rivet plates giving way and taking in water in the unsinkable Titanic, thirty years before. Germany not being prepared for winter warfare really puzzles me, for I participated in the U.S. Army’s operation in Bosnia in 96. Part of the training that every US soldier received was cold weather training in Hoenzfeld, Germany. Those were some of the coldest days in my life with weather going down to 40 below zero. What I am getting at is that, there are areas in Germany where it is that cold, and preparations could have been done.
Hitler relied too much of the triumph of the will. A tank has no will; neither does an artillery piece with frozen breach lock. Neither does a soldier with gangrene on his feet and hands due to severe frostbite. Perhaps Hitler did not know of the severity of the Russian winter same as Napoleon. I guess they were too busy concentrating on military and political tactics. What I am surprised is that there were plenty of French generals in 1812, and German generals in 1941 that knew of the severity of the Russian winter. Both of these men were so self obsessed that they looked at people like these as defeatists. With Hitler, he refused to handle bad news, and when told about the shortages in cold weather gear replied with “don’t bother me with such trifles”. General Von Manstein, in his book Lost Victories, speaks many times of Hitler’s refusal in seeing the truth right there in front of him. Upon hearing of the losses in Stalingrad, he at one occasion wanted to have the messenger shot for bringing him such defeatist lies.
Toward the end of the war he was moving imaginary divisions on him map. They did not exist in reality, but were figments His general staff would dare not tell him of the losses in fear of being shot. Albert Speer, the Nazi minister of armament and defense would refer to the German generals as the nodding donkeys for obvious reasons. This fear of Hitler by his general staff would be his biggest downfall.
Its been said in modern psychology that with a bit of practice a ordinary man can walk on 2000 degree hot coals, and not burning his feet,. The power of the will is amazing; temporarily a man is able to get himself in a state to where fire can temporarily not burn him. Besides on walking on 40 ft of hot coals myself without getting burned, I have witnessed a guy in a wheel chair do the same on his hands. I believe those as temporary things that a man is able to make himself do. But it is physically impossible for a man to live in 50 below zero in a summer uniform, regardless of his will for extended periods of time. Both of my parents traveled extensively through out Russia. As a kid I have many times heard first hand stories of Soviet veterans of Stalingrad, as a different breed of man. The part of Russia that the Siberian division came from an area that was no stranger to the cold. This is the coldest part of the Soviet Union. If you look at pictures from the battle one can see how big the Soviet Union was. There is Kazakhstan, you have Russo-Chinese, Kazakhstan-Indo-Chinese mix, and there are just so many different breeds of humans foreign to us Euro Afro American’s here in the US. Stalin brought in the Siberian division that was guarding against further hostilities with the Japanese. Once he saw that the Japanese had committed themselves with a war with America, he was free to move his crack Siberian division to help turn the tide in Stalingrad. They were from the Far East, and if you look at the map and you will see that a lot of these people in many years have intermarried with the Inuit hunters of the great north. What I’m basically saying is basically Eskimos to put it plainly. Not really Eskimos as in Santa but a people that were born in the ice, from the part of Russia that borders the American borders of Alaska. These people do not feel ill at ease in the cold weather in Stalingrad.
Now, this is of course is not the only reason for the German demise. Hitler like Napoleon had with his arrogant, and blind self obsession walked into a Russian trap. His testosterone had got the best of him. And the same way that the Cossacks had in their warm gear and light cavalry devour the French in 1812. The ancestors, actually the grandsons to be exact of these men had done the same to Hitler as they had done to Napoleon. The Russians with their warm felt boots, Sheepskin coats, fur hats and horses that were from the area and accustomed to the weather. We as humans are so arrogant that we do not even want to count the genes of the horses. We look at them form a material viewpoint, like a truck or mode of transport. Rather they are more like a mix of an animal and war transport. Being that they were animal the Russian horses were personal horse of the Soldier that was from that region. These were horses that were accustomed to the Russian winter. This was nothing new to them. Many of the French horses were used to pulling carriages on European roads with warm stables with food. One of the first a French man would have to do on the retreat from Russia was to take the metal shoes of the Horses of their feet. For, they could not handle the ice and would fall. 99% were lost to falls, broken legs and malnutrition.
How could one not draw a parallel to when the Germans first saw the Russian T34 tank, with its wide tank tracks gallop effortlessly across the Russian step, with a squad of Russians riding on its back! When their own Panzer III’s with their narrow tracks were sliding all over the roads, unable to start. Not until the Tiger tank did the Germans have a tank which possessed wide tank tracks that could handle with the mobility of the T34 on the snow. I find it amusing that the Nazi soldiers upon seeing these mechanically superior machines said that the tanks so effortlessly drove across the snow filed Russian steps, with the Russian sub-machine gunners riding atop them looked like a team of Indian monkeys riding atop giant Elephants as when Alexander attacked India. In a way it’s amusing that they need to stick to their racist ideology and refer to these bad ass winter warriors as monkeys riding atop elephants. This comment is coming from starving frozen men, atop tanks that won’t start because it’s so cold. They look in the field and here are these machines that like effortlessly gallop across the open snowy fields, with snow shooting over their extra wide snow tracks. It must have been a terrible sight, one veteran spoke of how a Russian tank captain, in his warm fur gear, a top a Russian horse was guiding the tanks through the attack as an Irish sheepdog would a herd of sheep. To a large extent both Hitler and Napoleons dream was crushed by their soldiers freezing and starving to death while being attacked by men that were used to that climate. I have found out however, that during the Napoleonic campaign the Russians to a large extent suffered almost as bad as the French, for the soldiers of the Russian army did not have winter clothing any more than the French. What they did have was the support of the people. To the French soldiers, same as the Germans to a large extent there would be no quarter given. In both wars war was cruel and people would burn all they had in order not to help the enemy.
Both the French and German political and military machines were being driven by an all powerful “leader”. Both countries were intoxicated with conquest that they put the cart before the horse. As a military planner you should look at the temperature and climate of where you are going. Hey the tanks won’t start; the horses accustomed to parades, taxi service, and show horses from the southern of France, were in store for a starving and icy death climate of the Steeps of Russia. After the defeat of the German army in Stalingrad, a Russian captain was quoted as saying “These Germans are funny fellows, they came to conquer Russian with nice shinny leather black boots; what did they think it was going to be a cake walk.” Provision problems do not sound as horrific as the result that they implicate in the real world. When Napoleon left Russia his war on train column of soldiers and carriages was 4o miles long. Hitler attacked Russia on June 20, 1944, on a 1800 mile front, a departure in the idea of lightning warfare he promoted during the attacks on France and Poland in 1939 and 40.
The Stukas still went a head of the panzers, which were ahead of the motorized infantry and ground troops circling and confusing the enemy. In many ways all this was Blitzkrieg being enacted in its purest form. Yet the effect of all this, besides conquering large amounts of land and prisoners was not effective enough. Hitler was indecisive, paranoid wanting not to repeat the mistakes of Napoleon 129 years before. He was superstitious of using the same route that Napoleon did in 1812. This perhaps is why he launched a 3 prong attack, perhaps to keep Stalin guessing on which route he was to strike first, a good trick that Napoleon was knows for. In fact upon further review and contemplation I would venture to say that Hitler’s biggest losses occurred due to his glorification of himself as super genius greatest military mind that ever lived. People really believed this. To the astonished world view of 1940, it really does not seem that strange. Here was a guy that seems to have taken Germany from down and out raggedy, beaten and ashamed to the new guy on the block everyone was kind of afraid of. Twenty years before the world had witnessed Europe spend 4 years in a muddy stalemate death match, leaving the allies in a pyrrhic-ally glorious victory that deprived the world of a whole generation.
Hitler came along almost out of no where took France in 4 weeks, and ousted the British out of Europe. I’m sure the whole world was afraid at the time, same as when Napoleon defeated the vastly superior Allied armies at Osterlitz. As far as military geniuses, this battle is still being studied an example of talent on the battlefield. Napoleon was quoted as saying that the Russians and the Austrians were behaving as though they were taking orders from him. If we look at Hitler’s pinnacle, when his star was the brightest, right after he humiliated the French and English. A definite comparison between the two men can be drawn in their magnetism and almost intoxicating effect that they had over their troops. I’m sure that it’s a never broken chain of men like that, it seems to be in our nature. Napoleon immortalized Cesar, I’m sure Cesar somewhere in there immortalized Alexander the Great, even if he would never admit it. Maybe he would, the Italians are known for their sense of humor. I find it humorous in learning of Napoleons mother’s reply, in her thick Corsican accent, upon learning of Napoleon being crowned “Emperor of Rome”, she said “if it lasts.”
This is a chain of evil and powerful men that have learned from each other of how to be a better despot. I’ve read that when learning of the infamous “Night of the long knives”, when in one stroke Hitler arrested thousands of potential adversaries, real and perceived and shot, arrested and imprisoned them in “concentration camps”. Stalin was reading the paper, and said;” Funny guy this guy the way he just got rid of whoever he wanted.” Could this have influenced Stalin to start to purge the Soviet Army of potential rivals? Did Stalin need Hitler to tell him that, same as hunting comes naturally to a predatory animal the fox did not need the wolf to teach it how to hunt Those two men kind of mirrored one another so much that they had to destroy one another.
Lord Wellington once was quote that the presence of Napoleons that on the battlefield, was worth 50, 000 troops. Hitler had the same effect of the early German victories, he took the down and out Germans that at their soul felt like they were losers, and gave them a reason to feel like men again. A German veteran was quoted saying that suddenly in a year’s time everyone was in uniform. His father told him to watch out for soon the postman would be in a military gear next. Both Hitler and Napoleon would be left chomping at the bit looking at the English Channel as cat would a cannery high up in his protective cage, the Royal Navy, both of their fates would ultimately be left with the Russians the English having a big say.
Not only do the lead players seem similar in the events of 1812 and 1941, but the Russian generals and their tactics do also. The cunning Kutzov, who fought for Tsar Alexander, seems the same man as Stalin’s lead General Gregory Zukov. I find it surprising that more people do not know his name here in the United States, perhaps due to the cold war? Cans that really be an excuse for ignorance? I do not think that heard of the importance and scale of the Battle of Stalingrad till I took college level history classes. I would hope that with the information boom of the last 20 years will open the door to people that have an interest in history but do not necessarily have time to study it.
The accomplishments of Zukov and Kutzov are as out of the greatest adventure story ever told. Both men took a defeated defense force and beat the best army the world had ever seen. In both cases if either Napoleon or Hitler won one can only begin to imagine how the world would be a different place. Both greatly lost due to their blind self righteous stubbornness and under appreciation of their Russian foe. Both men were regarded as upstarts, which they were. A common man that come up with a great business plan, a salesman of sorts and they were great in convincing people. They would not let anyone into that little circle that had room for only one. Their will and drive was the thing that got them to power, and their will alone was going to prove to be their doom. The acts that both of these men put in motion were on a scale that the world had never seen. The individual mattered for nothing. Their ambition intoxicated men that selfishly killed millions in the name of freedom, liberty and god.
At first one would look at the Napoleonic campaigns in a bit more humane way, with absence of concentration camps, and death squads. For that time, this was brutality on an unprecedented scale. Upon further research, you find the French bashing Russian prisoner brains in to death with the butt of a rifle, for pure amusement only. Not in an isolated occurrence, but regular practice, to let of steam. Like a sport, “You should try it chap”. The French bayoneted fifteen hundred or defenseless prisoners in random acts on violence. Same as the Germans inhumane deeds would catch up with them when millions of angry Russian came atop thousands and thousands of tanks and ransacked and destroyed Germany. Many sources say that Napoleon did not know that these atrocities were being committed; I would question the validity of that. I would think Napoleon was a man, that death would seem but a fast food restaurant or a road side attraction is to a trucker driving across country. All he has knows was death, death was all around him. Both men seem to be protected by some kind of protective force. Hitler survived 4 years in the trenches amongst some of the cruelest fighting that ever occurred on this planet. Same with Napoleon shots, cannon balls could not destroy him. He would tell his men that cannon balls will swerve around them. Seems like a great motivational speaker.
The Russians eluded both men, just when they thought that they had them the Russians slipped away. Hitler seems from his experience to have gotten almost a sort of a Spartan attitude of attack, attack, attack. This is when it would of benefited him to listen to a couple of his generals. Four years in the trenches can leave with one with an almost gunfighter attitude that you just stay cooler than the next guy, never back down and you win but sheer bravado. This was possible to be demanded of special troops that were highly motivated and had it ingrained in their nature. Yet this could not be demanded of every soldier on the front, especially when they were malnourished, frozen and dispirited. Both Hitler and Napoleon, dismissed is that every other soldier that is fighting for them does not have the same resolve that they do. You can punish a man, you can inspire a man but you can’t make him do something that is beyond his powers as a man. For one, both greatly underestimated the Russian winter, the love of the Russian people for their homeland and their history, and the strength of their alliances with their foreign fighters that they had with their campaign. The Germans kept the best equipment for themselves and treated the Rumanian fighters with contempt and humor, and it was to be their Achilles Heel. When the Russians started their infamous counter attack on November 19, 1942, Operation Uranus, with a million Russian troops attacking the demoralized and frozen Rumanians had only had 9 rounds for their tank guns, per gun. It’s like trying to stop a tsunami with a Sears & Roebuck $19.99 boat paddle, or perhaps attack a Pterodactyl with a fly swatter.
Hitler and Napoleon seem to have misinterpreted some very important information, or they chose to ignore it. Napoleons troops coined the a great success of their beloved “little corporal”, funny but that is the same nickname for Hitler used by many German officers that started to catch on that things were not going all that great.
In my opinion Hitler’s admiration and Idolization of Napoleon was his downfall. As human beings we copy what we love and admire. That is why we say that copying someone or stealing an idea is the most sincere form of compliment. What Hitler really wanted was to be called the greatest military mind of all time, who in all military academies is to this day Napoleon. Hitler wanted this title, so much that he misinterpreted the ideas of Napoleon. Hitler seems to have had some insanely bravado type of military mindset of never retreat, perhaps he was really insane from the horrors of WW1 trenches. He witnessed his friends get chopped to veal cutlets and hamburger meat, and than rot there in front of him in no man’s land. Germany during world war one, same as Britain and America did not know of the effects of shell shock. During the US attack on Iwo Jima, there were roughly 550 cases of shell shock alone. During world war one this was not an excuse to go to the back of the lines, a man who crack up would either get his shit together or get shot. Hitler was on the front line during the worst of it, and recalls the war years as “the happiest years of my life”. In examining his behavior during the battle of Stalingrad, is when his insanity and mania surfaced and spelled the end for Germany. Her most celebrated World War 2 general to survive the war Erik Von Manstein, and in his book Lost Victories; he refers to Hitler as being a schizophrenic. He is quotes as saying to one of his subordinates that he is lucky that he has only the enemy to fight, he on the other hand always had the enemy and than he had Hitler. Hitler had his own version of reality, and that reality did not match the reality of the physical world. I would call this as an extreme case of post traumatic battle stress disorder. The guy was an artist and perhaps had some gifts but the war basically cracked him, when he saw the flower of German youth go to their deaths and than put to shame because he they lost. He like many other veterans felt like many of the Vietnam veterans do here in the US, they went in there for what they believed was a noble cause, their country. Men in combat make the best friends one will ever make; they truly depend on one another. Hitler is known to have stayed away from the men, did not drink and talk about women like most other soldiers. He was in the trenches and my argument is that this behavior is quite normal to someone with extreme PTSD. Most of the men that he invaded France with were now dead. His behavior is that most of the older soldiers that do not want to make friends with the replacements. They have lost of buddies, and do not want to make new friends in prevention of pain and loss which was almost certain. Either you would die or be wounded and would not see your buddies again, for if you went home with an amputated leg, you would not see your friends again. If you got wounded, by the time you got back form the hospital many of the guys that you knew would be gone.
You find this special bond between soldiers that have survived long and horrific combat. If you make friends, you loose friends and that is pain. I have read a story of Hitler loosing a good friend. This is an artist, most artists that I know are gentle souls, and I would think that before the horrors of France there was normal guy there. Even the most insane of serial killers were innocent happy little grade kids at one time. If I tempted to be a historical psychologist of sorts, I would say that Hitler’s behavior is one that of many veterans suffering from PTSD, he cracked up long ago, held it together for sake of the fatherland, his mother and did his duty, but as man he was emotionally and destroyed.
What we’ve discovered here is perhaps seeds of his mental illness, an illness which toward the end of his life was starting to manifest itself physically. He supposedly had Parkinson’s diseases and his arm would shake uncontrollably. During the last video’s you only see Hitler holding his hands crossed holding them at the back, noticeable shaking. This sure seems like shell shock surfacing years latter, no different than the videos of WW! We have all seen the veterans shaking and trembling uncontrollably on old and grainy B&W film. When the world first learned of shell shock and started to treat it as an illness not a moral aberration, and a dereliction of duty and treason.
Napoleon seems to have no doubt suffered a mental disorder that they have termed having Napoleonic complex….loll nothing funny to the few hundred thousand members of his Grand Armee that would freeze or get gangster style whipped out in Spain. Spain really was the catalyst that enabled Alexander of Russia to have the gumption to stand up to Napoleon and demand that he stop his blockade in preventing him from trading with Great Britain. After the battle of Austerlitz, when in most history books, Napoleon’s star was the brightest, when he could off cut Alexander’s head off if he wanted. He signed a peace treaty, and spent two weeks wining and dinning with Alexander and by word of French generals there witnessing this weird tango, Napoleon seamed really smitten with Alexander. He wrote back to Josephine as saying that, “You are very lucky that Alexander is a man, he is handsome, noble, and intellectual; if he were a woman he would be my mistress.” Wow!…..hold on there doggie! Coming from straight American male, it’s a bit overboard. Especially, in view of Alexander resembling a hair club for men before transplant picture. I mean ok, he was ok looking as a male specie, but being bald with long sideburns, and all the pompous glitter, to me he looks rather odd. Is that Napoleons way at being sly and cunning? I don’ think so, the guy it seems really wanted in to that club. Like all the new rich, the want to be a part of the club that they will never be accepted to but more than an upstart. In a way that was Napoleons tragic flaw. Ludwig Van Beethoven, one of his early supporters, upon learning of himself crowning himself “Emperor of Rome”, wanted nothing to do with him; and said that took Napoleon down from being a super man to a common criminal, a little hood. He even went and took the name out of the piece of music that he wrote in his honor. “Napoleon is nothing but a common criminal, that will for sake on self righteous glory kill thousands needlessly, he is nothing but a little artillery captain of when he set out on his grand journey.” It is surprising to see why he needed this acceptance? His own words are is that he wanted this, this was the only way, and he needed to win. He loved Josephine as much as a man like him could love anything, but even to her in explaining his many mistresses said, “I don’t see why you get so upset darling?, they do not mean a thing to me, war is my love.” He could not understand why she started crying. Did Hitler at one time read this very same quote and was like, “Yes, that is love.” We can definitely draw comparisons between Hitler’s love for Eva Broun and Napoleon’s Josephine, and their inability to have normal loving relationships. Especially in Hitler, Eva Broun was a secret until he died. He only married her the day before committing suicide. An act reflecting him making Friedrich Van Paulus field marshall, right before he was to surrender. This was a man that was incapable of love. He did love, but a different love some kind of a very strange union. In the US, it would be almost foreign to have president that did not have a woman, at least a girl friend. Could have been a closet homosexual? I have read that but I have looked at it kind of contemptuously, for when you loose a war, or even a fight as a playground as a kid. They, after they kick you ass want to pass around the school that you are a homo. Same with Hitler, so much has been said and written about his sexual promiscuity, that it’s hard to tell fact from fiction. I don’t think it matters much in our discussion for we have already proved that the here was a shell shocked man that has lost his mind during the war; he was a failure as an artist and in life. In the Army he found a purpose and all that was taken away from him by what he envisioned as Jews and traitors. He was a ticking time bomb and there was one place he was going to go. With Hitler, same as Napoleon it was going to be world or nothing. The maniacal personality of live by the sword, die by the sword had no other way. Napoleon again and again said “Fighting got me here, Fighting will keep me here.” He had plans after defeating Russia, to make peace take the Russians soldiers and attack India. This is well documented, same as Hitler’s plan for the new jet bomber coined “the New York bomber”. Neither man would have stopped till he had the whole world under his feet. He felt that he could not be seen with a woman for than he would be perceived as a mortal man, not a superman. Kind of like the girl in high school that would fool around with you but you couldn’t tell anybody
Before Eva, Hitler life he was having an affair with his younger cousin, and the girl ended up committing suicide. Their relationship was completely insane, and did have a very strange concept of love. There publications on this topic that it almost seems a bit comical. Hitler was a much hated man and he did loose the war, meaning that every armchair historian can take a pot shot at him. In recent years you hear that Hitler was a homosexual, that he had a missing testicle, that he was a sado-machist maniac. British historian Ian Kershaw argues, that we need to look on the broad political structure of the Third Reich to truly understand this madness of Germany’s downfall. No doubt, studying these events is crucial in preventing the same thing happening again. Hitler made himself the head of state, than the head of the army and in the end he was only answering to himself. That was where it started and ended. When Germany desperately needed a person with critical information to be processed logically, there was no one home. That is a danger on having absolute power; it is intoxicating and induces paranoia. Both of these despots could not rely on anyone else but themselves, and it was their undoing. A man that handled this type of power with a bit more grace was Ike 40’s and 50’s, that at the time of the D-Day invasions was the most powerful man in the whole world. Ike stood in the light, with his mid west type of innocent charm, and stepped down like an exemplary Plutonian elder statesman should. His say was still there and he advised Kennedy, but he dealt with the power same as a Russian tank man did when he was given a brand new T-34 to use for 4 years, than gave it back.
This abuse could have been avoided if he looked across the water at what the Americans were doing. The American Revolution was the catalyst for the French Revolution. Napoleon, in his conquered lands was riding the wave of revolution that for a time being hew really was regarded as sort of superman. Beethoven wrote a symphony in his behalf; here was an end to serfdom. The Napoleonic code, with its civil liberties was a very futuristic movement. It was a true departure from the Middle Ages, serfdom, this was the new age. By proclaiming himself emperor he proved to be no different from any other monarch stealing money and land, in the name of some promised enlightenment. Same as when Hitler annexed (invaded) Czechoslovakia. By proclaiming himself emperor he proved that he really could not care about civil liberties, or any of the things which he proclaimed were the cause behind his desire to enlighten the world by his conquests.
Napoleon will forever remain a great tactician, which he hands down was. He was a fox, not afraid of temporarily looking weak to trick the enemy and gain an advantage. When he needed to be cautious he was, when he needed to be take chances he did. Manstein, in Lost Victories, threatened to resign command if he was denied the option to move troops strategically around the battlefield. Hitler believed that “when a German soldier puts his foot somewhere, there it stays.” At the age of 10, when first entering a military academy in Corsica, I am sure that Napoleon learned that this was not a wise military strategy.
In his greatest triumph Napoleon appearing to retreat, defeated a vastly superior force by superior strategy. Hitler tried the same move at the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 44’ to no avail. In his case it would have been best to stick to the politics and let his generals fight the war. The Germans had some of the most talented military minds this world had ever seen, at the same time they had pompous pill popping bozos like Goering, the creepy Goebbels and psychotic Himmler.
It almost does Napoleon injustice to be compare with this lot of scoundrels, for their acts are theirs alone. History is there to interpret that is the nature of it, and al of us so called historians can try and make sense out of events that need to be understood in prevention of them being repeated. Or perhaps we study and compare and make sense for the entertainment value of it. The human kind is so complex that actually history in more comical, ironic, tragic and diverse than any fairy tale story ever told. As an old buddy once told me on a construction site, “you just can’t make this shit up”.