Learning from History: What Putin Could Learn from Hitler?

Adolf Hitler wanted all Germans in one state and a great Third Reich, while Vladimir Putin wants to restore the borders of the former Russian Empire from 191

by Sededin Dedovic
Learning from History: What Putin Could Learn from Hitler?
© Thomas Kronsteiner / Getty Images

Adolf Hitler wanted the Third Reich – the third great empire. So does Vladimir Putin. He hopes that his Russian Federation can regain the lands lost when the imperial empire fell in 1917 and the Soviet Union in 1991, notes Volter C.

Klemens, a fellow at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University and a professor of political science at Boston University, in an article for Cepa.org. The Soviet population in 1990 numbered 280 million, half of whom were not Russian.

After the collapse, Russia is still the largest country in the world by geographic extent, but now has only 144 million people, not half the total number of the USA (336 million), and not one-eighth of India or China. Putin is killing his young men or forcing them into exile, even as Russia faces a demographic crisis.

Hitler's Third Reich lasted about seven years from the point when he annexed Austria in 1938 to his suicide in May 1945. So far, Putin's forces continue to occupy part of Moldova; two provinces that still legally belong to Georgia; several parts of Ukraine's Donbas; and the entire Crimea, which Nikita Khrushchev transferred from Russia to Ukraine in 1954.

Heavily-armed soldiers without identifying insignia guard the Crimean parliament building next to a sign that reads: Crimea Rus© Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Hitler's grand vision for Germany ended in disaster.

His Wehrmacht reached Stalingrad and then retreated. He leveled many countries and killed more than 50 million soldiers and civilians, both German and foreign. Germany was occupied in 1945 by the four countries it had attacked.

After a few years, West Germany evolved into a prosperous democracy allied with its NATO partners. Instead of the racist robots cultivated by Hitler, most Germans respected human rights and only reluctantly rearmed to defend against potential aggressors.

East Germany, long ruled by communist tyrants, evolved more slowly but joined united Germany in 1990. Instead of leading the Third Reich and exploiting its neighbors, Germany became a leader of the free world. If Vladimir Putin were to consider Hitler's goals and failures, the Russian president would find a way to curb his overreach in Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine, and other regions of the Soviet empire.

The fundamental lesson of history is that exploitation does not pay off. It may bring some immediate rewards, but it tends to backfire – now faster than in earlier times because technology accelerates everything in our interconnected world.

Most people in the former European empires and Japan now live better than when they ruled much of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, or the Americas. Mutual gain is a healthier and happier orientation than exploitation. Instead of fighting insurgents in its colonies, Portugal now trades and cooperates with its former subordinate peoples.

Many former possessions now treat Portuguese as an official language. Besides Portugal, the Lusophone world includes Brazil, Cape Verde, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, and São Tomé and Príncipe, while Portuguese is a co-official language in East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, and Macau.

The United States would probably be more prosperous if it did not feel obligated to help defend the Philippines, Taiwan, Ukraine, and its European and Asia-Pacific allies, but its overseas presence is largely a response to security problems, with the economy playing a subordinate role.

Despite the war in Iraq, Americans are not willing to rule other countries.


troops take part in a counter landing live fire exercise as part of U.S.-Philippines joint military exercises on May 06, 20© Ezra Acayan / Getty Images

Russia and its people would be better off if they abandoned any dream of a third empire and instead focused on human and social development at home.

While Russian troops die and resources are wasted attacking Kharkiv, permafrost is melting across Siberia, undermining infrastructure and poisoning the environment. Canada, the USA, and other countries face similar challenges, but on a smaller scale.

What if Moscow just gave up aggression and joined in cooperation to solve our many common problems? Why not give peace a chance? If Moscow abandoned its aggressive ambitions and chose to collaborate in addressing global challenges, it could lead to a more prosperous and peaceful future for Russia and the world.

By focusing on domestic development and international cooperation, Russia could mitigate its demographic crisis, revitalize its economy, and improve the well-being of its citizens. Investing in infrastructure, education, and healthcare, instead of military expansion, would foster sustainable growth and stability.

Moreover, such a shift could enhance Russia's global standing, transforming it from an isolated aggressor to a respected partner in tackling issues like climate change and technological advancement. Embracing a peaceful, cooperative approach aligns with the lessons of history, demonstrating that mutual benefit surpasses the fleeting gains of exploitation.

It’s time for Russia to choose a path of peace and progress, setting an example for future generations and contributing to a more harmonious global community, but unfortunately it has now become clear to everyone that with Vladimir Putin at the head of Russia, such a thing is almost impossible.

Vladimir Putin Russian