Mao and Hitler: a comparison

Imagine living in a Communistic country. How would your life be different from those living in Nazi Germany?


First of all, your country is a totalitarian single-party state. Countries of these kinds are claimed to be ‘crisis states.’ They arise after the establishment of the chaotic situation in a country. This claim is true for Nazi Germany and People’s Republic of China. These countries were ruled by supreme leaders – Hitler and Mao respectively. The leaders designed unique domestic policies in order to make people support their ideas and doctrines. In both cases they made an accent on education, religion and industry. Hitler achieved high literacy, based on the Nazi principles; he also achieved sustainable relations between Vatican and Berlin and could adopt industry for supporting his aims. Mao also had such policies, nevertheless he achieved decline in terms of the three branches of the domestic policies. However, there were still similarities between Hitler’s policies and his, such as non-universal success in terms of industrial planning, suppression of religion from the nation’s everyday life and changes in the educational warfare.


Youth of the country is a target for a single party state leader. As the youth is the future generation, both Mao and Hitler established educational policies which were aimed to support their regimes and to ensure future prosperity of the state. Hitler changed the entire curriculum of the German school; Nazi ideology was everywhere. For example, Geography was focused on the territories that Germany lost due to the ‘diktat’ – German term for the Treaty of Versailles – , moreover, new subjects were invented such as Domestic Science and Eugenics for women, which was aimed to teach young girls how to produce perfect offspring. By using this method, Hitler aimed to achieve his targets and objectives of ensuring ’1000 years old German Reich’. Similarly, Mao used his Cultural Revolution to ensure the sustainability of his regime. Nevertheless, the results were quite contrasting from what Hitler achieved. Mao’s Cultural Revolution was focused on the four olds – old habits, old culture, old customs and old ideas, that is to say, his entire system of controlling youth was based on liberal ideas and none of the cultural or national heritage was meant to be preserved. Consequently, young people stopped attending schools and universities, to participate in the ‘rallies for the leader’. Furthermore, many members of the ‘Red Guards’ moved to the countryside to continue Cultural Revolution there. However, they saw the hardship of rural life which suppressed their ‘revolutionary spirit’. That is to say, Mao’s policies concerning education and the control of the youth were a complete disaster compared to Hitler’s policies, as they didn’t achieve the aim of ensuring prosperity, but there is the fact that, as Xiaoping mentioned, ‘hardly any Chinese could read or write’.

Both the German and the Chinese leaders wanted to establish a cult of personality, which would not be threatened by any other force. Thus, the religious policies were introduced in both cases. Hitler signed a Concordat with Vatican in 1933, according to which he would allow the Christian schools to operate; but in return, Vatican should stay out of politics. Furthermore, Hitler made the protestant church in Germany to evolve into a Nazi church. That is to say, the clergy had a Nazi uniform and a slogan ‘Swastika on our breasts and the cross in our hearts’. Similarly, Mao claimed that ‘Chinese religion should be replaced by loyalty to the leader and party’. Likewise Hitler, he established ‘patriotic churches’ which were aimed to support the regime and the leader. Nevertheless, there were also contrasting differences between Mao’s and Hitler’s religious policies. Unlike Hitler, Mao’s relations with Vatican worsened. As a result, the pope refused to accept the clergy appointed by the Chinese government. Hitler could achieve stable relations between Vatican and his state; nonetheless, Mao reached a permanent rift between China and Vatican.

It is widely accepted that the economy of the single party state is aimed to support the regime. Consequently, both Mao and Hitler had similar aims in terms of their economic policies. For achieving his aims of autarky, rearmament and establishment of workplaces, Hitler established planned economy, that is to say the New Plan and the Four Year Plan. Similarly, Mao started implementing Five-year Plans, which were aimed to support his regime. In both cases the leaders invested mainly in industry and left agriculture underinvested. Thus, in both cases food supply shortages started, however in China it went further and evolved into the Great Famine.  Nevertheless, there were also differences. Unlike Hitler, Mao’s heavy investment in the heavy industry did not bring to the desired results. The backyard furnaces, which were aimed to increase the production of copper and steel and to surpass the British level, failed. However, Germany could reach its aim set for the heavy industry – to rearm the country. That is why there were differences between the economic policies of the supreme leaders.

As leaders of the single party states, both Mao and Hitler had similar aims for ensuring their state’s future prosperity, thus, both had similar domestic policies. In terms of the industrial and religious changes, their actions were quite similar. They both heavily invested in the industry, tried to make the religion and the education in the country serve their regime. They both had planned economy, nevertheless, at some point what they achieved was different. In terms of industry they both achieved underinvestment in agriculture and famine. However, Mao also failed to make his industry better due to factors such as backyard. In terms of the religious policies, both did their best to suppress it and to leave the cult of personality and the state; the only thing that was perfect and was granting people hope. However, in this case also, what they achieved was different. Mao failed to retain stable relations with Vatican. On the other hand, Hitler was able to reach a compromise with the city-state and signed the Concordat in 1933. The contrast between the leaders and their policies was the biggest in terms of the educational policies. This is because the means and the results were different. Both could achieve dedication of the youth to the state but Hitler could foster it through educating people the way he wanted and by falsifying the school curriculum. Mao’s cultural revolution deprived the youth from the  educational institutions and resulted in mass illiteracy. Mao claimed that the red Guards – the followers of the revolution – are the future of the country, nevertheless, after his death Xiaoping challenged this belief by claiming that he doubts ‘whether the Chinese youth can read and write’.


Both leaders were supreme, they both had ideas and aims. Consequently, their policies were alike, nevertheless, difference in ideologies, methods and means of achieving these aims were different, thus, the results were different too.


One Comment Add yours

  1. mukul chand says:

    Great Post, lovely illustrations.


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