Hitler and Napoleon were two men separated by a century and a quarter, yet their lives had a marked similarity and some people wonder whether they were kindred souls, separated by time. Some devout Hindus may also opine that Napoleon’s soul had transmigrated into Hitler, but that is a farfetched hypothesis, but generally the lives of both these men had a marked similarity.
Let us examine the life graph of Napoleon. This man had a meteoric rise and in a short span became the most powerful man on the continent. Napoleon is credited as being a great general with his crowning achievement being the battle of Austerlitz in 1805. But the fruits of this battle lasted just about 10 years and a decade after this battle he was decisively defeated by Wellington at Waterloo. In 2005 the 200th anniversary of this battle was celebrated in France, but at that time some doubts were expressed by some writers about Napoleon and his ethos.
It is worth to be aware that after Waterloo, Napoleon was the most hated man in Europe and in case he had fallen into the hands of the Prussians or the Russians he would have been executed forthwith. That was the reason he decided to surrender to the English. But there is no denying the fact that he was a megalomaniac looking for his own grandeur and that propelled him to launch the invasion of Russia in 1812. It makes sad reading that Napoleon’s grand army of 600,000 was within few months reduced to 95000. It was a pathetic result and one of the big failures of Napoleon, yet he is classified as a great general.
His policies on race also need to be evaluated. He enforced slavery in Haiti and was of the opinion that the black man was inferior to the white. Thus Napoleon’s contribution to the Caribbean arena is a legacy of violence, genocide and destruction. I would like to quote the French historian Claude Ribbe who stated “…Napoleon ordered the killing of as many blacks as possible in Haiti and Guadeloupe to be replaced by new, docile slaves from Africa”. That is shades of Hitler.
A look at the life of Hitler reveals a similar structure. Hitler also had a meteoric rise and like Napoleon he soon became the most powerful man in Europe. In 1940 he led Germany to their greatest victory in the battle of France when the French army was annihilated inside 40 days as per the Schiffilon plan. His invasion and conquest of Norway was a brilliant effort when in the teeth of the superiority of the Royal Navy he landed troops at 5 places and they ran overran Norway. However all his victories were short lived and after Stalingrad he was staring defeat in the face.
Hitler’s invasion of Russia was like Napoleon a clear case of hara kiri. Like napoleon the Russian winter and mud thwarted him and his invasion ground to a halt outside Moscow. Whereas Napoleon reached Moscow, Hitler’s troops never entered Moscow as the winter and Russian resistance halted them. Megalomaniacal to the extreme he contributed to the defeat at Stalingrad when 93,000 German soldiers were made POWs. Hardly a few thousand returned alive at the end o the war. It was a colossal blunder that cost him the war something akin to napoleon.
His race policies and superiority of the Aryan race with the Jews as sub humans makes obnoxious reading. Is it not akin to Napoleons decision to restore slavery in Haiti and his belief that the white man was superior to the black?
After the death of Napoleon his remains were brought back to France from St Helena and he was made a national hero. In fact it is a resurrection without parallel as all the defeats and humiliations of the French under him were forgotten. I wonder whether something similar can happen to Hitler 100 years down the line. Will he also be resurrected? There is no easy answer to this question