Comparing Putin to Hitler Over Ukraine Is Wrong

Vladimir Putin, despite his obvious faults and dictatorial tendencies, is no Adolf Hitler. As such, comparing the two men over Crimea and Ukraine is wrong.

Essentially, the biggest issue is that drawing the comparison is awfully premature. As well, there is a very strong assumption when linking any person to Hitler, that being that a person who acts like Hitler did at one point will continue to act as he did in the future.

First of all, yes, Putin used remarkably similar tactics to invade Crimea as Hitler used in the 1930’s to take territories such as Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.

Both men established that their ethnic group in the region was being oppressed by the existing powers. Also, it is likely that both men stirred up their own violence to validate their claims.

As well, both Putin and Hitler used nationalism to drive support in their own countries. It happens that both the Berlin and Sochi Olympics took place before any sort of major invasions.

And both leaders seem to have developed targeted scapegoat groups in their countries. Hitler targeted Jews, gays, gypsies, and the impaired, and some have suggested that Putin has targeted gays in a way that is reminiscent of Hitler’s earliest moves.

However, that’s just the problem; it is only similar to Hitler’s earliest moves and comparing Putin to the former Nazi dictator over the Crimea crisis and the looming threat to Ukraine is simply wrong.

Essentially, the Hitler comparison is often the most extreme of all comparisons. Saying that Putin committed acts in a similar manner to Hitler implies quite a bit.

The logic suggests that Putin will continue to do what Hitler did, or that he will lead the world into a world war in a similar way. That is a simple slippery slope fallacy as it assumes that one thing must lead to another thing when there is no clear indication that it will happen.

All that is known for sure is what Putin has done, and it is wrong to start comparing him to one of history’s most notorious villains because there is a tremendous difference between what the two men have done.

In every example listed, both men have something somewhat similar. However, that is ignoring the fact that there was a lot more that Hitler did on top of those things.

If more similarities come about, then it is possible to start draw more comparisons. However, as it stands, any comparison between Hitler and Putin is flawed very fundamentally right from the start. It is impossible to isolate any comparison entirely to just the actions that are being compared.

To put it another way, when the world thinks of actions Putin has committed, they think of Georgia and Crimea. When the world thinks of actions that Hitler committed, thoughts more readily go to the Holocaust and World War II. When was the last time Sudetenland came to mind first?

For these reasons, comparing Hitler and Putin is simple wrong to do as it stands. There is not yet ample grounds to be drawing these conclusions. That being said, that does not diminish what Putin has actually done, and it does not mean that the world should not be careful of what he could do.

Opinion by Brett Byers-Lane


Jerusalem Post
South China Morning Post