Saturday, February 18, 2023

Putin Followed Stalin’s Path but has Now Turned into a Pale 'Copy of Hitler,’ Nevzlin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 16 – “Putin followed the path of Stalin for quite a long time,” Leonid Nevzlin, a former Russian oligarch who has been living in Israel for 20 years, says; :but eventually he turned into a copy of Hitler,” something hardly surprising because of how much the current ruler of Russia and the leader of Nazi Germany have in common.

            Both Putin and Hitler grew up in poverty; both served the state in uniform; and both suffered extreme psychological trauma from the collapse of the world they had identified with. And both were given to blaming traitors for the defeat of that world and committed themselves to reversing that tragedy (

            For Hitler, the defeat of Germany in the First World War and the November Revolution of 1918 were tragedies and the work of traitors,” Nevzlin says; “for Putin, the defeat in the cold war and the collapse of the Soviet Union were no less a tragedy” and no explained by an international conspiracy.

            Both dreamed of restoring past greatness and could not imagine a future in which that past was not restored, the commentator continues. And both viewed the state and the nation not as independent phenomena but as extensions of themselves. Not surprisingly, both ended by going to war.

            However, Nevzlin says, “being a copy, Putin falls far short of the original,” particularly regarding his inability compared to Hitler to inspire ecstasy in the population. The Germans really saw Hitler as their leader, but Russians have to be paid to show up at his demonstrations, acting out “a masquerade” rather than true believers following someone who inspires them.

            That shortcoming in Putin may in fact give reason for hope: “Perhaps,” Nevzlin says, “there is a real hope that the future won’t be so bad in Russia and that its de-Putinization will take place sooner” and be easier than many now suspect.

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