Timothy Snyder: No, Obama Is Not a 'Hitler' or a 'Stalin'

Roundup: Historians' Take

[Timothy Snyder is Professor of History at Yale University. His most recent book is Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin.]

For an American historian who researches totalitarianism and genocide, nothing is more disheartening than facile comparisons sometimes heard between Western leaders and Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin. When we are so wrong about history, we do a great injustice to ourselves.

The Stalin comparison rests on a basic misunderstanding of the history of communism. Americans often seem to think that social reforms are somehow steps toward communism. History tells a different story....

The history of the welfare state is actually part of the history of the struggle against communism. After World War II, wise Europeans and Americans supported social reforms precisely as a way to hinder the spread of Soviet power. The Red Army had brought communism to Eastern Europe; the question was how to prevent its further spread to the nations liberated by the Western powers....

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Lisa Kazmier - 11/19/2010

The idea of preventing a revolution among workers by implementing social reform was invented before WWII. Hence, using Bismarck is appropriate and it entirely baffles those with this facile Obama = Hitler (and/or Obama = Stalin) nonsense.