Exam Questions & Answers Essay Example

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Exam Questions & Answers

  1. Propaganda was an irresistible new tool for both Hitler and Stalin’s regimes. Discuss.


Propaganda can be defined as a form of persuasion that usually involves a mass campaign that is one-sided and aimed at creating fear among the audience, and which attempts to subvert rational processes by concealing relevant information through deception or lying (Steinfatt & Janbek, 2016, p. 18). In politics, political propaganda is organised and used by a centralised organisation such as a government, an interest group or a political party with an aim of achieving specific goals (Soules, 2015). Hitler and Stalin’s regimes used propaganda in various ways rise to power and dominate the populations that were under their control. This essay discusses the notion that propaganda was an irresistible new tool for Hitler and Stalin in their regimes in Germany and the Soviet Union respectively. It is argued that propaganda was an irresistible tool for Hitler and Stalin becauseof the manner in which the two leaders used fear and deceitful messages to galvanise support from the populations under their leadership.

The use of propaganda in
Hitler and Stalin’s regimes

The irresistibility of propaganda as a new tool for both Hitler and Stalin’s regimes can be seen when one looks at the benefits of using propaganda. According to O’Shaughnessy (2004), propagandised politics has something useful to deliver, given that the propaganda messages present the public with alternative views of existing situations. Also, propaganda allows people to reframe political facts and thus make it possible for the public to see certain issues from a different perspective (O’Shaughnessy, 2004, p. 166). More importantly, propaganda can be used to elicit attention to issues that would otherwise be ignored in the public discourse (O’Shaughnessy, 2004, p. 166). Therefore, it can be argued that Hitler and Stalin used propaganda because doing so enabled them to present the public with alternative perspectives of the issues that were facing them, thus enabling the two leaders to get massive support for their political ideologies.

In the case of Hitler, propaganda was irresistible because through propaganda, he addressed issues that directly touched on the affairs of Germans, especially in relation to the problems that Germans faced during the Great Depression.This was even before Hitler had risen to power. For instance, during the Great Depression, Germany encountered problems like a high level of unemployment (Duiker & Spielvogel, 2014). Although the leadership at the time tried to apply measures such as high taxes and reducing government spending, these measures were not adequate (Bergen, 2003). In contrast, Hitler promised that he was in a position to help in creating a new and more stable country (Duiker & Spielvogel, 2014). Obviously, the public was inclined to agree with any person who would promise to deliver them from the misery that they were facing, regardless of whether the promises were feasible or not. Hitler also blamed communists and Jews for the problems that were facing Germans, thus creating hatred for the Jews and communists (Hazen, 2006). Hitler also thrived on using propaganda, terror and intimidation as a way of amassing more control when he was in power (Stern, 1975, p. 84). For instance, he used the title ‘Führer’ to depict himself as a strong and ruthless leader who was firmly in control and the symbol of a unified nation (Kuntz, 2011, p. 77).

A comparable scenario applies for Stalin. Stalin’s propaganda was aimed at turning the people of the Soviet Union against all countries that had embraced capitalism, especially the United States (Cernak, 2016, p. 83). Therefore, the use of propaganda was irresistible to Stalin because it enabled him to create a different perspective about capitalism among the public. In particular, through propaganda, Stalin emphasised what he said were the achievements of socialism as well as the Soviet government under his leadership (Phillips, 2000, p. 122). This enabled him to control the Soviet people’s views regarding capitalism and capitalist countries (Cernak, 2016, p. 83). Through the use of the media, Stalin spread highly selective and distorted information about the United States, thus convincing Soviet citizens that Americans were their enemies (Cernak, 2016, p. 83). Therefore, by making socialism look very good and emphasising that capitalism was bad, Stalin was able to convince the people of the Soviet Union to rally behind him.


In conclusion, it is evident that propaganda was an irresistible new tool for Hitler and Stalin’s regimes given that the use of propaganda enabled the two leaders to influence their followers with their ideologies. Propaganda enables people to reframe political facts and allows the audience to have different views regarding certain issues. Therefore, Hitler and Stalin found it attractive to use propaganda to convince their followers regarding several issues that they framed in their own way. Hitler heaped blame on Jews and communists for the problems that were facing Germany. He also used propaganda to depict himself as a powerful leader. On the other hand, Stalin used propaganda to convince the Soviet people that capitalism was bad and socialism was good.

  1. Stalin’s genocidal policies reveal his ruthlessness. Discuss.

Genocide can be defined as a form of selective mass killing whereby a state or any other authority aims at destroying a particular group or community of people identified by the perpetrator (Jonassohn & Björnson, 1999). That is, a genocide is committed when a state or any other organisation that has power sets out to murder in totality, people of any racial, ethnic, national, religious, social, political, economic, or gender group as defined by the perpetrator (Jonassohn & Björnson, 1999). This essay will discuss the view that Joseph Stalin’s genocidal policies were a reflection of his ruthlessness. The essay argues that the manner in which Stalin was involved or knew about the killing of different groups of people was evidence of how ruthless he was.

Stalin’s genocidal policies and his ruthlessness

Various authors (e. g. Naimark, 2017) have argued that Stalin was involved in the making of genocidal policies. Others (e. g. Simon, 2016) have argued that Stalin’s actions did not constitute genocide. However, there is a general consensus among various authors that Stalin’s actions were directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of many groups of people during Stalin’s regime. The various genocidal actions by Stalin show how ruthless he was. For example, Anderson and Anderson (2013) argue that Stalin killed millions of Soviet citizens between the late 1920s and the 1950s. The groups of people killed during this period included Stalin’s political rivals as well as imagined rivals and entire ethnic groups like the Crimean Tatars (Anderson & Anderson 2013, p. 106). It is also pointed out that Stalin drove Germans, Poles and other groups out of the Soviet region, with such cases involving great loss of life (Anderson & Anderson 2013, p. 106). Further, Stalin is said to have oppressed Ukrainians in what can be described as genocide because even though not all Ukrainians were wiped out, the repression meted on them involved unnecessary killings of people (Anderson & Anderson 2013, p. 106). Anderson and Anderson (2013) also argue that Stalin targeted German minorities. Therefore, by deliberately coming up with a campaign to get rid of the German minorities, Stalin was involved in genocide.

There is further evidence to suggest that Stalin deliberately came up with policies that targeted the killing of certain groups of people, thus constituting genocide. According to Naimark (2017), Stalin implemented genocidal policies towards Germans, Poles and other groups that he hated. In particular, it is indicated that Stalin had a paranoid attitude towards Poles moving into the Soviet region that he ordered the arrest as well as execution of a large number of the Poles who had settled within the Soviet region. He also ordered that other people be moved to the Siberia region. Further, Stalin extended campaigns against the Poles throughout the 1930s, and during the Great Purge (1936 to 1938), he targeted Poles for “special repressions” (Naimark, 2017, p. 90). The Great Purge was an operation involving political repression and entailed a major purge against members of the Communist Party and government officials affiliated to this party, as well as repression of peasants among other repressive activities. The Great Purge shows Stalin’s ruthlessness because it has been described as “the most terrifying and at the same time most mystifying outcome of Stalinist totalitarianism” (Daniels, 1985, p. 173). So bad was the purge that the perpetrators (members of the Leningrad NKVD) searched the local phonebook to identify and arrest people with Polish names. One outcome of this operation was that some 144,000 people were put under arrest and 110,000 were shot. Those who were shot included Polish communists (Naimark, 2017, p. 90).

It is therefore clear that Stalin implemented genocidal policies, which reflected his ruthless behaviour. Although some authors have attempted to suggest that some killings in the Soviet Union were not acts of genocide, it is indubitable that many killings were planned and targeted certain groups of people. Simon (2016) has for instance argued that many people died as a result of “a disastrous economic policy of collectivization” (p. 59) and that Stalin was not directly responsible for these deaths. However, the targeting of certain groups like Germans, Poles and peasants for killings under policies like the Great Purge are all indicators of killings that fall in the category of genocide as defined above. Further, the fact that Stalin deprived some groups of people an opportunity to get food, leading to the deaths of many people, is additional evidence of his ruthlessness.


Therefore, it can be said that the genocidal policies that were developed and implemented by Stalin and his group reveal Stalin’s ruthlessness. The targeted killings of certain groups of people such as Ukranians, Germans, Poles, Crimean Tatars and peasants by the Stalin regime are all pointers of genocidal policies and the ruthlessness of the regime. Also, the fact that Stalin caused some groups of people to starve further depicts how ruthless he was.

  1. Why were young people such a focal point of Nazi policies? How did they attempt to mould the next generation?


Adolf Hitler was of the view that the survival of Nazi Germany or the Third Reich for 1000 years was dependent on the indoctrination and education of the young people based on Nazi policies (Lepage, 2009, p. 83). This essay explains why the Nazi policies specifically targeted children. The essay also discusses how the Nazi policies attempted to mould the future generation of Germany. As implied by Lepage (2009) above, the purpose of focusing on children was to ensure that children grew up embracing the Nazi policies so that in the future, they would live to practice and defend the Nazi ideologies. Therefore, this essay argues that Hitler’s policies targeted children because children were easy targets to convince and indoctrinate with the ideologies in question. Once indoctrinated, it was thought the children would grow identifying themselves with the Nazi ideologies and pass the same traits to their children and thus the future generations of Germany. How these policies attempted to mould the next generation of Germany is also discussed.

Why young people were such a focal point of Nazi policies and how
Nazi policies attempted to mould the next generation

By focusing on the young people,Hitler and the members of his regime believed that the survival of Nazi Germany for the next 1000 years relied on having children educated and indoctrinated on the basis of Nazism (Lepage, 2009, p. 83). The National Socialist government aimed at capturing the imagination as well as loyalty of the young generation of Germany – the so-called “Aryan” children (Heberer, 2011, p. 243; Epstein, 2015, p. 73). For that reason, Nazi strategists developed their youth policy in a manner designed to influence the young people with their policies and principles. The policies were specifically aimed at ensuring that the Nazi ideology was adopted by young people across Germany.

The Nazi Party started engaging the young people in its early days of development (Heberer, 2011, p. 243). For instance, the party had initiated organisations such as Hitler Jugend (HJ) or Hitler Youth for boys of ages between 10 and 14 years old, the League of German Girls, the German Young People or DJ (Deutsches Jungvolk), and the League of Young Girls (Todd, Waller & Bottaro, 2016, p. 107). These organisations targeting young people acted as conduits to feed the young people with propaganda that supported the Nazi cause and also served as mechanisms for the youth to support the Nazi points of view (Heberer, 2011, p. 243).

One of the mechanisms of making the Nazi ideas stick in the minds of the young people was to radically transform the youth through strict indoctrination and ensuring that the young people observed whatever they were taught (Lepage, 2009, p. 83). For instance, the main focus of HJ was to inculcate discipline and good order in children and submit the children to strict schooling based on Nazi principles (Lepage, 2009, p. 83). As such, both the formal education programme and extracurricular activities were developed in such a way as to inculcate the new civic “virtues of obedience, self-sacrifice, and race-consciousness” (Heberer, 2011, p. 243). For instance, the ideas were taught in the classroom, were used during playtime in playgrounds, and were also incorporated in bedtime reading stories (Heberer, 2011, p. 243).

Lepage (2009) explains that the idea behind making young people such a focal point of Nazi policies was that children are, to a large extent, vulnerable, naïve and malleable. That is, children can be easily fooled and they are committed, conformist, spontaneous, enthusiastic and eager to take part in something exciting, heroic, and great (Lepage, 2009, p. 83). Thus, appealing to the young people with a promise that their actions would help build a great country would really help in attracting them to conform to the Nazi ideology.

The Nazi policies and the approach used to instil them in young people significantly attempted to mould the next generation. For example, it is argued that young people who grew into teenagers after 1936 were detached from the pre-Nazi days because they had been indoctrinated with the Nazi ideology (Lepage, 2009, p. 83). Those who became adolescents around the period of the Second World War were conscripted into the army and were made to accept Nazi principles that were aimed at turning them into future soldiers and defenders of the Nazi ideology. Thus, an entire generation of German children was indoctrinated with Nazi ideology, and it was hoped that this generation would pass the same traits to the future generations.


Young people were such a focal point of Nazi policies because they were easy to influence and they were considered a viable group for passing whatever they were taught to the future generations. Because young people were the next generation of people in Nazi Germany, the regime believed that having them conform to the Nazi ideology would help pass the ideology to future generations. The regime also capitalised on the fact young people could easily conform to the Nazi ideology because of their naivety and enthusiasm towards learning and could therefore practice whatever they were taught in different areas of learning and playing.

  1. How did Hitler turn a fringe right wing party into the largest political party in Germany by the early 1930s?


Hitler joined the little-known German Workers’ Party, one of the right-wing nationalist parties in Germany, in 1919 (Lee, 1996). By 1921, Hitler had taken over the leadership of the party, which he renamed the Nazi Party or the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) (Lee, 1996). This party’s popularity and the popularity of Hitler grew tremendously that by 1933, the party had the largest share of seats in the Reichstag (parliament) (Lee, 1996). This essay discusses how Hitler transformed the fringe part into the largest political party in Germany. It is opined that Hitler’s charisma and the failure by the Weimar Republic to provide solutions to the problems that Germany faced during the Great Depression helped the Nazi party to grow into the largest political party in the country.

How Hitler turned the little-known German Workers’ Party into the largest political party in Germany (the Nazi Party)

Hitler was an ambitious and charismatic person and when he joined the German Workers’ Party in 1919, he quickly rose to the leadership role. This enabled him to rename the party as the Nazi Party or NSDAP. Hitler‘s charisma inspired many people and was also boosted by the fact that Hitler used propaganda which resonated well with the mood of the people, such as blaming the Jews and communists for Germany’s defeat in the First World War and the subsequent economic and social problems that the country faced (Lee, 1996). In particular, Hitler took a swipe at the fact that after the First World War, communists had taken control of much of Germany’s city, Munich, for several weeks. As a result of the occupation by communists, many German industrialists and large business owners were afraid that the communists would take over Germany and remain in power (Hazen, 2006). Hitler’s propaganda messages resonated with this situation since he spoke about how communists would disadvantage Germans, making many people accept as true what he said (Hazen, 2006). Since Hitler was seen as the voice of many Germans, he gained a lot of support. And as Hitler’s popularity grew, the popularity of the Nazi party also grew.

The growth of the Nazi Party was however slow at first, given that the Nazis won only 12 seats in the Reichstag in 1928. But after two years, the party had grown into the second largest party in parliament, with 107 seats. This was followed by another increase in the number of the Nazi Party’s seats to 230 in 1932 (Lee, 2010).

The transformation and growth of the Nazi Party also received a boost from the economic crisis that faced Germany during the Great Depression. In particular, the Weimar Republic, which was the leadership system of Germany after World War I, was unable to effectively deal with issues such as rising unemployment during the economic crisis. Although the government of the Weimar Republic introduced measures such as high taxes, increased tariffs and reduced government spending to deal with the crisis, these measures were not successful (Bergen, 2003). The Weimar Republic leadership was also disjointed and could not agree on how to address the problems that the country was facing (Bergen, 2003; Lee, 1996). On the other hand, Hitler promised to offer solutions to the problems and blamed Jews, communists and the democratic governance system of the Weimar Republic for the problems that were bedevilling Germany (Lee, 1996). Thus, Hitler’s messages of German nationalism enabled him to galvanise more support for his party (Khanna, 2013, p. 136).

Hitler also attained success during the early 1930s through a change of strategy of the Nazi Party, which involved attracting new first-time voters and obtaining allegiances from other parties (Lee, 2010). The Nazi Party had also made internal changes to its structure and policies, which made it easier for the party to attract mass support from people who were being impacted by the harsh economic times during the early 1930s (Lee, 2010).


Hitler turned the little-known German Workers’ Party into the largest political party in Germany by galvanizing support for the party through his charisma. In particular, Hitler used propaganda by addressing the issues that Germans were facing, including by heaping blame on communists and Jews, and by promising to solve the problems. Hitler’s Nazi Party also received a boost from the economic crisis that faced Germany in the early 1930s (the Great Depression). Given that the Weimar Republic was unable to fix the problems that were facing the German population, Hitler criticised the Weimar democratic leadership system and attributed it to the failure to address the problems that the country was facing. This earned him and the Nazi Party more support. The Nazi Party also used policies that enabled it to attract more first-time voters and people who had been affected by the economic crisis in the early 1930s.


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