EUROPE: Hitler and Napoleon

Christopher Jones writes: Regarding the comparison between Napoleon and Adolf Hitler, David Chandler wrote in his general introduction to his monumental work The Campaigns of Napoleon, on page xliii  "Since the 1940s it has been fashionable in some quarters to compare Napoleon with Hitler.  Nothing could be more degrading to the former and more flattering to the latter.  The comparison is odious.  On the whole Napoleon was inspired (in the early years at least) by a noble dream, wholly disimilar from Hitler's vaunted but still born "New Order" Napoleon left great and lasting testimonies to his genius -- in codes of law and national identities which survive until this very day.  Adolf Hitler left nothing but destruction . . . . Even though it is difficult to form an objective of Hitler in our own time, there can be no doubt that he was not cast in the same mold as Napoleon.  Despite flashes of lucky intuition, Hitler was no soldier.  Hitler's most lasting perverted achievement for which he will be remembered to the end of history was genocide; Napoleon will always be regarded as a soldier of genius and the creator of modern Europe.  The two most devastating "corporals" of modern history therefore have little in common.  In the words of Octave Aubry, "This is his [Napoleon's] distinction, and, if necessary, his excuse.  When an achievement lasts so long and bears such fruit, it provides its own justification." And his shadow lingers yet.

Adriana Pena writes Whether the battle of Borodino was won or lost, Napoleon came back to France with his tail between his legs....

Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: February 27, 2005