Answers to Questions by Yair Davidiy (28 September 2017, 8 Tishrei, 5778)
How come Adolf Hitler is considered the most evil man in all of history when Mao Zedong is responsible for the quadruple amount of deaths?
I would make a few distinctions between AH and Mao:
1. Personal Relevance
This message is in English not Chinese. It is read by people who read English.
The readers come from English-speaking countries or from countries for whom English has become the lingua franca.
All such peoples were directly impacted by Hitler.
The type of world they live in is palpably a result of what Hitler did.
Mao Zedong was in China. What he did affected mainly Chinese people and those on the periphery of China.
Mao did not interact with the English-speaking sphere.
It could have happened otherwise and some observers expected it to do so.
Nevertheless Mao is more important in Chinese culture than he is elsewhere.
If we were in Hong Kong or Singapore we might think differently but we are not.
I know very little about Mao. In my student days in Australia I did buy a biography about him which was quite good for the first few pages.
I then put it down and it disappeared presumably stolen or mistakenly purloined.
Some one must have found him interesting!
Anyway Mao had an ideology. Perhaps it went wrong along the way. It does not seem to have been consciously and deliberately evil.
There are claims that Hitler believed he had some kind of pact with the devil.
This is not so far fetched as it sounds. Hitler dabbled with the Occult. Such notions were taken seriously in the milieu in which he moved.
Ruth Schechter of the University of Beer Sheva wrote a work in Hebrew comparing the psychological disposition of Hitler to Faust.
Faust was a "protagonist of a classic German legend, based on the historical Johann Georg Faust (c. 1480-1540)."
Marlowe and Goethe and others wrote about Faust. The one by Goethe is considered a Classic of the German Language.
In the legend Faust sells his soul to the devil.
Ruth Schechter suggests that in Hitler's mind he was in place of Faust and the Jews were the human sacrifice offered up to ensure the success of Nazi endeavors.
At all events,
Hitler and his friends consciously did evil and for them this evil was desirable.
3. Reversibility. Mao did do some good. He helped defeat Japanese imperialism. He abolished Feudalism.
He made China more than what it had been. The evil he did was not inconsistent with previous Chinese experience.
And it was to some degree reversible.
This is not the case with Hitler.
Adolf carried out deeds that have not been rectified and perhaps will never be.