Answers to Questions by Yair Davidiy (28 September 2017, 8 Tishrei, 5778)
Was Napoleon as bad as Hitler?
Napoleon came to power as result of the French Revolution.
Prior to the Revolution, the French Monarchy had attempted reforms that were unequal in their application, i.e. they did not better the lot of enough of the people.
They did however bear some fruits that after the French Revolution society benefited from.
The reforms however were insufficient in themselves and too slow in taking effect.
The French revolted, killed the monarch, slaughtered or exiled the aristocrats and anyone else who hankered for the old prejudicial class-conscious ways.
All of Europe was afraid of French Revolutionary influence. They went to war against her.
The French beat them back. Instead of an aristocracy they instituted a meritocracy. Napoleon was a foreigner from a low Middle-Class family in Corsica. He joined the French Army and through merit got to the top of it.
He then took over the government. He made himself Emperor but in his system Napoleon incorporated all the basic reforms of the French Revolution.
Napoleon was prejudiced against Jews and wanted them to assimilate. Nevertheless everywhere Napoleon conquered Jews were emancipated.
Every country that Napoleon took over was better for it.
Basic human rights were generally respected everywhere.
Economic progress was made, scientific advancements and attitudes encouraged, legal systems rationalized in all countries of occupation.
The slogan of the French Revolution, "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" was respected in every place.
Napoleon however overreached himself, under-estimated the British, and failed to come to an accommodation with them.
He was too rational for his own good.
Hitler came to power because the Germans wanted order and a respite from the street violence the thugs of Hitler himself were causing.
The Germans were also angry for having lost the First World War and blamed the Jews for it.
They also wished to kill and plunder the Jews and everyone else around them and reduce as much of the world as possible to servitude.
Hitler embodied their wishes.
Everywhere Hitler went Jews were demeaned, tormented and exterminated either in that order or all at once.
In the world of Hitler the State existed for the sake of organized violence for its own sake to be visited on the vulnerable. Being Jewish was a crime. So too, just being vulnerable and weak was conceptually punishable by death.
Hitler overreached himself partly because the internal dynamics of Germanic Frenzy once released could no longer be held back.