Although Germany was never a communist country during the rule of Adolph Hitler, its similarities to China are shocking. Both Nazi Germany (1932-1945) and Communist China while run by Mao Zedong’s Red Army (1928-1976) were cruel regimes that were responsible for killing millions of their own people. The leaders of each country were able to manipulate their citizens and convince others into thinking that what they were doing was appropriate and even respectable. This must lead one to ask ‘How can millions be fooled for so long? ‘
In order to understand how people could have been so easily fooled and manipulated it is critical to take a look at each country’s history a few years prior to the uprising of each ruler. In Germany people were suffering and depressed. The First World War, to which Germany was blamed for, ended up costing billions of dollars for the German government, and as a result the people were miserable and frustrated. The economy was slow and people everywhere were starving and without work; desperate for someone to tell them there’s hope and a future.
Along came Hitler, a man who claimed that he had a solution to their problems and eventually told them who was to blame for their depression. When Hitler was first gaining power one of his key focuses was religious freedom for all except those who endangered the German race. He soon changed that policy and began spreading massive amounts of propaganda so that many would come to hate Jews. Having someone to blame gave Hitler a huge advantage; when you can hold a group of people responsible for something it gives you a common enemy and consequently unites you, even if it is only through hatred.
In China, similar circumstances arose that led Mao to power. The current government had been fighting a war against the Japanese that left the people suffering and depressed. Mao challenged Chaing Ka Sheck’s weak Chinese government which led to a civil war. Although Mao suffered early causualties, he built back his forces from among the peasants with the promise of a system of government that would end their misery. In establishing their empires both Mao Zedong and Adolph Hitler targeted impressionable youth to build up their followers. Hitler realized that if he was going to rule Germany he needed the support of the adolescent.
Hitler did a large majority of this through propaganda in school. Posters, videos, and flags were displayed everywhere reminding the good German children how awful Jews were. This worked! Germany grew to have an army of over 12. 5 million soldiers; seventy-three percent of these were said to have been between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, of which almost all volunteered to serve their country! In China, Mao targeted youth also. More specifically he targeted illiterate peasant youth as they made up more than eighty percent of the population.
The youth of China were very supportive of Chairman Mao, he offered hope and gave them a new perspective about tomorrow. As in Germany, millions volunteered for the Red Guard, particularly after Mao deflected blame from himself and onto the traditional generation during the devastating “Cultural Revolution”. Both Germany and China had massive book burnings of anything that might challenge the dictatorships. It was not long after Hitler rose to power that he and the entire German community began discriminating against the Jews.
At first they were given a curfew and told they could not go into certain places, then their shops were boycotted and their jobs taken away, finally they were sent off to concentration camps where they were underfed, worked to death, or killed right when they got there. This played a fairly role in the Protestant church. Although most Protestant and Catholic churches remained fairly silent throughout this period there was much opposition from young pastors. With the support of Karl Barth, a professor of theology at Bonn University, in May of 1934 a group of well known “rebel pastors” formed what is today known as the Confessional Church.
Hundreds of these pastors would be sent to concentration camps and many were executed over the next few years. Among the most famous of these pastors are Martin Niemoller, Dietrich Bonhoffer, and Heinrich Gruber. Some Christians would help Jews when they had the chance, by providing them with transportation and sometimes even living arrangements, but most were too frightened to speak up or help the Jews. So, the Protestant church during the time of Nazi Germany neither sufficiently grew nor dwindled. However, in China the religious persecution was focused much more on Christians than any other group.
Midnight raids were conducted and entire families were slaughtered for owning a bible. At the very least you lost your job for claiming the name of Christ but usually the consequences of being ‘disloyal’ were much more drastic. However, one would think that this type of persecution would dismantle and destroy the church, but it was during these years that the church skyrocketed and any came to know the Lord. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake; for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”- Matthew 5:10. The Chinese were empowered and emboldened by this persecution and a major church planting movement was started.
Chinese believers clung to Christ and were forced to rely on Him and His provisions for them and their families. This is just another perfect example that humans cannot corner the Spirit of God and that what man tries to use for evil, God uses for his glory and honor. Even Germany’s attempt to destroy the Jews indirectly led to the establishment of the nation of Israel. The leaders of China and Germany fooled their populations for a time but history revealed Hilter and Mao as the fools that brought on their own destruction