Throughout the course of history there are many infamous leaders that use questionable methods to earn their title as supreme ruler in their time, such as Adolf Hitler of Germany. Hitler to many was a great leader, but the way he seized power was very similar to Lord Voldemort. These two names in history and in literature are exemplars of atrocious leadership and dictatorship.
It is agreed that the quest for power many times often alters honest principles of the seeker in order to obtain the ultimate prize, power over their people, but more importantly immortality. Especially in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, the archetypal villain, Lord Voldemort epitomizes the power hungry individual that faces defeat, because power does not suit him, in juxtaposition to Harry Potter, the ultimate hero. Eventually in the end, the drive for power and total glory blinds Voldemort, much like it did to Hitler, causing them both to be defeated.
As history has proven many times, evil can be conquered, and that the greater good has the power to overcome the evil forces that threaten society. The first similarity that comes in mind when talking about these two infamous leaders is their troubled childhood. Both of them were known to have suffered losses that affected them negatively and caused them to be corrupted. Lord Voldemort was the son of the witch Merope Gaunt and muggle (a non wizard) Tom Riddle, whom Merope ensnared with a love potion.
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When her husband discovers she was a witch, he abandons her while she is pregnant. Instead of choosing to live for her son, “[she] chose death in spite of a son who needed her” and Tom's mother died shortly after giving birth to him on December 31st, living just long enough to christen him with the ordinary name, Tom Riddle (Rowling 262). Just like Lord Voldemort, Hitler also had a childhood burdened with abandonment and heavy losses. Growing up as a young boy, Hitler’s three siblings all died from a malignant illness.
He then moved to Austria with his mother and abusive father, and they soon had a new addition to the family, his brother Edmund. Soon after Edmund was born, he died from measles and it is reported that after the death of his last living brother, he did not cope with it well and his behavior was questionable. Hitler did poorly in school and fought with his teachers. To add to his grief, his mother and father soon passed away shortly after he turned fifteen. Aside from both of Voldemort and Hitler’s childhoods, they also had many things in common that one tends to forget about.
During the time of Hitler’s reign, many were confused as to why he wanted to murder the Jewish population when in reality he was half Jewish himself. Hitler made himself believe that every Jew was out to squander society and they were out to get him, for example, “He was convinced that it was a Jewish professor that had rejected his art work… he became convinced that a Jewish doctor had been responsible for his mother’s death” and blamed his other unfortunate problems on Jews as well (History Learning Site “Adolf Hitler”).
There in his youth, a strong anti-Semitism flourished and overtook his faculties. Similarly, Adolf Hitler is a historical embodiment of what Voldemort stands for in the Harry Potter series. His obsession with pure blood ancestry parallels Hitler’s pursuit for an Aryan dominated race. Hitler, like many other dictators, was very persuasive through his words as well as propaganda. In Nazi Germany Dr. Joseph Goebbels was in charge of the propaganda. He was soon to be known as the “Minister of Propaganda and National Enlightenment” (History Learning Site “Propaganda In Nazi Germany”).
To ensure that everyone heard Hitler he installed loud speakers in every cafe in every street. The facilities were ordered to play the speakers for every speech that Hitler gave just so he would be heard. Beside the speakers, Goebbels also ordered that all radios to be put on sale just so everyone had one. These radios were know as the “People’s Receivers” (History Learning Site “Propaganda In Nazi Germany”). Lord Voldemort operated his ring of terror in a different, but still effective way to ensure power.
According to Sirius Black, “He tricks, jinxes and blackmails [his followers]. He's well practiced at operating in secret” (Rowling 196). These methods demonstrate that both leaders were very skilled in using trickery and technique to get the power they sought after. Not only did Hitler and Lord Voldemort use their methods, but also they each had a sign to distinguish themselves in society. Hitler is known to change the meaning of the ancient sign the Swastika, which now is related to Nazi paraphernalia.
During ancient times “the swastika was used by many cultures throughout the past 3,000 years to represent life, sun, power, strength, and good luck”, but now the sign is associated to the mass killing of 11 million Europeans and other horrors of the Holocaust (Rosenberg). Like Hitler, Voldemort embodied his dangerous acts of evil in the ominous Dark Mark. The Dark Mark specifically is a skull with a snake protruding out of its mouth. Since biblical times, the snake is a symbol of evil and manipulation; which coincides with Voldemort’s ideology.
The Dark Mark in the Harry Potter series is sent over houses where a person lies dead and is known in the wizarding community to be You-Know-Who’s sign. In addition, the Death Eater followers have the Mark branded into their arm to proclaim their loyalty to the Dark Lord. Lord Voldemort’s obsession with having a pureblooded race stems from Hitler’s ideology that the Aryan race surpasses all others and it is necessary to exterminate anyone who is different from the blond-hair, blue-eyed credentials.
Even though Hitler wanted every last Jew killed in Eastern Europe, he was one himself. Comparably, Voldemort was a half-blood wizard but believed that the mating of a wizard and muggle is a defilation to the wizarding race. Obviously Voldemort’s ideals agreed with Hitler’s, which eventually led to the devastating effects of the Holocaust. Hitler’s justification of the Holocaust was to “systematic weed out [all] of [the] Jews [which] would lower interbreeding between the master race and inferior peoples” (Think Quest).
Voldemort too believed that creatures such as goblins, house elves, werewolves and especially muggles have a place in the wizarding world, but they are not to breed with witches or wizards or allowed the use of a wand. After the Ministry of Magic falls to Voldemort, the motto of the Ministry is “Magic Is Might” (Rowling 242). Within the foyer of the Ministry, houses the legendary statue of “hundreds and hundreds of naked bodies, men, women, and children, all with rather stupid, ugly faces, twisted and pressed together to support the weight of the handsomely robed wizards” (Rowling 242).
Both Voldemort and Hitler were obsessed with a pure race and used their hypocrisy to promote a new revolution and eventually have complete power over their followers and “inferiors. ” In addition Hitler and Voldemort target the adult population, yet they both made it a goal to expose children to their ideals to conform them against opposing society, which led to more receptive followers. The Hitler Youth was a program for German children to learn the anti-Semitic views that Hitler wanted everyone to be on board with.
Hitler believed that children were the future of Germany and used his powerful speaking skills to adjure them to join the New Order. His message to the naive children is clear: Youth must be all that. It must bear pain. There must be nothing weak and gentle about it. The free, splendid beast of prey must once again flash from its eyes... That is how I will eradicate thousands of years of human domestication... That is how I will create the New Order. Voldemort and his followers agree that children ought to be molded to learn the prejudices of pureblood wizards.
Fenrir Greyback, a werewolf that pays service to the Dark Lord believes that magical children should be “raised away from their parents, raise them to hate normal wizards” (Rowling 334-5). The children that joined the Hitler Youth often were coerced to spend more time with kids from the Hitler Youth and less and less time with their families. There the mental manipulation begins and transforms children’s beliefs that they used to share with their parents are now revolutionized with anti-Semitic opinions. Hitler was known for liking to spend time with children and he especially valued them for what they could bring to the cause.
In the end of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort tries to persuade Neville into joining his force. He announces, “You show spirit and bravery, and you come of noble stock. You will make a very valuable Death Eater. We need your kind, Neville Longbottom” (Rowling 731). By influencing the youth with their backward beliefs, both Voldemort and Hitler were able to have more control over their followers. Overall it can be agreed that both Lord Voldemort and Hitler used manipulative techniques to achieve the power and influence over their people.
By the end of his reign Lord Voldemort’s evilness is conquered by Harry Potter’s selflessness and Harry’s humility to not conquer death, which eventually makes Harry invincible. Primarily, the power that Voldemort wants to assume is neither pure, nor for the greater good. It is highly ironic because once Hitler knew that he was losing World War II, he decided to take his own life. Thus, the good always triumphs the bad, even if evil must destruct itself.
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