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Adolf Hitler Vs Nelson Mandela: Comparative Analysis

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Adolf Hitler and Nelson Mandela are prominent people written in world history. Adolf Hitler was known for starting World War II, which resulted in the deaths of more than 50 million people. He is also responsible for the Holocaust, the state-sponsored killing of six million Jews. Nelson Mandela, on the other hand, will be remembered as a great leader who breaks apartheid (racial discrimination) in South Africa.

The evident differences between these two leaders can be traced back as to how their moral character develop. Adolf Hitler grew up with strict parenting, his father frequently beat him up when he misbehaved. Due to this, he became rebellious and has unsatisfactory academic performance. His bad childhood might hinder Hitler to develop his affective domain thus punishment or violence was his way of dealing with situation. Nelson Mandela who was an adopted son of Tembu Chief lives a comfortable life. Growing up Mandela was surrounded with supportive and loving people. These people help him to develop his social and affective domain. That’s why he is empathetic and take the welfare of others when making decision.

During teenage years, Hitler faces extreme life challenges such as the death of his family members. His depression started when he lost his brother who he leans on for emotional support. His mother’s death left him devastated. He was contained with his emotions and throughout he never tried to settle those. Additionally, his relatives neglect him which could be the reason he was self-centered. Hitler also tried to pursue arts education, but he failed several times. He lived an extravagant life with his parent’s pension and ended up broke in just a year. Although broke and uneducated, he firmly believes that he will be a great person. This shown that he failed to develop self-efficacy, build realistic goals for himself. Meanwhile, Mandela during his teenage life realized the existing racial discrimination in his country. In 1940, he was expelled from his university for partaking in a student strike. In 1942, he campaigns for black equality by joining African National Congress. In 1943, he receives finishes his degree after completing his course in University of South Africa. We can infer that the two has wide difference: Hitler has unrealistic expectations of himself, while Mandela is a doer. It is significant to note that their experiences are building blocks to further develop their beliefs.

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Hitler served in the German military where he displayed his love for his home country. His nationalism further ignited when he joined the German Workers’ Party on September 12, 1919. He joined the team with the promise to improve the system. The party advocated a range of ideas, including nationalism and antisemitism. Later on, he proposed to become a leader where he displayed his dictatorial leadership style. The beginning of Hitler’s leadership was in November 8, 1923 when he led over 2,000 Nazi and attempted to overthrow German government. Due to this he was arrested but in 1925 he got released from prison. In 1933, he was appointed as chancellor of Germany where he once again displayed dictatorial leadership. Between 1941 and 1945, state-sponsored execution of Jews or known as the Holocaust happened. Hitler’s dictator leadership can be a result of how he perceived power, such as create fear to people for them to conform to rules similar to how his father discipline him. His unavailability to develop affective domain during early ages can be the reason he never shown empathy to deaths of million Jews. However, Jews who is close to him were exempted to his harsh laws.

In the 1950’s, Mandela became the leader of the African National Congress. In 1963, he was arrested by the government and charge him of treason, condemning him to a lifetime sentence. After 27 years, Mandela was released from prison through Frederik Willem de Klerk who removed the ban of A.N.C. In 1994, he was elected as South Africa’s first democratically elected president. His administration focused on building peace and unity. His leadership shows his well-developed character - showing empathy and considering welfare of others.

These two personalities made fundamental changes in world history through their different worldviews. Hitler who beliefs that Germans are superior, while Mandela who believes in equality. These views are shown in their leadership styles, the servant leader (Mandela) and dictator (Hitler). Considering Kohlberg’s stages of moral thinking, Adolf Hitler morals fall under pre-conventional level, where he acts according to his own best interest, while Nelson Mandela falls within post-conventional level, which he considers social welfare.

In conclusion, Adolf Hitler might be seen as a villain but his monstrous character is only a reflection of his childhood trauma. I am not trying to justify his action but instead his life is an eye-opener for these generations. Moral character may seem a simple word but plays significant part in everyone’s life. We must develop our sense of judgment properly, weigh down situations and try not to make decisions based on unsettled emotions.

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Adolf Hitler Vs Nelson Mandela: Comparative Analysis. (2023, March 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 10, 2023, from
“Adolf Hitler Vs Nelson Mandela: Comparative Analysis.” Edubirdie, 01 Mar. 2023,
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