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A tramp and a dictator

Charlie ChaplinCharlie Chaplin was born in April 1889 in the south London slums.

His father and mother were music hall singers.

At an early age, Charlie was sent to a workhouse because his mother was mentally unstable and unable to care for him.

In 1910, Chaplin became a music hall comedian and left his homeland; bound for America.

By 1916, he became a worldwide figure, admired by millions.  During World War I, he attended Liberty bond rallies, boosted moral and brought in money for the war effort.

He became THE most famous person in the world.

Chaplin used his talents in the writing, directing, and producing of silent movies.  He also wrote the music that accompanied his movies.

Ironically, Charlie Chaplin thought Adolph Hitler was one of the greatest actors he’d ever seen.

The Great Dictator

In 1931, Chaplin went to Berlin and was greeted by enormous, passionate crowds.  In 1940, he wrote, directed and produced The Great Dictator, his first talking movie.

Producers didn’t want to rock the boat with Germany and Italy and tried to keep the movie from being released.

They were also afraid it might damage foreign relations and hurt the Jewish population in Europe.  President Roosevelt thought it was a very important movie and assured Chaplin that he’d see to it that the movie was released.

Chaplin produced the movie entirely with his own money.

Young HitlerAdolph Hitler’s Beginning

Adolph Hitler was born in Austria in April 1889.  He grew up in a middle-class family.  His father worked as a customs agent.

His mother tried protecting Adolph from his father’s abuse.  It is said that Adolph Hitler’s mother is the only woman he ever loved.

Hitler hated school, dropped out and left Austria to become an artist in Vienna.  Vienna Academy wouldn’t accept him into their academy–he couldn’t pass the entrance exam.

Poor and destitute Hitler became a tramp, living on the streets.

Surprisingly, Hitler moved into a Vienna home that was financially supported by Jewish people.  Later, he joined the Vienna army.  In 1923, he tried to seize power in Germany but officials imprisoned him for treason.  Eventually, he did take power and tackled unemployment, eliminated inflation, created huge construction projects and established motorways.

In 1935, Hitler was responsible for the burning of Jewish synagogues, businesses, and homes.  He attacked and conquered France.  Germany, under Hitler’s rule, also joined forces with Russia and Italy.

World War II began, costing approximately fifty-five million lives.  Hitler’s persecution of the Jewish people of Europe, as well as his torture, mutilation, and annihilation of ten million Jews that were sent to incinerators and firing squads, made him a symbol of destruction and the most hated man of his time.

Who Ruled the World?

Unlike Hitler, Chaplin owned the world.

He was the most popular person on the planet.  People laughed and were deeply moved by him.  When Chaplin was at his peak, Hitler was living on the streets as a tramp.

Chaplin created his first talking movie; The Great Dictator to instigate laughter at Hitler…to show the world the Nazi party didn’t count.

Chaplin discounted the Nazi party while challenging Hitler, not knowing the atrocities taking place at the hands of the Hitler and the Nazi party.

When Chaplin became aware of the death and destruction in Europe, he edited his movie to reflect on issues that were more serious.

Charlie thought if he could talk from his heart in his movie, he might have an effect on shortening the war; therefore, he was constantly rewriting the script in order to be able to develop something profound to say to his motion picture viewers.

The following is a short video of Chaplin’s first talking movie he wrote, produced, and directed.

Chaplin’s plea in “The Great Dictator:”

The Nazi party thought Chaplin was Jewish though there wasn’t any record he was, or wasn’t.  They hated seeing him welcomed in their country.  They created anti-Jewish newsreels based on Chaplin’s visit to Berlin.  They called him a ‘disgusting Jewish acrobat.’

Chaplin and Hitler were born the same year, same month and same week.

While Hitler celebrated his fiftieth birthday in April 1939, he spoke and sponsored the largest military parade in history.

Chaplin celebrated his birthday working on his script.  Chaplin took risks by satirizing Jews, Hitler, and then dictator of Italy, Benito Mussolini.  The movie forced his audience to face Nazi brutality.  When Hitler embarked onto France and took control of the country, Chaplin was noted for saying he considered Hitler a ‘horrible menace to civilization.’

Chaplin no longer considered Hitler someone to laugh at.

October 1940, after five hundred fifty-five days, The Great Dictator was completed.  It premiered in two Broadway theaters. 

Millions of people stood, cheered, and were grateful the movie was made.  England claimed it was the best propaganda film made since the start of the war though it was banned in Europe, Ireland and South America.

While Hitler destroyed, Chaplin took a stand against Hitler.

He created an emotional appeal by stating: ‘Live by each other’s happiness, not by their misery.  We think too much and feel too little.’ 

He strengthened millions of people with the power of laughter and his thought provoking speeches and writing.

In 1945, allied forces ended World War II, Hitler was defeated and he committed suicide.

ChaplinCharlie Chaplin Exiled

Amazingly, in 1952, Chaplin was locked out of the United States during the McCarthy era.  The anti-communist committee headed by Senator Joseph McCarthy from Wisconsin, suspected he was a communist.

Chaplin neither admitted nor denied the allegations.  When Chaplin tried to return to America after vacating in Europe, the United States denied his entry into the country based on their suspected beliefs that he was a communist.

Though Hitler was instrumental in the making of skyscrapers, modern motorways, and the Volkswagen, his persecution and slaughter of the Jewish population in Europe and his devilish obsession with power marks his place in history as one of the most feared, hated, and sick men of all time.

On the contrary, whether Chaplin was a Communist, of Jewish persuasion, or a tramp is irrelevant.

His contribution to society was extraordinary!

Charlie Chaplin left behind incredible music, movies, and writing as noted by scholars and critics throughout the world.

His accomplishments have been observed as pure genius!

If only there were more people like him…

About the author: George Zapo, CPH is certified in Public Health Promotion and Education (Kent State University). George focuses on providing informative articles promoting healthy behavior and lifestyles.

6 comments… add one
  • Yes what a contrast. I wonder if Hitler’s upbringing was more loving and more stable with parents who both loved him, he would of became how he was. Chaplin was truly an entertaining and cinematic genius no matter what his politics might of been.
    Just a comment. I think the word ironically could of worked just as well as surprisingly when you wrote Surprising Hitler moved into a Vienna home that was financially support by Jewish people. BTW speaking of ironically I am posting this on the eve of the Jewish New Year. Good reading your post George.

    • Thank you for sharing your perspective, Lynda! You brought up some very noteworthy thoughts and suggestions.

  • Dave

    Most of your facts stated are accurate.
    However, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.)
    were on the Allies side.

    • Dave, thank you for sharing your thoughts. However, all the information in the article are facts. The Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.), under Joseph Stalin’s rule, had a pact with Germany, known as the “Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pack of 1939.”

      When Germany attacked Poland on September 1, 1939, the Soviets stood by and watched. A couple of days later, the British declared war on Germany. World War II began.

      On September 17, the Soviet Union military moved into eastern Poland to occupy their “sphere of influence” they agreed to receive for forming this pact with Germany.

      Because of the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, the Soviets didn’t join the Allies the fight against Germany. Germany was successful it its attempt to safeguard itself from a two-front war.

      The Nazis and the Soviets kept in agreement with the terms of the pact and the protocol until Germany surprise attacked and invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Stalin changed sides and joined the Allies to fight against Hitler. So, initially, the U.S.S.R. was allied with Germany and later denounced them.

  • Tony Denson

    This is a fantastic read! I love Chaplin’s work and the contributions you enumerated here. Chaplin helped the world to look to a brighter future, and as I see it, Hitler cast a hesitation for people to step into the future. I will choose Charlie Chaplin’s hopefulness.

    • Thanks for sharing you thoughts, Tony! Thank you for the compliment, as well!

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