Indoctrination—The Nazis and the Communists presided over totalitarian dictatorships. This meant that every single aspect of life was controlled by the state. The best way of doing this was to ensure that everyone was indoctrinated with the dominant ideology. In Stalin's Russia, this was done, for example, through massive campaigns to encourage workers to be more productive. It was believed that this would make people more committed to socialism and bind them more closely to the regime.
The Nazis created the Hitler Youth and the League of German Maidens to instill boys and girls respectively with the regime's ideology. It was important for the Nazis to shape young people's minds, to separate them from their parents, and to teach them how to think, act, and behave.
Fear and terror—For those who did not accept Nazi or Communist rule, fear and terror were the order of the day. The Nazis established a system of concentration camps for their political opponents and, later, for the Jews. The secret police, the Gestapo, encouraged people to spy on anyone who did not fit into society. Law and justice were nothing more than a sham, and punishments were brutal and excessive.
Under Stalin, a network of forced labor camps called gulags was set up to punish those deemed a threat to society. The vast majority of people sent to the gulags were wholly innocent of the charges made against them, and arbitrary arrest and imprisonment were widespread. Terror in the Soviet Union took on momentum all of its own. Even those most fanatically devoted to the regime could find themselves being tortured, shot, or sent to the camps. Stalin had inherited an apparatus of terror from Lenin, but his paranoia took it to the next level, ensuring that no one, no matter how senior they were in the Party or the state, was safe.
Propaganda—The Nazis were highly skilled at using propaganda to promote themselves and their policies. Hitler understood the importance of using the relatively new technology of radio to reach the widest possible audience. Cinema was also an important medium for spreading the Nazi message, and propaganda films in the Third Reich were elaborate affairs, often with lavish production values.
Stalin, like Hitler, developed something of a personality cult. Pictures, statues, and busts of the dictator were everywhere in the Soviet Union. The official government newspaper, Pravda, consisted of almost nothing else but massively exaggerated paeans of praise to Stalin's monumental genius. If one read Pravda, one could be forgiven for thinking that Stalin was some kind of god. He was certainly treated like one.
Scapegoats. According to Nazi propaganda, the Fuehrer was always right. If, therefore, there were any problems in society, then the blame had to lie elsewhere. Long before they came to power, the Nazis believed that the Jews were responsible for every kind of misfortune, from the spread of international Communism to causing the Great Depression. Achieving power made no difference to this fundamental article of Nazi faith. The Jews were always presented by the regime as working behind the scenes, pulling the strings to destroy Germany, both economically and politically.
Kulaks were peasants in the USSR considered relatively well-off. In a Communist society in which everyone was supposed to be equal, this was dangerous. Stalin presided over the comprehensive reform of Soviet agriculture, forcing peasants into collective farms that would be run for the good of the state. The system proved disastrous and led to widespread famine and suffering. As it was thought impossible for Stalin to be wrong about anything, it was necessary to find a scapegoat for the regime's failings. The charge of "kulak" was made against anyone in the countryside who showed the least opposition to the policy of collectivization, irrespective of whether they had much wealth to speak of.
The same principle was used to account for the failures and inefficiencies of Stalin's rapid industrialization policy. Whatever went wrong with the system—chronic shortages, the breakdown of machinery, failure to fulfill overambitious production targets—could be blamed on deliberate acts of sabotage. The "wreckers" responsible for such alleged acts were subjected to mock trials, and the most outrageous of charges were laid against them. So-called wreckers were accused by the regime of being in league with Stalin's domestic opponents, often under the catchall heading of Trotskyites. Failing that, they were supposedly in the pay of a hostile foreign power, such as the United States or Britain.