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Ferdinand Marcos was perhaps the closest analogy of Hitler that the Philippines ever had. The lives of Hitler and Marcos have many parallels. It is quite likely that Marcos even adopted some of Hitler’s tactics when he ascended to power. The obvious parallel between the two former dictators is that they were both despots that were loved by their followers and hated by the rest of the world. Both dictators were very charismatic and able to command a crowd into the brink of hysteria. Nonetheless, when it comes to the manipulation of crowd emotions, Hitler was the undisputed master. If Hitler largely appealed to the base emotions such as hate and fear, Marcos largely appeal to reason. However, both dictators utilized lies and propagandas to support their respective agenda.
Hitler was a decorated soldier in World War I. On the other hand, Marcos was also a decorated soldier but it was during World War II. However, most of the so-called medals of gallantry of Marcos were disputed as authentic and were proven to be mostly fakes. As a master of legal documents, Marcos had easily manufactured affidavits and other supporting documents to claim his pseudo war laurels. If Marcos received multiple fake medals, Hitler was decorated with only one military medal, the Iron Cross. Well, at least it was authentic.
Both dictators were imprisoned during the early part of their respective careers. Hitler was imprisoned on charges of rebellion. He led the so-called Beer-Hall Putsch, a failed coup d’état that launched Hitler into national prominence in Germany. On the other hand, Marcos was imprisoned for a baser crime, but still it was politically motivated. It was the crime of murder. Marcos was accused of killing the political rival of his father for the congressional seat. It would have been very easy target practice for Marcos, considering that he was a champion marksman in college. The murder trial also launched Marcos into national prominence here in the Philippines. Although Marcos was initially found guilty, the Supreme Court over-ruled the lower court’s decision.
Like Hitler, Marcos also accomplished something great while in prison. Marcos managed to top the bar exams even when he was incarcerated. Maybe, the prison ambience was conducive for his study review. On the other hand, it was in prison where Hitler penned his greatest racist literary work, Mein Kampf. Marcos read books while in prison. Hitler wrote a book while in prison.
In the manner that Marcos and Hitler rose to power was also very similar. Although Hitler was not elected, Hitler’s rise to power was perfectly legal. Marcos rise to power was also perfectly legal. Marcos won the mandate of the Filipino people. Legalism was the unifying theme of the respective reigns of both dictators. However, this was only superficial. The respective legalistic maneuvers of the two dictators were supported by underground extra-legal means. For instance, to justify dictatorial powers, Hitler orchestrated the burning of Germany’s parliament, the Reichtag. On the other hand, Marcos initially justified the declaration of martial law by orchestrating the bombing of Plaza Miranda during a political party rally. Another justification that was used was the scripted ambush of Juan Ponce Enrile.
Finally, both dictators ruled ruthlessly. However, Hitler’s genocidal policies were so unspeakably and unimaginably horrific that Marcos’ “salvage policies” seemed very humane. By comparison, Marcos’ rule would have been worthy of the Nobel Prize for Peace. On the other hand, the monumental loots of Marcos was comparable to the Nazi’s war booties. In the final analysis, neither dictators were lesser evil than the other.