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  • Darren Lindeman

Did Hitler or Stalin knew math?

Updated: Dec 12, 2019

Did Hitler or Stalin knew math? Going online and googling "Hitler" or "Stalin math", it seems to be that there is not much information or thought given about this subject. The only references that I found which was relevant about Hitler came from a lecture by historian Lloyd Clark who stated something to the extent of "Hitler was capable at calculating the gears of machinery". Stalin was known to be capable with arithmetics due to his work for as a data inputter in a meteorologist station. Back in the day many people were not literate, let alone numerically. Stalin and Hitler did not attend university and graduate, both were at large self taught.

Mathematics today is recognized as an important part of a student's economic syllabus. If you were to tell a graduate today to become an overnight manager of one of the biggest economy of the world, they would likely think they are under prepared. Back in the day however many statesmen came from a background which had little to do with difficult mathematics that students learn in their high school and college level education today. Lenin for example was a trained lawyer. Hitler was unemployed and wanted to pursue his career as a professional artist. A notable historical figure however is Trotsky because he was known to be capable at mathematics because he studied this for higher education.

Aside from Trotsky there are not many notable statesmen in the Soviet leadership during the post revolution era that is a noted numerical practitioner. In fact at a glance many state, political and military leaders during the second world war in the Soviet Union and the Third Reich are not well noted as numerical students or practitioners. Numerical concepts however is important for managing an organization in the past and today, such as for war, the economy and science. Maybe it's fair to say then that the statesmen of the past, such as Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Himmler, Beria and so on are intellectuals of social science. These subjects whom these leaders may read from could be political science, history, military strategy, political economy, law and psychology.

This does not mean that these leaders do not frequently think numerically however. To be a good administrator, these leaders would need to understand the concepts of policy which require numerical thinking. This thinking then is something that is similar to the Roman's use of mathematics. Back in the day around two thousand years ago, the mathematical centers in the past centered on Greece. Greeks at the time were the most notable numerical practitioners, for example they invented the worlds first analog computer to calculate the solar eclipses and the moon's position.

Greek mathematics was different to the Roman's in terms of its study and purpose. Greeks were more interested in solving math problems such as the precise value of Pi , while the Romans were more keen on applying math for engineering or architecture. Back to Hitler or Stalin, it is likely that they were more Roman in thought then Greek. They used their knowledge and thoughts for practical solutions to the problems they had to face. However if there is such a thing as "Roman math" or "statesmen math", what could this type of math be.

This math could likely be numerical solutions to problems by using different variables, to simply solve a problem. For example, if someone was asked what are the chances he would die the next day, he had to think of the probability of dying from cause after cause. Then the person would have to say, I reasonably think that there is a 0.1 percent chance I will die. The way he would come with this 0.1 percent chance is the variable involved in his thinking. For example if he knew he was a habitual drug user, the chances that he would have an overdose is much higher.

The chance of dying and what causes it, is therefore the variables which need to be calculated. On the other hand, if you were an administrator, you knew that your department spends an amount of money. You may know how to adjust this budget given different circumstances. This variable in deciding the budget is a type of numerical skill. The knowledge of understanding fractions, algebra and arithmetics would therefore be important in finding solutions to different problems these leaders had in the past. On the other hand, advanced mathematics such as Calculus would be used by scientists and engineers, and they would be like the Greeks of their day so to speak