The Shift From Democratic Governments to Dictatorships in Europe

Fascism in Italy:
Benito Mussolini 1883-1945

Fascism- Italy was introduced to the new idea of fascism. It was a new, militant, political movement. Fascists showed loyalty to their state and obedience to their leader. They all showed an extreme form of nationalism, or loyalty to one’s country. Fascists were often ruled by a dictator, who would only allow a one party rule. This means that only one party was permitted to be in power. Fascists also believed that if you were a peaceful country you would be conquered, and that nations must struggle. The first Fascist movement was developed in the 1920s through 30s in the Nazi party.

The facstist leader in Italy at the time was Benito Mussolini, also known as Il Duce (the leader). He took over during World War II, in 1922, and his power ended around 1943. Italians wanted a strong powerful leader that would take control and bring back the importance of their country. Mussolini promised to save Italy by reviving its economy and rebuilding the armed forces, and as conditions in Italy worsened he became more popular. He wanted peace in Italy however, he dreamed of a new Roman Empire meaning he wanted as much land and glory as he could get. But first Mussolini had to gain the support of the citizens. He criticized the government so that the people would realize that change was really needed. Fascists marched on Rome demanding King Victor Emmanuel III to give Mussolini power to control Italy. Victor Emmanuel agreed knowing that he needed a way to save his dynasty. Mussolini was now legally in charge. He strongly encouraged fascists to become allies with industrialists, so that industrialists will believe fascist ideas as well. He wanted to create a new Roman Empire by using the economy so he wanted the two groups to become one. He also needed a way to regain the importance of Italy, so as soon as Mussolini was sure that Germany was going to defeat France he joined Hitler hoping that he would gain some land at France’s expense. But Instead Italy ended up taking orders from Germany until the surrender. Benito also dragged Austria into becoming alliances with Germany, creating a German alliance called the Anti Comntern pact.

Civil War Erupts in Spain Spain had been a Monarchy until 1931, but was then declared a republic. The Spanish Civil War took place from 1936-1939. The war started as a military revolt against the government. The nationalists were the rebels and the republicans ere their opponents. The military uprisings took place on July 17, 1936. Both sides started on organizing territories and fighting. Francisco Franco gradually gained control of the Nationalist forces. On October 1, 1936, he was named head of state. Each side saw themselves as too weak to win a quick war, so they sought out help. The Republicans received help and supplies from the Soviet Union, France, and Mexico. The Nationalists were sent troops from Italy lead by their fascist leader Mussolini and Germany lead by Hitler. On March 28th, 1939 the Republican army surrendered with the fascists winning, ending the war. Around 1,000,000 people were killed in battle. Francisco Franco had become Spain's first fascist dictator.

Adolf Hitler 1889-1945

The Rise of a Dictatorship in Germany
Adolf Hitler: Hitler was born on April 20, 1889 in Braunau, Austria, and had dropped out of high school by age 16. He then joined the German Army and fought for them in World War I, and was awarded two Iron Crosses, and the medal for bravery. Hitler settled down in Munich after the war and joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (a.k.a. The Nazis). They wanted to "overturn the treaty of Versailles and combat communism" (Beck 478). The Nazi party had adopted the swastika and had set up their own militia known as the Storm Troopers. They followed Nazism, which was Germany's brand form of fascism. And in July 1921 Hitler had become their leader. He was then sent to prison for 5 years (only stayed 9 months) for plotting and taking over Munich. While in prison Hitler wrote Mein Kampf which means "my struggle." This book shows his thoughts on Aryan and non-Aryan races. It also criticized the Treaty of Versailles, in that Hitler wanted land back and that Germany needs more lebensraum, or living space. He said they can get it through taking land from Russia and Eastern Europe. Hitler used various tactics to eliminate his opponents. Some of them include using his protection squad, gaining strong allies, and by creating fear.

The Depression: When the German depression began, Germany turned to the Nazis and Hitler for security and firm leadership. Hitler was then named Chancellor in 1933 legally. He blamed communists for burning down the Reichstag building, which resulted in people fearing the communists and clinging to the Nazis. The SS was then set up as his protection squad, and the Gestapo, the secret police. These forced Germany into total obedience.

Totalitarianism: Hitler started to move Germany more and more towards a totalitarian state. He took over business dissolved labor unions, and banned strikes. Unemployment shifted from 6 million to 1.5 million people. He took control over German lives through various propaganda methods. These included press, radio, literature, painting, and film. Also Churches could not say anything against the Nazi party.

The Persecution of the Jews: Hitler began to blame Jews for most problems and anti-semitism rose in Germany. Kristallnacht started the process of trying to get rid of Jews from the German life. In 1935, Hitler defies the Versailles Treaty by getting an army bigger than allowed and by moving troops into the Rhineland. Germany, Italy and Japan form the Axis Powers.

Hitler's speech on Intolerance

Other Countries In Europe Other countries around the world also started to shift toward dictatorships. While fascists in Italy and Germany were seizing power, other nations in Eastern Europe were falling to dictatorships too. In 1919, wealthy landowners and military forces joined to make Admiral Miklos Horthy leader of Hungary, making it the first dictatorship after World War I. Poland was taken over by Marshal Jozef Pilsudski in 1926. “In Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria, and Romania, the kings turned to a strong-man rule which suspended constitutions and silenced foes” (Beck 480). By 1935, Czechoslovakia was the only democracy left in Eastern Europe. In the other parts of Europe, Britain, France, and the Scandinavian countries, democracy survived as well (480). With the many problems that were in the world at the time, people saw dictatorships as the only option. The strongest countries began to split into two major groups; democracies and totalitarianism. The fascist dictators showed willingness to fight.

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