While many democracies survived the economic crisis, others lost faith and turned to fascism. Fascists said they could revive the economy, punish those responsible, and restore order and pride. This message gained many people’s support.

  • Fascism’s Rise in Italy

    Fascism was a new militant-political movement emphasizing loyalty to state. Fascists believed in extreme nationalism and war. If your country did not make war, you were bound to be conquered. They believed in an authoritarian leader. Fascists wore a certain color uniform, using special salutes and holding rallies.

    Fascism was somewhat like communism as they had one-party (dictator + his party) rule. Both systems took away rights. However, Fascists believed in social classes and their individual functions. Fascists = nationalists, Communists – internationalists.

    • Mussolini Takes Control
      • Fascism’s rise was led by their failure to win land at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The inflation and unemployment also caused unrest. The people believed democracy was helpless- they wanted a leader.
      • Benito Mussolini was a newspaper editor and politician who promised to revived the economy and rebuild the armed forces. He founded the Fascist Party in 1919, and criticized Italy’s government. The Italian Fascists wore black shirts, attacking Communists, Socialists on the streets. He had the workers, middle class, aristocracy, and industrial leader’s support.
      • On October 1922, around 30000 Fascists marched on Rome and King Victor Emmanuel III handed power over the Mussolini. Despite the widespread violence and threats, Mussolini took power “legally”.
    • Il Duce’s Leadership
      • Mussolini became Il Duce, the leader. He abolished democracy and other political parties. He used secret police and censorship to control the people. He manipulated the economy with industrialists and land owners. Despite this, he did not gain full control like Stalin or Hitler.
  • Hitler Rises to Power in Germany

    While Mussolini was rising to power, Hitler was still a low level political leader. During World War I, he began a new life. He joined the German army and was awarded 2 Iron Cross medals for bravery.

    • The Rise of the Nazis
      • Hitler lived in Munich, before joining a right-wing political group in 1919. There, he tried to overturn the Treaty of Versailles and combat communism. This group was the National Socialist German Workers’ Party – Nazi. Their beliefs was the German fascism, known as Nazism. Their symbol was the swastika, hooked cross. They also created a militia, the storm troopers (Brown Shirts).
      • Soon, Hitler became the leader of the Nazi party. Inspired by Mussolini, Hitler tried to seize power in 1923. They failed and were arrested. He was tried for treason but was only sentenced to 5 yeas in prison. He actually served less than 9 months.
      • In jail, Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, “My Struggle”. This book said that Germans, who he believed to be “Aryans”, were a superior race. He called the Treaty of Versailles an outrage. He promised to conquer eastern Europe and Russia.
      • Once Hitler got out of jail, he restarted the Nazi Party. Once the American loans stopped, civil unrest broke out and people turned to Hitler for leadership.
  • Hitler Becomes Chancellor

    The Nazis were the largest political party in 1932, and Conservative leaders supported Hitler as they believed they could control him. Hitler came to power legally.

    One Hitler reached office, he called for a new election to win parliamentary majority. Before the election, a fire destroyed the Reichstag (parliamentary) building. The Nazis blamed the Communists, and the fear of the Communists allowed the Nazis to win by a slim majority.

    Hitler turned Germany into a totalitarian state, using elite, black-uniformed soldiers called the SS (Schutzstaffel) to enforce Hitler’s orders. In 1934, they murdered Hitler’s enemies and used the Gestapo (secret police) to force Germans into total obedience.

    The Nazis controlled the economy, banning strikes, labor unions, and giving government complete authority. Millions of Germans worked at factories, on highways, weapons, and in the military. Unemployment dropped from 6 to 1.5 million in 1936.

    • The Fuhrer Is Supreme
      • Hitler wanted control over all aspects of life. He used propaganda, book burning, and the “Hitler Youth”/”League if German Girls” to persuade people to praise his leadership. He believed in continuous struggle and that it would bring victory to the strong.
    • Hitler Makes War on the Jews
      • Anti-Semitism was part of Nazi ideals. They were blamed for all of Germany’s trouble. Starting in 1933, Jews were deprived of many rights, and violence against Jew mounted. Nazi mobs attacked Jews, destroying homes and Jewish buildings. This rampage was the first step in eliminating German Jews.
  • Other Countries Fall to Dictators
    • While Fascists ruled Italy and Germany, other nations also went to dictators. Hungary in 1919 became a Communist regime – Admiral Miklos Horthy of Hungary was the first postwar dictator. In Poland, Marshal Pilsudski took power in Poland in 1926. In Yugoslavia, Albania, and Bulgaria and Romania, they all became ruled by one man. In 1935, eastern Europe only had Czechoslovakia as a democracy.
    • Only nations with strong democratic traditions such as Britain, France and Scandinavian countries preserved the democracy. Other inexperienced countries turned to dictators.
    • The Fascists dictatorships showed a willingness to use militaries to gain control. The Russian Communists and German Nazis were the most brutal.