After World War I, economies of countries all over the world collapsed causing the Great Depression. Italy adapted a fascism government under Benito Mussolini. During the Russian revolution, Russia turned to communism under Vladimir Lenin. After Lenin passed away Joseph Stalling took his place. To them, Democracy led to corruption and weakness and put individual or class interests above national goals because all democratic countries at that time were experiencing difficulties. When Adolf Hitler came into power he followed Mussolini rule by establishing a totalitarian government.
Benito Mussolini was the son of a socialist blacksmith and a teacher. He promised to end corruption and replace turmoil with order. he rejected socialism for intense nationalism. He organized the Fascist party which consisted of veterans and discontented Italians. Fascist gangs used intimidation and terror to enforce order because they had lost faith in a constitutional government. He favored business leaders, wealthy landowners and the lower middle class. He brought the economy under state control to encourage economic growth.
Under Mussolini loyalty to the state was significant and as for individual, they were considered less important. They were bombarded with propaganda glorifying the state. Joseph Stalin brought all economic activity under government control. The government owned all businesses and distributed all resources. Wages were low and workers were forbidden to strike. He also brought agriculture under government control where the state set all prices and controlled access to farm supplies. Stalin’s Communist party used the secret police torture, and violent purges to ensure obedience.
Citizens knew what would happen if they were disloyal. He used propaganda to elevate the communist system by making him a godlike figure. The government censored the press and decided which books where published. If the book violated government expectations the writer was put to trial. Stalin tried to strengthen its hold on the minds of the people by destroying their religious faith. Women gain access to a variety of jobs and allowed to attend schools. He destroyed the old social order and created one with the communist party members at the top.
Germany drafted a Democratic government after World War I. It soon proved to be weak because of many small parties. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party brought hope to Germans suffering from the Great Depression during the 1930s. He promised to solve the economic crisis and restore Germany’s former greatness. Like Mussolini, Hitler organized his supporters into fighting squads where they fought their political enemies in the streets. When he was elected he and his supported made Germany a one-party state. They suspended civil rights, destroyed the socialists and Communists.
Hitler executed anyone that he felt was disloyal. People soon learned that Hitler demanded absolute obedience. To achieve his goals, Hitler organized totalitarian rule. Nazis controlled all areas of German life which included government, religion and education. Elite, black-uniformed system of troops enforced the Hitler’s will. His secret police took care of all opposition. Like Fascists in Italy, Nazis sought to limit women’s roles. Women were not allowed to attend universities because they were meant to increase the birthrate.
Economic problems and ethnic tensions contributed to instability, which in turn helped fascist and communist rulers gain power. These dictators promised order and won the backing of the military and wealthy. They used terror to enforce rules and flourished during economic hard times. In addition, they drew power from blind devotion of the state and needed a charismatic leader as a role model. While a fascist government worked for national goals, communist government worked for international changes.