The RISE of FASCISM
1)a single party “dictatorship” guiding a “totalitarian” state- (all political, economic,
religious, and social aspects controlled by one centralized government)
2)strong leadership – a “great” leader with the “cult of personality”
3)Strong nationalism – (group-centered; glorification of “state” over the individual) National “renewal”, often towards re-established past, mythic greatness; Favored war (militaristic expansion) Anti-communist (too “international”), anti-liberal (too “chaotic”), xenophobic (against “outsiders”)
4)cult of “action” – a “romantic” rebellion against “reason”; glorification of action, violence, a “will to power”; unquestioned loyalty to the state
5)state (secret) police – “terror” enforcing the will of the state; a “police state”
6)state control/regulation of the economy – “private” enterprise “guided” towards state government approved goals; a “mixed” public-private “socialist” economy
7)control/censorship of information; state disseminated propaganda
8)Youth – control and “indoctrination” of youth towards revolutionary change
In 1918, Italian Benito Mussolini called for the emergence of a man “ruthless and energetic enough to make a clean sweep” to revive the Italian nation. Italy was tired of peace treaties and “ANARCHY”. Fascism promised a strong and stable government and end to political “feuding” that paralyzed democracy in Italy.
Mussolini was backed by many wealthy industrialists/landowners (ECONOMIC ELITE) “seeking order”. Fascism supported nationalist sentiments such as a strong unity, regardless of class, in the hopes of raising Italy up to the levels of its great Roman past. Mussolini and the fascists managed to be simultaneously revolutionary and traditionalist. It is sometimes described as an alternative “Third Way”. The Fascisti, violent “Blackshirts”, sought to restore “order” with a strong hand. The blackshirts clashed with communists, socialists and anarchists. All of these factions were also involved in clashes against each other. The government rarely interfered with the black shirts’ actions, owing in part to the threat and widespread fear of a communist revolution.
Mussolini made an agreement with the Catholic Church, headquartered at the Vatican in Rome. Pope Pius XI supported Mussolini, thinking that it would “normalize” church-state affairs. (re-establishing Church pre-eminence and “monopoly” in the predominantly Catholic nation) Personally, Mussolini hated the Church, viewing it as “effeminate” and “backwards”.
After 1922, Mussolini personally took control over the ministries of the interior, foreign affairs, colonies, corporations, defense, and public works. He was also head of the all-powerful Fascist Party and the armed “Blackshirts,” who terrorized any resistance. He would later form the OVRA, a secret police that carried official state support. He succeeded in keeping power in his own hands and preventing the emergence of any rival.
In April, 1924, Fascists won elections (electoral fraud in South Italy ensured victory) Between 1925 and 1927, Mussolini progressively removed virtually all lwgal and political restraints on his power, thereby building a police state. As dictator of Italy, Mussolini’s foremost priority was the subjugation of the minds of the Italian people and the use of propaganda to do so.
Mussolini had created a “TOTALITARIAN” political state under his control. All teachers in schools and universities had to swear an oath to defend the fascist regime. No one who did not possess a certificate of approval from the fascist party could practice journalism. The state “censored” information.
Among the domestic achievements of Mussolini were his public works programs such as the taming of the Pontine Marshes, the improvement of job opportunities, and public transportion.
In foreign policy, Mussolini was an aggressive nationalism. He dreamt of making Italy a nation that was “great, respected and“feared”throughout Europe and the world. He succeeded in setting up a puppet regime in Albania and ruthlessly consolidated Italian power in Libya, northern Africa In an effort to realize an Italian Empire, Italy set its sights on Ethiopia with an invasion in 1935. By May, 1936, Ethiopia was part of Italian Africa.
In November 1936, a Rome-Berlin “axis” emerged – a treaty of friendship signed between Italy and Nazi Germany. In 1943, after invasion by the U.S. and British, Italy surrendered. Mussolini was rescued by Germany, but was later executed by pro-Allied Italians
After the Great War (1914-1918), the Weimar Republic was established in 1919.. It was an ultimately failed attempt at “democracy”. Political “gridlock” resulted in the inability to create “consensus”. Many Germans saw democracy as a weak form of government (“anarchy”). Political coalitions of small, but numerous political parties often fell apart.
Economic “inflation” during the 1920s and eventual “depression” in 1929 fed unrest and helped lead to the popularity of fascist government. German money became almost worthless because of hyper-inflation. Middle class “savings” were wiped out. “Liberal” capitalism had led to economic “chaos” and suffering.
In 1923, Hitler and the Nazi Party made a failed attempt to seize power in Munich, southern Germany. (the “Beer Hall Putsch) In prison, Hitler wrote the book
“Mein Kampf” (“my struggle”). It reflected Hitler’s obsessions – extreme “German” nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism.
The Nazis appealed to all “nationalism” groups, restoring previous German “greatness” after humiliation of WW I. Germany’s defeat was a conspiracy of Marxists, Jews and corrupt German “traitors”. The Nazis sought to rebuild a thousand year “Third Reich”, Europe ruled by an Aryan “master race”. Aryan Germans everywhere were to unite into one great nation and expand to gain “lebensraum” (“living space”) for its people. Slavs and other inferior races must bow to Aryan needs.
Xenophobia – fear of “outsiders” were used. The Jews were as “scapegoats” – one person or group blamed for the “sins” or problems of all society. Communism was also hated by Hitler. Karl Marx was raised a Jew. (though the “official” religion of Marxism is “atheism”) Communist “international” revolution that would create a single “class-less” society (no rich or poor) countered the idea of German/Aryan nationalism and “superiority”.
The “Great” worldwide economic Depression of 1929 brought mass unemployment. As unemployment rose, Nazi Party membership grew to almost one million. Hitler’s program appealed to war veterans, lower middle classes, small-town Germans and business people alike. He promised to end war reparations, create jobs and defy the Versailles Treaty by rearming Germany.
In the 1930s, German democratic government was “paralyzed” by divisions. Fearing the growth of communist power, conservatives turned to Hitler’s Nazi party for support. Although they despised him, they believed they could control him. Hitler was elected chancellor (parliamentary leader) in 1933 through legal means under the Weimar constitution.
Within a year, Hitler was dictator of Germany. A fire at the Reichstag parliament building was used as an excuse to suspend civil rights. The Reichstag Fire was likely started by the Nazis themselves, but Communists were blamed. The Enabling Act gave Hitler extraordinary powers in time of “emergency”. He disbanded rival political parties and brutally “purged” his own Nazi party of suspected “traitors”. (the “Night of Long Knives”) Hitler demanded unquestioned obedience. Nazis controlled all areas of German life – from government to religion to education and the economy. Elite, black-uniformed troops called the S.S. enforced Hitler’s rule. The separate Gestapo secret police rooted out opposition through brutal repression of individuals.
Large public works programs (building highways, housing, replanting forests) relieved unemployment. Military rearmament, in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles that ended the previous war, provided jobs and revived German military power. To build for the future, the Hitler Youth indoctrinated young people through propaganda. The revival of the great German nation and its “great leader” (the “Cult of Personality”) were continuously advertised. “Obedient” Youth were used to help ensure the loyalty of their parents towards this “great” undertaking. Hitler Youth pledged absolute loyalty to Hitler (“der Fuerher”, meaning “father/leader). They undertook physical fitness programs that “empowered” them towards “greatness”, and prepared them for war.
The Nazis used terror and intimidation to ensure loyalty. Universities were “purged” of professors who raised questions and displayed dissent. “Un-German” books were banned and publicly burned. All media (newspaper, radio) was censored. Hitler urged most religious leaders to join a Nazi-dominated German “national church” coalition.
In 1935, the Nuremburg Laws deprived Jews of German citizenship and placed severe restrictions on them. They were prohibited from marrying non-Jews, attending or teaching in German schools, holding government jobs, practicing law or medicine, or publishing books. On November 9, 1938, Kristallnacht (“Night of Broken Glass”), Nazi-led mobs attacked Jewish communities all over Germany and Austria. This is considered the beginning of the Holocaust – the Nazi “Final Solution” to the “Jewish Problem.”
The Nazis promised German/Aryan “greatness”. (progress?) Would Hitler deliver on those promises? What was the “price”? What “problems” would result?
SPANISH CIVIL WAR (1936-39)
The Spanish Civil War devastated Spain from1936 to 1939. It began after an attempted coup d’état by a group of Spanish Army generals against the government of the Second Spanish Republic. Following the military coup, working-class revolutions spread across the country in support of the Republican government, but were all brutally put down by the army. The war ended with the victory of the “conservative” nationalist forces, the overthrow of the “liberal” Republican government, and the founding of a dictatorship led by General Francisco FRANCO.
The Nationalists received the support of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, as well as Portugal. The Soviet Union supported the Republican side. The war increased international tensions in Europe in the lead-up to World War II, and was largely seen as a proxy war between the Communist Soviet Union and Fascist Italy and Germany. In particular, new tank warfare tactics and the aerial terror bombing of cities were a “preview” of the mass destruction and “total warfare” of the next “world”war.(1939-45)
The previous century was turbulent for Spain. The country had undergone several civil wars and revolts between reformist “liberals” and status quo “conservatives”. Liberals sought to abolish feudalism and establish a “modern” state. “Conservatives” sought to maintain traditional “feudal” society, rallying to the cry of “God, Country and King”.
Tensions rose in the 1930s. Radicals became more aggressive, and conservatives turned to paramilitary and vigilante actions. According to official sources, 330 people were assassinated and 1,511 were wounded in political violence; records show 213 failed assassination attempts, 113 general strikes, and the destruction of 160 religious buildings.
The liberal Second Republic enacted a number of controversial reforms such as the Agrarian Law of 1932, distributing land among poor peasants. Millions of Spaniards had been living in more or less absolute poverty under the firm control of the aristocratic landowners in a quasi-feudal system. Spain experienced general strikes and street conflicts, including a miners’ revolt in northern Spain and riots in Madrid. Liberal reforms created strong opposition from the landowners and the aristocrats. Liberal anti-clericalist acts of the government infuriated the Church, while military cutbacks and reforms further alienated the military. Conservatives protested against what they viewed as escalating liberal anti-religious terror, land expropriations, and hasty agricultural reforms, which they considered Bolshevist (radical Marxists) and anarchist.
The war was cast by Republican sympathizers as a struggle between “tyranny and democracy”, and by Nationalist supporters as between Communist and Anarchist “red hordes” and “Christian civilization”. Nationalists also claimed to bring security and direction to an ungoverned and lawless societies. Atrocities were committed on both sides of the conflict. The Spanish Civil War often pitted family members, neighbors, and friends against each other. Many civilians were killed for their political or religious views by both sides. An estimated total of 300,000+ people died as a consequence of the war. Out of them probably 120,000+ were civilians executed by either side.