Rise of Totalitarianism 1919-1939

Rise of Totalitarianism
World History Chapter 13
Postwar Social Changes
– WWI shattered the idealism of the turn of the century, that industry and science and
democracy would create a world without war.
Changes in Society After WWI
Mass Culture
Improved Telephones
Affordable Automobiles
Motion Pictures
– The Roaring Twenties
After WWI, as Europe recovered, the US experienced a boom time, fueled by jazz and a rejection of
Victorian values, and young women experienced freedom not seen before.
– Women’s Lives
Women, now armed with voting power, were more emancipated than ever. Labor saving devices like
washing machines, vacuum cleaners, and canned foods lightened the burdens of housework, and
allowed women more time to do what they wanted.
– Reactions to the Jazz Age
Not everyone was enamored of the new age, and conservatives banned alcohol in the Eighteenth
Amendment to the Constitution. This did little to stop people from drinking, and soon an explosion of
organized crime was delivering alcohol to drinkers in speakeasies.
Evangelicals on the radio
Evolution vs Creationism (Scopes Trial)
The New Literature
• A Loss of Faith
– The modern world as spiritually barren
– Lack of convictions
– A lost generation
• Literature of the Inner Mind
– Streams of consciousness
• The Harlem Renaissance
– New York city neighborhood where AfricanAmerican artists, writers, musicians, explored
new styles, mixing traditional arts with
African and African American themes
New Scientific Theories
• Marie Curie and Radioactivity
– Atoms can change and are divisible
– X-Ray machine
• Einstein's Theory of Relativity
– Space and Time relative – not fixed. Questioned Newtonian physics
– Enrico Fermi – Splitting the atom (fission)
• With Oppenheimer and Teller, made the bomb
• Fleming Discovers Penicillin
– Non-toxic mold that kills bacteria
– Used to developed antibiotics
• Freud Probes the Mind
Austrian psychologist
Repression and social pressure
Developed Psychoanalysis
Worked with Carl Jung
Modern Art and Architecture
• New Directions in Painting
• New Styles of Architecture
– Frank Lloyd Wright
• Buildings where form follows function
• Buildings that fit environment
– Bauhaus
• Modern utilitarian design – inspired by
The Western Democracies Stumble
– Western democracies struggled with liberalism and
conservatism. Rebuilding Europe after the war was expensive
and the deaths of so many young men left a generational gap.
Politics in the Postwar World
– Party Struggles in Britain
The Labour party in Britain surpassed the Liberal party, ex
liberals joined the Conservative party. Essentially class conflict.
– Irish Independence at Last
The “Irish Question” was still to be decided, and thoughts of
giving Ireland independence was delayed by WWI. In 1919, the
IRA (Irish Republican Army) started it’s attacks on British citizens
and their supporters. By 1922, moderates on both sides finally
agreed on Irish independence, but split Ireland into North and
– France’s Troubled Peace
Though France was one of the “winners” of WWI, much of the
devastation occurred in France, returning veterans found little
work, and scandals continued to rock the government.
– “The Red Scare” and Isolationism in the United States
Though the U.S. was relatively unscathed by WWI, unrest and
strikes swept the country, and the communist revolution in
Russia spurred renters strikes, union registration, and anticapitalist rhetoric. This, along with increased immigration from
Eastern Europe brought about a “Red Scare” against
communism. Immigration laws were tightened, and some
people were deported.
Postwar Foreign Policy
• Arguing Allies
– France was concerned about a resurgent
Germany, while Britain was concerned about
France and Russia becoming too powerful on
the continent, and wanted to relax some of
the harsh provisions of the Versailles Treaty.
• The Search for Peace
– Through the League of Nations, the great
powers agreed to limit their armies and navies.
• The League’s Weakness
– Though the goals of the League were laudable,
the League had no way to enforce it’s actions.
Postwar Economics
• Britain and France Recover
– Huge war debts, unemployment,
strikes, out of date factories, and
damage from WWI contributed to
large economic problems for
Britain and France. Reparations
from Germany did help however,
though this did not entirely help
with unstable political situations.
• The United States Booms
– The U.S. came out of WWI as the
worlds leading economic power
The Great Depression
Falling Demand and Overproduction
– High demand for goods during the war fell afterwards,
hurting farmers and miners as prices for basic products fell.
This brought about reduced consumption at the same time as
new production techniques allowed for record production of
consumer goods.
– As demand for factory goods dwindled, factories laid off
thousands, further hurting the economy.
Crash and Collapse
– Wall Street was booming, stock prices were going up, people
were borrowing at record rates. Then the fundamental
problems with the economy caught up with Wall Street, and
the house of cards came tumbling down. In order to control
inflation, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates, which
exacerbated the problem.
The Depression Spreads
– 1000’s of banks collapsed
– Farms were foreclosed
– Depression spreads to world as trade slowed
The Democracies React to the
Britain and France Search for Solutions
– Countries looked for solutions to rising unemployment and financial
instability. Confronted with these problems, middle of the road
democracies seemed incapable of the direct action needed, lending
extremists from both the left and the right validity in arguments for
dealing with the crisis.
Roosevelt Offers the United States a New Deal
– Hoover initially decided to let private interests deal with charity for
the unemployed, and businesses to deal with the economy. These
measures failed completely, leading to the election of FDR.
– FDR came into office with ideas to help with unemployment,
banking, and the economy. FDR believed that the government
needed to take an active role in the economy, in opposition to more
conservative thinkers. FDR managed to turn the economy around,
and more importantly, gave people hope.
Loss of Faith in Democracy
– As the misery of the depression deepened, increasingly people
questioned the ability of democratic governments to deal with the
problems, and started looking to other solutions, including socialism
and fascism.
Fascism in Italy
• Mussolini’s Rise to Power
• Broken promises from WWI (Austrian territory) enraged
Italian nationalists. Russian revolution inspired peasants
to seize land, and workers to strike. Returning veterans
faced unemployment. Government split, and unable to
– A Leader Emerges
• Son of a socialist blacksmith and a teacher, Benito
Mussolini rejected socialism in favor of nationalism, and
organized veterans into a Fascist Party, vowing to end
corruption, and reviving Roman greatness.
– Mussolini Gains Control
• Mussolini organized the Fascist combat squads in black
shirts, and used violence to break up leftists and socialist
meetings, rallies, presses, and farmers cooperatives. He
then marched on Rome, calling for a new government.
• Fearing civil war, King Victor Emmanuel III invited
Mussolini to become Prime Minister, October 30, 1929.
Mussolini's Rule
State Control of the Economy
The Fascist rise to power began earlier, as Fascists suppressed rival parties,
rigged elections, muzzled the press, and replaced officials with Fascist
Critics were thrown into prison, forced into exile, or murdered, and the
regime was upheld with terror, propaganda, and secret police.
The Pope gave support in exchange for the recognition of the sovereignty of
Vatican City.
Mussolini takes the title, Il Duce (the Leader).
Mussolini brought the economy under state control, but continued
capitalism. This meant that the government favored businesses over labor,
increasing production at the expense of low wage labor that was tightly
The Individual and the State
To Fascists, the glory of the state was all, the individual was important only to
bring glory to the state. Everyone was bombarded with propaganda about
the glory of the state “Believe! Obey! Fight!”.
Men were to be ruthless, women to have children (have 14 and get a medal
from Il Duce), and children were taught to be tough and obey. Young Fascists
paraded in torchlight ceremonies, learned about the glories of ancient Rome,
sang patriotic songs.
The Nature of Fascism
– Mussolini created the first totalitarian state (one party dictatorship
with complete control of the state and it’s people), and others
followed his lead, notably Hitler and Stalin.
What is Fascism?
– Mussolini created the term, and it has been debated the actual
ideology, though there is no real unifying ideology other than the
glory of the state (14 defining characteristics)
The Appeal of Fascism
– Strong, stable government
– National pride
– Good for business
Fascism Compared to Communism
Fascists supported societies with defined social status
Fascist support private business and wealth
Communists reject social status
Both appeal to urban and agricultural workers
Fourteen Defining
Characteristics Of Fascism
By Dr. Lawrence Britt
Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt
found 14 defining characteristics common to each:
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and
other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are
persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of
torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to
eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of
government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional
gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate
guardian of the family institution.
6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly
controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very
7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool
to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the
religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.
9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government
leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are
either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia.
It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people
are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force
with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each
other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon
in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear
campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district
boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.
The Soviet Union Under Stalin
A Totalitarian State
Stalin’s Five Year Plans
Russia had always suffered from economic backwardness, and though various leaders
had tried to remedy this (Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, The Romanovs, Lenin),
Stalin took direct control of the economy, and set 5 year plans to catch up with the
west. This form of economy is called a command economy, where the state makes all
the decisions about production and distribution.
Mixed Results in Industry
Karl Marx had predicted that under communism, the state would eventually fade away
as the people made all decisions locally, but under Stalin, the opposite occurred, and
the state grew into a fearsome entity.
Under the 5 year plans, bonuses were given for meeting goals, and punishment for
failing to meet them. Because of the inefficiency of the system, surpluses occurred in
some areas, and shortages in others.
On the whole, industry expanded greatly during this time, but the average living
conditions of the people did not. Workers were given low wages, and were forbidden
to strike. Consumer goods were scarce.
Forced Collectivization in Agriculture
Under Lenin, Stalin was one of the officers in charge of making sure agricultural goods
made it to the cities after the revolution, which was made more difficult because of
the redistribution of land after the revolution.
Stalin wanted all the farms to be large collectives, with no private plots of land, and
quotas would be established to bring food to the centers of industry. To this end,
Stalin started a program of de-kulakization (a kulak is a wealthy farmer), which led to
terrible famine as all the food was taken by the Red Army from the farmers in
retaliation to the farmers trying to resist the order. Between 5 to 8 million peasants
died in the forced collectivization, known as the “terror famine.” Agricultural output
remained low however.
Stalin’s Terror Tactics
Terror as a Weapon
Stalin used terror as a weapon to bring the population under control. Secret
police, torture, disappearances, violent purges stamped out dissent.
Crimes against humanity
Violated individual rights
Opened letters
Listening devices
Controlled press
No protests
Critics sent to gulags or executed
Some individuals were completely erased
The Great Purge
Under the guise of preventing counter-revolution
Old Bolsheviks
War heroes
Industrial mangers
Show trials
Results of the Purge
Many experts were purged, leading to cronyism, corruption, inefficiencies
Many general officers were purged, with large gaps in the chain of command,
which seriously hampered the Soviet Union during the first years of WWII.
Communists Attempt to Control
Censorship and the Arts
The Revolution was supposed to be about freedom, but artists and
writers soon came under intense scrutiny by the party and the secret
police to make sure everything agreed with Stalin’s messages.
Socialist Realism
All media was supposed to glorify and support the state, and vilify
capitalism and enemies of the state.
Control of hearts and minds, boost morale
Cult of personality
The main newspaper was called Pravda (Truth), and was the main
source of propaganda
Making the population more Russian.
11 different republics
Dozens of languages and cultures
Used troops from different republics to control each other
War on Religion
Religion was seen as a source of power outside the control of the
state, so religion was banned, and preaching a counter-revolutionary
Churches and shrines were taken and used for offices, or destroyed.
Soviet Society Under Stalin
The New Elite Takes Control
The Communist Revolution was gone, and in it’s place was something called
Communism, that took some of the ideas and forms, but was under a totalitarian
government, controlled by an elite comprised of Communist Party members,
industrial leaders, high ranking military officers, scientists, favored artists and writers.
The elite enjoyed better housing, special shops and clubs, privileges, and travel. On
the other hand, the elite were often the target of purges.
Benefits and Drawbacks
While only a few were members of the party, all Soviets enjoyed some benefits:
Free education
Free medical
Free clothing
Free day care
Low cost housing
Low cost food
Disadvantages included shortages of fruits and meats, shortage of housing, very few
specialty items.
Women in the Soviet Union
Women perhaps gained the most, becoming equal partners in society, engaged in all
spheres of activity including the military.
Later on however, because women were putting off having children in order to pursue
careers, population growth was stalling, and propaganda was changed to encourage
women to become wives and have children.
Soviet Foreign Policy
• Soviet foreign policy up to 1939 was a
mixture of paranoia in defense of the
revolution, and attempts to spread the
revolution around the world.
• In 1919, Lenin formed the Comintern, or
Communist International, to foment and
spread Communist Revolution around the
world. These actions created a great deal
of suspicion among the western powers
about Soviet intentions, and fueled the
Red Scare in the U.S. and anti-communist
activities in many western nations.
Hitler and the Rise of Nazi Germany
In 1923, an army veteran and leader of an extremist party tried to emulate Mussolini’s
example, and staged a coup in Munich that failed. He ended up behind bars, where he
wrote a book proclaiming his views that would become a bestseller, Mein Kampf (My
The Weimar Republic’s Rise and Fall
Political Struggles
When payments to France on reparations fell behind, France occupied the Rhur Valley
(coal and iron). Germans protested by striking, and the government continued to pay
them. The Weimar Republic ended up printing more and more money to make
payments, causing massive inflation. In one year an item that cost 100 marks in 1922,
would cost 944,000 marks in 1923. Savings were wiped out, and it could take a
wheelbarrow full of money just to buy a loaf of bread.
Recovery and Collapse
The moderate government was immediately attacked from all sides, for the Treaty of
Versailles, for being too liberal, too conservative, too weak, and for all of the problems
Germany experienced as a result of the war.
Runaway Inflation
With the close of WWI, the country was close to chaos, a socialist revolution was
brewing, and the Kaiser abdicated. In Weimar, German leaders created a new
constitution for the Weimar Republic, a democratic government with a parliament, and
gave women the right to vote.
In response, the Western powers agreed to reduce the reparations, France withdrew
from the Rhur, and the U.S. made loans available to the German government. These
actions stabilized the Republic until the depression hit, and the people turned to Hitler
to solve these problems.
Weimar Culture
Much like Harlem, Berlin became a center of art, music, literature, plays, much of it
critical of the government, and western culture in general. Later, these times would be
viewed as vulgar and permissive.
The Nazi Party’s Rise to Power
Hitler’s Manifesto
Born in Austria in 1889, Hitler was a part of the culture that looked down
on the minorities of the Hapsburg Empire (Jews, Serbs, Poles). He moved
to Germany after he was rejected from Art School, and joined the German
Army in WWI.
After the war, he joined a right-wing extremist political group, the National
Workers Socialist Group, or Nazi. He gained leadership of the group,
organized the followers into fighting squads known as storm troopers
(brown-shirts) to fight in the streets.
After his failed coup, Hitler wrote Mein Kampf in prison, which would
become the bible of Nazi goals and ideology.
Hitler’s writings emphasized nationalism, racism, anti-semitism, the
superiority of the Aryan Race, and expansion of Germany to the East, to
find Lebensraum (living space).
Hitler Comes to Power
Hitler spent only a year in prison, and returned to his leadership of the Nazi
Party. The Great Depression created the conditions that Hitler needed, and
fearing the Communists more, Hitler was invited to become Chancellor.
Within a year, the Reichstag (German Parliament building) was burned
down and communists were blamed. Hitler became dictator, taking control
of all government functions.
Non-Nazis were purged from government, civil rights were suspended,
other political parties were suspended, and even purged his own party of
“disloyal” elements.
The Third Reich Controls Germany
Germany Becomes a Totalitarian State
November 7, 1938, a young Jew whose parents had been mistreated in
Germany, shot and wounded a German diplomat in Paris. Hitler used this as an
excuse to attack Jews openly. November 9th , 10th, Nazi mobs attacked Jewish
communities all over Germany.
Nazi Youth
In 1935, The Nuremburg Laws stripped Jews of German citizenship. Jews were
prohibited from marrying non-Jews, attending or teaching at schools or
universities, holding government jobs, practicing law or medicine, publishing
books. Many Jews fled Germany.
The Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht)
The German state was reorganized into a brutal system of repression, terror,
and racism. The Gestapo (secret police) enforced Hitler’s new laws.
The Campaign Against the Jews Begins
Holy Roman Empire
Bismarck's Empire
Hitler’s Germany, a thousand year Empire
Children in Nazi Germany were taught racism, and indoctrinated in the Nazi
culture. Schoolbooks and courses were changed to reflect the new ideologies.
Hitler Youth were created to exemplify the Aryan ideal. Women of the correct
heritage were rewarded for having purebred children.
Purging German Culture
Hitler also sought to cleanse German culture by removing all of the foreign and
Jewish influences.
Authoritarian Rule in Eastern Europe
• Ethnic Conflict
– Many of the new countries created at the end of
WWI did not have experience with democracy,
and because of the problems with the great
depression and ethnic differences caused
• Democracy Retreats
– These problems challenged governments, and
many turned to fascism.
– In Hungary, military strongman Nicholas Horthy
overthrew the communist government in 1919.
– In 1926, right-wing military hero Joseph
Pilsudski took over Poland.
– Right-wing dictators emerged in every European
country except Czechoslovakia and Finland.

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