Study the picture given below and answer the questions that follow:
1) Identify the leader in the picture.
2) State any four factors that led to the rise of dictatorships in Germany and Italy.
3) Why did he invade Poland? State two similarities between Fascism and Nazism.
1) The leader in the picture is Adolf Hitler.
2) The four factors that led to the rise of dictatorships in Germany and Italy are as follows:
- The Treaty of Versailles – The terms of the Treaty of Versailles were humiliating, to say the least. The treaty was especially harsh on the German nation. The Germans were forced to cede large chunks of their territory in Europe to France, Poland, Belgium and Denmark. The overseas possessions were also taken from Germany and divided among the Allies. The total strength of the once powerful German army was significantly reduced by the treaty. This caused bitter resentment among the Germans.
- Dissatisfaction of Italy with the Peace Treaties – Italy had joined the war on the side of the Allies and contributed a great deal to the Allied triumph. However, when it came to sharing the spoils of the war, the other powers of the alliance had side-tracked Italy. It was felt by the Italians that despite investing a great deal in the War, both in terms of men and money, they had not gained much due to the self-centred approach of their Allies. Hence, there was great dissatisfaction among the Italians.
- Economic Conditions – The repercussions of the First World War were especially severe in Italy and Germany. In Italy, war debts and budget deficits were putting a great strain on State finances. Urban professionals, peasants, industrial labourers were feeling the pinch of the post War inflation. While there were agrarian riots in the countryside, strikes in the urban centres were increasing. In Germany also, people were suffering from many economic hardships. The condition was even worse in Germany in terms of inflation and unemployment. In addition to its economic woes, the Allied countries had imposed huge reparations on Germany as war indemnity.
- Political Instability – The post War governments in Germany and Italy were politically weak as well as corrupt and inefficient. The political leadership in both Germany and Italy had failed to respond to the needs of their people. Italy had failed to control the industrial and agrarian riots whereas the government in Germany was despised as a symbol of the Versailles Treaty humiliation.
3) Hitler had been demanding the possession of the Polish Corridor and the port of Danzig for a long time. His contention was that these parts were mainly occupied by the German-speaking people and hence had to be assimilated with Germany. By occupying these territories, he could connect East Prussia with Germany. To this end, Poland was accused of committing atrocities on its German-speaking subjects. Using this and other excuses, Hitler attacked Poland.
Fascism and Nazism as ideologies are similar in many respects. To begin with, both believe in the concept of autocratic rule, the phenomenon of one ‘Leader’. They have an inherent distaste for democratic governance and provide elaborate arguments to demonstrate the inefficiency of the democratic system. Although having an explicit preference for totalitarian power structure (Nazis even called themselves ‘National Socialists’) both ideologies are staunchly anti-Communist. Both are jingoistic in orientation, glorify war and violence and are professedly anti-intellectual.