A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, a dictator. In this government the power rests entirely on one person or group of people. A dictator is not restricted by law, constitution or other social and political factors within the state.
Characteristics of dictatorship
- Total wipe of Democracy. There is no democracy and no right to view or speech.
- Militarism as a means of achieving political goals.
- Excessive use of terror and propaganda in order to enforce will and punish, arrest without trial and threat to bis opponent.
- Anti- semi fire-excessive racial segregation
- Personality cult. Dictatorship is characterized by excessive worshiping of a dictator, obey without a question.
- Mass killings and genocides of the opponents
- Absence of freedom of press. The dictator controls news papers, magazines, books and radios, TV stations.
- Extreme nationalism and super patriotism. The glories of the nation are pictured as right and just.
- Denial of international peace and cooperation to refrain from international peace arrangement.
One of the factors that contributed to the rise of dictatorships was the Great Depression of 1929 –1933.
An economic depression refers to a slump in the economy of the country. In 1929 the economy of the entire world was hit by a period of depression therefore the great depression refers to the world wide business slump of the 1930’s characterized by high unemployment and low business.
FASCISM AND MUSSOLINI IN ITALY
Fascism was a political system that existed in Italy during the interwar period i.e. the First and the Second World War. The Italian version of fascism was “fascio” meaning a group or squad of a few determined superior men. In the period after world war one, the word Fascism was used to denote groups of people organized to fight communism and socialism by force.
Basic principles of Fascism:-
(a) Extreme nationalism
An emphasis was laid on building up the greatness and prestige of the Italian state, with the implication that one’s own nation is superior to others. Thus the fascists wanted Italy to become a power in Europe.
(b) A totalitarian system of government.
The Fascist party removed all free election and banned all trade unions. All communications and the press were restricted by the government. All radio programs and newspapers were closely contoured by the state. This was important to protect the interest of the state which was more important than the interest of the individual.
(c) A one party state.
All political parties except the Fascist party were banned so that Italy became a one party state like the Soviet Union. All political meetings and associations were forbidden. The Fascist party members were mostly the elite of the nation who would win mass support with thrilling speeches and skillful propaganda.
(d) Economic self sufficiency.
This was seen a precondition in the development of the state, the government had to direct the economic life of a country although this was not to be through public ownership of the means of production.
(e) Military strength and violence.
Military strength and violence were an integral part of life.Mussolini himself once remarked that, “Peace is absurd, fascism does not believe in it”. Hence Mussolini fostered the myth that they had seized power by revolution
(f) Opposed capitalism.
Fascism was strongly against capitalism which was associated with exploitation and oppression.The Fascists hated western capitalist countries such as Britain and France.
RISE OF MUSSOLINI AND FASCISM IN ITALY
Mussolini was born in 1883; he was a violent and headstrong boy. He qualified as a teacher but soon he turned to journalism. Mussolini often remarked that Italy needed a dictator who will be able to make “a clean sweep”.
Several factors can be advanced to explain why Mussolini and his Fascist party gained political in 1922. It should be emphasized that there was an atmosphere of general frustration in Italy.
- The Italians had been disappointed by the outcome of the Paris peace settlement in 1915.
Italy joined the Great War and for the allied powers who had promised her many territories such as Trenton, part of Dalmatian, Trieste etc. Unfortunately Italy was not given all the territories she was promised. The Italians felt cheated in view that the gains from the conference could not match the costsof the war. The leadership was condemned as inefficient because it failed to defend the interest of the Italian.
(b) Spread of communism and socialism.
The growth of communism and socialism in Italy threatened the interests of the rich middle class. The rich middle class was the most powerful group that owned factories and industries in Italy. With the spread of the socialist propaganda to nationalize private enterprise, the economic interests of the middle class were threatened thus they gave their support to Mussolini whom they believed would stop the spread of communist.
(c) Internal insecurity.
Between 1919 and 1920, there was a wave of strikes accompanied by violence, coating of shops and occupation of factories by workers. Because of this it was clear that Italy needed a strong and determined leader which Mussolini seemed to be.
(d) Mussolini’s character and personality.
Mussolini had a strong character and personality and his fascist party was attractive to many sections of the Italian society Mussolini promised to store complete law and order, security and stability at a time when they were badly needed. In addition Mussolini also promised to transform Italy into a great world power.
THE VERSAILLES TREATY OF 1919
The Versailles treaty refers to the particular clauses (conditions or principles) which were given to Germany and which were accepted and signed by Germany at Versailles in 1919.
The Versailles treaty was one of the post war settlements through which the leading powers during the Paris conference hoped to restore peace on the European continent and to avoid another crisis like World War one.
According to the peace markers (Britain, France and Russia) the Versailles treaty seemed to be an idea of peace settlement to the Germans, The treaty had a lot of unrealistic terms.
TERMS OF THE VERSAILLES TREATY
- Germany armaments were strictly limited.
Germany was only allowed a maximum of 100,000 troops just for domestic safety. Germany was not allowed to own military tanks and military air craft’s. The intention was to weaken Germany militarily and prevent her, from revenging; this would maintain peace in continental Europe.
- War guilt clause.
The peace makers blamed Germany for the outbreak of world war one. The war guilty clause fixed the blame of World War one only on Germany and her allies.
- War reparations.
Germany was to pay reparations for the damage done to the allied powers. The actual amount was not decided at Versailles but it was announced later that Germany was to pay 6,600 million USA dollars in 1921. This figure was too high to be effectively paid by a single country especially after the Great War.
- Loss of territories.
Germany had to lose territories in Europe and Africa. In Europe Germany lost Alsace and Lorraine to France. In Africa Germany lost all her colonies such as Tanganyika, Togo, and Cameroon and present day Namibia which were taken and made mandate territories under the supervision of the League of Nations.
- Establishment of the League of Nations.
The allied powers agreed to form an international organ which would maintain lasting peace in Europe. This organ was the League of Nations that was established in 1920.
WAS THE VERSAILLES TREATY REALISTIC OR UNREALISTIC
- Treaty was imposed on Germany.
The treaty was forced upon the Germans at Versailles where they were simply presented with terms and told to sign without opposing. The allied powers especially France were given many chances to criticize Germany but the Germans were not given any chanceto defend themselves.
The disarmament was strongly objected by the Germans claiming that 100,000 troops were to maintain law and order at a time of political uncertainty. The Germans became more aggrieved, later as it became clear that other powers were not disarming.
- War guilty clause
The war guilt clause was also contested by the Germans on the grounds that Germany alone was to blame for the outbreak of world war one. The Germans argued that if other powers had not acted the way they did like forming counter alliances perhaps World War one would have been avoided.
- War reparations
The war reparations were the final humiliation for the Germans.The allied powers forced Germany to pay 6,600 million dollars. The figure was too high to be effectively paid by a single country especially after world war one.
- Repartitioning of Germany.
Another weakness of the Versailles treaty lay in the repartitioning of Germany whereby Germany was forced to lose her territories to other European countries for example the port of Dazing was given to Poland therefore subjecting some Germans to polish control.
- Dominated by the three big powers.
The Versailles treaty was not fair because the revolutions had been dominated by the three big powers i.e. Britain, France and the U.S.A. It’s even clear that the resolutions favored Britain and France at the expense of Germany for example France gained 15 years custody of the Saar valley which was rich in coal while Britain gained some of the mandate territories like Tanganyika.
In spite of the above weakness and unfairness one can strongly argue that the Versailles treaty was fair to some extent.
- It was fair to the French to regain Alsace and Lorraine which Germany had forcefully annexed following their defeat in 1871. This region was so rich in terms of coal and supported the French industrial revolution.
- The treaty gave freedom to small nationalities that had been subjected to foreign domination for so long for example Poland was given her independence.
- The treat forced Germany to disarm because; if it was not disarmed it would have been very difficult to maintain continental peace because Germany was capable of troubling Europe shortly thereafter.
- It was fair for Poland a land locked country to be given access to the sea if it was to gain economic stability.
NB: – Its worth noting that the French representatives had used the treaty not for achieving lasting peace in Europe but to revenge on Germany for defeating France in 1871. It is the unfairness in this treaty that caused future trouble for Europe and the world.
THE ORIGINS OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION OF 1929 – 1933
The crisis of 1929 – 1932 was the most profound crisis of capitalist production. It took European economies for four years. The crisis struck deeper in the United States of America.
Various causes account for the occurrence of the Great Depression.
(a) Wall street crushes
Wall Street is a street in New York City where buying and selling of shares takes place. The Wall Street crush marked the beginning of the Great Depression. The prices of shares were increasing rapidly forcing people to buy more and more shares, but suddenly the prices of shares started to fall drastically and the people had bought so many shares started to sell them at give away prices. Large number of individuals and enterprises who had lent out money to the capitalists to make an interest ran bankrupt because the capitalists failed to pay back the loans.
(b) Over production in the United States of America.
After world war one the USA became the leading economic power. In the 1920’s American factories and farmlands produced more and more products expecting world trade to continue to expand. Due to increased production that lacked enough demands, prices of commodities declined reducing profits, capitalists responding by cutting down production which led to reduction of the work force leading to widespread unemployment.
(c) Nature of capitalists’ production
The capitalists believed in the Laissez faire policy whereby the government does not intervene in economic activities, due to the tendency of capitalists to compete with one another; they tend to produce more than the existing demands which leads to fall in prices and therefore the fall in profits forces the capitalists to reduce production and close their factories which leads to unemployment.
(d) Concentration of wealth in the hands of the minority and poverty in the hands of the majority
This lead to disproportion between investment and consumption. Due to poverty there will be inadequate demand which forces prices to fall leading to reduction in profits thus the capitalists are forced to reduce production and reducing the workforce which leads to widespread unemployment.
(e) Interdependence of countries.
Due to the interdependence of countries, a crisis in one country was bound to have serious consequences in another country. This explains why the Wall Street crush in the USA forced her to withdraw the loans that she had lent out to European countries hence having disastrous consequences in the European countries for example Germany failed to pay the war reparations.
(f) Protectionist policies.
Poor economic policies like protectionism were also for causing the Great depression. The USA during the inter war period pursued protectionism whereby it carried out discriminative policies against world economies. The USA introduced the “MC cumber tariff”in 1922 to shelter her economies against imports from other nations.
(g) Effects of World War 1.
The effects of world war one also contributed to the outbreak of the Great Depression.World war one lead to high production, low prices and profits hence was contributing to the Great Depression.
IMPACT OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION ON EUROPE AND AMERICA
(Factors for rise of dictatorship)
The Great Depression had a tremendous impact on the metropolitan economies for a period of four years. The effects are the following:-
(a) Massive unemployment.
The Great Depression was characterized with low prices that let to reduction in profit; the decline in profits compelled the capitalists to retrench workers thus leading to Massive unemployment rose from 3.2% in 1929 to 24.9% in 1939.
(b) Decline in production.
There was a massive fall in the levelof production activities; the Great Depression was characterized with falling prices and profits which forces the capitalists to reduce production and in some cases to close their industries and factors.
(c) Widespread poverty.
The Great Depression led to widespread poverty both in the United States of America and Europe. Poverty was due to low purchasing power which was caused by massive unemployment.
(d) Collapse of the agricultural sector.
The Great Depression contributed to the collapse of the agricultural sector, the fall in production was caused by the rising prices of farm implements such as tractors and fertilizers. Due to the rise of prices, farmers could not purchase the farm implements thus contributing to the collapse of the agricultural sector.
The Great Depression contributed to widespread inflation in both the United States of America and Europe. The Great Depression was characterized by low levels of production which later on pushed up prices due to rising demand for goods. In 1929 countries such as Germany and Britain were characterized by hyper inflation that reduced the value of their currencies.
(f) Collapse of international trade
The Great depression contributed to the decline of international trade because it was associated with hyper inflation which contributed to loss of the value of money thus discouraging trade among countries. The Great depression also contributed to the collapse of many commercial banks, this too contributed to the collapse of international trade.
(g) Rise of dictatorship in Europe for example Italy and Germany
(h) Decline in working conditions.
NAZISM IN GERMANY
The world Nazism comes from the world “Nazi” which was a popular abbreviation for a member of Adolf Hitler’s political party called the National socialist party. Nazism was a dominant political system that arose during the inter war period. It was dominant in Germany.
Characteristics of Nazism
(a) The destruction of democracy.
The National socialist party removed all free elections and banned all trade unions. All communications and the press were restricted by the government. All radio programs and news papers were closely controlled by the state.
(b) Adoption of a one party state.
All political parties except the National socialist party were banned, so that the Germany became a one party statelike the Soviet Union. All political meetings and associations were forbidden.
(c) Glorification of the military.
There was creation of a large and strong military and police machinery. Hitler created a huge police force and a tough secret police called the “Gestapo”. After 1933 Hitler withdrew Germany from the League of Nations and embarked on a policy of rearmament.
|The Nazi philosophy always emphasized Germany hatred for all foreign races especially the Jews. German text books were rewritten to fit in with the Nazi philosophy; the most obvious were History and Biology. History was distorted to reflect Hitler’s views that great thing can only be achieved by using force while Biology was dominated by the Nazi race theory which reflected the greatness of Germans as opposed to other nationalities. (e) Expansionism
Hitler’s political party had two political aims,:-
– Re–uniting Germany that had been split by the allied powers in 1919.
– Obtaining for Germany a leading role in Europe in the form of oversees colonies.
In March 1938, Germany troops entered Austria without resistance and controlled it for seven years. They again over ran Czechoslovakia with little resistance and in 1939; they invaded Poland with the aim of liberating one million Germans.
(f) Dominated by totalitarianism.
Nazism was dominated by totalitarianism, Nazism believed that, “nothing should be above the state, nothing outside the state and nothing against the state” Hitler used to make remarks like, believe! Obey! Fight”
(g) Against capitalism.
Nazism was strongly against capitalism which was associated with exploitation and oppression. The Nazis hated Western capitalist countries such as Britain and France.
Reasons for the Rise of Nazism in Germany
(a) The effects of the Versailles treaty.
The treaty was too harsh for Germany, for example it involved the partitioning of Germany and forcing her to pay reparations that were fixed at 6.5 million pounds. Hitler promised to overthrow the Versailles treaty and rebuild Germany into a great power again, hence the majority of Germans turned to Hitler and the Nazi party.
(b) The effects of the Great Depression.
The economic hardships brought about by the great depression shook the basis of the Weimar republic’s existence. Between 1929 and 1933, the unemployment problem worsened for example 6 million Germans were unemployed. The USA withdrew her loans scheme from the Germans which led to the decline in wages and fall in industrial production. The majority of the Germans turned to Nazism.
(c) The weakness of the Weimar republic.
The Weimar republic was declared after Kaiser William 11 fled in 1918. It was the first democratic republic with a democratic constitution.However the republic had a democratic constitution. However the republic had so many problems for example it lacked support from the Germans because they argued that it accepted the humiliating and unpopular Versailles treaty with its harsh terms consequently most of the Germans supported the Nazi party.
(d) Effects of world one.
The defeat of Germany in the Great War frustrated many Germans. Germans nationalists like Hitler often remarked that Germany was not defeated, but simply betrayed by the Kaiser’s government. There was widespread discontent in Germany, there was low production that led to scarcity of goods therefore contributing to hyper inflation for example in 1923 one British pound was equivalent to 20,000,000,000,000 marks where as in 1918 it was only 20 marks with all these hardships, the Germans turned to Hitler.
(e) The fear of a socialist’s revolution.
The bourgeoisie supported the Nazi party with the hope that it will keep out the communist policies and communism itself. Communism advocates for nationalization of private enterprises and redistribution of wealth hence the bourgeoisie decided to support Hitler who will protect their enterprises.
(f) The role of Hitler.
As soon as Hitler was appointed chancellor, he banned all political parties and declared the Nazi party as the only legal party thus playing a leading role to the rise of Nazism in Germany.
Factors for the Rise of Hitler into Power in Germany
Adolf Hitler was born in 1889 at Breionav, Austria Hungary on the border with Germany. Hitler earned his living by painting and selling post cards which obviously earned him little profits. In spite of this humble beginning and miserable experiences, Hitler became an outstanding politician and dictator on the European continent. Several factors helped Hitler to rise to power:
(a) Popularity of the Nazi party.
The Nazi party was popular in Germany especially between 1932 and 1933. The party raised the hopes for national unity, revising a prosperous economy and improving the living conditions particularly for the unemployed. The party got support from the rich middle class namely the professionals, merchants, civil, servants and other white collar workers.
(b) Antipathy against the Versailles treaty.
Hitler became popular among the Germany nationalists because he promised to overthrow the Versailles settlement. Hitler reminded the Germans that the treaty would not be morally accepted because it discounted Germany yet it case Bismarck time and blood to build.
(c) The communist threat.
The big capitalists of Germany saw in Hitler the protection of their interests against the communists and the socialists. Communism and socialism had grown too strong in Germany because they advocated for nationalization and redistribution of wealth.
(d) Economic problems.
The economic hardships brought about by the great depression and world war one had disastrous effects in the Germans. There was general discontent and frustration which undermined people’s confidence in the Weimar Republic because it had no solutions, hence the Germans turned to Hitler.
(e) Strong personality.
It must be borne in mind that Hitler had a strong character in relation to his political opponents in 1933. He was the most powerful diplomatic figure in Germany politics and an orator of the 20 th century. He was so attractive to the Germans by his propaganda and political speeches. He exploited the corruption and mismanagement of the Weimar Republic.
(f) The weakness of the Weimar republic.
The Weimar republic was declared after Kaiser William II fled in 1918. It was the first democratic republic with a democratic constitution. However the republic had so many problems for example it lacked support from the Germans because they argued that it accepted the humiliating and unpopular Versailles treaty with its harsh terms consequently most of the Germans supported the Nazi party.
(g) Effects of world war one.
The defeat of Germany in the Great War frustrated many Germans. German nationalists like Hitler after remarked that Germany was not defeated, but simply betrayed by the Kaisers government. There was widespread discontent in Germany; there was low production that led to scarcity of goods therefore contributing to hero inflation for example in 1923 one British pound was equivalent to 20,000,000,000 marks where as in 1918 it was only 20 marks, with all these hardships, the Germans turned to Hitler.
Effects of Fascism and Nazism in Europe
- Outbreak of world war two.
The expansionist polices pursued by Mussolini had a great to play in the outbreak of the Second World War. Hitler and Mussolini wanted to control the whole world. Hitler attacked Australia, Czechoslovakia and finally Poland. The attack of Poland forced Britain and France to drop the appeasement policy and declare war on Germany that caused world war two.
- Rise of dictators on the European continent.
The political systems of Nazism and Fascism contributed to the rise of dictators on the Europe continent. The governments of Germany and Italy were characterized with the absence of democracy. The press was under state control, political meetings and associations were prohibited. There was no freedom of speech.
- Collapse of the League of Nations.
The policies of Hitler and Mussolini contributed greatly to the collapse of the League of Nations. The two leaders ignored the resolutions of the league, Italy attacked Ethiopia in 1935, and Germany attacked Austria in 1934 and Poland in 1939. The actions of Hitler and Mussolini weakened the League of Nations and accounted for the eventual collapse in 1945.
- Weakened the economies of Europe.
Nazism contributed to the decline of the economy of Germany and other European nations. Nazism contributed to the outbreak of the Second World War that contributed to widespread insecurity that disrupted economic activities.The European powers also invested many resources in the war, which contributed to their decline as world powers.
- Terror and violence.
The policies of Nazism and Fascism brought terror and violence in Europe. Nazism was associated with racial segregation. The Germans believed that their race was the most superior race, they argued that the Jews were contaminating their race hence there is a need to eliminate them. Hitler killed many Jews in concentration camps; it is believed that six million Jews direct died in Nazi hands.
- Abolition of free market economy.
The policies of Hitler and Mussolini contributed to the abolition of the free market policy in Germany and Italy. The state controlled the economy through price controls and quotas. There was also creation of massive public work as a strategy to address the unemployment problem.
- Rise of Zionism.
The actions of Hitler to kill many Jews in concentration camps led to the formation of Zionist movement, this movement aimed at uniting all the Jews and settles them in Palestine. This movement started in the late 19 th century and reached its peak in 1948 after Hitler’s Holocaust. This led to the establishment of the state of Israel. The movements name is derived from Zion, the will on which the temple of Jerusalem was located.
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