The reasons for the rise of Fascism in both Germany and Italy had three common denominators:1. Frustrated nationalism
2. Fear of the spectre of communism
3. Distrust/disillusionment with democracy
1. Frustrated nationalism
Italy had entered WWI in return for promises of land but she only received S.Tyrol at
Versailles (much resentment as poverty-stricken Italy had made great material sacrifices
i.e. 600,000 dead, which she could ill-afford).
Treaty of Versailles was universally resented (.'Diktat") Germany lost 7 million people and 12% of her territory. National self-determination was denied to Germans in w.
Prussia., (Sudetenland, A-Lorraine, Danzig and Austria) Widespread belief in Germany that the army had never been defeated in battle but had been 'stabbed in the back' in 1918 by cowards and pacifists at home.
Fascist solution -Fascism was fanatically nationalist and aims at the establishment of national glory through Empire building and glorifying the use of naked force and strength. Hitler's Nazi party (established in 1920 and initially made up of right-wing ex-soldiers) aimed to get rid of 'the gang of November criminals' (i.e. the Government), tear up
Versailles and establish a German Reich through 'Lebensraum'.
Mussolini's Fascist Party (established in 1919 and made up of black-shirted exservicemen and youths enjoying violence) aimed to build a new Roman Empire in the
Mediterranean (including land in Africa and influence in the Balkans). The cries of both movements found considerable resonance amongst humiliated populations seething with nationalist discontent.
2. Fear of Communism
Fear of Communism as a factor in the rise of Fascism in Italy and Nazism in Germany
In Italy by 1919 two million men were unemployed owing to demobilisation and a closing down of war industries. Added to this were food shortages and inflation, which increased discontent amongst the working population. In these conditions of social dislocation the strength of the Communist Party grew resulting in Soviet-style factory
take-overs and seizures of land by landless peasants. These factors led to a fear of a communist revolution in Italy amongst the Upper and Middle classes. The fascists were quick to exploit the situation. Posing as defenders of property, and receiving financial backing from Fiat, Pirelli and the Banking Association fascists broke up strikes and turned peasants out from land they had confiscated. However, the fascists (like the Nazis) were a socially heterogeneous group made up of those who felt that the Left nor the traditional conservative Right offered them protection. Mussolini (like Hitler) was a brilliant propagandist and opportunist who was able to exploit public fears of disorder and revolution as well as the general disillusion with parliamentary democracy.
Mussolini's violent overthrow of the Communists was applauded by industrialists, landowners, the Church and the Middle classes who feared for their status and property under Communism. Nevertheless, the connivance of the authorities played a major role in bringing M to power e.g..
The police make no attempt to halt the March
King Victor Emmanuel III appointed M head of government (he had no confidence that the army would oppose M).
In Germany the ushering in of the Weimar Republic resulted in a wave of political extremism not least of which was the attempt by the Communist Party (Spartakists) to seize power in Berlin in January 1919.The KPD's stance against private property and belief in revolutionary violence outraged German bourgeoisie sensibilities. Although they were brutally crushed by the Right wing Freikorps (who also suppressed the Bavarian
Communist regime) there remained a latent fear of a future left wing coup, particularly as the KPD retained a paramilitary group, the Red Veterans League. However it was not until the Great Depression hit Germany in the early Thirties that…