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Analytical Essay on The German People: Role of Fascism and Authoritarianism

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How successfully did Europe emerge from fascism and authoritarianism since 1945?

Fascism has been defined as a radical form of authoritarian nationalism (Turner, 1975, p. 162). Fascism first emerged in Italy during the 1920s, followed by Germany in the 1930s and quickly spread to other neighbouring countries not long after. Fascism promoted a strong government, it is categorized as extreme nationalism, racist and militarism, it is where the government takes control over every decision and people. Fascism grew in the 1920s-1930s due to the after-effects that the people endured from World War 1, the war had ended and it followed by a great depression and as many countries were being blamed for starting the war people who were poor and down began to grow hope through new leaders that promoted a better life, to rebuild, reform and make life better for everyone.

“European fascism is the political response of the European Bourgeoise to the economic recession of 1918” (Woolf 1968, 24). In Italy, Benito Mussolini rose to power in the 1920s, after having suffered major job losses and slow economic growth people were fed up with their governments and fed into Mussolini’s thought process and so Mussolini’s party began to grow more and more due to the dissatisfaction government had put to the people and so on 29th October 1922 the 'March on Rome' marked a dangerous turning point for the Italian people (Woolf 1968,39) allowing him to show his level of nationalism and ideology, he had united the people and due to his unification of the people his descent into dictatorship was shortly underway, he planned to build the economy, start with a new formation of armed forces and at this time the threat of communism loomed over Italy which promoted the King to pave ways for Mussolini as he was fearful of communism.

Germany in the 1930s not long after World War 1 ended, the treaty of Versailles was written and signed to which they blamed Germany for quite a lot of the War. They imposed economic sanctions, took lands off of Germany and forced them to pay reparations to many countries eventually leading Germany to suffer the most after the Wall Street Crash, The Great Depression and the rising inflation due to more money being printed and printed. The German People were at their weakest and this allowed Adolf Hitler to form a party, to which he criticised the government for letting the people down and to claim back what was rightfully theirs. The German people fell for his words it was said he was a vibrant leader and great speaker. After Germany voted for the Nationalist Socialist Party, the Nazi party then began to grow its power among the people. It started by the destruction of a group of Jewish businesses ‘Kristallnacht’ they picked this group as they were an easy target already the German people were hating on them for their wealth and power and money. Hitler's power grew more and more he promoted the economy with the creation of jobs, the building of the autobahn, military jobs for men with the creation of the SS, he brought life to the German people once again for a while but as he became Fuher his reign of and totalitarianism lost the German people their freedoms.

Other countries also faced Fascist control places such as Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Czechoslovakia but these countries managed to have democracy survive during their reigns. Fascism never survived France or Britain partly due to this could be the countries leadership and that their economic growth sustained as they were not ruined but benefited from the end of the war.

With the two heads of countries forming an ally both Germany and Italy became allied troops they'd have each other back, more so Mussolini was surviving off of Hitler's power, with Hitler now branching into countries that once belonged to Germany to take them back, Britain and France allowed this to occur as a form of 'appeasement' the idea that those countries did once, in fact, belong to Germany but as he gained his lands back he then began to want other lands and moved into territories such as France and Poland and this is where the fascist leader's downfall would occur. Doing this sparked a new World War and eventually made Mussolini people overthrow him and Hitler to then kill himself this sparked the end of those fascist leaders, but the damage was done to Europe.

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Europe now saw Germany divided in two, East and West Germany, Europe was now Eastern Europe and Western Europe, the revival of economic lifestyle was the upmost importance and we knew fascism gained power through that way and best not to return to that lifestyle.

It seemed that across the western side of Europe after 1945 fascism had successfully been called out and finished with, life was going well, economic life remained strong. Industrial production in 1947 was once again back to the levels that which we have seen the likes of before the war. Although America's involvement in the rebuilding of Europe greatly (Maier 1981) Echengreen (2017) noted thatit wasn't so much the Marshall Plan that helped Europe but rather the political strings attached to allied help. Across the water in Britain between 1945-51 life had also begun to grow but fascist movements threatened their livelihoods, shaped from the legacy of the 2nd world war and holocaust but it was only seen in a small minority and shortly died out to which Labour had begun to transform British society, they nationalised gas, railways, created a National Health Service and Welfare State. (Dave Renton, 1998.11). A peaceful Europe seemed on the horizons, 1950 European Coal and Steel community began to unite countries through economic and political growth, the following 6 founding countries Belgium, France, Italy, Luxemburg and West Germany.

On the eastern side, Europe had been taken over by Joseph Stalin, a communist leader from Soviet Russia, it seemed that although west Europe sustained life the east were left to more turmoil in East Germany no freedom was given, the press was censored and you were blocked in and not to leave stuck in another form of dictatorship it seemed life was just going to more terror. Soviet tanks crushed demonstrators in East Berlin in June 1953, in Hungary in 1956, and again in Czechoslovakia in 1968. Soviet military planners were intimately involved in the Polish planning for martial law in 1980, and Soviet troops remained stationed throughout Eastern Europe, as much a guarantee for Soviet security as an ominous reminder to Eastern European peoples of Soviet dominance over their countries.

For nearly 40 years Eastern Europe was under communist rule until 1989 with the fall of communism and the fall of the berlin wall allowing unification to take place and countries to grow in democracy and not in turmoil. By the summer of 1990, all the former communist regimes of Eastern Europe were replaced by democratically elected governments. In Poland, Hungary, East Germany and Czechoslovakia, newly formed centre-right parties took power for the first time since the end of World War II.

For over the last 40 years it seemed that fascism had finally left Europe behind, democracy has taken over and people are living in somewhat a better life, but many European countries have begun to see fascist leaders and movements resurge once again, many fascist parties now with the intent on saving their countries through nationalism with the living fear that immigrants are coming over to once again take your lands and jobs. In France, the Front National candidate Marine Le Pen entered the run-off for the French presidency in 2017 for only the second time in the party’s history. She took 10.6 million votes, double what her father achieved in 2002. In Austria, a party established by former SS officers, the Freedom Party, has entered government in coalition with the centre-right. In Germany, Alternative für Deutschland, formed only six years ago, has radicalised to the right and came third in the 2017 federal elections. In Britain, arguably the biggest far-right street movement in British history has coalesced around Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the English Defence League, with a radicalised UK Independence Party pitching itself as the natural political home of such forces. far-right that predominates and sets the agenda. Fanned by the intensification of Islamophobia over the past 20 years.

For the first time since the liberation of Auschwitz and the destruction of Mussolini and Hitler's regimes, it is possible to imagine the victory of such forces. The fascists today remain much weaker than during the inter-war period, above all on the streets, but renewed economic crisis and the political upheavals it leads to can further accelerate their growth and move them further down the road. We see that Western Europe emerged well after the fall of fascism but on the Eastern Bloc continued to sustain authoritarianism regimes, we hope that fascism does continue to stay weaker in Europe but with more and more support growing through fears and economic downfall with coronavirus perhaps the far right might try to steal the people's spirits once again.


  1. Turner, H. (1975). Reappraisals of fascism. New York: New Viewpoints
  2. S. J. Wolfe. Nature of Fascism 1968 p24, 39
  3. Charles S Maier Marking Time: The Historiography of International Relations”
  4. Barry Eichengreen, University of California, Berkeley
  6. Dave Renton The Attempted Revival Of British Fascism: Fascism And Anti-Fascism 1945-51 Submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, in the Department of History at the University of Sheffield, August 1998
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