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"Fascist rule could only exist by exploiting the fears of the mas...

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"Fascist rule could only exist by exploiting the fears of the masses." To what extent would you agree with reference to either Germany or Italy up to 1939?

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  • Feb. 23, 2004
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Between 1933 and 1939, the Fascist Nazi state, under the rule of Adolf Hitler was reliant on a combination of fear caused by force, and popular support for its maintenance. It is difficult to decide exactly whether fear or support was more effective, as because of the Fascist regime, the German public were forbidden to express their opinions as the historians Noakes and Pridham had commented, "an independent public opinion did not exist in the Third Reich." Therefore, there is much historical debate and controversy caused among those who believe that fear caused by force was the main factor keeping Hitler in power and those who believe that the Nazi state survived due to popular support from the German people. The historian Buchheim is an example of someone who considers the exploitation of fear to be responsible, as opposed to Wilt, who gives more credit to popular support for Nazism. It is important to consider and evaluate both methods to reach a balanced conclusion on which factor Hitler and his Nazi state was more dependent on for survival.

Undoubtedly, exploiting the fears of the German people by use or threat of force played a highly important part in helping Hitler to maintain power. The first step towards this was persuading President Hindenberg to hold new elections in which Hitler hoped he would gain a majority but unfortunately for Hitler, the Communists were a great threat to the Nazis and before the election there was vicious rivalry between the Nazis and the Communists as open fighting took place between the parties to prevent each other from holding political meetings. However, the German Reichstag was mysteriously burned to the ground on the 28th of February 1933. Found near the building was a Communist Dutch vagrant so Hitler saw this as a reason to blame the Communists. Hitler banned the Communist party by using the emergency powers under the terms of Article 48. He also played on the middle and upper class German people's fears of a...