Professor Albert Farr
27 October 2008
An Ambivalent Administration:
An Analysis of Differences and Similarities of Between
Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler’s Approach to Domestic Policy
In 1933, Adolph Hitler came to power as dictator of Germany and began to rearm the country in contravention of the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. (TWW) In 1943, nearly 10 years later, axis Germany and Italy had officially controlled nearly 2/3 of Europe and 1/3 of Africa. This axis power seemed as impenetrable as steel itself. The historians who cover these days of infamy tend to focus on a leaders ability to lead troops into battle by comparing and contrasting them from one another. However, there is one thing that tends to be omniscient to them: the comparison and contrast of their ability to lead the one thing most important to them, the people. Fundamentally, both Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler had the same ardent desire to make their nation respected both economically and socially; however, their approach to this idealism was varied, most notably through domestic policy. Mussolini wanted a rebirth or renaissance if you will of Italy to the days of an ancient imperial Greco-Rome, a domestic policy amongst others that was used as propaganda to ultimately consolidate his power. Hitler, however, wanted to implement his ideological aims of German re-armament, racial purity, and a consolidation of his powers, which were reflected in his own numerous domestic policies. This essay will evaluate these similitaries and dissimilarities in domestic policy by both Hitler and Mussolini, and to what extent one leader was more successful than the other in his own policy within the axis alliance. To begin with, Hitler and Mussolini, in economic terms, had a policy of being autarkies. This means they limited trade with external nations and tried to rely on their own resources to achieve a self-sufficient industry. Mussolini, aware of the fact that Italy was dependent on other countries to survive, took into consideration that his main economic counter-parts would have to be neighboring satellite states; Italy would have to become mainly self-sufficient in order to expand and get rid of the economic barrier from which others could impose on her [Italy.] According to Wikkipedia.com, grain imports fell by 75% between 1925 and 1935 as a result of Mussolini’s plan called the “Battle for Grain.” (Wikkipedia) This domestic policy encouraged farmers to expand their fields and increase their yields of crop per harvest. Farmers received financial support and were honored by Mussolini himself, or more commonly known as ‘The Duce,’ when they achieved the states set-expectations. This domestic policy did manage to successfully increase Italian food production by 70%, with an increase of average harvest from 5.5 million tons per year to 7 million. However, amidst this grand influx of domestic crop production, the economy came to an abrupt halt in 1927. In 1927, to the difference of Hitler, the ‘Duce’ introduced a policy called the “Battle for the Lira.” (Time) Whereby a re-evaluation of the lira, Italian currency, dropped dramatically to the level it was at in 1922. For example, the value of the Italian lira dropped from 150 to 90, when compared to the British pound. Heavy industries, such as armament and ship building industries, benefited from this, for they could now import large supplies of cheap tariff-free raw materials. (Time) On the other hand, export industries suffered greatly as they were now more than twice as expensive to foreign industries. Overall, Mussolini’s policies failed to make any significant changes and managed to do more bad than good to the economy, and because of the worsening situation in 1936, when the Italian government was forced to devalue the lira once again. Hitler in response, however, chose to actually increase government expenditure by 70%, resulting in a 60% increase...