Compare and Contrast
-Hitler and Mussolini-
Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini both attempted their rises to power during interwar years in fascist parties. In many ways their attempts at state control were similar; large portions of society were unsatisfied by existing governments who were weak and dysfunctional, a war that made life very difficult, and a perceived threat from the Left led to support for the Fascists. Additionally, the similar ideologies of the soon-to-be dictators as well as mistakes made by individuals in power further added to their attempts at control. However, it is common that there are differences in the manner in which similar results came to be. In Germany and Italy the formation of the country itself played a great role in weakening the current government, however, this occurred in different ways. After having been a strong monarchy under Bismarck, the democracy of the Weimar Republic was not met well. William Shirer argues that Germany was “[politically backward]” and how the German people worshipped authoritarian power. In some contrast, Italy was formed by a Piedmontese ruler who wanted to expand his territory, in both cases however, there was severe distrust in the governments. This meant that the state formed did not attempt to satisfy the needs of the majority. In fact, during the Risorgimento, the unification of Italy, many soldiers fighting did not even know what the word ‘Italy’ was. Additionally, the unification was only completed with the aid of foreign troops and this led to a national inferiority complex and a desire to show that Italy was a great power. Unfortunately, the liberal government of Italy had no desire to do so whereas Mussolini did, he used the appeal of becoming a great power very often. Additionally, the dichotomy of privilege of the north of Italy compared to the extreme poverty of the south combined with the biased political agenda of the government meant that a very large portion of the population was not pleased with the ruling government, thus there was a severe lack of nationalism within the population. The creation of the new state raised expectations of social reform and national greatness which were not fulfilled by Liberal Italy and which Fascism promised to deliver. In both states proportional representation was a facet of the existing governments that played a significant role in their respective falls. Proportional Representation refers to how parties gained seats in their respective Congress not through winning constituencies, but proportional to the number of votes they got nation-wide. In Germany, this system led to the creation of 28 distinct parties. Consequently, it was very difficult to establish a majority in the Reichstag. Additionally, it was very common for changes in Government occur. The inability to establish any majority made it very difficult for the Weimar government to take any real action as differing agendas clashed. Proportional Representation hindered Italian politics, but a greater extent, when compared to that of the Germans. The major problem with this system was that it was very common for weak, coalition government to form in order to take action. In fact, there were five different administrations between 1919 and 1922. This weakness was important because it damaged the image of the Liberals - presenting them as incapable of dealing with problems, and showed they were too busy fighting each other to worry about the threat from extremist parties, such as the socialists and Fascists. Both Germany and Italy experienced severe economic problems in wake of World War I, the hardship experienced was manipulated by the two dictators. During the First World War, approximately 1.2 million Italians died and 148 billion Lire was spent, this was about two times the amount of all spending of the Italian state between 1861 and 1913. Essentially, the government spent twice as much during a three year span than all the governments put...
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