Mussolini's Rise to Power
As a youth, Benito Mussolini led a disorganized life. He had been a rebellious boy in school. He had fled from Italy to avoid military service in 1902. And he was arrested in Switzerland for organizing a general strike. World War I, however, gave Mussolini more focus. He rejected some of his earlier socialist beliefs, and in 1919, he founded a combat group called the Fasci di Combattimento, consisting mostly of Italian veterans. Two years later, he changed the group's name to the National Fascist Party. Taking advantage of the economic and governmental problems in Italy in the 1920s, he and his supporters marched on Rome, effecting a coup d'état and making himself prime minister. By 1925, Mussolini had established a dictatorship and eliminated other political parties. The government then took control of schools, press, police, and industry. Also, Mussolini had the government act as a mediator between employers and workers to settle disputes. Mussolini was considered a particularly charismatic figure and was able to give powerful and persuasive speeches. -------------------------------------------------
Route to Power in Germany
World War I also hugely influenced the Austrian-born Adolf Hitler. He, like many others who served in the war and suffered in its aftermath, felt that Germany had been cheated by peace. In 1919, Adolf Hitler began to attend meetings of a small group called the German Workers' Party. Soon he became the group's leader and changed the name to the National Socialist German Workers' Party, later called the Nazi Party. The Nazis had several goals. One of these goals was to unite the German people into one nation. This nation would incorporate Germans in Austria, Czechoslovakia, and other countries. Also, the Nazis wanted Jews and non-Germans to be deprived of German citizenship. Hitler gained support for the Nazi Party through speeches and appeals to feelings of resentment. In 1923,...