Totalitarianism is a movement that asserts that the individual is less significant than the state and the objectives of the state are never inferior to that of the individual. For a totalitarianism government, a single political party or group governs and controls the other party through dictatorship. In World War 1, the political and economic instability was a major cause of the rise of totalitarianism government. Following the World War 1, three European nations that experienced totalitarianism were Italy, Germany and Soviet Union (Rejai, 1995, p. 58).
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There are two forms of totalitarianism: Fascism and Nazism. The post-world war led to the emergence of National Socialism in Germany and Fascism in Italy. Fascism was the first to occur in 1922 due to the dissatisfaction caused by World War 1 followed by Nazism which occurred as a result of the problems caused by World War 1 and resulting chaos attributed to the Great Depression. Moreover, the origin of Nazism and Fascism came as result of severe nationalism, racism, prominence of violence, and the exaltation of war as the uppermost virtue in society (Rejai, 1995, p. 58).
Germany experienced a totalitarianism regime during the reign of Adolf Hitler and the commencement of Nazi Party from 1933 to 1945. Since 1919 to 1933, Germany was under the reign of Weimar Republic, a democratic government. The Weimar Republic that governed after World War 1 encountered many problems such as street violence and economic chaos. During this period of great depression, armed gangs of communists and fascists wandered in the streets, and compelled the government to apply emergency measures. The problem worsened since Weimar’s democratic government failed to offer practical solutions.
Nazi’s leader, Adolf Hitler’s, promise to enhance and rebuild the economy, resulted to the overthrow of Weimar’s democratic government and the formation of a totalitarian government in January 1933. German’s president approval to Adolf Hitler promises led to the emergence of the Nazi (National Socialist German Workers’ Party) in Germany and the rise of World War II. Hitler made himself a dictator and infringed the Treaty of Versailles by reviving the military, establishing a new air force, and reinstating the draft. Hence, all features of Germany’s society were under Nazi power of dictatorship (Willner, 2000, p.438).
During the early years of 1920s, Italy was undergoing political chaos, economic disorder, and the common fear and insecurity on account of World War 1. Benito Mussolini initiated the first fascism dictatorship regime by the end of October 1922. The emergence of fascism in Italy was mainly caused by the First World War problems of political and economic instability in addition to the post-war economic instability that consecutive liberal governments failed to resolve. Consequently, fascism directly resulted from resistances to liberal democracy which was viewed to generate class conflicts and undermine individual rights by authority state.
Hence, the consequent rise to power of Mussolini was supported by the collapse of the existing political system and failure of Versailles treaty to maintain Italy’s territorial claims. Additionally, Victor Emmanuel III King and Gillette’s liberal government failed to resolve the economic problems. Mussolini started as a dictator by forbidding all political parties, excluding, Fascist Party and abolishing labor unions, strikes and restraining political opponents. His dictatorship regime from 1922-1945 changed the state into a patriotic and military tool of conquest (Welch, 2003, p.58).
In Conclusion, the aftermath of the First World War led to a dictatorship regime and the rise of Nazism and Fascism in both Germany and Italy respectively. The opposition to liberalism overturned the states’ political and social order and threatened the nations at large. This produced a contemporary perception of the political spectrum in which Italy and Germany came to be observed as comparable to each other in several aspects.