After World War I and the Great Depression, why did some European countries turn toward fascism while other European countries stayed democratic?



"After Socialism, Fascism combats the whole complex system of democratic ideology, and repudiates it, whether in its theoretical premises or in its practical application.  Fascism denies that the majority, by the simple fact that it is a majority, can direct human society; it denies that numbers alone can govern by means of a periodical consultation, and it affirms the immutable, beneficial, and fruitful inequality of mankind, which can never be permanently leveled through the mere operation of a mechanical process such as universal suffrage...Fascism denies, in democracy, the absur[d] conventional untruth of political equality dressed out in the garb of collective irresponsibility, and the myth of 'happiness' and the indefinite progress...The Fascist State organizes the nation, but leaves a sufficient margin of liberty to the individual; the latter is deprived of all useless and possible harmful freedom, but retains what is essential; the deciding power in this question cannot be the individual, but the State alone...Fascism is the doctrine best adapted to represent the tendencies and the aspirations of a people, like the people of Italy, who are rising again after many centuries of abasement and foreign servitude."

SOURCE:   The Definition of Fascism by Benito Mussolini, 1932 .



"You take an oath to the fighter who demonstrated his leadership over a decade, who always acts correctly and who always chose the right way, even when at times the larger part of his movement failed to understand why.  You take an oath to a man whom you know follows the laws of providence, which he obeys independently of the influence of earthly powers, who leads the German people rightly, ad who will guide Germany's fate.  Through your oath you bind yourselves to a man who-that is our faith-was sent to us by higher powers.  Do not seek Adolf Hitler with your mind.  You will find him through the strength of your hearts!  Adolf HItler is Germany and Germany is Adolf HItler.  He who takes an oath to Hitler takes an oath to Germany!" 

SOURCE:   The Oath to Adolf Hitler, by Rudolf Hess on February 25, 1934.



SOURCE:   Map of Europe, 1937.



"The [Versailles] Treaty includes no provisions for the economic rehabilitation of Europe, -nothing to make the defeated Central Empires into good neighbors, nothing to stabilize the new States of Europe, nothing to reclaim Russia; nor does it promote in any way a compact of economic solidarity amongst the Allies themselves; no arrangement was reached at Paris for restoring the disordered finances of France and Italy, or to adjust the systems of the Old World and the New....In a very short time, therefore, Germany will not be in a position to give bread and work to her numerous millions of inhabitants, who are prevented from earning their livelihood by navigation and trade....Those who sign this Treaty will sign the death sentence of many millions of German men, women and children."   

SOURCE:  John Maynard Keynes' The Economic Consequences of the Peace, 1920.



"The desperate situation which prevails today is evidenced by the number of 25 million unemployed....In Germany this state of things has most strongly shaken the confidence of the masses in the good functioning of the capitalist system....The German problem is the central problem of the whole of the world's difficulties.  The German situation is characterized by the following:

1.  The high level of interest, which crushes agriculture and also industry;

2.  The burden of taxation, which is so oppressive, in the opinion of the Special Advisory Committee, that it cannot be increased, but has yet been increased, in order to assure the very existence of the State, by the impression of fresh taxes within the last few days; 

3.  The external debt, the service of which becomes ever more difficult by reason of the progressive diminution of the surplus of exports; and

4.  Unemployment, which is relatively more widespread than in amy other country whatever, and which constitutes from 20 to as per cent of the population a burden on public funds.

What is the particularly fatal is that an ever-growing number of young people have no possibility and no hope of finding employment and earning their livelihood.  Despair and the political radicalization of the youthful section of the population are the consequences of this state of things..." 

SOURCE:  Speech by von Papen, German Chancellor, July 1932.





1932 1933 1934 1935 1936
Germany 23.3 30.1 26.3 14.9 11.6 8.3
Austria 15.4 21.7 26.0 25.5 24.1 24.1
Norway 22.3 30.8 33.4 30.7 25.3 18.8
Denmark 17.9 31.7 28.8 22.1 19.7 19.3
Sweden 17.8 22.8 23.7 18.9 16.1 13.6
Holland 14.8 25.3 26.7 28.0 31.7 32.7
Belgium 14.5 23.5 20.4 23.4 22.9 16.8
France 6.5 15.4 16.1 13.8 14.5 10.4
United Kingdom 16.4 17.0 15.4 12.9 12.0 10.2
United States 15.9 23.6 24.9 21.7 20.1 16.9

SOURCE:   Table of Unemployment, 1931-1936.




SOURCE:  Pie Chart of the 1928, 1930, 1933 German  Reichstag Elections.



"The question we have to answer is:  Will the Russian peasant communes (a primitive form of communal ownership which is already on the downgrade) become transformed in to the superior for of communist ownership of land, or will they have to pass through the same process of decay we have witnessed in the course of the historical evolution of the West?  There is only one possible answer to this question.  If the Russian revolution sounds the signal for a workers' revolution in the West, so that each becomes the complement of the other, then the prevailing form of communal ownership of land in Russia may serve as the starting-point for a communist course of development."  

SOURCE:  Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles in 1848.



"Seest thou the morning red in the East, a promise of sun and of freedom?  We hold together for life or for death, no matter what may threaten.  Many a year were we slaves to traitor Jews, but now has arisen a son of the people.  He gives Germany new hope and faith.  Brothers, to arms!  Young and old flock to the hooked cross banner, peasants and workers with sword and with hammer.  For Hitler, for freedom. for work, and for bread.  Germany, awaken!  Death to the Jew!  Brothers, to arms!.. ...The audience was breathless under his spell.  This man expressed their thoughts, their feelings, their hopes; a new prophet had arisen- many saw him already another Christ, who predicted the end of their sufferings and had the power to lead them into the promised land if they were only prepared to follow him.... With one-third of its wage-earners unemployed, Germany lived in a state of latent civil war, and if one wasn't prepared to be swept along as a passive victim by the approaching hurricane it became imperative to take sides...."




SOURCE:  "Comrade Lenin Sweeps the Globe Clean", 1920.



"To slacken the tempo would mean falling behind.  And those who fall behind get beaten.  But we do not want to be beaten.  No, we refuse to be beaten!  One feature of the history of old Russia was the continual beatings she suffered because of her backwardness.... That is why we must no longer lag behind.....But now that we have overthrown capitalism and power is in your hands, in the hands of the people, we have a fatherland, and we will defend its independence.  Do you want our socialist fatherland to be beaten and to lose its independence?"  

SOURCE:  Joseph V. Stalin, On the Industrialization of Russia, February 1931.



SOURCE:   Title: "The worm"  Caption: "Where something is rotten, the Jew is the cause."  -November 1931


DBQ Question created by::

Taryn Williams
Class of 2002
Maria Regina H. S.
Hartsdale, NY  10530