Fascism Case Study: Mussolini and Hitler

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Fascism Case Study: Mussolini and Hitler
During the 1920s and 1930s the rise of dictators was fueled by bitter disappointment over WWI and the change in the way people viewed society, government and life in general. A new –ism – Fascism – a form of extreme Nationalism, attracted those who felt frustrated by the Treaty of Versailles and the post- WWI world.
Characteristics of Fascism:

  • Extreme Nationalism

  • Authoritarian

  • Obedience to leader required

  • No clearly defined theory

  • State more important than individual

  • Charismatic leader – this is key to get followers!

  • Characterized by censorship, indoctrination, secret police

  • Action oriented and “on the move” – Third Reich and “New Roman Empire”

Mussolini’s Rise to Power
Explain the steps in Mussolini’s rise to power. How does he use media to accomplish his goal?

Describe the methods Mussolini uses to control the population.

Why did Italy want to take over Ethiopia? What does the League of Nations do?

What is the relationship between Mussolini and Hitler? How does he seek to appease Hitler?

How is Mussolini a product of WWI and the Age of Anxiety?

Benito Mussolini: a dictator for all seasons in Italy?

Reverence for Il Duce, who adorns calendars and T-shirts, is spreading from neo-fascist youths to the Italian mainstream

  • Tom Kington in Rome

  • guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 1 January 2013 08.07 EST

Agency/Getty Imagesmussolini calendar

Pasquale Moretti pulls the latest Benito Mussolini calendar off the shelf at his Rome cafe and flips it open to a photo of the pouting, strutting dictator taking part in a grain harvest.

"I was born in that era and he put bread on the table," said the 78-year-old. "I cannot betray my culture."

 A 2012 calendar. This year will bring a new crop featuring the dictator.

Every year, around this time, Mussolini calendars appear in newspaper kiosks up and down Italy, offering a year's supply of photos of the fascist leader.

They are often tucked away with the specialist magazines, but according to the manager of one firm that prints them, they are much in demand.

"We are selling more than we did 10 years ago," said Renato Circi, the head of Rome printer Gamma 3000. "I didn't think it was still a phenomenon, but young people are now buying them too."

Sixty-eight years after the fascist dictator was strung up with piano wire from a petrol station in Milan following his crushing of Italian democracy, his racist laws and his disastrous alliance with Adolf Hitler, Mussolini has quietly taken his place as an icon for many Italians.

Among his adherents today are the masked, neo-fascist youths who mounted raids on Rome schools this autumn to protest against education cuts, lobbing smoke bombs in corridors and yelling "Viva Il Duce".

A masked mob that ambushed Spurs fans drinking in a Rome pub in November, was also suspected of neo-fascist sympathies. When Spurs played Lazio the following night, Lazio fans chanted "Juden Tottenham", using the German word for Jews in reference to the club's Jewish heritage.

But the cult of Il Duce has also slipped into the mainstream. The decision by a town south of Rome to spend €127,000 (£100,000) of public funds this year on a tomb for Rodolfo Graziani, one of Mussolini's most blood-thirsty generals, was met with widespread indifference.

Other more mundane examples include the leading businessman who proposed renaming Forli airport in Emilia Romagna – the region of northern Italy where the dictator was born – as Mussolini airport, or the headmaster in Ascoli Piceno who tried to hang a portrait of the dictator in his school.

The man who gets some credit for dusting off Mussolini's reputation is Silvio Berlusconi, who famously described the dictator's exiling of his foes to remote villages as sending them on holiday.

Berlusconi's subtle rehabilitation of Mussolini came as he brought Italy's post-fascists, led by Gianfranco Fini, into his governing coalition in 1994 and 2001, following the "years of lead" in the 1970s and early 80s, when neo-fascists and communist sympathisers battled in the streets.

"Today, Mussolini's racial laws against Jews remain an embarrassment, but people don't care about his hunting down anti-fascists," said Maria Laura Rodotà, a journalist at Italy's Corriere della Sera. "That became one of Berlusconi's jokes."

Admiration for Mussolini is common in Berlusconi's circle. Showbusiness agent Lele Mora, who is now on trial for allegedly pimping for the former prime minister, downloaded an Italian fascist song as his mobile ring tone, while Berlusconi's long-time friend, the senator Marcello Dell'Utri, has described Mussolini as an "extraordinary man of great culture".

After Mussolini's murder by partisans in 1945 – as the Allies pushed up through Italy – the country did not exorcise the ghosts of fascism, as Germany sought to. A 1952 law forbidding fascist parties or the veneration of fascism has never been seriously enforced.

"It was not used partly because banning parties was potentially anti-constitutional, and also due to a sneaking admiration for fascism," said James Walston, professor of politics at the American University of Rome.

Decades on, the memory of Mussolini as the strong man who put a post office in every piazza and made the trains run on time has been decoupled from the ideology of fascism, said writer Angelo Meloni.

"He is now a pop icon, an arch-Italian, a personality whose legend is linked to the years of consensus in Italy," he said. "Just as people who don't go to church like Padre Pio, so 90% of those who buy Mussolini calendars will never have voted for a fascist party," he said.

Gamma 3000 promotes Mussolini calendars on its website alongside ones featuring the Catholic saint and mystic Padre Pio, guerrilla leader Che Guevara, topless models and cute kittens.

But for Italy's modern neo-fascist groups, including CasaPound, Il Duce is still very much about ideology.

"Whoever buys the calendar admires his work – the two things cannot be separated," said the group's vice-president, Simone di Stefano.

"There is a need today for his politics, for someone who will put the banks and finance at the service of Italy," he said. "Youngsters who come to us already see Mussolini as the father of this country."

CasaPound's student offshoot organisation, Blocco Studentesco, is a mainstay in Rome youth politics, polling 11,000 votes in school council elections in 2009 and even enrolling the mayor of Rome's 17-year-old son, who was photographed on holiday in 2012 giving a straight-armed fascist salute with friends.

The well-to-do streets around Piazza Ponte Milvio, north of Rome's football stadium, are today plastered with posters and graffiti by numerous neo-fascist groups, including CasaPound, and the local bars have become a hangout for gangs of rightwing lads in regulation Fred Perry shirts and Ray-Ban Wayfarers.

"Many teenagers now avoid Ponte Milvio since the people who go there have shifted further to the right," said Rodotà.

Further down the road, the entrance to the stadium is marked by a massive fascist-era obelisk, still standing, with "Mussolini" written in huge letters down the front. Nearby, the bar run by Pasquale Moretti, where Lazio fans meet before games, contains a mini-supermarket of fascist memorabilia, from bottles of wine with Mussolini's portrait on the label, to fascist flags and T-shirts, and oil portraits of Il Duce.

"He built housing for workers, something no Roman emperor did," said Moretti. "How can I not respect that?"

For discussion:

Why might Mussolini have a resurgence of popularity today?

What does this help us learn about the Age of Anxiety as well as our own time?

Are we in another “Age of Anxiety?” Why or Why not?

Nazism: Hitler’s brand of Fascism

View Hitler’s Speech to the Nazi Youth:
How many times does Hitler say the world Germany or German?
How else does he engage the crowd and raise their “national self esteem?”

Read The Educational Principles of the New Germany
How does the article on German Educational philosophy from the Nazi Women’s Magazine illustrate the elements of Fascism and the manor which Fascists tried to win followers?

Is the Nationalism we see during this time different or different from the Nationalist views we saw prior to WWI with Bismarck’s Germany and Italian Unification? Explain.

Background: This article is titled “The Educational Principles of the New Germany,” and was published in the Nazi magazine for women. It explains how the Nazis wanted women to view education. It is a rather explicit summary of Nazi educational policy. The illustration is the cover of the issue in which this article appeared. The caption next to the young lad is: “Germany’s youth belong to the Führer!”

The source: “Die Erziehungsgrundsätze des neuen Deutschlands,” Frauen-Warte, #22 (1936/37), pp. 692-693.
The Educational Principles of the New Germany:

What Schools and Parents Need to Know About the Goals of National Socialist Education

German people, German parents! The new Germany created by our people’s chancellor Adolf Hitler places special demands on the German youth. The German youth are a foundation of the rebuilding of the German people and the German fatherland. The people and the fatherland place their hands on the shoulders of the youth and determine what educational and cultural values and goals are necessary for this youth to meet the needs of people and fatherland. This requires a truly national and social education for the German youth, and all involved in education has to serve these educational and cultural goals with their full energy. Parents and teachers above all!

All those involved in education must have a clear and unified idea of the educational tasks before them. The four iron pillars of the national school and educational system are: race, military training, leadership, and religion!


National Socialist education is an education in the thinking of the German people, in understanding German traditions, in awakening the pure, uncorrupted, and honest people’s consciousness, their sense of belonging to the people. Only a pure member of the German race can have such an understanding of his people, crowning it with the willingness to sacrifice all for the people. He must know that without his people he is a miserable nothing, and that it is better if he himself die than that his people and fatherland perish! He who thinks that National Socialist education has as its goal a kind of hyperpatriotism has not understood it. Something entirely different is intended. Something should be awakened in the soul of young Germans that will fill their hearts and whole being until their souls can no longer restrain the overflowing, until a powerful and jubilant “Hail Germany” springs from their lips! That call itself is not the first or most significant goal: but rather it is its foundation in the soul, a foundation that jubilantly, freely, confidently, cheerfully and passionately expresses itself. It is the holy sense of people and fatherland! Awakening this in the German youth requires that they have a clear understanding of the value of people and fatherland. They must realize that the German people has a right to independence and freedom, honor and power. They must learn that it has a right to its own fate among the peoples of the earth, and it must gain with the other peoples the place in the sun that belongs to it. It must do this not through force, but rather because the German people is a noble nation that has created values for the entire world that no other people was capable of. We want to awaken in the German youth this free, just, and noble national pride so that at the thought of Germany’s past, present, and future their hearts will pound and their eyes will gleam. That is the first foundation of National Socialist education.frauen-warte cover

Military Training

It is clear that the German youth must be resolved to defend their fatherland with their lives. Despite all the nonsense about promises and disarmament, Germany is surrounded by weapons. The German youth must learn military virtues. Their bodies must be steeled, made hard and strong, so that the youth may become capable soldiers who are healthy, strong, trained, energetic, and able to bear hardships. Gymnastics, games, sports, hiking, swimming, and military exercises must all be learned by the youth. Our youth should not sit in stuffy rooms and develop crooked backs and weak eyes. Alongside the basic and truly important education of the mind, they should develop healthy bodies by being outdoors. The idea of the healthy and strong German should not be mere empty talk. Parents can help here. They will train our youth in simplicity and cleanliness. They will train them, even when they are older, not to waste their spare time by dubious or even harmful activities such as card playing, drinking alcohol, and bad music, but rather to prepare their bodies for their future tasks.


A youth being trained for such important national duties must accept the idea of following the Führer absolutely and without question, without unhealthy carping criticism, without selfishness or opposition. They must learn to obey so that they, having themselves learned to obey, can believe in and trust their own leadership and can grow to be leaders themselves. Only he who has learned to obey can lead. Germany no longer believes that the masses can lead themselves by majority rule! The masses themselves are nothing! We do need not a people ruled by majority votes, but a people with the will to leadership. The German youth must learn that and act accordingly! Thus the German youth belong in organizations where they will learn the nature of leadership in its most noble form, where they can learn to obey and — if they are called to it — also learn to lead. They will not bend to an empty mass will expressed through useless votes, but rather look with enthusiasm to the nation’s strong and noble Führer. They must learn that once again. We parents want to exhibit such authority to our youth by strengthening family authority and establishing in our homes a healthy and natural obedience on the part of our children. This will not suppress the youth, but rather provide them the controlled freedom and authority they need to develop their abilities.


Life comes from God and returns to God. All life and all races follow God’s ordinances. No people and no race can ignore them. We want the German youth to again recognize the religious nature of life. They must realize that God wants the individual as well as the whole people, and that they lose contact with life when they lose contact with God! God and nation are the two foundations of the life of the individual and the community. We want no shallow and superficial piety, but rather a deep faith that God guides the world, that he controls it, and a consciousness of the relationship between God and each individual, and between God and the live of the people and the fatherland. The National Socialist state will promote such a deeply religious educational system. We want parents to support and strengthen this by honesty and by good example.

Race, military training, leadership, religion! These are the four unshakable foundations of the new German National Socialist education!


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