Italy and Mussolini’s Rise

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The Dictators: Rise of Mussolini in Italy and Tojo in Japan

Italy and Mussolini’s Rise

Serious problems plagued Italy after the First World War. Inflation and labor strikes hurt the Italian economy, and communists, who had already come to power in Russia, threatened to take over Italy’s democratic government. By the end of the war, Italy’s war debt rose from $2,929,000,000 to $6,918,000,000. Italy was in desperate need of money; other countries stopped buying Italian goods and denied giving Italy loans because of their own economic issues. In addition, Italians felt insulted by the Treaty of Versailles, because the territory given to Italy fell short of their expectations. Inflation also caused many problems in Italy as well. All these problems causes social unrest in Italy as people turned to the extreme parties in government. Benito Mussolini, a veteran of the war, took advantage of conditions in Italy to emerge as a national figure and eventually form a dictatorship.

In 1919, Mussolini founded the first fascist political movement. Fascism is based on extreme nationalism in which the state (nation) comes first and individual liberty is secondary. Fascists are strongly opposed to communism and democracy. They favor military values, the use of violence, and a leader who is strong and ruthless. Mussolini used his extraordinary skill public speaking to promote fascism. At these rallies, tough young men wearing black shirts provided security for him. These supporters became known as the Blackshirts and formed squads that broke up political meetings, labor strikes, assaulted socialists and communists, and terrorized others.

By 1922, fascists were very dominant in the government. In October, Mussolini and his fascist followers threatened to march on Rome; however, the King was convinced by his generals and leading businessmen to give Mussolini power so that he could fix Italy’s problems. Mussolini quickly took charge and took the title “Il Duce” which, in Italian, means “the leader.” Within a few years he turned Italy into a fascist dictatorship. He banned labor unions, outlawed opposing political parties, censored the press, employed spies and secret police, and began to industrialize Italy’s economy.

Japan and Tojo’s Rise

While Japan was on the path to become a truly democratic nation in the 1920s, the Great Depression of the 1930s slowed Japan’s economic growth and the Japanese people began to lose faith in their government. As with the examples of Italy and Germany, the Japanese turned to the extremes to lead them out of this mess. In stepped the Japanese military which would take control of Japan in the 1930s and maintained its control until 1945. Hideki Tojo would be at the head of the Japanese military and government for much of this time.

Tojo assumed the office of vice-minister of war after WWI and quickly took the lead in the military's increasing control of Japanese foreign policy, advocating the signing of the 1940 Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy that made Japan an "Axis" power (an alliance with Germany and Italy)

In July 1940, he was made minister of war and used his power to control Japan.

Tojo, now a virtual dictator, quickly promised a "New Order in Asia" where Japan would conquer other countries. Tojo's aggressive policies were beneficial to Japan early on, with major territorial gains in Indochina and the South Pacific. Tojo wanted to take the resources from other parts of Asia such as China and use them to build Japan’s economy and military. When the Chinese decided to fight back, Tojo invaded deeper into China and the Japanese military killed more than 300,000 Chinese civilians.

Name ____________________ Dictators Questions: Italy and Japan

Directions: Use the information from the reading and notes to answer the following questions.

1. ____ Why were the Italians not happy with the Treaty of Versailles?

A. it punished them too much C. they did not get enough land

B. they had to accept blame for the war D. it had causes inflation and a bad economy

2. ____ The main problem affecting Italy after World War One was primarily…

A. political B. economic C. social D. militarism

3. ____ Which word would characterize Mussolini communication/speaking ability using the picture?

A. apathetic B. boring C. charismatic D. peaceful

4. ____ Which of the following groups came to power in Japan?

A. communists B. socialists C. military D. democratic groups

5. ____ Which of the following countries was not part of the Axis Powers?

A. China B. Italy C. Germany D. Japan

Directions: Determine whether each statement is True or False

6. ____ The Blackshirts were supporters of Benito Mussolini

7. ____ People in Italy looked to extreme groups after the war to fix their problems

8. ____ The invasion of China by Japan was an effect of Tojo’s policies

9. ____ Mussolini and his supporters overthrew the Government of Italy with violence and bloodshed

10. ____ Japan used the resources from areas it took over in Asia to build up its economy and military

11. _____ Japan and Italy both pursued policies of mass genocide

12. _____ Both of these leaders relied on the military or militaristic organizations to carry out their policies

13. _____ Mussolini had the King of Italy assassinated along with the royal family

14. _____ Japan’s plan for a “New Order in Asia” is an example of isolation

15. _____ One of the major goals for both leaders was to improve their country’s economy

Directions: Answer the short-responses using the information and your notes. (5 points each)

11. What are the basic beliefs of fascism?

12. How do these beliefs contradict the ideas of the Enlightenment and Natural Rights?

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