Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy: Comparisons, Contrasts, Collaborations

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Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy: Comparisons, Contrasts, Collaborations
Ruth Ben-Ghiat Course Time: Tuesdays 10am-12:30

Stephen Gross

Course Description:

Fascism, so one recent history has argued, posed the greatest challenge to liberal democracy during the twentieth century. Fascism offered new answers to the problems arising from mass politics, industrialization, technology, and imperialism, and in doing so it sought to remake society, the continent of Europe, and the world. Our goal will be to develop a critical understanding of fascism as a product of the problems arising from modernity in order to understand how and why much of Europe took a violent path that ended in world war and genocide.

This course will examine, comparatively, the Italian and German dictatorships during the interwar years and during World War II, examining Fascism as an ideology, as a series of social movements, and eventually as a set of regimes that governed people’s lives. We will begin by exploring in the intellectual roots of Fascism and how fascist movements seized power in Italy and Germany. We will then study how fascist regimes, once in power, cultivated popular support and legitimacy; how they developed their own systems of economics, biopolitics, gender, and the cult of the dictator; how these regimes shaped the everyday lives of their subjects; and how they radicalized with the onset of war, the Axis alliance, and imperial expansion. We will conclude by trying to understand how these illiberal movements can best be interpreted—totalitarian, fascist, racist, or as unique phenomena—and how they have been remembered.

Tentative List of Weekly Topics:
Week 1: Introduction
Week 2: Fascist Origins and Rise to Power in Italy
Week 3: Nazi Origins and Rise to Power in Germany
Week 4: Consolidating Power in Italy
Week 5: Consolidating Power in Germany
Week 6: The Dictators
Week 7: Totalitarianism and Comparisons with Soviet Union under Stalin
Week 8: Colonialism, Imperialism, and Visions of Empire
Week 9: Fascism, Biopolitics, and Racial Hygiene
Week 10: Fascism and Gender
Week 11: Ethiopia, the Spanish Civil War and the Axis Alliance
Week 12: Fascism and the Second World War
Week 13: The Holocaust
Week 14: The Memory and Legacy of Fascism

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