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The Rise of Fascism in Italy and Germany

1919 - 1939

Europe's economies recovered very slowly and,in the interim, parts of Europe succumbed to a new ideology of the desparate and downtrodden, fascism. All fascism was a mixture, to one degree or another, of the following ingredients:

•an intense form of nationalism
•a professed belief in the virtues of struggle and youth
•a fanatical obedience to a charismatic leader
•an expressed hatred of socialism and liberalism

Post World War I

1919

This was a time of economic depression and social and cultural insecurity.

Mussolini and Italian Fascism

1919

A former socialist named Benito Mussolini, founded the National Fascist Party.It fielded candidate for the Italian legistature and to establish itself as the party that could save Italy from the threat of socialism. Mussolini quickly moved to consolidate his power by pushing through a number of constitutional changes. A showdown between Mussolini and what parliamentary forces still existed in Italy came in the summer of 1924, when fascists were implicated in the murder of the socialist member of the Italian parliament, Giacomo Matteotti. The masses supported Mussolini, and by early 1926 all opposition parties had been dissolved and declared illegal, making Mussolini the effective dictator of Italy.

Fascism in France

1919

During the war, France had essentially been administered by the military. At the war's conclusion, the Parliament rushed to reassert its dominance and France was governed by moderate coalitions. But the elections of 1924 swept the Cartel des Gauches, a coalition of socialist parties, to power, causing a reaction in the form of a flurry of fascist organizations.These organizations remained on the political fringe, but they provided extremist opposition and a source of anti- Semitism, which became prominent in the collaboration of the Vichy regime during the German occupation of France in World War II.

The fall of the Weimar Republic in Germany

1920

Was a liberal democracy led by a moderate Social Democrat, Friedrich Ebert. Was an unstable government alienated to the German people. The overwhelming uncertainty caused by the situation triggered hyperinflation that made German currency essentially worthless.

The Soviet Union in Economic Ruins

1920 - 1939

In order to deal with crisis caused by and left behind the now over bloody civil war between the monarchist "Whites" and the Bolshevik- led "Reds", Lenin launched the New Economic Plan (NEP).It allowed rural peasants and small- business operators to manage their own land and businesses and sell their products. In 1928,Stalin ended the NEP and initiated the first of a series of five- year plans, which rejected all notions of private enterprise and initiate the building of state- owned factories and power stations. He also pursued the collection of agriculture, destroying the culture of the peasant village and replacing it with one organized around huge collective farms. All peasants who resisted were killed, starved,arrested, sent to work camps or arrested in a series of purges estimating 7-8 million. The end result was a system that demanded and rewarded complete conformity to the vision of the Communist Party as dictated by Stalin.

Hitler and German Nazism

1923

Wartime propaganda had led the German public to believe that the war was going well. As a result, Germany's surrender came as an inexplicable shock. The peace settlement seemed unfair and unduly harsh, and there was a growing sense among the German people that Germany must have been betrayed. In that context, the Nazis became popular by telling the German people several things they desperately wanted to hear:
•The Nazis appealed to displaced veterans and young people by telling them that they would build a Germany that had a place for them.
•They promised to get rid of the hated war reparations and to return Germany to military greatness.
•They provided the Germans with someone to blame for defeat by claiming that the Jews had betrayed Germany.
•They appealed to frightened business interests and the Church in Germany by promising to protect them from the socialists.
Years of reorganization and building of grass-roots support produced significant electoral gains in the elections of 1930.In the elections of 1932, the Nazis won over 35 percent of the vote.In the elections of 1933, Nazis won 288 seats out of 647. With the support of 52 deputies of the nationalist party, and in the absence of communist deputies that were under arrest, the Nazis were able to rule with a majority. By bullying the Reichstag into passing the Enabling Act of March 1933, Hitler was essentially free to rule as a dictator.

Dictatorship in Spain and Portugal: Franco and Salazar

1926

In 1926, army officers overthrew the Portuguese republic that had been created in 1910, and gradually Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, an economics professor, became dictator.When a socialist cartel won the election of 1936, General Francisco Franco led a revolt against the Republic from Spanish Morocco, plunging Spain into a bloody civil war. Franco received support from the Spanish monarchy and Church, while Germany and Italy sent money and equipment. The Republic was defended by brigades of volunteers from around the world (famous writers George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway were among them), and eventually received aid from the Soviet Union.By 1939, Franco ruled Spain as a dictator.

The Great Depression

1929 - 1932

Was an economic collapse October of 1929 when the New York stock market crashed, with stocks losing more than 2/3 of their value.The attempt to solve the problem in traditional ways- by cutting government expenditure, tightening the supply of money, and raising tariffs on imported goods- only made things worse. The governments slowly "jump started" the stagnant economy.

Fascism in Britian

1930

In Great Britain, small right-wing extremist groups were united in the 1930s under the leadership of Sir George Oswald Mosley, who created the British Union of Fascists. They were united by their hatred of socialism and their anti-Semitism. October of 1934 when they battled with socialists and Jewish groups in an incident that has come to be known as the "Battle of Cable Street."Once the war broke out, the BUF was banned and Mosley was jailed.

The Road to WWII

1936 - 1944

When he took his 1st big step by moving his revitalized armed forces into the Rhineland provoked no substantive response from France or Briitian,Adolf Hitler embarked on series of moves to the east that adventually triggered WWII.

Blitzkrieg and "the Phony War"

1939 - 1940

As Germany invaded Poland, Britain and France were not yet in a military position to offer much help.Over the winter of 1939 and 1940, war was going on at sea, but on land and in the air there was a virtual stand-still that has come to be termed "the phony war."

The Battles of France and Britain

1940

In early June 1940, the German army was well inside France. On 14 June 1940, German troops entered Paris. Two days later the aging General Marshal Pétain, assumed control of France and signed an armistice with Germany according to which the German army, at French expense, occupied the northern half of France, including the entire Atlantic coast, while Pétain himself governed the rest from the city of Vichy. A frustrated Hitler responded by ordering a nightly bombing of London in a two-month attempt to disrupt industrial production and to break the will of the British people. In the end, neither was achieved. In mid-October, Hitler decided to postpone the invasion, and the Battle of Britain had been won by the British.

The War in North Africa and the Balkans

1941 - 1942

In 1941, the war became a global conflict as Italian forces invaded North Africa, attempting to push the British out of Egypt. However, British forces routed the Italians; Germany responded by sending troops into North Africa and the Balkans. The Germans succesfully occupied the Balkans.

The Holocaust

1941

In the end, an estimated six million Jews were murdered, along with an additional seven million gypsies, homosexuals, socialists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and other targeted groups.

The German Invasion of the Soviet Union

June 1941 - December 1941

Germany's eastern army succeeded in conquering those parts of the Soviet Union that produced 60% of its coal and steel and almost half its grain by December 1, thoughforgetting about the 1st link in what would become the Grand Alliance between Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States.

The American Entry and Impact

1942

On 7 December 1941, Japanese air forces launched a surprise attack in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, hoping to cripple the U.S. naval presence in the Pacific Ocean. The United States immediately declared war on Japan and, within a few days, Germany and Italy had declared war on the United States.
Initially, America's impact on the war was through resources rather than soldiers, but its entry provided the third and final turning point (along with the Battle of Britain and Germany's decision to invade the Soviet Union) in the war.In the autumn of 1942, American marines landed on the island of Guadalcanal; it was to be the first of many islands to be recaptured from the Japanese at great cost of human lives.

The Axis Retreat

1942 - 1943

The mammoth Battle of Stalingrad lasted six months; by the time it ended in February of 1943, the greater part of a German Army had died or surrendered to the Russians, and the remainder was retreating westward.In November 1943, Allied forces under General Dwight Eisenhower's command landed in Morocco and Algeria and began a drive that pushed all Axis forces in Africa into Tunisia. Seven months later, all Axis forces had been expelled from Africa.

Allied Victory

1944 - 1945

D-Day," 6 June 1944, Allied forces under Eisenhower's command launched an audacious amphibious invasion of German-held France on the beaches of Normandy.By late August, Paris was liberated and Hitler's forces were on the retreat.On May 1, it was announced that Hitler was dead, and on May 7, the German High Command surrendered unconditionally. In the Pacific, the long and deadly task of retaking the Pacific islands was averted by the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japanese cities: one on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, and another on the city of Nagasaki on 8 August 1945. Japan surrendered unconditionally on 2 September.

Assessment and Aftermath of World War II

1945

World War II was even more destructive than World War I, and civilian casualties rather than military deaths made up a significant portion of the 50–60 million people who perished in the conflict.In the years immediately following the war, these countries became independent:
•India gained its independence from Britain.
•Syria and Lebanon broke away from France.
•The Dutch were dismissed from Indonesia.
Finally, it became clear that, in the new world order that emerged from World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union stood alone as great powers.