The Rise of Dictators

Totalitarian state

1919 - 1939

Only two major states France and Great Britain remained democratic. Italy, the Soviet Union, Germany, and many other European states adopted dictatorial regimes. A totalitarian state is a government that aims to control political, economic, social, intellectual, and culture lives of its citizens.

Fascism in Italy

Benito Mussolini


Benito Mussolini established the first European Fascist movement in Italy. Mussolini began his political group, the Fascio di Combttimento, or League of Combat.


1920 - 1939

Fascism glorifies the state above the individual by emphasizing the need for a strong central government led by a dictatorial ruler. In a fascist state people are controlled by the government and any opposition is suppressed. In 1920 and 1921 Mussolini formed bands of black-shirted, armed Fascist called squadristi or black shirts. In 1922 Mussolini and the Fascist threatened to march on Rome if they were not given power.

A New Era in the Soviet Union

New Economic Policy

1921 - 1922

In March 1921 Lenin pulled Russia back from the abyss. He abandoned war communism in favor of his New Economic Policy (NEP). The NEP was a modified version of the old capitalist system. Peasants were allowed to sell their produce openly. Lenin's new policy saved the Soviet Union from complete economic disaster



Lenin died on 1924. A power struggle began among the seven members of the Politburo the committee that made the Communist Party Policy. The Politburo was split into two on what policy the Soviet Union should follow to create a socialist state.

Five-Year Plan

1928 - 1937

Stalin made a significant shift in economic policy in 1928 when he ended the NEP and launched his Five-Year Plan. The Five-Year Plan set economic goals for five-year periods. It was to transform Russia virtually overnight from an agriculture into an industrial county.

Authoritarian States in the West

Eastern Europe


Parliamentary systems were adopted in Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Yugoslavia known till 1929 as the kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes.



In Spain political democracy failed to survive. Led by General Francisco Franco, Spanish military forces revolted against the democratic government in 1936. A bloody civil war began. The Civil War came to an end when Franco's forces captured Madrid in 1939