Mussolini Essay, Research Paper
As the twentieth century comes to a close, the world can now look back on a century filled with war, technology, revolution, and growth. When looking back upon the most powerful leaders that shaped past century, it can?t be assumed that all of them had good intentions in mind. In fact, it is these leaders, the ones who set forth goals of destruction and massacre, that have affected the past hundred years the most drastically. The two men who fully represented this figure of dictatorship and extreme fascism are without a question Adolf Hitler of Germany and Benito Mussolini of Italy. These men strove for unrealistic and inhumane ideals, and both convinced a nation to follow them. Hitler and Mussolini took advantage of their respective nations, capitalizing on the desperation of war and poverty stricken people who needed a direction in life. These leaders cluttered the minds of the general population with their ideas of how life could be better, even if it meant the oppression of others. Through propaganda they were able to convince the people that their way was not just the best way, but the only way to handle the times in order to ensure the survival of the nation. The two most renown publications of these men were Hitler?s Mien Kampf and Mussolini?s The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism. Any possible dangers or flaws within these texts were ignored by the masses and as a result caused unimaginably horrid outcomes. To better understand where these men derived their ideas, built their reputations, and maintained leadership, it is imperative to first look into the history of the man and then the history of the nation. These can be combined to help analyze why they wrote what they did, and why the people responded how they did. Both of these men had an
unbelievable power over people through their speeches, propaganda, written work, and actions. These men were similar in these aspects, but differed in their approaches, structure, and goals set for their nation. Born in Austria in the year 1889, Adolf Hitler learned at an early age how to conquer hardships with his father?s death and failed attempts at school. As a poor, alone reject, he soon found interest in the political views and strategies of Vienna mayor Karl Lueger. Seeing the power of speech and its effect on people, Hitler certainly kept in mind many of Lueger?s ideas of anti-Semitism and mass manipulation. Following his stay in Vienna, Hitler joined the Bavarian regiment, where he received the Iron Cross. After becoming a war hero in World War I, Hitler joined and eventually took over the Nazi (National Socialist German Workers) party. After his first attempt to overthrow the Bavarian government, Hitler was sent to prison. During this time, Hitler wrote his most famous work, Mein Kampf. This book attempts to make scientific explanations for Hitler?s destruction of non-Aryan races, especially the Jewish race. Using terms like Social Darwinism to explain the ?constant struggle of the superior Aryan race against being submerged in a sea of inferior peoples,? (Wall, 124) Hitler convinced influential and powerful people to listen and agree with him. Through his book, Hitler explains most of his concepts and ideals for bettering the German nation. The Germans were a defeated people looking to end a depression held over from the first World War. During the early 1930s, Germans wanted an easy solution to their discontent and depression. Hitler gave them the hope of national strength andunity, whereas other German leaders only offered peace with the enemy and the failure of German democracy. Widely using propaganda, Hitler was able to convince a depressed nation that there was hope. The nation could boost their morale, fight wars they could win, and possibly seek world domination through nationalism, militarism, anti-Semitism, and obedience to the leader. (Brower, 109) The German people believed the only solution to their political crisis was the Nazi party and its leader. What they didn?t realize is how extreme Hitler would take his ideas. Feeling the only way to compensate for their bitterness towards the Treaty of Versailles and their eagerness for German expansion, the people followed Hitler. They ignored his brutality and violence, seeing it as the only way to reach the larger goals of the nation. Hitler eased the people?s minds with ideas of nationalism and ethnocentrism. The German people didn?t necessarily agree with the oppression of the Jews and other non-Aryans in Germany, but couldn?t complain because the quality of life for them was improving. The people were reassured with Hitler?s racist ideas, for example, ?All the human culture, all the results of art, science, and technology that we see before us today, are almost exclusively the creative product of the Aryan.? (Wall, 129) Hitler presented ideas that Aryans were the most fit race for survival, and presented proof from Charles Darwin?s theories on evolution. He made it seem that the only hope for survival and advancement as a nation and as a race was to rid the world of Jews and other ?inferior? races.
The German people continued to support Hitler?s ideals of an empire that would last for a thousand years (the ?Third Reich?). They refused to acknowledge the weaknesses of Hitler. They looked past the massacre of an entire race of people, the lack of military strategy, and Hitler?s megalomania. At the time, unemployment was disappearing and people had security. There was no reason for the Germans to question Hitler?s ideals, and anyone who did so risked their lives. The Nazi?s downfall was overconfidence, which led to major problems when they attempted to invade Russia. Soon after the United States defeated Germany caused Hitler to resort to suicide. Born in the Emilia Romagna in 1883, Benito Mussolini was similar in many aspects as Adolf Hitler. Like Hitler, Mussolini led his nation through fascist ideals, which resulted in massacre and hatred. Mussolini started his career as an elementary school teacher, and then fled to Switzerland to avoid the Italian military service. There, he was expelled for distributing Socialist and atheist propaganda. When he returned, he served in the front lines of the army, like Hitler. Afterwards he pursued a career as the editor of a newspaper, and later became one of the leaders of the militant wing of the party. Mussolini was arrested in 1911 for opposing government ideas. Through his paper, he continued to attack the Socialist party. (Wall, 137-138) Using Italy?s depression and lack of morale, Mussolini began to preach nationalism and fascism. People appealed to this because of the ?glorification of national unity and its claim to have ended social discord.? (Brower, 106)
To avoid a social revolution, both the Liberal ministry and king of Italy were willing to employ the Fascists. They appointed Mussolini as the head of the government. Soon, he began to run things through murder, political corruption, and oppression of the freedom of the press and of assembly. The former antiwar socialist preached messages of militaristic rejuvenation of Italy. He glorified Italy?s past, and convinced the people that he would restore how Italy once was. Like Hitler, he manipulated ideas of nationalism to justify his fascist revolution. (Brower, 107) However, Mussolini, unlike Hitler, was not very popular with everyone. He used force and destruction in an attempt to rid the nation of democracy and its political parties. Glorifying fascism, Mussolini led a nation from depression to destruction. Using manipulation in his one of his writings, The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism, he confuses the reader with long wordy passages to justify fascism. One passage describes a fascist as someone who,?Accepts life and loves it, knowing nothing of and despising suicide; he rather conceives of life as duty and struggle and conquest, life which should be high and full, lived for oneself, but above all for others ? those who are at hand and those who are far distant, contemporaries, and those who will come after.? (Wall, 142)By making it seem as if fascism was highest form of politics, the people felt it was the only way to better the quality of life and succeed during the time of war. Because of this, people could ignore the potential dangers of his ideas. Mussolini would justify his actions with nationalistic pride and a strong religious undertone.
By 1943, Mussolini lost most of his popularity and was relieved of his power by the king. While still trying to rally supporters, Mussolini was captured and shot while attempting to escape to Switzerland. His body was abused and reviled when brought back to Italy. (Wall, 139) Unlike Hitler, after his death, Mussolini?s dream did not carry on. The people of Italy were disgusted that they were ever even a remote part of Mussolini?s demagogic manipulations and massacre-based politics. When comparing these two men, it is impossible to think of anything positive that was accomplished. However, hopefully the positive that comes out of these two fascists is the possibility that a man such as these will be avoided in the future, and never be able to have as much power and control over a group of people as Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini had. Through ignorance and a lack of individualism, people followed these men like sheep to a shepherd. They aimlessly believed their words and were manipulated into becoming a part of a nationalistic and uncontrollably destructive empire. The people were so concerned with how good things seemed, that they forgot to realize the greater picture: that their newfound quality of life was the result of the death and oppression of many, the lack of freedom of individuality, and the complete control by one man.