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Fascism and Totalitarianism

Page history last edited by Shaun Lamory 1 month, 1 week ago

Connecting Massachusetts Standard

World History II.24

external image Orwell-1984-Book-Cover-02.jpg

Topics on the page


Rise of Totalitarianism


Totalitarian vs Authoritarian


  • Tools of Totalitarian Leaders
  • Disney World War II Propaganda Films  

Policies and Ideas of Totalitarian Leaders


Uses of Propaganda to Sway Public Opinion



Women and LGBT People in Totalitarian Regimes


  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood


Fighting Fascism at Home and Abroad


  • The African American Experience returning from the war



Focus Question: What is totalitarianism and how did it rise in Europe?

Moloch of Totalitarianism Memorial
Moloch of Totalitarianism Memorial, St. Petersburg, Russia


Rise of Totalitarianism


external image 200px-Hebrew_timeline.svg.pngTotalitarianism Time Line

1) Totalitarianism is a form of government where the state in the form of a single leader controls all aspects of social, economic and political life.


      • It is a 20th century development, typically associated with the rise of a series of dictators including Mussolini, Hitler, Lenin, and Stalin.


Totalitarian government theoretically permits no individual freedom and seeks to subordinate all aspects of the individual's life to the authority of the government.


  • As Mussolini said: "Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state." (quoted from Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956. Anne Applebaum (2012, p. xxi). 


    • As Applebaum further noted, "a totalitarian regime is one that bans all institutions apart from those it has officially approved. A totalitarian regime thus has one political party, one educational system, one artistic creed, one centrally planned economy, one unified media, and one moral code" (2012, p. xxi).

2) In the years immediately following the WWI (1914-1918), a promising new era of democracy seemed to be unfolding.


  • The autocratic regimes in Russia, Germany, and Austria were all overthrown and replaced by republics. 
    • These newly-created states in Europe all adopted a republican form of government, similar to that of the current U.S. government. 


  • Democracy seemed to win out in the post-war world. Within two decades, however, many democratic countries in Europe were taken over by some kind of dictatorship. 
    • Russia became a Communist state while Italy and Germany became Fascist states.

3) Between the two World Wars, Britain and France could be regarded as democratic-like states.


  • Within these two states, the individuals had freedom of speech and of the press, of petition and of assembly, and freedom from arrest for political opinions.


    • They could form political parties and elect the party or the parties they liked to rule. In short, the individual was an end in himself.  
      • The government helped to provide for the fullest development and security of all individuals.




Russia (1917-1939), Italy (1922-1939), and Germany (1933-1939) might be regarded as totalitarian states.


  • Within these states, the individuals had no right of free speech, free publications, or free associations.


    • Individual citizens had no right to form political parties; there was only one governmental party which imposed its dictatorial rule on the people. 


      • This one-party regime was concerned with the 'total' activities of its people, including the peoples' work, leisure, religion, and even their private lives.[1]


Link to handout which provides overview of Totalitarianism and some Totalitarian leaders https://www.lcps.org/cms/lib/VA01000195/Centricity/Domain/10599/Interwar%20Totalitarian%20Rulers.pdf


Hitler's Mein Kampf is an autobiographical manifesto of the Nazi Party. Here is a PDF of the resource. Here is an explanation of its significance.



Totalitarian vs. Authoritarian

Authoritarian: Desire to control behavior


For an overview of the Portuguese Authoritarian system under the Estado Novo click here.


To see how Portugal's dictatorship used propaganda watch this video.


To watch a speech by Antonio Salazar, the dictator of Portugal from 1932-1968, click here.

Totalitarian: Desire to control thought


Powerpoint on rise of Totalitarianism https://www.slideshare.net/cems7ss/the-rise-of-totalitarianism

During the Cold War, the United States distinguished between undemocratic regimes:


  • Authoritarian and U.S. supported: Pincohet's Chile; Shah's Iran)


    • Totalitarian and U.S. opposed: China, USSR

Source: Russia's Gay Demons, Robert Cottrell. The New York Review of Books (December 7, 2017)

Memorial for WWII bomb victims, Hamburg, Germany.Image by San Andreas
Memorial for WWII bomb victims, Hamburg, Germany.Image by San Andreas

Image to the left includes the words "The dead command us: never again totalitarianism, never again war."

Tools of Totalitarian Leaders

Tools totalitarian leaders used to gain and maintain power:


  • Propaganda: One sided biased information intended to persuade the people.


  • Police Terror and Fear: Dictators create a police force that helps to keep them in power.


    • When people are afraid of the police, they cannot act out against the government.


  • Religious and Ethnic Persecution: Blaming and discriminating against a minority group for their religious beliefs and ethnicity.
    • Totalitarian rulers tend to blame minority groups for the country's problems to take away the attention from their mistakes and actions.


  • Progress and improvements: Sometimes dictators are able to improve peoples' daily lives, which makes people loyal to the dictator.


  • Ideology Indoctrination: Dictators put in place a new type of government or new ideas and then persuade people to believe in the new way of thinking by controlling the media and what is taught in schools.
    • Censorship: Controlling what people can say and what people can hear.


  • Cult of Personality: Dictators often have charismatic personalities. They are good at giving speeches and getting people to believe in them and follow them.





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Uses of Propaganda to sway the Public Opinion

Image to the right is a 1939 Soviet propaganda poster depicting the Red Army killing an oppressive Polish eagle

For background, see Propaganda 101: What You Need to Know and Why See also, Propaganda: What's the Message? from iCivics.

See Nazi Propaganda from the United States Holocaust Museum.

The Rise of Totalitarianism in Europe from the Core Knowledge Foundation.

external image Beautiful_red_apple.jpgWinning Over Hearts and Minds: Analyzing WWII Propaganda Posters.

Use of Propaganda During World War II from NebraskaStudies.org


A video summarizing George Orwell's 1984 and its relation to Totalitarianism https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9JIKngJnCU


Disney World War II Propaganda Films


The United States created anti-fascist propaganda with Disney during World War II.


    • Here is a YouTube playlist of clips created by Disney to appeal to children and educate the public on the evils of Fascist power.  They are examples of how powerful propaganda can be used to communicate information to people.


 The Rise Of Totalitarian Technology, a Forbes article discussing present-day totalitarianism and technology's role in its rise.



 Women and LGBT People in Totalitarian Regimes






The Handmaid's Tale





Totalitarianism in Latin America 


When a Dictator becomes Part of Your Family Luis, resident of the Dominican Republic, tells his family's story of living under totalitarian rule.


 An article about an island off the coast of Italy with an often forgotten LGBT history https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-22856586



Fight Fascism at Home and Abroad


Smithsonian exhibit on the African American experience returning home from fighting in the world wars. 


The Double V for Victory campaign was a slogan to defeat fascism both at home and abroad. It was championed by Black activists such as Hubert Harrison, the great orator of the Harlem Renaissance who was one of the first to intellectualize the Double V campaign. 






Works Cited:
[1] Grobman, G (1990). Nazi Fascism and the Modern Totalitarian State. Retrieved March 7, 2007, Web site: http://www.remember.org/guide/Facts.root.nazi.html
[2] Smith, D Benito Mussolini. Retrieved March 7, 2007, Web site: http://www.grolier.com/wwii/wwii_mussolini.html
[3] Poon, HW (1979). Fascist Italy. Retrieved March 7, 2007, Web site: http://www.thecorner.org/hist/total/f-italy.htm
[4] Poon, HW (1979). Nazi Germany. Retrieved March 7, 2007, Web site: http://www.thecorner.org/hist/total/n-german.htm#hitler-president
[5] Adolf Hitler. Retrieved March 7, 2007, from Spartacus Educational Web site: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERhitler.htm
[6] Dunder, J Vladimir Lenin Biography. Retrieved March 7, 2007, from Free Info Society Web site: http://www.freeinfosociety.com/site.php?postnum=76
[7] (1999). Biography: Joseph Stalin. Retrieved March 7, 2007, from Red Files Web site:

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