Totalitarianism in Pre-War Europe

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Totalitarianism in Pre-War Europe

Totalitarianism refers to a system of government and parliamentary

ideology that was in many of the countries of Europe between the years

1918-1939. This period saw many ideologies being developed and put

into practice, and many even blame the rise of totalitarian states and

aggressive, autocratic leaders for the Second World War.

Totalitarianism is often associated with regimes in which there is one

leader and party unquestionably in power with no significant rivals.

In a totalitarian state, the ideology of the party is often firmly

indoctrinated. The term was first used in 1925 to describe a

socio-political system that was comprehensive and all embracing. It

applies to both extremes of political systems, Communism and Fascism.

Historians Carl Friedrich and Zbigniew Brzezinski, in 1956, tried to

identify certain features of totalitarianism. It has an official

ideology that is generally adhered to, the state has control over the

military, economy and mass communication, particularly in the field of

administering propaganda and censoring the press, and has a terror

inspiring police force for controlling the population. As described by

the historian Robert Pearce, "…a fully totalitarian government

controls the whole life of its citizens. This, 'everything should be

rendered unto Caesar.'"

In Europe of the pre-war period, the rise of totalitarian primarily

refers to the three states of Germany, Russia and Italy, with their

three charismatic, almost deistic figures, Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin

and Benito Mussolini although General Franco's Spain may be considered

a totalitarian, Fascist regime as...

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The Great Depression caused by the Wall Street Crash of 1929 affected

the whole globe, particularly Germany ass it could no longer depend on

the loans from the United States to rebuild itself. This led to the

abandonment of international co-operation and the focusing on national

interests. Many countries went into a policy of isolation and were

unable to keep dictators from coming into power, and were not actively

interested in the affairs of other countries.

Collective security, International co-operation and democracy had

largely failed in Europe, which turned and gave rise to totalitarian

governments and aggressive dictators to solve their problems and

reinstate their national identity, and go back to the "glory days".

The dictators used the above failures to their advantage to appeal to

a wider audience.
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