Mussolini’s Failed Foreign Policy

Mussolini the Duce was over-confident in his abilities as the Fascist leader of Italy. By aligning with Germany, Mussolini greatly over-estimated both the role of Italy in the European power play and in his foreign policy negotiating ability. In his article “Fascist Diplomacy and Fascist War”, Clark asserts that Mussolini was “no diplomat, and seemed incapable of taking a long-term view.”1 Especially in comparison with Hitler and Stalin, who both were willing to sacrifice short-term public opinion for calculated long-term state-building, Mussolini and his sought after Roman revival come across as the weakest of the European powers in both the diplomatic and militaristic aspect of foreign policy.… Read the rest here

Extreme Violence in the Nazi-Soviet War

In “States of Exception: the Nazi-Soviet War as a System of Violence, 1939-1945” Mark Edele and Michael Geyer analyze the mindset of war and the onset of extreme violence in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. The authors posit that the devastation and violence that accompanied the war was a result of the mutual hostility between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Additionally they argue that this war was fought “as a war on an interior and an exterior front” and that the escalation and radicalization of the war had a tremendous psychological impact on soldiers which further contributed to the prevalence of violence.… Read the rest here

Understanding the Holocaust

In”Hitler and the Holocaust,” Ian Kershaw begins his historiography stating,

“Explaining the Holocaust stretches the historian to the limits in the central task of providing rational explanation of complex historical developments. Simply to pose the question of how a highly cultured and economically advanced modern state could ‘carry out the systematic murder of a whole people for no reason other than they were Jews’ suggests a scale of irrationality scarcely susceptible to historical understanding.” (Kershaw, Ian.

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Italian Fascism: The Non-Authoritative Dictatorship

In Bosworth’s article “Everyday Mussolinism: Friends, Family, Locality and Violence in Fascist Italy”,1 the pervasive and totalitarian nature of the Italian Fascist regime is brought into question. Bosworth argues that even the Duce himself was aware of how ineffective his government was at implementing policy into change of everyday behavior. An anti-Fascist under current developed and was reoccurring without being institutionally controlled.2 By examining multiple individual cases and examples, Bosworth successfully shows the multitude of ways the Italian public found opportunities to undermine Mussolini’s supposedly complete system of statist control.… Read the rest here

Denunciation and the Great Purges

“…he ‘hunted for enemies everywhere with a magnifying glass’.1.

In Shelia Fitzpatrick’s “A Time of Troubles” she analyzed the impact the Great Purges had on everyday life and what mechanisms allowed the wide-spread terror to occur between 1937 and 1938.2. The Great Purges differed from earlier purges the Soviet Union experienced in that the term “enemy” was no longer associated with solely class. The classification of “enemy” became much broader and more difficult to identify.… Read the rest here

“Imperialist” Violence vs. “Developmental” Violence: The Violent Societies of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Soviet Union

One of the primary characteristics and areas of study on European dictators of the interwar period is the use and degree of violence in these regimes. In Christian Gerlach’s and Nicolas Werth’s chapter in Beyond Totalitarianism on “State Violence – Violent Societies,” the role that violence played in Nazi Germany in Stalinist Soviet Union respectively, as well as past historical interpretations of state violence within these regimes are assessed with a focus on the methods of violence, the degree of the violence, the role of the state, and the incorporation of ideologies ( (Christian Gerlach and Nicolas Werth, “State Violence- Violent Societies” in Beyond Totalitarianism: Stalinism and Nazism Compared, ed.… Read the rest here

Public Works vs. Nature and the Back to the Land Movement

The Great Depression ravaged the economies of the United States and Germany. In an attempt to recover the United States and Germany implemented public works projects to improve not only unemployment rates, but also industry levels and infrastructure. These projects were also used as forms of government propaganda to revive national pride. In Schivelbusch’s chapter on public works he highlights public projects of the United States and Germany as well as the less successful public works attempts of the Soviet Union and Fascist Italy.… Read the rest here

Fascist Italy and Behavior of Individuals

“The Fascist State” by Christopher Leeds describes the ways in which Mussolini and the Italian Fascist Party attempted to mold Italian society.

“Our whole way of eating, dressing, working and sleeping, in short all our everyday habits, must be changed”1 .

This passage is particularly important to the article because it highlights the depth in which the fascist government and Mussolini sought to modify Italian society and change individuals’ behavior. However, as Leeds suggests they were not able to successfully do so.… Read the rest here

Frameworks of Social Engineering

How can we truly go about with categorizing populations? In the case of Stalin’s USSR and Nazi Germany, populations were categorized by class and race respectively. Chapter 6 of Beyond Totalitarianism, Christopher R. Browning and Lewis H. Siegelbaum examine the different “radical recategorizations” of the populations in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. <Christopher R. Browning and Lewis H. Siegelbaum, “Frameworks for Social Engineering: Stalinist Schema of Identification and the Nazi Volksgemeinschaft,” in Beyond Totalitarianism: Stalinism and Nazism Compared, ed.… Read the rest here

Mussolini: Rome Revived or Rome Reviled?

Is a politician’s image imposed externally, by admirers and critics located domestically as well as abroad, examining the politician within his respective surrounding context and time period? [Bottom-up] Or, on the other hand, does a ruler paint his own political picture, a self-created phenomenon, descending internally from the ruler himself? [Top-down] This is the question that R. J. B. Bosworth examines in a chapter of his 1998 publication, “Mussolini the Duce: Sawdust Caesar, Roman Statesman or Dictator Minor?”.… Read the rest here