Today we categorize the regimes of the Nazis and Mussolini as both being a Fascist state. In the early years of their regimes however if one looks closely would find that there is a stark difference in ideals of the two Dictators. One’s early ideals were to create the genetically perfect populace. While the second’s focused on empowering the individual and expanding to create a vast territorial empire.
Reading the Fordham university article The 25 Points 1920: An Early Nazi Program It could be understood that the Nazis viewed the well fair and purification of Germany as their main objective. Within these 25 points there is no mention of territorial expansion. At an early glance of these points and the lack of any territorial policies one could not categorize the early Nazi party with the regime of Mussolini.
In 1932 in order to put a defining definition of fascism Mussolini sat down with Giovanni Gentile and wrote Bento Mussolini: What is Fascism, 1932. Mussolini argues that Fascism believes in that the support of the individual takes priority over that of the state. However it is also mentioned within his article that the growth of an empire where during this expansion the people can be invigorated.
While today it is easy to say that these two leaders were similar it is not completely true. Mussolini believed that Fascism is the system to invigorate a people and expand to become an empire. The early Nazi belief was much different in that they only believed in a genetically pure country. It can be argued that the two eventually merged into one and the same but the early parts of the regimes had a different idea of what it meant to be a Fascist.
You point out that a main difference between the Nazis and Mussolini is the lack of territorial expansion in the agenda of the Nazis; however, does this mean that they are in any way less “fascist” or totalitarian than Mussolini’s government? Remember, both satisfy Brzezinski’s six points of totalitarian government. What might Fordham have to say regarding that? I think it would be difficult to argue that the Nazis were interested in only a genetically pure state, given the context of their rise and their apparent goal – to reconstitute the German people as the greatest nation alive.
I was not saying that the Nazis entire agenda was purely to create a genetic state. I was trying to show that the early points of the Nazi party was to focus on the internal issues rather than the international. However it is heavy on the fact that it was focused on genetics
I agree with maltzd in part, Nazism and Italian Fascism share significant commonalities even throughout these early documents. However, I would argue that the push for territorial expansion stands strong throughout the 25 Points. Points one and three pertain exclusively to the consolidation of German land then currently outside of the Reich’s control. Although Hitler did not overtly declare that war and conquest are essential to Nazism, he certainly makes expansion a part of his concise agenda. Likewise, I would say that although Mussolini does not target a specific racial or religious group like Hitler, he still deeply cares about a restoring the lost greatness of the specifically Italian people. He says that “this will be the century of collectivism and hence the century of the State” 1. Collectivism and consolidation of the State is really Hitler’s goal as well. Even though each leader employed different specific tactics, they still yearned for many of the same goals. However, I am very wary of relying on Brzezinski’s six points of totalitarian government. I think that we cannot try to generalize regimes but we should not be afraid to identify similarities on a case by case basis. This being said, there certainly are differences between the two regimes.
“Modern History Sourcebook: Benito Mussolini: What is Fascism,” Fordham University, accessed September 19, 2014, http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/mussolini-fascism.asp“
Making the contention that the early Nazi party only believed in a genetically pure country is true, but it leaves out the major driving force in the development of the Nazi party: economics.
The National Socialist party came to power because of a plan to bring the German people out of the economic ruin created by the reparations of the First World War, and the American Great Depression. One of the points raised by the Nazis (for the purpose of returning Germany to its former glory) involved ethnic purification, but it was ethnic purification for the benefit of economic development; a means to an end if you will.
Referring back to the comment made by noah, I thought it was interesting that in the beginning the agenda of the Nazi Party seemed to be concerned with domestic society rather than international. In other history classes Nazi Germany has been presented as an aggressor. However moves by Germany in the case of Austria and Czechoslovakia that created international attention fit with the domestic concerns presented within this document. Could this be argued as point when the Nazi agenda transitioned from internal issues to international? Or is there a problem with defining “international” since both those areas contained people of German heritage?
I think that’s exactly the problem. The advance on Austria and Czechoslovakia constituted the consolidation of the Reich and the inclusion of all true Germans. You bring up a good point abigail, the lines between domestic and international initiatives are blurred. The Nazi party’s objectives and positions certainly evolved throughout the course of time. Nothing is ever static, but we can see from the 25 points that Hitler had some notion to move outside the confines of the established German borders. I think we always have to look at the roots and even early on Hitler concentrated on expansion of in some form.