In the early 1930s, Germany, Italy, and the United States endured a period of economic downturn known as the Great Depression. These three countries took separate roads toward recovery. However, in the book, Three New Deals, Wolfgang Busch argues that the United States may have had more in common with the National Socialists in Germany and the Fascists in Italy.
In Chapter One of his book, Wolfgang Schivelbush gives a detailed narrative about Nazi Germanys’ and Fascist Italy’s perspective on Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. Schivelbush notes that in the first half of the 1930s, Germany and Italy held a positive position on Roosevelt and his new deal. Nazi Germany, according to Schivelbush, believed the beginnings of the new deal echoed their “Revolutionary Program”.(Schivelbush 18). Though FDR did adapt some socialist ideas in his policies, FDR made sure that these ideas were in line with American values and to help quell any concerns over the direction of American democracy. While intrigued occurred in Germany over FDRs policies, Facists in Italy took interest in FDR and his policies. Benito Mussolini stated in his book that “The Appeal to the decisiveness and masculine sobriety of the nation’s youth, with which Roosevelt here calls his readers to battle, is reminicent of the ways and means by which Fascism awakened the Italian people”.(Mussolini quote in Schivelbush’s Three New Deals, 23). Mussolini praised FDR as a strong man who was able to take grasp of power in the United States and move it in a fascist friendly direction.
At home, the National Socialist and Fascist comparisons helped give FDR negative attention, particularly from his political opponents. Political and civilian opponents believed that FDR attempted to not only destroy civil liberties and gain more constitutional power, but also establish friendships with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Though Constitutional powers were never completely destroyed and an alliance with Italy and Germany never happened, FDR did push against these boundaries so that he could attempt to get the United States get back on its feet.
In Three New Deals, author Wolfganf Schivelbusch argues how three powerful states were all led by common ideals leading up to WWII. This is not to confuse with ‘same’ ideals in any sense. While these terms may seem alike, Schivelbusch clearly states there is a difference. He argues that while the United States, Germany, and Italy had common features the three cannot be considered identical in any way. It is difficult to place the United States, a democratic society, in the same category as two authoritative countries, but Schivelbusch continues to explain how they represent one another while being different at the same time.
Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal consisted of a series of acts that were established to help the United States recover from the Great Depression. While the New Deal looks as it could help the recovery process, it ultimately did nothing but create criticism both internationally and domestically. Much of the criticism was towards FDR and his Fascist and National Socialist fascinations. Schivelbusch argues how Germany and Italy identified the similarities of FDR’s economic solutions and supported his dictatorial leadership style. While these solutions may have been similar to those of the Fascist or National Socialist, they are not identical in any matter.
Another element Schivelbusch recognizes that is common within these three states is the use of propaganda, particularly war propaganda. War propaganda was used create a sense of nationalism through the respected states, and Italy and Germany seemed to create a strong idea of nationalism. Stated, “fascism and National Socialism saw themselves as the continuation of solders’ solidarity, as heroic, messianic movements that would invigorate nations still ruled by outdated ideas with new revolutionary spirit. Politics was a call to arms on the home front” (39). FDR and the United States did not have anywhere near the strength of the Germans or Italians, but was convinced he could spread it.