Rise Of Dictatorship

by: Caitlin Cheek, Lindsay Harely, Stephenie Cumba

totalitarian state: a government that aims to control the political, economic, social, intellectual, and cultural lives of its citizens

After World War I, many vulnerable countries were trying to get back on their feet. This allowed three different men to take control of their countries and create their own totalitarian state.

MUSSOLINI- Fascism in Italy


  • Benito Mussolini was the son of a worker-intellectual, a blacksmith- who named him after the 19th century Mexican revolutionary, Benito Juarez.

  • During World War I, before Italy's involvement, Mussolini argued that France’s defeat would end liberty in Europe and that Italy’s involvement in the war would hasten the socialist movement. Mussolini was expelled from the Socialist Party due to the party’s hopes for Italy to stay neutral.

  • By 1919, a radically changed Mussolini had founded the fascist movement, which would later become the Fascist Party

the fascist party

  • A key component of Mussolini’s Fascist Party were the Blackshirts; or armed squads, usually ex-soldiers, placed throughout Italy. These squads faced minimal interference from the police or army as they roamed the country causing property damage and killing an estimated 2,000 political opponents.

  • In 1922 the March on Rome was used to establish Mussolini and the Fascist Party as the main power in Italy. This lead to the king offering to form a coalition government and in October of 1922, Mussolini was sworn in as prime minister

  • From the time of becoming Prime Minister, Mussolini slowly dismantled the institutions of the democratic government and in 1925 made himself a dictator, taking the title of Il Duce (“the leader”)

  • Out of all countries in Europe, Nazi Germany had been the only to support Mussolini and in 1939 the two countries made the Pact of Steel. Influence by Hitler, Mussolini began to introduce anti-Jewish legislation in Italy.

Mussolini in Color - The Blackshirts

life in Italy

  • People had little control over their personal life and the state controlled as much as they could. Those who opposed the state were suitably punished.

    • Mussolini used the Blackshirts to murder people who spoke against Mussolini. The Blackshirts motto was “Me ne frego” (I do not give a damn).

  • Children were the Fascists of the future and Mussolini took a keen interest in the state’s education system.

    • Boys were expected to grow into fierce soldiers who would fight with glory for italy while girls were expected to be good mothers who would provide Italy with a great population.

  • The main role of women were to get married and have a lot of children. In 1927, Mussolini launched his Battle for Births; where families were given a target of 5 children. In 1933, Mussolini met 93 mothers who had produced over a combined 1300 children- and average of 13 each.



  • While in university Stalin started to study Marxist literature, but he never graduated and instead devoted his time to spend the next 15 years as an activist; which ended in him being arrested and exiled to Siberia.

  • Stalin was not a key player in the Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917, but rose through the ranks of the party.

  • After holding the position of general secretary for two years, Stalin promoted himself as Lenin’s political heir after his death in 1924. By the late 1920s Stalin was effectively the dictator of the Soviet Union.

communist party of the soviet union

  • In Stalin’s he maintained “socialism in one country” although demanding immense sacrifice and discipline. He believed other countries were 50 years ahead of Russia, and he wanted to make up that time in 10 years.

  • He created The First Five Year Plan to expand and modernising industries. Most of these targets were unrealistic and workers had to work for 11 hours a day. However, no workers would revolt because they were paid in food rations, and if they didn't work they did not eat.

    • Even with the government figures greatly exaggerated, the First Five Year Plan was a great success and was achieved in just four years.

  • The people in Russia were expected to be totally loyal to the state and to the person at the head of the government. Stalin, as supreme ruler, conducted many purges against his rivals and introduced a new constitution to reinforce his power. With the help of his secret police force, the NKVD, and the purges, Stalin was able to strengthen his power.

    • During purges throughout the years, millions of people were killed. The main reason for these purges was because Stalin was insecure. Many were questioning his leadership, methods, and policies.

    • The Great Purges was when Stalin held purges of all people, including top government officials and the Communist party, who were potential rivals to him. These were meant as a warning to people, and they were held in Moscow and sometimes filmed to show other parts of Russia.

life in Russia

  • Education was closely regulated, and the NKVD helped ensure that Communist ideology was taught.

  • Arts were controlled by the state and were commonly used for propaganda purposes
Mini BIO - Joseph Stalin

Hitler- Nazi Germany


  • Soon after the war in Munich, Hitler was recruited to join a military intelligence unit and was assigned to keep tabs on the German Worker’s Party. Hitler built up the party and his blossoming hatred of the Jews became part of the political platform.

  • Hitler was a great speaker and could easily give impromptu speeches that moved crowds, and allowed him to get many followers

  • The Depression of 1929 created widespread unemployment and poverty which made people angry with the Weimar government, and turn towards Communists and Nazis

  • The Goebbels’ propaganda campaign was very effective in getting support for the Nazis. The Nazis created slogans and policies specific for different social groups.

  • Hindenburg,President of Germany, and Papen, Chancellor of Germany, gave Hitler political power, thinking that they would be able to control him.

Essential questions

What conditions allowed the rise of these dictators in the 20th century?

How did the rise of dictators lead to another World War?