Comparing The Factors of the Rise of Mussolini to Those of Hitler
Decisions of the Paris Peace Conference
Italy joined the First World War in 1915. Yet after the war Britain,
France and other victorious allies did not fulfill their territorial
promises as stated in the Treaty of London. Italians felt cheated.
Since the Italian government failed to fight for the gains, it was
deemed incompetent. Mussolini who promised revival of the glory of the
ancient Roman Empire naturally got popular support.
Germany was the major defeated country of the First World War. She was
forced to sign the harsh Treaty of Versailles. She was to lose large
pieces of lands, pay an indemnity of £6.6 billion; her army had to
include 100,000 men only; her navy included 6 battleships only.
Germany could not have an air force, tanks and submarines. She could
not be united to Austria; she had to accept the "war-guilt clause".
The treaty was humiliating. The Weimar government who signed the
treaty was deemed a "traitor". Hitler who posed to be the "enemy of
the Versailles Diktat" naturally popular support.
Failure of Democratic Experiment
In Italy there had been no capable prime minister after Cavour's death
in 1861. After the First World War the Italian Parliament adopted the
system of proportional representation. There were too many parties but
none could get overall majority in the Parliament. So coalition
governments were formed. Yet party conflicts led to frequent collapses
of the coalition governments. There were 5 cabinets in 1921-22. No
postwar political and economic problems were solved. People wanted a
The Reichstag of the Weimar Republic also carried out the system of
proportional representation. It faced the problems similar to those of
Italy. There were 9 cabinets in 1920-28. Moreover, Germany was unified
by Bismarck. It inherited from Prussia the tradition of
authoritarianism and contempt for democracy. German people were
dissatisfied with the inefficient administration of the Weimar
government. In addition, the Weimar Constitution vested too much power
in the hands of the President, which increased the chance for Hitler
to become a dictator.
Postwar Economic Difficulties
Production came to a halt in Italy after the war. Over one million
people became unemployed. Besides, 2.5 million soldiers had returned
and waited for jobs. Italy also owed a huge amount of war debts. There
was hyper-inflation. Enterprises and factories closed down. The
economy was going to collapse. People longed for a saviour.
Other than war debts, Germany was also burdened with the huge
indemnity imposed by the Treaty of Versailles. No money was available
for reconstruction. The mark dropped in value horribly when the French