What Were The Conditions That Led To The Growth Of Fascism Between 1918 1939? History Essay

1036 words - 5 pages

The Growth of Fascism | Sample answer 1
The Growth of Fascism | A1 Sample answer
What were the conditions that led to the growth of
fascism between 1918 and 1939?
The economic and social conditions that prevailed in the inter war period of 1918 to 1939
provided a perfect climate for the growth of authoritarian regimes such as Franco’s in Spain
and Salazar’s in Portugal. But it also led to more brutal fascist dictatorships such as Mussolini’s
in Italy and Hitler’s in Germany. In the aftermath of WW1 the old system of imperial power
was in decline, and this left a power vacuum to be filled. In some countries, such as Britain
and France this prompted a renewed faith in democracy while in other countries the chaos
and instability of the age pushed the populous towards ruthless fascist leaders. Although
individual circumstances differed, in general dissatisfaction with the treaty of Versailles, hard
economic conditions, weak governance and social unrest contributed to the growth of fascism.
Both Italy and Germany were left feeling very aggrieved by the Treaty of Versailles. Italy had
joined the war on the allied side in 1915 and at the ‘Treaty of London’ had been promised
large territorial gains in Fiume and Dalmatia. After the war, at the Paris Peace Conference,
these changes did not materialise. This perceived injustice led to the nationalist poet
D’Annunzio leading the occupation of Fiume and contributed to a general feeling of
nationalistic fervour, which Mussolini capitalised on by promising to make Italy “great, feared
and respected” again. In Germany too the public wee deeply unhappy with the Treaty. The
‘War Guilt’ clause meant they had to pay £6.6bn in reparations to the allies, which they could
ill afford. They also lost the Saar region to France (pending a plebiscite), a lot of land to
The Growth of Fascism | Sample answer 2
Czechoslovakia and all their overseas colonies. This was coupled with the humiliating
limitations on their armed forces and a demilitarized Rhineland. As a result, the proud German
people naturally gravitated towards Hitler, who derided the ‘November Criminals’ and
promised to throw off the shackles of the Treaty of Versailles.
Economic conditions also led to the growth of fascism. Following the war many countries were
left with huge debts. Italy was 85bn (lira) in debt and following massive military demobilization
they were saddled with more than 2 million suddenly unemployed soldiers. Army pensions for
the 600,000 dead also had to be paid. This led to cut-backs and tax-hikes and naturally
pushed the electorate towards the extremes of fascism and communism. In Germany,
economic conditions were poor but stable for most of the 1920s, thanks to the helpful ‘Dawes
Plan’ and the shrew leadership of Gustav Stresemann. But after the Wall Street crash in 1929,
American banks recalled their loans, which led to a total economic crash. Money became
virtually worthless due to hyperinflations and unemployment soared to more than...

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