World War II: Rise of Dictators

  • Modern U.S. History

    Between the Wars 1920-1941

    Essential Question:  How do extremist come to power and control the people of a nation to the point of world conflict?


    Iowa Core:

    1. Understand how and why people create, maintain, or change systems of power, authority, and governance.

    a. Understand the purpose of government and how its powers have been acquired, used, and justified.

    b. Understand different political systems from historical periods.

    2. Understand cause and effect relationships and other historical thinking skills in order to interpret events and issues.

    a. Understand the process of critical historical inquiry to reconstruct and reinterpret the past

    b. Understand relationships between and among significant events.

    c. Understand processes such as using a variety of sources, providing, validating, and weighing evidence for claims, 

        checking credibility of sources, and searching for causality.

    3. Understand the role of innovation on the development and interaction of societies.

    a. Understand significant changes caused by technology, industrialization, urbanization, and population growth and the

        effects of these changes.

    Rise of Dictators: Threat To World Peace

    Guiding Questions:

    1. Analyze the methods used by each individual in their rise to power.

    2. How did each one of the dictators hold onto power?

    I  Cause of Political Unrest in Europe after WW I

    A. Nationalism

    1. Boundaries were redrawn to accommodate self-rule

    a. Many Slavs, Greeks, Turks, & Germans still lived in areas dominated by others

    B. Breakdown of old Social Order

    1. Old ruling dynasties are toppled

    a. Loyalty to these dynasties disappeared

    b. Social classes no longer united by this loyalty

    C. Communist rule in Russia

    1.  Lenin had claimed that Bolshevik Revolution was the start of world wide revolt, of working classes, against


    a. Communist uprisings were put down with force in Germany and Hungary

    II  Lenin to Stalin

    A. April 1922: Lenin created the post of General Secretary and suggested that Trotsky fill the poistion

    1. Trotsky waved off the request - Felt it was beneath him

    a. May have wanted to hear Lenin & the others tell him he was the ‘MAN’ for the job

    b. Stalin steps forward and says he will do it.

    i. Most party members agreed to this simply because they felt that Stalin would be nothing but

      a mouth piece of Lenin’s and wield no power

    B. May 1922: Lenin suffered a stroke

    1. Stalin isolates him on the pretense that it is for his health, and effectively cuts him off from all others

    a. Lenin had begun to doubt the intentions of Stalin before he suffered a stroke

    i. Lenin had written three notes, blaming the problems in Georgia on “...Stalin and his associates

      for their ‘Great Russian chauvinism’,...” (qtd Schapiro 207)

    b. Not able to remove Stalin before his death

    c. Notes were sent to the Congress & Trotsky

    i. Lenin himself had sent the notes to Trotsky due to his agreement to take care of the problem

      in Georgia

    d. Stalin was able to survive any negative effects from the notes largely due to Trotsky silence

    i. Members of Congress may have taken this as a sign of weakness on Trotsky’s part

    C. Stalin seizes power and announces his first ‘Five Year Plan

    1. Set unrealistic goals of production for industries

    a. Steel & iron - 200% increase in production

    b. Coal - 111% increase in production

    c. Electric Power - 335% increase in output

    2. Economy was completely controlled by the government.

    D. Stalin’s purge of all opposition began in 1932

    1. By 1937 hi paranoia was turned on the Red Army

    a. Started with the execution of the top eight commanders

    i. Continued until around 30,000 army personnel had been executed

    2. An estimated 8-13 million people died in Stalin’s purges

    (Question begs to be asked.  Why don’t we vilify Stalin to the same level we do Hitler?)

    (Where are the memorials for all the people killed under Stalin’s Reign of Terror?)

    II  Mussolini’s Rise to Power

    A. Situation in Italy

    1. Treaty of Versailles

    a. Did not include Italy in division of spoils

    i. Italy felt slighted over this

    -Had expected to get some of the Austrian Territory

    2. Internal Problems

    a. Economy is failing

    b. Population was divided by political & class struggles

    c. 1919

    i. First election in which all males could vote

    -Two parties have control of the Italian Parliament

    This causes grid lock & problems

    B. Rise to Power

    1. 1919

    a. High unemployment and inflation cause strikes and violence

    i. Some led by Communist

    2. 1920

    a. Spurred by success of Bolshevik Revolution

    i. Poor class within Italy

    -Seize land and factories

    b. Middle and upper class demand stronger leadership

    3. Benito Mussolini

    a. 1919

    i. Mussolini formed the fascist party

    -Totalitarian form of govt (Right Wing)

    -All power rest in one individual

    Political, Social, & Cultural

    ii. Openly scorned Democracy

    a. Played on popular fears of the people

    i. Wounded national pride

    ii. Economic collapse

    iii. Communism

    b. Blamed all of Italy’s problems on...

    i. Communist

    ii. Corrupt business

    iii. Labor Leaders

    iv Weak politicians

    c. Promised to restore

    i. Honor, Glory and Prosperity of ancient Roman Empire

    -Rebuild Italy into a great power

    d. Tactics

    i. Organized private army

    -Black Shirts

    ii. Broke up left wing rallies

    -Caused riots

    Made it look as though the Communist started them

    iii. Beat up political opponents

    -Violence increases sense of crisis within Italy

    e. 1922

    i. Mussolini will lead his army of “Black Shirts” in a march on Rome

    ii. King Victor Emmanuel III will refuse to use the army to stop Mussolini

    -Three day later he will make Mussolini Prime Minister

    III  Mussolini in Power

    A. Mussolini take action

    1. Imposed censorship on the media (1925-1926)

    a. Flooded pro-fascist propaganda throughout Italy 

    2. Secret Police crushed all political dissent (1926)

    3. Outlaws all political party’s (1926)

    a. Except Fascist

    b. Officials of govt, business leaders, & union chiefs

    i. All had to be members of fascist party

    IV  Hitler’s Rise to Power

    A. Situation in Germany

    1. Treaty of Versailles

    a. Both economically and politically harsh on Germany

    b. Took away any chance for pride of economic growth

    2. Weimar Republic (government)

    a. Democratic  (people are used to strong authoritarian govt)

    i. Many in military & upper class wanted to return to Monarchy

    b. Weak and ineffective

    B. Nazi Party (National Socialist German Workers Party)

    1. Will emerge during the 1920s as a third choice

    2. Hitler will work his way up the ranks to become the leader of the Nazi Party

    C. As leader of the Nazi Party

    1. Played on the fears of the German people

    a. Blamed defeat of Germany in WW I on...

    i. Traitors

    ii. Cowards

    iii. Jews

    iv. Communist

    b. Blamed Weimar government for signing the Treaty of Versailles

    i. Terms of surrender humiliated Germans

    D. Hitler’s Tactics

    1. Organized Nazi gangs call the ‘Brown Shirts’

    2. Will physically beat Jews and other enemies

    E. Beer Hall Putsch [Munich Putsch - secretly plotted and suddenly executed attempt to overthrow a government]

    1. This was an attempted overthrow of the regional government in Munich

    a. To be a prelude to the overthrow of the national government in Berlin

    2. Hitler will enter the Beer Hall, with the SA led by Ernst Roehm, where the Bavarian Prime Minister, Police

        Chief, & the local Army Commander are speaking to 3000 local business men

    a. Hitler will declare that the revolution has begun

    3. Following day will start with a march by Hitler, Gen Erich F.W. Ludendorff and the SA, against the Bavarian 


    a. This march will fail to achieve it’s goal

    4. Hitler will be tried, convicted, and sentenced to five years in jail.  He will only serve thirteen months

    F. Mein Kampf (My Struggles)

    1. Hitler wrote a book of his political views

    a. Anti-Semitism

    b. Blamed all of Germany’s problems on Communist & Jews

    c. Claimed Germans were the master race and had the right to rule over all other races

    i. Listed Jews and Slavs as sub-human

    d. Goal was to reclaim all the land lost in WW I

    i. Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia

    e. Goal to seize parts of Poland and the Soviet Union for lebensraum (living space)

    2. Became a best seller in Germany

    a. Should have given German-Jews an idea of what was to come if the Nazis were able to claim power

    G. Great Depression

    1. Once the depression hit in the US in 1929, the Dawes Plan was ended

    a. This doomed the Weimar government

    i. In times of crisis, the people will look to the extremists

    2. Both the Communist and Nazis gained seats in Parliament in 1932

    a. Hitler will not win a seat

    3. Jan 1933

    a. President Paul Von Hindenburg was persuaded to name Hitler as Chancellor

    H. Hitler Takes Power

    1. Feb 27, 1933

    a. Burning of the Reichstag

    i. The complete truth will never be known, but there is enough evidence to incriminate the

      Nazi’s on setting this fire.  Many who knew or were involved will be killed on Hitler’s 

      orders shortly after the fire.  

    This excerpt is from William L. Shirer The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

    “...Within a few seconds he [Goebbels] and his Fuehrer were racing “at sixty miles an hour down the Charlottenburger Chaussee toward the scene of the crime.”

    That it was a crime, a Communist crime, they proclaimed at once on arrival at the fire.  Goering, sweating and puffing and quite beside himself with excitement, was already there ahead of them declaiming to heaven, as Papen later recalled, that “this is a Communist crime against the new government.”  To the new Gestapo chief, Rudolf Diels, Goering shouted, “This is the beginning of the Communist revolution!  We must not wait a minute.  We will show no mercy.  Every Communist official must be shot, where he is found.  Every Communist deputy must this very night be strung up”  (qtd Shirer 192)

    2. Hitler blames the Communist for the fire

    a. Goes to the government and asks for unlimited power to put down the Communist uprising

    i. Hindenburg gave him temporary power

    “...February 28, [1933] he [Hitler] prevailed on President Hindenburg to sign a decree ‘for the Protection of the People and the State’ suspending the seven sections of the constitution which guaranteed individual and civil liberties.  Described as a ‘defensive measure against Communist acts of violence endangering the state,’ the decree laid down...

    ...In addition, the decree authorized the Reich government to take over complete power in the federal states when necessary and imposed the death sentence for a number of crimes, including ‘serious disturbances of the peace’ by armed persons.

    Thus with one stroke Hitler was able not only to legally gag his opponents and arrest them at his will but, by making the trumped-up Communist threat ‘official,’ as it were, to throw millions of the middle class and the peasantry into a frenzy of fear that  unless they voted for the National Socialism at the elections a week hence, the Bolsheviks might take over.”  (qtd Shirer 194)

    ii. Hitler never looked back

    b. Eliminated all Political opposition

    c. Packed the government with Nazis

    V  Hitler in Power

    A. Began massive rearmament

    1. Swelled national pride

    2. Spurred economic growth

    a. Unemployment dropped drastically

    B. Began his programs outlined in Mein Kampf

    1. Had all of those Germans who signed the Treaty of Versailles killed

    2. Brought schools under the control of the government

    a. Rewrote the history books to make the Nazis look good

    3. Anti-Semitism became official government policy

    a. Burned books written by Jews (May 10, 1933)

    b. Sept 15, 1934 the Nuremberg Race Laws against the Jews were passed

    i. Laws that deprived Jews rights, property, and eventually their status as human beings

    c. Nov 10, 1938 Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass)

    i. Hitler sent his Nazis on rampage which would destroy any Jewish property

    -Progrom was launched in response to the assassination of Ernst vom Rath by a 

    17 year old polish Jew (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)

    VI  Japanese Militarism

    A. 1922

    1. Japanese leaders signed the Treaties of the Washington Conference in an attempt to reduce tensions in Asia

    2. Trying to establish a Democratic government

    B. Opposition to Democratic ways

    1. Japanese military extremist glorified the past

    a. Preached virtues of territorial expansion

    b. Felt it was Japan’s destiny to rule all of Asia

    2. Business leaders supported the military for economic reasons

    a. Japan lacked natural resources

    C. Economic Problems

    1. Helped the military extremists to gain power

    2. Once in Power

    a. Allowed no opposition to government views

    b. Censored media

    c. Demanded total obedience of the state

    VII  Japan Invaded Manchuria

    A. 1931 Japan invaded the Chinese province of Manchuria and made it a puppet state

    1. US was angry over the Japanese aggression

    a. Could do nothing but refuse to recognize Japan’s control of Manchuria

    VIII  US Recognition of USSR

    A. 1933

    1. Both the US and the USSR were united by economic need and a common fear of Germany, Italy, and Japan

    a. Stalin was focused on modernizing his economy more than world revolution

    Works Cited

    Danzer, Gerald A. and Jorge Klor de Alva, and Larry S. Krieger, and Louis E. Wilson, and Nancy Woloch, The Americans: 

    Reconstruction to the 21st Century.  Evanston, Illinois: McDougal Littell. 2007

    DiBacco, Thomas, and Lorna C. Mason, and Christian G. Appy.  The History of The United States: Volume 2, Civil War to Present.

    Evanston, Illinois: McDougal Littell, 1997

    Hughes, Terry. & John Costello.  The Battle of the Atlantic.  New York: The Dial Press/James Wade. 1977

    “Remember Pearl Harbor” with General H. Norman Schwarzkopf & co-hosted by Charles Kuralt. CBS Inc. 1991

    Shirer, William L.  The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany.  New York: Simon & Schuster Inc. 1959

    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “The Holocaust.” Holocaust Encyclopedia. Accessed on 1/5/2013.

    USS Arizona Memorial. National Parks Services:  U.S. Department of the Interior

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