The First World War
The First World War began in Europe, in the year 1914. Its extent was over the entire world including Asia, Africa, and the Pacific. This period witnessed innovations in the methods of destruction and defence, which in turn termed the period as ‘the First World War’.
Causes of the First World War
This was the result of Aggressive Nationalism, Economic Competition and International Tension, which emerged in Europe in the second half of the 19th century. Aggressive nationalism basically meant the immense love and interest for one’s own country and hatred towards the other countries. Fierce economic competition meant cut-throat commercial ambitions of the European nations, which ended up with an armed conflict amongst all the other nations, further leading to international tension and problems across the world.
Race for Armaments
The mad race for armaments which began soon after the Franco-Prussian War was one of the reasons, which led to the First World War.
There was a great competition amongst Britain, Germany, France and Africa for increasing its armaments, in the name of self-defence and preservation of peace. But in reality, it filled the atmosphere with fear, apprehension and mutual hatredness.
Division of Europe into Two Hostile Groups
In Europe, there were two kinds of States, first was Single nation States like-France, Holland and Germany, which were based on common languages and common traditions that they shared.
And the other kind were the Imperial States consisting Austria-Hungarian empire and the Russian empire, who spoke different languages and had different cultural traditions.
Sarajevo Crisis (Immediate Cause)
One of the major causes of the First World War was the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary at Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia on 28th June, 1914. The assassination was planned and carried out by a secret society of the extremist Serbian nationalists called the Black Hand or the Union of Death.
Events of the World War
War on the Western Front
This war resulted when the German armies entered Southern France. The French army, along with the British army, met the German forces in the ‘Battle of Marne’. The German forces had to retreat. The European countries made use of the troops recruited from other countries in the war. This battle foiled all the German plans of crushing France.
During the war, trenches were built by the opposing armies to defend themselves against machine guns and artillery. Living conditions were horrible in those trenches.
War on the Eastern Front
This fight started in August, 1914, when Germany and Austria captured Russian Empire – Romania, Serbia and Italy.
Policy of Blockade
This policy basically restricted the entry of basic necessities like food, raw materials and war materials to the territories of the enemy. The blockades were tightened and that resulted in the ‘Battle of Verdun’ and the ‘Battle of Dogger Bank’.
War Against Turkey
Turkey joined Germany in the war against Russia. The British Indian army attacked Turkey and the Turks surrendered on 30th October, 1918.
Entry of the USA in the War
Britain, France and the USA launched a military offensive in 1918 and Germany and her allies began to collapse. Political discontent started rising in Austria, Hungary and Germany. Bulgaria withdrew from the war in September and Turkey did so in October. The emperor of Austria-Hungary too surrendered. Germany experienced a revolution and , later became a republic. The emperor Kaiser William II fled to Holland. The new German Government signed an armistice on 11th November, 1918.
There were terrible human losses, which vary from about 53 to 70 million people. The total number of people, who died or got killed in the war was about 9 million. It also resulted in the Economic Depression of 1929-30, which gave rise to serious social and economic problems.
Results of the War
This war altered the whole political scenario as well. Three ruling dynasties Romanov, Hohenzollern and Hapsburg were destroyed in this war. The rule of the Ottomans came to an end. Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia became separate independent states.
Treat of Versailles
- It was signed between the Allies and Germany on 28th June, 1919 at the Paris Conference. This treaty had great territorial rearrangements, which changed the political map of the world by giving a serious blow to monarchy and developed democracy in Europe.
- This treat not only affected substantial territorial changes, but also reduced the military strength of Germany.
Some of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles were as follows:
- Germany was declared guilty of aggression.
- It was required to pay for the loss and the damages incurred by the Allies, which came to be around 33 billion dollars. Germany also lost her merchant ships.
- Rhine Valley was decided to be demilitarised.
- Germany lost Alsace Lorraine to France, Eupen-et-Malmedy to Belgium, and Schleswig to Denmark. Danzing became a free port.
- The coal mines in the German area called Saar were ceded to France.
- The German army and navy were severely restricted.
Formation of the League of Nations
One of the significant consequences of this war was the origination of the League of Nations. The fears of the war convinced all leaders of the world that there must be a mechanism to stop war and promote international cooperation. Thus, the League of Nations was created as a world organisation of all independent states in 1920.
Objectives of the League of Nations were as follows:
- States were prohibited from entering into secret treaties and alliances.
- Member states were restricted to maintain huge armies, warships and destructive armaments.
- The major aim of the League of Nations was to settle disputes among the member states and to maintain peace and order.
- The League of Nations was supposed to promote political, social , cultural and economic cooperation among the member states.
- All the states were to respect each other’s independence.
- The member states had to heed to the directions of the League against any State trying to disturb world peace and order.
But, unfortunately the League came to an end when Hitler committed an aggression on Poland, which marked the start of the Second World War in 1939-45.
Rise of Dictatorships
19th century witnessed different styles of governance, amongst which Dictatorship was also one. Many intellectuals expressed their satisfaction and agreed for the prevalence of dictatorship.
Fascism means Union or League and has been derived from the Italian word fascio. Fascism has been described as ‘power in one hand’. It is a form of dictatorship, where all the power is in one hand and it is compulsory for all the others to respect its orders.
Italy and Germany ruled on the basis of Fascism, which was regarded as a Nationalistic, Anti-communistic and an Anti-democratic movement.
Causes for the Rise of Fascism
Fascism came into existence with the objective handling the challenges faced by Italy. The following factors contributed to the rise of Fascism in Italy:
Discontentment after the Treat of Versailles
Italy was not satisfied with the Treaty of Versailles, because it could not get any part of the German or the Turkish empire.
Italy was very much affected by the First World War. It suffered losses in each and every respect – life and property, trade and commerce, supply shortage of foodgrains, etc.
No party enjoyed majority in elections. Six coalition governments were formed in Italy. No party was able to deal properly with the problems of unemployment, strikes and riots.
The First World War led to an increase in class conflicts. The major issue was whether the government or the economic system would favour elites or would they work in favour of the less privileged majorities.
Threat of Socialism or Communism
Threat of anarchists and communists ignited the atmosphere with revolutionary ideas. The common masses desired a powerful leadership for establishment of peace and prosperity.
Failure of the League of Nations
The League of Nations was created after the First World War. But since it could not control the rise of dictatorship, it failed.
Leadership Provided by Mussolini
Mussolini with his charismatic personality won the confidence of his countrymen. He was regarded as the ‘Duce’ which means the leader.
Fascism in Italy
Unification of Italy between 1860 and 1870 competed under Victor Emmanuel II. Victor Emmanuel III lagged behind in the race for colonial possessions.
Rise of Mussolini
- Mussolini stared as a socialist, but later converted to an anti-socialist due to the realisation that he could get finance from the industrialists. Different groups called ‘Fascios’ who wore black uniform and known as the black-shirts were formed by Mussolini.
- They believed in violence and captured factories, police stations, municipalities, etc. The conference of the Fascist party was held at Naples in 1922.
Mussolini demanded for the following conditions:
- Inclusion of 5 members of the Fascist party in the Cabinet.
- New elections to be announced.
- Firm reaction of the government on its Foreign Policy.
- Implementation of the economic reforms as soon as possible.
- These demands were not focussed upon by the Italian Government so Mussolini marched towards Rome. He formed a new government with Emmanuel III and designated fascists as Prefects and Chief Officers.
- The Government of Italy was handed over to the Fascists as the ruling classes considered Democracy and Socialism as threats to their power. Mussolini regained the islands of Rhodes, Dodecanese as well as Fiume. He turned Albania into a protectorate of Italy and entered into commercial and diplomatic treatise with France and Russia. He captured Abyssinia in 1936.
Objectives of Fascism
The main objectives of Fascism were as follows:
- It was an anti thesis of Democracy.
- It supported the notion of one party and one leader.
- It favoured equal control in all the sections of the society.
- They focussed on nationalism and on individual institutions.
- They believed that the interests of the States must get precedence over individual interests as the individual gets all the rights from the state.
End of Fascism in Italy
Italy was defeated in the Second World War, ending the career and the life of Mussolini. In 1945, he was executed which ended Fascism in Italy.
Impact of Fascism
Fascism impacted Italy both positively and negatively.
Its positive impacts were as follows:
- Mussolini’s work improved the conditions of Italy. Many administrative and economic reforms were setting up of hydroelectric power plants, bringing of more lands under cultivation, etc. were undertaken.
- Measures to reduce unemployment were undertaken.
- Eradication of illiteracy by making provisions for education was done.
- Various steps were taken to increase the military might of the country. Military training was made necessary.
- Treaty of Lateran was signed between the Pope and Mussolini. Roman Catholic religion was made the State Religion.
- Aggressive Foreign policy was formulated.
- Mussolini became the dictator to military and civil powers. All political parties lost their existence expect Mussolini’s party.
The negative impacts of Fascism were as follows:
- It curbed political freedom.
- System of Jury was abolished.
- Special courts with fascist civilian and military officers were empowered to decide on political cases.
- Press was censored.
- The freedom of Speech and that of organising meetings was also prohibited.
Nazi Dictatorship in Germany
After the defeat in the First World War, fresh elections were held in January, 1919 at Weimar. A new Constitution was adopted by Germany. The people were dissatisfied with the problems faced by them and conducted riots and made attempts to seize the power.
Role of Hitler
- Adolf Hitler, ranked Corporal, joined ‘the German Workers Party’ and soon became its leader and changed its name to National Socialist Party or the Nazi Party. Nazi party had two groups. One working for saving its party members and to break the meeting of the opposition parties. The other group wore black shirts and their duty was to save their party leaders.
- Hitler planned to capture power through a march on Berlin and was arrested. He lost in the elections in July, 1932 and was later offered chancellorship by President Hindenburg, where he formed his first Nazi Government on 30th January, 1933.
- Nazi party was not able to win majority, so he assumed dictatorial powers. Hitler abolished the Constitution and became the dictator of Germany. Germany got defeated by Allied powers. Hitler committed suicide and this ended Nazism in Germany.
Causes of the Rise of Nazism
- The Versailles Treaty forced Germany to cede their territories to France, Belgium, Poland and Denmark and also pay heavy reparation which humiliated the Germans. Bolshevik Revolution created inclination of Germans towards Communism and Hitler warned people not become servants of Russian masters.
- Versailles Treaty created an economic deadlock because of the raised tariffs against the German goods, which created an economic crisis. It was felt that only a strong leadership could restore the past prestige of Germany which led to Militant Nationalism.
- Nazi party rose due to the absence of a strong opposition party. The agenda and the core principle of Nazi party was propagated by the members of the volunteer corps.
- Hitler was known for moulding public opinion and was a gifted orator, who captivated the Germans by his emotional speeches.
Objectives of Nazism
The main objectives of the Nazi movement were as follows:
- To use force and brutality.
- To extol war.
- To exalt nationalism.
- To despise Internationalism, Peace and Democracy.
- To uphold racial supremacy of the Germans.
- To advocate the rule by a great leader from a single party.
Impact of Nazism
Establishment of a Totalitarian State
- Hitler finished all the opposition parties and controlled the authority of the Nazi party. He concentrated all the power in his hands and suppressed all the oppositions. He altered the federal system into a unitary government.
- Hitler also became the Governor of Prussia all by himself. He abolished all the political parties, imposed a ban on the press, public speeches, etc. He also formed the Gestapo, a secret police to keep check on the activities of the citizens.
Hitler launched the First Five Year Plan to increase production and improve the economy.
Following steps were taken in this regard:
- Factories were set-up to provide work to the labourers.
- Industrial and agricultural production and trade were encouraged.
- Strikes were banned.
- A food corporation was created.
- Imports and exports were controlled to maintain favourable trade balance.
Militarism and Compulsory Military Training
Creation of more employment was done through increasing military training.
Repudiation of Peace Treaties
Hitler openly condemned the Treaty of Versailles. Policy of territorial expansion and fortification of Germany was resorted to.
Acquisition of Territories
Hitler acquired more and more territories for the Germans. He tried to expand in the South and East of Europe as that region was economically useful for Germany. He also reclaimed the territory of Saar and Rhineland from France and annexed Austria by force in 1938.
Hitler presented Germans as the ‘Master Race’ or the superior race, which would rule all the inferior races.
Similarity between the causes of Fascism and Nazism
Following were the main similarities between Fascism and Nazism:
- Treaty of Versailles acted as a discontentment for both of them.
- Both faced economic crisis.
- Favoured Totalitarian system against democratic rules.
- Both feared threat to Communism.
- Political instability and class conflicts between the aristocrats and the common people, made their policies more favourable.
- Failure of the League of Nations.
- Leadership provided by Hitler and Mussolini
Similarity between the ideologies of Fascism and Nazism
Following were the main similarities between the ideologies of Fascism and Nazism:
- Favoured Totalitarian rule.
- Against Democratic political system.
- Both believed in State Supremacy, which could suppress Fundamental Rights and individual freedom.
- To uphold one party and one leader.
- Belief in aggressive nationalism and imperialism.
- War regarded as an instrument of national interests.
- To uphold anti-communist, anti-democratic rule.
Comparative Study Between Nazism and Fascism
- Nazism is considered to be one form of Fascism. Though, both originated in the 20th century, both rejected the ideologies of Liberalism, Marxism and Democracy.
- Fascism was in vogue between 1919 and 1945, Nazism became popular between 1933 to 1945.
- Fascism is a term that was originally referred to the fascists of Italy under Mussolini, while Nazism is an ideological concept of the Nazi party of Hitler.
- Fascism believes in the ‘corporatism’ of all elements in the society to form an organic state, while Nazism emphasised on racism.
- Fascism gave more importance to the State, while Nazism considered ‘Aryanism’ as more important.