Hitler was invited into power in Weimar Germany to be Chancellor in 1933; similarly, Mussolini was invited into power in Italy to be Prime Minister in 1922. After this entry into power, they set out to impose totalitarian rule on their respective countries. By “totalitarian rule” I refer to the regimes in which Hitler and Mussolini reached out to control all, or nearly all, aspects of the people's lives – for instance, the social, or the economic. This process was done via a variety of means, or methods: both eradicated, or at least compromised with, alternative forms of authority; employed the double-pronged approach of terror and persuasion; and enforced indoctrination using informal and formal education. These were general features that were common to both totalitarian Germany and Italy, similar ways in which control was secured by Hitler and Mussolini in their respective countries of rule.
However, despite these chief, over-arching similarities, there were nonetheless differences in the ways in which totalitarian rule was imposed on Germany and Italy. The degree to which control was regulated often differed, and the specific media through which both dictators reached out to their respective peoples were dissimilar. From the larger perspective, thus, there were common ways by which Hitler and Mussolini imposed totalitarian rule; however, upon closer scrutiny, the details within these channels differed.
[...] With regards to social life, there was the Strength through Joy (or KDF) system in Germany, and the Dopolavoro in Italy. Both served the primary purpose of organising leisure, in an attempt to win over the people through persuasion. However, while the Dopolavoro emerged as a full ministry in 1935 with the intention of providing a more fully-coordinated use of the mass media for indoctrination purposes, the KDF system was never quite radicalised as such. On the other hand, though, the Dopolavoro not develop into anything like the sophisticated systems of the KDF and SDA [Beauty of Labour] in Germany” (Lee). [...]
[...] This is not surprising, though, owing to Mussolini's journalist background. The radio was a different matter. It is true that both dictators had the broadcast contents controlled, but it is widely accepted that Hitler exploited the radio as a tool of indoctrination to a far greater degree than Mussolini. It was not uncommon in Nazi Germany to hear the radio blaring with doctrinal and ideological messages. With regards to the cinema, it may be said that in Germany the state had more control over it as well while in Italy “Most films were produced by private enterprise and were not geared to the state's propaganda requirements” in Germany there was increased state ownership of production companies, and accordingly films were also used as a tool of indoctrination, like the radio. [...]
[...] A prominent example is the Nuremberg rallies that gave a sense of impeccable order, aimed at inspiring the Germans to fervid nationalism. Indeed, the overall propaganda process in Germany (what Adams aptly termed [incessant] cultural infiltration of every sphere of was more organised, permeating and far-reaching than in Italy, hence the latter never as efficient as the measures used by Goebbels to Nazify German art and literature” (Lee). Indoctrination of the population also came in the form of education in both Germany and Italy. [...]
[...] Both Hitler and Mussolini also imposed totalitarian rule through centralisation of power. For example, they both achieved the right to rule by decree: Hitler, using the Enabling Act and the powers that Article 48 granted him, could pass laws at will, as Mussolini could when he exploited the outcome of the Matteoti Crisis through the Aventine Succession. Other ways by which power was centralised in Germany include the abolition of regional forms of authority such as the Landtag, which was part of the greater design of Gleichschaltung; in Italy, the Chamber of Deputies was also abolished and replaced by the Chamber of Fasces and Corporations in 1938. [...]
[...] Therefore, in Germany, the establishments replacing the labour unions were, in a sense, more clearly defined than Italian Fascist corporativism. It can be seen that life in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy was controlled through similar channels the removal of alternatives, and the subsequent tightening of control by means of coercion, indoctrination, and persuasion. This is to say that the means by which Hitler and Mussolini imposed totalitarian rule in Germany and Italy were similar themselves; but the degree, intensity or pervasiveness to which they were implemented differed. Bibliography 1. [...]
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