** war and social upheaval: World War II -- Totalitarian Political Parties

World War II: National Totalitarian Political Parties

World War II totalitarian parties
Figure 1.--The NAZIs are the dominant face of the totalitarian powers that launched World War II. World War II histories primarily focus on two Fascist parties, the Italian Fascists and the German National Socialists (NAZIS). In fact, there were two totalitarian systems, Fascism and Communism. Communist parties existed before World war I. The war brought the Communists to power in Russia and generated the forces that gave rise to Fascisn. Contrary to popular thought, World War II was not just launched by Adolf Hitler and the Grmn NAZI. Both the NAZIS and Josef Stalin's Soviet Communists combined forces to launch World War II.

World War II histories primarily focus on two Fascist parties, the Italian Fascists and the German National Socialists (NAZIS). In fact, there were two totalitarian systems, Fascism and Communism. Coomunist parties existed before World war I. The war brought the Communists to power in Russia and generated the forces that gave rise to Fascisn. Contrary to popular thought, World War II was not just launched by Adolf Hitler and the Grmn NAZI. Both the NAZIS and Josef Stalin's Soviet Communists combined forces to launch World War II. In fact there were many Fascist parties, most located in Europe as well as Communist parties. the implosion of pre-World war European empires (Austrian, German, and Russia) and the rise of nationalism there were fertile grounds for the growth of Fscist ideas. The Depression fueld the growth of extremism, both Communist and Fascist. Often missed in popular histories is the substantil similarities with Communism. Too many see Fascism and Communism as polar opposites in the political spectrum. In fact the polar of opposites of the totalitarians (both Fascist and Communist varints) was liberal democracy. And during the 1930s withthe Depression, liberal democracy lost ground to the totalitaians, especially the Fascist parties. The European Fascist parties were inflienced by the Italians and Germans, but not controlled. Only in Italy and Germany did the Fascists rise to power, but Few of these other Fascist parties gained control. Ironically, the exception was Greece which became a victim of Fascist aggression. Even so, the other achieved considerable influence during World war II after the Germabs occupied country after country. There was even a Fascist party in America. The most important was the German-Americn Bund, but membership was mostly restricted to ethnic Germans, largely relatively recent immigrants. The controling power in Japan is usually described as the Milirarists. This was a Fascist variant. The military officers which seized control of Japan were essentially Fascists, it is just that the stridently xenophobic military led the way rather than a political party. While the different Fascist parties had major similarities, there were also some differences. Each country has its own destinct history and mix of contending totalitarian parties. The national communist parties were mostly under the control of the Soviet Communist Party through he KGB.


There was even a Fascist party in America. The most important was the German-Americn Bund, but membership was mostly restricted to ethnic Germans, largely relatively recent immigrants.


After World War I, different political parties formed youth wings. Thus a basic understanding of Belgian poltical developments is needed to understand the different youth groups. The situation was quite different in Flanders and Wallonie. After World War I, the leaders of the Council of Flanders were arrested and tried for treason. Nine were executed and were granted clemency in 1929. Flemist nationlists gained seats in parlimentary elections. The Frontpartij showed some popular support in Flemish areas. The Scouts were the most important youth movement, but several of the political movement had youth wings. This was particularly true of the more radical right-wing groups, including Flemish nationalists. The Dinaso (Fascist poltical movement), formed in a split of the Frontpartij, launched a youth group--the Verbond van Jongdinaso Vendels (Association of Young Dinaso Companies) in the early 1930s. Other Fascist groups formed in the 1930s were even more radical. Some like the Vlaamsch Nationaal Verbond (VNV), Duitschen-Vlaamsche Arbeidsgemeenschap (Devlag--the Flag) or the Volksverweering sought to break up the Belgian state and combine with the Netherlands or Germany. Some like the Volksverweering were rabidly anti-semetic. I do not have information on their youth movements if any. Belgium's most important Fascist party appeared in Wallonie and was led by the charismatic Lénn Degrelle. He founded the Christus Rex (Rexist Party) in 1935 and within a year had won 21 seats in Parliament. Although the Germans for racial reasons were more disposed to the Flemish, they found in Degrelle and the Rexists a more deprndable ally. By 1940 the political fortunes of the Rexists had declined, but were to be revived by the NAZIs after the surrender King Leopold III surrendered the Belgian Army. I have no information on the Rexist's pre-war youth movement. After the German invasion, the Fascist parties allowed by the NAZIS formed youth groups



Mosley was the leading figure in English Fascism during the inter-war era. He was not initially ant-Semetic, but embraced this doctrine to garmer support.


The Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Worker's Party--NAZIs) became the most powerful of all Fascist parties. It was not founded by Hitler, but became dominated by him at an early point. He fashioned it an instrument for a personal totalitarian dictatorship. Mussolini and his Fascists seized power in Italy a decade before the NAZIs seized power and stronly influenced Hitler. Mussolini was a Fascist dictator, but not in possession of absolute power and Italy was a far weaker industrial country. After the NAZIs seized power they soon elclipsed Mussolini's Fascists. Hitler through the NAZIs managed to achieve absolute power of the most powerful industrial state in Europe. There were NAZIs with a range of ideas, but Hitler seized control of the Party and imposed his vision on it. He then used the Party to impose thast same vision on Germany. As the world was to learn it was a terrible vision of untold horror.


Mextaxis established a basically Fascist dictatorship in Greece. It was a regime that probably would not have joined the Axis, but would have cooperated with the Germans and Italians. Mussolini without conerring with Hitler, invaded Grece in 1940. This was a huge strategic miscalculation. The Italian army was driven back by the Greeks and the Germans had to intervene. The offensive aginst Greece and Italy was to delay Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union.


The Fascist militia in Hungary were the Green Shirts.


Fascism first developed in Italy during the period of economic dislocaion and social unrest which followed World War I. The Italian Fascists coined the term Totalitarian and while Musollini may have expired toward that goal, he never created a truly totalitarian state, but rather a personal dictatorship and authoritarian state. Unlike other political movements, Fascism does not appear to have develoed out of any clearly discernable 19th century tradition. The Fascists first appear after World War I in 1919 and led by Mussolini managed to seized power in 1922-25. The poltical orientation of Italian Fascism was initially on the Socialist left, but with a strong nationalistic strain. From the beginning the Fascists believd in using violence to achieve thir goals, but their were also elements of idealism and anti-materialism at least in the ideology. Fascists supported Italian colonialism, but initially supported Communist ideals such as opposition to imperialism and racism. Mussolini as il Duce shifted the party to the right in a series of practical and profitable compromises with the country's important institutions. Italian Fascists invented the term "totalitarian" for Fascist Italy, hoever, Mussolini never carried out a comprehensive Fascist revolution. Rather he ruled as an authoritarian leader in a state that some limited pluralist features. After Mussolini's elevation to power, Fascism began its development of a authoritarian form of social organization. Within a few years, representative democracy in Italy had been replaced by a centralized autocracy which at its apex was the absolute dictatorship of Mussolini in whom were concentrated all the principal functions of Government. Directly under him was the Grand Council of Fascism, constituting the political general staff of the regime and of the Fascist Party. The Fascist Party was legally identified with the state, and all other parties were outlawed.


Japan was different than the other totalitarian powers. There was no Communist or Fascist polititical party driving expanionism and racism and promoting war--the thrust for these policies came from the military. In Japan rather than a tiotalitarian political party seizing control of the state and military, it was the military, especially the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) that seized control of the state and abolisghed political parties. The Meiji leaders who seized control of Japan (1870s) sought to transform Japan into a modern nation of the first order (ittô koku). And at the time this included foreign territorial possessions. And at the time the Ruropeans were emershed in the Scramble for Afruca. Thus from an early stage, even under civilian governments began pursuong expanionist policies. In oartucular they eyed China. The First Sino-Jaoanese War secired Formosa (1894-95). The Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) secired Korea. And like Hitler, the Japanese militarists reached the conclusion that that expansion of their small empire (Formosa and Korea) through military conquest would solve the country's economic problems. Japan had a parlimentary system controlled by conservative parties. The militarists began to grown in power after Wiorld War I when some Pacific Island gfoups were added to the Empire. Vut what the Japanese wanrted was China and furing the war the cvilian governmen issued the 21 Demands on the new Chinese Republic (1915). Conservative elements in the military was disappointed when civilian governments did not pursue these demands with more vigor. And they were outraged when the Government did not achieve parity with the United States at the Washington Naval Talks (1921). Actually the talks assisted Japan in achieving naval dominance in the OPacific becaue they restructed American naval contruction while Japan did not have the industrial capacity to build at a greater rate than she did. Secret socities in the military, especially the Army advocated military expansion and expoused xeophoniv nationalist and racial ideas. Civilian politicans who attempted to resist them were assainated. These ideas gained even more support with the onset of the Great Depression (1930s). The militarists, most without any academic training in economics, insisted that the rapid growth of Japan’s population to support industrialization had created a national crisis. The population of 65 million could not be fed from te ciuntry agricultural sector. Food had to be imported. And to pay for those imports, Japan had to have secure export markets. Western countries had as a result of the Depression increased tariffs and limited exports. The militarists saw China with its large population and agrucultural production as the answer to Japan's problems. And the militarists saw the country's political parties and parlimentary government failing to pursue these policies. As a result of the Russo-Japanese War, Japan obtained the Kwantung Leased Territory and the areas adjacent to the South Manchurian Railway. Manchuria remained a part of China, but these cincessions gave the Japanese a major role in the economy. Kwantung means 'east of Shanhaiguan', a strategic pass and entance of the Great all, east of which lies Manchuria. The Japanese Army established the Kwantung Garrison (1906), it was gradually expanded into the Kwantung Army (KA). Radical expanionist policies popuklar in the IJA were especially strong within the KA. The KA became the largest and most prestigious command in the IJA. Many of its top personnel, such as Chiefs of Staff Seishirō Itagaki and Hideki Tōjō were promoted to high positions in both the military and civil government during the 1930s. Military officers were appointed to important government positions. The impetus for expanion came from the Kwantung Army, both the seizure of Manchuria (1931) and the invasion of China (1937). By the late 1930s, the military not only controlled the Government, but military officers were appointed to the major ministries. General Tōjō became prime minister. From these positions, the militarists were able to dominate Japanese sicir=ety through ciontrol of the press and schools. The Japanese Army military police, Kempeitai, expanded to assume the role of a secret police in Japanese civilian life, rather like the German Gestapo to supess any civilain discent. .


Romanian Fascism has many similarities to Western European fascism. The charteriustics of Fascism, including anti-communism, anti-Semitism, nationalism, mysticism, authoritarian leadership, and other elements are all issues adopted by the Iron Guard. An historical experience of territorial disputes with the powerful surronding empitres and the importance of Orthodox Christianity are uniue as pects of Romanian Fascism.

Soviet Union

The first Communist state was the Soviet Union. The Revolution was a reaction to the privations of World War I (1914-18), in which the Russian people, suffered greviously. The Bolshevicks emerged victorious against a democratic Provisional Government (1917). This led led to a distructive Civil war between Reds and Whites (1918-22). The Bolshevivks proceeded found not only a socialist economy, but a repressive police state under Lenin and more importantly Stalin. The Bolsheviks became the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It is now recognized by most authors that Stalin's ruthless policies including engineering a famine in the Ukraine resulted in more deaths that even Hitler's Holocaust and other genocidal policies. Stalin at the outbreak of World War II at first entered a partnership with Hitler, but then was invaded (1941). The Great Patriotic War waged by the Russian people was the key factor in the defeat of the German Army (1945). It also left Stalin in control of the countries of Eastern Europe. The result was the Cold War with American and the European democracies. The internal contridictions and efficencies of the Communist system and the desire of natuonal groups for indepence led to the unraveling of the Stalin's Soviet empire, first in Poland (1989) and finally the Soviet Union itself (1991). The Communists without a maket economy are of course not noted for their fashion sence and fashion industry. There were some ideological constraints on fashion. Often clothing manufacturers just copied Western styles, but there were clothing industries in these countries and fashion developments. Some countries had specialized school fashions and uniforms and the Young Pioners were forme with uniforms.




Navigate the CIH World War II Section:
[Return to Main World War II Totalitarian Political Power page]
[Return to Main Geo-poltical Crisis page]
[Biographies] [Campaigns] [Children] [Countries] [Deciding factors] [Diplomacy] [Geo-political crisis] [Economics] [Home front] [Intelligence]
[POWs] [Resistance] [Race] [Refugees] [Technology] [Totalitarian powers
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Return to Main World War II page]
[Return to Main war essay page]

Created: October 3, 2003
Last updated: 1:53 AM 11/3/2013