The Rise of Fascism in Europe During the 1920s and 1930s


The years between the 1920s and 1930s are often called the period of the rise of fascism in Europe. Italy and Germany were the countries, where the ideology of fascism had the most significant appeal to the population. As a matter of fact, Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party and the fascist political movement, organized by Benito Mussolini, became the main powers behind the development of fascism in the world. In the following paper, the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s will be addressed on the basis of John Merriman’s argument in his book “A History of Modern Europe / Edition 3”.


The rise of fascism in Germany in the early 1920s was caused by political and social instability that prevailed in the country after World War I. After the signing of the shameful Versailles Treaty, the nation felt ashamed and punished too hard. The politics of the Weimar government appeared to be inefficient and brought even more problems to the country. In 1923, the situation became even worse because of the financial crisis, caused by the crash of the Great Wall Street stock market. The people were in expectation of a powerful political leader that would help overcome this depressing condition, and offer a new concept of development in the postwar period. In such conditions, Adolf Hitler and his new political power, called the National Socialist German Workers’ Party or the Nazi party, managed to win the hearts of German people in less than no time. Hitler appeared as a strong and charismatic leader, capable of offering German citizens the tools for success they dreamt about. His strong institute of propaganda came as the most influential establishment of this kind in the history of humanity. The other factor of the success of fascism in Germany was the defeat of communism at the beginning of the 1920s. After the uprising of 1919, when the main leaders of communists, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were murdered, the communist party was ‘beheaded’, and it never managed to gain popularity again. Thus, communism did not strike roots in Germany just as in the other countries of Europe that were weakened by World War I and the world economical crisis. By 1925, Hitler became the undeniable leader in his country, which is explained by his unique abilities in using ethos, pathos, and logos while debating, and the use of special techniques of infusing, elaborated by his fellow companions. The ideas, preached by Hitler to the masses, were able to drive them wild to achieve any goals offered by their new leader. The skill of making people believe vague concepts that had no fundament and support by evidence and facts was the most unthinkable of his strengths.


One of the most prominent leaders in the history of Italy, Benito Mussolini, became the founder of the fascist movement in the world. The reasons for his success were very similar to the reasons for Hitler’s success, and in fact, he became the first political leader to develop a new ideology that was later called fascism. After World War I, Italian people were very dissatisfied with annexing of their territories by France that took place after the Versailles conference. In this complicated period for the country, Mussolini managed to occupy strong positions in the political arena and wangle authority for the next few decades.


The development of fascism ideology in the other countries of Europe was not so successful as in Italy and Germany, which is explained by a variety of factors. The main of these factors was in the fact that other European countries did not have to sign such disadvantageous peaceful treaties after World War I as Germany and Italy did. However, fascism still gained popularity in some countries of Europe. Among those countries was Finland, where fascism developed earlier than in the other territories. The officially acknowledged period of fascism ideology dominating Finland was from 1929 to 1932. It received the title of the Lapua movement. In 1932, this movement was banned. The most significant of its achievements was preventing communists from occupying positions of power in the country. As a result, Finland continued as a democratic country for a significant period of time.


The rise of fascism in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s was a variegated phenomenon. It had the strongest appeal in the countries that were affected by the consequences of World War I more than the other European countries, in Italy and Germany. The citizens of these countries were greatly unsatisfied with their shaming peaceful treaties with the countries of the Entente and wanted revenge. Fascism appeared to be the power that guaranteed them a chance for revenge. Besides, the leaders of the fascist movements demonstrated outstanding skills in persuading their fellow compatriots. In the other countries of Europe such as Finland, fascism passed as a rather peaceful phenomenon, and its main role was in preventing communists’ success.