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What Common Features Did Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and Stalinist Russia Share and Why?


In the early to mid-twentieth century, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and Stalinist Russia rose to power. Despite their ideological differences, they shared many leadership and social control approaches and tactics for achieving their objectives. The paper will compare and contrast the two regimes and examine their similarities and origins.

Authoritarian Government

Totalitarian leadership typified all three regimes, with absolute power in the hands of a single individual or small group (Pierson, 2022). Benito Mussolini was declared the Duce of fascist Italy, his command coming with no small degree of authority within the Fascist Party. Adolf Hitler propelled Germany into a totalitarian society as he rose through the ranks of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, the totalitarian rule being the greatest of the legacies Hitler left behind. Having advanced through a series of purges, Joseph Stalin eventually assumed the position of General Secretary of the Communist Party, thus establishing a powerful presence in Stalinist Russia (Marlene, 2020). The dominance of these rulers saw them hush any opposition, relying on strategic propaganda to ensure general support. As a result of their concentration of power, they found themselves unhindered in pursuing any ideological ventures.

State coercion and propaganda

Under authoritarian regimes’ control, citizens’ lives were completely regulated and managed. The governments of Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and Stalinist Russia all strived towards a cohesive infrastructure of power to maintain social order and enforce laws (Marlene, 2020). With the introduction of central planning, leading executives had the authority to regulate businesses heavily. To sway public opinions and foster loyalty between citizens, their regimes relied heavily on psychological propaganda and media control (Dallimore, 2021). Strict censorship and brainwashing were involved, allowing those in power to drive their doctrines and platforms.

Suppression of political dissent and opposition

To silence any opposition, these governments utilized harsh tactics and manipulation. Dissenters and resistance were heavily suppressed with the suppression of opposing political parties, unions and groups. Secret police fascists like the Narodnyi Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del (NKVD) in Stalin’sRussia, the Organizzazione per la Vigilanza e la repressione dell’Antifascismo (OVRA) in Fascist Italy, and the Gestapo in Nazi Germany all targeted political opponents, leading to countless incarcerations and even deaths (Dallimore, 2021). Terrorist activities were also common, using such brutal practices as purging, mock trials, and arbitrary arrests to strike fear amongst citizens and protect the power and stability of the ruling regime. To justify these infringing measures, the government declared them necessary for national security, the stability of society, and the propagation of their ideologies.

Aspirations for expansion and imperialism

The expansionist drives of each regime are infamous. Italy sought to build an empire surpassing the Roman Empire in power and grandeur (Dallimore, 2021). Citing a need to expand their influence, Nazi Germany initiated World War II to obtain a large German empire spanning Europe. Lastly, the Soviet Union formed satellite republics in Eastern Europe, largely driven by imperial ideology, material and territorial gains, and the claim of essential national security. Such ambitions heavily contributed to the rise of tensions, leading to a chaotic dismantling of international order.


Due to their leaders’ authoritarian instincts and ideological purposes, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and Stalinist Russia had many traits. All three countries had totalitarian traits, state-sponsored propaganda, a crackdown on dissent, and territorial expansion. Even though the fascist, Nazi, and communist regimes all represented different ideologies, they all shared some traits that can be traced back to the larger context of the time, which was marked by political volatility, economic insecurity, and the aftermath of World War I.

Question 2 – In what respects were the causes of the Second World War rooted in the first one?


The aftermath of World War I greatly contributed to the conditions that led to World War II. The Treaty of Versailles, its economic consequences, unsolved territorial disputes, and the emergence of aggressive ideologies all contributed to the conditions that led to World War II’s start. The essay will examine the connections between the two wars, focusing on the similarities that serve as their core causes.

The Versailles Peace Treaty’s Consequences

The catastrophic devastation of World War I led to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. This burdensome agreement imposed overwhelming punitive terms on Germany – its territory losses, crippling reparations, and deep economic crisis caused extreme humiliation and resentment. As a result, nationalist sentiments and a thirst for vengeance flourished, giving way to the potential for future conflict (Creswell, 2023). In addition, redrawing borders and forming new nations in Eastern Europe posed serious unresolved geographical issues, becoming flashpoints leading to future wars (Creswell, 2023).

Economic consequences and increasing volatility

Moreover, the war and the Treaty of Versailles had devastating economic repercussions, such as immense debt, hyperinflation, and high unemployment rates. The challenging reconstruction process after the war, combined with the economic crisis in the 1930s during the Great Depression, made it easy for radical views and populist leaders to gain traction since they promised swift economic growth, revived national strength, and reignited past glories (Gurwitz & Gurwitz, 2019). Violent ideologies such as fascism and Nazism also gained considerable support in countries that sought radical solutions to their issues. The expansionist agenda of fascist and Nazi regimes, seeking to refurbish the world order through violence, amplified the causes of World War II (Sullivan, 2020).

The Spread of Violent Ideas

Despite the best attempts of the League of Nations to build an international order and prevent global warfare, failure to end the fighting and resolve the deep-seated matters that instigated it led to a lack of collective security and poor diplomacy. The weakened international system allowed hostile nations to introduce expansionist policies with impunity (Creswell, 2023). In addition, the 1938 Munich Agreement’s appeasement policies only encouraged belligerent actors and worsened the worrisome geopolitical environment (Creswell, 2023).


The causes of World War II harken back to the consequences of World War I, such as the oppressive Treaty of Versailles, intense economic repercussions, unaddressed geography issues, and the rise of aggressive ideologies favouring militarism and territorial expansion. These devastating factors led to unrest, instability, and a thirst for vengeance amongst nations, creating the right environment for another world war.


Marlene, L. (2020). Accusing Russia of fascism. Russia in Global Affairs, 18(4 (72)), 100–123.

Dallimore, J. (2021). Comparing dictatorships in the HSC modern history core: Russia, Italy and Japan. Teaching History55(3), 39-44.

Pierson, D. (2022). Dystopian Totalitarianism. Dystopian States of America: Apocalyptic Visions and Warnings in Literature and Film, p. 17.

Creswell, M. H. (2023). The Collapse of the Versailles System. The Oxford Handbook of World War II, 15.

Gurwitz, A., & Gurwitz, A. (2019). New York’s Great Depression: The Delayed Fade. Atlantic Metropolis: An Economic History of New York City, 401-447.

Sullivan, B. R. (2020). The path marked out by history: The German-Italian alliance, 1939-1943. In Hitler and his Allies in World War II (pp. 116–151). Routledge.


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