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HIST202: History of Europe, 1800 to the Present

Unit 8: Dictatorships and the Second World War   World War I had mobilized centralized state power on an unprecedented scale.  Such an incredible exertion of power had seemed necessary in order to muster all available state resources in an atmosphere of “total war.”  But this trend of centralized power continued in postwar Europe, and when combined with fervent nationalism, led to the rise of several totalitarian or authoritarian regimes.  Stalin’s Russia, Franco’s Spain, Mussolini’s Fascist Italy, and Hitler’s Nazi Germany all used oppressive rule to restore order and prosperity to nations wracked by war.  It was the alliance of these three regimes that eventually resulted in the outbreak of World War II in 1939.  Hitler’s invasion of Poland and France ignited a war that would last five years, span five continents, and claim millions of lives. 

In this unit, we will see that the aggressive, totalitarian nationalism of the 1920s and early 1930s was fueled by the economic downturn of the Great Depression, social unrest, and an uncertain political landscape.  In particular, we will study how Adolf Hitler garnered the support of a disenchanted Germany and built his “racially-pure” Nazi state.  We will also examine the military battles of the war as well as what many believe to be the greatest tragedy of the twentieth century— the Holocaust.

Unit 8 Time Advisory
This unit will take you 12.5 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 8.1: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 8.2: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 8.3: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 8.4: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 8.5: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 8.6: 4 hours

Unit8 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Identify the origins of totalitarian political movements across the globe in the 1920s and 1930s and assess how these movements led to World War II.
  • Assess the impact of technological developments in war strategy and casualty numbers.
  • Evaluate the historical significance of the Holocaust.
  • Analyze how WWII reshaped global power balances and led to the emergence of the United States and the Soviet Union as superpowers.

8.1 Authoritarian States   - Reading: Professor John Warwick’s “Authoritarianism vs. Liberal Democracy in the Inter-war Period” Blog Entry; Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Twentieth Century Europe: “Lecture 9: The Age of Anxiety: Europe in the 1920s”; HistoryDoctor.net: Dr. Larry E. Gates, Jr.’s “Rise of the Totalitarian States” Links: Professor John Warwick’s “Authoritarianism vs. Liberal Democracy in the Inter-war Period” (HTML) Blog Entry; Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide:Lectures on Twentieth Century Europe: “Lecture 9: The Age of Anxiety: Europe in the 1920s” (HTML); HistoryDoctor.net: Dr. Larry E. Gates, Jr.’s “Rise of the Totalitarian States”(HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read Professor Warwick’s entire blog entry titled “Authoritarianism vs. Liberal Democracy in the Inter-war Period.”  Then, read Dr. Kreis’s lecture 9 on “The Age of Anxiety” in its entirety.  Finally, peruse Dr. Gates’s article on the “Rise of the Totalitarian States.”  Please note that these readings cover topics outlined for 8.1.1 and 8.1.2.
The first reading by Professor Warwick will help you gain a sense of how the post-WWI era gave birth to emergent liberal democratic and totalitarian ideologies.  The second reading (by Dr. Kreis) discusses how anti-democratic ideologies grew out of the unresolved problems of World War I.  Lastly, the article by Dr. Gates provides an overview of the emergence of totalitarian regimes in Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Soviet Union, Hungary, and Poland during the 1930s.  You will also get a sense of how “conservative authoritarianism” differed from “radical totalitarianism.”
 
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8.1.1 Conservative Authoritarianism   8.1.2 Radical Totalitarian Dictatorships   - Reading: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Twentieth Century Europe: “Lecture 10: The Age of Totalitarianism: Stalin and Hitler” Link: Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide:Lectures on Twentieth Century Europe: “Lecture 10: The Age of Totalitarianism: Stalin and Hitler” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage to get sense of the origins and features of radical totalitarianism.
 
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8.2 Stalin’s Soviet Union   - Lecture: Yale University: Dr. John Merriman’s “Lecture 21: Stalinism” Link: Yale University: Dr. John Merriman’s “Lecture 21: Stalinism” (YouTube)
 
Also available in:
HTML, Adobe Flash, Mp3 or QuickTime
iTunes U

 
Instructions: Please watch the entire 50-minute video lecture linked above.  In this video lecture, Dr. Merriman discusses how and why Josef Stalin’s Soviet State emerged as such a bureaucratic and ruthless power.
 
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  • Reading: HistoryDoctor.net: Dr. Larry E. Gates, Jr.’s “The Soviet Union under Stalin” Link: HistoryDoctor.net: Dr. Larry E. Gates, Jr.’s “The Soviet Union under Stalin” (HTML)
     
    Instructions:  Please read the entire webpage in order to get a sense of Stalin’s Five Year Plan, his influence on Soviet society, and his brutal Great Purges.  Please note that this reading covers topics outlined in subunits 8.2.1-8.2.4.
     
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8.2.1 From Lenin to Stalin   8.2.2 The Five Year Plan   8.2.3 Soviet Society   8.2.4 Stalinist Terror and the Great Purges   - Reading: Fordham University's Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of “Stalin’s Purges” Link: Fordham University's Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of “Stalin’s Purges” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage.  This Soviet textbook entry offers an “official explanation,” or legitimization, of Joseph Stalin’s “purges” in 1936.  Sensing that opposition to his rule and policies was rising, Stalin ordered the widespread police surveillance, executions, and purges of the Communist Party and the Red Army, as well as persecution and repression of suspected opponents.
 
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8.3 Mussolini and Fascism in Italy   - Reading: HistoryDoctor.net: Dr. Larry E. Gates, Jr.’s “Benito Mussolini and Fascist Italy” Link: HistoryDoctor.net: Dr. Larry E. Gates, Jr.’s “Benito Mussolini and Fascist Italy” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage in order to get a good overview of the emergence of Fascism in Italy under Benito Mussolini.  Please note that this reading covers topics outlined in subunits 8.3.1-8.3.3.
 
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8.3.1 Fascism Defined   - Reading: Fordham University's Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Benito Mussolini's “What Is Fascism?” Link: Fordham University's Modern History Sourcebook:Paul Halsall’s version of Benito Mussolini's “What Is Fascism?” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage for Mussolini's definition of fascism.  In this 1932 encyclopedia entry, Benito Mussolini asserts that in a Fascist regime, the absolute authority is the state.  This is the polar opposite of the absolute authority allotted to the “people” in democratic regimes.
 
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8.3.2 The Fascist Seizure of Power   8.3.3 The Fascist State   8.4 The Spanish Civil War and General Franco’s Dictatorship   - Reading: History World International’s “The Spanish Civil War” Link: History World International’s “The Spanish Civil War” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage for an overview of the Spanish Civil War, and General Francisco Franco’s dictatorship.  Please note that this reading covers topics outlined in subunits 8.4.1-8.4.2.
 
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  • Reading: University of Pennsylvania: Professor Al Filreis’ “The Spanish Civil War” Link: University of Pennsylvania: Professor Al Filreis’ “The Spanish Civil War” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the sections title “The Spanish Civil War” and “Abraham Lincoln Brigade” by clicking on the provided links.  Please note that this reading covers topics outlined in subunits 8.4.1-8.4.2.
     
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8.4.1 The Spanish Civil War   8.4.2 From the Spanish Civil War to World War II   8.4.3 Spain under Franco   - Reading: Library of Congress Country Studies: Eric Solsten’s (ed.) Spain: A Country Study: “The Franco Years” Link: Library of Congress Country Studies: Eric Solsten’s (ed.) Spain: A Country Study: “The Franco Years” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of this page.  Pay special attention to how even though he received help from the Fascists during the Civil War, later he tried to distance himself from fascist ideology.
          
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8.5 Hitler and Nazism in Germany   - Lecture: Yale University: Dr. John Merriman's “Lecture 22: Fascists” Link: Yale University: Dr. John Merriman's “Lecture 22: Fascists” (YouTube)
 
Also available in:
HTML, Adobe Flash, Mp3 or QuickTime
iTunes U

 
Instructions: Please watch the entire 50-minute video lecture linked above.  Please note that this material covers sections 8.4.1. and 8.4.2.  The lecture suggests that Hitler was far from an exceptional leader in inter-war Europe.  Dr. Merriman also emphasizes Nazism’s context in a post-WWI climate of instability and resentment.
 
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  • Reading: HistoryDoctor.net: Dr. Larry E. Gates, Jr.’s “Hitler and National Socialism” Link: HistoryDoctor.net: Dr. Larry E. Gates, Jr.’s “Hitler and National Socialism” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the entire webpage in order to get a good overview of Hitler’s National Socialism and the development of the Nazi state.  Please note that this reading covers concepts in 8.5.1 and 8.5.2.
     
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8.5.1 National Socialism and Adolf Hitler   - Reading: Hanover College’s version of Adolf Hitler's “Speech of April 12, 1921” Link: Hanover College’s version of Adolf Hitler's “Speech of April 12, 1921” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire speech.  Adolf Hitler was an incredibly persuasive and charismatic speaker.  His speeches, including this one given in 1921, capitalized on the growing resentment and oppression felt by the German people in the post-WWI period.
 
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8.5.2 The Nazi State and Society   8.6 World War II   - Lecture: Yale University: Dr. John Merriman's “Lecture 23: Collaboration and Resistance in World War II” Link: Yale University: Dr. John Merriman's “Lecture 23: Collaboration and Resistance in World War II” (YouTube)
 
Also available in:
HTML, Adobe Flash, Mp3 or QuickTime
iTunes U

 
Instructions: Please watch the entire 50-minute video lecture linked above.  Please note this lecture covers topics in sections 8.6.1-8.6.5.  This video lecture will help you to understand that World War II’s liberalism versus totalitarianism was far from true.  Instead, many Nazi-occupied countries willingly “collaborated” with the Nazis in persecuting Jews, communists, and “others.” 
 
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  • Reading: Library of Congress Country Studies: “The Consolidation of Power and Foreign Policy” and “The Outbreak of World War II and Total mobilization, Resistance, and the Holocaust, ” and “Defeat” Link: Library of Congress Country Studies: “The Consolidation of Power and Foreign Policy” and “The Outbreak of World War II and Total Mobilization, Resistance, and the Holocaust,” and “Defeat” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read these articles in their entirety for a good overview of the Second World War, including the pre-war period of aggression and appeasement, the expansion of Hitler’s Nazi empire, as well as the chronology of the war.  Please note that these readings cover topics in sections 8.6.1-8.6.5.
     
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8.6.1 Aggression and Appeasement, 1933-1939   8.6.2 Hitler’s Empire, 1939-1942   8.6.3 The Holocaust   - Reading: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's “The Holocaust”; Fordham University's Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Hermann Friedrich Graebe's Account of Holocaust Mass Shooting Links: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's “The Holocaust” (HTML); Fordham University's Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Hermann Friedrich Graebe's “Account of Holocaust Mass Shooting” (HTML)
 
Instructions: First, please read the entire article introducing the Holocaust on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's webpage.  You may want to optionally continue reading by clicking on the hyperlinks under the “Related articles” section.  Note that the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum aims to educate people about the mass genocide and discrimination of the Holocaust, as well as to promote human dignity. 
Then, please read Graebe's first-person account of a Holocaust Mass Shooting.  This is a first-person account of the mass death of Jews at Dubno, Ukraine in 1942.  About 5,000 Jews in this region were “marked for liquidation” by the Nazis, and the speaker, a Ukrainian engineer, estimates that approximately 1,500 were shot daily and then buried in mass graves.  The account, though disturbing, shows the well-organized extermination procedures that the SS, an elite Nazi paramilitary unit, had started to use by the third year of World War II.
 
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  • Web Media: Yale University Library: Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies' “Testimony Excerpts: Christa M.” Link: Yale University Library: Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies' “Testimony Excerpts: Christa M.” (HTML)
     
    Also available in:

    Quicktime (video)
    Quicktime (audio)
     
    Instructions: Please read the short excerpt in its entirety.  Then, download the video or audio testimony by clicking on the hyperlink titled “Download video” or “Download audio.”  Please listen to Christa M.’s account of her encounter with Dachau prisoners in

    1.  
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8.6.4 The Grand Alliance   8.6.5 The Changing Tide of Battle, 1939-1945   - Reading: Fordham University's Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Vyacheslav Molotov's “Reaction to the German Invasion of 1941” Link: Fordham University's Modern History Sourcebook:Paul Halsall’s version of Vyacheslav Molotov's “Reaction to the German Invasion of 1941” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire excerpt of Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov’s broadcast to the Soviet people.  In this 1941 radio address, Molotov reacts to Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union, calling for expulsion of Hitler’s troops and Soviet victory.
 
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