The Rise of Totalitarianism in Europe


Ceremonial book burning (Bücherverbrennung) on May 10, 1933 at Opernplatz in Berlin.

The First World War devastated Europe with casualties and damages never experienced before: the peoples of the victor Nations asked a severe punishment for the nations which were held responsible for the war, and especially for Germany. The Peace Treaty of Versailles - signed in 1919 - reduced Germany's territory by 15% and the German Army to 100,000 units, and forced Germany to accept the complete responsibility for the hostilities, and to pay 270 billion gold marks - the equivalent of 100,000 t of gold - in reparation of the war damages. The German reaction to the Treaty of Versailles was highly negative: it was claimed that the politicians of the Weimar Republic had sold their country to its enemies, and the absurd feeling (Dolchstoßlegende) that a conspiracy against the Nation was taking place spread widely among the German people. The Dolchstoßlegende was particularly popular among the veterans - many of which had their mental and physical health ruined by the war - who felt humiliated and frustrated by the accuse of having fought a criminal war, and gave birth to paramilitary organizations often connected with right-wing political parties. When Germany underwent a hyperinflation crisis (1921 to 1924) and a financial crisis (1929 to 1933) also common people - hardly stricken by the increased unemployment rate, the tax pressure and the anxiety about the future - lose faith in democracy and watched with envy and suspicion the owners of the wealth. The economic crisis and the Dolchstoßlegende caused the Weimar democracy to collapse, and the German political system to veer towards extremism. In those dark years Germany linked its faith to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei - a far-right, racist, anti-communist, paramilitary party - and to its leader Adolf Hitler who was appointed Chancellor of Germany by president Paul von Hindenburg in 1933 and rapidly established a totalitarian regime.

- transcript of all speeches

1922/11/16 - First Speech as Italian Prime Minister (Benito Mussolini)
1931/10/25 - Speech Against the Versailles Treaty (Benito Mussolini)
1932/07/15 - Address to the German People (Adolf Hitler)
1932/07/27 - Campaign Speech in Eberswalde (Adolf Hitler)
1932/10/23 - On the European Situation (Benito Mussolini)
1932/10/25 - Speech in Milan (Benito Mussolini)
1932/10/30 - Speech in Forli (Benito Mussolini)
1933/02/10 - First Speech as German Chancellor (Adolf Hitler)
1933/03/04 - First Inaugural Address (Franklin Delano Roosevelt)
1933/05/10 - Bücherverbrennung Speech (Josef Goebbels)
1934/09/06 - On the "Fiera del Levante" opening day (Benito Mussolini)
1934/09/06 - Opening Speech of the Sixth Reichsparteitag (Rudolf Hess)
1934/09/07 - Speech to the Hitler Jugend (Adolf Hitler)
1934/09/07 - Speech to the Nazi Party Officials (Adolf Hitler)
1934/09/08 - Speech to the SS (Adolf Hitler)
1934/09/08 - Closing Speech of the Sixth Reichsparteitag (Adolf Hitler)
1934/11/16 - Speech on the Thread of Nazi Germany (Winston Churchill)
1935/09/16 - Speech to the Wehrmacht (Adolf Hitler)
1935/10/02 - Italy Declares War to Ethiopia (Benito Mussolini)
1935/12/07 - On the Sanctions against Italy (Benito Mussolini)
1936/05/05 - Announcement of the Conquest of Ethiopia (Benito Mussolini)
1936/05/09 - Proclamation of Italian Empire (Benito Mussolini)
1936/08/10 - Opening of Berlin Olympische Spielen (Adolf Hitler)
1936/08/04 - Jesse Owens Wins Golden Medal in 100m Race (Unknown Speaker on RRG)
1936/10/24 - Speech in Bologna (Benito Mussolini)
1936/12/11 - Abdication Speech (King Edward VIII)
1937/05/06 - Coverage of the Hindenburg Disaster (Herbert Morrison on WLS)
1937/05/12 - Coronation Speech (King George VI)
1937/09/28 - Speech at Berlin Maifeld (Adolf Hitler)
1937/09/28 - Speech at Berlin Maifeld (Benito Mussolini)

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