Totalitarian Dictators Inquiry
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Totalitarian Dictators Inquiry
This link leads to rare images of the devastation along the Western Front after World War I. (This annotation contains a link)
Dictators are all about image. What do you notice about the clothing of each dictator? Why might they choose these outfits? What message might they be trying to send to people at home and abroad?
Can you think of another ruler or public figure, in the present day, that has a cult of personality? What circumstances or tools contribute to people’s obsession with this person?
Follow this link to learn how each nation was impacted by the war. The website offers brief summaries of the statuses of many nations who participated in World War I. (This annotation contains a link)
This link to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has a very detailed article on pogroms conducted by the Soviet Union. It also explains some of the history of anti-semitism in Europe, and how the Nazi's went about isolating Jews in Germany. (This annotation contains a link)
This biography chronicles Stalin's transformation from a poor boxer into Josef Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union. There are great insights about the conditions that allowed him to ascend to power, and explains clearly how he maintained power after being named Leader of the Communist Party. (This annotation contains a video)
This website offers details about conditions in Germany after the Treaty of Versailles was signed following World War I. (This annotation contains a link)
What message is Stalin sending to his fellow Communists?
Why would Stalin want to emphasize the successes of his national plans?
After watching the video, what is clear about the way totalitarian dictators like Stalin are able to maintain power?
Please watch this short video for more information about how Stalin purged the Soviet population to maintain tight control over the nation. There will be a follow up question so it is worth taking notes. (This annotation contains a link)
Joseph Goebbels is often considered to be one of the chief architects of the Nazi regime. This link from PBS offers a concise, but detailed biography of this frightening individual. (This annotation contains a link)
Between minutes 9-20 you will see fascinating footage of Nazi Germany. Hitler believed he would create a new German Empire, and so he had much of the Nazi efforts filmed for posterity. Take an eery step back in time, as you can see and hear much of what German citizens did as the Nazi's transformed society in the 1930s. (This annotation contains a video)
The Nazis ensured that their message was omnipresent. Imagine how you might feel to walk down the street and hear your leader’s voice. What might this constant bombardment of messaging do to society? What if you disagreed with the message? How would you respond?
This link to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's special exhibition on Nazi Propaganda offers an illuminating look at the lengths Nazis went to in order to achieve total power. Here you can find rarely published propaganda, as well as many artifacts used to persuade the German people of the righteousness of National Socialist beliefs and goals. (This annotation contains a link)
Busts of Hitler for sale in Nuremberg, Germany: (This annotation contains an image)
Considering the many problems faced in post war Germany, which social group or age group do you think was most vulnerable to the Nazi message? Explain your reasoning.
From the caption you know that this was a piece of biased propaganda. Compare the men in the picture to the children and graffiti. What key differences do you notice? Why would the Nazi's want to emphasize them?
This link offers the complete text of Mussolini's Doctrine. If you're curious about the footnotes, or wish to have a more complete idea about his goals for Italy it is worth checking out. (This annotation contains a link)
In essence, Mussolini is requiring the Italian people to forfeit their
This website from the University of Idaho offers short definitions of various economic and political systems. If you're confused about the key differences between Communism, Socialism and Fascism it is worth taking a look at. There is also some information about how Capitalism--as found in many democratic nations--differs from the aforementioned systems. (This annotation contains a link)
Imagine you are an Italian citizen after World War I. What about fascism might appeal to you? Do you believe Mussolini took advantage of the positive aspects of fascism to create something negative? Explain why or why not.
Here you can watch the biography of Mussolini. An insecure but captivating man, he became the dictator of Italy, and the man who first inspired Hitler to become a dictator. (This annotation contains a video)
Totalitarian Dictators Quiz
Variation on the essential question: Of the dictators and nations studied, which do you believe to be the strongest example of totalitarianism? Why? Please use evidence from the various readings and videos to support your reasoning.