There were many similarities between Mussolini and Hitler even though the two exhibited some differences. Having risen to power earlier, in the 1920s, Mussolini was the senior between the two and had a great influence on Hitler. Hitler saw in him a teacher who helped him shape his policies. The two however had individual characteristics that made their lives quite different. As much as Hitler went to school and graduated as a fine art student, Mussolini was self – educated (Trifkovic 1993). The latter had a larger than life approach to life and he wanted to be perceived as a superman by the people.
In this way he would fake pictures portraying him as a master of various skills including a pilot, wrestler etc. On the other hand Hitler had a less colorful view of life. He was more successful in battle; being able to win majority of the wars that he staged against his enemies. In this way Germany was able to conquer other nations. As much as his friend found it easy to conquer other nations due to his early war experience and the huge army back at home; Mussolini had a difficult time in winning battles. In most of the battles he had to depend on the assistance of the Germans in order to become victorious (Carpi 1994).
The two leaders were nevertheless hungry for power and were inclined to totalitarian leadership. They both had been wounded in battle and had almost taken a similar avenue to power (Hayes 1995). There election promise to restore hope and help solve the unemployment problem earned them the support and sympathy from the majority voters. In some way they did not fail as both German and Italy significantly reduced the levels of unemployment in the initial years of their leadership (Cassels 1963). The two had a hot cold relationship.
Despite the signing the Pact of Steel, which called for cooperation between the two countries in matters economical, militaristic and on foreign policy issues; still there are times when one of the countries would act without due consultation with the other. Ascension to Power There is great similarity in the manner that the two leaders campaigned for political leadership and got elected to the office. There countries by the time were facing unemployment problems, hopelessness and disillusionment. The citizens were therefore anticipating for someone who would literary save them from the situation.
The coming of both Mussolini and Hitler was perceived as a great relieve to the economic situation of the time. There campaign which was fierce propaganda helped to catapult the two dictators into office. This propaganda continued to play a key role in the governments and administration of the day; the citizens were totally unaware of the true information that the government was acting upon. In times of war or when the government made important decisions that directly or indirectly affected the lives of the citizens; there were totally kept in the dark (Weber 1982).
The two dictators all had a similar script to help them rule over the people (Flood 1989). They were at a point of establishing a new leadership whereby the individual was the one and only decision maker. This totalitarian government did not tolerate any form of opposition either from an individual or groups. It was therefore common for those who expressed ideas or views that were opposed to the leader to either face prosecution without trial or they were simply liquidated. The two leaders had an unquenchable thirst for power.
This trait seemed to have cemented their relationship as they tended to see oneself in the character of the other. Hitler had been able to learn from Mussolini the way to govern a nation with the full authority centered on one individual. In mastering the way Mussolini carried out the affairs of the nation and particularly the conduct of the military; Hitler was eventually able to come up with his own style of leadership (Flood 1989). He was however very critical to avoid the mistakes that his friend had made.
So in imitating his manner and way of leadership, he was also aware of the pitfalls that come with overindulgence more so exhibitionism. Foreign Policy It is because of the thirst for power and having the same style of leadership that the two dictators had to settle for an agreement such that they will support one another in case of war. This agreement otherwise referred to as the Pact of Steel was more in favor of Hitler’s Germany that is was for Italy (Corrado 1993). There was an unquenchable thirst for power on the part of Mussolini – for he had seen a powerful ally in Germany – that made him sign the deal.
Later on it came to Italy’s realization that Germany was too aggressive in a bid to try and expand its influence thus fought a number of war expecting the cooperation of Italy. At least in two instances Italy declined to get involved in the wars despite the agreement. In both the 1939 and 1940 war, the former being the German’s invasion of Poland, there had been no cooperation between the countries. In the latter case the hesitation came since Mussolini had seen the possibility of Germany benefiting entirely from the invasion. The foreign policies of both Mussolini and Hitler were primarily addressing the expansion of their empire.
The two would not squander any opportunity to try and spread there influence. For instance the involvement of Italy in the Spanish war was basically as a result of hunger for power by Mussolini. In this civil war that proved to be quite unpopular in Italy; was a way to get another member to the club of dictators. Already Hitler and Mussolini had perceived themselves as the most powerful nations in Europe. The two come up with an axis to which the other European countries revolved. According to Mussolini Italy would not miss the opportunity to spread its power and influence to other nations.
In this stance Italy was backed by Germany and together they rallied their support for Franco. The two were in favor of another establishment of a Fascist dictatorship in Europe. In this war there combined force succeeded in having Franco joining the club of dictators. The effect of this war was a further alienation of Italy from the rest of Europe. It implied that the only option and way that was open to Italy was to augment its friendship with Germany. The Military The military might of Germany was not only one of the best but also the biggest.
It was said to be five times more that the limit set by international standards. The significance of the great numbers of the officers was apparent. The nation went and fought many wars and was able to be successful in most of them. The military had been well equipped with sophisticated weapons and personnel that made it difficult to be defeated by any other nation. The two leaders were so much fascinated by the army such that even they themselves would always be seen in the army uniforms. In these military activities the leaders also were able to influence one another in one way or another.
For instance the Nazi salute came from a direct imitation from the Mussolini army. Similarly there are a number of ideas that Mussolini borrowed from Hitler after he had visited his country and allowed to see the military. On seeing the military might of the Germans he made up his mind to maintain friendship with Hitler. Mussolini knew little about the military hence it was always divided and fragmented. There seemed to be no way to make the factions stick together and be loyal to their commander-in – chief. For a period of a decade or so Mussolini tried to consolidate and manage the military effectively.
He could achieve but little success in this regard as his military exhibited weakness due to the internal divisions. This can be contrasted to his friend whose military was so compact and their loyalty was not compromised. The military was more of a cult than a professional body meant to safeguard the security of the nation. The German soldiers were simply dehumanized such that they were like automatons to follow orders that were given by their superiors. Together in Fascism Fascism seemed to have glued the two dictators together. They both found great relieve and prestige in holding absolute power.
Fascism is regarded as unmasked capitalism since it has as its core value the idea of big business (Weber 1982). The two dictators were beneficiaries of the big business helping them ascend to leadership positions. It was therefore there prime role to ensure that the idea does not die with their coming into power. Fascism therefore continued to appeal to the emotions of the masses as it took on symbolism such as the hand salute, flags and creeds. Both Hitler and Mussolini exhibited these qualities and also the tendency towards racism, nationalism and sadism.
Fascism detested so much the status quo and this has been the defining trait of both the dictators. Mussolini ensured that all political parties were dissolved. This gave him absolute power to rule over the state of Italy. He got to control each and everything in the country; the most powerful ministries were placed in his hands. These include defense, home and foreign affairs and corporations. Similarly he employed a lot of propaganda machinery such that the citizens are kept out of the picture. Everyone was made to believe that Fascism was the one and only system that could work in the 20th century (Griffin 2000).
The other forms of government such as democracy and liberalism were to be shunned since they were outdated and could not be adopted. This manner of leadership was much akin to that of Adolph Hitler, just like his friend, he accomplished most of his goals through propaganda. A student of Mussolini, Hitler perfected the art of propaganda (Sternhell 1994). He was able to persuade the entire nation to support his goals and ideals in order to achieve a common purpose. Hitler had an entire ministry allotted to propaganda. Initially Mussolini held the policy of privatization of industries to the satisfaction of the financers.
This was however a short term measure as the policy was reversed such that the government took on the control of the industries (Seldes 1935). As Mussolini struggled to ensure economic and financial independence of Italy – it was vital the country to have enough resources. This was not the case with Italy which struggled with limited resource allocation. To some extend Hitler had the resources to sustain his economy. He was able to solve the unemployment problem in the country and meet the demands of the huge army. Though the nation had been sidelined by other nations due to its aggressive behavior, still the economy did not flounder.
This success story did not last for long as there were many obstacles on the way of achieving the goals that the leaders had set in mind. The Fascism ideology failed in its endeavor to bring some substantial changes in the human person and the society at large. First the two major personalities that stood for the idea actually met the most miserable of deaths. No one really wants to remember the actions of the two dictators. Similarly the goals of Fascism namely to come up with a society and human beings that are heroically moral were never to be realized.
At first both Mussolini and Hitler were revered and admired by the citizen as they seem to have brought the changes that were badly needed by them and the society as a whole (Trifkovic 1993). This did not last long more so for Mussolini whom everyone soon realized his true character. The alienation of the two individuals by the civilized nations of Europe show how they were affected by their policies. However one cannot simply dismiss Mussolini as a failure who brought nothing but misery to his country. On the contrary Mussolini has been noted to have established the most stable government ever.
It is as a result of his government that the nation of Italy can boast of a stable foundation. Similarly the good infrastructure of the country traces its roots back to the leadership of Mussolini. This is not to approve of his character or Fascism as a form of leadership. Any leader can take advantage of any form of leadership. In the case of Mussolini and Hitler the two used the power that had been bestowed on them to ensure that no one opposes their leadership. They systematically eliminated the individuals or groups that were not in favor of their policies. Common Tendencies
Since Mussolini and Hitler were regarded as friends they were prone to show similarities in their actions. In some of their actions however the two lacked straight forwardness and tended to be some aspect of distrust. Germany and Italy both left the League of Nations, the former in 1933 while the latter – incensed by the imposition of sanctions by the league after invading Ethiopia – left in 1939. This shows how closely the two leaders influenced the behavior of one other. The attempt to try and occupy Albania by Mussolini had been noted as being synonymous with Hitler’s invasion and later occupation of Czechoslovakia and Austria.
This attempt, unlike that of Hitler, did not bear any fruit as the Italian forces were defeated and forced to withdraw from Albania. The foreign policy of the two dictators were therefore similar to a greater extend but the political and military might of Germany was far much superior compared to that of Italy. It is for this reason that analysts were concerned that Mussolini was in fact simply a puppet of his comrade. The foreign policies of Mussolini and Hitler were meant for the achievement of power and status. There were both in favor of the expansion of their empires.
To achieve this purpose the dictators employed force and diplomacy. For instance in 1935 take over of Ethiopia, Mussolini had to use force. Similarly Hitler had to threaten with the use of force in order to occupy Austria. In this way the two dictators exhibit the same manner of approach in an attempt to gain power. In brief the two fascist dictators were cut in the same cloth (Trifkovic 1993). There character though seemed to show some variation it was nonetheless the same. Everything that the two dictators did could be brought down to the thirst for power. This was mostly accomplished through wars.
The Wars The civil war in Spain that lasted for three years saw the exhibition of new weapons and brought to the fore rivalries between the nations. The war simply showed who is who in the world. There were democracies on one hand comprising of countries such as Belgium, Britain, France and Holland. One the other hand there were the totalitarian regimes which included Russia, Italy and Germany. The might of these nations was to be exhibited in Spain during the civil war. Countries such as France and Britain however did not want to get involved in the crisis and therefore kept off the battlefield.
This war was therefore fueled by external forces with little participation of internal forces. In participating in the war, Mussolini was acting against the will of a significant number of Italians. The war was not popular with the majority people since it was simply meant to quench the thirst for power of an individual. Mussolini wanted to have another dictator to join in Europe to join him and Hitler. In this endeavor together with Hitler they recorded huge success after General Franco won the war. Italy had been reluctant to join the First World War due to domestic policies that favored a liberal stance.
By then Mussolini was allied to the socialist party thus held to the principles of the party. He later on changed his mind and joined Hitler’s faction on the battlefield. This angered the socialist party leadership thus resulting to his expulsion from the party. Similarly in the Second World War Mussolini was reluctant to join his friend as he was unsure on which side to fight. He was later to make up his mind after he had witnessed the progress in the war. Despite the fact that Hitler was more successful in war compared to Mussolini, the wars kept their relationship close and tight.
The invasion of Italy to both Greek and Ethiopia – the former due to the supposed killing of her soldiers while the latter just a revenge mission on an occurrence that happened many years back – led the country to face sanctions from the League of Nations. This was very disagreeable to Mussolini thus making him withdraw from the league. He, just as his friend Hitler had come to the realization that the league could not stand on the way to acquisition of colonies. In order to understand the two leaders one has to place their actions in their respective context.
It was the time when the nation’s exalted wars and there was much honor and prestige in conquering another nation. The philosophy of the time was mostly in the favor of the Germanys. This is notably Fred rich Nietzsche whom it is said to have influenced both Hitler and Mussolini with his idea of the superman. This idea was later to become the obsession of Mussolini. He wanted everyone to believe that he had extraordinary qualities. In his approach to many issues and problems that faced his country, Mussolini lacked a realistic approach. Betrayal
In one way or another friendship between Mussolini and Hitler has not been smooth running. There have been ups and downs; sometimes they did cooperate while other times the two were totally on different paths. In most cases Mussolini was the victim of the betrayal as he was the lesser of the two in the relationship. In the Pact of Steel for instance the two were to stand by one another in case one declared war on another country. This was not to be as Italy was reluctant to join Germany in its attempt to invade Poland; an incidence that caused the Second World War (Trifkovic 1993).
In failing to join his friend in war despite the deal that had been made earlier on, Mussolini was declaring his independence. There is also the possibility that the army was not prepared to fight at the time. The failure to abide by the Pact of Steel can also be as a result of the feeling that Hitler was opportunistic. His military was in fact more aggressive compared to that of Italy. This meant that Italy will serve as the puppet to be manipulated by Germany. Considering the character of both Mussolini and Hitler, none would be willing to accept such a demeaning position.
Even with the apparent friendship between Mussolini and Hitler, the latter was said to have recommended Hitler for excommunication to the pope. This action, considering the closeness of the two, had two implications; one is that in essence it sounds factual and quite obvious. On the other hand it is shocking for the suggestion to come from ones friend. The two had cooperated in many things and continued to do so. In fact when everyone else seemed to turn his back against Mussolini, it is Hitler that came to his rescue. The incidence is therefore quite shocking as it is interesting.
For no one really knew the true character of these individuals. Not even there closest friends. Nevertheless the two did cooperate in many spheres of life. If it were not for the support of the Germany military, then Mussolini will not have achieved some of the victories that were pegged to his name and regime (Cassels 1963). The most significant aspect of the relationship is the rescue that was carried out by the German soldiers. Mussolini having been arrested and imprisoned in the mountain top; it took the world by storm to see that the German soldiers were able to rescue him (Trifkovic 1993).
This was a true display of friendship between Hitler and Mussolini. In fact after the rescue Mussolini was reported to have anticipated his friend’s assistance. Likewise Hitler could not afford to do nothing considering that the friend has been kept in prison. Conclusion It is apparent that for anyone to effectively discuss the actions of Mussolini he will not avoid to mention Hitler. The two cooperated in a number of ways and in carrying out the affairs that badly affected the world. Among the things that fascinated the two principles were war and the military.
The obsession with both the military and war made them to always show up in the public in full military uniforms. Nothing however is more notable of the two than their thirst for power. It is primarily for the want of excessive power that the two Fascist dictators saw a similarity in one another bringing them closer together. Even though Mussolini had pioneered in totalitarian leadership, it is Hitler that perfected the practice. He learned from the failures of Mussolini thus able to avoid the pitfalls. In brief, the relationship between Mussolini and Hitler had been a friendly one till when death set them apart.
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