The Rise of Fascism: Europe in the 1930s
The 1930s witnessed a rise in fascism across Europe, ignited by changes in government and internal politics, ethnic tensions, and nationalism. Democracies were weak, with dictators taking control and shaping the political agenda. National self-interest engulfed Europe, while the League of Nations struggled to offer means of resolving disputes and maintaining an international order.
Table of Contents
- The French political system and the right-wing reaction
- The Spanish Republic and its fragmented support
- Fascism in central and eastern Europe
- The collapse of the post-war settlement and democratic weakness
- The rise of fascism in Italy and Germany and the challenge to the international order
What were the causes of the rise of fascism in Europe during the 1930s?
The rise of fascism in Europe was triggered by a plethora of factors, including frequent changes of government, pragmatism, and alliances of parties in France. Spain’s new democratic republic lacked a genuine mass base of support outside the industrial working class, causing an irredeemable split among republican parties and regional identities. In central and eastern Europe, extremist movements in Austria, Romania and Hungary gained momentum. The 1930s witnessed the collapse of the post-war settlement, with national self-interest, ethnic tensions and nationalist resentments threatening to trigger its collapse.
What was the impact of the right-wing reaction in France in 1932?
The 1932 French elections triggered a right-wing reaction which led to increased xenophobia, nationalism, anti-Semitism, and anti-feminism fears. Extra-parliamentary paramilitary Leagues on the nationalist right gained momentum after a corruption scandal involving high-ranking politicians in the Radical Party in 1933. In February 1934, they marched on Paris, culminating in a night of violence that brought down the government. This heightened the Left-Right confrontation and paved the way for the government of the Popular Front in 1936.
What were the characteristics of the Spanish Republic and its support base?
Spain’s new democratic republic lacked a genuine mass base of support outside the industrial working class, as the socialists and the anarcho-syndicalists were divided within the republican parties and regional identities. This left Spain fragmented and conservative, with fascist overtones, but little following in the country.
What were the characteristics of fascism in Spain?
The biggest fascist movement in Spain was the Falange Española, which attacked both the Marxist Left and the bourgeois Right but failed to gain much support. It wasn’t until General Franco took over the Falange in 1937 and made it the cornerstone of the right-wing nationalist forces that fascism became a mass movement.
How did fascism gain support in central and eastern Europe?
Fascism gained support in Austria, Romania and Hungary in the 1930s, with the Heimwehr and the Austrian Nazi Party dominating Austrian politics. Romania saw support for the Iron Guard, an ultra-violent and antisemitic fascist movement, which failed to grasp power in the state.
The rise of fascism in Europe during the 1930s was a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, caused by various factors such as national self-interest, ethnic tensions, and political upheavals. Democracies were weak, with dictators taking control and shaping the political agenda, while the League of Nations struggled to maintain an international order. The consolidation of fascism’s conquest of the state in Italy and Germany presented the most significant challenge, with Germany becoming the most powerful and dynamic factor endangering the international order. The 1930s was a tumultuous time in European history, and the events of this period continue to influence politics and society today.