Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini: Totalitarianism in the Twentieth Century

By Bruce F. Pauley | Go to book overview

3 / PERSONALITIES AND
POLICIES OF THE DICTATORS

The impact the totalitarian dictators had on the world is all the more remarkable considering their humble beginnings. Only Lenin came from a cultivated family, and he was also the only one who had earned an advanced degree. In earlier and more stable times it is highly unlikely that the dictators would have gained anything like the prominence they eventually achieved. Ironically, they were all beneficiaries of the democratic atmosphere of post–World War I Europe; monarchs and diplomats were in disgrace and the recently enfranchised masses were eager to accept the leadership of one of their own. Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler all recognized this mood and made a virtue of a necessity by boasting of their humble origins.


STALIN’S YOUTH AND EARLY CAREER

In the department of modest beginnings, Joseph Stalin outdid his counterparts. Born and raised in poverty, he died the most powerful and feared man in the world. Stalin’s nationality was also the most ambiguous of the dictators. He was born in the town of Gori in the Caucasian state of Georgia and did not start learning Russian until he was eight or nine. He never lost his Georgian accent and occasionally mumbled Russian case endings because he was unsure of their accuracy. Nevertheless, he was anything but pro­Georgian, often treating his native land with brutality and contempt. On the other hand, Stalin never felt himself fully Russian either. His class background was equally ambiguous. He was neither a worker nor an intellectual.

Little is known about Stalin’s childhood in large part because as dictator Stalin destroyed all the papers that could have shed

-48-

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Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini: Totalitarianism in the Twentieth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The European History Series *
  • Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini - Totalitarianism in the Twentieth Century *
  • Foreword vii
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xiii
  • Preface *
  • Preface - To the First Edition xix
  • 1: The Ideological Foundations 1
  • 2: The Seizure of Power 11
  • 3: Personalities and Policies of the Dictators 48
  • 4: Totalitarian Economies 72
  • 5: Propaganda, Culture, and Education 95
  • 6: Family Values and Health 125
  • 7: Totalitarian Terror 151
  • 8: The Era of Traditional Diplomacy and War, 1933–1941 173
  • 9: Total War, 1941–1945 206
  • 10: The Collapse of Soviet Totalitarianism 242
  • 11: Lessons and Prospects 265
  • Bibliographical Essay 277
  • Index 301
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