On Ernst Nolte's
Interpretation of Fascism
The war of 1914 has had the same seminal character for the history of the twentieth century as the French Revolution did for the nineteenth. 1 The events and movements at the origin of the three “tyrannies” that Élie Halévy spoke of in 1936 issue directly from it. Chronology says as much, since Lenin took power in 1917, Mussolini in 1922, and Hitler failed to do so in 1923 only to succeed ten years later. This suggests a temporal affinity among passions ignited by these novel regimes that made the political mobilization of former soldiers the means of total domination by one party.
This perspective opens another avenue to the historian for the comparison of dictatorships of the twentieth century. It is no longer a question of examining them in light of a concept, at the moment when they respectively reached the height of their curve, but rather of following their formation and successes, so as to grasp what is specific to each one and what they have in common with one another.