Totalitarian dictatorships were established in Russia, Italy, and Germany in part because of longterm authoritarian traditions that already existed in all three countries, and in part because of more immediate political and economic crises. Otherwise, however, the circumstances in which the three totalitarian parties came to power varied substantially. The Bolsheviks (as they were still called until 1918) took over the most backward great power of Europe, in the middle of a disastrous war. The Fascists attained power in 1922, three years after the end of World War I, in what was only a partially industrialized country. The Nazis took the reins of power in one of the most industrially and educationally advanced countries in the world, but not until 1933 when Germany was in the throes of the Great Depression. In each case the totalitarian party was in a minority when it attained power but faced an opposition that was too divided to stop its ascent.
Although it was not totalitarian, because it did not seek to mobilize the masses prior to the World War, tsarist Russia was very definitely autocratic. Under the tsars Russia had never experienced the liberating influences of the Renaissance, the Reformation, or the Enlightenment, which had so deeply altered the political, cultural, social, intellectual, and religious life of Western and Central Europe. Until 1864, there was no local selfgovernment in Russia and no national parliament until 1906. The state had dominated the Russian Orthodox Church since the