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Mussolini aligns with Hitler

Created by Sal Khan.

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  • leaf grey style avatar for user cmaryk12296
    What was Spain's political position during WWII?
    (37 votes)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user 福龍丸
      During World War II, Spain remained neutral (as it had done during World War I). A reason for its stance could be the civil war, one of the most destructive seen in 20th century Europe. The war was waged between both Spanish of opposing ideologies (the democrats, leaning to the left, vs. General Francisco Franco's party, leaning to the right) and non-Spanish foreigners, sympathizing with one or the other group. The war was over on April 1, 1939 and won by Franco, who imposed a right-wing dictatorship on a country that just went through a bloody conflict resulting in about a million casualties.

      Part of the information above coming from: Ισπανία. Εγκυκλοπαίδεια Δομή, Εκδόσεις "Δομή", 2004 edition (self-translated and adapted from the original Greek).
      (58 votes)
  • marcimus pink style avatar for user Agnieszka
    Why was Germany forming an Anti-Communist Pact if :
    a) just before the war it signs a pact with USSR( the Anti-Communist P. didn't undermine this?)
    b)its Nazi economic policies were not far from communist really ( no free trade, poverty, absolute leader,labour camps etc)
    (3 votes)
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    • mr pants teal style avatar for user AtanasPekanov
      The pact with the USSR was more of a defensive trick, than a real agreement. The Nazis have realised after WWI that it is quiet difficult to fight on two fronts, especially against the Russians, so Hitler decided he and Stalin could make an agreement - the Nazis invade Poland and then split it with the USSR. I dont know what Stalin was thinking, but Hitler never had a plan to keep up his part of the agreement and not declare war on Russia, since like Napoleon, every major dictator that wants to unite Europe under one empire will want to obtain Russia as well.
      On ideological ground it was also impossible for the two regimes to keep up together - while both have evolved into repressive and dictatorial regimes, one of the main aims of the Nazis was superiority of the arian race, which was connected also to the widespread fame of eugenics at the time. Thus their split with other people was on nationalistic/racial level and their struggle was against people they described as degenarates - Jews, other minorities, homosexuals, mentally or physically disabled people, which didn`t match the Nazi image of the superior white race.
      On the other hand, in communism the split was on class level - it was a class struggle as Marx described it, with the workers on one side and the monarchy/burgeoise on the other side. So at the very heart of it, it was really different ideologies, but yes, you are right that both led up to dictatorships and have a lot of common features.
      Oh, and maybe the greatest difference - communists, at the heart of their ideology, are against any war between countries. They describe these wars as imperialistic wars, in which the monarchs/the political leaders and the capitalists are making profits, while the soldiers/workers die on the fields, with nothing to gain for themselves if they win. Communists have been against WWI, they succeded with their revolution in Russia and took it out of the war, while they failed in Germany and were prosecuted and executed (the Spartacist League, led by Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Liebknecht). On the other hand, Nazis see war as a natural development, in which the white race/nation has the right to conquer others, because of its superiority.
      (28 votes)
  • starky ultimate style avatar for user Donald Walleigh
    what was the relationship between Mussolini and Hitler?
    (6 votes)
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  • leafers ultimate style avatar for user Vishwam Chand
    Who is the guy in the picture above the map of Ethiopia? I guess he's a Nazi because he's in the picture at the bottom with Hitler too. And what is the picture next to the map? is the guy in white Mussolini?
    (5 votes)
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  • male robot hal style avatar for user Reddy, Jaiden
    Why was a civil war happening in Spain?
    (4 votes)
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    • leafers ultimate style avatar for user Andris
      From the mid 19th centry onward Spain was struggling between conservatism and liberalism. Sometimes the rightists got hold of thw power, sometimes leftists, and of course the following government always undid what the previous government made.
      In 1936 the leftists won an election, the army supporting the rightists rose against the new regime and that was the last staw, actual fighting broke out between the two sides and it escalated pretty quickly.
      (4 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user sevi
    Why did Italy invade Albania, were they planning to further expand in the Balkans?
    (2 votes)
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  • duskpin seed style avatar for user Ronja Marie Nilsen
    What was the most important international responses to the Abyssinian crisis and the invasion of Albania?
    (3 votes)
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    • spunky sam green style avatar for user History Helper
      Very creative question. Both the Abyssinian and Albanian invasions were the important events relating to Italy before the Second World War. In terms of international relations, reactions varied. King Haile Selassie of Ethiopia pleaded help from the League of Nations for help, and sanctions were imposed on Italy, though these were overturned no too long. Britain and France followed the policy of appeasement by recognizing Italian acquisition of Ethiopia and Albania in order to prevent Italy from pursuing closer ties with Germany, just like how the Allies appeased Germany in Rhineland and Sudeten crises. Germany, on the other hand, surprisingly supported the Ethiopians. Though the two would later become allies, the relationship between Italy and Germany got cold after the Anschluss, when Germany annexed Austria. Italy first mistrusted Germany aggressive approach to diplomacy, and Austria's Fatherland Front party had close ties with Mussolini's Fascist Party. Thus Italy didn't recognize Anschluss, and the Germans send war materials to the Ethiopians in retaliation. But Germany ceased its support and recognition of Ethiopia after Italy recognized German dominance over Austria. Japan recognized Italian colonization of Ethiopia in return for Italian recognition of Japanese control over Manchuria. However, Mexico remained a strong voice for the cause of Ethiopian resistance. In addition to Mexico, China, New Zealand, the Soviet Union, the Republican faction of Spain, and the United States continued to recognize Ethiopian independence after the war. However, all of them except the Soviets and Americans later withdrew their support.
      (3 votes)
  • piceratops seed style avatar for user Kelly Fichtner
    Why did Mussolini and Hitler not fight each other? How did they align their ideas for their countries and work together?
    (3 votes)
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    • primosaur ultimate style avatar for user GodIsREAL
      Well, first of all, they both had an extreme nationalistic mindset. Nazism and Fascism were both similar in many ways. However, the Italians and the Germans for the most part did not agree on anti-semitism. While the Germans favored it, the Italians (and Mussolini especially, since his wife was Jewish!) had reason to oppose it. Eventually, the expansionism and nationalistic mindset won out, and they aligned themselves.
      (2 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Irene Poon
    Timestamp: around
    Why were the British and French public upset about Italy invading Ethiopia? Didn't their countries also invaded and occupied other African countries (and beyond)? Actually, if I am not mistaken, the Great Britain and France were the two European nations that took up the most land in Africa.
    (2 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      You're right about the hypocricy there. British and French opposition to imperial conquest was a bit embarrasing, given how much of it those two nations had done. Before that, modern Italy had little "imperial" reach (with the exception of undue influence in Libya). Ethiopia, as well, was considered almost European because of its listing in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. Ethiopia was also a member of the League of Nations, which created greater sympathy for it in the hearts of the nations that supported the league.
      (4 votes)
  • leaf orange style avatar for user Rebecca Gray
    In an earlier video, it was said that Mussolini had little interest with aligning with Hitler. We see here that he eventually changed his mind. Does that reflect a change of attitude toward Hitler or was the alignment something Mussolini still didn't want to do, but was now pressured to do for one reason or another? If the latter, what reason(s)?
    (2 votes)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Jet Simon
      Yes it reflects a change of attitude toward Hitler because he when World War II started Mussolini stayed neutral for the first years of the war, but when France fell to the Germans. Mussolini thought that Hitler would win the war. Also this was preceded in the Spanish civil war where both Italy and Germany supported Franco, this would later bring the two countries together in alliance that would eventually lead to defeat in World War II. I do not think Mussolini was pressured though he was criticized but at first he didn't like Hitler and even signed an agreement with Britain and France. The alignment is was what Mussolini thought that Hitler would be successful leader of his country during World War II that is why Italy became an ally of Germany because Hitler promised some Italian speaking lands that they didn't receive in World War I and another attempt at conquering Abyssinia (present day-Ethiopia).
      (4 votes)

Video transcript

We've already seen that by 1925 Benito Mussolini was the absolute dictator of Italy. He was now Il Duce, or the leader. And him and the fascists would then proceed to consolidate more and more power. And they would use the threat of force. They did use the state security apparatus to enforce their will. They took over the press. They banned all other parties. But there was also a popular sentiment that was supporting them. People wanted a strong-- or there were elements in Italy that were in favor of a strong leader, a charismatic leader, like Mussolini. But then as we get into the '30s, in particular the mid-1930s, Mussolini starts to become more aggressive in terms of foreign policy. And this eventually leads to him becoming less and less popular. And also leads him to getting more and more aligned with the Germans. You might remember, going into World War I, he actually wanted to fight in World War I on the side of the entente, which Italy eventually does do. And throughout this entire period, he does not want to rock the boat with Great Britain and France. But as his imperial ambitions grow, he'll find that he has more in common with Nazi Germany-- or he's finding more sympathy with Nazi Germany-- than he is with the British and French. And so we go to 1935, so we're obviously skipping a huge gap right over here. But as we get into 1935, Mussolini feels that it's time to really exercise his imperial ambitions. Italy already had holdings in northeast Africa. It had colonies in Eritrea, Italian Somaliland. And he had aspirations to take over Ethiopia. Ethiopia, at this point in time, was one of the few African nations that was not essentially colonized, or not being controlled, by a European power. It was at the time Ethiopia was called Abyssinia. And so in 1935, the Italians invade Abyssinia, invade Ethiopia. And not only is it a very aggressive invasion, it's also a very cruel invasion. They use chemical warfare. It's very ugly. Many, many, many civilians die. And this isn't taken well by the other powers of Europe, in particular Great Britain and France. But you might remember, based on what we learned about in Nazi Germany, that they were in no mood to start wars. They were kind of in an appeasement mode. And even with Italy they were willing to make a secret agreement, the Hoare-Laval. And this was a secret agreement that actually would have allowed Italy to maintain control over significant chunks of Ethiopia. But this was eventually leaked to the public. And the British and French public at this time did not tolerate this. And so this whole incident, the Italians invading Ethiopia, the unpopularity of this amongst the civilians in Great Britain and in France, this further distanced those countries from Italy. And the only major nation that was not opposed to Italy's invasion of Ethiopia was Germany. And so this started to bring Mussolini-- who in the 1920s did not think much of Hitler-- started to bring him closer and closer and closer to Hitler. And their invasion of Ethiopia would continue into the start and through World War II. And it's a famously cruel attempted colonization, or invasion. But these trends continue, his imperialistic tendencies, his alignment with more and more nationalistic nations in Europe. In 1936, you have the Spanish Civil War breaking out. And Mussolini decides to support the Nationalists led by Francisco Franco, who eventually comes to power. But Mussolini decides to support him. And this isn't a super popular thing amongst the Italians. They're like, what are we doing in these other countries trying to fight other people's war? But he decides to support the Nationalists. And once again, this brings him closer to the Germans and further away from Great Britain and the French who are not supportive of Francisco Franco. Then you forward to 1937, and as you remember Mussolini was vehemently anti-communist, vehemently anti-socialist. So were the Nazis. So were the Japanese. And so in 1937, Italy joins the Anti-Comintern Pact with Germany and Japan. And this is essentially the nascent Axis powers. And this literally stands for anti-International Communism. So they're going to join together and aggressively fight communism wherever it might show, international communism. And this would eventually be the basis of the Axis powers as we go into World War II. And so then we get into 1939. And by 1939 Germany is already aggressively expanding its territory. It had already executed on the Anschluss. It had merged with Austria, or you could say it had unified with Austria. It had already taken over the Sudetenland. It was in process of taking over a significant part of Czechoslovakia. And Mussolini wanted in on the action as well. So in 1939, he decides to invade Albania. And this, right over here-- in case you don't know where Albania is-- this is a map of Europe at the time. And Albania is right over here. They're able to overrun Albania very quickly. The king deposed the king. And so Mussolini is exercising, once again, his imperial ambitions. He's getting closer and closer to the Nazis, who are frankly the main sympathizers with what Mussolini is trying to do. And so by May of that year-- the invasion of Albania is in April-- but by May of that year you have a final formal military alliance with the Nazis called the Pact of Steel. And as you might remember, this is only a few months-- so this is in May-- this is only a few months before the Nazi invasion of Poland, which is the catalyst for the beginning of World War II in Europe. Italy didn't immediately enter World War II in September of 1939 when the Nazis invade Poland. Similar to what Italy did in World War I, it was waiting to see which side seemed to be in a better position. By 1940, it felt that a Nazi victory was imminent. And it decides to declare war on Britain and France. So declares war on Britain and France. And this is the formal entry of the Italians into World War II as part of the Axis powers.