Totalitarian Dictators in Twentieth-Century Europe: Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler - A comparison of the three main totalitarian dictators of the middle of the 20th Century

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Hitler. Stalin. Mussolini. These three names define World War II. World policy revolved around them for at least a decade or in Stalin's case for almost fifty years. Much is generally known about each man's role in the war, but only as it pertains to the outcome. Not many people possess extensive knowledge of these dictators as individuals or as leaders of a particular party. This paper will attempt to shed light on the differences as well as the similarities of they style of totalitarianism that the three men who shaped the middle of the twentieth century implemented in their respective countries.

Benito Mussolini (b. 29 July 1883, d. 28 April 1945) was born into a lower-middle-class family outside of Predappio, Italy, in the Romagna region. His mother was a devout Catholic schoolmistress, his father a revolutionary/blacksmith in and out of employment. Mussolini was proud of his relatively humble beginnings and later sought to exploit this fact in order to identify with the general populace - not unlike some 2004 Presidential hopefuls - going so far as to exaggerate the low station of his youth.

He received schooling from his mother for a while, but she later sent him to a church school. Mussolini was an extremely violent young man who stabbed classmates on several occasions, which eventually resulted in expulsion from the church school and a subsequent higher-level institution. He continued to self-educate by reading books, which were amply available both in his home and in his later employment as a school teacher. He moved to Switzerland for a time, but eventually returned to Italy. He caused some civil problems and was arrested a few times, but was also arrested for political insurrection.

Joseph Stalin (b. 21 December 1889, d. 5 March 1953) was born Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili in...