The Story of Fascism: Hard Lessons of the 20th Century

Education Resource Watch

From Rick Steves comes a thought-provoking documentary that revisits the rise of fascism in Europe, reminding us of how charismatic figures like Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler came to power by promising to create a better future for their frustrated, economically-depressed countries–a future that recaptured the glory of some mythologized past. Once in power, these fascist leaders replaced democracy with a cult of personality, steadily eroded democratic norms and truth, ratcheted up violence, and found scapegoats to victimize–something facilitated by the spread of conspiracy theories and propaganda through modern media. They would lead their nations into war, and ultimately ruin, but not before creating a playbook for other charismatic autocrats who entice voters with simplistic solutions to complex problems.

Originally aired on television, Steves has released the documentary on YouTube, hoping that 21st century citizens can “learn from the hard lessons of 20th-century Europe.” The text accompanying his documentary reads as follows:

In this one-hour special, Rick travels back a century to learn how fascism rose and then fell in Europe — taking millions of people with it. We’ll trace fascism’s history from its roots in the turbulent aftermath of World War I, when masses of angry people rose up, to the rise of charismatic leaders who manipulated that anger, the totalitarian societies they built, and the brutal measures they used to enforce their ideology. We’ll see the horrific consequences: genocide and total war. And we’ll be inspired by the stories of those who resisted. Along the way, we’ll visit poignant sights throughout Europe relating to fascism, and talk with Europeans whose families lived through those times. Our goal: to learn from the hard lessons of 20th-century Europe, and to recognize that ideology in the 21st century.

The Story of Fascism (which will be added to our list of Free Documentaries) is recommended for students and adults alike. With World War II fading from living memory, we could use a good reminder, says Steves, of how “nationalism can be channeled into evil, and how our freedoms and democracies are not indestructible…in fact, they are fragile.”

As published in Open Culture

1 thought on “The Story of Fascism: Hard Lessons of the 20th Century

  1. It should go without saying, but say it I must;
    No war, any war, is possible without bank financing.
    No war, any war, is possible without the blessings of the the Church.
    In this case the Vatican attacking against the Russian Orthodox.
    No war, any war, is possible without major corporations profiting,
    And, no war, any war, is possible without the conspiracy and complicity of sycophants and madmen and madwomen in governments. Here we introduce and induct a new definition for Madwomen. Not insane, but, enraged. And, willing to kill billions in war whether in and through their office of Defense ‘Minister’ (Minister of what religion?), or, as in this HERE case of a faux Vice Prime Minister dragging the supposed Prime Minister around by his short hairs. Apparently, ‘sex sells’, even when it is not very attractive sex.

    The Church, Governments, Banks, and, Corporations profit from deaths and destruction on both side(s’s) of every conflict whether local, regional, national or international.

    IT is what it is!
    IT is not what IT is!
    IT is doomed to utter destruction!

    Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, the doomsday clock Countdown is well under way. It started with a manufactured plague, it has proceeded to a manufactured famine, now the manufactured war can proceed apace. Then comes the manufactured dead!

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