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The Story of Fascism in Europe

I was very impressed with this documentary. Thank you for taking the effort. I think you have equaled Ken Burns. Please do more!

Posted by
14 posts

The Story of Fascism in Europe is a fine introduction to the subject. Kudos to Rick Steves for having made the documentary.

Posted by
5654 posts

Watching "The Story of Fascism in Europe" being broadcast by my local PBS:

How fascism rose and then fell in Europe—taking millions of people
with it. Steves traces 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, and
the totalitarian societies they built.

The Big Lie (große Lüge) repeated over and over. Is history repeaing itself?

From RS script:

Hitler was a powerful, mesmerizing speaker. Holger: People were
taken by Hitler's speech — not so much by the beauty of his arguments,
but by his shear fanaticism, by his anger, by his rage, and his
repetitive rhetoric. And people — eyewitness accounts — would describe
it as barbaric, primitive effect.

Georg: What he was telling people was a disaster, but the performance
he delivered was a big artistic show.

Andreas: He repeated a lie endlessly, and he didn't make it a small
lie; he'd make a big lie and he kept hammering it into their heads
He also dumbed it down as much as possible. His simplistic promises
were made to order for his political base
: more prosperity and
expanded borders for more room in which to live, or Lebensraum.

Andreas: Fascism is perceived as a strong movement with simple answers
for complicated problems.

Georg: Giving simple answers and simple solutions — that's exactly
what people wanted to hear, because they gave them the hope that it
will change soon. Not in 10 years, but now.

He blamed Germany's problems on scapegoats — like Jews and
Communists…fears that the Communist Revolution in Russia would spread
to Germany. People were singing "Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles…"
— "Germany, Germany above all, above all the world"…and they trusted
Hitler to take them there.*

Posted by
5654 posts

But perhaps most important is the preservation of government by the
constitution and the rule of law, and not by the dictates of a
charismatic all-powerful leader.

Francesca: When there's great fear of the future, where what people
have feels threatened and they're afraid to lose it, then it's easy
for populism to come into play, and it's easy for leaders who present
themselves as interpreters of that to take hold.

Andreas: One of the things that you can do to make sure that something
like this will not happen again here or in other countries is not
trust people that promise very easy answers for very complicated
problems. It never works.

Francesca: Democracy is fragile, and it should not be taken for
granted, so to defend it I think is important. I think we can learn
not to follow leaders into the abyss and to maintain critical
independent thinking.

As we've seen through the story of fascism in Europe, charismatic
leaders rose to power through the democratic process and then seized
extra-constitutional power by unlawful means. When citizens allowed
leaders to do this, individual freedoms and rights soon fell by the
wayside, and democracy was lost. While democracy was restored to
Western Europe, it easily could have been lost forever — and the cost
was millions of lives. As history continues to unfold around us today,
it's important to remember that freedom and democracy are not
guaranteed. We are all participants and we are all responsible.

The story of fascism in Europe has taught us that strong and
charismatic leaders can capitalize on fear to lead a society astray.
Democracy is fragile. It requires a vigilant and engaged populace. And
if you take freedom for granted, you can lose it. Thanks for joining
us. I'm Rick Steves. Until next time, travel thoughtfully.

Posted by
6332 posts

I finally had a chance to see the whole thing on PBS tonight - I had watched a couple of the clips but not the whole thing. I didn't hear anything new because I've read a lot about it but I found it a very engrossing program, if a bit scary in some of the parallels to current events.

Edgar, I'm not quite sure what your purpose was in posting a good portion of the script from the show but not making any comments on the content. Were you agreeing or disagreeing with the content of the script? Or just throwing it out there for discussion?

Posted by
5654 posts


I'm guessing that a lot of forum readers/participants do not "click" on the hyperlinks for various reasons. Blockquoting portions of the RS script hopefully give forum readers to open the Rick Steves hyperlink. I have my interpetation of the significance of the "story of fascism" but hope more readers view the RS documentary and reach their own conclusions. My hope is that educated voters and citizens do not repeat the mistakes of the 1920s/1930s.

Get out and vote (if you haven't) and vote for an educated population and a free press. (I dropped of my ballot yesterday).

Posted by
6332 posts

Get out and vote (if you haven't) and vote for an educated population and a free press. (I dropped of my ballot yesterday).

Edgar, I wholeheartedly agree, dropped off my ballot last week.

Posted by
3 posts

I’m in Europe right now, is there a way to watch this while i’m here? All the PBS links are restricted