1. Discuss with students the reasons why dictatorships arose in the Soviet Union, Germany, Italy, and Japan between WWI and WWII. Include the following topics in the discussion:
Problems associated with the Treaty of Versailles
Rise of Lenin and later Stalin in the U.S.S.R.
Quick rise of economic and political power in Japan
Explain that in an economic crisis as severe as the worldwide depression, people will more likely turn to governments to solve problems; democracies are slow to react as public and legislative debates have to take place before action. Germany felt humiliated because of the Treaty of Versailles, and Hitler offered to restore national pride to Germany. Mussolini did the same for Italy.
2. Discuss the U.S.S.R. under Stalin, including the following:
Five-year plans: Goals were set for heavy industry (e.g., steel industry) to produce quotas that were to be met in five years. Medals and other awards were handed out as incentives to meet such goals.
Collectivization: Peasants were forced to give up their individual farms and become workers for the state on what were called collective farms.
Great Purge: Those who disagreed with Stalin were either sent to gulags (soviet prisons) or simply disappeared when the secret police came knocking on their doors in the night. Many of these people were convicted, with little or no evidence, of treason against the state.
police state: A secret police organization was established to monitor everyone and everything in the U.S.S.R.
Have students predict the results of the above actions by Stalin. Responses may include the following:
The roles of Hirohito and Tojo (Hirohito was thought of as a divine emperor. When the military general Tojo took power, he kept the emperor because of this perceived divinity. Japan consequently also became a totalitarian state.)
7. Have students create a chart listing these four totalitarian states and the characteristics and actions of each.
Session 4: Assessment
Attachment A: Sample Assessment Items
1. Distribute copies of Attachment A, and have students complete the assessment.