Fascism’s Approaches to Leisure and Tourism – Andrew Devenish

The fascist approach to building a national community seems to have been very important for Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany. Under these regimes, both nations mobilized tourism as a way to attain specific goals set by the regime for their populations. However, while these approaches are similar in concept, their goals and implementations were very different.

The theme that unifies these countries through their approaches to mass leisure and tourism is about building a unified national community. However, Mussolini and Hitler went about it in very different ways. Baranowski argues that the state-run organization Strength through Joy, or the KdF, had goals of giving Germans positive experiences of the Third Reich, improving standards of living and even expanding upon the idea of standards of living, and notably fostering an “egalitarian” racial community without class divides. The idea was that sending workers and low-income people on cruises and vacations with other classes of people would result in inter-class mingling and hopefully blur those class divides or get rid of them altogether, while fostering an identity more centred around race so that all “racially acceptable” Germans could think of themselves as equal subjects of the Third Reich, and therefore be more endeared to the Nazi regime.

De Grazia paints a different picture of Italy, however. Italy also wanted to use leisure and tourism to further the regime’s specific goals, but it was less about getting rid of class divides and sponsoring racial community. This tourism and leisure industry was also constructed, and the purpose of the Italian OND was similar to the German KdF, but the OND was focused more on linking rural communities more tightly to urban communities, and tying both to the state, and fostering ideas of national community rather than racial community.  The OND wanted to engage the Italian population – they wanted an active public rather than a passive audience, and they wanted to strengthen ideas of the Italian national community and cultural unity, in the same way that the KdF fostered racial community between “racially acceptable” Germans. Both of these fascist regimes employed tourism and mass leisure agencies to guide these industries toward specific, focused regime goals, in similar ways, but to different types of goals.

One Reply to “Fascism’s Approaches to Leisure and Tourism – Andrew Devenish”

  1. This is really getting at he heart of the narrative construction as a tool of state craft. I enjoy the use of the community and this idea that there is an unmaking of what is known about the German identity, only to be remade or rebranded by the state.

    What is important to note is that the narratives and tropes tied to places like Nazi Germany that get unmade by the state have a political motivation that can be looked at from two sides. While it is interesting to note the narrative that gets created, putting the narrative that is unmade in conversation with it may make for an even deeper understanding of th social history of the Fascist regime. In this case, putting a the narrative of class deformation in conversation with the creation of a more uniform “racially acceptable” group.

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