Homosexuality and State

Sexuality under authoritarian regimes has been approached with surprising results. If masculinity prevailed in Nazi Germany [and to a lesser extent in Romania], the non-conformity to gender role for women has created suspicion and further investigation from the Gestapo. Although lesbianism was not forbidden by the Nuremberg Law, it nevertheless was used as a starting point to look for any activities that could be perceived as against the state. In the case of Ilse Totzke, her “ non-conformity” to normal female representation led to testimonies and denunciations by neighbours, just on the fact that she was not part of the community. Her actions and contacts with Jewish people were less a concern for them than for the Gestapo which patiently build a case to deport her, based on these accusations.

In another place and time, homosexuality was tolerated in Soviet gulags in a twisted way to control the population. If homosexuality was criminalized starting in 1933-34 and subject to penalties and captivities, it was nevertheless accepted in gulags in a very ambiguous way. If the Soviet state did not encourage same sex relations between prisoners, it worked in their favour on a logistic standpoint: same sex relations are infertile therefore the population did not expand and the care for infants and mothers is not weighing on the economy. Ostracized by the society, prisoners re-created a new society based on dominant and submissive sexual relations which in a way reflected the social divide that existed on the outside. But when the gulags started to close in the 1950s, prisoners found it difficult to blend with the outside population and many intellectuals violently rejected the facts, blaming the government for accentuating the difference between “socially friendly” prisoners [common criminals] and “socially alien” prisoners[opposed to the political regime].

These two examples show how much homosexuality was used by the state according to its instant needs. Ilse Totzke was not targeted at first by the Gestapo due to her sexual orientation or appearance but because she represented a threat for the collective society. Her fate was sealed once her anti-state actions became tangible. Homosexuality ban in the Soviet Union followed an ambiguous route between the 1930s and the 1950-60s, alternating between tolerance and rejection as it suited the Soviet power. Both cases illustrate the difficulty to live in a society that based its normality on gender role and where any deviation could threaten the stability of the regime.

Sources :

Dan Healey, “Forging Gulag Sexualities: Penal Homosexuality and the Reform of the Gulag after Stalin” Russian Homophobia from Stalin to Sochi (London: Bloomsbury Press, 2017).

Laurie Marhoefer, “Lesbianism, Transvestitism, and the Nazi State: a Microhistory of a Gestapo Investigation, 1939-1943” The American Historical Review 121: 4 (2016): 1167- 1195.

Masculinity and Demographic Anxiety in Totalitarian Regimes

By Absalom Sink

Previous weeks’ readings have already investigated the cult of heroism, the glorification of violence, and the rejection of the “outsider” common to fascist movements. Here, we see those themes coalesce in a number of totalitarian regimes’ conceptions of masculinity. But for all the trumpeting of masculine values by these totalitarian ideologies, the particular gender constructs in question prove remarkably nebulous.

In Thomas Kühne’s “Protean masculinity, Hegemonic masculinity,” the author investigates the Nazi regime’s ideal of soldierly masculinity—”hegemonic masculinity” predicated on “physical, emotional and moral hardness”—as a component of the broader Nazi ideal of “collective will”. Kühne notes that men who met the “hardness” requirement were afforded greater leeway in participating in activities seen as typically un-masculine; at core, “emotional hardness meant decisiveness, aggression, brutality, discipline, and control over others: over women and weaker men, but also over oneself, one’s own body, impulses, and fears.”

It’s not much of a logical leap to recognize that the Nazi regime’s abhorrence of male homosexuality—to the point of criminalization—was grounded both in the view that homosexuality was an affront against the masculine ideal, but also in broader demographic anxieties. Male homosexuality was a threat to the reproduction of the “master race”. As Laurie Marhoefer explains in “Lesbianism, Transvestitism, and the Nazi State,” female homosexuality, by contrast, did not present the same threat and thus was not explicitly criminalized in the same way. Underlining this point, Marhoefer quotes a Nazi jurist who points out that “while homosexuality wasted a man’s potency […] ‘the woman who is inclined to lesbianism’ was ‘nevertheless capable of reproducing.’” That is not to say that female homosexuality was ignored; as Marhoefer makes clear, many in the regime viewed it as an outward indicator of additional “deviation”, and the Gestapo kept tabs on a number of women known or suspected to be lesbians. But by and large, as long as the ideal of man’s domination of woman was upheld, female homosexuality did not represent the reproductive threat of male homosexuality.

Similar concerns arise both in ideological fellow-travellers, like Italian Fascism, as well as in Nazism’s great illiberal ideological rival, Soviet communism. As Barbara Spackman explains, the Fascists inherited from Marinetti a paradox in which women are both bemoaned as vectors for feminization of males—“proximity of women turns boys into girls and heterosexuals into ‘pederasts’”—while simultaneously acting as the proving ground for masculinity via sexual conquest. Italy’s rebirth obviously requires reproduction, but bourgeois family values are held to sap the virility of the Italian man. For Marinetti—and given his philandering, one can assume for Mussolini as well—”Divorce, free love, and destruction of the bourgeois family” allow for the sporadic proximity that ensures masculinity, without leading to “effeminization.”

As Dan Healey explains in “Forging Gulag Sexualities,” in the Soviet Union it was actually the closure of the Gulag and the relative liberalization of the post-Stalin period that saw the crystallization of homophobia in the Eastern Bloc. While anti-homosexual laws had been on the books since the thirties, the regime’s tacit acceptance of homosexuality within the Gulag led to its proliferation; the closure of the Gulag actually saw an increase in the enforcement of anti-sodomy laws, and “both official and popular attitudes towards homosexuality hardened as a result of the reform of the Gulag and wider reforms of Soviet society under de-Stalinization.” Here again, a crucial component of the homophobia, and the implied Soviet value of masculinity, was the “demographic anxiety already [that] stalked all official deliberations touching on sexuality and gender relations.” Having lost some 26 million people during World War 2, the Soviet Union was yet another totalitarian state focused on a sort of rebirth.

Works Cited

Healey, Dan. “Forging Gulag Sexualities: Penal Homosexuality and the Reform of the Gulag after Stalin.” In Russian Homophobia from Stalin to Sochi (London: Bloomsbury Press, 2017).

Kühne, Thomas. “Protean masculinity, Hegemonic Masculinity: Soldiers in the Third Reich.” In Central European History 51, Issue 3 (September 2018): 390-418.

Marhoefer, Laurie. “Lesbianism, Transvestitism, and the Nazi State: a Microhistory of a Gestapo Investigation, 1939-1943.” In The American Historical Review 121, 4 (2016): 1167-1195.

Spackman, Barbara. Fascist Virilities: Rhetoric, Ideology, and Social Fantasy in Italy (Minneapolis, 1996)

Masculinity and Non-Criminality of Lesbianism

As numerous articles on fascism have noted, the generalization of such a complex concept is dangerous as it brings to a simplification of events and the misunderstanding of the concept itself. So, in the context of views on homosexuality in the fascist contexts, it is important to do the same, and not generalize the experiences of all homosexuals. Explored in this weeks readings were the use of concepts of gender and sexuality to define agency and use of these in fascist realities in the 30s and 40s. Shown in two articles, that of Marhoefer and Healy, it is interesting that lesbianism, as opposed to male homosexual relations, was not a criminal offence during the soviet regime and the nazi regime. It is revealing of ideology in the fascist states. Some scholars argue it was not seen as a threat to the political regime.

It is then interesting to answer this question by looking at the concept of masculinity. As shown in Kühne’s article, it was important for fascist ideology to portray hard “masculinity” and use it for social order and control. The fact that there was a great pressure on men to constantly prove and portray their masculinity shows that there was a need for aggressiveness, order and militarization in the Nazi regime. Male homosexuality then was a threat to order and the political system, or more concretely the ideology of fascist states which could sometimes be seen as fragile, just like masculinity was. There seemed to be no such emphasis on the femininity of women as a an integral force leading to social order and respect of the political system.

The fact that men were seen as dominant and as having control over women was probably the reason that lesbians or gender nonconformity within the female population was not as concerning as male gender nonconformity. Surely, the difference between the treatment of gays and lesbians does not exclude the possibility of maltreatment for lesbians. It simply shows the priority of the state, especially in nazi Germany concerning the role of gender in the implementation of ideology. Thus, masculinity as a concept in fascist states, such as Nazi Germany can be used to explain the difference between the criminality of gays and lesbians as well as understanding the ways in which the population was coerced and forced to conform to such a political regime through socially constructed pressure for men to be perceived as masculine or “real men”.

“The New Man” The use of gender in creating ideology and nation.

By Alex Wittmann

The article Facsism and its Quest for the New Man: The Case of the Romainan legionary Movement, discusses the principle ideology of Facsism and how the idea of gender specifically in the case of the Romainian “The New Man” was interwoven in creating the ideal citizen and the “Perfect” state against a common opponent. The first half of the article argues that Facsism is in fact an ideology, going against the traditional Marxist interpretation of Facsism as a reactionary movement. I would say that I belong to the camp that believes that Facsism, just like Marxism and Communism is an ideology. I think that in order for a school of thought to meet the criteria of an ideology, it has to have certain uniform characteristics that are consistent across its various movements. What we can see throughout Facist movements in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, was that there was a consistent theme of nationalist and empire revival. Along with the supremacy of a certain race being the “ideal citizen” along with marginalizing and vilifying other races into scapegoats responsible for a nation’s problems. This was extremely clear in Germany and Italy. Hitler wanted to make Germany strong again by tearing up the Treaty of Versailles, reviving the German Empire, and blaming the Jewish population for Germany’s defeat in World War I. Italy saw a desire to recreate Roman- Italian domination in the Mediterranean by rebuilding the Roman empire. Romania comes into play in Facist ideology as the author mentioned, was in blaming the Jews for Romania’s economic ills, and raising the fear of a “Jewish Empire” threatening to swallow Romania, and connecting Romania’s eastern territory to a “new Palestine.” As insidious as all these themes are, they are all consistent. I believe the themes of nationalistic empire revival, racial superiority complex, and racial scape goating are the bread and butter of Facsism, its thematic consistency across movements in history convince me that it is an ideology. Finally, on the theme of gender and ideal citizen, facist movements have used this concept to advance their movements, Romania serves as an excellent example with the “New Man” prophecy. Facsism usually comes out of economic and political turmoil. Romania’s “New Man” was the ideal citizen created out of the Facist Romanian legion. The “New Man” created out of adherence to and following of the legion would be the ideal citizen that could save Romania from its economic and social turmoil. It would make Romania strong again (consistent facist themes). “The New Man” was also an example of legionary youths that had joined the Facist party and would be leaders in achieving Romanian greatness by possessing superhuman qualities resulting in a national “spiritual rebirth.” This was the Romanian example of the racial superiority complex, to Romanian Fascists, the ideal citizen or “new man” would be best equipped to handle Romania’s invented enemies (the jewish population) because under the Facist ideology they are superior. This is an example of the consistent theme of Facist racial superiority, Racial scapegoating, tied into the theme of the ideal citizen. The Romanian concept of the “New Man” firms up the boundary between ideal citizen and opponent in the facist ideology.  

Work Citied:

Valentin Sandulescu, “Fascism and Its Quest for the ‘New Man’: The Case of the
Romanian Legionary Movement.” Studia Hebraica 4 (2004): 349-61.

Op/Ed: “Trump is not a fascist, but we should treat him as one”

By: PSjoberg

The recent resurgence of right-wing populism around the globe has spawned a tendency among observers to view these movements as a sort of “second coming” of early-20th Century fascism. It’s easy to see the connection: American President Donald Trump has been endorsed by the KKK, Marine Le Pen uses xenophobic language, and intensely anti-immigrant messages are becoming popular throughout central and eastern Europe. These developments conjure images of Nazi anti-Semitism, the strategic manipulation of identities in Mussolini’s Italy, and the suppression of minorities in Francoist Spain. Are modern populist movements, though, really the same as fascist movements of the 1920s and 1930s?

The short answer is: “no.”

Such a simple answer, though, is grossly misleading. Through examining the technical definitions of the terms “fascism” and “populism,” we find a longer, more comprehensive answer: “no (right-wing populists are not fascists), but we should treat them as such.”

There exist certain vital distinctions between the two concepts. First, the words themselves provide some hints: “fascism” comes from the Italian word facismo, which simply means a bundle of sticks signifying strength through unity of the state. “Populism,” on the other hand, can be defined as a political approach which appeals to, and mobilizes, the common people against a perceived corrupt elite.

Second, fascists dream about toppling the democratic system and replacing it with an alternative –historically taking some form of authoritarianism. Populists, on the other hand, work within the democratic system in order to replace the governing elite with an alternative who better represents the common people. In short: fascism is anti-democratic; populism is democratic.

A final difference between these two terms is the important fact that fascists, unlike populists, believe violence is a positive and integral attribute of their cause because it creates commitment. Therefore, to be a fascist and to be a populist are two wildly different things. How, then, do modern-day “populist” leaders, such as Donald Trump, fit into these two categories?

To what degree is Donald Trump concerned with achieving state strength and unity? While Trump proclaims a desire to “make America great again,” actions speak louder than words. Therefore, my answer is: not at all.

To what degree is Donald Trump concerned with mobilizing the common people to overthrow a perceived corrupt elite? This defines Trump’s entire presidential campaign. My answer: to a high degree.

To what degree is Donald Trump in favour of toppling the democratic system in the United States? Trump has always worked within the current democratic system in order to achieve his goals (granted, while disregarding many of the rules). My answer: not at all.

To what degree does Donald Trump champion the use of violence as a political tool? While some might point to examples where Trump has seemed to latently promote or approve of the use of violence, he does not necessarily openly and explicitly advocate for the use of coordinated violence against his political foes. My answer: to a minimal degree.

In following the technical definitions of “fascism” and “populism,” Donald Trump fits the latter but not the former. However, it is not impossible for a populist movement to morph into fascism, given enough time. After all, the fascist movements of the 1920s became more extreme over the succeeding decade, before culminating in the mass atrocities of the 1940s. Benito Mussolini, the man who first attached the term facismo to that style of political movement, even initially referred to himself as a “radical populist.”

Therefore, this entire debate appears wrapped up in entirely the wrong focus: who cares what people are called, fascist or populist, if they engage in immoral discourse and actions? So many people are openly critical of Trump and Le Pen not because they’re undemocratic (although some might suggest otherwise), but because they’re illiberal. After all, Bernie Sanders could accurately be called a populist, and he most certainly isn’t undemocratic. The real issue here is morality, and both fascist and far-right populist movements have a tendency for immoral behaviour. President Trump, Marine Le Pen, and their other contemporaries may be best classified as populists for now but given time that may change.

While the common people of the 1920s and 1930s could not have foreseen the horrific acts fascists would go on to commit, the common people of the 21st Century have that luxury. If there is even a miniscule chance that modern radical populism might morph into neo-fascism, it is our duty to stop it. Immorality is immorality, and if labelling modern populist movements as fascist better enables us to take a firm stance against them, it probably isn’t such a bad thing.


Matthews, Dylan. “I Asked 5 Fascism Experts if Trump whether Trump is a fascist. This is what they said.” Vox. May 19, 2016. <https://www.vox.com/policy-andpolitics/2015/12/10/9886152/donald-trump-fascism&gt;

Mudde, Cas. “Populism in the Twenty-First Century: an Illiberal Democratic Response to Undemocratic Liberalism.” The Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy, University of Pennsylvania. <https://www.sas.upenn.edu/andrea-mitchell-center/casmudde-populism-twenty-first-century&gt;

Mussolini, Benito and Giovanni Gentile. “The Doctrine of Fascism.” Enciclopedia Italiana. 1932. <http://facweb.furman.edu/~bensonlloyd/hst11/mussolinidoctrines.htm>

How did unmanliness and manliness mean the same thing in Nazi Germany? Read on to find out!

By: PSjoberg

As Barbara Spackman illustrates in her book, Fascist Virilities: Rhetoric, Ideology, and Social Fantasy in Italy, fascist discourse has an apparent “obsession with virility.” Although rhetoric of virility is common to all political discourses, as Spackman concedes, the particular aggressiveness and tenacity inherent in fascist discourse makes this type of rhetoric stand out more, and thus attracts an aura of perceived significance among historians.

Virility being an inherent aspect of fascist discourse, it is interesting to examine those parts of fascist regimes which appear to contradict this assumption. This is exactly what Thomas Kühne does in his chapter, “Protean masculinity, Hegemonic Masculinity: Soldiers in the Third Reich,” when he asked the question: “What did being a man mean for Hitler’s soldiers?” Kühne’s analysis of what he calls “Protean” masculinity offers a new perspective on this virile element of a fascist regime. However, Kühne’s analysis of “Protean” masculinity seems to directly contradict (in certain ways) Laurie Marhoefer’s study of gender nonconformity in Nazi Germany in her chapter, “Lesbianism, Transvetitism, and the Nazi State: a Microhistory of a Gestapo Investigation, 1939-1943.”

A comparison of these two readings provides insight into the malleability of cultural norms even within a regime as rigid and oppressive as Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Kühne’s concept of “Protean” masculinity and Marhoefer’s focus on gender nonconformity offer two contrasting views of gender norms in Nazi Germany: the former discusses the ability of “Aryan” soldiers to explore more feminine roles as long as they fulfilled a required image of “hardness,” while the latter discusses the inability of lesbians and transvestites to avoid persecution in Nazi Germany, despite the lack of official laws against them, as a result of their image as nonconformists. The common rationale linking these two seemingly contradictory cases appears to revolve around the concept of conformity.

In the case of “Protean” masculinity, male soldiers in Nazi Germany were afforded the luxury of being able to express more effeminate and non-masculine traits once they had conformed to the norm of displaying physical, emotional, and moral “hardness.” In Marhoefer’s discussion of gender nonconformity, lesbians and transvestites were clearly viewed as outcast members of society due to their nonconformity to gender norms, despite the fact that many of them would likely have displayed certain “masculine” traits. On the surface, these different reactions to two separate instances of blurring the lines between masculinity and femininity appear arbitrary. However, Spackman’s discussion of virility may help to organize these concepts.

Spackman identifies the concept of masculinity (in strictly the sexual, “phallic” sense) as gradually blurring over time with that of virility (meaning “strength” and “force”). Since political discourse so often champions the strength of a state, a nation, a people, or a community, the abstract concept of unity and strength has become conflated with that of being “manly.” This explains the fascinating phenomenon mentioned in Kühne’s reading whereby, in Nazi military culture, being deliberately “unmanly” demonstrated such a level of confidence in oneself as a man that it became an expression of manliness.


Laurie Marhoefer, “Lesbianism, Transvestitism, and the Nazi State: a Microhistory of a Gestapo Investigation, 1939-1943” The American Historical Review 121: 4 (2016): 1167- 1195.

Thomas Kühne, “Protean masculinity, Hegemonic Masculinity: Soldiers in the Third Reich” Central European History Vol 51, Issue 3 (September 2018): 390-418.

Barbara Spackman, Fascist Virilities: Rhetoric, Ideology, and Social Fantasy in Italy (Minneapolis, 1996), pp. 1-33.

Coining Terms: Fascism vs. Populism

The rise, and at times success, of populist regimes has reignited discussions on fascism. Populist leaders and their supporters have been consistently linked to fascist ideals of late. While there are some common characteristics between the two, it is important to highlight where they are similar and differ.

Allardyce approached this subject by answering what fascism is not. By criticizing three conceptions of fascism (fascism as a generic concept, political ideology, and a personality type), he made it clear how difficult it is to define fascism alone. He grappled with attempts to better understand what is unique about fascism, only to display there must be limits on how we conceptualize it. This is important to our understanding of populism and fascism, because if we simply cherry pick attributes from a regime of the past and apply it to a regime of the present, these terms lose all meaning. He opted to limit fascism to a specific time period, rather than draw broad conclusions due to the immense contradictions internal to fascism.

Finchelstein furthered this idea by stating “like the term fascism, the term populism has been abused equally as a condensation of extremes from right to left” (4). Similar to Allardyce, Finchelstein also presented time period limits on fascism to the interwar and WWII period. However, he linked fascism and populism as “different chapters in the same transnational history of illiberal resistance to modern constitutional democracy” (12). The ultimate difference is that while fascism seeks to destroy democracy and establish a dictatorship, populism seeks to push the constitutional limits of democracy and work within it. These differences presented by both Allardyce and Finchelstein are important to distinguishing populism from fascism, however the transnational history of the two mentioned by Finchelstein is an area worth exploring.

Mudde does this by highlighting how European populist movements are an “illiberal democratic response to democratic illiberalism.” By this, he means that in the post-WWII period, liberalism had a monopoly on normative power, which increasingly saw the power of national institutions diminishing. This point is enlightening to the discussion on the rise of populism and its transnational history, given that it provides a potential opportunity to link fascism and populism as responses to a monopoly of ideational factors. Mudde’s understanding of the rise of populism completements that of Finchelstein’s, when considering the geographic battleground of ideology. Finchelstein states that “fascism fused prepopulist tendencies of left and right with a radical antiliberal and anticommunist ideology” (21). Geographically, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy were caught in between the liberalism of Western Europe and communism of Eastern Europe. This indicates that perhaps the rise of fascism and populism can be considered a response to illiberal policies that encroach upon national sovereignty.

Transmitting Fascism


In thinking about the culture of fascism either in Spain, Germany or Italy it is important to consider the political motivations of the state. In the case of these three fascist regimes it was in the interest of the state to engage the international community to gain a sense of legitimacy. The legitimizing power of international community is rooted in the 1933 Montevideo Convention that outlines the defining language for statehood. The ability for state to operate outside its borders was granted under the assumption the government was de jure and not simply de facto, the importance being that the latter simply governed the state, but the prior was expected to do so by the International community. For leaders like Franco Hitler, or Mussolini whose rise to power undermined the image of a new ‘more stable’ nation that they aimed to convey, it was crucial to receive support for the Fascist regimes. By recognizing the governments as legitimate governing bodies leaders like Franco were able to solidify the narrative that they were the best choice for constructing a new nation and that they had the political buy in to do so.

To appeal to the International community and demonstrate on a global stage that a fascist government was indeed the legitimate government of their respective states and that Fascism could be a legitimate governance model states opted to use tourism as a legitimizing tool for the Fascist state. In thinking about tourism, it was not uncommon in the early 20th century for other democratic states to use tourism as a form of cultural diplomacy. See more on the diplomacy in the interwar period here: https://www.age-of-the-sage.org/history/diplomacy_world_war_one.html

For Germany, the state-run tourism organization Strength through Joy (kdf) sent German’s into the what we now call the Global south in an effort to formulate a cultural exchange. German’s entering the region would transmit an image of Germany mush like Umbach has argued the photographs have done. Baranowski points out that German’s were sent to curated destinations in order to ensure that Nazi regime was seen as building a new and better life. The ‘cultural exchange’ of German’s to other places gave Germany two faces: one that faced out and was humanized by everyday German’s and one that faced inward towards the German’s of the ‘new Germany’.

Franco’s regime in Spain and Mussolini’s in Italy were not exempt from the use of touristic diplomacy. Spain brought the world to its doorstep once again showing the outward face of the Fascist state but this time it was interestingly done within Spanish boarders. Crumbaugh wrote that the development of Spain involved the “active participation of the entire Spanish population.” For Spain the culture of the ‘new nation’ was solidified against what it was and artificially created a sense of uniformity among Spaniards, particularly when juxtaposed against tourists. In Italy the OND, as De Grazia wrote, focused on the internal tourism of the ‘new Italy’. Connecting rural and urban communities across Italy to bring about a sense of collective comradeship.

Across borders and across times, what we have seen is the ability for Fascists state to enter the international community under the vail of tourism only deliver an image of the ‘new nation’ is and what the return what the ‘new nation’ ought to be to their home countries.


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.

Measuring the Successes, Failures, and Challenges of Fascist Regimes Attempts to Regulate of Leisure

Confronted with the task of unifying their respective nations under a burgeoning consumer culture, fascist regimes Germany, Italy, and Spain looked to the realm of leisure. By regulating the sphere of leisure, these fascist regimes could maintain a close hold on proper citizenship in addition to establishing a certain, often paternalistic, relationship between the state and the people. In turn, this further legitimized the practices of the regime. By instating different programs, practices, and systems, these fascist regimes often offered a veneer of freedom. The seemingly paradoxical relationship between individual freedom and fascism begs the question: to what end were these programs successful? Did citizens go along with these efforts or did they make displays of resistance?

in her book, Strength through Joy, Baranowski considers the way that tourism expeditions organized by Strength through Joy (kdf) were put in place to bolster the support of the Nazi regime. This was done by offering trips to working and middle class Germans to deliberately chosen countries wherein every day people clearly faced great deprivation so that German tourists could understand how the Nazi party greatly improved their lives. These trips were very methodically organized and offered an atmosphere of fun. In doing so, the Nazi party offered a semblance of individual freedom that brought Nazi Germany closer to its vision of racial purity. Despite their intentions, these trips did not always affirm a unified Germany as there was often differential treatment afforded to those of more affluent backgrounds. Indeed, it often came from members of the Nazi party themselves who would join these trips in high numbers and conduct themselves with great arrogance. Additionally, sometimes impediments to Nazi goals of the trips came from the tourists who would stay on the boat all day rather than interacting with the locals of the countries they visited.  

According to de Grazia, attempts to regulate leisure in Italy expressed great concern over class and regional divisions as they threatened a homogenous nation. In addition to tourism within the country that connected regions and showcased Italy’s natural beauty, the Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro (OND), coordinated and mediated sports and theatre to assert a unified nation. Like fascist Germany, Mussolini’s Italy was interested in maintaining a seemingly egalitarian society. Regulating such leisure activities and offering a veneer of freedom ensured conformity. In the Italian context, a high degree of state intervention and mass media including advertising help fascism flourish. As much as fascist Italy sought to blur the lines between class and differences by regulating leisure, they undermined their own work by seating theatre audiences according to class, to take one example. 

The case of Spain as explored by Crumbaugh is maybe most interesting for the way that it interacted with the “free world” and its invocation of democracy. Tourism to Spain brought a variety of foreign bodies. Most notably, it saw an influx of Americans to Spain. Given the spirit of democracy that  Americans are often thought to embody, this tourism offered a narrative of liberation. Tourism in Spain, affirmed the country as modern and also help to create self-disciplining citizens. Ultimately, the freedom that tourism offered was concluded as inauthentic.