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The Great Depression was the ultimate factor in catalysing Adolf Hitler’s rise to power by providing extremely favourable conditions. As a result of this economic situation, the US withdrew their loans from Germany, cancelling both the Dawes Plan (1924) and the Young Plan (1929). This caused the German economy to plummet into a recession and consequently, unemployment to skyrocket in the early 1930s, as shown in the figure above rising to 30% in 1932, a year before Hitler was appointed Chancellor. The corresponding significant increases in seats for the National Socialist (Nazi) party signifies the direct correlation between unemployment and its popularity, as the public desired a radical solution to the economic problems. This highlights how the Great Depression provided a golden moment for the rise of Nazi Germany.
The source being a chart makes it valuable because it is presenting raw data and is therefore objective. This is particularly true since the statistics are from a reliable and accurate source, International Historical Statistics. Furthermore, the actual content provided is valuable by including a wide time frame that gives a good context to the conditions in which the Nazi party rose to power.
However, a limitation is that it does not make reference to the cause of unemployment or the cause of the increases in seats for the Nazi party, thus, historians must infer this and the link between them. Moreover, it only provides unemployment as the possible condition, and doesn’t examine other conditions that could have had an impact on the increase in party seats.
In 1924, the Matteotti Crisis unfolded when Giacomo Matteotti, an Italian socialist that was a large critic of Mussolini’s fascist regime was kidnapped and murdered. This event brought Mussolini’s power in Italy under great threat as he was personally linked to the murder. A significant amount of political support from the Italian public and other parties was lost, as well as from within his own party. In the short-term this hindered his rise to power as his popularity sharply declined and his career as prime minister was in the balance. Knowing this, he even had members of his own party arrested that were accused of the murder in order to appear reasonable and just to the rest of the population, an unpopular move within his party.
This source is by Scott Allsop, a historian and graduate of the University of Cambridge which makes the content of the source reliable and accurate, and therefore valuable. Its purpose is to inform and educate on the crisis with a link at the end between Mussolini which is appropriate in studying it as a condition.
However, the source does not provide many links or information on how this crisis affected Mussolini which are needed to study the conditions in which Mussolini rose to power. It only gives a small amount of information on one event that acted as an unfavourable condition, thus limiting the possibility of an overall complete answer on the conditions.
In 1979, Saddam Hussein became the president of Iraq and established his power through violent but efficient methods. Shortly after he took power, he called a party meeting in which he began to purge any suspected political opposition and executed a third of them, carried out by the Mukhabarat, of which Hussein was in charge of now. This was not only meant to remove opposition but also prevent further opposition since Hussein televised the event to the public and used it as a form of propaganda. Hence, a clear message was expressed to the public and other political figures of the consequences that would arise to anybody who antagonised and challenged Hussein’s authority.
This source is a video of the actual event, which makes it valuable since it is a primary source that provides a direct and realistic portrayal of the methods used. The date of when the video was released, in 2015, gives insight into the effectiveness of his methods in the wider context of his rule since he had already been executed at this time.
Nevertheless, the video is limiting as it only shows selective evidence with an excerpt of the conference; this doesn’t give the full context of this particular method. It is also a video released and edited by the American Heroes Channel that most likely has an American, subjective view against Hussein in the perspective given.
Caption: Benito Mussolini and Pietro Gasparri signing the Lateran Treaty in 1929, bringing the Vatican City into existence.
Mussolini faced barriers to employing efficient methods to establish power, such as the Roman Catholic Church. Public and political loyalty to Mussolini was not guaranteed after 1925, when Italy became an authoritarian state, despite the use of propaganda. This was largely because the influence of the Church caused many to resent the fascist regime. Therefore, he signed this treaty to settle the “Roman Question”. While cooperating with the Church was a popular move, it was inefficient because it prevented him from establish complete control over the population by giving up some power to another body of the state rather than removing it. It also came four years too late, as it should have been one of the first moves in order to secure more loyalty from the religious population.
This source is valuable because it shows directly Mussolini and Gasparri signing the Treaty, demonstrating the cooperation between Mussolini and the Holy See which is the point being argued here. As a photo, it is a primary source that provides a realistic and objective view of the event and relationship.
A limitation is the information given, as the photo does not give further insight into how this treaty proved to be an inefficient method. This limits its use in studying how Mussolini’s methods to establish power were inefficient, especially since it offers the relationship with the Church as the only method, overlooking many of his others.
Mao Zedong had a cult of personality so influential that it instilled absolute power in Communist China, over the party or any other political figure, appearing as a god to the public. In 1966, he enforced this image with his swim of the Yangtze River that he exploited for propaganda purposes. It was a portrayal of strength and vitality that were important to his leadership. Although, his failure of the Great Leap Forward attracted criticism, his cult of personality managed to re-establish the absolute support from the young generation and the public. The extent of the influence of this action can be determined from the fact that he himself initiated the Cultural Revolution shortly after and guided its first few years.
The video is a primary source, which is valuable since it directly shows the event as an example of how his cult of personality was enforced and how influential it was. Since it is from a documentary released in 2003, there is the benefit of hindsight to put this event into the context of his entire rule and the extent of its impact.
However, the video only provides a 2-minute excerpt from the documentary, therefore it may exclude further footage and information on the event that would prove useful to studying Mao’s cult of personality. Moreover, the documentary is still a secondary source itself and is edited with a voiceover, this may have a subjective perspective and limit the reliability of the source.
When Mussolini took total power in 1925, he had to decide whether he would cooperate with the church or go against it to make his dictatorial power and cult of personality absolute. He chose to work with it by making compromises in his policies to grant the church what they wanted. Examples include making religious education compulsory in elementary schools and not implementing certain clauses of his party’s programme. Allowing religious education meant that Italians were still taught to worship God rather than solely Mussolini, if fascist education had been enforced instead. It can be deduced that his cult of personality competed with the church for influence since it still had a major role in the country.
This source is valuable as it contains specific examples of concessions that Mussolini made to the church, which is useful for evidencing the point that they still held influence alongside him. It is also written by a historian renowned for research on the Papacy, thus making it reliable and accurate.
However, the source is limited by its purpose, which is to give information on the Papacy rather on Mussolini and his cult of personality, the relevant area of study. It is also only an excerpt from the book and this passage may have been taken out of context which is limiting if there were contradictory ideas before or after, for example.
Saddam Hussein carried out many successful domestic policies as vice-president and later as president that would benefit the public. In 1972, he nationalized the oil industry, by far the most popular and successful move made. This action led to Iraq being able to secure 100% of the oil profits that were previously being repatriated to foreign countries. As a result, Iraq’s GDP grew significantly, shown in the chart with the steep increases after 1972, from less than $5 billion to more than $45 billion in 1980. This money was used to improve the infrastructure of the nation that allowed further growth of industries and the creation of new ones. The public benefitted greatly from this growth and money directly from the profits.
This chart was taken from the World Bank, which is a reliable source that makes this information accurate and valuable for studying the success of this policy. As a chart, it is raw data that has not been altered which provides an objective view of his success allowing for historians to infer conclusions themselves.
Nevertheless, it is limiting by not providing information on a link between the increases in GDP and a particular domestic policy. So, while they are occurring during Hussein’s rule, their cause is unclear. The chart is up to 1990, not giving the full-time frame of his rule. This may give misleading information on his success since if the GDP were to plummet drastically afterwards, then the overall effect would not be successful.
Mao Zedong had multiple economic policies that were extremely unsuccessful throughout his rule. A prime example was the Great Leap Forward, a socioeconomic campaign from 1958 to 1962 that aimed to transform China’s agrarian economy into an industrial powerhouse through intensive labour and willpower. It did not only fail in its aim, since the Chinese economy actually regressed with GDP decreasing, but it resulted in tens of millions of deaths too, mostly due to starvation of which the policy of collectivization was the culprit. In a political sense, Mao lost political power as it attracted criticism on him and decreased his influence within the party. This national disaster provides compelling evidence for why Mao had the least successful domestic policies, as it was repealed before 1962.
This source is valuable because it provides a detailed summary of what the Great Leap Forward was and the resulting effects of the poor policies implemented, which is subject specific information with an appropriate purpose. This value is amplified by the accuracy of the source being from Britannica, a reliable encyclopaedia.
Nevertheless, it is limiting in examining how unsuccessful Mao’s domestic policies were because it only gives information on one of them which is not a full representation of them, especially since the Great Leap Forward is only in a 4-year time-frame.
Saddam Hussein had a drastic impact on minorities negatively concerning Shiites and Kurds, as well as positively in light of improving the status of women. Hussein oppressed Shiites causing them to be politically and socially disadvantaged in Iraq, even deporting hundreds of thousands of them to Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. His hatred of the Kurds led him to launch constant offensives against them, intensifying in 1988 with the chemical attack on the town of Halabja, resulting in 15,000 casualties. Nevertheless, he also provided funding for development projects in Kurdish towns despite the full-scale warfare. The status of women was also significantly improved, increasing equality such as with equal wages and opportunities for employment and education.
This source has an appropriate purpose, to inform and educate on how Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq and the effects of this, including the impact on minorities. Another value is that the information given is reliable and accurate since it is provided by historian Scott Alsop, also a graduate of the University of Cambridge.
However, the source is limiting since it provides information on other aspects of Hussein’s rule which are irrelevant to the study of his impact on minorities.
While affecting minorities in Italy, Mussolini did not have such a drastic impact as was intended. An example is with the racial laws enacted in 1938 that were mainly targeting the Jewish population with anti-Semitic policies. It imposed restrictions for them on ownership, employment and marriage similar to those enacted in Nazi Germany. However, as stated in the source, the Jewish population was only 46,000 in Italy, which was 0.11% of the total population. Therefore, these laws did not have such a large impact as the targeted community was very small. Adding on to this, Jewish Italians were very well integrated and respected, meaning that many Italians and even authorities protected them from prosecution and helped them to escape, resulting in the laws having an even smaller impact.
The purpose of this source is to inform and educate on the Holocaust in Italy, beginning from when anti-Semitic laws were passed in 1938. This is valuable since the impact on minorities here is very relevant to these laws and the Holocaust. Its content is also valuable since it includes how the impact of the racial laws was not very large, supporting this argument.
However, the source is limited by the fact that both of the authors are geographers, which may indicate that they approached the research on the Holocaust in Italy from a geographical aspect rather than a historical one.