Dictatorship and Democracy in Europe, 1920 - 1945

Main Page: Leaving Cert History - Modern Europe and the Wider World

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Democracy and Dictatorship in Europe concerns the growth of totalitarian regimes in some European countries in the years between World War I and World War II and the problems encountered in countries which remained democracies. If you study this topic for your Leaving Cert, you will learn about the rise of Josef Stalin in the Soviet Union, Adolf Hitler in Germany and Benito Mussolini in Italy. You will also learn about the difficult economic problems faced by those countries, as well as by Britain and France, which always remained democracies in the inter-war period. You will also look at how Anglo-American popular culture developed during these years - this was the time when cinema took off, and when new inventions allowed singers to become recording artists.

Towards the end of this topic you'll learn how Hitler's foreign policy contributed to the outbreak of war in Europe (and soon the world) in 1939, and then you will study World War II in great detail, from the main events of the war to the technology and weapons used by both sides and the effect of the war on civilian society in Churchill's Britain, Hitler's Germany, and the conquered France.

Case Studies:

Key Personalities (Ordinary Level students should focus on these)

Key Concepts  (Ordinary Level students should focus on these)

Dictatorship and Democracy in the 
Leaving Cert Curriculum

The Leaving Cert curriculum requires students to study each topic through three perspectives: Politics & Administration, Society & Economy and Culture, Religion & Science. 

The table below is copied directly from the curriculum, and shows how those three perspectives are shown in Dictatorship and Democracy. Each part links to the relevant page (e.g. the Nazi state in peace and war links to the page on Germany in the inter-war years).


Case Studies

Politics and Administration

Society and Economy

Economic and social problems of the inter-war years: Britain and Germany.

Culture, Religion and Science

Church-State relations under Mussolini and Hitler.

In their study of the topic, students should become aware of the role of certain key personalities.

Another "key" to developing understanding will be learning to identify the main issues through a familiarity with certain key concepts.