Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Hitler vs. Mussolini

Chet Geering


Students will be able to process a variety of information on the rise of two of the 20th Century's most notorious dictators. They will be asked to compare and contrast these two despots and complete a chart on the two dictators.


The student analyzes major historical events of the first half of the 20th century.


-WORLD HISTORY THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE. New York: Glencoe McGraw-Hill, 2001.
- Chart to be completed by students (See attached file)
- Pen or pencil
- Dry Erase board
- Dry erase markers
- Access to copy machine


1. Read text Chapter 31 (or appropriate chapter).
2. Make one copy of the empty chart for each student.


1. Ask students, -How many of you have heard of Adolf Hitler? Benito Mussolini?-
2. Ask students, -Adolf Hitler was the dictator of what country? (Answer: Germany) Benito Mussolini?- (Answer: Italy)
3. Ask students, -When did each of these dictators reign?- (Answers: Hitler 1933-1945, Mussolini 1922- 1943.)
4. Explain to the students that each of these leaders had an ultimate goal. The goal for Mussolini was to create what he called a new Roman Empire. Mussolini wanted to restore the glory of ancient Rome. In doing this, he wanted to make Italy one of the major powers of the world. Hitler wanted to gain lebensraum (living space) for the German people. He also spoke of creating a 1,000 year Reich. Like Mussolini, Hitler wanted to make Germany one of the world's major powers.
5. Notes for #4 should be placed on the board so that students will have an understanding of what is happening.
6. Ask students, -What groups of people within each country would support such a dictator?-
7. Place the student answers to #6 on the board. (Possible Answers: Italy; middle and upper classes, nationalists, militarists, anti-communists, and the unemployed. Germany; the working class, nationalists, militarists, unemployed, anti-Semites, and the anti-communists.
8. Ask students, -Why would these particular groups follow such a leader?- (Answers will vary.)
9. Ask students, -How did such people as these retain power?- (Answers: Tight dictatorial powers, use of war as a unifier, other political parties were not allowed, and propaganda.)
10. Ask students, -What were the racial attitudes of these dictators?- (Answers: Mussolini- Italian superiority over everybody. He had some anti-Semitic views. Hitler- hatred of all non-Aryans, extremely anti-Semitic, proposed the final solution for the Jews.)
11. Have students complete the chart provided. (See attached file.)
12. Teacher evaluates students' completed charts.


1. Students will be assessed by completing a chart on the topics covered in class.
2. The teacher can also informally evaluate the students by monitoring and encouraging their participation in class discussion.

Attached Files

1. Chart to be completed by students. 2. Chart (answer key).     File Extension: pdf

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