In spite of choosing very different paths, the one to democracy the other to communism, both Germany and the Soviet Union developed totalitarian regimes. Neither case simply reverted to being authoritarian governments, neither case constituted simply the rejection of liberal democracy; the totalitarian regimes set out to destroy not only political pluralism but social pluralism too. Added to this destruction they substituted government, even as dictatorship, with rule through terror. Consideration of what was common between Germany and the Soviet Union before their totalitarian regimes but absent in France where such a regime did not occur holds the potential to provide two important lessons about democracy. The first is to gain understanding of how and why countries manage to stay on a path to democracy. The other is to gain perspective on democracy being set up after the experience of the very antithesis of pluralist democracy.