chapter  1
20 Pages

On the interpretation of totalitarian rule 1919–89

From the beginning, the emergence of the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth

century has left behind a broad trail of interpretations and analyses by

contemporaries of those regimes. This begins with the perception of Com-

munism, Fascism and National Socialism recorded in reports of travellers,

journalists, writers and politicians following 1917, 1922 and 1933. It

continues in the efforts to discover appropriate descriptions for the new

phenomena. And it leads, finally, to larger interpretive patterns. Of these,

the concepts of totalitarianism and political religions have become the best known ones.1