Through increasingly gloomy exhibits, documents and photographs attest to the arrival of these regimes at the very heart of Europe:
In Italy, where leader Benito Mussolini introduced fascism in 1922 ; in the USSR, where the Communist ideology brought to power by the Bolshevik Revolution turned into a form of totalitarian government under Stalin ; and finally in Germany where Adolf Hitler, Nazi Party leader, succeeded in legally taking over as the Reich Chancellor in 1933.
Like the long descent taking you ever closer to war, the rise of Nazism, emphasised here by the higher number of video screens and larger photographs, seemed completely unstoppable at the time. Reactions from democracies were too weak to counter the unprecedented ideological and economic mobilizations, or the provocation caused by rearmament and territorial conquests. The Munich Agreement of September 1938, authorizing Hitler to occupy Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia, confirmed this “abdication” of democracies. The final act: by signing a non-aggression pact with Stalin’s USSR on 23 August 1939, to the astonishment of the whole world, Hitler was finally ready to take his revenge.