Skip to content

Be Afraid of Young Europeans

Wow, I did not realize the German and Italian Nazi leaders were so young when they came to power. Should I be worried about the political radicalization of youth in Europe today due to the economic crisis? Will some of them turn into Fascist leaders in five years? Walter Laqueur in The New Republic in July:

If youth is the season of hope, it is also the age of credulity and fanaticism; the radicalism on behalf of which youth has served as a vanguard has not always been so admirable.  Consider Italy's fascist movement. Mussolini was not yet 40 at the time of his march on Rome, and those surrounding him were even younger-Achille Starace, the future secretary of the party, was 33; Dino Grandi, the future minister of justice, was 27. Galeazzo Ciano, the future foreign minister, claimed to have participated at the age of 19. (The anthem of the fascists was "Giovinezza primavera di bellezza": "Youth, Spring of Beauty.") 

The same was true with the Nazi movement. In 1933, Adolf Hitler was in his forties, but his closest followers were all very young: Joseph Goebbels was 36; Heinrich Himmler, head of the terror machine, was 33; his deputy, Reinhard Heydrich, 29; and Adolf Eichmann, the engineer of the Holocaust, a mere 27. And there is no doubting that Germany's massive youth unemployment problem in the early '30s-a total of seven million Germans were out of work in 1932-contributed to their collective rise. (...)

So far, the political radicalization of youth in Europe has been sporadic. But this is unlikely to remain the case. Youth unemployment in much of Europe is running at astronomical levels, reaching 50 percent in Spain and Greece. The official figures do not even convey the full picture, as many young people have been forced into part-time or unskilled work, or have given up looking for a job entirely.


No Trackbacks


Display comments as Linear | Threaded

No comments

Add Comment

E-Mail addresses will not be displayed and will only be used for E-Mail notifications.

To prevent automated Bots from commentspamming, please enter the string you see in the image below in the appropriate input box. Your comment will only be submitted if the strings match. Please ensure that your browser supports and accepts cookies, or your comment cannot be verified correctly.

Form options