The dictators of Europe ignored the traditional rights and freedoms of their people and embarked on campaigns of national modernization and expansion motivated by hatred.
On assuming power, Hitler outlawed non-Nazi labour unions, employers associations, and political parties. He bypassed the legislature. He regulated the judiciary. He controlled the economy, the media, and education. He imprisoned opponents in concentration camps. He emphasized the heavy industry necessary for military rearmament. And he disregarded earlier promises and began an aggressive campaign of international expansion.
Under Hitler, anti-Semitism became official state policy in Germany. Jews were discriminated against and excluded, socially, economically, and politically. Increasingly, Hitler's regime took away their rights and freedoms, bullied and tortured them, and vandalized their property. The reign of terror that would lead to the attempted annihilation of the Jews in the Holocaust had started.
The international communist movement believed in an ideal Soviet state that raised USSR industrial output to levels approaching those of Germany. The truth of what was happening in the USSR, however, bore a striking resemblance to the reign of terror that Hitler instituted in fascist Germany.
Under Joseph Stalin's brutal dictatorship, the cost of these industrial triumphs in human misery, lives, and loss of individual freedom was extreme. Like Hitler, Stalin purged opponents. By 1940, more than eight million Russians had been imprisoned. Executions totalled some 700,000. Freedom of speech was eliminated through a system of state-controlled censorship and propaganda.