The Rise of Fascism

Dorothy Thompson was born in 1893. After her mother died when she was seven, she was sent to live with her two aunts. She was able to go to college, a rarity at the time, and this gave her a sense of obligation to other women. She became a devoted suffragist.

Dorothy began her career in journalism by traveling to Europe. She had a number of important feature stories and gained respect for her reporting. While in Germany she saw the rise of the Nazi party. She was able to interview Adolf Hitler and became alarmed of him winning power. Her description of him as “the very prototype of the little man” led to her being expelled from Germany.

When she returned to the U.S., she went from being a reporter to becoming a columnist in newspapers and magazines. She also did radio broadcasts. It was on these broadcasts that she began a crusade against fascism. She bravely attended a fascist rally in Madison Square Garden before she was removed for heckling the speaker. When Hitler invaded Poland, she broadcast live for 15 straight days and nights.

Dorothy was married three times, the most notable husband being Sinclair Lewis, the Nobel Prize winning journalist. One of Lewis’ novels, It Can’t Happen Here, was about a fascist dictator who takes over the United States. (This novel has recently regained popularity.)

In a 1941 story in Harper’s, she wrote about a game in which people would guess who would become fascist.

Dorothy was certainly well known in her time, but she is largely forgotten today. Her warnings against fascism are just as relevant today as they were with the rise of Hitler.

Unfortunately, her feelings about African Americans are truly offensive. She also had conflicted views about the nation of Israel resulting in some claiming she was anti-Sematic, a claim she strongly rejected.

Dorothy died at the age of 67, leaving legacy that is one of opening doors for women in journalism while also providing a woman’s perspective on important international events.

*   *   *

“Kind, good, happy, gentlemanly, secure people never go Nazi.  But those driven by fear, resentment, insecurity, or self-loathing? They would always fall for fascism.”  – Dorothy Thompson



How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.