It is often alleged that a grand part in the success of the Nazi and fascist movements in Europe was their hard-line anti-Communism. Thy used anti-Communist sentiments to gain popularity and even many people who did not share their views in general, still supported them due to their anti-Communist stance.
So I wonder what was the reason why anti-Communism gained such popularity in Europe.
It should be noted that the criticism of Communism of the late 20th century is not applicable to the first half. The major Cold-War era critcisms included human rights violations, deficit of democracy, inefficiency of planned economy and lack of economic freedom.
But in the first half of 20th century many anti-Communists would support authoritarian government, state regulation and restrictions on political rights to even greater degree than in communist countries.
There are several theories why anti-communism was so popular.
- The communists themselves claim that the wealthy classes oppose communism because they want to keep their wealth and social inequality.
This theory does not explain why anti-communist movements (such as the Whites) included many people who were ready to sacrifice not only their wealth but also their lives to the fight against communism and that it included many of those who did not belong to the wealthy classes or belonged only formerly without any hope to return the possessions.
It should be also noted that in many cases the anti-communists employed extreme and difficult to explain cruelty to captured bolshevicks, such as freezing them alive, driving nails in their heads and the like, which is not normally observed in any economically-motivated wars such as wars for resources or colonies.
- Sometimes it is argued that the hatred towards communism was motivated by religion. That the people just fought against atheism rather than an economic system.
This idea also does not explain why those anti-communists themselves supported regimes that were sometimes hostile or indifferent towards religion or even concluded alliances with states which worshiped non-Christian faith such as Islam or Buddhism, and why they were equally hostile towards left-leaning clerics (counting them as traitors).
So what are the reasons of the widespread hatred towards communism in the first half of XXth century?