Benito Mussolini Explained

Benito Mussolini
Height:5' 6½" (1.69 m)
Nationality:Italian
Order:Head of Government of Italy and Duce of Fascism
Term Start:24 December 1925
Term End:25 July 1943
Predecessor:Himself
(as Prime Minister)
Successor:Pietro Badoglio
(as Prime Minister)
Order2:40th Prime Minister of Italy
Monarch2:Victor Emmanuel III
Term Start2:31 October 1922
Term End2:24 December 1925
Predecessor2:Luigi Facta
Successor2:Pietro Badoglio
Order3:First Marshal of the Empire
Term Start3:30 March 1938
Term End3:25 July 1943
Alongside3:Victor Emmanuel III
Order4:Head of State of the Italian Social Republic
Term Start4:23 September 1943
Term End4:25 April 1945
Birth Date:29 July 1883
Birth Place:Predappio, Forlì, Kingdom of Italy
Death Place:Giulino di Mezzegra, Kingdom of Italy
Resting Place:San Cassiano cemetery, Predappio, Forlì, Italian Republic
Party:Republican Fascist Party
(1943–1945)
National Fascist Party
(1921–1943)
Italian Fasci of Combat
(1919–1921)
Fasci of Revolutionary Action
(1914–1919)
Italian Socialist Party
(1901–1914)
Spouse:Rachele Mussolini
Relations:Ida Dalser
Margherita Sarfatti
Clara Petacci
Children:Edda Mussolini
Vittorio Mussolini
Bruno Mussolini
Romano Mussolini
Anna Maria Mussolini
Profession:Politician, journalist, novelist, teacher
Religion:(See this section for details.)
Signature:Benito Mussolini Signature.svg
Branch:Regio Esercito
Serviceyears:1915–1917
Rank:Corporal
Unit:11th Bersaglieri Regiment
Battles:World War I

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (; 29 July 188328 April 1945) was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of fascism.

Mussolini became the 40th Prime Minister of Italy in 1922 and began using the title Il Duce by 1925. After 1936, his official title was Sua Eccellenza Benito Mussolini, Capo del Governo, Duce del Fascismo e Fondatore dell'Impero ("His Excellency Benito Mussolini, Head of Government, Duce of Fascism, and Founder of the Empire")[1] Mussolini also created and held the supreme military rank of First Marshal of the Empire along with King Victor Emmanuel III, which gave him and the King joint supreme control over the military of Italy. Mussolini remained in power until he was replaced in 1943; for a short period after this until his death, he was the leader of the Italian Social Republic.

Mussolini was among the founders of Italian Fascism, which included elements of nationalism, corporatism, national syndicalism, expansionism, social progress, and anti-socialism in combination with censorship of subversives and state propaganda. In the years following his creation of the Fascist ideology, Mussolini influenced, or achieved admiration from, a wide variety of political figures.

Among the domestic achievements of Mussolini from the years 1924–1939 were: his public works programs such as the taming of the Pontine Marshes, the improvement of job opportunities, the public transport, and the so-called Italian economic battles. Mussolini also solved the Roman Question by concluding the Lateran Treaty between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See.

On 10 June 1940, Mussolini led Italy into World War II on the side of the Axis. Mussolini was aware that Italy did not have the military capacity to carry out a long war with France and the United Kingdom. Therefore, he waited until the former was on the verge of imminent collapse and surrender because of the German invasion before declaring war on France and the United Kingdom on 10 June 1940, on the assumption that - following France's collapse - the war would be short-lived (Italian: "la guerra breve").[2] Mussolini believed that after the imminent French surrender, Italy could gain from this country some territorial concessions and then concentrate its forces on a major offensive in Egypt where British and Commonwealth forces were outnumbered by Italian forces.[3]

On 24 July 1943, soon after the start of the Allied invasion of Italy, through the Ordine del giorno Grandi Mussolini was defeated in the vote at the Grand Council of Fascism, and the day after the King let him arrested. On 12 September 1943, Mussolini was rescued from prison in the daring Gran Sasso raid by German special forces. Following his rescue, Mussolini headed the Italian Social Republic in parts of Italy that were not occupied by Allied forces. In late April 1945, with total defeat looming, Mussolini attempted to escape north, only to be quickly captured and summarily executed near Lake Como by Italian partisans. His body was then taken to Milan where it was hung upside down at a petrol station for public viewing and to provide confirmation of his demise. [4]

Early life

Mussolini was born in Dovia di Predappio, a small town in the province of Forlì in Emilia-Romagna on 29 July 1883. In the Fascist era, Predappio was dubbed "Duce's town", and Forlì was "Duce's city". Pilgrims went to Predappio and Forlì, to see the birthplace of Mussolini. His father Alessandro Mussolini was a blacksmith and a socialist,[5] while his mother Rosa Mussolini, née Maltoni, a devoutly Catholic schoolteacher. Owing to his father's political leanings, Mussolini was named Benito after Mexican reformist President Benito Juárez, while his middle names Andrea and Amilcare were from Italian socialists Andrea Costa and Amilcare Cipriani.[6] Benito was the eldest of his parents' three children. His siblings Arnaldo and Edvige followed.

As a young boy, Mussolini would spend time helping his father in his smithy. Mussolini's early political views were heavily influenced by his father, Alessandro Mussolini, a revolutionary socialist who idolized 19th century Italian nationalist figures with humanist tendencies such as Carlo Pisacane, Giuseppe Mazzini, and Giuseppe Garibaldi.[7] His father's political outlook combined views of anarchist figures like Carlo Cafiero and Mikhail Bakunin, the military authoritarianism of Garibaldi, and the nationalism of Mazzini.[8] In 1902, at the anniversary of Garibaldi's death, Benito Mussolini made a public speech in praise of the republican nationalist.[8] The conflict between his parents about religion meant that, unlike most Italians, Mussolini was not baptised at birth and would not be until much later in life. As a compromise with his mother, Mussolini was sent to a boarding school run by Salesian monks. Mussolini was rebellious and was soon expelled after a series of behaviour related incidents, including throwing stones at the congregation after Mass, stabbing a fellow student in the hand and throwing an inkpot at a teacher. After joining a new school, Mussolini achieved good grades, and qualified as an elementary schoolmaster in 1901.[6]

Emigration to Switzerland and military service

In 1902, Mussolini emigrated to Switzerland, partly to avoid military service.[5] He worked briefly as a stonemason in Geneva, Fribourg and Bern, but was unable to find a permanent job.

During this time he studied the ideas of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, the sociologist Vilfredo Pareto, and the syndicalist Georges Sorel. Mussolini also later credited the Marxist Charles Péguy and the syndicalist Hubert Lagardelle as some of his influences.[9] Sorel's emphasis on the need for overthrowing decadent liberal Democracy and Capitalism by the use of violence, direct action, the general strike, and the use of neo-Machiavellian appeals to emotion, impressed Mussolini deeply.[5]

Mussolini became active in the Italian socialist movement in Switzerland, working for the paper L'Avvenire del Lavoratore, organizing meetings, giving speeches to workers and serving as secretary of the Italian workers' union in Lausanne. In 1903, he was arrested by the Bernese police because of his advocacy of a violent general strike, spent two weeks in jail, was deported to Italy, set free there, and returned to Switzerland. In 1904, after having been arrested again in Lausanne for falsifying his papers, he returned to Italy to take advantage of an amnesty for desertion of which he had been convicted in absentia.

He subsequently volunteered for military service in the Italian Army. After serving for two years in the military (from January 1905 until September 1906), he returned to teaching.

Political journalist and Socialist

In February 1908, Mussolini once again left Italy, this time to take the job as the secretary of the labor party in the Italian-speaking city of Trento, which at the time was under control of Austria-Hungary. He also did office work for the local Socialist Party, and edited its newspaper L'Avvenire del Lavoratore (The Future of the Worker). Returning to Italy, he spent a brief time in Milan, and then in 1910 he returned to his hometown of Forli, where he edited the weekly Lotta di classe (The Class Struggle).

During this time, he published Il Trentino veduto da un Socialista (Trento as seen by a Socialist) in the radical periodical La Voce.[10] He also wrote several essays about German literature, some stories, and one novel: L'amante del Cardinale: Claudia Particella, romanzo storico (The Cardinal's Mistress). This novel he co-wrote with Santi Corvaja, and was published as a serial book in the Trento newspaper Il Popolo. It was released in installments from 20 January to 11 May 1910[11] The novel was bitterly anticlerical, and years later was withdrawn from circulation after Mussolini made a truce with the Vatican.[5]

By now, he was considered to be one of Italy's most prominent Socialists. In September 1911, Mussolini participated in a riot, led by Socialists, against the Italian war in Libya. He bitterly denounced Italy's "imperialist war" to capture the Libyan capital city of Tripoli, an action that earned him a five-month jail term.[12] After his release he helped expel from the ranks of the Socialist party two "revisionists" who had supported the war, Ivanoe Bonomi, and Leonida Bissolati. As a result, he was rewarded the editorship of the Socialist Party newspaper Avanti! Under his leadership, its circulation soon rose from 20,000 to 100,000.[13]

In 1913, he published Giovanni Hus, il veridico (Jan Hus, true prophet), an historical and political biography about the life and mission of the Czech ecclesiastic reformer Jan Hus, and his militant followers, the Hussites. During this socialist period of his life Mussolini sometimes used the pen name "Vero Eretico" (sincere misbeliever).

While Mussolini was associated with socialism, he also was supportive of figures who opposed egalitarianism. For instance Mussolini was influenced by Nietszche's anti-Christian ideas and negation of God's existence.[14] Mussolini saw Nietzsche as similar to Jean-Marie Guyau, who advocated a philosophy of action.[14] Mussolini's use of Nietzsche made him a highly unorthodox socialist, due to Nietzsche's promotion of elitism and anti-egalitarian views.[14] Mussolini felt that socialism had faltered due to the failures of Marxist determinism and social democratic reformism, and believed that Nietzsche's ideas would strengthen socialism.[14] While associated with socialism, Mussolini's writings eventually indicated that he had abandoned Marxism and egalitarianism in favour of Nietzsche's übermensch concept and anti-egalitarianism.[15]

Expulsion from the Italian Socialist Party

With the outbreak of World War I a number of socialist parties initially supported the war when it began in August 1914.[16] Once the war began, Austrian, British, French, German, and Russian socialists followed the rising nationalist current by supporting their country's intervention in the war.[17] The outbreak of the war had resulted in a surge of Italian nationalism and the war supported by a variety of political factions. One of the most prominent and popular Italian nationalist supporters of the war was Gabriele d'Annunzio who promoted Italian irredentism and helped sway the Italian public to support intervention in the war.[18] The Italian Liberal Party under the leadership of Paolo Boselli promoted intervention in the war on the side of the Allies and utilized the Società Dante Alighieri to promote Italian nationalism.[19] [20] Italian socialists were divided on whether to support the war or oppose it.[21] Prior to Mussolini taking a position on the war, a number of revolutionary syndicalists had announced their support of intervention, including Alceste De Ambris, Filippo Corridoni, and Angelo Oliviero Olivetti.[22] The Italian Socialist Party decided to oppose the war after anti-militarist protestors had been killed, resulting in a general strike called Red Week.[23]

Mussolini initially held official support for the party's decision and, in an August 1914 article, Mussolini wrote "Down with the War. We remain neutral."[24] However, he saw the war as an opportunity, both for his own ambitions as well as those of socialists and Italians.[24] He was influenced by anti-Austrian Italian nationalist sentiments, believing that the war offered Italians in Austria-Hungary the chance to liberate themselves from rule of the Habsburgs.[24] He eventually decided to declare support for the war by appealing to the need for socialists to overthrow the Hohenzollern and Habsburg monarchies in Germany and Austria-Hungary whom he claimed had consistently repressed socialism.[24] He further justified his position by denouncing the Central Powers for being reactionary powers; for pursuing imperialist designs against Belgium and Serbia as well as historically against Denmark, France, and against Italians, since hundreds of thousands of Italians were under Habsburg rule.[22] He claimed that the fall of Hohenzollern and Habsburg monarchies and the repression of "reactionary" Turkey would create conditions beneficial for the working class.[22] While he was supportive of the Entente powers, Mussolini responded to the conservative nature of Tsarist Russia by claiming that the mobilization required for the war would undermine Russia's reactionary authoritarianism and the war would bring Russia to social revolution.[22] He claimed that for Italy the war would complete the process of Risorgimento by uniting the Italians in Austria-Hungary into Italy and by allowing the common people of Italy to be participating members of the Italian nation in what would be Italy's first national war.[22] Thus he claimed that the vast social changes that the war could offer meant that it should be supported as a revolutionary war.[22]

As Mussolini's support for the intervention solidified, he became in conflict with socialists who opposed the war. He attacked the opponents of the war and claimed that those proletarians who supported pacifism were out of step with the proletarians who had joined the rising interventionist vanguard that was preparing Italy for a revolutionary war.[25] He began to criticize the Italian Socialist Party and socialism itself for having failed to recognize the national problems that had led to the outbreak of the war.[25] He was expelled from the party due to his support of intervention.

The following excerpts are from a police report prepared by the Inspector-General of Public Security in Milan, G. Gasti, that describe his background and his position on the First World War that resulted in his ouster from the Italian Socialist Party.

The Inspector General wrote:

Regarding Mussolini

Professor Benito Mussolini, ... 38, revolutionary socialist, has a police record; elementary school teacher qualified to teach in secondary schools; former first secretary of the Chambers in Cesena, Forli, and Ravenna; after 1912 editor of the newspaper Avanti! to which he gave a violent suggestive and intransigent orientation. In October 1914, finding himself in opposition to the directorate of the Italian Socialist party because he advocated a kind of active neutrality on the part of Italy in the War of the Nations against the party's tendency of absolute neutrality, he withdrew on the twentieth of that month from the directorate of Avanti! Then on the fifteenth of November [1914], thereafter, he initiated publication of the newspaper Il Popolo d'Italia, in which he supported – in sharp contrast to Avanti! and amid bitter polemics against that newspaper and its chief backers – the thesis of Italian intervention in the war against the militarism of the Central Empires. For this reason he was accused of moral and political unworthiness and the party thereupon decided to expel him... Thereafter he ... undertook a very active campaign in behalf of Italian intervention, participating in demonstrations in the piazzas and writing quite violent articles in Popolo d'Italia...[13]

In his summary, the Inspector also notes:

He was the ideal editor of Avanti! for the Socialists. In that line of work he was greatly esteemed and beloved. Some of his former comrades and admirers still confess that there was no one who understood better how to interpret the spirit of the proletariat and there was no one who did not observe his apostasy with sorrow. This came about not for reasons of self-interest or money. He was a sincere and passionate advocate, first of vigilant and armed neutrality, and later of war; and he did not believe that he was compromising with his personal and political honesty by making use of every means – no matter where they came from or wherever he might obtain them – to pay for his newspaper, his program and his line of action. This was his initial line. It is difficult to say to what extent his socialist convictions (which he never either openly or privately abjure) may have been sacrificed in the course of the indispensable financial deals which were necessary for the continuation of the struggle in which he was engaged... But assuming these modifications did take place ... he always wanted to give the appearance of still being a socialist, and he fooled himself into thinking that this was the case.[26]

Beginning of Fascism and service in World War I

After being ousted by the Italian Socialist Party for his support of Italian intervention, Mussolini made a radical transformation, ending his support for class conflict and joining in support of revolutionary nationalism transcending class lines.[25] He formed the interventionist newspaper Il Popolo d'Italia and the Fasci Rivoluzionari d'Azione Internazionalista ("Revolutionary Fasci for International Action") in October 1914.[20] His nationalist support of intervention enabled him to raise funds from Ansaldo (an armaments firm) and other companies to create Il Popolo d'Italia to convince socialists and revolutionaries to support the war.[27] Further funding for Mussolini's Fascists during the war came from the French sources beginning in May 1915.[28] A major source of this funding from France is believed to have probably been from French socialists who sent support to dissident socialists who wanted Italian intervention on France's side.[28]

On 5 December 1914, Mussolini denounced orthodox socialism for having failed to recognize that the war had brought about national identity and loyalty as being of greater significance than class distinction.[25] His transformation was fully demonstrated in a speech he made in which he acknowledged the nation as an entity, a notion that he had previously rejected prior to the war, saying:

The nation has not disappeared. We used to believe that the concept was totally without substance. Instead we see the nation arise as a palpitating reality before us! ... Class cannot destroy the nation. Class reveals itself as a collection of interests—but the nation is a history of sentiments, traditions, language, culture, and race. Class can become an integral part of the nation, but the one cannot eclipse the other.[29]

The class struggle is a vain formula, without effect and consequence wherever one finds a people that has not integrated itself into its proper linguistic and racial confines—where the national problem has not been definitely resolved. In such circumstances the class movement finds itself impaired by an inauspicious historic climate.[30]

Mussolini continued to promote the need of a revolutionary vanguard elite to lead society, but he no longer advocated a proletarian vanguard but instead a vanguard led by dynamic and revolutionary people of any social class.[30]

Though he denounced orthodox socialism and class conflict, he maintained at the time that he was a nationalist socialist and a supporter of the legacy of nationalist socialists in Italy's history, such as Giuseppe Garibaldi, Giuseppe Mazzini, and Carlo Pisacane.[31] As for the Italian Socialist Party and its support of orthodox socialism, he claimed that his failure as a member of the party to revitalize and transform it to recognize the contemporary reality revealed the hopelessness of orthodox socialism as outdated and a failure.[31] This perception of the failure of orthodox socialism in the light of the outbreak of World War I was not solely held by Mussolini, other pro-interventionist Italian socialists such as Filippo Corridoni and Sergio Panunzio had also denounced classical Marxism in favour of intervention.[32]

These basic political views and principles formed the basis of Mussolini's newly formed political movement, the Fasci Rivoluzionari d'Azione Internazionalista in 1914, who called themselves Fascisti (Fascists).[33] At this time, the Fascists did not have an integrated set of policies and the movement was very small, ineffective in its attempts to hold mass meetings, and was regularly harassed by government authorities and orthodox socialists.[34] Antagonism between the interventionists, including the Fascists, versus the anti-interventionist orthodox socialists resulted in violence between the Fascists and socialists.[35] The opposition and attacks by the anti-interventionist revolutionary socialists against the Fascists and other interventionists were so violent that even democratic socialists who opposed the war such as Anna Kuliscioff said that the Italian Socialist Party had gone too far in a campaign of silencing the freedom of speech of supporters of the war.[35] These early hostilities between the Fascists and the revolutionary socialists shaped Mussolini's conception of the nature of Fascism in its support of political violence.[35]

Mussolini became an ally with the irredentist politician and journalist Cesare Battisti, and like him he entered the Army and served in the war. "He was sent to the zone of operations where he was seriously injured by the explosion of a grenade."[13]

The Inspector General continues:

He was promoted to the rank of corporal "for merit in war". The promotion was recommended because of his exemplary conduct and fighting quality, his mental calmness and lack of concern for discomfort, his zeal and regularity in carrying out his assignments, where he was always first in every task involving labor and fortitude.[13]

Mussolini's military experience is told in his work Diario Di Guerra. Overall, he totalled about nine months of active, front-line trench warfare. During this time, he contracted paratyphoid fever.[36] His military exploits ended in 1917 when he was wounded accidentally by the explosion of a mortar bomb in his trench. He was left with at least 40 shards of metal in his body[36] He was discharged from the hospital in August 1917 and resumed his editor-in-chief position at his new paper, Il Popolo d'Italia. He wrote there positive articles about Czechoslovak Legions in Italy.

On 25 December 1915, in Trevalglio, he contracted a marriage with his fellow countrywoman Rachele Guidi, who had already born him a daughter, Edda, at Forli in 1910. In 1915, he had a son with Ida Dalser, a woman born in Sopramonte, a village near Trento.[6] He legally recognized this son on 11 January 1916.

Creation of Fascism

See main article: Fascism and Italian Fascism.

By the time Mussolini returned from Allied service in World War I, he had decided that socialism as a doctrine had largely been a failure. In 1917, Mussolini got his start in politics with the help of a £100 weekly wage from MI5, the British Security Service; this help was authorised by Sir Samuel Hoare. In early 1918, Mussolini called for the emergence of a man "ruthless and energetic enough to make a clean sweep" to revive the Italian nation.[37] Much later in life Mussolini said he felt by 1919 "Socialism as a doctrine was already dead; it continued to exist only as a grudge". On 23 March 1919, Mussolini reformed the Milan fascio as the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento (Italian Combat Squad), consisting of 200 members.[38]

An important factor in fascism gaining support in its earliest stages was the fact that it claimed to oppose discrimination based on social class and was strongly opposed to all forms of class war.[39] [40] Fascism instead supported nationalist sentiments such as a strong unity, regardless of class, in the hopes of raising Italy up to the levels of its great Roman past. The ideological basis for fascism came from a number of sources. Mussolini utilized works of Plato, Georges Sorel, Nietzsche, and the socialist and economic ideas of Vilfredo Pareto, to create fascism. Mussolini admired The Republic, which he often read for inspiration.[41] The Republic held a number of ideas that fascism promoted such as rule by an elite promoting the state as the ultimate end, opposition to democracy, protecting the class system and promoting class collaboration, rejection of egalitarianism, promoting the militarization of a nation by creating a class of warriors, demanding that citizens perform civic duties in the interest of the state, and utilizing state intervention in education to promote the creation of warriors and future rulers of the state.[42] The Republic differed from fascism in that it did not promote aggressive war but only defensive war, unlike fascism it promoted very communist-like views on property, and Plato was an idealist focused on achieving justice and morality while Mussolini and fascism were realist, focused on achieving political goals.[43]

The basic underlying idea behind Mussolini’s foreign policy was that of spazio vitale (vital space), a concept in Fascism that was analogous to lebensraum in German National Socialism.[44] The concept of spazio vitale was first announced in 1919 when the entire Mediterranean was claimed as Italy’s exclusive sphere of influence, which was justified under the grounds that Italy was suffering from overpopulation, and so needed to colonize other areas of the Mediterranean inhabited by what were alleged to be less developed peoples.[45] Borrowing the idea first developed by Enrico Corradini before 1914 of the natural conflict between "plutocratic" nations like Britain and "proletarian" nations like Italy, Mussolini claimed that Italy's principle problem was that it was "plutocratic" countries like Britain that were blocking Italy from achieving the necessary spazio vitale that would let the Italian economy grow.[46] Mussolini equated a nation’s potential for economic growth with territorial size, thus in his view the problem of poverty in Italy could only be solved by winning the necessary spazio vitale.[47] Through biological racism was less prominent in Fascism than National Socialism, right from the start there was a strong racist undercurrent to the spazio vitale concept, in which Mussolini asserted there was a “natural law” for stronger peoples to subject and dominate “inferior” peoples such as the “barbaric” Slavic peoples of Yugoslavia as Mussolini claimed in a September 1920 speech.[48] In the same way, Mussolini argued that Italy was right to follow an imperalist policy in Africa because all black people were "inferior" to whites.[49] Mussolini claimed that the world was divided into a hierarchy of races (stirpe), through this was justified more on cultural than on biological grounds, and that history was nothing more than a Darwinian struggle for power and territory between various "racial masses".[50] The very fact that Italy was suffering from overpopulation was seen as proving the cultural and spirtual vitality of the Italians, who were thus justified in seeking to colonize lands that Mussolini argued on a historical basis belonged to Italy anyway, which was the heir to the Roman Empire.[51] In Mussolini's thinking, demography was destiny; nations with rising populations were nations destined to conquer, and nations with falling populations were decaying powers that deserved to die.[52] Hence, the importance of natalism to Mussolini, since only by increasing the Italian birth rate could Italy's future as a great power that would win its spazio vitale be assured.[53] For Mussolini, the Italian population had to reach 60 million in order to enable Italy to fight a major war, and hence his relentless demands for Italian women to have more children to reach the magic number of 60 million.[54]

Mussolini and the fascists managed to be simultaneously revolutionary and traditionalist;[55] because this was vastly different to anything else in the political climate of the time, it is sometimes described as "The Third Way". The Fascisti, led by one of Mussolini's close confidants, Dino Grandi, formed armed squads of war veterans called Blackshirts (or squadristi) with the goal of restoring order to the streets of Italy with a strong hand. The blackshirts clashed with communists, socialists, and anarchists at parades and demonstrations; all of these factions were also involved in clashes against each other. The government rarely interfered with the blackshirts' actions, owing in part to a looming threat and widespread fear of a communist revolution. The Fascisti grew so rapidly that within two years, it transformed itself into the National Fascist Party at a congress in Rome. Also in 1921, Mussolini was elected to the Chamber of Deputies for the first time.[6] In the meantime, from about 1911 until 1938, Mussolini had various affairs with the Jewish author and academic Margherita Sarfatti, called the "Jewish Mother of Fascism" at the time.[56]

March on Rome and early years in power

See also: March on Rome. The March on Rome was a coup d'état by which Mussolini's National Fascist Party came to power in Italy and ousted Prime Minister Luigi Facta. The "march" took place in 1922 between 27–29 October. On 28 October King Victor Emmanuel III who according to the Statuto Albertino had both the executive and the Supreme military power, refused Facta's request to declare martial law, which led to Facta's resignation. The King then handed over power to Mussolini by inviting him to form a new government. Mussolini was supported by the military, the business class, and the liberal right-wing.

As Prime Minister, the first years of Mussolini's rule were characterized by a right-wing coalition government composed of Fascists, nationalists, liberals, and two Catholic clerics from the Popular Party. The Fascists made up a small minority in his original governments. Mussolini's domestic goal was the eventual establishment of a totalitarian state with himself as supreme leader (Il Duce) a message that was articulated by the Fascist newspaper Il Popolo, which was now edited by Mussolini's brother, Arnaldo. To that end, Mussolini obtained from the legislature dictatorial powers for one year (legal under the Italian constitution of the time). He favored the complete restoration of state authority, with the integration of the Fasci di Combattimento into the armed forces (the foundation in January 1923 of the Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale) and the progressive identification of the party with the state. In political and social economy, he passed legislation that favored the wealthy industrial and agrarian classes (privatisations, liberalisations of rent laws and dismantlement of the unions).[6]

In 1923, Mussolini sent Italian forces to invade Corfu during the "Corfu Incident." In the end, the League of Nations proved powerless and Greece was forced to comply with Italian demands.

Acerbo Law

In June 1923, the government passed the Acerbo Law, which transformed Italy into a single national constituency. It also granted a two-thirds majority of the seats in Parliament to the party or group of parties which had obtained at least 25% of the votes. This law was applied in the elections of 6 April 1924. The "national alliance", consisting of Fascists, most of the old Liberals and others, won 64% of the vote largely by means of violence and voter intimidation. These tactics were especially prevalent in the south.

Squadristi violence

The assassination of the socialist deputy Giacomo Matteotti, who had requested the annulment of the elections because of the irregularities committed,[57] provoked a momentary crisis of the Mussolini government. The murderer, a squadrista named Amerigo Dumini, reported to Mussolini soon after the murder. Mussolini ordered a cover-up, but witnesses saw the car used to transport Matteotti's body parked outside Matteotti's residence, which linked Dumini to the murder. The Matteotti crisis provoked cries for justice against the murder of an outspoken critic of Fascist violence.

Mussolini later confessed that a few resolute men could have altered public opinion and started a coup that would have swept fascism away. Dumini was imprisoned for two years. On his release Dumini allegedly told other people that Mussolini was responsible, for which he served further prison time. For the next 15 years, Dumini received an income from Mussolini, the Fascist Party, and other sources.

The opposition parties responded weakly or were generally unresponsive. Many of the socialists, liberals, and moderates boycotted Parliament in the Aventine Secession, hoping to force Victor Emmanuel to dismiss Mussolini. Despite the leadership of communists such as Antonio Gramsci, socialists such as Pietro Nenni, and liberals such as Piero Gobetti and Giovanni Amendola, a mass antifascist movement never crystallized. The king, fearful of violence from the Fascist squadristi, kept Mussolini in office. Because of the boycott of Parliament, Mussolini could pass any legislation unopposed. The political violence of the squadristi had worked, for there was no popular demonstration against the murder of Matteotti. Within his own party, Mussolini faced doubts and dissension during these critical weeks.

On 31 December 1924, MVSN consuls met with Mussolini and gave him an ultimatum—crush the opposition or they would do so without him. Fearing a revolt by his own militants, Mussolini decided to drop all trappings of democracy. On 3 January 1925, Mussolini made a truculent speech before the Chamber in which he took responsibility for squadristi violence (though he did not mention the assassination of Matteotti).

He promised a crackdown on dissenters. Before his speech, MVSN detachments beat up the opposition and prevented opposition newspapers from publishing. Mussolini correctly predicted that as soon as public opinion saw him firmly in control the "fence-sitters", the silent majority, and the "place-hunters" would all place themselves behind him.

Building a dictatorship

Assassination attempts

Mussolini's influence in propaganda was such that he had surprisingly little opposition to suppress. Nonetheless, he was "slightly wounded in the nose" when he was shot on 7 April 1926 by Violet Gibson, an Irish woman and daughter of Baron Ashbourne.[58] On 31 October 1926, 15-year-old Anteo Zamboni attempted to shoot Mussolini in Bologna. Zamboni was lynched on the spot. Mussolini also survived a failed assassination attempt in Rome by anarchist Gino Lucetti,[59] and a planned attempt by the Italian anarchist Michele Schirru,[60] which ended with Schirru's capture and execution.[61]

Police state

At various times after 1922, Mussolini personally took over the ministries of the interior, foreign affairs, colonies, corporations, defense, and public works. Sometimes he held as many as seven departments simultaneously, as well as the premiership. He was also head of the all-powerful Fascist Party and the armed local fascist militia, the MVSN or "Blackshirts", who terrorised incipient resistances in the cities and provinces. He would later form the OVRA, an institutionalised secret police that carried official state support. In this way he succeeded in keeping power in his own hands and preventing the emergence of any rival.

Between 1925 and 1927, Mussolini progressively dismantled virtually all constitutional and conventional restraints on his power, thereby building a police state. A law passed on Christmas Eve 1925 changed Mussolini's formal title from "president of the Council of Ministers" to "head of the government". He was no longer responsible to Parliament and could only be removed by the king. While the Italian constitution stated that ministers were only responsible to the sovereign, in practice it had become all but impossible to govern against the express will of Parliament. The Christmas Eve law ended this practice, and also made Mussolini the only person competent to determine the body's agenda. Local autonomy was abolished, and podestàs appointed by the Italian Senate replaced elected mayors and councils.

All other parties were outlawed in 1928, though in practice Italy had been a one-party state since Mussolini's 1925 speech. In the same year, an electoral law abolished parliamentary elections. Instead, the Grand Council of Fascism selected a single list of candidates to be approved by plebiscite. The Grand Council had been created five years earlier as a party body but was "constitutionalised" and became the highest constitutional authority in the state. On paper, the Grand Council had the power to recommend Mussolini's removal from office, and was thus theoretically the only check on his power. Only Mussolini could summon the Grand Council and determine its agenda. To gain control of the South, especially Sicily, he appointed Cesare Mori as a Prefect of the city of Palermo, with the charge of eradicating the Mafia at any price. In the telegram, Mussolini wrote to Mori:

"Your Excellency has carte blanche; the authority of the State must absolutely, I repeat absolutely, be re-established in Sicily. If the laws still in force hinder you, this will be no problem, as we will draw up new laws."[62]

He did not hesitate laying siege to towns, using torture, and holding women and children as hostages to oblige suspects to give themselves up. These harsh methods earned him the nickname of "Iron Prefect". In 1927 Mori's inquiries brought evidence of collusion between the Mafia and the Fascist establishment, and he was dismissed for length of service in 1929. Mussolini nominated Mori as a senator, and fascist propaganda claimed that the Mafia had been defeated.

Economic policy

See main article: Economy of Italy under Fascism, 1922-1943. Mussolini launched several public construction programs and government initiatives throughout Italy to combat economic setbacks or unemployment levels. His earliest, and one of the best known, was the "Battle for Wheat", by which 5,000 new farms were established and five new agricultural towns (among them Littoria and Sabaudia) on land reclaimed by draining the Pontine Marshes. In Sardinia, a model agricultural town was founded and named Mussolinia, but has long since been renamed Arborea. This town was the first of what Mussolini hoped would have been thousands of new agricultural settlements across the country. The Battle for Wheat diverted valuable resources to wheat production away from other more economically viable crops. Landowners grew wheat on unsuitable soil using all the advances of modern science, and although the wheat harvest increased, prices rose, consumption fell and high tariffs were imposed.[63] The tariffs promoted widespread inefficiencies and the government subsidies given to farmers pushed the country further into debt.

Mussolini also initiated the "Battle for Land", a policy based on land reclamation outlined in 1928. The initiative had a mixed success; while projects such as the draining of the Pontine Marsh in 1935 for agriculture were good for propaganda purposes, provided work for the unemployed and allowed for great land owners to control subsidies, other areas in the Battle for Land were not very successful. This program was inconsistent with the Battle for Wheat (small plots of land were inappropriately allocated for large-scale wheat production), and the Pontine Marsh was lost during World War II. Fewer than 10,000 peasants resettled on the redistributed land, and peasant poverty remained high. The Battle for Land initiative was abandoned in 1940.He also combated an economic recession by introducing the "Gold for the Fatherland" initiative, by encouraging the public to voluntarily donate gold jewellery such as necklaces and wedding rings to government officials in exchange for steel wristbands bearing the words "Gold for the Fatherland". Even Rachele Mussolini donated her own wedding ring. The collected gold was then melted down and turned into gold bars, which were then distributed to the national banks.

Mussolini pushed for government control of business: by 1935, Mussolini claimed that three quarters of Italian businesses were under state control. That same year, he issued several edicts to further control the economy, including forcing all banks, businesses, and private citizens to give up all their foreign-issued stocks and bonds to the Bank of Italy. In 1938, he also instituted wage and price controls.[64] He also attempted to turn Italy into a self-sufficient autarky, instituting high barriers on trade with most countries except Germany.

In 1943 he proposed the theory of economic socialization.

Government

See main article: Italian Fascism. Mussolini's foremost priority was the subjugation of the minds of the Italian people and the use of propaganda to do so. Press, radio, education, films—all were carefully supervised to create the illusion that fascism was the doctrine of the twentieth century, replacing liberalism and democracy. A lavish cult of personality centered on Mussolini was promoted by the regime.The principles of this doctrine were laid down in the article on fascism, written by Giovanni Gentile and signed by Mussolini that appeared in 1932 in the Enciclopedia Italiana. In 1929, a concordat with the Vatican was signed, the Lateran treaties, by which the Italian state was at last recognised by the Roman Catholic Church, and the independence of Vatican City was recognised by the Italian state.

The 1929 treaty included a legal provision whereby the Italian government would protect the honor and dignity of the Pope by prosecuting offenders.[65] In 1927, Mussolini was re-baptised by a Roman Catholic priest in an attempt to assuage certain Catholic opposition, who were still critical. After 1929, Mussolini, with his anti-Communist doctrines, convinced many Catholics to actively support him. In the encyclical Non abbiamo bisogno, Pope Pius XI attacked the Fascist regime for its policy against the Catholic Action and certain tendencies to overrule Catholic education morals.

The law codes of the parliamentary system were rewritten under Mussolini. All teachers in schools and universities had to swear an oath to defend the fascist regime. Newspaper editors were all personally chosen by Mussolini and no one who did not possess a certificate of approval from the fascist party could practice journalism. These certificates were issued in secret; Mussolini thus skillfully created the illusion of a "free press". The trade unions were also deprived of any independence and were integrated into what was called the "corporative" system. The aim (never completely achieved), inspired by medieval guilds, was to place all Italians in various professional organizations or "corporations", all of which were under clandestine governmental control.

Large sums of money were spent on highly visible public works, and on international prestige projects such as the Blue Riband ocean liner SS Rex and aeronautical achievements such as the world's fastest seaplane the Macchi M.C.72 and the transatlantic flying boat cruise of Italo Balbo, who was greeted with much fanfare in the United States when he landed in Chicago.

Role of education and youth organizations

Nationalists in the years after the war thought of themselves as combating the both liberal and domineering institutions created by cabinets such as those of Giovanni Giolitti, including traditional schooling. Futurism, a revolutionary cultural movement which would serve as a catalyst for Fascism, argued for "a school for physical courage and patriotism", as expressed by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in 1919. Marinetti expressed his disdain for "the by now prehistoric and troglodyte Ancient Greek and Latin courses", arguing for their replacement with exercise modelled on those of the Arditi soldiers ("[learning] to advance on hands and knees in front of razing machine gun fire; to wait open-eyed for a crossbeam to move sideways over their heads etc."). It was in those years that the first Fascist youth wings were formed Avanguardia Giovanile Fascista (Fascist Youth Vanguards) in 1919, and Gruppi Universitari Fascisti (Fascist University Groups), in 1922.

After the March on Rome that brought Benito Mussolini to power, the Fascists started considering ways to ideologize the Italian society, with an accent on schools. Mussolini assigned former ardito and deputy-secretary for Education Renato Ricci the task of "reorganizing the youth from a moral and physical point of view". Ricci sought inspiration with Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, meeting with him in England, as well as with Bauhaus artists in Germany. The Opera Nazionale Balilla was created through Mussolini's decree of 3 April 1926, and was led by Ricci for the following eleven years. It included children between the ages of 8 and 18, grouped as the Balilla and the Avanguardisti.

According to Mussolini: "Fascist education is moral, physical, social, and military: it aims to create a complete and harmoniously developed human, a fascist one according to our views". Mussolini structured this process taking in view the emotional side of childhood: "Childhood and adolescence alike ... cannot be fed solely by concerts, theories, and abstract teaching. The truth we aim to teach them should appeal foremost to their fantasy, to their hearts, and only then to their minds".

The "educational value set through action and example" was to replace the established approaches. Fascism opposed its version of idealism to prevalent rationalism, and used the Opera Nazionale Balilla to circumvent educational tradition by imposing the collective and hierarchy, as well as Mussolini's own personality cult.

Foreign policy

In foreign policy, Mussolini soon shifted from the anti-imperialism of his lead-up to power to an extreme form of aggressive nationalism. He dreamt of making Italy a nation that was "great, respected, and feared" throughout Europe, and indeed the world. An early example was his bombardment of Corfu in 1923. Soon after he succeeded in setting up a puppet regime in Albania and in ruthlessly consolidating Italian power in Libya, which had been loosely a colony since 1912. It was his dream to make the Mediterranean mare nostrum ("our sea" in Latin), and he established a large naval base on the Greek island of Leros to enforce a strategic hold on the eastern Mediterranean.

His first steps into foreign policy seemed to portray him as a "statesman", for he participated in the Locarno Treaties of 1925 and the attempted Four Power Pact of 1933 was Mussolini's brainchild. Following the Stresa Front against Germany in 1935, Mussolini's policy took a dramatic turning point and revealed itself once again to be that of an aggressive nature. This domino effect of war began with the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. He also disagreed with Hitler's treaties with the Soviet Union.[66]

Conquest of Ethiopia

See main article: Second Italo-Abyssinian War. In an effort to create an Italian Empire – or as supporters called it, the New Roman Empire – Italy set its sights on Ethiopia with an invasion that was carried out rapidly. Italy's forces were far superior to the Abyssinian forces, especially in regards to air power, and they were soon victorious. Emperor Haile Selassie was forced to flee the country, with Italy entering the capital Addis Ababa to proclaim an empire by May 1936, making Ethiopia part of Italian East Africa.

Although all of the major European powers of the time had also colonised parts of Africa and committed atrocities in their colonies, the Scramble for Africa had finished by the beginning of the twentieth century. The international mood was now against colonialist expansion and Italy's actions were condemned. Retroactively, Italy was criticised for its use of mustard gas and phosgene against its enemies and also for its zero tolerance approach to enemy guerrillas, allegedly authorised by Mussolini.

When Rodolfo Graziani the viceroy of Ethiopia was nearly assassinated at an official ceremony, with the guerrilla bomb exploding among the people there, a very stronghanded reaction followed against the guerrillas, including those who were prisoners according to the International Red Cross. The IRC also alleged that Italy bombed their tents in areas of guerrillas military encampment; though Italy denied it had intended to, insisting that the rebels were targeted. It was not until the East African Campaign's conclusion in 1941 that Italy lost its East African territories, after taking on a fourteen nation allied force.

Spanish Civil War

See main article: Spanish Civil War and Foreign Involvement and Corpo Truppe Volontarie. Italian military help to Nationalists against the anti-clerical and anti-Catholic atrocities committed by the Republican side worked well in Italian propaganda targeting Catholics. On 27 July 1936 the first squadron of Italian airplanes sent by Benito Mussolini arrived in Spain.[67] This active intervention in 1936–1939 on the side of Franco in the Spanish Civil War ended any possibility of reconciliation with France and Britain. As a result, his relationship with Adolf Hitler became closer, and he chose to accept the German annexation of Austria in 1938 and the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in 1939. At the Munich Conference in September 1938, he posed as a moderate working for European peace, helping Nazi Germany seize control of the Sudetenland. His "axis" with Germany was confirmed when he made the "Pact of Steel" with Hitler in May 1939, as the previous "Rome-Berlin Axis" of 1936 had been unofficial. Members of TIGR, a Slovene anti-fascist group, plotted to kill Mussolini in Kobarid in 1938, but their attempt was unsuccessful.

Axis

Rome-Berlin relations

See main article: Rome-Berlin Axis and Pact of Steel. The relationship between Mussolini and Adolf Hitler was a contentious one early on. While Hitler cited Mussolini as an influence and expressed privately great admiration for him,[68] Mussolini had little regard for Hitler, especially after the Nazis had assassinated his friend and ally, Engelbert Dollfuss the Austrofascist dictator of Austria in 1934.

With the assassination of Dollfuss, Mussolini attempted to distance himself from Hitler by rejecting much of the racialism (particularly Nordicism and Germanicism) and anti-Semitism espoused by the German radical. Mussolini during this period rejected biological racism, at least in the Nazi sense, and instead emphasized "Italianizing" the parts of the Italian Empire he had desired to build. He declared that the ideas of Eugenics and the racially charged concept of an Aryan nation were not possible.[69]

Mussolini was particularly sensitive to German accusations that the Italians were a mongrelized race. He retaliated by mockingly referring to the Germans' own lack of racial purity on several occasions. When discussing the Nazi decree that the German people must carry a passport with either Aryan or Jewish racial affiliation marked on it, in the summer of 1934, Mussolini wondered how they would designate membership in the "Germanic race":

When German-Jewish journalist Emil Ludwig asked about his views on race, Mussolini exclaimed:

In a speech given in Bari, he reiterated his attitude toward German racism:Mussolini's rejection of both racialism and the importance of race in 1934 during the height of his antagonism towards Hitler contradicted his own earlier statements about race, such as in 1928 in which he emphasized the importance of race:

Though Italian Fascism variated its official positions on race from the 1920s to 1934, ideologically Italian fascism did not originally discriminate against the Italian Jewish community: Mussolini recognised that a small contingent had lived there "since the days of the Kings of Rome" and should "remain undisturbed". There were even some Jews in the National Fascist Party, such as Ettore Ovazza who in 1935 founded the Jewish Fascist paper La Nostra Bandiera ("Our Flag").[70]

By 1938, the enormous influence Hitler now had over Mussolini became clear with the introduction of the Manifesto of Race. The Manifesto, which was closely modeled on the Nazi Nuremberg laws, stripped Jews of their Italian citizenship and with it any position in the government or professions. The German influence on Italian policy upset the established balance in Fascist Italy and proved highly unpopular to most Italians, to the extent that Pope Pius XII sent a letter to Mussolini protesting against the new laws.[71]

It has been widely speculated that Mussolini's reasoning to adopt the Manifesto of Race in 1938 was merely tactical, in order to strengthen Italy's relations with Germany. In December 1943, Mussolini made a confession to Bruno Spampanato that seems to indicate that he regretted the Manifesto of Race, as Mussolini put it:

Mussolini also reached out to the Muslims in his empire and in the predominantly Arab countries of the Middle East. In 1937, the Muslims of Libya presented Mussolini with the "Sword of Islam" while Fascist propaganda pronounced him as the "Protector of Islam."[72]

Munich Conference, war looming

See main article: Munich Agreement and Italian invasion of Albania.

By the late 1930s, Mussolini's obesssion with with demography led him to conclude that Britain and France were finished as powers, and that it was Germany and Italy who were destined to rule Europe if for no other reason than their demographic strength.[73] Mussolini stated his belief that declining birth rates in France were "absolutely horrifying" and that the British Empire was doomed because one-quarter of the British population was over 50.[74] As such, Mussolini believed that an alliance with Germany was to preferable to an alignment with Britain and France as it was better to be allied with the strong instead of the weak.[75] The only things that held Mussolini back from full alignment with Berlin were his awareness of Italian economic and military weaknesses, which required further time to rearm and his desire to use the Easter Accords of April 1938 as a way of splitting Britain from France.[76] A military alliance with Germany as opposed to the already existing looser political alliance with the Reich under the Anti-Comintern Pact (which had no military committments) would end any chance of Britain implementing the Easter Accords.[77] The Easter Accords in turn was intended by Mussolini to allow Italy to take on France alone by sufficiently improving Anglo-Italian relations that London would presumably remain neutral in the event of a Franco-Italian war.[78] In turn, the Easter Accords were intended by Britain to win Italy away from Germany.

Mussolini had imperial designs on Tunisia, and had some support in that country. On 21 March 1939, during a meeting of the Fascist Grand Council, Italo Balbo accused Mussolini of "licking Hitler's boots", blasted the Duce's pro-German foreign policy, and noted that the "opening to Britain" still existed and it was not inevitable that Italy had to ally with Germany.[79] Through many gerarchi like Balbo were not keen on closer relations with Berlin, Mussolini's control of the foreign-policy machinery meant this dissidence counted for little.[80] In April 1939 with world focus on Hitler's invasion of Czechoslovakia, looking to restore honour from a much older defeat Italy invaded Albania. Italy defeated Albania within just five days forcing king Zog to flee, setting up a period of Albania under Italy. Until May 1939, the Axis had not been entirely official, but during that month thePact of Steel treaty was made outlining the "friendship and alliance" between Germany and Italy, signed by each of its foreign ministers. Italy's king Victor Emanuel III was also wary of the pact, favouring the more traditional Italian allies like France.

Hitler was intent on invading Poland, though Galeazzo Ciano warned this would likely lead to war with the Allies. Hitler dismissed Ciano's comment, predicting that instead that Britain and the other Western countries would back down, and he suggested that Italy should invade Yugoslavia. The offer was tempting to Mussolini, but at that stage world war would be a disaster for Italy as the armaments situation from building the Italian Empire thus far was lean. Most significantly, Victor Emmanuel had demanded neutrality in the dispute. Thus when World War II in Europe began on 1 September 1939 with the German invasion of Poland eliciting the response of the United Kingdom and France declaring war on Germany, Italy did not become involved in the conflict.

War declared

See main article: Military history of Italy during World War II. As World War II began, Ciano and Viscount Halifax were holding secret phone conversations. The British wanted Italy on their side against Germany as it had been in World War I. French government opinion was more geared towards action against Italy; they were eager to attack Italy in Libya. In September 1939, France swung to the opposite extreme, offering to discuss issues with Italy, but as the French were unwilling to discuss Corsica, Nice and Savoy, Mussolini did not answer.

Convinced that the war would soon be over, with a German victory looking likely at that point, Mussolini decided to enter the war on the Axis side. Accordingly, Italy declared war on Britain and France on 10 June 1940. Italy joined the Germans in the Battle of France, fighting the fortified Alpine Line at the border. Just eleven days later, France surrendered to the Axis powers. Included in Italian-controlled France was most of Nice and other southeastern counties. Meanwhile in Africa, Mussolini's Italian East Africa forces attacked the British in their Sudan, Kenya and British Somaliland colonies, in what would become known as the East African Campaign. British Somaliland was conquered and became part of Italian East Africa on 3 August 1940, and there were Italian advances in Sudan and Kenya.

Just over a month later, the Italian Tenth Army commanded by General Rodolfo Graziani crossed from Italian Libya into Egypt where British forces were located; this would become the Western Desert Campaign. Advances were successful, but the Italians stopped at Sidi Barrani waiting for logistic supplies to catch up. During 25 October 1940, Mussolini sent the Italian Air Corps to Belgium, where the air force took part in the Battle of Britain for around two months. In October, Mussolini also sent Italian forces into Greece starting the Greco-Italian War. After initial success, this backfired as the Greek counterattack proved relentless, resulting in Italy losing one quarter of Albania. Germany soon committed forces to the Balkans to fight the gathering Allies.

Events in Africa had changed by early 1941 as Operation Compass had forced the Italians back into Libya, causing high losses in the Italian Army. Also in the East African Campaign, an attack was mounted against Italian forces. Despite putting up a resistance, they were overwhelmed at the Battle of Keren, and the Italian defense started to crumble with a final defeat in the Battle of Gondar. When addressing the Italian public on the events, he was completely open about the situation saying, "We call bread bread and wine wine, and when the enemy wins a battle it is useless and ridiculous to seek, as the English do in their incomparable hypocrisy, to deny or diminish it." Part of his comment was in relation to earlier success the Italians had in Africa, before being defeated by an Allied force later. In danger of losing the control of all Italian possessions in North Africa, Germany finally sent the Afrika Korps to support Italy. Meanwhile Operation Marita took place in Yugoslavia to end the Greco-Italian War, resulting in an Axis victory and the Occupation of Greece by Italy and Germany. With the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, Mussolini declared war on the Soviet Union in June 1941 and sent an army to fight there. Mussolini first learned of Barbarossa after it began on 22 June 1941, and was not asked by Hitler to involve himself.[81] Mussolini took the initiative in ordering an Italian Army Corps to head to the Eastern Front, where he hoped that Italy might score an easy victory to restore the Fascist regime’s lustre which had been damaged by defeats in Greece and North Africa; Mussolini told the Council of Ministers of 5 July that his only worry was that Germany might defeat the Soviet Union before the Italians arrived.[82] At a meeting with Hitler in August, Mussolini offered and Hitler accepted the committment of further Italian troops to the Soviet Union.[83] The heavy losses suffered by the Italians on the Eastern Front, where service was extremely unpopular owing to the widespread view that this was not Italy's fight did much to damage Mussolini's prestige with the Italian people.[84] After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he declared war on the United States on 11 December 1941. An interesting evidence regarding Mussolini's response to the attack on Pearl Harbor comes from the diary of his Foreign Minister Ciano:

Dismissed and arrested

By early 1942, Italy's position in the war became more and more untenable. After the defeat at El Alamein at the end of 1942, the Axis troops had to retreat to where they were finally defeated in the Tunisia Campaign in the spring of 1943. Also at the Eastern Front were major setbacks and the war had come to the nation's very doorstep with the Allied invasion of Sicily. The Italian home front was also in bad shape as the Allied bombings were taking their toll. Factories all over Italy were brought to a virtual standstill due to a lack of raw materials, as well as coal and oil. Additionally, there was a chronic shortage of food, and what food was available was being sold at nearly confiscatory prices. Mussolini's once-ubiquitous propaganda machine lost its grip on the people; a large number of Italians turned to Vatican Radio or Radio London for more accurate news coverage. Discontent came to a head in March 1943 with a wave of labor strikes in the industrial north—the first large-scale strikes since 1925. Also in March, some of the major factories in Milan and Turin stopped production to secure evacuation allowances for workers' families. The physical German presence in Italy had sharply turned public opinion against Mussolini; for example, when the Allies invaded Sicily, the majority of the public there welcomed them as liberators.

Earlier in April 1943, Mussolini had begged Hitler to make a separate peace with Stalin and send German troops to the west to guard against an expected Allied invasion of Italy. Mussolini feared that with the losses in Tunisia and North Africa, the next logical step for Dwight Eisenhower's armies would be to come across the Mediterranean and attack the Italian peninsula. Within a few days of the Allied landings on Sicily in July 1943, it was obvious Mussolini's army was on the brink of collapse. This led Hitler to summon Mussolini to a meeting in northern Italy on 19 July 1943. By this time, Mussolini was so shaken from stress that he could no longer stand Hitler's boasting. His mood darkened further when that same day, the Allies bombed Rome—the first time that city had ever been the target of enemy bombing.

Some prominent members of the Italian Fascist government had turned against Mussolini by this point. Among them were his confidant Dino Grandi and Mussolini's son-in-law Galeazzo Ciano. With several of his colleagues close to revolt, Mussolini was forced to summon the Grand Council of Fascism on 24 July 1943: the first time that body had met since the start of the war. When he announced that the Germans were thinking of evacuating the south, Grandi launched a blistering attack on him. Grandi moved a resolution asking the king to resume his full constitutional powers, in effect, a vote of no confidence in Mussolini. This motion carried by a 19–7 margin. Despite this sharp rebuke, Mussolini showed up for work the next day as usual. He allegedly viewed the Grand Council as merely an advisory body and did not think the vote would have any substantive effect. That afternoon, he was summoned to the royal palace by King Victor Emmanuel III, who had been planning to oust Mussolini earlier. When Mussolini tried to tell the king about the meeting, Victor Emmanuel cut him off and told him that he was being replaced by Marshal Pietro Badoglio. After Mussolini left the palace, he was arrested by Carabinieri on the king's orders.

By this time, discontent with Mussolini was such that when the news of his ouster was announced on the radio, there was no resistance. In an effort to conceal his location from the Germans, Mussolini was moved around the country before being sent to Campo Imperatore, a mountain resort in Abruzzo where he was completely isolated. Given the large Nazi presence in Italy, Badoglio announced that "the war continues at the side of our Germanic ally" in the hopes that chaos and Nazi retaliation against civilians could be avoided. Even as Badoglio was keeping up the appearance of loyalty to the Axis, he dissolved the Fascist Party two days after taking over. Also, his government was negotiating an Armistice with the Allies, which was signed on 3 September 1943. Its announcement five days later threw Italy into chaos, a civil war of sorts. Badoglio and the king fled Rome, leaving the Italian Army without orders. Immediately after the Italian surrender was announced, German troops started taking over the Italian Peninsula by force as part of Operation Achse and occupied Rome on 10 September.[85] After a period of anarchy, Italy finally declared war on Nazi Germany on 13 October 1943 from Malta; thousands of troops were supplied to fight against the Germans, others refused to switch sides and had joined the Germans. The Badoglio government held a social truce with the leftist partisans for the sake of Italy and to rid the land of the Nazis.

Italian Social Republic

See main article: Italian Social Republic. Only two months after Mussolini had been dismissed and arrested, he was rescued from his prison at the Hotel Campo Imperatore in the Gran Sasso raid by a special Fallschirmjäger unit on 12 September 1943; present was Otto Skorzeny. The rescue saved Mussolini from being turned over to the Allies, as per the armistice. Hitler had made plans to arrest the king, Crown Prince Umberto, Badoglio, and the rest of the government and restore Mussolini to power in Rome, but the government's escape south likely foiled those plans.

Three days following his rescue in the Gran Sasso raid, Mussolini was taken to Germany for a meeting with Hitler in Rastenberg at his East Prussian headquarters. Despite public professions of support, Hitler was clearly shocked by Mussolini's disheveled and haggard appearance as well as his unwillingness to go after the men in Rome who overthrew him. At this time, Mussolini was in very poor health which was the result of severe stress because of Italy's bleak war situation and he wanted to retire from politics altogether. Hitler firmly told him that unless he agreed to return to Italy and set up a new fascist state, the Germans would destroy Milan, Genoa and Turin. Feeling that he had to do what he could to blunt the edges of Nazi repression, Mussolini agreed to set up a new regime, the Italian Social Republic, informally known as the Salò Republic because of its administration from the town of Salò where he settled in just 11 days after his rescue by the Germans. Mussolini's new regime faced numerous territorial losses: in addition to losing the Italian lands held by the Allies and Badoglio's government, the provinces of Bolzano, Belluno and Trento were placed under German administration in the Operational Zone of the Alpine Foothills, while the provinces of Udine, Gorizia, Trieste, Pola (now Pula), Fiume (now Rijeka) and Ljubljana (Lubiana) were incorporated into the German Operational Zone of the Adriatic Littoral.[86] In addition, the German army occupied the Dalmatian provinces of Split (Spalato) and Kotor (Cattaro), which were subsequently annexed by the Croatian fascist regime. Italy's gains in Greece and Albania were also lost to Germany, with the exception of the Italian Aegean Islands, which remained nominally under RSI rule.[87] Mussolini opposed any territorial reductions of the Italian state and told his associates "I am not here to renounce even a square meter of state territory. We will go back to war for this. And we will rebel against anyone for this. Where the Italian flag flew, the Italian flag will return. And where it has not been lowered, now that I am here, no one will have it lowered. I have said these things to the Führer".[88]

For two years, Mussolini lived in Gargnano on Lake Garda in Lombardy during this period. Although he insisted in public that he was in full control, he himself knew that he was little more than a puppet ruler under the protection of his German liberators—for all intents and purposes, the Gauleiter of Lombardy. After yielding to pressures from Hitler and the remaining loyal fascists who formed the government of the Republic of Salo, Mussolini helped orchestrate a series of executions of some of the fascist leaders who had betrayed him at the last meeting of the Fascist Grand Council. One of those executed included his son-in-law, Galeazzo Ciano. As Head of State and Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Italian Social Republic, Mussolini used much of his time to write his memoirs. Along with his autobiographical writings of 1928, these writings would be combined and published by Da Capo Press as My Rise and Fall. In an interview in January 1945, a few months before he was captured and executed by Italian anti-fascist partisans, he stated flatly: "Seven years ago, I was an interesting person. Now, I am little more then a corpse." He continued:

Personal life

Mussolini was first married to Ida Dalser in Trento in 1914. The couple had a son one year later and named him Benito Albino Mussolini. In December 1915, Mussolini married Rachele Guidi, his mistress since 1910, and with his following political ascendency the information about his first marriage was suppressed and both his first wife and son were later persecuted. With Rachele, Mussolini had two daughters, Edda (1910–1995) and Anna Maria (Forlì, Villa Carpena, 3 September 1929 – Rome, 25 April 1968), married in Ravenna on 11 June 1960 to Nando Pucci Negri, and three sons Vittorio (1916–1997), Bruno (1918–1941), and Romano (1927–2006). Mussolini had a number of mistresses among them Margherita Sarfatti and his final companion, Clara Petacci. Furthermore, Mussolini had innumerable brief sexual encounters with female supporters as reported by his biographer Nicholas Farrell.

Religious beliefs

Atheism and anti-clericalism

Mussolini was raised by a devoutly Catholic mother[89] and an anti-clerical father.[90] His mother Rosa had him baptized into the Roman Catholic Church, and took her children to services every Sunday. His father never attended.[89] Mussolini regarded his time at a religious boarding school as punishment, compared the experience to hell, and "once refused to go to morning mass and had to be dragged there by force".[91]

Mussolini would become anti-clerical like his father. As a young man, he "proclaimed himself to be an atheist and several times tried to shock an audience by calling on God to strike him dead."[90] He denounced socialists who were tolerant of religion, or who had their children baptized. He believed that science had proven there was no God, and that the historical Jesus was ignorant and mad. He considered religion a disease of the psyche, and accused Christianity of promoting resignation and cowardice.[90]

Mussolini was an admirer of Friedrich Nietzsche. According to Denis Mack Smith, "In Nietzsche he found justification for his crusade against the Christian virtues of humility, resignation, charity, and goodness."[92] He valued Nietzsche's concept of the superman, "The supreme egoist who defied both God and the masses, who despised egalitarianism and democracy, who believed in the weakest going to the wall and pushing them if they did not go fast enough."[92]

Mussolini made vitriolic attacks against Christianity and the Catholic Church, "which he accompanied with provocative and blasphemous remarks about the consecrated host and about a love affair between Christ and Mary Magdalen."[93] He believed that socialists who were Christian or who accepted religious marriage should be expelled from the party. He denounced the Catholic Church for "its authoritarianism and refusal to allow freedom of thought..." Mussolini's newspaper, La Lotta di Classe, reportedly had an anti-Christian editorial stance.[93]

Lateran Pact

Despite making such attacks, Mussolini would try to win popular support by appeasing the Catholic majority in Italy. In 1924, Mussolini saw that three of his children were given communion. In 1925, he had a priest perform a religious marriage ceremony for himself and his wife Rachele, whom he had married in a civil ceremony 10 years earlier.[94] On 11 February 1929, he signed a concordat and treaty with the Roman Catholic Church. Under the Lateran Pact, Vatican City was granted independent statehood and placed under Church law—rather than Italian law—and the Catholic religion was recognized as Italy's state religion.[95] The Church also regained authority over marriage, Catholicism could be taught in all secondary schools, birth control and freemasonry were banned, and the clergy received subsidies from the state, and was exempted from taxation.[96] [97] Pope Pius XI praised Mussolini, and the official Catholic newspaper pronounced "Italy has been given back to God and God to Italy."[95]

After this conciliation, he claimed the Church was subordinate to the State, and "referred to Catholicism as, in origin, a minor sect that had spread beyond Palestine only because grafted onto the organization of the Roman empire."[98] After the concordat, "he confiscated more issues of Catholic newspapers in the next three months than in the previous seven years."[98] Mussolini reportedly came close to being excommunicated from the Catholic Church around this time.[98]

Mussolini publicly reconciled with the Pope Pius XI in 1932, but "took care to exclude from the newspapers any photography of himself kneeling or showing deference to the Pope."[98] He wanted to persuade Catholics that "[f]ascism was Catholic and he himself a believer who spent some of each day in prayer..."[98] The Pope began referring to Mussolini as "a man sent by Providence."[93] [98] Despite Mussolini's efforts to appear pious, by order of his party, pronouns referring to him "had to be capitalized like those referring to God..."[98]

In 1938 Mussolini began reasserting his anti-clericalism. He would sometimes refer to himself as an "outright disbeliever," and once told his cabinet that "Islam was perhaps a more effective religion than Christianity" and that the "papacy was a malignant tumor in the body of Italy and must 'be rooted out once and for all', because there was no room in Rome for both the Pope and himself."[99] He would publicly back down from these anti-clerical statements, but continued making similar statements in private.

After his fall from power in 1943, Mussolini began speaking "more about God and the obligations of conscience", although "he still had little use for the priests and sacraments of the Church,".[100] He also began drawing parallels between himself and Jesus Christ.[100] Mussolini's widow, Rachele, stated that her husband had remained "basically irreligious until the later years of his life.[101] Mussolini was given a Catholic funeral in 1957.[102]

Death

Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci were stopped by communist partisans Valerio and Bellini and identified by the Political Commissar of the partisans' 52nd Garibaldi Brigade, Urbano Lazzaro, on 27 April 1945, near the village of Dongo (Lake Como), as they headed for Switzerland to board a plane to escape to Spain. During this time Claretta's brother even posed as a Spanish consul.[103] Mussolini had been traveling with retreating German forces and was apprehended while attempting to escape recognition by wearing a German military uniform. After several unsuccessful attempts to take them to Como they were brought to Mezzegra. They spent their last night in the house of the De Maria family.

The next day, Mussolini and Petacci were both summarily executed, along with most of the members of their 15-man train, primarily ministers and officials of the Italian Social Republic. The shootings took place in the small village of Giulino di Mezzegra. According to the official version of events, the shootings were conducted by Colonnello Valerio, whose real name was Walter Audisio. Audisio was the communist partisan commander who was reportedly given the order to kill Mussolini by the National Liberation Committee. When Audisio entered the room where Mussolini and the other fascists were being held, he reportedly announced, "I have come to rescue you!... Do you have any weapons?" He then had them loaded into transports and driven a short distance. Audisio ordered, "Get down"; Petacci hugged Mussolini and refused to move away from him when they were taken to an empty space. Shots were fired and Petacci fell down. Just then Mussolini opened his jacket and screamed, "Shoot me in the chest!" Audisio complied and shot him in the chest. Mussolini fell but did not die and was breathing heavily. Audisio went near and he shot one more bullet in his chest. Mussolini's face looked as if he had significant pain. Audisio said to his driver, "Look at his face, the emotions on his face don't suit him." The other members of Mussolini's entourage were also executed before a firing squad later that same day towards nightfall.[104]

Mussolini's body

On 29 April 1945, the bodies of Mussolini, Petacci, and the other executed Fascists were loaded into a moving van and trucked south to Milan. There, at 3:00 am, they were dumped on the ground in the old Piazzale Loreto. The piazza had been renamed "Piazza Quindici Martiri" in honor of 15 anti-Fascists recently executed there.[105]

After being shot, kicked, and spat upon, the bodies were hung upside down on meathooks from the roof of an Esso gas station.[106] The bodies were then stoned by civilians from below. This was done both to discourage any Fascists from continuing the fight and as an act of revenge for the hanging of many partisans in the same place by Axis authorities. The corpse of the deposed leader became subject to ridicule and abuse. Fascist loyalist Achille Starace was captured and sentenced to death and then taken to the Piazzale Loreto and shown the body of Mussolini. Starace, who once said of Mussolini "He is a god,"[107] saluted what was left of his leader just before he was shot. The body of Starace was subsequently strung up next to the body of Mussolini.

After his death and the display of his corpse in Milan, Mussolini was buried in an unmarked grave in Musocco, the municipal cemetery to the north of the city. On Easter Sunday 1946 his body was located and dug up by Domenico Leccisi and two other neo-Fascists. Making off with their hero, they left a message on the open grave: "Finally, O Duce, you are with us. We will cover you with roses, but the smell of your virtue will overpower the smell of those roses."

On the loose for months—and a cause of great anxiety to the new Italian democracy—the Duce's body was finally "recaptured" in August, hidden in a small trunk at the Certosa di Pavia, just outside Milan. Two Fransciscan brothers were subsequently charged with concealing the corpse, though it was discovered on further investigation that it had been constantly on the move. Unsure what to do, the authorities held the remains in a kind of political limbo for 10 years, before agreeing to allow them to be re-interred at Predappio in Romagna, his birth place, after a campaign headed by Leccisi and the Movimento Sociale Italiano.

Leccisi, a fascist deputy, went on to write his autobiography, With Mussolini Before and After Piazzale Loreto. Adone Zoli, the prime minister of the day, contacted Donna Rachele, the former dictator's widow, to tell her he was returning the remains, as he needed the support of the far-right in parliament, including Leccisi himself. In Predappio the dictator was buried in a crypt (the only posthumous honour granted to Mussolini). His tomb is flanked by marble fasces, and a large idealised marble bust of himself sits above the tomb.[108]

Legacy

Mussolini was survived by his wife, Rachele Mussolini, two sons, Vittorio and Romano Mussolini, and his daughters Edda, the widow of Count Ciano, and Anna Maria. A third son, Bruno, was killed in an air accident while flying a P108 bomber on a test mission, on 7 August 1941.[109] His oldest son, Benito Albino Mussolini, from his marriage with Ida Dalser, was ordered to stop declaring that Mussolini was his father and in 1935 forcibly committed to an asylum in Milan, where he was murdered on 26 August 1942 after repeated coma-inducing injections. Actress Sophia Loren's sister, Anna Maria Scicolone, was formerly married to Romano Mussolini, Mussolini's son. Mussolini's granddaughter Alessandra Mussolini was a member of the European Parliament for the far right party Alternativa Sociale and currently serves in the Chamber of Deputies as a member of the ruling People of Freedom. Other relatives of Edda (Castrianni) moved to England after World War II.

Mussolini's National Fascist Party was banned in the postwar Constitution of Italy, but a number of successor neo-fascist parties emerged to carry on its legacy. Historically, the strongest neo-fascist party was MSI (Movimento Sociale Italiano), which was declared dissolved in 1995 and replaced by the National Alliance, which distanced itself from Fascism (its leader Gianfranco Fini once declared that Fascism was "an absolute evil"). These parties were united under Silvio Berlusconi's House of Freedoms coalition and in 2009 a broad based group of right-wing parties, including Gianfranco Fini's National Alliance and Alessandra Mussolini's Azione Sociale, were merged to create The People of Freedom party led by Prime Minister Berlusconi.

In popular culture

Charlie Chaplin's 1940 film The Great Dictator satirizes Mussolini as "Benzino Napaloni", portrayed by Jack Oakie. In the Three Stooges' I'll Never Heil Again, Cy Schindell plays "Chizzolini", from the then topical insult of "chisler".

More serious biographical depictions include a look at the last few days of Mussolini's life in Carlo Lizzani's movie Mussolini: Ultimo atto (Mussolini: The last act, 1974) starring Rod Steiger and George C. Scott's portrayal in the 1985 television mini-series Mussolini: The Untold Story.

Another 1985 movie was Mussolini and I, in which Bob Hoskins plays the dictator (with Susan Sarandon as his daughter Edda and Anthony Hopkins as Count Ciano). Actor Antonio Banderas also played the title role in Benito in 1993, which covered his life from his school teacher days to the beginning of World War I, before his rise as dictator. Mussolini is also depicted in the films Tea with Mussolini, Lion of the Desert (also with Steiger) and the award-winning Italian film Vincere.

In the Sylvester Stallone film Oscar, one of the Finucci Brothers insults the other one when he says, "Shutta you face, Mussolini!"

A comic strip ran in the British comic The Beano entitled Musso the Wop. This strip which ran from 1940 to 1943 featured Mussolini as an arrogant buffoon.[110]

See also

Bibliography

Writings of Mussolini

External links

Notes and References

  1. [commons:Image:Mussoliniposter.jpg|Image Description: Propaganda poster of Benito Mussolini, with caption "His Excellency Benito Mussolini, Head of Government, Leader of Fascism, and Founder of the Empire...".]
  2. MacGregor Knox. Mussolini unleashed, 1939-1941: Politics and Strategy in Fascist Italy's Last War. Edition of 1999. Cambridge, England, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Pp. 122-123.
  3. MacGregor Knox. Mussolini unleashed, 1939-1941: Politics and Strategy in Fascist Italy's Last War. Edition of 1999. Cambridge, England, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Pp. 122-127.
  4. Web site: 1945: Italian partisans kill Mussolini. 17 October 2011.
  5. Mediterranean Fascism 1919–1945 Edited by Charles F. Delzel, Harper Rowe 1970, page 3
  6. Living History 2; Chapter 2: Italy under Fascism. ISBN 1-84536-028-1
  7. Gregor, Anthony James. Young Mussolini and the intellectual origins of fascism. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, US; London, England, UK: University of California Press, 1979. Pp. 29
  8. Gregor, Anthony James. Young Mussolini and the intellectual origins of fascism. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, US; London, England, UK: University of California Press, 1979. p. 31.
  9. Mediterranean Fascism by Charles F. Delzel page 96
  10. "The Life of Benito Mussolini" by Margherita G. Sarfatti, p. 156
  11. taken from WorldCat's entry for this book's title.
  12. Mediterranean Fascism 1919–1945 Edited by Charles F. Delzel, Harper Rowe 1970, bottom of page 3
  13. Mediterranean Fascism 1919–1945 Edited by Charles F. Delzel, Harper Rowe 1970, page 4
  14. Golomb, Jacob; Wistrich, Robert S. Nietzsche, godfather of fascism?: on the uses and abuses of a philosophy. Princeton, New Jersey, US: Princeton University Press, 2002. p. 249.
  15. Golomb, Jacob; Wistrich, Robert S. Nietzsche, godfather of fascism?: on the uses and abuses of a philosophy. Princeton, New Jersey, US: Princeton University Press, 2002. p. 250.
  16. Spencer Tucker. Encyclopedia of World War I: A Political, Social, and Military History. Santa Barbara, California, US: ABC-CLIO, 2005. p. 1001.
  17. Spencer Tucker. Encyclopedia of World War I: A Political, Social, and Military History. Santa Barbara, California, US: ABC-CLIO, 2005. p. 884.
  18. Spencer Tucker. Encyclopedia of World War I: A Political, Social, and Military History. Santa Barbara, California, US: ABC-CLIO, 2005. p. 335.
  19. Spencer Tucker. Encyclopedia of World War I: A Political, Social, and Military History. Santa Barbara, California, US: ABC-CLIO, 2005. p. 219.
  20. Spencer Tucker. Encyclopedia of World War I: A Political, Social, and Military History. Santa Barbara, California, US: ABC-CLIO, 2005. p. 826.
  21. Spencer Tucker. Encyclopedia of World War I: A Political, Social, and Military History. Santa Barbara, California, US: ABC-CLIO, 2005. p. 209.
  22. Anthony James Gregor. Young Mussolini and the intellectual origins of fascism. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, US; London, England, UK: University of California Press, 1979. p. 189
  23. Spencer Tucker. Encyclopedia of World War I: A Political, Social, and Military History. Santa Barbara, California, US: ABC-CLIO, 2005. p. 596.
  24. Emile Ludwig. Nine Etched in Life. Ayer Company Publishers, 1934 (original), 1969. p. 321.
  25. Anthony James Gregor. Young Mussolini and the intellectual origins of fascism. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, US; London, England, UK: University of California Press, 1979. p. 191.
  26. Mediterranean Fascism 1919–1945 Edited by Charles F. Delzel, Harper Rowe 1970, page 6.
  27. Dennis Mack Smith. 1997. Modern Italy; A Political History. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. p. 284.
  28. Anthony James Gregor. Young Mussolini and the intellectual origins of fascism. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, US; London, England, UK: University of California Press, 1979. p. 200.
  29. Anthony James Gregor. Young Mussolini and the intellectual origins of fascism. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, US; London, England, UK: University of California Press, 1979. pp. 191–192.
  30. Anthony James Gregor. Young Mussolini and the intellectual origins of fascism. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, US; London, England, UK: University of California Press, 1979. p. 192.
  31. Anthony James Gregor. Young Mussolini and the intellectual origins of fascism. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, US; London, England, UK: University of California Press, 1979. p. 193.
  32. Anthony James Gregor. Young Mussolini and the intellectual origins of fascism. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, US; London, England, UK: University of California Press, 1979. p. 195.
  33. Anthony James Gregor. Young Mussolini and the intellectual origins of fascism. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, US; London, England, UK: University of California Press, 1979. pp. 193, 195.
  34. Anthony James Gregor. Young Mussolini and the intellectual origins of fascism. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, US; London, England, UK: University of California Press, 1979. pp. 195–196.
  35. Anthony James Gregor. Young Mussolini and the intellectual origins of fascism. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, US; London, England, UK: University of California Press, 1979. p. 196.
  36. Mussolini: A Study In Power, Ivone Kirkpatrick, Hawthorne Books, 1964. ISBN 0-8371-8400-2
  37. Web site: The Rise of Benito Mussolini. 8 January 2008.
  38. Web site: The Rise of Benito Mussolini.
  39. Web site: La Dottrina del fascismo. Section I.8.. So fascism is against socialism, which stiffens the historical movement in the class struggle and ignores the unity of the state that the classes merged into one economic and moral reality, and similarly, it is against the class unionism. (Google Translate from: Perciò il fascismo è contro il socialismo che irrigidisce il movimento storico nella lotta di classe e ignora l'unità statale che le classi fonde in una sola realtà economica e morale; e analogamente, è contro il sindacalismo classista.). Giovanni Gentile. Benito Mussolini. Lit Gloss, University of Buffalo. 1932. 21 March 2011. Italian. The Doctrine of Fascism.
  40. Web site: Flunking Fascism 101. Vox Day. 28 June 2004. VoxDay.net. 21 March 2011.
  41. Moseley, Ray. Mussolini: The Last 600 Days of Il Duce. Taylor Trade Publications, 2004. p. 39
  42. Sharma, Urmila. Western Political Thought. Atlantic Publishers and Distributors (P) Ltd, 1998. p. 66.
  43. Sharma, Urmila. Western Political Thought. Atlantic Publishers and Distributors (P) Ltd, 1998. pp. 66–67.
  44. Kallis, Aristotle Fascist Ideology, London: Routledge, 2000 pages 48-51.
  45. Kallis, Aristotle Fascist Ideology, London: Routledge, 2000 pages 50-51.
  46. Kallis, Aristotle Fascist Ideology, London: Routledge, 2000 pages 48-50.
  47. Kallis, Aristotle Fascist Idelogy', London: Routledge, 2000 page 50.
  48. Kallis, Aristotle Fascist Ideology, London: Routledge, 2000 page 52.
  49. Kallis, Aristotle Fascist Ideology, London: Routledge, 2000 page 52.
  50. Kallis, Aristotle Fascist Idelogy, London: Routledge 2000 pages 51-52.
  51. Kallis, Aristotle Fascist Ideology, London: Routledge, 2000 pages 51-52.
  52. Kallis, Aristotle Fascist Ideology, London: Routledge, 2000 page 52.
  53. Kallis, Aristotle Facist Ideology, London: Routledge, 2000 page 52.
  54. Kallis, Aristotle Facist Ideology, London: Routledge, 2000 page 52.
  55. 1852268. Roland Sarti. Fascist Modernization in Italy: Traditional or Revolutionary. 8 January 2008. 1029–1045. 75. 4. The American Historical Review. 10.2307/1852268.
  56. Web site: Ha'aretz Newspaper, Israel, 'The Jewish Mother of Fascism. http://web.archive.org/web/20080617050824/http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=735492. 17 June 2008. Haaretz. Israel. 13 March 2009.
  57. http://it.wikisource.org/wiki/Italia_-_30_maggio_1924,_Discorso_alla_Camera_dei_Deputati_di_denuncia_di_brogli_elettorali Speech of the 30th of May 1924
  58. The Times, Thursday, 8 April 1926; p. 12; Issue 44240; column A
  59. Web site: The attempted assassination of Mussolini in Rome. Libcom.org. 10 September 2006. 13 March 2009.
  60. Web site: Remembering the Anarchist Resistance to fascism. Andrew. Anarkismo.net. 3 March 2005. 6 November 2010.
  61. Web site: 1931: The murder of Michael Schirru. Melchior Seele. Libcom.org. 11 September 2006. 13 March 2009.
  62. Arrigo Petacco, L'uomo della provvidenza: Mussolini, ascesa e caduta di un mito, Milano, Mondadori, 2004, p. 190
  63. Clark, Martin, Modern Italy, Pearson Longman, 2008, p.322
  64. http://www.mises.org/story/1935 The Vampire Economy: Italy, Germany, and the US
  65. http://www.reuters.com/article/oddlyEnoughNews/idUSN1944220320080919 Comic escapes prosecution for insulting pope (Oddly Enough) Reuters
  66. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWteheran.htm
  67. Speech delivered by Premier Benito Mussolini. Rome, Italy, 23 February 1941
  68. "If the Duce were to die, it would be a great misfortune for Italy. As I walked with him in the gardens of the Villa Borghese, I could easily compare his profile with that of the Roman busts, and I realised he was one of the Caesars. There's no doubt at all that Mussolini is the heir of the great men of that period." Hitler's Table Talk
  69. Mussolini's Cultural Revolution: Fascist or Nationalist?. Journal of Contemporary History. April 1972. 7. 3. 115–139. SAGE Journals Online. 10.1177/002200947200700308. 23 March 2011. Cannistraro. P. V..
  70. Web site: The Italian Holocaust: The Story of an Assimilated Jewish Community. Peter Egill Brownfeld. Fall 2003. 23 March 2011. The American Council for Judaism. Ovazza started a Jewish fascist newspaper, "La Nostra Bandiera" (Our Flag) in an effort to show that the Jews were among the regime's most loyal followers..
  71. Web site: Mussolini and the Roman Catholic Church. HistoryLearningSite.co.uk. 23 March 2011.
  72. Book: Arielli, Nir. Fascist Italy and the Middle East, 1933–40. 9 June 2010. Palgrave Macmillan. 9780230231603. 92–99.
  73. Stang, Bruce "War and Peace: Mussolini's Road to Munich" pages 160-190 from The Munich Crisis, 1938, London: Frank Cass, 1999 page 172.
  74. Stang, Bruce "War and Peace: Mussolini's Road to Munich" pages 160-190 from The Munich Crisis, 1938, London: Frank Cass, 1999 page 172.
  75. Stang, Bruce "War and Peace: Mussolini's Road to Munich" pages 160-190 from The Munich Crisis, 1938, London: Frank Cass, 1999 pages 172-174.
  76. Stang, Bruce "War and Peace: Mussolini's Road to Munich" pages 160-190 from The Munich Crisis, 1938, London: Frank Cass, 1999 pages 173-174.
  77. Stang, Bruce "War and Peace: Mussolini's Road to Munich" pages 160-190 from The Munich Crisis, 1938, London: Frank Cass, 1999 pages 174-175.
  78. Stang, Bruce "War and Peace: Mussolini's Road to Munich" pages 160-190 from The Munich Crisis, 1938, London: Frank Cass, 1999 pages 174-175.
  79. Kallis, Aristotle Fascist Ideology, London: Routledge 2000 page 97.
  80. Kallis, Aristotle Fascist Ideology, London: Routledge 2000 page 97.
  81. Weinberg, Gerhard A World in Arms, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005 page 276.
  82. Weinberg, Gerhard A World in Arms, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005 pages 276-277.
  83. Weinberg, Gerhard A World in Arms, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005 page 277.
  84. Weinberg, Gerhard A World in Arms, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005 page 277.
  85. Moseley(2004), p. 23
  86. A copy of an existing document is available online. It reads
    "In addition to my (...) order of the commander of the Greater German Reich in Italy and the organisation of the occupied Italian area from 10 September 1943 I determine:
    The supreme commanders in the Operational Zone Adriatic Coast consisting of the provinces of Friaul, Görz, Triest, Istrien, Fiume, Quarnero, Laibach, and in the Prealpine Operations Zone consisting of the provinces of Bozen, Trient and Belluno receive the fundamental instructions for their activity from me.
    Führer's headquarters, 10 September 1943.
    The Führer Gen. Adolf Hitler".
    See second document at
    http://www.karawankengrenze.at/ferenc/document/show/id/317?symfony=ad81b9f2cd1e66a7c973073ed0532df1
  87. Book: Salò-Berlino: l'alleanza difficile. La Repubblica Sociale Italiana nei documenti segreti del Terzo Reich. Nicola Cospito. Hans Werner Neulen. Mursia. 8842512850. 1992. 128.
  88. Moseley (2004), p. 26.
  89. D.M. Smith 1982, p. 1
  90. D.M. Smith 1982, p. 8
  91. D.M. Smith 1982, pp. 2–3
  92. D.M. Smith 1982, p. 12
  93. D.M. Smith 1982, p. 15
  94. Rachele Mussolini 1974, p. 129
  95. Roberts, Jeremy (2006). Benito Mussolini. Minneapolis, MN: Twenty-First Century Books, p. 60.
  96. Neville, Peter (2004). Mussolini: Routledge Historical Biographies. New York: Psychology Press, p. 84.
  97. Townley, Edward (2002). Mussolini and Italy. New York: Heinemann Press, p. 49.
  98. D.M. Smith 1982, p. 162-163
  99. D.M. Smith 1982, pp. 222–223
  100. D.M. Smith 1982, p. 311
  101. Rachele Mussolini 1974, p. 131
  102. Rachele Mussolini 1974, p. 135
  103. Toland, John. (1966). The Last 100 Days Random House, p. 504,
  104. Web site: Benito Mussolini. Celebritymorgue.com. 28 April 1945. 13 March 2009.
  105. [Time Magazine]
  106. 1945. Video: Beaten Nazis Sign Historic Surrender, 1945/05/14 (1945). Universal Newsreel. February 20, 2012.
  107. Quoted in "Mussolini: A New Life", p. 276 by Nicholas Burgess Farrell – 2004
  108. Web site: The tomb. findagrave.com.
  109. Web site: Jim Heddlesten. Commando Supremo: Events of 1941. Comandosupremo.com. 13 March 2009.
  110. Book: The History of the Beano. D.C. Thomson & Co. Ltd.. Dundee, Scotland. 2008. 77–78. 978-1-902407-73-9.