- socialist activism
- Italian fascism
- children and marriages
- rise to power
- fascists take control of italy
- Prime Minister Mussolini
- italy under fascism
- mussolini and hitler
- axis powers
- the plot against mussolini
- how did mussolini die?
- mussolini’s body
- mussolini quotes
benito mussolini was an italian political leader who became the fascist dictator of italy from 1925 to 1945. originally a revolutionary socialist and journalist and newspaper editor, he forged italy’s violent paramilitary fascist movement in 1919 and proclaimed himself the first minister in 1922. called “il duce” (the leader) by his compatriots or simply “mussolini”, he sided with adolf hitler during world war ii, trusting the german dictator to buttress his leadership.
See: Third Reich: The Rise in the Vault of History
Born July 29, 1883, in Verano di Costa, Italy, Mussolini was the son of blacksmith and fervent socialist Alessandro Mussolini and a devout Catholic mother, Rosa Maltoni. According to most accounts, Mussolini’s family lived in small, simple rooms.
the young mussolini was expelled from his first boarding school at age 10 for stabbing a fellow student. at 14, he stabbed another student but was only suspended.
mussolini spent much of his early adulthood traveling around switzerland, becoming involved with that country’s socialist party and fighting the police. In 1909, he moved to Austria-Hungary to become the editor of a socialist newspaper, but was deported to Italy after being accused of violating laws regulating freedom of the press.
in 1910, mussolini became editor of another italian socialist newspaper, but soon spent six months in jail for inciting violence. During his imprisonment, he began writing his autobiography, though still in his early twenties, detailing his troubled school years and his many romantic conquests.
mussolini broke away from the socialist party in 1914. he started his own newspaper and encouraged violence by his supporters as riots spread across the country.
In 1915, Mussolini joined the Italian Army in World War I. he fought on the front lines and earned the rank of corporal before being discharged with a war wound. Mussolini returned to the newspapers and in 1918 he called for a dictator to take control of Italy. Mussolini’s pressure and his followers forced the government to order the internment of foreigners whom he considered enemies.
after the treaty of versailles in 1919—and his discontent with it—mussolini brought together various fascist groups into a national organization called the fasci italiani di combattimento. Italian fascists courted war veterans and encouraged violence against socialists. Mussolini stored weapons and explosives in the offices of his newspaper.
children and marriages
mussolini was married twice: to ida dalser in 1914 and to his longtime lover rachele guidi a year later. In addition, Mussolini had other lovers and liaisons.
His first marriage produced a son, Benito Albino Mussolini. After Mussolini’s second marriage, the records of his first marriage and his child were destroyed or suppressed, and both wife and child were kept under constant surveillance. Italian authorities sent Ida to an island near Venice, where he died in 1937. His son was committed to an asylum near Milan, where he died in 1942 at age 26.
Mussolini’s marriage to Rachele lasted until his death. The couple had five children: three sons, Vittorio, Bruno, and Romano, and two daughters, Edda and Anna Maria. Rachele died in 1979 at the age of 89.
rise to power
in late 1919, mussolini stood in the general election as a fascist candidate, but lost in a socialist sweep. Two days later, Mussolini was arrested for allegedly collecting weapons to overthrow the government. he was released without charge the next day.
in 1921, italian king victor emmanuel iii dissolved parliament amid increasing violence and chaos. the elections brought a great victory for the fascists, with mussolini taking a seat as a deputy in parliament. the party changed its name to partito nazionale fascista.
fascists take control of italy
in 1922, fascists were instructed to wear uniforms, including black shirts, in squads that were modeled on Roman army groups. all members of the group were considered members of the squad.
soon after, several Italian cities were taken over by fascist squads, which also set fire to communist and socialist offices.
in october 1922, mussolini threatened to march on rome to seize control of the government through violent force if he did not surrender. King Victor Emmanuel and the government were slow to act and finally sent in troops, even though the fascists had already taken control of some local governments.
refusing to endorse martial law, victor emmanuel watched as thousands of armed fascists poured into rome. he dissolved the government and asked mussolini to form a new one.
Prime Minister Mussolini
mussolini became prime minister, as well as interior minister and foreign minister. Mussolini did not become dictator overnight, but a speech he made before the Italian Parliament on January 3, 1925, asserting his claim to supreme power, is generally regarded as the effective date that Mussolini declared himself same dictator of italy.
mussolini’s first act as prime minister was to demand special emergency powers that would allow him to rig elections in favor of the fascists. soon after, the Italian parliament made suspicion of being anti-fascist punishable by imprisonment without trial.
The following year, the police arrested the Socialists and the government restricted their publishing activities. A socialist deputy planned to assassinate Mussolini, but a friend’s betrayal led to his arrest just before the attempt. several other assassination attempts followed.
italy under fascism
in 1926, the fascists created a youth group called opera nazionale balilla, pressuring children to join. the catholic boy scouts were disbanded and the formation of other youth groups became illegal.
the same year, all communist members of parliament were arrested and all members of the socialist party expelled. anyone who could not be prosecuted for a crime was detained for up to five years and confined in internment camps on islands.
Movie theaters were required to show government propaganda in the form of newsreels. the fascists owned 66 percent of the newspapers and controlled reporting, published daily editorial guidelines, and threatened editors with arrest.
the order of journalists was created and membership was mandatory. newspapers could criticize the government as long as they expressed general support.
read more: how mussolini seized power in italy
mussolini and hitler
At first, Mussolini disapproved of Germany’s Adolf Hitler, but over time their association grew and Mussolini embraced Hitler’s anti-Semitic measures.
After Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, Germany became the second country to recognize Italy’s legitimacy there. Both Hitler and Mussolini sided with Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War in 1936, with Mussolini contributing 50,000 soldiers.
in 1937, italy withdrew from the league of nations in solidarity with germany, and in march 1938, hitler invaded austria with the support of mussolini.
mussolini wrote an article in 1938 that aligned Italians with the German concept of the Aryan race. When anti-Jewish laws began to appear in Italy, Germany felt they were weak, but Mussolini was prepared to increase their severity as necessary. soon after, mussolini called for the expulsion of foreign jews from italy.
watch video: american women in world war ii
Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939 caused Britain and France to immediately declare war on Germany, but Mussolini remained neutral for the time being.
the german invasion of denmark and norway convinced mussolini that hitler would win the war. soon the netherlands and belgium also fell into the hands of hitler. On May 22, 1939, Italy and Germany signed the “Pact of Steel” officially creating the Axis Powers. (Japan would join in September 1940 with the signing of the tripartite pact.)
as the germans ravaged france in june 1940, mussolini announced italy’s entry into the war. Italy declared war on France and Great Britain on June 10, 1940.
the plot against mussolini
in 1943, after years of fighting in world war ii, its own citizens considered that italy had lost the war.
on july 25, 1943, mussolini was removed from power by his own grand council, arrested after a visit to the king, and sent to the island of la maddalena.
When Italy agreed to the terms of secret peace talks with the Allies, Hitler ordered German forces into Italy, resulting in two Italian nations, one German-occupied.
mussolini, afraid of being handed over, was rescued by hitler’s forces. Transported to German-occupied northern Italy, he installed himself as Hitler’s puppet leader, creating the Italian Social Republic and leading to the extermination of thousands of Italian Jews.
Allied forces began moving through Italy in June 1944, and Mussolini attempted to flee to Spain in April 1945 with his mistress, Claretta Petacci, but was discovered and arrested by guerrillas searching troop transport trucks.
how did mussolini die?
There are conflicting stories about how Mussolini died, but autopsy reports state that the dictator was executed by firing squad on April 28, 1945, shot by soldiers who fired several bullets, four near the heart, causing immediate death.
the bodies of mussolini and petacci were hung upside down in piazzale loreto in milan and displayed for the crowd to kick and spit on. One day later, Hitler committed suicide, and the following week, Germany surrendered.
mussolini’s body was buried in an unmarked grave, which was dug up in 1946 by fascist sympathizers, who took the body to a convent in lombardy. the government recovered it and buried it in a monastery near milan.
mussolini’s wife requested that the body be moved from a tomb in milan to a family mausoleum in predappio in 1957.
in 1966, she was given an envelope containing a part of her husband’s brain. the American diplomat who gave it to him claimed that the Americans had taken the brain to study what makes a dictator. he had the relic placed in his grave, which receives 100,000 visitors a year.
“it is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.”
“democracy is a regime without a king infested by many kings who are sometimes more exclusive, tyrannical and destructive than just one, even if he is a tyrant.”
“many think, and I myself am one of them, that capitalism is just at the beginning of its history.”
mussolini: the last 600 days of il duce. ray moseley.mussolini. jasper ridley.mussolini. rupert colley.benito mussolini (1883-1945). bbc.