Mussolini and Fascism in Italy

Benito Mussolini was an Italian World War 1 veteran. He established the national Fascist Party in Italy, known as Fasci di Combattimento. They got this name from the Italian peasant revolutionaries (“Fighting Bands”) of the 19th century. The party advocated Italian nationalism and launched programs of terrorism and intimidation against its opponents. They were also known for the intimidating black shirts they wore as uniforms.

In October 1922, Mussolini led the Fascists on a march against rome. He didn’t have to use his military and was welcomed by King Emmanuel III. The king didn’t have faith in the parliamentary government of Italy and asked Mussolini to form a new government. Mussolini was appointed a prime minister with the assistance of a three-member Fascist cabinet and cooperated with the Italian parliament. He later used his brutal police force to become the dictator of Italy. A backlash of supporters of the parliament was suppressed in 1924 and in January 1925 Italy was officially a Fascist state with Mussolini as its dictator.

Mussolini wanted to establish treaties with Italy’s former allies in the west but his violent and brutal invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 ended all hopes of alliances with the European and American democracies. In 1936, Mussolini joined Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in support of Francisco Franco’s Nationalist forces in the Spanish Civil War. He prompted the signing of a treaty in foreign policy between Italy and Nazi Germany in 1937. Although Hitler’s revolution was patterned after Mussolini’s, the Italian government was the weaker power of the Axis during World War II.

In the middle of 1943, the failure of the Italians in the war led to the invasion of mainland Italy and a rebellion within the Fascist Party. The Fascist Grand Council rejected the policies given by Hitler through Mussolini and on July 25 Mussolini was arrested. Fascist Marshal Badoglio took over the Italian government and by September Italy surrendered unconditionally to the Allies.

German soldiers freed Mussolini from his prison and he was later made puppet-leader of German-controlled northern Italy. When Nazi Germany collapsed in April 1945, Mussolini was captured by Italians and on April 29 was executed by a firing squad. His body was taken to Milan and hung in public for all Italians to see what became of the Fascist leader.


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