Benito Mussolini was the founder of Italian Fascism and premier of Italy ruling as a dictator from about 1925 until his dismissal in 1943. Mussolini was born to a socialist blacksmith. As a child, he was unruly and undisciplined. He shared his father’s views picking up other ideas from authors of the time.
Mussolini became a schoolteacher and journalist. He spent several years in Switzerland and took RacheleGuidi as is wife, they had five children.
In 1913 Mussolini became editor of the Milan Socialist newspaper Avanti!
When World War 1 began in 1914 he first opposed Italy’s involvement, until he changed his mind, saying that Italy should take a stand with the Allies. This got him expelled from the socialist party. He soon founded his own paper, Ilpopolo d’italia, which became the backbone of his Fascist movement. He then served in the Army until he was wounded in 1917.
In 1919 Mussolini and some other war veterans founded a nationalist revolutionary group called the Fasci di Combattimento. His movement turned into powerful radicalism, obtaining support from landowners in the Po valley, industrialists, and many army officers. Fascist black shirt squads carried on the civil war with Socialists, Communists, Catholics, and Liberals.
In October 1922 Mussolini secured permission from King Victor Emmanuel ll to form a coalition government. In 1925-26, after a lengthy crisis with the parliament following the killing of the Socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti, he imposed a Totalitarian Dictatorship. His Cooperative State came to terms with
Italian Capitalism but abolished the free trade unions. In 1929 he ended the conflict with the church through the Lateran Treaty of 1929.
In the 1930’s Mussolini turned to an aggressive foreign policy, conquering Ethiopia(1935-36) and helping General Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War. In 1936 he joined with Hitler’s Germany and soon formed a military alliance (1939). In 1939 Mussolini ordered his armies to occupy Albania. However, he kept out of World War ll until 1940, when the fall of France was imminent and the Germans
seemed to be winning the war.
After a series of Italian military disasters in Greece and North Africa, the leaders of his party abandoned him. The king dismissed him on July25,1943 and had him arrested. On September 12 the Germans rescued him, making him puppet head of a government in northern Italy. In April 1945 Mussolini and his mistress, Clara Petacci, tried to run from advancing Allied forced. Captured by Partisans at Lake Como, they were shot on April 28 and their bodies were hung in a public square in Milan. Mussolini was later buried at Predappio, his birthplace. Although popular with most Italians until the late 1930s, he lost their support when he dragged his people into a war they were unprepared to fight. Few regretted the overthrow of Fascism or his death.Today many of Mussolini’s writings and speeches are available in English including an autobiography written in 1939.
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