Fascism and Mussolini

					Fascism and Mussolini

       Ms Leslie
       History 12

• Latin term for a bundle of rods, firmly tied
  together with a beheading axe protruding
  from the center.
• It was a symbol of absolute authority in
  ancient Rome
• Which is why Mussolini chose this symbol
       Fascism - what is it?

• applied mostly to the movement spawned
  from Benito Mussolini in Italy from 1919-
• Fascism Rejects the Major philosophical
  trends of the last two centuries that stress
  individual liberty and equality of all men
  and races.
• embraces social Darwinism.
• The Italian slogan was ‘To believe, to obey
  to combat.’
          Main characteristics

1. Action over thought - no moral or rational
   reasoning - Use of violence to further party and
     national aims
2.   Ultra-nationalistic beliefs. - Creation of national myths
     and great reliance on pageantry and symbolism
3.   Unquestioned rule of Dictator - Individual serves the
     state - the state does not serve the people; citizens are
     to obey and serve
4.   Extremely anti-communist
5.   Ultimate goal is to be imperialist through conquest of
            All about Benito

• born in 1883 in Varano di Costa in Romagna,
• His father was a blacksmith and socialist.
• Full name: Benito Amilcare Andrea after the left-
  wing Mexican revolutionary Benito Juarez
• His mother was a deeply religious school
• He spent the days fighting with other boys or
• At 9 parents sent him to boarding school
  due to his bad behaviour
• Benito hated school rules
• Hated how much parents had to spend on
• Got in a lot of fights
• Stabbed another boy with a pen knife
• At 10 he was sent to another school which
  he liked better
• He worked hard and became well known
  for his powerful speeches, most of which
  had socialist leanings.
• In July, 1901, Mussolini received an
  elementary teacher's diploma.
• Taught for a year before moving to
• He was avoiding Italy’s conscription
• Mussolini's life in Switzerland was one of
• He begged for change and lived on the
• Learned about Marx, Nietzsche and
• Eventually deported due to violent ways
• Went to France to teach, but went back to
• Became an established Socialist
• 1904 Italian King announced a pardon to
  all deserters
• Mussolini returned to Italy to enlist for
  military duty
• Conscripted for WWI but was exempt due
  to a grenade training injury
• So he looked for a different way to make a
  name for himself.
            Italy after WWI

• Italy devastated after WWI
• Little success in battle
• Peace didn’t come with all that was
• Italians resented allied powers
• Wilson would not give Italians the territory
  they wanted at the PPC as there were no
  Italians in them
       Society after the war

• Inflation
• Rise of socialist activities
• Extreme poverty in the south - peasants
  start occupying land
• In the North prices rose 560% and
  unemployment increased.
        Post war elections

• Failed to produce stable governments
• 5 different governments 1919-22
• Proportional representation to blame (5%
  of vote means 5% of seats)
• No one could get a majority, lots of
        Bolsheviks in Milan

• Bolsheviks in Milan began to organize a
  take over of the country.
• There were several massive strikes.
• Big industries like Fiat looked desperately
  for someone to crush this threat.
     Benito makes his move

• A Fascist movement begins in Milan in
• Mussolini saw his opportunity in
  protecting landowners and industrialists
  from the socialists factory and land
• He recruited unemployed ex-servicemen
  and middle class youth
• Mussolini lead his group of Fascists
  against Socialists and Trade Unions;
  bringing him the support of industrialists
  who were afraid of a left-wing seizure of
• The fascists were supplied with arms and
  transport and promises of immunity of
• Mussolini called his gang ‘Combat
  Squads’ and unleashed them on peasants
  and workers.
• They would club their victims to death and
  torture others.
• There was huge pay out from landowners,
  industrialists and banks…. In the Millions
  of pounds.
           Things get legit

• In 1921 The Fascist Party was asked to
  join the National Block Coalition with the
  Liberals, democrats and nationalists.
• Mussolini won 35/535 seats in the
      Enter the Blackshirts

• In 1922 Mussolini’s party had a
  membership of 360,000 of which 50,000
  were a member of Combat Squads, now
  given the nickname ‘The Blackshirts’.
• Mussolini uses his private army to show
  his might
• He outfits them all with Black Shirt
  uniforms to make them feel special
           March on Rome

• On October 28, 1922, Mussolini puts the
  word out that he is going to march into
  Rome with 26,000 Blackshirts.
• The King decided to make Mussolini the
  new Prime Minister rather than risk civil
  war by sending in the troops.
• So on Oct 29, Mussolini became prime
  minister of Italy
• It is important to note the March on Rome
  was only a threat.
• Mussolini arrived in Rome on a train after
  the King invited him.
• Mussolini does not have complete control
  yet and rules in a coalition government
• He takes steps to secure his power:
   Acerbo Election Law - 1923

• Who ever got the largest number of votes
  (as long as it was 25% or more) would
  automatically get 2/3 of the seats in the
  lower house of parliament.
• The rest of the seats would be divvied up
• This allowed Mussolini to gain 374 out of
  535 seats in April 1924.
  Murder of Giacomo Matteotti

• an outspoken opponent
• on June 10, 1924, 5 fascists thugs
  on the party payroll killed him.
• There is no proof that Mussolini
  ordered this murder.
• The people liked Matteotti and
  were upset with his death
         Loss of freedoms

• Takes away freedom of press, assembly,
  speech, and freedom from arbitrary arrest
• ‘useless or harmful liberties’
• Trade unions abolished
       The Corporate State

• Trade unions were replaced with
  ‘corporations’, which were run by fascists
  to settle disputes; interests of bosses
  usually won out and the living standards of
  workers fell.
• All economic planning was centralized
             Other changes

• He adopted the title
  ‘Il Duce’
• Civil service purged
• 1928 cancelled
  future elections and
  replaced the Italian
  parliament with the
  Fascist Grand
• political parties are banned (except for
  Mussolini’s of course).
• In 1926 he reinstated the death penalty.
• In 1927 he set up his secret police the
  OVRA to harass political opponents.
          Important events

• The Corfu Incident. An Italian General
  and their officers were assassinated while
  on Greek territory in August of 1923.
  Mussolini bombarded and occupied the
  Island until the Greeks paid indemnity and
              The economy

• Autarchy. Fascism believes in a self-sufficient
• launched the ‘Battle for Wheat’ with the goal of
  increasing production and decreasing imports.
• From 1925-1935 wheat production went up
• He tried to do the same with a ‘battle of births’
  but was unable to get the population to comply.
• Unemployment reached 1.1 million in 1932
        It’s all Benito’s fault

• He fired the competent Finance minister to
  give his friend a job
• He raised the value of Italian currency, the
  lira, to 90 to the pound instead of 150,
  making Italian exports more expensive;
  thus demand for Italian goods abroad fell
• Wasted money helping Franco out in
But what about the good things
       Mussolini did?

• Road infrastructure increased.
• Archeology was pushed to the forefront
  and tourist was boosted because of the
  new artifacts discovered.
• Iron ore and steel production increased as
  well as hydro electric power.
        The Lateran Accords

• Catholic Church last possible opposition
• Traditionally Pope forbids Catholics from
  participating in politics (no voting)
• In exchange for not saying bad things about
  fascism the Pope got: control over education,
  recognition as the official state religion and the
  right of the Pope to have the Vatican as it’s own
Mussolini's youth groups
              Foreign Policy

• 1934 he guaranteed Austria’s Independence
  against German Threats.
• In 1935 Hitler attempted to invade Austria and
  murdered the Austrian Chancellor Dollfuss, to
  which Mussolini reacted instantly.
• Mussolini could not risk Hitler taking over Austria
  for the safety of Italy.
• He sent three tank divisions to the Austrian
  border. Hitler was out-bluffed and out bullied
  and backed down.
     Stresafront Agreement

• Mussolini declares his stand against Hitler
  in the Stresafront Agreement of 1935.
• In this agreement Italy, France and Britain
  condemned Germany’s re-armament.
• Shows Mussolini did not always want to
  align with Hitler
        Oct 1935 - Abyssinia

• Mussolini wanted to
  restore Italy’s Empire
  to the glory of Rome.
• Abyssinia was
  between two Italian
  Colonies and had
  been the location of a
  humiliating Italian
  defeat in 1896
• 1934 - Italy provoked an incident where
  Italians were killed and demanded an
• Ethiopia appealed to the League of
  Nations but they stalled for a year
• In October of 1935 Mussolini invaded
  Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and was successful
  due to the new inventions of
  flamethrowers and poison gas.
• Newsreel film
  and eyewitness
  reports of the
  Italian use of
  poison gas and
  flame throwers
  brought public
  outrage in
  Britain and
• The League of Nations applied sanctions
  on Italy - did not include steel, coal and
• Austria, Hungary and Germany refused to
  obey the sanctions
• Sanctions were a joke - UK even allowed
  Italy to continue to use the Suez Canal
• Hoare-Laval Plan - respective foreign
  ministers from Britain and France. Agreed
  to let Italy have Abyssinia if they stopped
  fighting immediately. This secret
  agreement was leaked to the press and
  other countries stopped obeying sanctions
  (why bother?)
• An attempt to patch up the Stresa Front
• Mussolini quoted saying he would have
  quite within a week if oil sanctions in
  December had been imposed
• Germany continued to trade with Italy normally
  throughout the incident and an alliance between
  the two nations was forged.
• Hitler dominated this alliance and the Italian
  people were against it as Germany was a
  traditional enemy.
• The May 22, 1939 Pact of Steel solidified the
  link between Germany and Italy in an offensive
  and defensive alliance.
   Based on the assumption war would probably start in
    3 years
• end

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