The WWI did not go well for Italy as the soldiers were often badly equipped and supplied. In addition to this, military leadership was lousy and this led to the death of over 600,000 men as well as severe wounding of 500,000 soldiers and the permanent disability of about 450,000 men.
In November 1917, the Italians suffered a terrible defeat at the battle of Caporetto- this led to the death of over 40,000 Italian soldiers and a further 300,000 were taken as prisoners.
The Italian economy was greatly affected by the turnout of the WW1. The Liberal government had borrowed money from U.S.A and Britain in order to cover the cost of the country's involvement in the war and this caused a rise in national debt from 16 billion to 85 billion lire. More banknotes were printed when loans were insufficient causing inflation as prices skyrocketed by over 400 percent between 1915-1918.
The inflation consequently shrunk the incomes of many small-scale workers such as landowners, damaged much of the savings of the middle classes and increased unemployment rate as the result of war industries being closed down and 2.5 million soldiers being demobilized.
Economic rift between the north and south of Italy also deepened significantly. Major industries in the north such as Pirelli (tires), Fiat (motor manufacturer), rubber, woolen and chemical, and also banking firms were flourishing as they had been guaranteed huge state contracts.
Most companies had made huge profits and continued to expand but the defeat Italy suffered at the war meant the loss of important state contracts as the government reduced expenditure to deal with the piling debts.
In the south where agriculture was predominant, the large conscription of farm labourers and peasants during the war badly affected farming and economic development.
The government promised land reformation program in an effort to discourage any attraction of socialism and Bolshevism in the area.
After the war, Italy also face disappointment as most of the rewards promised them before the war were not attained. Britain and the U.S refused to give Fiume and Northern Dalmatia as they were granted to the new state Yugoslavia. Italy did not gain any territory in Africa.
Italian nationalists especially the war veterans were angered by the outcomes. They believed that their sacrifices in an attempt to expand and strengthen Italy had been thwarted by the incompetent Liberal gov't.
The Italian gov't signs the Treaty of London in May 1915 asa promise to join the war on the side of the Triple Entente (Britain, France and Russia) as the combatant powers promised to give Italy back Trentino and Trieste(former territories of Italy) along with other Austrian territories in the south Tyrol and Istria, and northern Dalmatia on the Adriatic coast.
Interventionists set up Fasci di Azione Rivoluzionara, which organized many street demonstrations to demand Italian involvement in the war. The members of the Fasci was a mixtureof anarcho-syndicalists and national socialists who believed war would hasten revolution. They were joined by members of the Italian Nationalist Association which had previously pushed for the conquest of Libya.
By 1919, there was growing dissatisfaction of the nationalists in Italy and this increased political opposition of the Liberal party.
In January 1919, the jurisdiction of the Pope lifted its ban on the creation of a Catholic party and the Italian Popular Party (Partito Populari Italiano or PPI) was formed.
It was a coalition of conservative and liberal Catholics whose mandate was mainly to improve the lives of the peasants and promote Catholic interests.
The black-shirt commando troops of the Italian army (known as the Arditi) detested the political system of the Liberals; they believed it betrayed their sacrifice as Italy did not gain much of what had been promised to and their minimal effort in stopping the revolution.
In 1919, the Arditi had set up groups across Italy and these groups used violent attacks on Socialists and trade unionists, who they considered as the nation's enemies. Mussolini became a member of this group.
In an effort to bring the disparaging groups together, 118 people representing various political groups met in Milan and formed the Fscio di Combattimento (Combat Group) on March 23. They were later known as "Fascists of the first hour)" and had a goal of bringing nationalists and socialists together. They published a militant-sounding Fascist programme in which they detailed the combined demands of left- and right-wingers.
The actions of Gabriele D'annunzio's overshadowed Mussolini's Combat Group as he and his 2000-men army marched into Fiume. They then took control as a sign of defiance against the Liberal government and Allies and ruled for the following 15 months.
This made him a national hero in Italy and he became Mussolini's inspiration. The balcony speeches, ancient Roman salute, parades and even the black shirts of the Arditi were adopted from D'annunzio.
Mussolini's fascist group suffered defeat in the November 1919 elections. Not a single Fascio candidate was elected even though each local fascio was allowed to decide its own election manifesto. Mussolini won only 5,000 votes out of 270,000 votes in Milan.
During the unrest of the biennio rosso, Mussolini offered to send in squadre d'azione (action squads) to end the revolts by trade unions and peasant leagues. This boosted his group as Industrialists and landowners who were already frustrated by the government gladly paid Mussolini's group to counter the actions of the leftists.
Mussolini's group employed violent tactics such as burning down offices and articles of the Socialists and trade unions mainly in North and Central Italy.
The actions squads were controlled by local Fascist leaders known as ras(Ethiopian-chieftain), who exercised a significant amount of independence.
As time went by, these action squads consisted mainly of disaffected demobilised army officers and middle-class students who were came together as a result of hatred of socialist and belief in violence.
The communists and socialists were mainly in the south of Italy. The rising problems caused by WWI discontented many industrial and rural workers.
The Socialist Party called for the overthrow of the Liberal government and placement of a socialist state.
Dissatisfied workers who benefited less from the imposition of wartime discipline factories which increased employers' profits while generating more working hours for employees and removed any right to strike, joined the Socialist Party in large numbers.
Between 1914-199, the Socialist Party had increased its membership from about 50,000 members to 200,000 members.
Industrial workers started a series of aggressive protest between early 1919-1920 which was known as the biennio rosso (the two red years).
Strikes and factory and land occupations were organized by trade unions, over a million workers and peasant groups in 1919, swept across Italy.
Socialist trade unions had increased to 2.5 million members by the end of 1919 as opposed to the 250,000 members it had at the beginning of the year.
In the north, government control was seized by the socialists.
Giovanni Giolitti who was the Italian statesman of the time did very little: he urged employers and landowners to make some few concessions including setting up food committees to control distribution and prices to curb the riots. This led many middle and upper class citizens to view the government as incompetent.
Benito Mussolini started off as journalist and later worked as an editor at a newspaper company called Avanti. He held socialist views and gained reputation due to the nature of articles he wrote. He opposed imperialism, the Catholic church and advocated the deepening of class struggle.
In 1911, he was imprisoned for participating in an attempt to revolt against Italy's war against Libya.
He was also involved in the red week of 1912 which saw Socialists control some towns and local governments in order to create the revolutionary overthrow of the Liberal state.
After WWI, Mussolini's political ideas took a nationalist turn. The Socialist Party wanted the government and Italian government to remain neutral as they viewed the war as an inter-imperialist conflict.
Mussolini advocated Italy's involvement in the war. He setup his own newspaper, Il popolo d'Italia which pushed nationalistic views and encouraged Italy's participation of the war. It was financed by wealthy companies.
He was involuntarily conscripted for the army in 1915 but later discharged due to an injury. He resumed work as the editor at his newspaper which called chastised the Liberal government for its military incapability and called for a dictator to take control of the war effort
After the World War I ended in Italy, unemployment rose to 2.5 million as members of most of the army units were demobilized. There was also an economic division between the north and the south as industry goods such as weapons were produced in Northern Italy while agricultural products were produced in the south. This caused inflation in most parts of the country.
During the peace settlement, Italy did not get any African colonies. These factors enraged the Nationalists who accused the liberal gov't of treason.
Although factory and land occupations by the socialists in the north was decreasing by the end of 1920, the squadristi violence was persistent. However it had not been ordered by Mussolini instead, powerful leaders in the region such as Italo Balbo and Dino Grandi.
Siting his chance after D'annunzio was forced to surrender Fiume by government military action, Mussolini began to assert central control over regional Fascist leaders by emphasizing the importance of his leadership and newspaper to the various groupings. He also reiterated the need of Fascist violence as a weapon necessary to destroy any Bolshevik-style revolution in Italy.
In April 1921, Mussolini made his thoughts on the importance of a Fasci national movement as a tool to destroy the Bolshevist state.
He reassured Giolitti and the other Liberal politicians that the talk of any Fascist revolution, confiscation of property from the wealthy under a Fascist gov't was prate.
Giolitti offered to form an anti-socialist national bloc with the Fascists for the upcoming elections in May 1921.
The Socialists won 123 seats and remained the largest party followed by PPI which won 107 seats. Mussolini's group won 35 seats and he was now a deputy (member of parliament) as well as other 35 Fascist members from the right of the movement.
The fascists at that point had gained a foothold in Italy's nation politics hence, Mussolini denounced the Fascist group's support for Giotti's coalition gov't.
There were subsequent failed coalition governments (three between May 1921 and October 1922) as due to ineffective actions against industrial struggles and political violence. The Liberals were still divided into opposing groups of rivaled politicians.
As squadristi violence increased and order was decclining in the country, Mussolini feared the alienation of the conservative elites and encouragement of anti-Fascism. So he signed a peace deal on August 2 1921, known as the 'pact of pacification', with moderate socialists and the General Confederation of Workers (CGL), the main trade organization.
He then resigned from the Fascist Central Committee. With this successful tactic, he was able to convince members to transform the Fasci di Combattimento into the formal political party known as the National Fascist Party (Partito Nazionale Fascista or PNF).
In November 1921, he convinced the Fascist National Congress to elect him as leader with an agreement to end the truce with the Socialists.
He gradually ignored the left-wing aspects of the 1919 original Fascist Program especially the parts targeting the Catholic Church as an intention to increase Fascist support among conservatives, the new Pope and archbishop of Milan.
The third way was to be established through the creation of a corporate state which would replace the traditional parliament democracy with a political system of corporations that represented the nation's various economic sectors. In addition to the state appointees, these corporations, each with equal representation for employers and employees would do away with class conflict i.e no strikes and labor disputes), instead generating more interests in the well-being of the nation. There were no plans to abolishing private ownership.
-1922- Trade unions had been closed down by Fascists and replaced with Fascist-controlled syndicates which supposedly represented the workers' interests.
-Confederation of Fascist syndicates setup to create corporations to make sure industrialists somehow compensated the demands of workers.
-Confindustria, the group representing the industrialists did not fully embrace this set up.
-The Chigi Palace Pact ensured that industrialists cooperated with the Confederation of Fascist Syndicates.
-Series of strikes due to negation by employers in 1925.
-Resulted in Vidoni Palace Pact which stated that the Confindustria and the Confederation of Fascist Syndicates were the only organizations to represent employers and employees, workers were not allowed to engage in mutiny, the permanent closure of all workers' factory councils and non-Fascist trade unions.
1926- All strikes were made illegal and all industrial disagreements had to be taken up in special labor courts.
Decriminalization of more than one organization of workers and employers in industries.
July 1926- Mussolini appoints himself as minister of corporations with each corporation consisting of employer and worker representatives from the same industrial or economic sectors and three governmental representatives who acted as final arbitrators.
-1928- the abolishment of the Confederation of Fascist Syndicates and in March 1930, Bottai the under-secretary of the new ministry sets up the National Council of Corporations (NCC) to represent the seven biggest corporations.
-By 1934 number of corporations had increased to 22.
-Mussolini was head of the General Assembly of Corporations which made vital decisions concerning economic policies inclusive of setting wages and price levels. However, he mostly ignored the assembly and made decisions by himself.
The gov't and employers also made policies during the Great Depression.
1938- The chamber of politics abolished and replaced with chamber of fasci and corporations. It was ruled by Fascist appointees of Mussolini and was aimed at giving the people privileges according to their occupations.
-1925- the 'battle for grain' was established as a response to poor harvest and grain imports in order to get Italian farmers to grow more cereals especially wheat, to reduce foreign imports.
-In the north, farmers shifted from maize to wheat with modernized farming.
1926- 'the battle for land' - farmlands were created as marshes and swamps were drained near Rome. This created employment.
-18th August 1926- 'the battle for the lira' was announced as the lira was revalued as means of restoring its value abroad and to help stop inflation as well as maintaining Italian prestige. This enabled Italy to continue importing coal and iron for armaments and shipbuilding.
-1927- 'the battle of births' was initiated to increase the population as Mussolini wanted a large army to conquer a large empire for national pride and acquisition of raw products. Therefore early marriages. provision of maternity benefits and rewards to women from each province who gave birth to the most children was encouraged. Jobs were granted to married fathers over single men, newlyweds were given cheap railway tickets for their honeymoon and extra taxation was imposed on bachelors. Homosexuality was decriminalized, laws on abortion and divorce were enforced to exclude women from being payed.
-By 1934, 1,300 children were born the 93 women from the 93 provinces.
Despite the new developments, Italy became dependent on wheat as it had become easier to produce. Olive oil, which was mainly produced in Italy had to be imported as resources had been mismanaged. The new villages that were supposed to be build as part of the 'battle over the southern problem' had not yet been built.
Exports of fruit and wine and livestock dropped.
The 'battle of lira' resulted in the overprice of Italian goods, making them expensive. This caused a sharp slump in exports and sharp rise in unemployment esp in vehicular exports.
Economic policies and free trade introduced by Mussolini were now overpowered by the devalued lira. In addition to the Great Depression, the country's economy suffered greatly.
The number of births dropped significantly throughout the 30s and 40s from 29.9 per 1,000 in 1925 to 23.1 per 1,000.
Due to the large conscription of men to the deployment of Mussolini's plans, women were continuously the paid workforce of the country.
During the early years of Mussolini, male employers experience improved living standards and decreased unemployment as a result of the general economic revival in Europe and also due to the orthodox and economic reforms enforced by de Stefani.
Between 1925-26, workers experienced severe hardship as they were banned from forming trade unions and also the ability to strike while employers was able to impose longer hours and cut wages without government interference.
During the great depression, Italy encountered rise in unemployment and food prices (due to the 'battle for grain')
-Economic drift between north and south deepens as big industry owners benefit from Mussolini's policies more than landowners.
-Rural poverty worsens as USA reduce immigration. This affected people trying to escape from Italy's rural areas.
-Workers in top positions of Mussolini's administration benefit from good wages and additional privileges due to corruption while small businesses and small business employees struggle.
-Lateran agreements in May 1929 reunified Italy and papacy after many years of strained relationship due to the papacy losing most of it's land during the reunification of Italy. In the agreements papal exercise sovereign control over the Vatican City in return for recognition of Fascist Italian State, Roman Catholicism becomes national religion and clergy would not join political parties and state could veto appointment of certain bishops.
The platform for this agreement was the fact that the Liberals were anti-clerical and the Socialists and communists were atheists.
In April 1924, Mussolini implemented a combination of diplomacy and unilateral action to coerce Yugoslavia to sign the Pact of Rome which granted Italy occupation of Fiume, one of the territories the country had hoped to gain after WW1.
In 1926, peaceful dialogues between Italy, France and Britain led to parts of Egypt and Kenya being handed to Italian colonies in Africa.
Mussolini used economic policies to win Albania over. He then provided financial support to an Albanian chieftain who had seized power; this act solidified Albanian-Italian relationship.
Mussolini did not approve of the alliance of France and Yugoslavia as he deemed it to be a threat. He considered Yugoslavia to be vital to Italian plans that involved areas along the Adriatic. Another seeming threat was France's position in North Africa which could tamper with the Italian expansion plans.
1929- Mussolini plots with Hungary to overthrow Yugoslavian king and joins nations requesting for the revision of peace treaties.
1930- Calls for Italian army to be as fortified as British and French army but is ignored.
In 1933, Mussolini signs a non-aggression pact with USSR and tries to establish closer ties to Austria and Hungary.
-January 1935, Mussolini signs accord with France and In April forms Stresa Front with Britain and France in order to block German expansion after finding out about Hitler's actions against Treaty of Versailles and conscription in Germany. The pact was also hopefully a way to persuade Britain and France of Italy's invasion of Abyssinia.
Mussolini was initially skeptical of Hitler as he did not trust him or his plans of expansion. He also regarded Austria as a part of Italy and not Germany.
Furthermore, he feared that the area of Alto Adige in northern Italy which had many German-speakers would be annexed by Germany.
The ras wanted to make the transition from local to national power now that it had gained control of northern and central Italy. The opted for a coup after the recent general strike by the Socialists. In early October, pressured from the ras had increased as Mussolini struggled to contain them.
Balbo is said to have stated that the group intended to march on Rome with or without Mussolini and seize power. Mussolini agreed to organize the march in order to make the government concede and appease his followers.
According to the plan Mussolini had drawn, the Local action squads (ras) would be organized into a national militia which would take control of the major towns and cities in Northern and Central Italy. Then some 40,000 Fascists would converge on Rome. Town halls, railway stations and telephone exchanges across Italy were controlled by Fascist squads.
The prime minister, Luigi Facta persuaded the King to declare a state of emergency to stop the converging Fascist groups. The King refused to sign the papers declaring the state of emergency as he was scared that his cousin would replace him as he was a known Fascist supporter, was intimidated by the rise of communism and had lost faith in the Liberal gov't.
Facta resigned in protest.
28th October- King declares state emergency
29th October- Salandra advices the king to appoint Mussolini as Italian prime minister
30th October- Fascists converge on Rome
16th November 1922- Mussolini holds his first speech to the parliament where he proclaimed the strength of the Fascist party, his desire to create a strong and united Italy and requested emergency powers (as he still lacked majority vote) to diminish Italy's economic and political problems. He won enormous vote of confidence from ex-prime ministers and deputies.
Mussolini elects the Liberal Alberto de Stefani as minister of finance as he was considered a good economist.
In addition to this, de Stefani was a Liberalso his appointment was a way of Mussolini's assurance to the elites that Fascism posed no threat to them.
However, his policies favored big industries which upset the left-wing Fascists as they favored "the little man" while right-wingers wanted big businesses to fund the ideas of the party.
Creation of a Fascist Grand Council in December '22 as a supreme decision-making body within the Fascist Party to discuss proposals for gov't action.
The Fascist ministers in gov't made decisions-> passed on to the council for approval.
-January 1923, Mussolini persuaded the Fascist Grand Council to form the regional Facist action squads into a national Fascist militia funded by the gov't funds- reduction of Ras power.
The National Security Guards (MVSN) was to swear allegiance to him and not to the king.
Early 1923- Mussolini announced no measures to be taken against tax evasion (which was common with wealthy individuals and big companies). This won him their support. The small Nationalist Party (member of coalition gov¨t with links to big industries and army) merge with Fascists). This brings additional paramilitary forces to Fascists and confirms Mussolini's increasing shift to the right.
April-June - Mussolini enforces measures such as renouncing atheism, enfocring religious education, banning contraception and swearing in public to increase support from the Catholic sector. In April, he sacked all PPI ministers as pope Pius XI withdrew support from PPI. Conservative Catholics support Mussolini as the pope forces the PPI leaser. Luigi Sturzo to resign.
Acerbo law- was an electoral law outlined by Mussolini to give the party (or alliance) which won most votes two-thirds of the seats in parliament, provided they had at least 25% of votes cast. It was passed by a large majority in July 1923.
The Corfu incident- An Italian general was murdered in Greece while making maps of disputed area on behalf of the Conference of Ambassadors. Mussolini demanded that Greece pay 50 million lire as compensation and an official apology. The Greeks refused and Mussolini ordered the invasion of Italian marines to the Greek Island of Corfu. The Greek gov't paid even though no apology was made. Mussolini was forced to with ´draw his men and was made a national hero by many Italians.
Before the elections, Mussolini set up a secret gang of thugs and gangsters known as Ceka to terrorise anti-Fascists in Italy and overseas. The group was led by Amerigo Dumini. Once the elections were announced, Ceka began a wave of violence on anti-Fascists, killing over a 100 people. The votes were rigged as birth certificates of anti-Fascists were seized, the Fascists voted on behalf of the dead and ballot boxes were stolen in areas where Fascists feared they would lose. The Fascist won almost 65% of the vote and the number of Fascist in the 535-seat chamber rose from 35 to 374.
On 30th May, Giacomo Matteotti, the then Socialist leader condemned the corruption and violence of the Fascists during the elections and even presented proof which questioned the legitimacy of the results. He was abducted in Rome and disappeared for a while. Dumini was arrested and charged with murder when Matteotti's body was later found. Mussolini's suspected involvement which was now widespread prompted boycott led by most opposition deputies, calling for the king to dismiss Mussolini. However the king refused as he feared the rise of communism and being overthrown by relatives, and Giolitti and Salandra as well as other leading Liberals and conservatives turned against Mussolini.
In July, Mussolini created law on censorship and ban meetings by opposition parties.
Mussolini promised to get rid of the thugs in the Fascist party and sacked three Fascist ministers from the gov't.
This act provoked a revolt by leading Ras members as they warned Mussolini to either stop investigating into Fascist violence and become a bonafide dicator or be overthrown.
In January 1925, Mussolini addressed the chamber of deputies and assumed responsibility for Matteotti's murder, as prime minister and leader of the Fascist Party while denying setting up the Ceka and condemning the actions of Dumini's thugs. He did make it clear that he was not going to steep down and would rule ´by force´ if necessary.
Italy was ruled by Farinacci(the ruthless ras of of Cremona and new party secretary) when Mussolini became ill. He launched a new series of squadristi violence against Socialist and Communist parties and radical parts of the PPI. He also ordered the purge of the Fascist party esp. those seen as less loyal to Mussolini.
August 1925- Mussolini elected Fascist mayors and councils of towns and cities known as podesta.
24 December 1925- Mussolini appointed himself head of gov't
January 1926- Increased his powers to allow him to issue decrees without parliamentary approval and makes himself responsive to only the king.
- Introduces a new law stating that the king needed his approval before anyone was appointed minister and insists on being called IL Duce (the leader).
-Assassination attempt on Mussolini resulted in a ban on all other political parties. Trade unions were outlawed as they were associated with socialists.
Special courts were instituted for political offenders in order to simply and effectively dissolve such organizations.
-1927- Secret police controlled by the state and known as OVRA was formed to suppress any political opponents.
-A purge of judiciary in which many judges were sacked due to lack of loyalty or too much independence. Mussolini intervened a lot in cases and imprisonment without trial became common.
Not all positions were held by Fascists including chief of police which was held by career politicians.
-Mussolini instructs all Italians including Fascists to obey the prefects (the senior civil servants in charge of the provinces and police). They appointed the podesta in the provinces. They went about stopping squadristi violence.
1928- Changes were made before new elections to ensure Italy would remain one-party state; only men aged 21+ or belonged to Fascist syndicates could vote. Mussolini had a clear victory which made him dictator of Italy.
-By 1929, all 8 ministerial posts were held by him while other Fascist leaders were excluded from power.
The Fascists created a plan which would liken them to Ancient Rome and its emperors. Fascism was portrayed as a revival of Roman civilization, and Mussolini who was referred to the Il Duce was depicted as the new Ceasar. Mussolini also adopted the use of the bundle of rods and axe(fasces) used by the speaker of the Roman Senate. According to the Romanita movement, the 'new man' was the modernized version of the true Roman chief.
Mussolin desisted from interfering in the affairs of the private businesses before the Depression as he favored them over the smaller businesses. How as the Great Depression had brought about rise in unemployment especially in the south, he introduced job-sharing schemes. Many women were forced to give up their jobs to unemployed men. Urbanization levels were controlled in order to maintain unemployment in the rural areas.
in 1931, Mussolini set up Institute per la Reconstruzione Industriale (IRI or Institute of Industrial Reconstruction) which took over many suffering industries and utilized public funds to prevent them from collapsing.
By 1939, there were huge capitalist monopolies as the IRI (which had now developed into a big massive state company) controlled major industries in Italy. The sections of these companies sold off to bigger companies still under private ownership created the monopolies.
Mussolini wanted Italy to be self-sufficient (autarky). Therefore he introduced measures which he increased as Italy suffered economic sanctionsimposed by the League of Nations following its invasion of Abyssinia. The more military exploits Italy got involved in, the more sanctions imposed on the country. Despite the negative effects of the sanctions on the Italian economy, production in the industrial sector increased by 9% and imports of raw material and goods dropped significantly between 1928 and 1938.
Mussolini desired to create a 'new Fascist man' who possessed qualities such as strength, aggression and willingness for the betterment of the state. In order to do this, he aimed to create his own image according to the archetype of this 'superman' as it was referred to.
In order to promote his image as the 'superman', he set up a press committee which only advocated a positive image of his activities as well as himself. He was depicted to be a charismatic, intelligent, youthful and energetic person. He also established the state radio in 1924 although they were very limited; 1 radio to about 44 people.
This solved by the setting up of public address systems in public places.
In addition to this, there were state-reel films to show the public some of the speeches he held before the public and the fanatic support he received from the crowd.
The position of minister for press was assumed by Galeazzo Ciano, Mussolini's son-in-law in 1933 and a couple of years later, the press(which was later renamed as Minculpop- ministry of popular culture) expanded its portrayal of Mussolini in every play, film, book and radio programmes a hero and new Caesar with the Fascists depicted as the saviors of Italy.
They proved unsuccessful however, as the traditional culture was still generally by the people.
Photographs and posters of Mussolini were put up in public places including streets and workplaces and he was always accompanied by the Blackshirt bodyguards while an 'applause squad' was placed at rallies and meeting in order to support and create enthusiasm for Mussolini. Music and lights were placed at rallies and meeting places as an inspiration from D'annunzio's techniques. The Fascist slogan which was recited in various meeting places was cereder, obbedire, combattere; believe, obey and fight.
Many textbooks were banned and replaced with governmental ones which emphasized Mussolini's role and by 1936, there was only one official history textbooks.
Youth Organizations were created and all fascist groups had to be a part of the group.
Boys between 18-21 could join the Fascist Levy for young fascists and then later apply to be members of the Fascist Party. These groups were required to follow physical fitness programmes and attend summer camps where pre-military training was conducted more political indoctrination went on.
Adults in Italy were not spared as organizations aimed to regulate after-work activities had been created. The Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro(OND) which was set up in May 1925 organized concerts, dancing and holiday activities and also established libraries, clubs and sports programmes.
Although this move enhanced Italy's competency in sports it could not promote Fascist ideals as the main focus was on the cultural and sports activities in the programme.
Mussolini's methods of indoctrination also included making it compulsory for educators to swear an oath of allegiance to Mussolini and the king and children in primary schools were taught that their country had been saved by Mussolini and his party.
Italian troop invaded Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) in an attempt to add it to two of Italy's colonies in East Africa. This took a successful turn as Italian army had tanks and artillery while Ethiopian army had spears.
Weak sanctions were imposed on Italy after initial decision by France and Britain to award Italy with 2/3 of Abyssinia. This enabled the captured of Addis Ababa in May 1936 and the merging of Abyssinia with Eritrea and Somaliland.
March 6- Italy leaves League of Nations
June 1936- Mussolini agrees to join Hitler in Spanish War intervention
Signing of the Rome-Berlin Axis in October 1936 occurs as a confirmation of Italy and German opposition of communism and the division of European territories among each country.
Italy signs Anti-Comintern Pact in November 1937 and joins Germany and Japan.
September 1938- Mussolini orders the Italian navy to prepare for war against Britain in Mediterranean.
May 1939 Hitler and Mussolini sign the pact of steel, a formal military alliance .
whereby Italy would fight by Germany in case of war outbreak
Although racism is not one of the foundation principles of fascism, it is still believed that the invasion of Abyssinia and Libya occurred due to the belief that the Italian race was superior to the African races.
However, Antisemitism did not show up in Fascist Italy until the Rome-Berlin Axis in 1936. Many Jews were active in the various Fascist factions.
Due to pressure from Hitler, Mussolini issued the Charter of Race in July 1938. This was to recognize Italians as Aryans and disregard Jews as outsiders or 'non-Aryans'.
Later, racial laws were implemented whereby Jewish people were banned from schools and workplaces, owning estates or even marrying Italians.
Opposition to the laws mainly came from the pope and also many important Fascist leaders.
Racial persecution started in 1943 when the German Gestapo and SS operating in Northern Italy carried out a series of brutal attacks on Jews.
Italy was unprepared for the Second World War as it lacked enough troops and
weapons. The weapons the army did have were simply outdated or faulty.
Between 1935-39, the Italian government had doubled its expenditure from 30-60 billion, spending 30% on war industries and rearmament. This increased national debt from 2 billion to 28 billion lire.
As Italy began to suffer economic hardship, Mussolini became dependent on Germany and other Axis-occupied territories for coal, iron and steel required to sustain armament industries for a bigger war. Germany grew weary of supporting the weaker nation with such vital supplies.
1940-43- Italy finds it difficult to replace planes and tanks destroyed as steel production declines.
Many peasant were conscripted hence food shortages rose and more of such materials had to be imported.
Italy did not invade Poland with Germany as it was unprepared for war. Italy demands for Germany to provide supplies were delayed hence Mussolini's decision to not enter war.
Italy did not participate in the war until June 1940 when it tried to seize land along the French Riviera, believing that France would surrender to German armies.
Italian troops had to withdraw and Germany refused Italy any North African territories belonging to France as it failed to attack British soldiers in Malta.
August 1940- Italy successfully invades and captures British Somaliland and attacks Egypt in September.
October 1940- Italy invades Greece
-Over 100,000 Italians captured in Egypt by British forces
-November 1940 Italy forces defeated in battle of Tarano and also at Matapan in 1941
Italian troops defeated at Tobruk in Egypt by Britain in 1941.
Mussolini sends Italian troops to help Nazi invasion of USSR in June 1941.
Outbreak of strikes in Italy in 1941. Many skilled workers were sent to Germany and Italy continued to supply Germany with iron and coal.
Black market grows as rationing is introduced in Italy and food shortages hit Italy.
1942- Bombing of Italy by the Allies increases as Italy stands no chance
1943- Major strikes as longer hours and factory discipline increased to enable more production to atone for war damages.
Mussolini is blamed as bombings on Rome and invasion of Sicily by Allies begin and Germany starts moving into Italy.
Industrialists and lower middle class chastise Mussolini for incompetency, corruption and nepotism.
Mussolini demotes several ministers and top members of Fascist Party by April 1943.
1943- coup against Mussolini on July 24
King orders Mussolini to resign on July 25 and then he is arrested and jailed.
Italy capitulates on September 8 1943, announced by Badoglio.
Mussolini is rescued by German paratroopers in September 1943 and Hitler convinces him to set up a new Fascist state in unoccupied north-east state of Italy.
April 1945- Allies capture Bologna and Germans back out of Italy. Mussolini attempts to escape as well but is captured on April 27.