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Benito Mussolini

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Portrait of Benito Mussolini

Portrait of Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini was born on July 29th, 1883 in the town of Varnano dei Costa near the village of Predappio. His mother Rosa Maltoni was married to a blacksmith named Alessandro Mussolini. Alessandro, being an admirer of the Mexican revolutionary Benito Juarez, named his son after the patriot and hero. Benito Mussolini was an avid writer and after he finished his schooling, he became an editor for the Milan socialist paper “Avanti”. He became well known among the Italian socialists, but soon started promoting his views for war against Germany in World War I.

This infuriated the Socialists who were against Italy’s entry into the war. In 1915 he formed his own paper, Il Popolo d’Italia, and continued his promotion for war. When Italy finally joined the Allies to fight Germany, Mussolini enlisted into the “Esercito” (Army). Mussolini achieved the rank of Corporal, the same rank as Adolf Hitler, but was discharged in 1917 due to shrapnel wounds while in a trench.

He returned to his career in journalism in which he began to develop his ideas that would soon become known as Fascism. After the war, Italy was in turmoil. The economy was shattered and there were strikes and protests everywhere.

On March 23, 1919, Benito Mussolini and several other veterans formed the National Fascist Party. This party grew in popularity among the people of Italy, who were disenchanted with the chaos surrounding them.

A younger Benito Mussolini

A younger Benito Mussolini

Mussolini seemed to have the answers to bring their country into order. During this time, he adopted the Roman salute and the Black Shirt militia, which Hitler later copied from the him as the Brown Shirts. On March 15th 1921, Benito Mussolini along with 35 other Fascists were elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies.

In August of 1922, The ruling Leftist party ordered a general strike in the nation. Mussolini was enraged and issued an ultimatum that if they did not end the strike, his Fascist party would. The Leftist claimed he was trying to siege the government, but the armed forces wanted nothing to do with stopping the fascists from preventing the strike. On October 29, 1922, King Vittorio Emanuele III (1869-1947) phoned Benito Mussolini to come to Rome and form a government. Mussolini insisted on a telegram and it was wired soon afterwards. Benito Mussolini boarded a train to Rome and was greeted by thousands of Fascist Blackshirts awaiting his arrival.

His first act was to send the strikers back home to their families and their jobs. Benito Mussolini managed to assume the powers of all the government offices in order to regain control of the economy. In a short period of time, he was successful in stabilizing the economy and taking his country out of economic turmoil. He became known as “Il Duce” (the leader).

His first international crisis as head of Italy made him an Italian hero. The crisis was a border dispute between Greece and Albania. Benito Mussolini sent several men to the area representing Italy as part of an International Commission to dispute the issue. On August 23, 1923, all the Italians were murdered and discovered in Greek territory. In a rage, Mussolini sent the Greek government a list of demands, including a public apology, immediate inquiry into the killings, death sentence to those convicted and payment of 50 million Lira within 5 days. The Greeks refused the demand, since they did not know if it was Greeks who committed the murders.

Mussolini and child

Mussolini and child

Benito Mussolini ordered the Italian navy to bombard Corfu (Kerkyra) off the Greek coast. The shelling was then followed by an amphibious landing of Italian marines. After the League of Nations condemned the act, Mussolini threatened to pull Italy out of the League.

He insisted that the Conference of Ambassadors, who formed the original mission in the first place, must arbitrate the dispute. France, wanting Italy’s support over the mineral rich Ruhr Valley, sided with Italy. As a result, the Conference of Ambassadors endorsed most of Italy’s position. The Greek government gave in and agreed to Il Duce’s demands. This victory was immediately followed by Mussolini sending elements of the Italian Esercito into the city of Fiume and annexing it from Yugoslavia. Benito Mussolini was eventually made a British Knight of the Bath, but that was canceled in August of 1940.

Although Mussolini quenched his thirst for power, he was still enraged by the treatment Italy received for their part in defeating the Germans and Austrians in World War I. He had visions of a new Roman Empire and he could see the day when the Mediterranean Sea became the “Mare Nostrum”(Our Sea). The invasion of Ethiopia, commanded by Field Marshal Pietro Badoglio, in many ways a revenge against the Italian defeat at Adwa in 1896, and the Italian military assistance in Spanish Civil War, saw his dreams coming to life. But Benito Mussolini found his country blacklisted by the League of Nations and it forced his relationship closer to Nazi Germany, which was also isolated for their actions. Mussolini soon realized that the League of Nations did not have the backbone to stop Hitler or himself in gaining new colonies, so he pressed forward. On the April 7, 1939, Benito Mussolini invaded Albania and on May 22,1939, Italy and Germany cemented their alliance with the Pact of Steel.

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I created Comando Supremo: Italy at War in 2000 because of the the limited amount of information on Italian forces in WWII that was available online. Thanks to people like you, this site has grown to what it is today. Thank you for visiting and please bookmark the site!
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Comments

  1. 20
    John McCarthy says:

    Is it true that is was common for Italian immigrants in the US to send money to support Mussolini’s cause , as they felt he was good for their homeland prior to WW 2?
    Thanks

  2. 19
    Cavedine Abergowrie says:

    Mussolini sorted Italy out economically and organizationally but if you lose a war do not expect history to treat you favourably. Lack of resources stifled his military ambitions. Only England, France and the USA were permitted to have an empire at this stage of world history thus proving the old adage that history is written by the victors. Mussolini was driven by Italy’s poor territorial treatment by the allies after World War 1. This was the root cause of his closer and closer ties to Germany even though Mussolini disliked Hitler and did not trust him. Give Italy back her rightful territories! SPQR.

  3. 18
    aj says:

    if u wanna know why the guns didnt fire email me at andrewhoy55@yahoo.com

  4. 17
    AxeMan666 says:

    Wow! What are the odds of not one, but TWO firearms failing?! Crazy! There’s two explanations I believe, One: Someone who knew and was with the persons who were going to capture Ill Duce either bent the firing pins or disabled them somehow and 2. Mother Italy didn’t think it was time for his death! I believe number one.

  5. 16
    terry says:

    i will want to look at thoes picts of him please e-mail me at terry.huffman33@yahoo.com
    thanks

  6. 15
    Dr. James P. Melott, Jr. says:

    I am looking for a photo of Mussolini – he is standing (back against a wall I think) with his arms folded, head tilted back – well sort of looking down his nose. That is not a very good discription but it all I can come up with. I am not a researcher – just interested in some of the things he did – personal research. I think it is interesting how he came to power and some of the things – programs – he started. I was stationed in Italy (Sicily) for two years and there were still pictures of him (very faded) on walls of building. He was wearing a helmet. I was there in 1969 and 1970.

  7. 14
    ibiza says:

    i think he was a horrible person along with adolf hitler

  8. 13
    Bob Root says:

    I have a picture album that belonged to Mussolini. It is pics of him and his family with some of his prized horses. most pics are dated 1920 to 1932. Are there any collectors that may be interested.

  9. 12
    P Spohr says:

    I have 6 3″x5″ black and white photos of Benito Mussolin’s hanging by partisans taken by an American soldier at Milan, Italy in 1945. I wish to sell them to a collector. What might they be worth?

  10. 11
    bill fisher says:

    well to be truthful mussalini was a shocking leader who couldnt make his mind up and made decisions because of his bad temper, lets all remember that he was expelled from his first school for wounding another boy and then from his next for bullying and fighting :/

  11. 10
    Gabe says:

    The problem with fascist dictators is that they are good for their country, but no one else. They bog themselves down with extravagent thinking which leads to war. They did their own graves and bury themselves with their countries. Il Duce strengthened Italy in the military aspect, but they only had %15 of the war production of France. Italy was deeply in debt but was still a developing country. IMO he was close minded, and a short term thinkers

  12. 9
    Lolo polo says:

    Today we are seeing the same issues, as the economies of the world have seen in the past. Despair, use of power, police states, unemployment, just to mention a few of the plagues that Capitalism, Fascism and Communism has forced us to endure. We need a new world order, a voice to guide our world, White, black or whatever colors it is, to keep going. Not for their own purposes or richness but for us, humans, either Americans or whoever is it that it is we are sharing this wonderful planet of ours, “Planet Earth”. The real Mother Land. Let Love guide our soul.
    Think of him
    Jesus!
    STOP PREJUDISDIM

  13. 8
    HOLLY HAAS says:

    The greatness of Mussolini is that he had the courage to try to realize his great dream, to turn Italy great, respected and feared, although the sctrutural problems of weakness of the country and the dependence of foreign materials to feed its war machine were known by I1 Duce, he insisted to carry on his nationalist and imperial project. Mussolini was a great politician, he knew the strings he had to play to conquer the italian people, all his audiences and the whole world with a complex personality and a storng will. Even when he made anti-semithical laws to please Hitler, he never let the italians jews into Hitler’s hands like Pétain did when the shamefull Vichy France existed.The 15000 italisns jews were murdered after september of 1943 and the german occupation of the north of Italy.

  14. 7
    Abergowrie Cavedine says:

    Mussolini had a vision for his country and had the ability to take if forward after the “allies” short changed Italy after WWI. History is written by the victors so do not expect much sympathy for a man who rose to the top of the world stage but eventually was forced to back the wrong horse. All great leaders dream of empire!

  15. 6
    jp says:

    Prasad –
    I agree that he was a very intelligent man and that his intention were good for his country durning the time of turmoil they were in by boosting their economy however; why would you ever want a leader like this? he was power hungry and unexcepting of views that differed from his own. Why on earth would you want to live in a country where a left-winged political view could have you prosecuted?

  16. 5
    Tushar gawande says:

    I think Mussolini was a great leader;
    He fought for the well-being of his country- people.
    The betrayal from league of nations(Allies) &
    unacceptable treatement from them after WW1
    made him to join Hitler.

  17. 4
    maria says:

    he was every smart and had a hard child hood but in the end he wanted to much power

  18. 3
    Grace says:

    Benito Mussoleni is quite smart and i would say, a great leader. I can tell that he cared about Italy’s situation and is a brave man. Like amma says, he wanted too much power. It’s quite sad the way he and his wife died.

  19. 2
    emma says:

    benito mussolini was a dictator. he had a clever mind but wanted too much power

  20. 1
    Prasad L. Deshpande says:

    As i read and herd about Benito Mussolini, he’s a great thincker and leader also.

    In the current situation if we have this kind of leader and dashing attitude personality to do good work for our nation we will definately prove ourself on right way.

    Regards,
    Prasad L. D.
    M0b-+91 9225146852