18 Details About Life in Italy Under Benito Mussolini
18 Details About Life in Italy Under Benito Mussolini

18 Details About Life in Italy Under Benito Mussolini

Larry Holzwarth - November 19, 2018

18 Details About Life in Italy Under Benito Mussolini
Mussolini visiting the Alfa Romeo plant in Modena sometime in the early 1930s, with officials of the prestigious Italian automobile manufacturer. Wikimedia

16. Italian technology-enhanced national prestige

As did Hitler, but ahead of the Fuhrer’s projects, Mussolini and the Italian government-sponsored or commissioned projects which trumpeted Italian technology and industrial might, placing Italy on a par with the most advanced nations. One such project was the construction and operation of two great ocean liners, Rex and Conte di Savoia (King and Count of Savoy). Described by their advertising literature as being the “Riviera Afloat”, the ships were notable for their luxurious trappings during the final years of the great transatlantic liners’ golden age. In 1933 Rex completed the fastest transatlantic crossing ever achieved to that time, a record it held for two years before the French Normandie surpassed it in 1935. Both Italian ships were laid up for safety purposes in 1940, though both were severely damaged by allied action against them and eventually Rex was broken up after the war.

The Italians also made significant contributions to the field of aviation, including the development of a seaplane which for five years held the record as the world’s fastest airplane, of all types, and which still holds the record (as of 2018) as the world’s fastest piston-engine aircraft. During the 1933 Century of Progress World’s Fair, held in Chicago, a leader of the Fascist party and aviator flew the aircraft from Italy to Chicago. The pilot, Italo Balbo, used the flight and the publicity it generated to demonstrate Italian technological innovation and engineering achievements. Balbo was instrumental in building the Italian Air Force beginning in the 1920s and was the only senior member of the Fascist Party to vocally oppose the alliance between Nazi Germany and Italy, which led to his being assigned to lead the colonial government in Libya.

17. Drumming up nationalistic fervor among the Italians

Mussolini’s creation of the new Italian man needed an outlet for its masculine virility and willingness to fight, and throughout his regime, he promised the means to create it internationally. Official Fascist doctrine referred to the Mediterranean Sea as the Mare Nostrum, the name it was given by the ancient Roman Empire, and which meant “Our Sea”. The name was a reference to the Fascist goal of creating a New Roman Empire, through which the Mediterranean region would be brought under the control of the Italian government in Rome, and which would have included North and East Africa, the Middle East, Abyssinia, Greece, Dalmazia, and the islands of the Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas. Mussolini created jobs for the Italian people through the expansion of the air force, navy, and army.

In speeches and through the use of the Fascist propaganda machine, Mussolini exhorted the Italians to increase their pride by calling himself and his people nationalists, in a manner which was adopted by Adolf Hitler in Germany. Nationalism percolated through all levels of Italian society, and the nation was forged together as being one of the Great Powers of Europe, at least in the promises of the Fascists. It was taught in the schools, exhibited in films, and permeated Mussolini’s frequent addresses to the people and the Italian parliament, which was little more than an audience for Fascist exhibitions. When Mussolini launched his quest for empire in the Mediterranean it quickly became apparent that his self-vaunted military machine was far less capable than the people had been told.

18. The end of Fascism in Italy

By the summer of 1943, the Italian military was soundly beaten by the British and Americans, and the Italian people had had quite enough of Il Duce (the duke, understood by Italians to mean the leader) and were ready to depose him. King Victor Emmanuel III, in an attempt to save his crown, removed Mussolini as prime minister after obtaining a vote of no confidence from the Grand Council of Fascism and placed him under arrest. The Italian people supported the king, and the new government of Italy opened negotiations with the Allies, seeking an armistice. In response, Hitler ordered a commando mission to rescue Mussolini, which was successful, and the German leader installed Mussolini as the dictator of those parts of Italy under German control. Mussolini managed to hold the position only by virtue of the German troops protecting him.

Mussolini had his revenge against those on the Grand Council who had voted against him, trying 19 in a special court (13 of whom were in absentia) and executing the six which they had in custody. The Italian people under his jurisdiction were almost uniformly against him and partisan resistance fighters plagued the ever-shrinking territory as the Americans and British struggled up the Italian boot. By the spring of 1945 German resistance had all but collapsed and partisans who had been under Mussolini’s thumb since 1922 finally caused Il Duce to flee for Switzerland with his mistress. A communist partisan group captured them, gave them a brief mock trial, and executed both on April 28, 1945. The final pictures of the pair shown to the Italian people which he had led to disaster were of them hanging upside down at a Milan service station.

 

Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“‘Pope and Mussolini’ Tells The ‘Secret History’ Of Fascism And The Church”. Author Interviews, National Public Radio. January 27, 2014. Online transcript

“How Italians protected Jews from the Holocaust”. Chicago Tribune Editorial Page. October 10, 2014

“Nazism, Fascism, and the Working Class”. Timothy W. Mason. 1995

“Mussolini and the Press”. David S. D’Amato, libertarianism.org. January 28, 2016

“The Myth of the New Man in Italian Fascist Ideology”. J. Dagnino. 2016

“Women in Fascist Italy”. Paul Corner, Research Article, University of Siena. January 1, 1993. Online

“Education in Fascist Italy”. L. Minio-Paluello, Foreign Affairs. July, 1947

“Italian Fascism and Youth”. Michael A. Ladeen, Journal of Contemporary History. July, 1969

“Censorship and Literature in Fascist Italy”. Guido Bonsaver. 2007

“Mussolini’s Football”. Multiple writers, Duke University. Updated 2013. Online

“Fascism, the Mafia, and the Emergence of Sicilian Separatism (1919-1943)”. Jack E. Reece, Journal of Modern History. June, 1973

“The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe”. David I. Kerzer. 2014

“Italy and the Great Depression: An Analysis of the Italian Economy, 1929-1936”. Fabrizio Mattesini, Beniamino Quintieri, Explorations in Economic History. July, 1997

“Italy Betrayed”. Peter Tompkins. 1966

“Jews in Italy Under Fascist and Nazi Rule 1922-1945”. Joshua D. Zimmerman. 2005

“Rendezvous with the Rex”. John T. Correll, AIR FORCE Magazine. December, 2008

“My Autobiography with The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism”. Benito Mussolini. 2006

“Fascist Voices: An Intimate History of Mussolini’s Italy”. Christopher Duggan. 2013

The Irish Times – How Pius Came To Regret His Deal With The Duce: The Pope And Mussolini

Anne Frank – Why Did Hitler Hate The Jews?

The Atlantic – Understanding Hitler’s Anti-Semitism

History Collection – Antisemitism Helped Protect Jews From the Black Death… And Then Got Them Killed

Haaretz – Angst or Reality: How Bad Is anti-Semitism in Italy?

History on this Day – Mussolini’s Blackshirts March On Rome Seizing Total Control

E International Relations – Hitler And Mussolini: A Comparative Analysis Of The Rome-Berlin Axis 1936-1940

History Answer UK – Mussolini Vs The Mafia

Natural History – Were Romulus And Remus Really Nursed By A She-Wolf?

Smithsonian Magazine – How Journalists Covered the Rise of Mussolini and Hitler

Soccer Politics – Mussolini’s Football

Football Times – When The World Cup Rolled Into Fascist Italy In 1934

The Guardian – Italy Mafia Networks Are More Complex And Powerful, Says Minister

Haaretz – When Jews Praised Mussolini and Supported Nazis: Meet Israel’s First Fascists

Australian War Memorial – The Corpse of Benito Mussolini, his mistress, Clara Petacci and other senior Italian Fascists

Advertisement