Fascist Italy

The Origins of Fascism

Origins in WWI
            The Triple Entente promised Italy the Terra Irreccenta (Habsburg land that they traditionally thought should belong to Italy), which is why Italy joined the war. A lot of their involvement in the war was based upon a desire for national regeneration (the glory of Rome) and to unify the Italians as a people.
            Before Italy had gone to war, the Fasci di Azione Rivoluzionaria group would try to instigate revolutionary action in hopes that the government would get more involved in the war. (Mussolini was involved in pushing for war too, but at the time he was a non-entity)
            However, there were many problems with Italy:
            -Very small standing army, so used mass conscription: out of about 8 million troops, 5 million were conscripted.
            -Horrible economy with no means of mass production
            -Heavy borrowing (500x increase in debt in 1916)
            -Sharp division between industrial north and agrarian south
                          -a 400% inflation rate resulted in a depression as it was more beneficial to keep agricultural goods rather than sell them in the market for worthless money

Results of WWI for Italy
            "Mutilated Victory" Although they gain a lot of territory, they do not get Dalmatia or Fione. If the government had been more active instead of complaining, Italy could have taken the severely weakened Austria-Hungary after the war.
            This 'relative deprivation' spread dissatisfaction with the government and eventually fuels support for Fascism because it called for "action."

1919-1920 Biennio Rosso (the Red Years)
            -Great increase in worker strikes and a huge rash of violent communist takeovers of factories
            -Socialist trade unions gain over 2 million members by 1919 (400% of their WWI membership
            -This leads to a civil war/anarchy scare and a general fear of communism

Fascism as the "Third Way"
            The Biennio Rosso paved the way for the 1921-1922 Biennio Nero. The government could not guarantee the people any safety during the communist scare, thus losing all credibility.
           Mussolini said he would guarantee the safety of the people, promising to get rid of the communists and the weak liberal government. His nationalistic views also made the Fascist party quite appealing.


The Rise of Mussolini

27 October 1922
            -Ras and squadistri take over 4 major cities in North and plan a march to Rome.
       King Victor Emmanuel III wants to replace the Prime Minister Luiji Facta with Mussolini because the King wants to appease the radicals yet thinks he can control Mussolini and so doesn't stop him from coming. Facta resigns in protest and Mussolini is appointed. Only then do the blackshirts march on Rome.
            -Mussolini creates the Grand Fascist Council
                        -Strictly advisory, but meant to lessen the influence of Communism
            -Outlaws Communism
            -Acerbo Law: Any group that gets a majority of the seats will then get 66% of them if they receive at least 25% of the votes
            -MVSN: Like Stalin's NKVD it was used to eliminate anti-fascists, but not on such a large scale
 
1924 –Use voter intimidation to get votes (Fascist party increases from 39 to 374 seats out of 535)

            -Corfu Incident: Italiant general gets murderd on Corfu and Mussolini blames the government of Greece, even though they were totally blameless. They will not pay a fine or anything, so Mussolini attacks (furthering his popularity) and because the Greeks don't want to fight, they pay money.

             -Challenging the PPI (Christian-based Italian People's Party)
                        -Mussolini becomes a Catholic and convinces the people of his devoutness, which brings him the support of the Pope and many of the former PPI supporters (many people thought the PPI was too liberal anyway)

            -10 June: Mussolini's longtime rival, Giacomo Matteolitti (Socialist Leader) is murdered and Mussolini is blamed.
                        -He gives a speech saying that he didn't know that his party members were going to do that.
                        -Party tells him to shift right, be stronger or be replaced. The squadistri were loyal to the Ras(regional leaders) not to him, so he needs to do what they say. Mussolini, unlike Stalin, did not have time to 'pick off' members, plus there were no internal conflicts to give him the excuse to do so, so he does not have the unwavering loyalty of the party.

            -6 September: First assassination attempt in which a lady Socialist missed (except for a small bit of his nose).
 
Mussolini creates henchmen: Podesta (instead of Ras), who are locally 'elected' leaders appointed by Mussolini and as such are personally loyal to him. OVRA- Security force devoted to the state –aka Mussolini (unlike the MVSN who were loyal to the party).
 
1925
            Begins heavy press censorship: Journals must be fascist and articles must be approved by the state
            Judicial reforms: changes in judge appointments and removes trial in some cases. Mussolini can issue imprisonment orders.
            Mussolini starts using the title "Il Duce"

1928
            Electoral reforms: Must be male, at least 21, and a fascist.
                        ~despite voter intimidation before, over 2.,5 million still voted for other parties
 
1929              Lateran Treaty
            -Takes papal lands, but gives church 30million lira –the Vatican can be an independent country with Italy's support.
            -Mussolini develops his Cult of Personality with films, flashy speeches, state-run schools (teachers must be fascists…however, there were still Catholic schools),  and mandatory youth organizations (despite this about 40% of youth never joined).
 


Mussolini's Battles

1925             Battle of the Southern Problem
            -establishes a corporate state: making monopolies that are privately owned, but regulated by the state.
            -Outlaws unions: replaced by Fascist syndicates, but the syndicates ended up abandoning the workers
            -redistribute agrarian production: The government pays farmers to concentrate on grain production. Although this does fix the immediate food
crisis, Italy now has to import wine, olive oil, and meat.

1926 Battle for Lira
            In order to restore the value of the lira, Mussolini makes exports more expensive, in effect just "saying the lira is worth more." This battle was a huge failure as the Italian market was too small and businesses could not sell their goods. Things cost more for the Italians afterwards.

1927 Battle for Birth
            To increase the population, divorce and birth control are outlawed (homosexuality is outlawed in 1931). Contests are held to see who can have the most children in 10 years are held and women are discouraged from working. This is highly ineffective as women needed to hold a job to support their families already.
 
1928 Battle for Land
            Drains marshland to try and increase farming land, but too expensive. This project results in only a 3% increase in land, but it did give jobs to many people.
 
1931
            Mussolini tries to save the banks by improving industry. However, the 9% industry increase during Mussolini's rule did not even keep pace with the inflation rate. However, there were significant decreases in the imports of raw goods and transportation was much improved. Mussolini's lack of success in this area was not entirely his fault as Italy does not have a vast supply of natural resources.

1935              Charter of Race
            Only after his alignment with Hitler did Mussolini have anti-Semetic policies. This Charter took away most of rights from Jews, but it was not strongly enforced, even by the Duce himself (he had a Jewish mistress –Margueritta Saffarsi), except in the more metropolitan north.
            -Loses support of the Pope

Mussolini's Foreign Policy

Mussolini regards himself as the International Leader of Fascism and spends a lot of money supporting Fascist groups in other countries. This is not actually ideologically sound, as Fascism is based on nationalism and nationalist expansionism.

1936             
        1 November             Rome-Berlin Axis
         
1937             Anti-Comintern Pact
 
1936
            Mussolini invades Ethiopia (1/2 million Ethiopians killed to only 5 thousand Italians)
 1939 
            May                Pact of Steel
            Binds Italy and Germany –if one goes to war then the other will do so immediately after, giving full support of all armed forces- land, sea, and air.
            (However, Mussolini did not enter the war (Hitler invaded Poland on 23 August, 1939) until after the Nazis marched through France on 1 May 1940)
 1940
    June:    Italy enters WWII
    Mussolini made many mistakes during World War Two. He trusted Hitler not to start the war until Italy was ready and always overestimated Italy while underestimating his enemies. The Duce refused to accept German aid in North Africa and his attack in Greece was a long period of failures (when Germany bales them out, the Nazi's win in only 2 weeks).

The End of Mussolini

1943
            Summer
            The Allied success in Tunisia and the continual bombings of Italy, combined with the severe food shortage and Nazi presence in Italy, turned public sentiment away from Mussolini.

            24 July
            A prominent Fascist, Grandi, moves a resolution requesting that the King re-assert full constitutional powers after Mussolini announces that the Germans are going to start evacuating the south.

            25 July
            Mussolini is arrested.

            12 September
            German special forces rescue Mussolini from prison and taken to Germany. Mussolini wanted to retire, but Hitler said that inless the Duce set of a new Fascist state in Italy, he would destroy Genoa, Turin, and Milan. He sets up the Italian Social republic and lives as a puppet ruler on Lake Garda

1945
            27 April
           
Mussolini and Clara Pettacci are arrested by communist partisans as the former Duce and his mistress were en route to Switzerland.

            28 April
           
Mussolini and mistress are executed.


            29 April
           
The bodies are taken to Milan and hung upside down from meathooks. The civilians desecrate the bodies, throwing stones, spitting, etc.