Biography of Benito Mussolini (1883-1945)

Benito Mussolini.

Italian politician. He/She was born in summer di Costa (Dovia di Predappio, South of Forli, Emilia Romagna) on July 29, 1883 and died in Mezzegra Giulino (next to Lake Como, Lombardy) on April 28, 1945. After a childhood with some problems, he/she went to work in Switzerland (1902). There he/she stood out as a Socialist activist. He/She returned to Italy in 1904 to perform military service, and then worked as a journalist in various Socialist newspapers; He/She became director of the most important publication of the Socialist Party newspaper Avanti! At the beginning of the first world war his ideological stance varied from sharp mode: was supporter of intervention, against socialist internationalism, so it ended up being expelled from the party. He/She founded an own newspaper, Il Popolo d' Italy and was called up. After the war he/she founded the fasci of combat, of nationalist character, and earned the support part of the middle classes to harass Communists and Socialists.

On October 30, 1922 he/she entered Rome with thousands of his followers and the King Víctor Manuel III commissioned him to form a Government. In the 1924 elections he/she won majority of seats and thereafter began to gain total control of the country. In 1929 signed the Lateran agreements with the Holy See, which created the State of the Vatican. Abiertamente nationalist, invaded Ethiopia in 1935 and helped the Francoist side during the Spanish Civil War. He/She approached the national socialism of Adolf Hitler, allowing its expansionism in Europe, and from 1940 fought alongside him in the second world war. The continuous military failures resulted you in a loss of prestige and on July 24, 1943 the most fascist leaders voted for his dismissal. The King thus did and sent him to prison. Released by the Germans, he/she chaired the ephemeral Italian Social Republic, under German supervision. Pressed from the South by the Allied armies, and inside by numerous guerrilla groups, he/she should flee in direction to Switzerland to avoid prisoner. On the route was stopped by a few partisans and shot.

Education and stay in Switzerland (1902-1904)

He was the son of Alejandro Mussolini, blacksmith of anarchist ideas, and Rosa Maltoni, school teacher. His father called Benito Amilcare Andrea in honor of Benito Juárez Mexican politician and two Italian revolutionaries. He/She was first educated at the school of his village, and from 1892 in Salesian boarding school of Faenza, where eventually be expelled in 1894 by his rebellious attitude and continuous fights. He/She continued his studies in secular school Giosuè Carducci of Forlimpopoli, up to eighteen, where he/she received very good ratings. Upon graduating, by influence of his mother began teaching as an elementary teacher in Gualtieri, near Parma. But it was imposing parental influence, which since the child had transmitted his same anti-bourgeois and anticlerical attitude to it, and went to Switzerland (July, 1902) to meet various anarchist revolutionaries who lived there and avoid doing military service.

Traveled from one corner to another of Switzerland (on occasion was arrested by Swiss police for vagrancy), finding temporary occupation as Carpenter, picker of fruit or as a Mason. He/She attended Socialist meetings, participating with entuasismo in political discussions, and writing in newspapers published by Italian exiles. He/She also learned then to speak French, and later German. In summer of 1903 he/she promoted a general in Berne strike, so, already signed as "socialist revolutionary" was taken to jail and then expelled from Switzerland, though he/she immediately returned to entering a new canton.

At the beginning of 1904 he/she met a Russian socialist called Angelica Balabanov, with whom he/she became close friends. It is also possible to have a brief meeting with Lenin, who then resided in Zurich. Interested in training, read since then various intellectuals: the Russian anarchists Pietr Kropotkin and Mikhail Bakunin; the German Socialists Karl Marx, Friedrich Engelsand August Bebel and Karl Kautsky; and the Frenchmen Georges Sorel and Gustave Hervé. Also would lend attention to Italian Renaissance, classical Greek thinkers and philosophers of the s. XIX as Friedrich Nietzsche.

The Socialist Mussolini (1904-1914)

In November 1904, he/she returned to Italy to perform military service and not have to go into exile. He/She joined at the beginning of 1905 with the 10th Regiment of Bersaglieri of Verona. His mother died on 19 February. To be licensed in September 1906 returned to work as a teacher in Tolmezzo (near Venice) and in Oneglia (Riviera), and again wrote in Socialist newspapers and on revolutionary and anticlerical speeches with his characteristic style of sentences short and direct. In 1909 the socilistas of the Trento (then in Austro-Hungarian territory) offered him the direction of the weekly L'Avenire of the self-employed ('the future of the worker'). Since this publication defended the Italian independence and for this reason he/she was expelled from the Trentino.

Established in Forlì, from January 1910 he/she began to live together without marrying Rachele Guidi, from the same town. September 1 was born their first daughter, Edda, while November 17, his father died. That same year began to edit the newspaper the lotta di classe ('class struggle'). He/She began to sharpen certain ideological traits which would then apply to fascism: voluntarism, individualism and violence. In September 1911, he/she was opposed to the Italian occupation of Libya and tried to convince the workers that they destroy the railway lines and thus preventing the transfer of troops, so was arrested and sentenced to one year in prison. It was released in March 1912.

Following articles criticized the reformist Socialists and finally attained his expulsion from the party. He/She was elected to the new National Executive Committee and appointed director of the main newspaper of the party, Avanti! ('Forward!'). He/She lived thereafter in Milan. At the beginning of June 1913 he/she was one of the promoters of a general strike, the "red week".

The change of ideals and the founding of fascism (1915-1922)

At the end of June 1914 broke out the first world war. Mussolini initially opposed entry into the conflict in Italy, but suffered a huge disappointment to see that the Socialists in countries in war just hesitate to participate, at odds with their internationalist principles. This, and the pressure of public opinion Italy, which wanted to intervene also, changed its stance in this regard. In October he/she published an article which showed sympathy for the Entente and declared supporter of an "active neutrality". The subsequent fears of the Socialist Party made him give up the leadership of Avanti! and in November it began publishing Il Popolo d' Italy ('the people of Italy'), where he/she wrote decidedly interventionist articles. At the end of that month, he/she was expelled from the Socialist Party.

In May 1915, Italy finally went to war and Mussolini was incorporated into the 11th Regiment of Bersaglieri of Milan. In September it became the front, in Udine. He/She became ill, he/she was hospitalized, and was granted a month's leave, which took the opportunity to marry civilly with Rachele (December 16) at Forlì; on September 21, 1916 was born the second son, Vittorio (the third, Bruno, wine two years later, while the fourth, Roman, and the fifth, Anna Maria, did not until 1927 and 1929 respectively). After being promoted to caporal maggiore ('Sergeant'), was badly hurt by the explosion of a cannon in tests (February 1917), and must be submitted to an operation. Decommissioned, returned to devote himself exclusively to his newspaper and rallies, demanding the continuation of the fight until the total victory. This was very celebrated by Mussolini, but was disgusted by low earnings from Italy in the peace of Versailles (June 1919).

Irreconcilable opponent of the Socialists, in March 1919 decided to coordinate against them several nationalist factions that existed from 1914 and which had been adopted as a symbol the bundle of rods (fasces) used by the officers of Justice in ancient Rome. Given the name of Fasci di Combattimento ('fasci of combat'), becoming the first local group in Milan. At the end of the year it was fascist candidate by Milan in the general election, but it received very few votes. In the wake of worker strikes in the summer of that year, Mussolini began to receive numerous props from the owners of the middle classes and the landowners. Squads of Fascists were devoted to act violently, beating Socialist or burning buildings, sometimes with dead on both sides.

In April 1921 he/she returned to submit to new elections, and on this occasion he/she and other fascists Yes obtained Member certificate. In September the fasci transformed into the national fascist party, which at the end of year boasted 250,000 members. At the beginning of 1922 the fascist escuadristas, directed by Italo Balbo, adopted a uniform shirt and pants black; their commanders would be henceforth appointed by Mussolini, who began to be called Duce ('driver') as the title of his supreme command.

Mussolini, theDuce(1922-1945)

This year the possibility to take control of Rome as they had before with other cities was posing between the fascists. In autumn the time seemed to be ripe. While the fascists occupied the town halls of the main towns of North, three columns of 26,000 men in total converged on Rome on October 28 while the army prevented it. Then came more, among them the cuadrumviros of Mussolini: Italo Balbo, Michele Bianchi, general Emilio de Bono and Cesare De Vecchi. The own Mussolini came the day 30. This March on Rome had important political consequences. Received in audience by the King Víctor Manuel III, this commissioned him forming new Government. He/She was 39 years old, and so was the youngest Prime Minister in the history of Italy.

Path of the totalitarian power (1922-1929)

The same day he/she appointed his ministers; for him, he/she retained the ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs. Although in the minority, it had the support of the monarchy, the army and much of the population. He/She also received the Parliament's special powers for administrative, economic reforms in the army and in education (November). It then arrested the top leaders of the Communist Party, but not ban it.

Regarding his party carried out some reforms: it created the Grand Council (consultative) fascist, transformed brackets voluntary militia for national security, with police tasks, and organized the first fascist unions. In August 1923, exploded a serious crisis between Italy and Greece; his stance led him to confront the same League of Nations, which ended up yielding to the Italian claims. The Prestige they obtained with this question allowed to be Yugoslavia Fiume in January 1924. In this month it reached a great diplomatic success to recognize the Soviet Union as a State.

In the general election of April got 260 535 members, but the Socialist Deputy Giacomo Matteotti denounced intimidation that candidates from his party had suffered and called for its cancellation. He/She was kidnapped and killed by a group of five fascists, that detainees declared acting on orders of the fascist Grand Council members, close to Mussolini. These claimed to be interpreted in that sense a few words from the head of Government on Matteotti, but it was not sufficiently clear that Mussolini was involved. In any case, the protests of the opposition created a crisis of Government, leaving the Parliament (removal with the Aventine). It was surpassed by the lack of interest of the Italian and European political forces to get rid of Mussolini.

From the following year openly persecuted Socialists, and in October was in Locarno (Switzerland) on the occasion of the signing of a treaty that put an end to the isolation of Germany (see: Treaty of Locarno). In April 1926, the fascist trade unions were the only ones allowed and strikes were banned. In November it went one step further: the Communist deputies were arrested and expelled Socialists from Parliament after ban their associations and their press. It was, therefore, the political and economic control of the country; his Government had become a dictatorship.

It then approached the Church, by social weight which had Catholicism in the country. He/She began negotiations with the Holy See and finally, on 11 February, signed with the representatives of Pius XI the Lateran agreements. Thus, solving the conflict originated in 1860, the Pope recognized the Kingdom of Italy and Rome as its capital, giving the Vatican City as a small, but sovereign State, as well as implement compulsory religious education. The following month he/she dissolved the Parliament.

Mussolini, the fascist

Their propaganda and mass management capacity had allowed her to gain absolute control of the country. I used to to pronounce on speeches from the balcony of the Palacio of Venice, Rome, exhilarating to the crowd, which responded with cheers and waving with right arm raised as the ancient Romans. Imperative before the crowds and with theatrical poses (forward jaw, gestures with his right hand), was privately far more friendly and simple, which helped him to win the sympathies of many diplomats and foreign statesmen. Meanwhile, propaganda, through newspapers, radio and film, showed him as a model of man: family (wanted really to their children), thinker, artist, athlete, military, etc., and someone worth be obeyed: said that "Mussolini has sempre ragione» ('Mussolini is always right').

Imitating him, were leaders of fascist parties in other European countries: José Antonio Primo de Rivera and the Phalange in Spain; Charles Maurras and Action Française in France; Léon Degrelle and the rexism in Belgium; Sir Oswald Mosley and the Union of fascists Englishmen in the United Kingdom; Adolf Hitler and national socialism in Germany; Ante Pavelic and his ustachas, and even Konstantin Rodzaevsky and their fascist Russian exile in Manchuria. Curiously, gave support to all, except the Nazis of Hitler, because he/she felt no appreciation by the Germans.

In March 1929 and March-April of 1932 was interviewed about his life and ideas, readings and tastes by the German writer Emil Ludwig, that was origin of the book conversations with Mussolini. A few years later, in article "fascismo" of the Italian encyclopedia, said that according to his conception, the State was above the individual. He/She also rejected the pacifism, and praised the heroism that demanded the war; imperialism was the expression of the vitality of a people.

The 1930s and the rotation of foreign policy (1930-1939)

After the depression of 1929 Mussolini reorganized the country economically, creating a corporate State (March 20, 1930) that was intended to replace capitalism. All economic areas would have their corresponding Corporation, centralized turn in the National Council of corporations. Although he/she saw no welcome to Nazism, on June 14, 1934 he/she met for the first time with Hitler in Venice.

After the crisis caused by the assassination of Yugoslav King Alejandro I Karageorgevic in Marseille (October 1934) began to implement its imperialist propaganda and declared war on Ethiopia. First he/she had to deal with the remilitarization of Germany, begun in March; as a precautionary measure he/she signed Stresa (April) agreements with France and England. He/She then resumed her plans of conquest, despite the protests of the League of Nations. Initiated the fighting in October 1935, was victorious in six months: on May 3, 1936 the Italian Commander, Pietro Badoglio, forces entered Addis Ababa.

Shortly after it erupted in civil war Spain. It began sending aircraft and military material to the rebels of general Francisco Franco, also Hitler did. It approached both, and the axis Roma-berlin paved the way was to go to form the Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano (son-in-law of the own Mussolini). By then approved the first racist laws against their subjects black Ethiopian and Somali and Libyan Arabs. At the end of that year he/she left the League of Nations.

When in March 1938 the Germans annexed are Austria, Mussolini gave its go-ahead. In late September he/she met in Munich with Hiler and the heads of the French and English Governments, Arthur Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier, to negotiate the surrender of Sudetenland (Czechoslovakia) to Germany and thus avoid a war. In October he/she began the persecution of the Jews. Recognized the imposition of a German protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in March 1939 and April 7 sent occupation troops to Albania. It may 22 signed the Pact of steel, a military alliance with Germany: from then on, the destinies of Mussolini and Hitler would be one single.

Mussolini and the second World War (1939-1942)

In August he/she was informed the German plans of invading Poland, which would mean a war with France and England; Mussolini, however, did not want it until at least 1942. Did not convince you the signing on 23 of the Moscow pact of non-aggression, which facilitated projects. So that, after the entry of German troops in Poland on September 1 and the Anglo-French war of the 3rd statement, decided not to participate, but as remained allied with Hitler, opted for a "non-belligerency" instead of a strict neutrality. The announcement was well received by the population, Italian, contrary to the war and also unprepared for her.

However, for Mussolini were something provisional. After the sudden German invasion of Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland and, surprisingly, France, proclaimed the entrance of Italy in the conflict (June 10, 1940). The next day he/she was appointed Supreme Commander of all the Italian armies by the King. Italian troops invaded the French Mediterranean coast, others are mobilized against the British Egypt while in Libya. Defeated France, hoped to get nice, Corsica, Tunisia and Djibouti, which Hitler, to not harm the collaborationist Vichy France, not granted. Mussolini attacked Greece from Albania on 28 October.

Soon the Greeks responded and made back to the Italians to the Albanian border. The same thing happened in Egypt, where the general Rodolfo Graziani was rejected by the English. Only in East Africa advanced the Italians: they took the English Somalia and entered southern Sudan and Northern Kenya. On February 12, 1941 met with Franco in Bordighera (Italian Riviera) to try to convince him to come in war along the axis, which he/she rejected the need for Spain to rebuild after the civil war. To rectify the Italian ineffectiveness, Hitler sent to Libya to Afrika Korps of Erwin Rommel, who quickly drove out the British and came into Egypt, while other forces invaded Yugoslavia and Greece. Yugoslavia was dismembered and part of it (Dalmatia) went to Italy; in the independent Croatian State that was created, Mussolini installed as King the Prince Saboya-Aosta Aimón.

Very soon things began to go very wrong: in the battle of Cape Matapan lost several large warships and Ethiopia fell to the English. On June 22, 1941 he/she received the news that Hitler attacked the USSR, and immediately sent an Italian Expeditionary Corps of 230,000 men to fight against the Soviets. On 7 August died his son Bruno in a plane accident, and at the end of the month with Hitler visited the Ukrainian territories newly conquered. Shortly before end of the year the penetration in Russia was in the territories and braking, Yugoslavs and Albanians appeared the first guerrillas.

On 11 December, together with Hitler, it declared war on the United States, whose naval base at Pearl Harbour had been bombed by the Japanese a few days earlier, but from the end of 1942 the situation was definitely adverse to the shaft: in Africa (El-Alamein) and Russia (Stalingrad) their armies began to recede. In April 1943, after suffering the bombing of several cities, Italy began a strike in Milan, surrendered the advancing troops of North Africa, and Sicily was invaded by the allies.

All this led the population to lose confidence in Mussolini, especially when Rome itself was the bombed-out (June). Thus, at the meeting of the Grand fascist Council from July 24, Dino Grandi submitted a proposal that the King should dismiss Mussolini, which was adopted by 19 votes to seven; among those who voted against his son-in-law Ciano was. The next day he/she was summoned by the King, who informed his replacement by general Badoglio; He/She was then arrested and transferred to the prison on the island of La Maddalena (near Sardinia). In late August he/she was taken to the Campo Imperatore hotel at Gran Sasso.

President of the Italian Social Republic (1943-1945)

After the surrender of Italy to the allies, German troops occupied the greater part of the country. On September 16, Mussolini was freed by a command of German and taken to Munich. He/She spoke by radio to the Italians, proclaiming the betrayal of Badoglio and the King and the establishment of an Allied Italian Social Republic of Germany. In fact it was a puppet State, which could not even set its capital in Rome, but in Salò (Lake Garda, at the foot of the Alps, so the RSI was also called Republic of Salò). In October, a special tribunal formed to prosecute fascist leaders who three months earlier had voted against Mussolini; Ciano, who was in Munich, was handed over by the Germans. In January 1944 they were prosecuted, sentenced to death and shot; EDA Mussolini Ciano, who had previously fled to Switzerland, threatened in vain her father to publish compromising her husband journals if the sentence was fulfilled.

The more immediate problem of the newly created Republic of Salò was the stubborn resistance of the partisan guerrilla fighters, many of them communist. Anything they served hard German reprisals. Later, in March 1944, added the mass strikes in Milan, Turin and other cities of the North. In June the allies entered Rome, and on 20 July Mussolini met for the last time with Hitler. On 16 December, he/she gave his last public speech in Milan.

On 25 April, through the mediation of the Archbishop of Milan Cardinal Schuster, met with members of the Committee of national liberation. It was on the verge of surrender, but to learn that the Germans from Italy had secretly negotiated their surrender, he/she terminated the meeting and left the place. The next day he/she left Milan with other fascist leaders and headed for Switzerland; in Como joined his mistress Claretta Petacci and a column of German soldiers, who joined disguised as a German. Instead of crossing the border Switzerland, just five kilometers from Como, he/she marched to the Valtellina, in the East, skirting Lake Como.

In Dongo (April 27), they were stopped by a few partisans; Mussolini was recognized, and separated him from the other hierarchs. The next day, in compliance with an order already issued previously, was shot along with Claretta Petacci (who insisted on accompanying him) at a nearby crossing of roads by the "Colonel Valerio" (Walter Audisio) and its Communist guerrillas. The 29th its cadavares, along with the of the other hierarchs (who also had executed), were taken to the Piazzale Loreto in Milan, where the crowd was wroth with them. then they hung them by the feet of the marquee of a gas station and left there until the allies lowered them. Mussolini's body was then buried in the family mausoleum of Predappio. He/She wrote: My journal of war (1923) and Arnaldo (1932) of life. Posthumously published: my life (1947) and complete works (1951).



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Links on the Internet ; Page with a chronology of the life of Mussolini (in German). ; Page with extensive biography of Benito Mussolini (in English).