Mussolini and Fascist Italy

  • Formation of an independent Italy

    Formation of an independent Italy
    The Risorgimento nationalist movement successfully made Italy independent from Austria and united several Italian kingdoms into one. Divisions among the people were relatively high, despite the goal to be governmental AND social unity. This image depicts many of the regions that suddenly became united under the new state.
  • Papal States taken over by new nation of Italy

    Papal States taken over by new nation of Italy
    Italy incorporated the papal states (states ruled by the Pope) into the new state. The papacy did not support Risorgimento, and the new kingdom had taken away all of the papacy’s territory, including Rome (1873). As a result, Catholic hostility towards the new kingdom rose. This image depicts the loss of land by the papacy in 1860 and 1870.
  • Failure of First Italo-Ethiopian War with the Battle of Adowa (Adwa)

    Failure of First Italo-Ethiopian War with the Battle of Adowa (Adwa)
    Ethiopia, then Abyssinia, successfully crushed Italy in their attempt to conquer them in order to build an empire. This was done at the decisive Battle of Adwa, where 11.5K people were either hostages, injured, or dead on Italy’s side. This served to be humiliating for Italian nationalists who wanted to have a powerful empire. This image is of Italian POWs waiting for reparations.
  • Italy invades and takes over Libya

    Italy invades and takes over Libya
    (September 29, 1911 - November 1911)
    Italy took over Libya from Turkey to expand the size of their empire and also to prevent French influence in Northern Africa (where Libya is) from growing further. This would serve to be relatively ineffective at meeting demands from Italian nationalists, who were still upset about Abynissia (Ethiopia) wrecking them back in 1896, and still wanted more aggressive imperial policies. This image depicts the landing of Italian marines at Tripoli.
  • Mussolini begins work as editor for the Socialist Party newspaper Avanti

    Mussolini begins work as editor for the Socialist Party newspaper Avanti
    (November 1912) Back when Mussolini favored international solidarity over militarism and imperialism, he wrote articles for Avanti! in Milan that advocated for violence against the liberal state and assisted in rejecting pro-royalists and reformists from the Socialist Party. This image is of the front page of Avanti’s first edition.
  • Mussolini kicked out of Socialist Party for pro-nationalistic sentiments regarding WW I

    Mussolini kicked out of Socialist Party for pro-nationalistic sentiments regarding WW I
    (Nov.) WWI caused Mussolini to drastically change political views who, along with his friends in both republican and syndicalist groups, were in support of Italy joining the war on the side of Britain & France. Because of this change in views, he was removed from his position at Avanti! and set up his own newspaper, Il Popolo d’Italia, to advocate for war (and was removed from the Socialist Party soon afterwards). This is a political cartoon from Avanti! depicting him as a traitor to socialism.
  • Treaty of London

    Treaty of London
    Italy joined the war on the side of the Entente after being offered more land from them than the Alliance, in which Austria Hungary refused to give Trentino/Trieste to Italy as a part of their land deal (whereas the Entente did). It showed Italy’s priorities were that of expanding their empire. The solid red and purple in the image shows the land promised to Italy in the ToL.
  • Beginning of Biennio Rosso

    Beginning of Biennio Rosso
    (January 1919-1920)
    The Biennio Rosso, or “two red years”, came with spikes in unemployment (2M). Workers & peasants held strikes, factory occupations, and other demonstrations. It involved more than 1M workers and socialist trade union membership grew (~250k->2M). This image shows a group of armed workers at a demonstration.
  • Fascio di Combattimento formed in Milan

    Fascio di Combattimento formed in Milan
    In an attempt to unite members of Arditi groups, 118 people from various political groups met and formed a “fighting group”, and were intended to unite nationalists and socialists. This was a sign of the growing hatred of the liberal state on all other political fronts. This image shows the symbol for the group with an eagle holding an axe and a bundle of sticks, called the fasces.
  • D’Annunzio takes Fiume

    D’Annunzio takes Fiume
    After not getting Fiume in peace treaties because of its importance to a new Yugoslavia, D'Annunzio led 2000 men to the city and ruled it for 15 months, thus defying both the Allies and the liberal Italian gov’t. This event would serve to please Italian nationalists and inspire Mussolini. This is a photo of Gabriel D'Annunzio.
  • Mussolini forms alliance with Giolitti

    Mussolini forms alliance with Giolitti
    (May 1921) Mussolini formed an anti socialists National Bloc electoral alliance with Prime Minister Giolitti once he was reassured that ideas of fascist revolution were not that serious. However, fascist violence would continue and as a result, ~100 socialists would be dead. This is an image of Giovanni Giolitti.
  • Mussolini forms the PNF (Fascist Party) and is elected its leader

    Mussolini forms the PNF (Fascist Party) and is elected its leader
    After resigning from the Fascist Central Committee to outmaneuver ras influence (local fascist leaders), he convinced members of the Fasci di Combattimento to form a political party out of it, resulting in the Partito Nazionale Fascista. Upon being elected as the PNF’s undisputed leader, he ended truces with socialists and told all branches to form action squads. This was a sign of his willingness to work politically to achieve his goals and his large success achieved in doing so. Image: PNF
  • March on Rome and Mussolini becomes Prime Minister

    March on Rome and Mussolini becomes Prime Minister
    The March on Rome was an organized mass demonstration by fascist demonstrators and Blackshirt paramilitaries. They conquered strategic points across Italy and gathered outside Rome. In doing so, King Victor Emmanuel III refused to declare the state of emergency and instead, transferred power to the Fascists. This image depicts Mussolini and his Blackshirts during the march, which is significant because it marked the beginning of the fascist rule and ending of socialist and liberalist ideas.
  • Acerbo Law passed

    Acerbo Law passed
    (November 1923) The Acerbo Law was an electoral law proposed by Baron Giacomo Acerbo to give Mussolini's fascist party a majority of deputies. The terms of the law stated that the party with the largest share of votes (25%) would gain ⅔ of the seats in parliament and the remaining would be divided equally amongst the others. This image shows the significance of Italy’s move to fascism because the law was forced through the Italian parliament and intimidated Italians to only vote for fascists.
  • Corfu Incident

    Corfu Incident
    The Corfu incident was a diplomatic and military crisis between Greece and Italy that started due to Italians deaths in Greece. Consequently, Mussolini issued an ultimatum to Greece that was unaccepted, so he dispatched forces to occupy Corfu. Mussolini threatened to leave and defied the League of Nations. Thus, an agreement favoring Italy was made. This image illustrates the island Corfu that represents the Italians extreme measures they had to take in order to get their needs met.
  • Aventine Secession

    Aventine Secession
    (June 1924) The Aventine secession was the withdrawal of 150 left and centre deputies from the Italian Chamber of Deputies to show their opposition towards Benito Mussolini. However, their opposition was ineffective since the public was not aroused against fascist crimes and Mussolini essentially became king due to a lack of critics. The socialist legislators pictured are trying to identify Giacomo Matteotti’s body, which is significant because that event led to the aventine secession.
  • Matteotti Crisis

    Matteotti Crisis
    The Matteoti Crisis was a political confrontation between liberals and fascists after the assassination of Giacomo Matteotti, a Socialist politician. This crisis threatened to bring down Benito Mussolini, but instead ended with Mussolini as the king of Italy. This image displays Matteotti’s dead body being carried out, which is significant in showing how quickly this event turned into a crisis and marked a turning point in the history of Italian fascism.
  • Battle for Grain

    Battle for Grain
    The Battle for Grain was an economic policy by the Fascists to move toward autarky. It aimed to boost cereal production, reduce the trade deficit, lower foreign bread imports and show Italy as a major power. As a result, the policy had unintended positive effects on industrialization and the economy. This image displays Mussolini’s propaganda photo for the Battle for Grain, which is significant in demonstrating an example that fellow citizens need to follow.
  • Locarno Treaty signed

    Locarno Treaty signed
    The Treaty of Locarno sought to secure the post-war territory and normalize relations. Some terms of the treaty were divided borders, no invasion and force and mutual assistance. In the end, the treaty improved European countries relations, created the ‘spirit of locarno’, Germany joined the League of Nations, and the Allies left Cologne.
    This image depicts Stresemann, Chamberlain and Briand during the Locarno negotiations as they represent the belief of peaceful settlements in the future.
  • Battle for the Lira

    Battle for the Lira
    The Battle for the Lira was an economic policy by the Fascists in an attempt to raise the claims of Italy becoming a great power. It aimed to fix the lira, reduce inflation, confirm the image of Fascism and show the world that Italy could be a great force. As a result, Italy was able to continue importing coal and iron for weapons and ships. This image depicts the currency called Lira that was used at that time and uniquely revealed the development of fascism.
  • Battle for Births

    Battle for Births
    The Battle for Births was a demographic campaign to increase the population to 60 million by 1950 due to economic and political reasons. It also aimed to create a standard of twelve children for every family and offered loans to married couples. In the end, the battle was a failure after the fall and death of Mussolini. This image significantly depicts the role of women during the battle since women had to give birth instead of working.
  • Battle for Land

    Battle for Land
    The Battle For Land was to clear marshland and make it suitable for farming. It aimed to increase the amount of land, provide more jobs, improve health and revive rural Italy. This photo of children was taken on land reclaimed from the draining of the Pontine Marshes near Rome. Along with the Battle for grain, Mussolini hoped to increase agricultural production to encourage self-sufficiency in Italy.
  • Kellogg-Briand Treaty signed

    Kellogg-Briand Treaty signed
    The Kellogg-Briand Treaty was an agreement to outlaw war.
    It did not live up to all of its aims, but arguably had some success. It neither ended war, nor stopped the rise of militarism, and was unable to prevent the Second World War. Moreover, it erased the legal distinction between war and peace. This image displays the mockery of the pact during the Paris Carnival in 1929, which is significant because many historians/political scientists saw the treaty as irrelevant and ineffective.
  • Lateran Treaty with Pope

    Lateran Treaty with Pope
    The Lateran Treaty was between Italy and the Vatican to settle the long-standing Roman Question. It recognized Vatican City as an independent state and gave the Roman Catholic Church financial compensation. Later in 1948, the treaty was recognized in the Constitution of Italy as regulating the relations between the state and Catholic Church. This image shows Benito Mussolini and Pietro Gasparri signing the Lateran Treaty in 1929, bringing the Vatican City into existence.
  • Abyssinian Crisis

    Abyssinian Crisis
    The Abyssinian Crisis was an international crisis between Italy and Ethiopia (Abyssinia) started by the Walwal incident (a skirmish over disputed territory between Italy and Ethiopia). Despite Ethiopia's appeals to the League of Nations for arbitration over Italian military build-up and aggressive foreign policy, little was done to hold Italy accountable. This led to Italy invading Ethiopia and the start of the Second Italo-Abyssinian war. Picture: League of nations’ response to invasion
  • Stresa Front

    Stresa Front
    The Stresa Front was Alliance between Britain, France and Italy in order to reaffirm the Locarno Treaties, declare Austria’s independence and resist Germany's future attempts to change the Treaty of Versailles. It collapsed after the Anglo-German Naval Agreement in June 1935 followed by Italy's invasion of Abyssinia. This image illustrates the Stresa Front and its importance to stop Adolf Hitler and Germany’s potential future plans.
  • Italian involvement with Spanish Civil War

    Italian involvement with Spanish Civil War
    (1936-1939) Confident from his conquest of Ethiopia, Mussolini joined the Spanish Civil War in support of the Nationalists, who were against the Second Spanish Republic, to secure fascist control of the Mediterranean. In total, Italy provided the Nationalists with 660 planes, 150 tanks, 800 artillery pieces, 10,000 machine guns, 240,000 rifles, and (at its peak) 70,000 men from the Italian Corpo Truppe Volontarie. Picture: poster reads “the claw of the italian invader pretends to enslave us”
  • Rome-Berlin Axis Treaty signed

    Rome-Berlin Axis Treaty signed
    Italy and Germany signed a formal alliance committing to militarily collaborating in the imminent war between Germany and the allies (WW2). This was after Hitler intervened in the Spanish Civil war on the side of the Fascist rebels (a sign of solidarity). Mussolini joined this alliance believing that it would allow Italy to expand its influence in Europe, having repudiated his alliances with France and Britain after the Abyssinian invasion. Picture: Hitler with Mussolini
  • Munich Conference

    Munich Conference
    The leaders of Britain, France, Italy and Germany attend the Munich conference in order to discuss and eventually allow Germany to annex curtain areas of Czechoslovakia, in a last-minute effort to prevent a world war. Mussolini’s role included introducing a written plan (later accepted as the Munich agreement on the 30th). However, years later, it was discovered that the plan was actually prepared in the German Foreign Office. Picture: Mussolini, Hitler, and Chamberlain in Munich.
  • Italy invades Albania

    Italy invades Albania
    Continuing to pursue an imperialist policy, Mussolini invaded Albania in 1939, motivated not only by his failure to continue occupying the southern half of Albania (gained from WW1) in 1920. Additionally, the Albanian port, Vlore was of strategic importance since it would give Italy control of the entrance to the Adriatic Sea. He and his facist regime also legitimized claims to Albanian through studies purporting a racial link between Albanians and Italians. Picture: Italian forces in Albania
  • Italy enters WWII on side of Germany

    Italy enters WWII on side of Germany
    Italy joined WWII on Germany’s side when France was about to fall, still hoping for territorial gains. However, much like in WWI, Italy performed poorly in WWII so much that often Germany had to rescue Italian armies such as in the campaigns in North Africa and campaigns attacking Greece from Albania. Overall, the war was a succession of military disasters due to poor leadership, low morale, and typical war problems at the home front. Picture: Italy’s role in WWII on Germany’s side
  • Mussolini brought down by coup during WWII

    Mussolini brought down by coup during WWII
    Seeing that Italy had lost the war, Mussolini was voted out of power through a vote of “no confidence” by his own Grand Council and arrested after leaving his meeting with King Vittorio Emmanuel without resistance. Italy’s military disasters in WWII greatly influenced this decision as Dino Grandi from the council argues that the dictatorship had caused this, elevated incompetents to power, and alienated large portions of the population. Picture: Pietro Badoglio succeeds Mussolini
  • Mussolini killed

    Mussolini killed
    Mussolini was killed by communist partisan Walter Audisio, in the final days of WWII. By that point he had already been deposed and reduced to a leader of a German puppet state, especially with Italy’s military failure in the war. Picture: Mussolini's tomb in his family crypt, in Predappio, Italy