Post War years of chaos and Mussolini's rise to power





Mussolini and his black shirts march on Rome in 1922

and seize power through a coup d'état



video on Mussolini's rise to power


Mussolini becomes head of the Government



film of Mussolini giving speech to

American people in English


Post war Italy was chaotic . There was conflict between

Communists ,Socialists , Populists and Fascists. The Socialists

won many votes for having been against the war from the

beginning.  In 1919, the Socialists won 34% of the seats. In

1919 the Socialists withdrew from parliament and declared a

general strike and disorder became widespread in 1919 and

1920.Prime Minister Nitti resigned and was succeeded by

Giovanni Giolitti. Fear of a communist takeover and Italy

becoming a Communist State like Russia led the political

establishment to tolerate the rise of the fascists. Giolitti

enjoyed the support of the Fascists and did not try to stop

their forceful takeovers of city and regional government or

their violence against their political opponents. Giolitti

resigned and was replaced by Ivanoe Bonomi (PM 1921-2)

coalition government. Early in 1922, his government

collapsed, and he was replaced as Prime Minister by Luigi

Facta ( PM Feb-Oct 1922). The disorder of the earlier period

was beginning wane, but Mussolini needed disorder to rise to

power. In October he said ' ..either the Government will be

given to us or we shall seize it by marching on Rome.' The

Fascists then organized a much publicized 'march on Rome'.

Prime Minister Facta wanted to suppress Mussolini and asked

the king to declare martial law, which he refused to do.  Facta

resigned and Mussolini was appointed to head the government

at the age of 39 and was recognized as Duce or Leader.


The Corporate State


Italians were weary of the strikes and disorder and felt the

Fascists could bring peace. Industrialists and landlords also

supported the Fascists. After he appointed Prime Minister,

Mussolini proceeded to consolidate his power was given

dictatorial powers for a year and began a 'facistization' of

government . A law was passed to dismiss civil servants on

political grounds. The Acerbo Law was passed, which provided

the party obtaining the largest vote in a parliamentary

election would receive 2/3 of all seats. In the 1924 election,

the fascists won 65% of the seats, many charged this was

achieved through violence and intimidation .During 1925-6

popular control of local government was gradually abolished

and representatives were appointed. Mussolini was given

permanent control over the country's armed forces.


 Newspapers were censored and suppressed. A secret police

force, OVRA was established to deal with anti-Fascists. In

1924, the Socialist deputy Giacomo Matteotti was abducted

and murdered and many groups withdrew from Parliament in

protest and formed an opposition group, the Aventine

Opposition and tried to mobilize public opinion against the

Fascists. They failed to gain much support and in 1926 were

excluded from parliament and the Fascists gained more power

. Fascists trade unions were organized to counter the Socialist

trade unions and by 1925 Fascist unions were recognized as

the sole representatives of their employees by the Italian

Industrial Employer's Federation .In 1928 the Fascist Party

was placed in the Italian Constitution with the Fascist Grand

Council being part of the government and a political party.

With the Electoral Reform Act of 1928 the confederation of

national syndics, under Fascist control was given sole power

to nominate deputies . Mussolini was bringing about what

fascist theorists called 'the corporate state' in which all

businesses and industry were under government control.

In 1933, when Hitler was made Chancellor, he modeled the

German state on Fascist Italy. The youth programs, putting

industry under state control and even the Fascist salute were

adopted by Hitler.Hitler and Mussolini meet on June 14, 1934.

Mussolini looked down somewhat on the new upstart and was

the two argued over the fate of Austria, which Italy wanted

as a buffer between Italy and Germany and Germany wanted

to expand its Reich into.



Hitler with Mussolini reviewing Italian fleet


Mussolini inherited a state on the brink of bankruptcy. The

Fascists initiated economic reforms and taxes were increased

to become one of the highest in the world. The economy

recovered and the Lira, which was 31 to the dollar in 1927 was

19 to the dollar by 1928 and stabilized on a gold basis in

1928. Mussolini also launched massive public works projects

such as the draining of the Pontine Marshes. The Depression

had a disastrous effect on Italy. The Depression combined

with the expensive Ethiopian War wrecked the economy .



Second Italo Ethiopian War Documentary


Mussolini, hoping to make Italy a new Roman Empire,began

a series of foreign ventures . In 1923. Italy obtained legal

recognition of the Dodecannese and bombed and occupied

Corfu in a dispute with Greece.In 1927, Italy obtained a

virtual protectorate over Albania. In 1928, Italy was given a

larger share in the administration of Tangier and Morocco. In

1934, Mussolini declared Italy had a duty to civilize backward

nations. In 1935, Italy attacked Ethiopia and sanctions were

declared against Italy by the League of Nations . On June 1,

1935 Ethiopia,Eritrea and Italian Somaliland were reorganized

into a single territorial unit known as Italian East Africa.



 Italian East Africa




Italian African Colonies

Italian North Africa

Italian army in  Triploi during the Italio-Turkish War


What today is Libya was Italian colony from 1912, after

taking the territory from the Ottomans in the Italio-Turkish

War of 1911-12 in which the Ottoman empire the lost

provinces of  Tripolitania, Fezzan, Cyrenaica. (Libya), Rhodes

and the Dodecanese archipelago near Anatolia. This war saw

one of the first uses of the airplane in warfare and held till

the Allies took control in 1943.Omar Mukhtar (1861-1931)

started and revolt against the Italians in 1911 and fought the

Italians for 20 years with Guerrilla warfare tactics . Mussolini

sent General Rodolfo Graziani to Libya in 1929 who moved

the population in the area of guerrilla control to concentration crush the rebellion. Omar was captured in 1931 and

executed by hanging in 1931.


Omar Mukhtar captured in 1931


1981 movie Lion of the Desert about Omar's revolt

wikipedia eBay



Lion of the Desert


Italian East Africa






stamps of Italian East Africa


In 1889 the Benadir coast was granted to Italy by the sultan

of Zanzibar and between 1893 to 1905 was leased to a

private company and in 1906 the Italian government took

control. Over the following decades Italian settlement was

encouraged . The Italians were attacked by the Mad Mullah,

Mohammed ibn-Abdullah until the his final defeat in 1920.


The First Italo–Ethiopian War was fought between Italy and

Ethiopia from 1895 to 1896. At the Battle of Adowa in 1896

the Italians were defeated and lost an estimated

9,000-12,000 men. The defeat caused a collapse of the

Italian government and Italy was forced to recognize the

independence of Ethiopia. In the Second Italo-Ethiopian War

Italy conquered Ethiopia and united it with Italian Somaliland

into Italian East Africa. At the outbreak of WWII, Initially,

the Italians attacked British and Commonwealth forces in the

Sudan, Kenya, and British Somaliland. In August, the Italians

even overran all of British Somaliland and forced the British

and Commonwealth forces there to flee. But, by the end of

1941, during the East African Campaign, Ethiopia was

liberated from Italian control by a combination of British,

Commonwealth, Free French, Free Belgian, and Ethiopian



 Mussolini and WWII 


In 1936, Italy and Germany signed an anti Comintern pact

and in the same year both intervened in the Spanish Civil

War. In 1937, Italy withdrew from the League of Nations and

in 1938, Albania was taken over .On June 10, 1940, Italy

went to war against France and Great Britain and began an

invasion of Greece.The invasion of Greece turned into a

debacle and the Germans entered Greece in 1941.In April

1941, the Italians with the Germans under Rommel entered

Egypt.In Jan 1943, the Allies entered Tripoli and the Italian

empire in Africa was lost.In July 1943, the Allied invasion of

Sicily began and was mostly in Allied hands by Aug 17. On

July 24, the Fascist Grand Council demanded Mussolini's

resignation and was dismissed by the king and arrested.


And you...what are you doing ? Italian propaganda poster


Six weeks later he was rescued by German paratroopers.

However, the 'unconditional surrender' agreement stood in the

way of bringing Italy into the Allied camp and while the Allies

hesitated, the Wehrmacht sped 13 divisions into Italy under

Field Marshal Kesselring, who was able to use Italy's

mountainous terrain to his advantage . Marshal Pietro

Badoglio was appointed to succeed Musolini.He decreed the

dissolution of the Fascist Party and announced that Italy

would stay in the war. The Allies, who had suspended air

attacks on Italy hoping for a government favorable to the

Allies, resumed bombardments and bombings.On Sept 3, the

Badoglio government agreed to an armistice. On Sept 8,

British and American troops landed at Salerno, south of

Naples .Rome was occupied by German troops. On Oct 13,

1943, Badoglio government declared war on Germany. On Jan

21, the Allies landed at Anzio to take Rome, but was nearly

thrown back into the sea by Kesselring.On June 4,1944 Allied

troops entered Rome. On April 28, German resistance in Italy

collapsed, Mussolini was captured near Como and executed .






    Italian pilots in front of their MC200 Thunderbolts .The Machi MC202 Lightning, considered superior to the P-40 and the Hurricane.



 World War 2 • Italian Campaign • In colour


 After the war, on June 2, 1946, a referendum on the monarchy resulted in the establishment of the Italian Republic, which led to the adoption of a new constitution






 World War I


Italian Republic

(after 1945)