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The Rise of Fascism
Transcript of The Rise of Fascism
To chart the rise of Fascism
Mussolini's Rise to Power
What was fascism?
In March 1919, Benito Mussolini founded the Fascio di Combattimento (Combat Group) in Milan.
Three years later in October 1922, Mussolini became Prime Minister of Italy.
Mussolini was born in Italy in 1883, the son of socialist blacksmith.
He worked as a teacher, labourer and soldier.
When WW1 began in 1914, Mussolini joined the Italian army but had to retire in 1917 when he was wounded.
There were about 50 people present in 1919 when Mussolini founded the Fascio di Combattimento, also known as the Blackshirts.
Mussolini's Fascist Party was opposed to parliamentary democracy, socialism, communism and favoured dictatorship and making Italy great.
The fascists adopted the fasces - a bundle of rods and an axe which represented authority in Ancient Rome.
Why do you think the party adopted the fasces as its symbol?
Mussolini's Italy - Becoming a Dictator
Mussolini had been legally appointed Prime Minister by the king, but his first task was to establish a dictatorship.
In 1923 he passed the Acerbo Law. Under which the party which received the greatest number of votes in the next election would get two thirds of the seats in parliament.
In the next election Mussolini used his Fascist squad to beat up opponents and to ensure a majority in parliament.
The opposition parties withdrew from parliament (the Aventine Secession) when a group of Fascists kidnapped and murdered Giacomo Matteotti, a socialist leader. This only made Mussolini stronger - he now had no opposition.
Mussolini now increased his control over Italy. He could 'rule by decree' - he could make laws without going through parliament. All political parties wereanned, the press and radio were censored. A secret police force, the OVRA was used to crush the opposition.
Propaganda was very important to Mussolini
He was called Il Duce (the Leader) and a cult of personality was developed around him.
He was photographed cutting corn, horse riding and playing with his pet lion.
He was the great leader who was always right.
The light was often left on in his office all night to make people think he was working hard for Italy.
Mussolini used propaganda to glorify his rule in Italy.
The education system and youth organisations were used to indoctrinate (brain wash) young boys and girls.
Textbooks were changed to glorify Mussolini and fascism.
Young people also had to join Fascist youth organisations such as Balila.
Mussolini improved the roads by building the autostradas (motorways)
He reclaimed the Pontine Marshes near Rome.
He promoted the 'Battle for Grain' to increase wheat production and the 'Battle for Births' to increase the Italian population.
Mussolini set up the Corporate State to control wages and working conditions.
He concluded the Lateran Treaty with the Pope in 1929. The Pope recognised Kingdom of Italy and Italy recognised the independence of the Vatican State.
The Catholic religion was seen as the official religion of Italy.
Mussolini's Foreign Policy
Mussolini had a great interest in foreign affairs, he wanted to make Italy great, respected and feared.
How did Mussolini intend to achieve this?
He would recreate the glories of the Roman Empire.
He would increase Italian influence in the countries around the Mediterranean Sea.
Success in the 1920'S
Mussolini saw himself as a peace loving statesman and signed a treaty guaranteeing the border between Germany and France. However, by the 1930's he became more aggressive.
Mussolini wanted to expand his empire into Africa. He already controlled Libya and Smaliland and Eritrea.
In 1935 Italian troops invaded Abyssinia. The League of Nations imposed sanctions but it had little effect on the war effort.
Relations with Hitler
Mussolini was not happy with Hitler's rise to power.
He feared Hitler would take over Austria and Italy would not be able to hold onto the land given to it by the Paris Peace Conference.
Relations improved in the 1930's.
Hitler was the only leader to support Mussolini in his Abyssinian campaign.
They also helped Franco in the Spanish Civil War.
Relations with Hitler
This friendship led to the Rome Berlin Axis in 1936.
Mussolini and Hitler made an agreement over Austria, according to which Mussolini would permit the German annexation of Austria (Anschluss) if Germany did not lay claim to the German speaking population in the South Tyrol given to Italy at the Paris Peace Conference.
When Hitler took over Austria in 1938, Mussolini did not object.
Hitler was grateful and in 1939 the two leaders signed the Pact of Steel.
They promised in the Pact of Steel to help each other in war.
Italy was now firmly tied to Germany.
Italy's involvement in WW2
During the 1930's Mussolini spoke confidently of Italian military strength.
But as a German invasion of Poland became more likely he knew the Italy's military weakness would be exposed.
Many of the soldiers had old rifles and only about a third of their aircraft was ready for action.
When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Mussolini broke the Pact of Steel and stayed out of the war.
Italy joins the war...
However, Hitler's successes in WW2 prompted Mussolini to reconsider.
In 1940 when Hitler invaded northern France, Mussolini invaded from the south. But the Italian arms very inefficient and it contributed to the defeat of Germany in the war.
In 1941 German troops and tanks under Rommel were sent to North Africa to help the Italians who were being defeated by the British there.
Later that year, Hitler delayed the invasion of Russia so that he could send troops to help taly in the Balkans. This delay contributed to the failure to defeat the Soviet Union before winter set in.
Downfall and Death of Mussolini
When the Allies invaded Italy in 1943 Mussolini was deposed by King Victor Emmanuel and imprisoned in a remote mountain hotel.
A German commando unit under orders from Hitler rescued him.
However, this only postponed Hitler's death. He was captured by Italian guerrilla fighters opposed to Hitler.
He was shot dead and hung upside down in Milan for people to see.