Biographies: Benito Mussolini (Italy, 1883-1945)


Figure 1.--Here is Mussolini's wife Rachele and children (Vittorio, Bruno, and Edda). The postcard depicts the family about 1925.

Mussolini was an Italian newspaper editor who founded the Fascist movement and seized control of Italy. As a young man he was a Socialist and edited Avanti, a Milan newspaper. He rejected socialism durung World War I and founded a newspaper of his own, Popolo d'Italia. He served in the Army during the War (1915-17) and was seriously wounded. After the War he organized fellow war venterans in the aggresively nationalistic Fascist Party. Strike and disorders gave him an excuse for organizing his Fascist March on Rome (1922), Frightened at the demonstratioin, King Victor Emmanuel asked him to form a government. Using his position as Premier, Mussolini quickly transferred Italy unto a dictatorship. The turning point was the murder of Maztteotti (1924). He had three children (figure 1). Mussolini replaced Italy's parlimnentary democracy with the Fascist Corporate State. He ended the isolatuoin of the Vatican with the Lateran Treaty (1928). He ininiated an extensive public works program with projects like the draining of the Pontine Marshes. He suppressed rebellion in Libya, an Italian colony. He later attacked Ethiopia to add it to other Italian colonies in East Africa (1935-36). He used poison gas in both camoaigns. The League of Natioins proved ineffectual in dealing with Italian aggression. He entered the Axis Alliance with Hitler (1936). He seized Albania (1939) and joined NAZI Germany in World War II by attacking France after after they had been essentially defeated by Germany (1940). World War II proved disasterous for Italy. After the fall of Sicily, Marshall Bafoglio replaced him and had him arrested (1943). Hitler had him rescued and set him up in a puppet Fascist sate in northern Italy. He and his mistress were killed by partisans at the end of World War II (1945).

Parents

Alessandro Mussolini was a blacksmith with Socialist leanings. He also worked part time as a journalist. His wife was Rosa Maltoni was a school teacher. The family was if not poor, living in strained circumstances. .

Childhood

Benito was born on July 29, 1883 in Varnano dei Costa which was near the village of Predappio. A popular figure in the late 19th century was the Mexican revolutinary, Benito Juarez. Allesandro thus named his son for the Mexican revolutionary. He grew up in a crowded palazzo. His childhood poverty seems to have colored his adult political outlook.

Education

Benito was constantly getting in trouble at school. He was bright enough to easily pass his exams and was awarded a teaching diploma.

Career

Benito Mussolini as boy was interested in writing and not nearly as interested in learning so he had something to write about. As a young man like many at the time he became a Socialist and managed to get a job editing Avanti, a Socialist newspaper in Milan. As a journalist, Mussolini wrote volubly on international affairs and a range of other topics that he essenbtially knbew nothing about. Once the dictator of Italy with the resources of the Fascist state at his sisposal, Mussolini notably increased his commentaries, addressing virtually every imaginable topic. His collected works were published by the Italian Government. Incredibly they amounted to 44 volumes! His work attracted the notice of prominent Italian Socialists. With the outbreak of World War I, Mussolini split with most Socialists and advocated that Italy should join the Allies and fight the Central Powers. This caused considerable criticism by Socialists because of the Party's commitment to pacifism. As a result, Mussolini rejected Socialism and founded a newspaper of hisown, Popolo d'Italia. He use the paper to argue that Italy should enter the War.

World War I

Italy finally joined the Allies to fight the Central Powers (1915). The Allies had offered Italy financial aid and territorial concessions. Four indesivive battles on the Isonzo River followed with Austro-Hungary (June-December 1915). The Italian goal was to take Trieste, a largely Italian city on the Adriatic. The city was important to the Austria because it was the Empire's only important port. Without Trieste, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was largely land-locked. Mussolini enlisted into the "Esercito" (Army), receiving the rank of corporal (1915). He was seriously wounded with shrapnel (1917). After convelsing, he was discharged. The War proved to be much more costly than the Government expected. There were huge casualties and the the financial impact destabilized the Italian economy. And despite the losses and cost, Italy achieved only limited territorial gains.

Italian Fascism

After the War he organized fellow war venterans in the aggresively nationalistic Fascist Party. Strike and disorders gave him an excuse for organizing his Fascist March on Rome (1922), Frightened at the demonstratiion, King Victor Emmanuel asked him to form a government. Using his position as Premier, Mussolini quickly transferred Italy unto a dictatorship. The turning point was the murder of Maztteotti (1924). Mussolini replaced Italy's parlimnentary democracy with the Fascist Corporate State. He ended the isolatuoin of the Vatican with the Lateran Treaty (1928). He ininiated an extensive public works program with projects like the draining of the Pontine Marshes. He suppressed rebellion in Libya, an Italian colony. He later attacked Ethiopia to add it to other Italian colonies in East Africa (1935-36). He used poison gas in both camoaigns.

Family

Mussolini was by all accounts one of the worst fathers of all the World War II leaders. Mussolini had a family before he became prominent. One reports suggests that Mussolini commited his first wife Ida Dalser to a lunatic asylum (1917). Mussolini denounced her as "dangerous, unbalanced, and criminal". He labeled her an "enemy alien". She lived for 10 years before dieing in the asylum (1927). As he never married Dasler, the family was an embsarassment when he became prominent. Italy's Fascist Government suppressed any information about it and few Italians knew anything about his first family until after World War II and even today accounts were sketchy. Benito Albino (1915-?) was illegitimate and he grew up under the supervision of guardians because his mothervhad been institutionalized. Acoounts of his deah vary. Somesay he was also istitutionalized and died there. Others say he died in a World War III naval battle. Mussolini married Donna Rachele. They had four children. Three are pictured here (figure 1). Edda (1910- ) was by all accounts his favorite and looks most like her father. The two oldest boys were Vittorio (1916) and Bruno (1918). They were born very close together and grew up very close. A third son Romano (1927- ) was born later. Mussolini also had mistresses. The most famous was Clara Petacci. She and his wife had a notable confrontation during the Salo Republic era. Mussolini apparently wisely stayed in his office during the confrontation. At the end of the War, Mussolini tried to escape Italy in a German military column. They were given up by the Germans to Italian partians who shot them and strung up in at an Esso gas station in the Piazzale Loreto in Milan.

World War II

The League of Natioins proved ineffectual in dealing with Italian aggression. He entered the Axis Alliance with Hitler (1936). He seized Albania (1939) and joined NAZI Germany in World War II by attacking France after after they had been essentially defeated by Germany (1940). World War II proved disasterous for Italy. After the fall of Sicily, Marshall Bafoglio replaced him and had him arrested (1943). Hitler had him rescued and set him up in a puppet Fascist sate in northern Italy. He and his mistress were killed by partisans at the end of World War II (1945).

Sources

Bosworth, R.J.B. Mussolini.






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Created: 4:52 AM 8/30/2004
Last updated: 1:47 AM 4/17/2006