Italian Fascism: Italian Biographies

Figure 1.--.

Italian Fascist diuctator is a well known historical figure. Other Italian Fascists unlike NAZI officials are less well known. Few people outside academia could name other Fascist fifures. We will list here some important historical figures during the Fascist era. We will include both Fascists officials and political theorists. Italy was only one country where Fascist ideas appeared in the 19th century. Only after Workld War I did these ideas begin to gain in popularity. We will also list here other important Italians durung the Fascist Era and World War II.

Badoglio, General Pietro

Balbo, Italo (1896-1940)

Italo Balbo was a leading Italian Blackshirt and early supporter of Benito Mussolini. Like Mussolini and other Blackshirts, he served in World War I and was disappointed with what Italy gained in the peace settlement. After the War, Balbo became an effective Fascist organizer in his home region of Ferrara. He was one of the four principal architects of the Blackshirt March on Rome that resulted in Mussolini and the Fascists seizng power (1922). Mussolini gave him the job of building the Italian Royal Air Force (1926). He became the leading voice for Italian aviation. Mussolini appointed him Italy's Marshal of the Air Force (Maresciallo dell'Aria). The flamboyant Balbo cme to be seen as a possible successor to Mussolini who began to see him as a threat. Mussolini decided to make him Governor of Libya, at the time a kind of exile (1933). Mussolini saw Libya as akind of springboard to a huge African colonial empire. Balbo continued to reside in Libya as Mussolini begn moving Italy toward a German alliance and war. Balbo was the only leading Fascist to oppose both Mussolini's alliance with NAZI Germany and the anti-Semetic racial laws that Hitler demanded. As Mussolmi moved toward war, Balbo as Commander-in-Chief of Italian North Africa (Africa Settentrionale Italiana--ASI), would have played an mportant role. Onlt two weeks after Mussolini declared war, Balbo was killed by friendly fire. Italian anti-aircraft gunners shot down his plane over Tobruk. This would affect the status of Jews in Libya.

Count Ciano

Douhet, Giulio

Benito Mussolin appointed Giulio Douhet (1896-1930) his first Undersecretary of Air. Douhet was an Italian Air Force Officer who theorized about air tactics after World War I. The air planr had made its first significant appearance during World War I. Great advances, as a result, were made in aviation. The War ended, however, before strategic bombing had begun. After the War, military experts debated the effective use of air pforces in future wars. Douhet wrote Air Power which advocated using strategic bombing to defeat an enemy. Despite an extensive debate, countries ended World war II without any idea of how to best use air power or the impact of strategic bombing. The Luftwaffe chose the alternative approach, using airpower for tactical ground support. This was not the result od aheoretical debate, but because the Luftwaffe was created with Wehrmacht officersnd Germany did not have the industrial capability of building a tactical and stategic air force. The United states and Britain did.

Mussolini, Benito (1883-1945)

Mussolini was an Italian newspaper editor who led 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 fiunded a newspaper of hisown, Popolo d'Italia. He served in the Army duruing 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). Mussolini did not create the Fascist, mananaged to gain control of it and install himself as the Duce (leader). 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). By the following year, Mussolini was ruling Italy as a dictator. Mussolini replaced Italy's parlimnentary democracy with the Fascist Corporate State.

Muti, Ettore

Parini, Piero (1894-1993)

Piero Parini was born in Milan (1894). He died in Athens in 1993. Mussolini asppointed him General Secretary of Overseas Fascist Groups (1927). Large numbers of Italisans lived overseas. The largest group was in The United States, but there were substatial numbers in Argentina and other contries. The Fascist government founded a large number of summer camps for the Balilla. Among Paruni's various programs was one to organize summer camps (colonie) in Italy for the children of overseas Italians so they could learn more about Italy and promote Fascist ideology.

Pius XII (Vatican)

The College of Cardinals in early 1939 fully recognized that war was coming. They chose a diplomat as the man most suited to oversee the Church. There was great concern for Pope Pius XII during World War II, escpecially after Germany occupied Rome (1943). Pope Pious was generately considered to be a compassionate man of peace during the War who did what he could to protect Jews and others. There were tributes to him after the War. This view continued for many years after the War. This began to change with various authors began to Pious' record, especially is failure to speak out more forcefully against the Holocaust. There is some validity for this charge. Some might argue, however, that this may have done little good and brought attacks on both the Church and Catholics. The Church charges a campaign of vilification. The role of Pope Pious XII during World War II has been intensly debated by historians. Some charge that he was a weak, church bureaucrat, more concerned with protecting the treasures of the Vatican than the opressed people of Europe. The issue is very complicated There are reports of Pope Pius intreauging with the British and German Generals (1940). The Pope did hide 5,000 people when the NAZIs began to round up Roman Jews (October 1943). The controversy about Pious continues today. At best his resonse was timid at worst some writers view him as virtually complicit. [Corwell] Those who criticise today certainly do so from the safty of a more secure world. Another historian refutes many of the charges against the Pope, pointing out his many statements criticizing the NAZIs even before he became pope. There were also many instances of Pope Pius XII protecting Jews. [Dalin]

Starace, Achille (1889-1945)

Achille Starace was a prominent Italian Fascist leader, primarily before World War II. He was born in Sannicola, the son of a wine and oil merchant. He earned a degree in accounting. He enlisted in the Regio Esercito (Italian Royal Army) (1909), becoming a Sottotenente (Second Lieutenant) of the Bersaglieriélite (sharpshooters), an elte unit (1912). From an eraly point, he was a strong believer in war and made a name for himself when he alone attacked pacifist demonstrators in Milan protesting the ourbreak of World War I (1914). He served in the war and was highly decorated. Starace after the War moved to Trento and soon became involved in the growing Fascist movement. He was attracted by the ultra nationalism of Fascism. He joined the Fascist movement (1920) and quickly became the local Party secretary. He soon came to the attention of Benito Mussolini, who appointed Starace to lead the Fascist organization in Venezia Tridentina, beginning his rise to prominance in the Party. Mussolini made him Vice-Secretary of the Partito Nazionale Fascista (National Fascist Party--PNF). Starace participated in the (Marcia su Roma (March on Rome) at the head of a (squadristisquadron) of Blackshirts at the time was essentilly an unorganized uniformed mob. The March was a key step in Mussolini's rise to power. Starace from the beginning ideolized Mussolini and was an unquestioning devote. Mussolini then made Starce a member of the PNF Executive Committee. Next after Starace after resigning as PNF Vice-Secretary, Mussolini gave him command of the Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale (National Security Volunteer Militia--MVSN) in Trieste. This was an effort to organize the Blackshirts, the PNF's part militi, anagous to the subsequent NAZI Brown Shirts or Stormtoopers (SA). Starace as a Fascist candidate was elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies (1924) and made National Party Inspector. He was appointed PNF Vice-Secretary for the second time (1926) and then Secretary of the important PNF Milan branch. Finally Mussoli chose him as PNF Party Secretary 1931). Here Mussolini was not impressed with Starace's competence, describing Starace as "Un cretino, si, ma un cretino obeddente" (a jerk indeed but an obedient one). He served as PNF Secretary for most of the decade, except for a brief sint with the army in Ethiopia (1935).

(King) Victor Emmanuel III (1869-1947)

Victor Emmanuel III (1869-1947) was the grandson of Victor Emmanuel II. He was born in Naples. I have no details on his childhood or the clothes he wore as a boy. He married Princess Elena, daughter of King Nicholas of Montenegro. The eldest son was Umberto. His children appear to have worn sailor suits as boys, but no other information is available. He became king of Italy in 1900 on the assassination of his father, King Umberto I. He reigned as King of Italy from 1900 until 1946. Italy acquired Libya in 1912 after a war with the Ottoman Empire. Although it was allied with Germany and Austria-Hungary, Italy entered World War I on the side of the Allies in 1915. He decided in 1915 to join the Allies in World War I. Benito Mussolini became prime minister of Italy in 1922 and rapidly assumed dictatorial powers. Following the collapse of parliamentary government, Victor Emmanuel accepted the Fascist regime ofBenito Mussolini. During Mussolini's Fascist regime Victor Emmanuel was king in name only. Necertheless, the King's role in Mussolini's Government was to eventually doom the monarchy in Italy. The Lateran Treaty normalized relations between Italy and the Vatican in 1929. although he gained the titles Emperor of Ethiopia (1936) and King of Albania (1939). Italy entered World War II having previously formed an alliance with Germany. The War was a disaster for Italy and Italian forces recorded a steady series of defeats in North Africa, Ethiopia, Albania, Greece, and Sicily. Italian units were desimated on the Eastern Front by the Soviets. Italy surrendered to invading Allied forces in 1943, but Germany took control of the country and fought the Allies until the end of the war. After the fall of Rome in 1944, the king withdrew from public life and abdicated in favor of his son, Crown Prince Umberto in 1946 after World War II.


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Created: 7:07 PM 4/22/2010
Last updated: 12:53 PM 7/16/2016