D' Anunnzio And Fiume 1919 23

An overview of the seizure of Fiume and its impact on Italian politics, for Edexcel AS History Modern, Italy and Fascism 1919-25

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D'Annunzio and Fiume (191923)
The failure of the Italian government to gain Italy's expected rewards was highlighted by
dramatic events that occurred at the Adriatic port of Fiume. Italy claimed the city, but was not
granted it.
Fiume was an Adriatic port. Until 1919 it was part of the AustroHungarian Empire. After the
war was won, Italian nationalists clamoured for the port to be part of Italy, but in 1918 it
was occupied by allied troops. The Italian government failed to gain Fiume
at the Versailles settlement. It became an illustration of what D'Annunzio described
as "mutilated victory"
September 1919 D'Annunzio at the head of 300 exsoldiers,seized control
of the city.
The allied troops left although some Italian troops who supported D'Annunzio remained.
The Italian government did nothing, reinforcing the image of both its
weakness and its willingness to submit to violence.
It seemed for a time as if D'Annunzio and might exploit his position to seize power in
Rome. However, in December 1920, Giolitti's new government decided to
reassert its authority and sent in troops.
D'Annunzio and his veterans fled and the Italian army quickly took
Fiume remained under international supervision until Mussolini took over
in 1923
What the Fiume incident showed
Force could be used to try and achieve political aims in postwar Italy
The government's inadequacy was shown as it took over a year to respond to
D'Annunzio's coup
Highlighted the effectiveness of violence and action
Influence on Mussolini (see below)
The Significance of Fiume
D'Annunzio's chief significance was an inspirer of many of the features, both
ideology and symbols of Fascist Italy.
What did D'Annunzio and Fiume give to Fascism?
Heroic speeches to mass audiences from his balcony
Rhythmic war cries e.g. Eja Eja Alala
His followers wore blackshirts, adopted the skull and crossbones and used castor oil
to humiliate opponents
The Roman straight arm salute
Plans for a new organisation of all producers in a corporative state
D'Annunzio: a potential rival to Mussolini?
Until 1922 D'Annunzio was a far more famous leader than Mussolini, and the latter
considered him a rival. He was a nationalist poet, who glorified Italy's past and condemned
its existing political system as "a heap of filth which cannot even serve to manure the nation's
cabbages". In 1922 D'Annunzio "fell" from a balcony, so he was out of action for some time.
Mussolini gained power first. From then on, there was room only one nationalist Demagogue
and D'Annunzio became Italy's lost leader.


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