Mussolini's Italy 1922-45 Notes

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Establishing The Fascist Regime
The Rise To Power
Establishing a Fascist dictatorship went through 7 distinct phases.
First Phase, March 1919 ­ 1921 ­ Fascist movement grew from a small group of violent misfits to a
powerful force in politics.
Second Phase, December 1921 ­ October 1922 ­ Mussolini exploited the crisis confident in Italy and the
weakness of the political system, making ruling elites panic into handing him power as Prime Minister.
Third Phase, October 1922 ­ 1925 ­ Mussolini consolidated his political power by changing the
constitution and forcing an end to antifascist opposition.
Final Phase, 1925 ­ 1929, Mussolini neutralized potential rivals and began to put in place the structures
of a permanent dictatorship.
The Coming To Power Of Fascists
1922, Italy was politically unstable almost permanently.
Fascist violence increased its intensity.
Government since July 1921 (Ivanoe Bonomi) depended on alliance between the anticlerical radical
party and the PPI (Popolari), which specifically represented Catholic interests.
February 1922, PPI withdrew its support and Bonomi was forced to resign.
This was the fourth government collapse since 1919.
King Victor Emmanuel III appointed Luigi as prime minister.
Luigi was quite a weak leader whose government soon broke up, leading to his dismissal of prime
minister in July 1922.
The King could not find anyone to replace him so therefore reappointed him on August 1st.
By this time, things such as violence and political unrest were getting out of control.
Fascist Party reached 300,000 members.
May 1922, Fascist forcibly removed the elected communist town council in Bologna.
Luigi formed a new government on August 1st. This day, the socialists organized a strike, which hoped
to push the government into taking action against the Fascists, but it did the opposite.
Fascists now had an excuse to use violence against objectors such as the strikers and exposed
divisions in Luigi's coalition.
September 1922, 3 political groupings were preparing to take action to resolve the political crisis.
The first was the Political establishment Expected Luigi to resign and a new government to form under
either Giolitti or Salandra.
The second was the group around Luigi ­ started making military preparations and ordered more troops
in Rome. Luigi and the `hero' of Fiume Gabriele D'Annunzio made plans for a mass rally of national unity to
be held on 4th of November. It was clear that this was intended to be a `stop Mussolini' rally.
The Third Group Was the Fascists ­ The Fascist radicals were straining at the leash and Mussolini knew
he had to act before the rally, which might have been a threat to Mussolini.
The Fascist Movement
Beginning of 1922, Fascists had about 240,000 members. Many members were from central Italy and the
Rural south, who were young, restless and attracted to violence.
Many Fascist were concerned with local issues than national ones.
Estimated that more than 10% of university students joined the Fascists in the early 1920's.
There was little unity so it was hard for Mussolini to control disparate groups.
Local fascist leaders, the ras, such as Dino Grandi in Bologna and Italo Balbo in Ferrara, had great
power and influence in their regions, rather like medieval barons.
From May 1921 when Mussolini made his electoral pact with Giolitti, there was resentment from local
Fascist leaders who wanted to be let loose, but Mussolini tried to make the movement more disciplined.
Mussolini was not opposed to violence but he wanted total control over it.
Mussolini had to be perfect with revolutionary. Too much would alienate the politicians and social groups
which he wanted to win over, but too little would infuriate the impatient.
Mussolini's efforts to control Fascist extremism succeeded to a certain extent.
He was able to reorganize the movement into the PNF in 1921 but had to call off his truce with the
socialists, the Pact of Pacification and leave fascist local leaders free to use violent methods in their own
August 3rd fascists stormed into Milan, fought running battles against socialist supporters in the streets
and burned down the building of the socialist newspaper, Avanti.
They then attacked the town hall and took over running the trains breaking the July 31st general strike.
This made the government look weak and made Mussolini look strong and decisive. Using strength
became more attractive.

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March On Rome
Fascist Party congress, due to start October 24th was to be the Launchpad for Mussolini's bid for
October 16th Fascist leaders decided the March on Rome would take place on the 28th October, just after
the PNF congress.
The march looked like a Coup d'état. It was a direct challenge to the State, but it was a staged theatrical
performance based on bluff and blackmail, not on force of arms.…read more

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When the fascist regime began talking about reorganizing industry into `corporations' the employers
were really alarmed, so Mussolini appointed Alberto De Stefani as Finance Minister and restricted
the bargaining rights of trade unions.
Catholic church was hostile to the new fascist regime so Mussolini tailored some of his social
policies to suit the wishes of the Church, for example promising to ban contraception and to
introduce religious education into secondary schools. In 1929 he finally achieved a complete
reconciliation with the church.…read more

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This left Mussolini free to make speeches in the chamber with no opposition present.
It allowed the King to ignore opposition. All Mussolini had to do was wait until the protest died down and
then win a vote in parliament allowing the government to continue its policies of `pacification'.
Mussolini needed all the support he could get such as the army's and Balbo's. If he could not keep the
fascists organized and in check, the old political establishment might turn against him.…read more

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Mussolini put money in to support fascist newspapers and journals, such as II Popolo d'Italia and Critica
He ordered censorship and harassment of nonfascist newspapers some were taken over by the
Authorities were able to ban and confiscate newspapers, which produced false evidence portraying the
government in a bad way, bringing hatred amongst Mussolini.
`Autocensorship' was when editors and journalists guessed what the regime would and wouldn't allow
and censor it themselves. By 1926 government permission was needed to publish.…read more

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June 1923, the pope ordered Sturzo to disband the Catholic Party, which was a benefit to Mussolini
because the PPI still had 107 deputies in the chamber and was capable of obstructing Mussolini's path to
The Concordat Of 1929
Lateran Pacts signed in 1929, providing official recognition of Italian nation.
The concordat, which was signed, recognized the dominant position of the Church in society.
Catholicism became the only recognized religion.…read more

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Government spending was brought under better control but price inflation remained a worry. It started
going up again in 1925.
The Italian currency, the lira, was falling in value in relation to other currencies in the international
exchange markets.
1922, rate of exchange was £1 ­ 90 lire. By 1926 it was £1 ­ 138 lire and the value of the lira seemed
likely to fall further.…read more

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The 10% tax that had previously existed was repealed.
Tax on luxury goods and foreign capital investment were abolished. Inheritance tax was ended as long
as inheritance remained within the family.
The Decree Law of 1927 allowed the government to take money direct from workers' pay packets as
`deductions' in return for social benefits.
1927 ­ 1931 these deductions were heavily exploited. Taxes remained low but workers' pay was
squeezed hard with a damaging effect on living standards.…read more

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Living Standards
Mussolini wanted to improve the living standards of the Italian people to help keep the fascist regime
popular in Italy.
The living standards of most Italians improved considerably in the early 1920's as the economy
recovered from the post war crisis and real wages began to increase.
By 1935, living standards had risen to over 1 million according to the official statistics. Those whose
living standards were affected the most were the agricultural workers.…read more

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Most did so.
There was no major purge of the universities until 1938 when Jewish professors were victimized under
the new race laws.
The GUF (Fascist University Youth) 1929 was taken over by the PNF secretary, Achille Starace and
reorganized as GIL in 1937.
GUF organised interuniversity competitions including Littoriali Games.
The regime never took full control of Italy's universities but did not really need to. The vast majority of the
students either supported the regime or was at least willing to conform.…read more



These notes are clearly organised and address many key analytical questions as well as providing huge amounts of information on Mussolini's Italy.

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