Mussolini - 1922-1945

Mussolini's social, economic, foreign, and political policies from 1922-1945

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Why did the March on Rome take place in 1922?

  • Politically 

To incite fear into Mussolini's oppostition and efficiently appear upon the national and world stage, which had, infact contrasted greatly with the previously weak consitution. 

  • Socially 

The march was purely a dramatic gesture on the Fascist's behalf. Considering the previous government was inherently weak, having been headed by Salandra; the march was symbolic of the Fascist strength and was inevitably required in order to present Fascism in such an acute manner. 

  • Opportunism 

Potentially the march in itself can be seen as an act of opportunism whereupon Mussolini seeks the opportune moment to build upon his already growing reputation of power. 

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Why did Mussolini win the 1924 election?

  • Politically 

Through the use of the Acerbo Law which was established in 1923, many political parties were suppressed and left disheartened by the sudden change in the voting system. This coincides greatly with Mussolini's political skill whereupon he used the law against the PNF, knowing that they were his greatest opposition. 

  • Socially 

Mussolini diverged away from legitimacy and exploited the blackshirts through violence and intimidation. This extended as far as to the elites whereupon it aided Mussolini in gaining 2/3 of the seats in parliament. 

  • Role of the King 

The role of the King, or rather, lack of it acted as a stepping stone for Mussolini on the grounds that he was the only individual who could remove Mussolini from power, and this his recessive attitude merely acted as leverage for Mussolini. 

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Why wasn't Mussolini toppled from power after the

  • Politically 

Mussolini had efficiently secured his position within parliament through the use of the Acerbo Law and the intricate co-ordination of the King. Removal of Mussolini would have required intervention from armed forces whereupon generals were not keep on being incorporated with a civil war. 

  • Socially 

Following the crisis an element of fear was incited within the nation, this went hand in hand with the Press Censorship laws that were introduced in the same year. This acted as a buffer to opposition whereupon the nation's knowledge of the crisis was limited. 

  • The Role of the King 

The king was notoriously known as being a particularly recessive king. The king had by-passed the opportunity to remove mussolini in 1922 and again in 1924. Thus, allowing mussolini to flourish without hinderances. 

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Why did the 'Aventine Secession take place in 1924

  • Desperation

Linking back to events during the Roman Empire where politicians fled to the Aventine hills, politicians in 1924 followed a similar route by boycotting parliament in a desperate attempt at drawing attention from the King and encourage his intervention. 

  • The need for a stable governement 

Following the Matteotti crisis left mussolini's government particularly weak. This dramatic gesture of the Secession would should moral purity about the liberals and the democrats. Much like the prospect of 'desparation' it was important that the government was stabilised. 

  • A reaction to Mussolini 

The Acerbo law had already undermined the strength of the opposition at which the secession would demonstrate their disgust for the new electoral system. The matteotti crisis protrated fascism in a most unfavourable light. 

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Policies to consolidate power to 1927

  • Economic successes: Battle for lira and Battle for Grain 
  • Foreign policy successes: Acquisition of Fiume and locarno treaties
  • Political successes: Palazzo Vidoni pact, The leggi fascistissme, the syndical law, the press law, the charter of labour. 
  • Violence and Intimidation: repression of opponents became more systematic as mussolini moved to establish a police state. Secret police was established - OVRA
  • Propaganda and appeasing elites; minimised opposition 
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Why did Mussolini sign the Concordat with the Papa

  • Politically: 

 Mussolini was afraid of the political influence of the Church. Considering the PPI had 107 deputies within the parliament, mussolini was irrecoverably pushed to the limits whereupon appeasement meant less opposition in the most basic terms. 

  • Social: 

Catholicism was widespread throughout Italy, this meant that there was a sincere amount of the population that could, if need be, rise against Mussolini. Once again, the political incentives, society had exposed Mussolini's inherent weakness that was the church. 

  • Internationally: 

Mussolini was always covetous for prestige. Having been the first leader in the 60 years since unification to collaborate with the Church, Mussolini would efficiently be seen on the world stage as a successful world leader. 

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Why did Mussolini launch the Battle for Grain in 1

  • Autarky: 

The need for self suffiency was prominent in the early 1920's on the grounds that Mussolini had future prospects of going to war upon which the need for self- sufficiency enhanced, The policy of 'Autarchia' meant that Ital would no longer be dependant upon 'Foreign bread'. 

  • Propaganda:

Much like the idea of Autarky, Mussolini primarily aimed at establishing Italy on the world stage in an efficient manner. The battle for Grain would liberate italy's weakness of imports whilst simultaneously reduce the deficit in balance of payments = pro- fascist propaganda.

  • Economy: 

In the most basic terms, the Battle for Grain aimed at enhancing the economy that was left weak following the ''mutilated victory'' of WW1 in 1917. Primarily, it aimed to support farmers, and create more employment opportunities. 

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Why did Mussolini launch the Battle for Land in 19

  • Internally: 

Mussolini aimed at stimulating agriculture and fundamentally enhance the economy through agricultural gain. This was particularly integral for the policy of Autarky on the grounds that the Battle for land greatly coincided with the Battle for Grain in 1925. Thus, it could be said that the Battle for land accommodated for the 'grain'. 

  • Internationally:

Mussolini aimed at establishing Italy as a world power in order to rebuke the stigma attached to the ''mutilated victory''. Essentially, the battle for land would accentuate Italy's prestige through its ability to reclaim land and enhance the economy. 

  • Propaganda

Much like the idea of internal enhancements and international prestige, many of mussolini's policies were motivated purely by propaganda. At home, Italian's would hae been impressed by the health improvements in the 'marshes' and the sudden increase in employment opportunities. 

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Why did Mussolini launch the Battle for Lira in 19

  • Internally: 

Mussolini saw that the value of the lira was falling dramatically against the other currencies. Potentially this battle was the final attempt at rejuvenating Italy's economy and enhance national unity. The economy had always been a hinderance for Italy, hence why it needed to be co-ordinated effienctly. 

  • Internationally: 

Italy had strived to become incorporated with the world stage during the 1920's. It is this strive that had irrecoverably stimulated the battle for lira on the grounds that it would presents Italy in a most profound light. 

  • Prospect of war:

Much like the policy of Autarky, Mussolini strived for Economic independance. This coincides greatly with becoming a 'world power' on the basis that if the prospect of war arose then Italy would be predominantly independant through its stable currency and growing liberation from 'Foreign bread' and loans. 

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How successful were Mussolini's Economic aims?


  • Autarky - it was successful in becoming established in noticably enhancing the Italian economy. It also incited a sincere amount of national pride. 
  • Employment-  employment levels increased and had lower levels of unemployment in comparison to Britain and France. 
  • Standard of Living - More individuals could attain a stable job, this disposable income increased and had better standards of living. 


  • Autarky- Italy was still largely dependant on foreign exports on the grounds that Italy lacked natural resources and by 1939 italy was growing heavily dependant on Germany.
  • Cartelisation- Consumer and smaller industries were neglected as the focus was primarly upon heavy industry. 
  • Corporativism- the corporate state had evolved into a huge bureacracy in which mussolini focussed on maintaining the status quo between elites. 
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Why was the Corporate State established in 1926?

  • Employment: 

- Increase employment levels, include all public sectors in enhancing the economy, strive for Autarky. 

  • Propaganda Campaign 

- Edmundo Rossini and Alfredo Rocco collectively attempted to enhance Italy as a world power and strived to unify both Workers and Employers. This would present Italy in the most profound light upon the world stage. 

  • Enhance economy 

- Overall enhance the economy in the most basic terms, through the strive for Autarky and the preparations for the prospect of war. By co-ordinating the economy efficiently before the prospect of war arose, both workers and employers alike could work coherently in aid of the war effort.

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Impact of the Great Depression

In some ways Italy was less badly affected by the Great Depression in comparison with other nations such as Britain and France, but only on the grounds that Italy was already in a recessive state before the Great Depression occured. 

  • Value of Italian stocks and shares went down by more than 35%. 
  • Manufacturing products went down by 14%. 
  • Balance of payments worsened, with imports costing more than exports.
  • Money sent back to italy from those living abroad had stopped flowing in. 
  • unemployment levels increased. 
  • Massive increase in state intervention: IMI and IRI was established. 

IMI = Set up to save the banking system 

IRI = Provided financial stability for Italy's major industries. 

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Italian economy by 1940 - Autarky, Rearmament and

It is difficult to deduce how efficient Italy's economy was by 1940 on the grounds that many propaganda claims and myths conflict between the actual realities. 

  • Industrial production lagged behind other advanced economies. 
  • Autarky was more prominent by 1940 for the war effort. 
  • the demands of rearmament and military expansion put the economy under significant strains. 
  • The war effort distorted the economy on the grounds that many industries had converted to rearmaments and had neglected smaller productions. 
  • increased production of Lanital. 
  • Enormous costs involved in keeping so many people in useless jobs in the bureacracy. 
  • By 1940 the economy was becoming increasingly dependant upon Germany, 
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Living Standards - Improved

OND activities: 

  • 4 million members by 1939
  • entertainment 
  • railway tickets
  • shopping/ emergency food and money for those who needed it. 
  • EOA camps for children with health concerns. 
  • Corporations - syndicates set up their own schemes of activities. 
  • £3million worth of donations was distributed. 
  • Working hours were reduced 
  • Corporate state- workers got accident and sick pay. 
  • Middle class had a better standard of living if employed in state jobs. 
  • Created more jobs for the middle class through the OND and the Ministry of Corporations headed by Bottai. 
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Standard of Living - did not improve

  • Middle class suffered small wage cuts. 
  • Prices of goods rose, imports were more expensive. 
  • Real wages fell by 45% due to 6 separate wage cuts. 
  • Consumption of meat and vegetables decreased, this indicates extreme poverty and alludes to the idea that many italians had a poor diet. 
  • Agricultural south benefited the least, they were less advanced than the north so it is not surprising that they did not benefit from the changes to the economy. 
  • Industrial workers were better off than other minority groups but yet, they still felt some of the effects of the changes caused by the depression and general changes to the economy. 
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Success and Failures of the Corporate State:


  • All areas of the public were involved
  • mussolini consolidated his relationship with both industrial elites and radical fascist's ( confindustria) 
  • Contained advantages of capitalism and socialism - thus creating a world power of Italy and economically unifying italy. 


  • The Corporate state evolved into a huge bureaucracy on the grounds that mussolini was more focussed on maintaining the status quo between himself and the industrial elites. 
  • Workers wages fell by 45%
  • Cartelisation - this favoured larger industries and thus neglected smaller businesses. 
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How did Fascism Change Education?

Mainly, the changes of Education was related to religion and indoctrination:

  • Fascist regime focussed specifically on the elite grammar schools. 
  • catholic religious education become compulsory in primary schools. 
  • upper schools prepared and education youths for the fascist regime. 
  • primary schools gave leave for mussolini to indoctrinate the younger children with fascist ideals. 
  • religious teachers gained more authority and influence in 1935
  • propaganda was sometimes very direct, the younger the age of the pupils the more pressure that was put on by the regime. 
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The ONB and the Youth Movement

  • Every classroom had a large portrait of the Duce upon the wall. 
  • Every school day and every meeting of the youth organisations began with proclaimations of loyalty and obedience to mussolini. 
  • Mussolini's voice dominated the radio in homes and public spaces so that even young children were familar with it. 
  • many impressionable young people accepted this cult. 
  • They saw mussolnin as a second god, even thought they lived in a society that alreayd had a Pope and a King. 
  • Many of them became idealistic and committed young leaders. 
  • The indoctrination did not work well with all italian youth, in many societies children were influenced by their parents. 
  • In homes where the parents had catholic, liberal or socialist ideas, there was great reluctances to fascist values. 
  • there was rebellious teenagers whose attitude was ''count me out'' because they hated regimentation and even team games. 
  • The fact there was so much intense effort and brilliant presentation into promoting the Cult, did not necessarily make it effective. 
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Position of Women in society

Fascist ideology of women included: 

  • Submissive women 
  • strong mothers 

This ideology was heavily emphasised in the education of girls are school and in the role of girls in the fascist youth organisations. 

Mussolini's ideal fascist women included:

  • Live a peasant life in the countryside
  • content to raise her large family according to traditional values. 

Dona Rachele 

  • peasant girl of 18 when she started living with mussolini, 
  • she bore mussolini 5 children adn was used by fascist propaganda as an ideal wife and mother. 
  • had little interest in politics and was not well educated. 
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Why did Mussolini launch the Battle for Births?


  • Italy strived for national prestige
  • propaganda campaign to include women in fascist policies
  • military power depended on having a large population 


  • Provide help for abandoned children and pre-natal advice to mothers, 
  • provided a sense of unity and prestige amongst the Italian nation
  • propaganda campaign that focussed primarily on society. 


  • Before the Concordat of 1929 - however it is was still important for Mussolini to appease the church in order to acheive a sense of prestige. 
  • battle for Births would appease the catholics in italy considering abortion went against the catholic beliefs. 
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How far did fascist policies gain support from wom

Supported Mussolini: 

  • battle for births - unified women 
  • Treatment of pregnant women 
  • Political organisations - OMNI
  • Mother and Child Day 
  • Fascist propanda 

Opposed Mussolini:

  • Battle for births - submissive and passive role in society
  • Women were unfavourable within the working society
  • Abortion law - abortions were made illegal 
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Stages of Radicalisation

  • Uncontrolled and Violent actions by the radical elements of the fascist movement.
  • Mussolini completed his consolidation of power and was careful not to fall out with key powers. 
  • I'inquadramento - increased state intervention 
  • Radicalisation - linked to Autarky and War 
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Impact of the Abyssinian war

How did the war impact propaganda?

  • intensification of militaristic propaganda
  • war propaganda 

What did the war expose about italian military strength?

  • Weakness and failings of Fascism
  • lack of military spirit
  • a lot of incompetence when dealing with the militiary - conveyed the image of weakness and lack of preparation. 

How did the war impact the economy? 

  • Intensified the drive for Autarky following the sanctions placed on italy by the League of Nations 
  • campaigned against jews
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Race Laws - 1938

The anti-semitic views had a clear connection between the introduction between Mussolini's growing relationship with Hitler. 

  • Mussolini believed that history was about the struggle between superior and inferior races and cultures. 
  • the war in Ethiopia and before that, the pacification of libya were accompanied by instances of brutality and racism, 
  • italian forces used poison gas against the Ethiopians and after the conquest was completed Mussolini established a system of strict racial segregation. 
  • Mussolini himself made a link between colonial conquest and racial attitudes. 

'' the racial problem has not broke out suddenly. it is related to our conquest of our empire, for history teaches us that empires are won by arms but ar held by prestife - and prestige demands a clear-cut racial consciousness''

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Extent of opposition - Totalitarian?

Extent of Opposition: 

  • Totalitarian state - everyone comes together under one leader, controlled by the state. 
  • The church, the King and big industrialists and big landowners in the south.
  • If italy was totalitarian like Russia there wouldn't have been 2 heads of state. Although Mussolini was portrayed as a true totalitarian leader. whereas in reality strategicially worked the power blocks in society. 
  • Small communist activists carried on operating in factories. 
  • mussolini maintained control of opposition and he used to OVRA to silence any political opponents such as the Mafia 
  • the man area of opposition was the mafia in the south where fascism was no efficiently enforced.
  • Mussolini saw Sicily as Mafia controlled - thus enforcing the Battle against the Mafia in 1925. Mussolini did not eliminate the Mafia, however murder rates substantially decreased. 
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Positive impacts of Propaganda on culture

  • Successful in co-ordinating art and culture at the level of ordinary people. 
  • cinema in italy was americanised and many italians were impressed by the hollywood life as opposed to the harsh realities of Italy. 
  • Iconic themes and heroic individuals made a big impression on the beliefs and attitudes of italians. 
  • Italians were often impressed by Italy's cultural achievements. 
  • the venice bienneale became a major event and was held every 2 years. 
  • this attracted modern architecture in modern cities and towns. 
  • PNF and OND ran many exhibitions and competitions at local and national levels. led to mass sport participation and was encourage by the education system. 
  • Big cultural and propaganda impact through sport. 
  • Sporting successes was a symbol of national pride. 
  • italy held the 2nd world cup and won. 
  • Alfa romeo became popular.  
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Negative impacts of Propaganda on Culture

  • Giuseppe Bottai acted almost as a rival to Miniculpop - Ministry of National education 
  • Italian made films were overshadowed by American cinema sine America could affort to make sophisticated films 
  • italian films were outnumbered by foreign exports. 
  • many Italian's felt disheartened by Amerian films on the grounds that it accentuated the harsh realities of italy and its stance on the world stage. 
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Influences behind Mussolini's foreign policies.

What was Mussolini's early attitude towards foreign policy? 

  • Socialist and Pacifist 
  • Restore national pride and to make Italy an empire
  • violence - transition from ''sheep to wolves'' 
  • mussolini was seeking to expand italian influence in the mediterranean and Africa

Where did Mussolini feel Italian interests should be protected?

  • Mediterranean and Africa 
  • Extending italian influence across the Adriatic to Dalmatia and Albania 

What were the influences behind Mussolini's foreign policy?

  • Personal glory and prestigious victories 
  • ''mutilated victory'' - motivated by nationalism 
  • Fascist ideology on national greatness and the sense of Ancient Rome 
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What was Mare Nostrum?

  • Mare Nostrum revived past glories of Ancient Rome and of the maritime empire of Venice. 
  • It fitted with the idea of Italian cultural superiority
  • it enabled Mussolini to project Fascism as something new and exciting to wipe away national humiliation 
  • Mussolini hoped to gain key strategic islands such as malta and crete. 
  • he also hoped to replace British influence in Egypt and east africa
  • Mare nostrum included italian dominance in Libya. 
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Corfu Crisis - 1923

  • Propaganda success
  • Dispute between Greece and Albania 
  • Great powers organised a conference of ambassadors to solve the dispute. 
  • The general and several of his men were shot - circumstantial evidence. no solid proof as to who done it. 
  • Greece issued to apology but claimed the compensation. Mussolini's actions amounted to blatant war. 
  • Greece went to the league of nations after Italy had occupied the land - Greece had gained support from Britain. 
  • corfu helped to win over public opinion in the run up to the 1924 elections and restored relations with britain 
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Ambitions in the Balkans and Fiume

  • Fiume was occupied by an unofficial force led by D'Annunzio and were reluctantly expelled from the city by Orlando. 
  • Mussolini persuaded the Yugoslavian government to accept the italian annexation of Fiume by the Treay of Rome.
  • Mussolini showed great diplomatic skill over fiume and he toned down the more extreme claims which demonstrated the fact that Mussolini only cared about Prestige. 
  • Mussolini began to pursue his extensive ambitions in the Balkans which were likely to lead to conflict with yugoslavia and Greece and Albania. 
  • He also gave aid to separist groups within yugoslavia in order to break up the country, 
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Locarno Pact 1925

  • Prestige Success
  • Borders between France and Germany had been imposed by 'diktat'. 
  • By the 1920's relations between the 2 countries were much improved. 
  • Diplomatic negotiations took place at Locarno in 1925.
  • Nothing was really negotiated at Locarno. 
  • Mussolini was able to present Italy as a major European power along with Britain, France and Germany. 
  • Locarno Pact = guaranteeing the integrity of north European frontiers/ borders. 
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Mussolini and Austria

  • 1930 - Mussolini signed a Friendship treaty with Austria. 
  • Mussolini was sensitive to the need to protect Italy's borders with Austria. 
  • Mussolini established close links with Dolfuss and poured substantial amount of financial assistance into Austria. 
  • Mussolini helped Dollfuss against the rising threat of Nazism. 


  • Union between Germany and Austria which had been forbidden by the treaty of Versailles inn 1919. Hitler himself of Austria origin, eagerly supported the idea of Anschluss along with many nationalists both in Germany and Austria. 
  • Dolfuss was assassinated by Austrian Nazi's whereupon Mussolini reacted by sending Italian troops to Austrian borders. This made Italy look like it was prepared to protect Austria which consequently enhanced Mussolini's prestige but was misleading for his power and influence. 
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The Stresa Front- 1935

  • Mussolini's primary aim was to make Italy a world power. Potentially this could only be achieved through extensive interventions and mediation between European countries that would inadvertently portray Mussolini as a powerful and diplomatic leader.
  • The 3 European powers issues a protest at German rearmament that conflicted greatly with the Treaty of Versailles. 
  • This is was one of the most prestigious moments for Mussolini, having being closely affiliated with western powers. 
  • The Stresa Front did not mark a change in Italian priorities, it was a manoeuvre towards a colonial war. 
  • Mussolini's true motives remained the same: It was less to do with Italian forces standing up against Hitler, but rather an opportunity to ensue an agreement with Britain and France and inadvertently leave him free to pursue his imperial dreams of Africa, whilst simultaneously checking up on Hitler's next move.
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Why did Mussolini invade Abyssinia in 1935?


  • National prestige that would mask over the humiliation that was catalysed bu the Battle of Adowa in 1896. 
  • Diversion of focus away from domestic problems such as standard of living. 


  • Exploiting natural resources in Abyssinia and to provide more living space for Italians to accommodate for the over- population. 


  • catching up with colonial powers at which Abyssinia could be used as a stepping stone for Italy's colonial expansion. 
  • Victory over Abyssinia would not be too difficult and would effectively minimise any risk of exposing italy's military expansion. 
  • Exploit the opportunity that the Stresa Front had established. 
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Impact of invasion of Abyssinia in 1936

  • Mass national rejoicing and Mussolini's prestige rose more than ever. 
  • In reality, the victory had been less than spectacular on the grounds that the conquest took longer than it should have and was only achieved through massive expenses to the national budget. 
  • People in Italy took Mussolini's victory as face value. he gained approval from many sections of the public. 
  • There were mass demonstrations in favour of mussolini and against 'foreign-elements' who opposed his actions. 
  • From the beginning of the war, leaders of the catholic church expressed their approval.
  • italy's victory on the field did not bring an end to diplomatic crisis caused by war. 
  • Mussolini hoped European powers would quickly accept the conquest of Abyssinia. 
  • The lasting damage to italy's relationship with Britain and France sincerely deteriorated on the grounds that throughout the Stresa Front Mussolini had given no indication that he had intentions of invading Africa. 
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International responses to the Conquest of Abyssin

  • Mussolini had misjudged the response of Britain and France. 
  • It had taken too long for the conquest of Abyssinia to be completed and allowed time for opposition to grow. 
  • Emperor Haile Selassie maintained a very effective campaign to exploit international condemnation of italian aggression, he had a huge impact ipon public opinion around the world. 
  • The attitudes and actions of Britain and France were influenced by public opinion against Mussolini. 
  • British and French policies towards Mussolini were very uncertain and ambiguous. They had the desire to block fascist aggression and support the league of nations. 
  • the Hoare-Laval pact partitioned Abyssinia into sections as a compromise. This was Britain's and France's secret deal. 
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Summary of Impacts of Conquest of Abyssinia

  • Emperor Haile Selassie made a speech to the League of Nations. 
  • league of nations placed economic sanctions upon Italy regarding trade and access to the Suez Canal. 
  • Italy announced Abyssinia as part of its empire and had received a lot of popularity. 
  • The war drained Italy economically and had exposed their military weaknesses. 
  • Abyssinia was not rich in natural resources despite Mussolini's assumptions. 
  • The new colony was expensive and few Italians wanted to migrate there.
  • Those who did migrate were unhappy and felt it did not live up to its expectations of the propaganda and soon returned to italy. 
  • Shift in power resulted in Italy leaning further towards Nazi Germany.
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How Successful Italy's involvement in the Spanish-


  • Propaganda claims after winning the war. 
  • prestige internally. 
  • Brought Hitler and Mussolini closer together. 
  • Makes Britain and France and the League Nations look substantially weaker.


  • Lost a lot of money 
  • loss of prestige due to his weak foreign policy. 
  • severe strain upon italy's military and industry 
  • Humiliating loss of life at Guadalajara. 
  • public opinion turned against Italy and had essentially lost international prestige. 
  • devaluation of the lira. 

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Mussolini's relationship with Hitler

  • Mussolini admired and feared the strength of Nazi Germany but he often had a negative attitude towards Hitler. 
  • Hitler looked down on Italy and had no respect for italian military or economic strength. he was always well disposed towards Mussolini personally. 
  • Hitlers ability to handle Mussolini sometimes by flattery and decisiveness of force of personality. 
  • This relationship last for 10 years and 15 meetings. 
  • Mussolini became increasingly worried about Nazi Germany's growing strength but only appeased Hitler for both the sake of Italy and Mussolini's personal prestige on the world stage. 
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Pact of Steel 1939

The pact of Steel was an affiliation between Italy and Germany that stated if either country should enter a war, the other country would be there to support it. It was an attempt on Italy's behalf to consolidate his stance in the run up to war. 

Hitler did not value this pact on the grounds that Italy had no personal interest to hitler. 

  • Hitler signed the pact to cement an alliance with Italy in order to tie down British and French forces in the Mediterranean whilst his army was fighting in the east. 
  • Mussolini had been thinking of being ready for war in 1943. 
  • Mussolini invaded Albania in 1939 with the intentions that it would compensate for the loss of influence on Austria due to Hitlers anschluss. 
  • Economic motives also influenced the invasion of Albania. 
  • After the pact of steel was established, Mussolini had second thoughts almost immediately. 
  • Mussolini sent a memorandum stressing that Italy did not want to join any major war for the next 3 years. 
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Invasion of Albania - 1939

  • By 1939 Albania was already virtually under complete control by Italy. 
  • Italy had exclusive rights for mining operations, oil exploration and fishing in the adriatic. 
  • Italians controlled Albania's banks
  • the ruler of Albania depended on loands to carry on the business of the government, 
  • italians held many key posts in the army, the civil service and the government. 
  • Mussolini and Ciano began to make practical preparations for the complete annexation of Albania. 
  • Mussolini invaded Albania to compensate over the loss of influence in Austria following Hitlers Anschluss. 
  • The invasion exposed Italy's poor military operations and economic weaknesses. 
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Italy's non-belligerence in 1939 - ''phony war''

  • Mussolini wanted to keep his options open. he always had mixed feelings about the German alliance, even after entering the war on Germany's side in 1940. 
  • Mussolini was afraid that the war might expose the fact that italy was not militarily or economically ready for a major conflict. 
  • Mussolini had entered the Pact of Steel thinking in terms of making war in 1943 or even later. 
  • he had not realised how soon Hitler would attack Poland. 
  • Hitler did not really need Italy's help in Poland.
  • For Germany, the value of the alliance with Italy was that Italy would tie down British and French forces and in essence, act as a buffer zone. 
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Why did Italy join the war in 1940?


  • Mussolini wanted to glorify Fascism and believed that war was essential in order to harden the Italian people.
  • Mussolini also believed the fascist ideology of action to unify fascist nations. 
  • Mussoliini had relied on fascist propaganda, thus he could not simply back out of war when the time came to enter it. 

Fear and Greed

  • Mussolini was afraid of what might go wrong in 1940. 
  • He feared losing popularity if he missed out on a victorious war. 
  • he feared how powerful and dangerous Nazi Germany would become if Hitler won a decisive victory in the war. 
  • Mussolini was motivated by opportunism as well as ideology 
  • The defeat of Britain opened up possibilities to break free from British sea power and fulfill their ambitions in the Balkans and the Mediterranean. 

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