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Fascistic Italy
© Hachette Livre et/ou Hachette Multimédia

Benito Mussolini


On October 27th, 1922, the fascists try a blow of bluff: walk on Rome. Excited then by the mode, it gathers less than 30 ' 000 badly armed men, while the city is defended by 28 000 soldiers equipped well. But Victor-Emmanuel III fears for his crown and listens military, nationalist and large industrialists profascists, so that he does not proclaim the state of siege and names Mussolini chief of a government where mix with fascistic and liberal.

With 1922 to 1926, Mussolini reinforces its power: it prohibits the strike and receives the full powers of the Parliament (November 1922). At the time of the elections of 1924, the fascistic coalition obtains the absolute majority. The assassination of the socialist deputy Matteotti by fascistic sicaires (1924) puts the mode in crisis: the deputies of opposition refuse to sit and withdraw themselves on Aventin, while many fascists disunite themselves of their chief.

But the opponents do not manage to link themselves, and Mussolini gives up the parliamentary fiction: on January 3rd, 1925, he states to assume the responsibility for this act and defies the deputies to prosecute it. The newspapers of opposition are suspended, the liberal ministers resign. Mussolini controls by decrees: the parliamentary initiative disappears, the administration is purified and the removed municipal councils.

All the levels, the authority replaces the democratic principle. The fascistic laws of 1926 crown the building by denying all freedoms, by cancelling the passports and by prohibiting newspapers, parties and organizations of opposition. The totality of the power is in the hands of Duce (Mussolini), assisted the Large Council of Fascism; the king has nothing any more but the appearance of the power.

The fascistic party

The population is strongly framed by the mode: the fascistic party counts more than 1.5 million members; the young people are press-ganged in paramilitary formations and the leisures organized by the Opera nazionale dopo lavoro. The direction of the spirits takes place by the teaching, whose members are purified, and by the propaganda, which uses all the modern means of information (press, radio, post). After 1936, the mode hardens, in imitation of the Nazi Germany, and adopts a racial legislation against the Jews.

The economic policy follows a similar evolution: from 1922 to 1926, the liberal economy is supported by the dismantling of the apparatus interventionist of time of war (fine of the price control and rents) and the return to the balance in the budget. But, of 1926 to 1930, Mussolini takes interventionists measures to make lira a hard currency, to decrease the imports and to increase the national production of raw materials.

The crisis of 1929 accentuates the state intervention, which leads to a policy of economic autarky (1930-1940): the high customs duties dissuade to import, and a rigorous exchange control limits the exchanges. At the request of the industrialists and bankers, the State creates the IRI (Istituto per the ricostruzione industriale), which distributes credit and acquires companies in difficulty; thus the base of a capitalism of State is constituted.

Agreements of Lateran and the second world war

The Roman question is settled by the agreements of Lateran, in 1929, between the Holy See and Mussolini; they recognize Catholicism like religion of State, repeal the law of the Guarantees of May 13th, 1871 and create the State of the Vatican.

Everywhere else, the force carries it: after having pacified Libya, Italy attacks Ethiopia, member of the League of Nations, with the autumn 1935, then is combined in Hitler, the sides of which it enters in war in 1940 (Italy signed the Steel pact with the III E Reich).

During the Second world war in 1943, the Anglo-American unloading in Sicily involves the fall of Mussolini, which takes refuge in North, where it founds the Republic of Salo. Italy undergoes two wars then: one civil, between the fascists of the Republic of Salo and the antifascists; the other between Germans and Combined, who occupy Italy. The Badoglio marshal signs an armistice with the Allies, and, in 1944, Victor-Emmanuel III is constrained to abdicate in favor of his son Humbert II, who becomes general lieutenant of the kingdom. In 1945, Mussolini is stopped and carried out summarily.

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