Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) was an Italian dictator and one of the main instigators of fascism.
illed with his mistress while trying to escape to Spain by Italian partisans. They hung his and his mistress' body upside down the next day.
Benito Mussolini was a very violent child . He often had to switch from school to school to school because he was so violent. On one occasion he was known to have stabbed a teacher and 2 students.
During World War I, he served as a soldier in the Italian army. After the war he became a journalist and in the 1920s he began the Fascist Party whose goal was to return Italy to her splendor. Mussolini got much support from the peasants and factory workers. In 1922, Mussolini led an assault on Rome with his "Black Shirts". He was elected Pime Minister of Italy . Soon afterwards he took on dictatorial powers and established the Fascist Party as the only political party allowed in Italy.
In May 1923, Mussolini qualified for a civil pilot's licence, to which he added a military pilot's licence in 1933.
Rise to Power
Following his rise to power, Mussolini built up the armed forces once again and he sought to dominate the Mediterrenean and rebuild a modern "Roman Empire" as he put it. He conceived the Four Power Pact, signed by Britain, France, Germany and Italy on June 15th 1933, which was supposedly intended to preserve the peace in Europe.[N 1] This was followed by the signing on 2nd September 1933 of a non aggression pact between Italy and Russia.
On June 14th 1934, Adolf Hitler traveled to Venice to meet Mussolini for the first time. Despite their later friendship, the two were unimpressed with each other, with Mussolini telling his followers 'I don't like him (Hitler)'. The pair had sharp exchanges on the subject of Nazi participation in the Vienna government, and the need to remove Engelbert Dollfuss from his position as Chancellor of Austria. The only matter on which Mussolini and Hitler agreed was the fact that neither wanted regional alliances in Europe.
In 1935, he invaded Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and conquered it forcing Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie to go into exile. Mussolini considered this to be revenge for Italy's weak invasion attempt of Ethiopia in 1887.
In 1936 Mussolini and Hitler set up the "Rome-Berlin Axis" alliance. Both Mussolini and Hitler gave their support to Francisco Franco, who was attempting a Fascist coup in Spain. They sent Spain ammunition and troops, allowing Franco to be victorious.
In 1938, following Hitler's annexation of Austria, Mussolini began to have fears that a European conflict was coming as tensions between Germany, Britain and France were rising. In the hopes of preventing a major conflict, Mussolini initiated a meeting at Munich, Germany. Present at the meeting were French Prime Minister Daladier, British Prime minister Chamberlin, Mussolini himself as well as Hitler. Hitler agreed at the meeting that he would end all his military expansions if the Allies allowed him to annex all Czechoslovakia. The Allied heads of state agreed. Chamberlin returned to Britain triumphantly claiming that "We have peace for our time with Hitler." Mussolini returned to Italy believing the same.
In September of 1939, Hitler sparked World War II with his invasion of Poland. Mussolini remained neutral only joining the war on Germany's side officially after the fall of France in summer of 1940. At the same time, the British liberated Abyssinia from his rule.
In 1940, Mussolini invaded and captured Albania. He then declared war on Greece and demanded Greek surrender. Greek Prime Minister Iohannis Metaxas (ruled 1936-1941) replied with one word "Ohi!" (No!) Mussolini's forces were repulsed by the Greeks back into Albania.
In 1941, Mussolini began to harass the British in Egypt from his colonies in Libya. Hitler sent reinforcements and Commander Erwin Rommel to aid Mussolini in Libya against the British.
In April of 1941, Germany conquered Greece and Yugoslavia. A portion of Greece was given to Italian administration by Hitler. Mussolini also volunteered a few thousand men to help Hitler in his invasion of the USSR.
In 1942, nothing particularly noteworthy happened to Mussolini.
In the summer of 1943, as the Soviets were pushing back the Germans on the Eastern Front, The Axis powers had lost Libya to the Allies. The British, American and Canadian forces landed in Sicily and fought their way into Italy. They slowly advanced their way towards Rome. Mussolini lost control of the situation. After an emergency meeting with King Victor Emmanuel, Mussolini was arrested by one of his own guards. The Italian Facist regime passed to Marshal Badoglio who signed an armistice with the Allies.
Mussolini was imprisoned in a mountaintop resort. Mere months after his incarceration, Mussolini was rescued by German agents and taken by plane to Hitler. German forces invaded and conquered northern and central Italy. Mussolini was placed in charge of the Fascist republic of Salo centered at Milan supported by German forces. Rome was liberated that year.
In 1944, the Allies continued to liberate Italy.
By 1945, Mussolini again lost control. On April 25th he attempted to escape to Spain but was captured by Italian partisans. He and his mistress were hung the next day in Milan in front of a cheering crowd.
Mussolini disliked pasta, but was very fond of garlic - so much so that, because of the smell, his wife refused to share a bedroom with him, prefering to sleep in the same room as the couple's children.
- ↑ In fact the pact, which had been agreed on June 7th, was a ploy to undermine the League of Nations by placing France, who provided leadership in preserving the boundaries drawn up after the First World War, in untenable relations with other European countries.
- ↑ Neulen, Hans Werner. In the Skies of Europe - Air Forces allied to the Luftwaffe 1939-1945. The Crowood Press. 2000. ISBN 1-86126-326-0 Page 17.
- ↑ Goralski, Robert. World War II Almanac 1931-1945. Hamish Hamilton Ltd. 1981. ISBN 0 241 10573 0 Page 22
- ↑ Goralski, Robert. Page 23
- ↑ Goralski, Robert. Page 28
- ↑ i Newspaper. Published by Independent Print Ltd. issue 1260 - Tuesday 9 December 2014. (Article by John Walsh, based on information taken from Dictators Dinners by Victoria Clark and Melissa Scott.)