- "Believe, obey, fight."
- "Mussolini's demands of his people"
Benito Mussolini (July 29th, 1883 - April 28th, 1945) was the dictator of Fascist Italy during World War II. He started a war with Ethiopia and invaded North Africa to expand the Italian Empire and allied himself with Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan during the war.
Mussolini gained a reputation for bullying and fighting during his childhood. At age 10 he was expelled from a religious boarding school for stabbing a classmate in the hand, and another stabbing incident took place at his next school. He founded the Fascist party in 1919, galvanising the support of unemployed war veterans he organised them into squadrons known as the blackshirts who antagonised his enemies, he was invited to join the coalition government in 1921, in 1922 as the government's grip on the populace slipped and chaos loomed, he and his blackshirts marched on Rome, presenting himself as the one man to save Italy. On the match, his squads burned down the headquarters and homes of every member of both socialist and communist organizations.
After that, he gradually overthrew the democratic system and turned Italy into a one-party Fascist dictatorship with himself as its leader. He was racist against Slavs and the Africans, although he also publically said "Race is a feeling, not a reality. Nothing will ever make me believe that biologically pure races can be shown to exist today." When he became the leader of Italy he said that a small group of Jews have been in Italy since the days of the Roman Empire and "should remain undisturbed." Nevertheless, he introduced the "Manifesto of Race" which stripped the Jews of their Italian citizenship (despite multiple members of his own fascist party being Jewish) and prevented them from working in 1938, mostly due to heavy influence from Hitler and used his private militia (or Blackshirts) to police his country and enforce this ruling in areas that openly resisted, despite this the overall the enforcement of the Manifesto was relatively lax.
He was also criticized by other European countries during his brutal conquest of Ethiopia in which he committed multiple war crimes such as using mustard gas, bombing red cross hospitals, executing prisoners without trial, leaving children to starve to death in concentration camps and committed the Granzini massacre, which resulted in the deaths and imprisoning of thousands of Ethiopians. The only country that supported him during his conquest was Nazi Germany.
All schools and universities had to swear an oath to the Fascist Party, and the media underwent a great amount of censorship. Newspaper editors were personally chosen by Mussolini himself, it was made illegal to practice Journalism without a certificate of approval from the Fascist party. Labour unions were deprived of there independence and placed in an integrated system, with the aim of being under the government's control.
Mussolini also inherited his fathers views against organised religion and publically attacked Christianity, arguing (ironically) it didn't allow enough free thought, however he later turned on these views and tried to gain the Churches support, purely to try and increase his popularity, as we were well aware of the church's influence, he even had his two children baptised as a sign of faith.
Mussolini also provided military support for Franco, during the Spanish Civil War, and act that severely damaged his reputation in England and France. When invading he had no qualms about kidnapping women and children and using them as hostages, as he did in Yugoslavia, along with other draconian measures such as summary execution and setting villages alight. Around 300,000 were killed in wars while under his rule.
Realising he was the weaker partner in his alliance with Hitler, Mussolini sought greater military conquest, with his goal of making the entire Medertraina Italy's, as it had been in the Roman times. However although he successfully invaded Albania, causing the King to flee, his other invasions proved to be failures. He attempted to attack the British forces in Egypt, however, this soon failed and he was forced to ask Hitler for reinforcements. To try and recover from this embarrassment, he invaded Greece, but only six weeks later this also failed, and once again he was forced to ask Hitler for reinforcements. These failures were deeply embarrassing for Mussolini's image.
In 1943, following the Allied invasion, his party turned on him, however, Mussolini ignored the council when they voted him out of power, and continued to until he was summoned before King Victore Emmanual III and publically arrested. In September Italy was practically occupied by the Germans, who rescued Mussolini and kept him as a figurehead.
He and his mistress Clara Petacci were captured and executed by the Italian Underground on April 28th, 1945 following a failed attempt to escape.