|Height:||169 cm (5' 7'')|
|Birth Day:||July 29, 1883|
|Death Date:||Apr 28, 1945 (age 61)|
|Birth Place:||Predappio, Italy|
|#2||Anna Maria Mussolini||Daughter||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#4||Alessandro Mussolini||Father||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||56||Celebrity Family Member|
|#5||Ida Dalser||Former spouse||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#9||Benito Albino Mussolini||Son||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#12||Romano Mussolini||Son||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||78||Pianist|
As per our current Database, Benito Mussolini died on Apr 28, 1945 (age 61).
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
|169 cm (5' 7'')||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
To avoid conscription, he moved to Switzerland in 1902 and worked as a stonemason.
Mussolini was born on 29 July 1883 in Dovia di Predappio, a small town in the province of Forlì in Romagna. Later, during the Fascist era, Predappio was dubbed "Duce's town" and Forlì was called "Duce's city", with pilgrims going to Predappio and Forlì to see the birthplace of Mussolini.
The conflict between his parents about religion meant that, unlike most Italians, Mussolini was not baptized at birth and would not be until much later in life. As a compromise between his parents, Mussolini was sent to a boarding school run by Salesian monks. After joining a new school, Mussolini achieved good grades, and qualified as an elementary schoolmaster in 1901.
As a young boy, Mussolini would spend some time helping his father in his smithy. Mussolini's early political views were strongly influenced by his father, who idolized 19th-century Italian nationalist figures with humanist tendencies such as Carlo Pisacane, Giuseppe Mazzini, and Giuseppe Garibaldi. His father's political outlook combined views of anarchist figures such as Carlo Cafiero and Mikhail Bakunin, the military authoritarianism of Garibaldi, and the nationalism of Mazzini. In 1902, at the anniversary of Garibaldi's death, Mussolini made a public speech in praise of the republican nationalist.
In 1902, Mussolini emigrated to Switzerland, partly to avoid compulsory military service. He worked briefly as a stonemason in Geneva, Fribourg and Bern, but was unable to find a permanent job.
Mussolini became active in the Italian socialist movement in Switzerland, working for the paper L'Avvenire del Lavoratore, organizing meetings, giving speeches to workers, and serving as secretary of the Italian workers' union in Lausanne. Angelica Balabanov reportedly introduced him to Vladimir Lenin, who later criticized Italian socialists for having lost Mussolini from their cause. In 1903, he was arrested by the Bernese police because of his advocacy of a violent general strike, spent two weeks in jail, and was deported to Italy. After he was released there, he returned to Switzerland. In 1904, having been arrested again in Geneva and expelled for falsifying his papers, Mussolini returned to Lausanne, where he attended the University of Lausanne's Department of Social Science, following the lessons of Vilfredo Pareto. In 1937, when he was prime minister of Italy, the University of Lausanne awarded Mussolini an honorary doctorate on the occasion of its 400th anniversary.
In December 1904, Mussolini returned to Italy to take advantage of an amnesty for desertion of the military. He had been convicted for this in absentia. Since a condition for being pardoned was serving in the army, he joined the corps of the Bersaglieri in Forlì on 30 December 1904. After serving for two years in the military (from January 1905 until September 1906), he returned to teaching.
In February 1909, Mussolini again left Italy, this time to take the job as the secretary of the labor party in the Italian-speaking city of Trento, which at the time was part of Austria-Hungary (it is now within Italy). He also did office work for the local Socialist Party, and edited its newspaper L'Avvenire del Lavoratore (The Future of the Worker). Returning to Italy, he spent a brief time in Milan, and in 1910 he returned to his hometown of Forlì, where he edited the weekly Lotta di classe (The Class Struggle).
He had become one of Italy's most prominent socialists. In September 1911, Mussolini participated in a riot, led by socialists, against the Italian war in Libya. He bitterly denounced Italy's "imperialist war", an action that earned him a five-month jail term. After his release, he helped expel Ivanoe Bonomi and Leonida Bissolati from the Socialist Party, as they were two "revisionists" who had supported the war.
In 1913, he published Giovanni Hus, il veridico (Jan Hus, true prophet), an historical and political biography about the life and mission of the Czech ecclesiastic reformer Jan Hus and his militant followers, the Hussites. During this socialist period of his life, Mussolini sometimes used the pen name "Vero Eretico" ("sincere heretic").
A number of socialist parties initially supported World War I at the time it began in August 1914. Once the war started, Austrian, British, French, and German socialists followed the rising nationalist current by supporting their country's intervention in the war. The outbreak of the war had resulted in a surge of Italian nationalism and the war was supported by a variety of political factions. One of the most prominent and popular Italian nationalist supporters of the war was Gabriele d'Annunzio who promoted Italian irredentism and helped sway the Italian public to support intervention in the war. The Italian Liberal Party under the leadership of Paolo Boselli promoted intervention in the war on the side of the Allies and utilized the Società Dante Alighieri to promote Italian nationalism. Italian socialists were divided on whether to support the war or oppose it. Prior to Mussolini taking a position on the war, a number of revolutionary syndicalists had announced their support of intervention, including Alceste De Ambris, Filippo Corridoni, and Angelo Oliviero Olivetti. The Italian Socialist Party decided to oppose the war after anti-militarist protestors had been killed, resulting in a general strike called Red Week.
After being ousted by the Italian Socialist Party for his support of Italian intervention, Mussolini made a radical transformation, ending his support for class conflict and joining in support of revolutionary nationalism transcending class lines. He formed the interventionist newspaper Il Popolo d'Italia and the Fascio Rivoluzionario d'Azione Internazionalista ("Revolutionary Fasces for International Action") in October 1914. His nationalist support of intervention enabled him to raise funds from Ansaldo (an armaments firm) and other companies to create Il Popolo d'Italia to convince socialists and revolutionaries to support the war. Further funding for Mussolini's Fascists during the war came from French sources, beginning in May 1915. A major source of this funding from France is believed to have been from French socialists who sent support to dissident socialists who wanted Italian intervention on France's side.
On 5 December 1914, Mussolini denounced orthodox socialism for failing to recognize that the war had made national identity and loyalty more significant than class distinction. He fully demonstrated his transformation in a speech that acknowledged the nation as an entity, a notion he had rejected prior to the war, saying:
These basic political views and principles formed the basis of Mussolini's newly formed political movement, the Fasci d'Azione Rivoluzionaria in 1914, who called themselves Fascisti (Fascists). At this time, the Fascists did not have an integrated set of policies and the movement was small, ineffective in its attempts to hold mass meetings, and was regularly harassed by government authorities and orthodox socialists. Antagonism between the interventionists, including the Fascists, versus the anti-interventionist orthodox socialists resulted in violence between the Fascists and socialists. The opposition and attacks by the anti-interventionist revolutionary socialists against the Fascists and other interventionists were so violent that even democratic socialists who opposed the war such as Anna Kuliscioff said that the Italian Socialist Party had gone too far in a campaign of silencing the freedom of speech of supporters of the war. These early hostilities between the Fascists and the revolutionary socialists shaped Mussolini's conception of the nature of Fascism in its support of political violence.
Mussolini's first wife was Ida Dalser, whom he married in Trento in 1914. The couple had a son the following year and named him Benito Albino Mussolini. In December 1915, Mussolini married Rachele Guidi, who had been his mistress since 1910. Due to his upcoming political ascendency, the information about his first marriage was suppressed, and both his first wife and son were later persecuted. With Rachele, Mussolini had two daughters, Edda (1910–1995) and Anna Maria (1929–1968), the latter of whom married in Ravenna on 11 June 1960 to Nando Pucci Negri; and three sons: Vittorio (1916–1997), Bruno (1918–1941) and Romano (1927–2006). Mussolini had several mistresses, among them Margherita Sarfatti and his final companion, Clara Petacci. Mussolini had many brief sexual encounters with female supporters, as reported by his biographer Nicholas Farrell.
On 25 December 1915, in Treviglio, he contracted a marriage with his fellow countrywoman Rachele Guidi, who had already borne him a daughter, Edda, at Forlì in 1910. In 1915, he had a son with Ida Dalser, a woman born in Sopramonte, a village near Trento. He legally recognized this son on 11 January 1916.
Mussolini would ultimately be wounded in action in February 1917, and was injured severely enough that he had to be evacuated from the front.
Mussolini's military experience is told in his work Diario di guerra. Overall, he totaled about nine months of active, front-line trench warfare. During this time, he contracted paratyphoid fever. His military exploits ended in 1917 when he was wounded accidentally by the explosion of a mortar bomb in his trench. He was left with at least 40 shards of metal in his body. He was discharged from the hospital in August 1917 and resumed his editor-in-chief position at his new paper, Il Popolo d'Italia. He wrote there positive articles about Czechoslovak Legions in Italy.
By the time he returned from service in the Allied forces of World War I, very little remained of Mussolini the socialist. Indeed, he was now convinced that socialism as a doctrine had largely been a failure. In 1917 Mussolini got his start in politics with the help of a £100 weekly wage (the equivalent of £6000 as of 2009) from the British security service MI5, to keep anti-war protestors at home and to publish pro-war propaganda. This help was authorized by Sir Samuel Hoare. In early 1918 Mussolini called for the emergence of a man "ruthless and energetic enough to make a clean sweep" to revive the Italian nation. Much later Mussolini said he felt by 1919 "Socialism as a doctrine was already dead; it continued to exist only as a grudge". On 23 March 1919 Mussolini re-formed the Milan fascio as the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento (Italian Combat Squad), consisting of 200 members.
The idea behind Mussolini's foreign policy was that of spazio vitale (vital space), a concept in Fascism that was analogous to Lebensraum in German National Socialism. The concept of spazio vitale was first announced in 1919, when the entire Mediterranean, especially so-called Julian March, was redefined to make it appear a unified region that had belonged to Italy from the times of the ancient Roman province of Italia, and was claimed as Italy's exclusive sphere of influence. The right to colonize the neighboring Slovene ethnic areas and the Mediterranean, being inhabited by what were alleged to be less developed peoples, was justified on the grounds that Italy was allegedly suffering from overpopulation.
In 1919, the Italian state had brought in a series of liberal reforms in Libya that allowed education in Arabic and Berber and allowed for the possibility that the Libyans might become Italian citizens. Giuseppe Volpi, who had been appointed governor in 1921 was retained by Mussolini, and withdrew all of the measures offering equality to the Libyans. A policy of confiscating land from the Libyans to hand over to Italian colonists gave new vigor to Libyan resistance led by Omar Mukhtar, and during the ensuing "Pacification of Libya", the Fascist regime waged a near-genocidal campaign designed to kill as many Libyans as possible. Well over half the population of Cyrenaica were confined to 15 concentration camps by 1931 while the Royal Italian Air Force staged chemical warfare attacks against the Bedouin. On 20 June 1930, Marshal Pietro Badoglio wrote to General Rodolfo Graziani:
Nationalists in the years after World War I thought of themselves as combating the liberal and domineering institutions created by cabinets—such as those of Giovanni Giolitti, including traditional schooling. Futurism, a revolutionary cultural movement which would serve as a catalyst for Fascism, argued for "a school for physical courage and patriotism", as expressed by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in 1919. Marinetti expressed his disdain for "the by now prehistoric and troglodyte Ancient Greek and Latin courses", arguing for their replacement with exercise modelled on those of the Arditi soldiers ("[learning] to advance on hands and knees in front of razing machine gun fire; to wait open-eyed for a crossbeam to move sideways over their heads etc."). It was in those years that the first Fascist youth wings were formed: Avanguardia Giovanile Fascista (Fascist Youth Vanguards) in 1919, and Gruppi Universitari Fascisti (Fascist University Groups) in 1922.
Mussolini and the fascists managed to be simultaneously revolutionary and traditionalist; because this was vastly different from anything else in the political climate of the time, it is sometimes described as "The Third Way". The Fascisti, led by one of Mussolini's close confidants, Dino Grandi, formed armed squads of war veterans called blackshirts (or squadristi) with the goal of restoring order to the streets of Italy with a strong hand. The blackshirts clashed with communists, socialists, and anarchists at parades and demonstrations; all of these factions were also involved in clashes against each other. The Italian government rarely interfered with the blackshirts' actions, owing in part to a looming threat and widespread fear of a communist revolution. The Fascisti grew rapidly; within two years they transformed themselves into the National Fascist Party at a congress in Rome. In 1921, Mussolini won election to the Chamber of Deputies for the first time. In the meantime, from about 1911 until 1938, Mussolini had various affairs with the Jewish author and academic Margherita Sarfatti, called the "Jewish Mother of Fascism" at the time.
As Prime Minister, the first years of Mussolini's rule were characterized by a right-wing coalition government composed of Fascists, nationalists, liberals, and two Catholic clerics from the Popular Party. The Fascists made up a small minority in his original governments. Mussolini's domestic goal was the eventual establishment of a totalitarian state with himself as supreme leader (Il Duce), a message that was articulated by the Fascist newspaper Il Popolo, which was now edited by Mussolini's brother, Arnaldo. To that end, Mussolini obtained from the legislature dictatorial powers for one year (legal under the Italian constitution of the time). He favored the complete restoration of state authority, with the integration of the Fasci di Combattimento into the armed forces (the foundation in January 1923 of the Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale) and the progressive identification of the party with the state. In political and social economy, he passed legislation that favored the wealthy industrial and agrarian classes (privatizations, liberalizations of rent laws and dismantlement of the unions).
In 1923, Mussolini sent Italian forces to invade Corfu during the Corfu incident. In the end, the League of Nations proved powerless, and Greece was forced to comply with Italian demands.
In June 1923, the government passed the Acerbo Law, which transformed Italy into a single national constituency. It also granted a two-thirds majority of the seats in Parliament to the party or group of parties that received at least 25% of the votes. This law applied in the elections of 6 April 1924. The national alliance, consisting of Fascists, most of the old Liberals and others, won 64% of the vote.
In his early years in power, Mussolini operated as a pragmatic statesman, trying to achieve some advantages, but never at the risk of war with Britain and France. An exception was the bombardment and occupation of Corfu in 1923, following an incident in which Italian military personnel charged by the League of Nations to settle a boundary dispute between Greece and Albania were assassinated by bandits; the nationality of the bandits remains unclear. At the time of the Corfu incident, Mussolini was prepared to go to war with Britain, and only desperate pleading by the Italian Navy leadership, who argued that the Italian Navy was no match for the British Royal Navy, persuaded Mussolini to accept a diplomatic solution. In a secret speech to the Italian military leadership in January 1925, Mussolini argued that Italy needed to win spazio vitale, and as such his ultimate goal was to join "the two shores of the Mediterranean and of the Indian Ocean into a single Italian territory". Reflecting his obsession with demography, Mussolini went on to say that Italy did not at the present possess sufficient manpower to win a war against Britain or France, and that the time for war would come sometime in the mid-1930s, when Mussolini calculated the high Italian birth rate would finally give Italy the necessary numbers to win. Subsequently, Mussolini took part in the Locarno Treaties of 1925, that guaranteed the western borders of Germany as drawn in 1919. In 1929, Mussolini ordered his Army General Staff to begin planning for aggression against France and Yugoslavia. In July 1932, Mussolini sent a message to German Defense Minister General Kurt von Schleicher, suggesting an anti-French Italo-German alliance, an offer Schleicher responded to favorably, albeit with the condition that Germany needed to rearm first. In late 1932–early 1933, Mussolini planned to launch a surprise attack against both France and Yugoslavia that was to begin in August 1933. Mussolini's planned war of 1933 was only stopped when he learned that the French Deuxième Bureau had broken the Italian military codes, and that the French, being forewarned of all the Italian plans, were well prepared for the Italian attack.
On 31 December 1924, MVSN consuls met with Mussolini and gave him an ultimatum: crush the opposition or they would do so without him. Fearing a revolt by his own militants, Mussolini decided to drop all pretense of democracy. On 3 January 1925, Mussolini made a truculent speech before the Chamber in which he took responsibility for squadristi violence (though he did not mention the assassination of Matteotti). He did not abolish the squadristi until 1927, however.
In foreign policy, Mussolini was pragmatic and opportunistic. At the center of his vision lay the dream to forge a new Roman Empire in Africa and the Balkans, vindicating the so-called "mutilated victory" of 1918 imposed by the "plutodemocracies" (Britain and France) that betrayed the Treaty of London and usurped the supposed "natural right" of Italy to achieve supremacy in the Mediterranean basin. However, in the 1920s, given Germany's weakness, post-war reconstruction problems and the question of reparations, the situation of Europe was too unfavorable to advocate an openly revisionist approach to the Treaty of Versailles. In the 1920s, Italy's foreign policy was based on the traditional idea of Italy maintaining "equidistant" stance from all the major powers in order to exercise "determinant weight", which by whatever power Italy chose to align with would decisively change the balance of power in Europe, and the price of such an alignment would be support for Italian ambitions in Europe and Africa. In the meantime, since for Mussolini demography was destiny, he carried out relentless natalist policies designed to increase the birthrate; for example, in 1924 making advocating or giving information about contraception a criminal offense, and in 1926 ordering every Italian woman to double the number of children that they were willing to bear. For Mussolini, Italy's current population of 40 million was insufficient to fight a major war, and he needed to increase the population to at least 60 million Italians before he would be ready for war.
Despite making such attacks, Mussolini tried to win popular support by appeasing the Catholic majority in Italy. In 1924, Mussolini saw that three of his children were given communion. In 1925, he had a priest perform a religious marriage ceremony for himself and his wife Rachele, whom he had married in a civil ceremony 10 years earlier. On 11 February 1929, he signed a concordat and treaty with the Roman Catholic Church. Under the Lateran Pact, Vatican City was granted independent statehood and placed under Church law—rather than Italian law—and the Catholic religion was recognized as Italy's state religion. The Church also regained authority over marriage, Catholicism could be taught in all secondary schools, birth control and freemasonry were banned, and the clergy received subsidies from the state and was exempted from taxation. Pope Pius XI praised Mussolini, and the official Catholic newspaper pronounced "Italy has been given back to God and God to Italy."
Between 1925 and 1927, Mussolini progressively dismantled virtually all constitutional and conventional restraints on his power and built a police state. A law passed on 24 December 1925—Christmas Eve for the largely Roman Catholic country—changed Mussolini's formal title from "President of the Council of Ministers" to "Head of the Government", although he was still called "Prime Minister" by most non-Italian news sources. He was no longer responsible to Parliament and could be removed only by the King. While the Italian constitution stated that ministers were responsible only to the sovereign, in practice it had become all but impossible to govern against the express will of Parliament. The Christmas Eve law ended this practice, and also made Mussolini the only person competent to determine the body's agenda. This law transformed Mussolini's government into a de facto legal dictatorship. Local autonomy was abolished, and podestàs appointed by the Italian Senate replaced elected mayors and councils.
On 7 April 1926, Mussolini survived a first assassination attempt by Violet Gibson, an Irish woman and daughter of Lord Ashbourne, who was deported after her arrest. On 31 October 1926, 15-year-old Anteo Zamboni attempted to shoot Mussolini in Bologna. Zamboni was lynched on the spot. Mussolini also survived a failed assassination attempt in Rome by anarchist Gino Lucetti, and a planned attempt by the Italian anarchist Michele Schirru, which ended with Schirru's capture and execution.
All other parties were outlawed following Zamboni's assassination attempt in 1926, though in practice Italy had been a one-party state since 1925 (with either his January speech to the Chamber or the passage of the Christmas Eve law, depending on the source). In the same year, an electoral law abolished parliamentary elections. Instead, the Grand Council of Fascism selected a single list of candidates to be approved by plebiscite. The Grand Council had been created five years earlier as a party body but was "constitutionalized" and became the highest constitutional authority in the state. On paper, the Grand Council had the power to recommend Mussolini's removal from office, and was thus theoretically the only check on his power. However, only Mussolini could summon the Grand Council and determine its agenda. To gain control of the South, especially Sicily, he appointed Cesare Mori as a Prefect of the city of Palermo, with the charge of eradicating the Mafia at any price. In the telegram, Mussolini wrote to Mori:
Mori did not hesitate to lay siege to towns, using torture, and holding women and children as hostages to oblige suspects to give themselves up. These harsh methods earned him the nickname of "Iron Prefect". In 1927, Mori's inquiries brought evidence of collusion between the Mafia and the Fascist establishment, and he was dismissed for length of service in 1929, at which time the number of murders in Palermo Province had decreased from 200 to 23. Mussolini nominated Mori as a senator, and fascist propaganda claimed that the Mafia had been defeated.
Mussolini also initiated the "Battle for Land", a policy based on land reclamation outlined in 1928. The initiative had a mixed success; while projects such as the draining of the Pontine Marsh in 1935 for agriculture were good for propaganda purposes, provided work for the unemployed and allowed for great land owners to control subsidies, other areas in the Battle for Land were not very successful. This program was inconsistent with the Battle for Wheat (small plots of land were inappropriately allocated for large-scale wheat production), and the Pontine Marsh was lost during World War II. Fewer than 10,000 peasants resettled on the redistributed land, and peasant poverty remained high. The Battle for Land initiative was abandoned in 1940.
General elections were held in the form of a referendum on 24 March 1929. By this time, the country was a single-party state with the National Fascist Party (PNF) as the only legally permitted party. The list put forward was ultimately approved by 98.43% of voters.
Another important constituent of the Fascist cultural policy was Roman Catholicism. In 1929, a concordat with the Vatican was signed, ending decades of struggle between the Italian state and the Papacy that dated back to the 1870 takeover of the Papal States by the House of Savoy during the unification of Italy. The Lateran treaties, by which the Italian state was at last recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, and the independence of Vatican City was recognized by the Italian state, were so much appreciated by the ecclesiastic hierarchy that Pope Pius XI acclaimed Mussolini as "the Man of Providence".
The 1929 treaty included a legal provision whereby the Italian government would protect the honor and dignity of the Pope by prosecuting offenders. In 1927, Mussolini was re-baptized by a Roman Catholic priest. After 1929, Mussolini, with his anti-Communist doctrines, convinced many Catholics to actively support him.
In 1930, in "The Doctrine of Fascism" he wrote, "The so-called crisis can only be settled by State action and within the orbit of the State." He tried to combat economic recession by introducing a "Gold for the Fatherland" initiative, encouraging the public to voluntarily donate gold jewelry to government officials in exchange for steel wristbands bearing the words "Gold for the Fatherland". Even Rachele Mussolini donated her wedding ring. The collected gold was melted down and turned into gold bars, which were then distributed to the national banks.
The principles of the doctrine of Fascism were laid down in an article by eminent philosopher Giovanni Gentile and Mussolini himself that appeared in 1932 in the Enciclopedia Italiana. Mussolini always portrayed himself as an intellectual, and some historians agree. Gunther called him "easily the best educated and most sophisticated of the dictators", and the only national leader of 1940 who was an intellectual. German historian Ernst Nolte said that "His command of contemporary philosophy and political literature was at least as great as that of any other contemporary European political leader."
Mussolini publicly reconciled with the Pope Pius XI in 1932, but "took care to exclude from the newspapers any photography of himself kneeling or showing deference to the Pope." He wanted to persuade Catholics that "[f]ascism was Catholic and he himself a believer who spent some of each day in prayer ..." The Pope began referring to Mussolini as "a man sent by Providence." Despite Mussolini's efforts to appear pious, by order of his party, pronouns referring to him "had to be capitalized like those referring to God ..."
In the early 1920s, Mussolini stated that Fascism would never raise a "Jewish Question" and in an article he wrote he stated "Italy knows no antisemitism and we believe that it will never know it," and then elaborated, "let us hope that Italian Jews will continue to be sensible enough so as not to give rise to antisemitism in the only country where it has never existed." In 1932, Mussolini during a conversation with Emil Ludwig described antisemitism as a "German vice" and stated that "There was 'no Jewish Question' in Italy and could not be one in a country with a healthy system of government." On several occasions, Mussolini spoke positively about Jews and the Zionist movement, although Fascism remained suspicious of Zionism after the Fascist Party gained power. In 1934, Mussolini supported the establishment of the Betar Naval Academy in Civitavecchia to train Zionist cadets under the direction of Ze'ev Jabotinsky, arguing that a Jewish state would be in Italy's interest. Until 1938 Mussolini had denied any antisemitism within the Fascist Party.
On 3 January 1933, Mussolini told the diplomat Baron Pompei Aloisi that the French in Tunisia had made an "appalling blunder" by permitting sex between the French and the Tunisians, which he predicted would lead to the French degenerating into a nation of "half-castes", and to prevent the same thing happening to the Italians gave orders to Marshal Badoglio that miscegenation be made a crime in Libya.
Large sums of money were spent on highly visible public works and on international prestige projects. These included as the Blue Riband ocean liner SS Rex; setting aeronautical records with the world's fastest seaplane, the Macchi M.C.72; and the transatlantic flying boat cruise of Italo Balbo, which was greeted with much fanfare in the United States when it landed in Chicago in 1933.
After Adolf Hitler came into power, threatening Italian interests in Austria and the Danube basin, Mussolini proposed the Four Power Pact with Britain, France and Germany in 1933. When the Austrian 'austro-fascist' Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss with dictatorial power was assassinated on 25 July 1934 by National-Socialist supporters, Mussolini even threatened Germany with war in the event of a German invasion of Austria. Mussolini for a period of time continued strictly opposing any German attempt to obtain Anschluss and promoted the ephemeral Stresa Front against Germany in 1935.
When German-Jewish journalist Emil Ludwig asked about his views on race in 1933, Mussolini exclaimed:
The relationship between Mussolini and Adolf Hitler was a contentious one early on. While Hitler cited Mussolini as an influence and privately expressed great admiration for him, Mussolini had little regard for Hitler, especially after the Nazis had assassinated his friend and ally, Engelbert Dollfuss, the Austrofascist dictator of Austria in 1934.
When discussing the Nazi decree that the German people must carry a passport with either Aryan or Jewish racial affiliation marked on it, in 1934, Mussolini wondered how they would designate membership in the "Germanic race":
In a speech given in Bari in 1934, he reiterated his attitude towards the German ideology of Master race:
Despite Mussolini's imprisonment for opposing the Italo-Turkish War in Africa as "nationalist delirium tremens" and "a miserable war of conquest", after the Abyssinia Crisis of 1935–1936, in the Second Italo–Ethiopian War Italy invaded Ethiopia following border incidents occasioned by Italian inclusions over the vaguely drawn border between Ethiopia and Italian Somaliland. Historians are still divided about the reasons for the attack on Ethiopia in 1935. Some Italian historians such as Franco Catalano and Giorgio Rochat argue that the invasion was an act of social imperialism, contending that the Great Depression had badly damaged Mussolini's prestige, and that he needed a foreign war to distract public opinion. Other historians such as Pietro Pastorelli have argued that the invasion was launched as part of an expansionist program to make Italy the main power in the Red Sea area and the Middle East. A middle way interpretation was offered by the American historian MacGregor Knox, who argued that the war was started for both foreign and domestic reasons, being both a part of Mussolini's long-range expansionist plans and intended to give Mussolini a foreign policy triumph that would allow him to push the Fascist system in a more radical direction at home. Italy's forces were far superior to the Abyssinian forces, especially in air power, and they were soon victorious. Emperor Haile Selassie was forced to flee the country, with Italy entering the capital city, Addis Ababa to proclaim an empire by May 1936, making Ethiopia part of Italian East Africa.
Though Italian Fascism varied its official positions on race from the 1920s to 1934, ideologically Italian Fascism did not originally discriminate against the Italian-Jewish community: Mussolini recognised that a small contingent had lived there "since the days of the Kings of Rome" and should "remain undisturbed". There were even some Jews in the National Fascist Party, such as Ettore Ovazza, who in 1935 founded the Jewish Fascist paper La Nostra Bandiera ("Our Flag").
Government control of business was part of Mussolini's policy planning. By 1935, he claimed that three-quarters of Italian businesses were under state control. Later that year, Mussolini issued several edicts to further control the economy, e.g. forcing banks, businesses, and private citizens to surrender all foreign-issued stock and bond holdings to the Bank of Italy. In 1936, he imposed price controls. He also attempted to turn Italy into a self-sufficient autarky, instituting high barriers on trade with most countries except Germany.
George Seldes wrote in 1936 that although the express trains carrying tourists generally—though not always—ran on schedule, the same was not true for the smaller lines, where delays were frequent, while Ruth Ben-Ghiat has said that "they improved the lines that had a political meaning to them".
The sanctions against Italy were used by Mussolini as a pretext for an alliance with Germany. In January 1936, Mussolini told the German Ambassador Ulrich von Hassell that: "If Austria were in practice to become a German satellite, he would have no objection". By recognizing Austria was within the German sphere of influence, Mussolini had removed the principal problem in Italo-German relations.
On 11 July 1936, an Austro-German treaty was signed under which Austria declared itself to be a "German state" whose foreign policy would always be aligned with Berlin, and allowed for pro-Nazis to enter the Austrian cabinet. Mussolini had applied strong pressure on the Austrian Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg to sign the treaty in order to improve his relations with Hitler. After the sanctions against Italy ended in July 1936, the French tried hard to revive the Stresa Front, displaying what Sullivan called "an almost humiliating determination to retain Italy as an ally". In January 1937, Britain signed a "Gentleman's Agreement" with Mussolini intended to limit Italian intervention in Spain, and was seen by the British Foreign Office as the first step towards creating an Anglo-Italian alliance. In April 1938, Britain and Italy signed the Easter Accords under which Britain promised to recognise Ethiopia as Italian in exchange for Italy pulling out of the Spanish Civil War. The Foreign Office understood that it was the Spanish Civil War that was pulling Rome and Berlin closer together, and believed if Mussolini could be persuaded to disengage from Spain, then he would return to the Allied camp. To get Mussolini out of Spain, the British were prepared to pay such prices such as recognising King Victor Emmanuel III as Emperor of Ethiopia. The American historian Barry Sullivan wrote that both the British and the French very much wanted a rapprochement with Italy to undo the damage caused by the League of Nations sanctions, and that "Mussolini chose to ally with Hitler, rather than being forced…"
Reflecting the new pro-German foreign policy on 25 October 1936, Mussolini agreed to form a Rome-Berlin Axis, sanctioned by a cooperation agreement with Nazi Germany and signed in Berlin. Furthermore, the conquest of Ethiopia cost the lives of 12,000 Italians and another 4,000 to 5,000 Libyans, Eritreans, and Somalis fighting in Italian service. Mussolini believed that conquering Ethiopia would cost 4 to 6 billion lire, but the true costs of the invasion proved to be 33.5 billion lire. The economic costs of the conquest proved to be a staggering blow to the Italian budget, and seriously retarded Italian efforts at military modernization as the money that Mussolini had earmarked for military modernization was instead spent in conquering Ethiopia, something that helped to drive Mussolini towards Germany. To help cover the huge debts run up during the Ethiopian war, Mussolini devalued the lire by 40% in October 1936. Furthermore, the costs of occupying Ethiopia was to cost the Italian treasury another 21.1 billion lire between 1936 and 1940. Additionally, Italy was to lose 4,000 men killed fighting in the Spanish Civil War while Italian intervention in Spain cost Italy another 12 to 14 billion lire. In the years 1938 and 1939, the Italian government took in 39.9 billion lire in taxes while the entire Italian gross national product was 153 billion lire, which meant the Ethiopian and Spanish wars imposed economically crippling costs on Italy. Only 28% of the entire military Italian budgets between 1934 and 1939 was spent on military modernization with the rest all being consumed by Mussolini's wars, which led to a rapid decline in Italian military power. Between 1935 and 1939, Mussolini's wars cost Italy the equivalent of US$500 billion in 1999 values, a sum that was even proportionally a larger burden given that Italy was such a poor country. The 1930s were a time of rapid advances in military technology, and Sullivan wrote that Mussolini picked exactly the wrong time to fight his wars in Ethiopia and Spain. At the same time that the Italian military was falling behind the other great powers, a full scale arms race had broken out, with Germany, Britain and France spending increasingly large sums of money on their militaries as the 1930s advanced, a situation that Mussolini privately admitted seriously limited Italy's ability to fight a major war on its own, and thus required a great power ally to compensate for increasing Italian military backwardness.
From 1936 through 1939, Mussolini provided huge amounts of military support to the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. This active intervention on the side of Franco further distanced Italy from France and Britain. As a result, Mussolini's relationship with Adolf Hitler became closer, and he chose to accept the German annexation of Austria in 1938, followed by the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in 1939. In May 1938, during Hitler's visit to Italy, Mussolini told the Führer that Italy and France were deadly enemies fighting on "opposite sides of the barricade" concerning the Spanish Civil War, and the Stresa Front was "dead and buried". At the Munich Conference in September 1938, Mussolini continued to pose as a moderate working for European peace, while helping Nazi Germany annex the Sudetenland. The 1936 Axis agreement with Germany was strengthened by signing the Pact of Steel on 22 May 1939, that bound together Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany in a full military alliance.
Mussolini also reached out to the Muslims in his empire and in the predominantly Arab countries of the Middle East. In 1937, the Muslims of Libya presented Mussolini with the "Sword of Islam" while Fascist propaganda pronounced him as the "Protector of Islam."
Members of TIGR, a Slovene anti-fascist group, plotted to kill Mussolini in Kobarid in 1938, but their attempt was unsuccessful.
Count Galeazzo Ciano, Mussolini's son-in-law and foreign minister, summed up the dictator's foreign policy objectives regarding France in an entry of his diary dated 8 November 1938: Djibouti would have to be ruled in common with France; "Tunisia, with a more or less similar regime; Corsica, Italian and never Frenchified and therefore under our direct control, the border at the river Var." As for Savoy, which was not "historically or geographically Italian", Mussolini claimed that he was not interested in it. On 30 November 1938, Mussolini invited the French ambassador André François-Poncet to attend the opening of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, during which the assembled deputies, at his cue, began to demonstrate loudly against France, shouting that Italy should annex "Tunis, Nice, Corsica, Savoy!", which was followed by the deputies marching into the street carrying signs demanding that France turn over Tunisia, Savoy, and Corsica to Italy. The French premier, Édouard Daladier, promptly rejected the Italian demands for territorial concessions, and for much of the winter of 1938–39, France and Italy were on the verge of war.
In 1938 Mussolini began reasserting his anti-clericalism. He would sometimes refer to himself as an "outright disbeliever," and once told his cabinet that "Islam was perhaps a more effective religion than Christianity" and that the "papacy was a malignant tumor in the body of Italy and must 'be rooted out once and for all', because there was no room in Rome for both the Pope and himself." He publicly backed down from these anti-clerical statements, but continued making similar statements in private.
It has been widely speculated that Mussolini adopted the Manifesto of Race in 1938 for merely tactical reasons, to strengthen Italy's relations with Germany. Mussolini and the Italian military did not consistently apply the laws adopted in the Manifesto of Race. In December 1943, Mussolini made a confession to journalist/politician Bruno Spampanato that seems to indicate that he regretted the Manifesto of Race:
In January 1939, the British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, visited Rome, during which visit Mussolini learned that though Britain very much wanted better relations with Italy, and was prepared to make concessions, it would not sever all ties with France for the sake of an improved Anglo-Italian relationship. With that, Mussolini grew more interested in the German offer of a military alliance, which had first been made in May 1938. In February 1939, Mussolini gave a speech before the Fascist Grand Council, during which he proclaimed his belief that a state's power is "proportional to its maritime position" and that Italy was a "prisoner in the Mediterranean and the more populous and powerful Italy becomes, the more it will suffer from its imprisonment. The bars of this prison are Corsica, Tunisia, Malta, Cyprus: the sentinels of this prison are Gibraltar and Suez".
The new course was not without its critics. On 21 March 1939 during a meeting of the Fascist Grand Council, Italo Balbo accused Mussolini of "licking Hitler's boots", blasted the Duce's pro-German foreign policy as leading Italy to disaster and noted that the "opening to Britain" still existed and it was not inevitable that Italy had to ally with Germany. Though many gerarchi like Balbo were not keen on closer relations with Berlin, Mussolini's control of the foreign-policy machinery meant this dissidence counted for little. Mussolini had a leading position within the Fascist Party, but he did not totally dominate it as Balbo's attack on Mussolini for "licking Hitler's boots" and his demand that the "opening to Britain" be pursued at the meeting of the Fascist Grand Council together with what the Greek historian Aristotle Kallis called Mussolini's "relatively restrained" response show—the Nazi Party had nothing equivalent to the Fascist Grand Council and it was inconceivable that one of Hitler's gauleiters would attack him in the same way that a gerarchi like Balbo criticized Mussolini. In April 1939, Mussolini ordered the Italian invasion of Albania. Italy defeated Albania within just five days, forcing king Zog to flee and setting up a period of Albania under Italy. Until May 1939, the Axis had not been entirely official, but during that month the Pact of Steel treaty was signed outlining the "friendship and alliance" between Germany and Italy, signed by each of its foreign ministers. The Pact of Steel was an offensive and defensive military alliance, though Mussolini had signed the treaty only after receiving a promise from the Germans that there would be no war for the next three years. Italy's King Victor Emanuel III was also wary of the pact, favoring the more traditional Italian allies like France, and fearful of the implications of an offensive military alliance, which in effect meant surrendering control over questions of war and peace to Hitler.
Hitler was intent on invading Poland, though Ciano warned this would likely lead to war with the Allies. Hitler dismissed Ciano's comment, predicting instead that Britain and the other Western countries would back down, and he suggested that Italy should invade Yugoslavia. The offer was tempting to Mussolini, but at that stage a world war would be a disaster for Italy as the armaments situation from building the Italian Empire thus far was lean. Most significantly, Victor Emmanuel had demanded neutrality in the dispute. Thus when World War II in Europe began on 1 September 1939 with the German invasion of Poland eliciting the response of the United Kingdom and France declaring war on Germany, Italy did not become involved in the conflict. However, when the Germans incarcerated 183 professors from Jagiellonian University in Kraków on 6 November 1939, Mussolini personally intervened to Hitler against this action, leading to the freeing of 101 Poles.
As World War II began, Ciano and Viscount Halifax were holding secret phone conversations. The British wanted Italy on their side against Germany as it had been in World War I. French government opinion was more geared towards action against Italy, as they were eager to attack Italy in Libya. In September 1939, France swung to the opposite extreme, offering to discuss issues with Italy, but as the French were unwilling to discuss Corsica, Nice and Savoy, Mussolini did not answer. Mussolini's Under-Secretary for War Production, Carlo Favagrossa, had estimated that Italy could not be prepared for major military operations until 1942 due to its relatively weak industrial sector compared to western Europe. In late November 1939, Adolf Hitler declared: "So long as the Duce lives, one can rest assured that Italy will seize every opportunity to achieve its imperialistic aims."
He was rewarded the editorship of the Socialist Party newspaper Avanti! Under his leadership, its circulation soon rose from 20,000 to 100,000. John Gunther in 1940 called him "one of the best journalists alive"; Mussolini was a working reporter while preparing for the March on Rome, and wrote for the Hearst News Service until 1935. Mussolini was so familiar with Marxist literature that in his own writings he would not only quote from well-known Marxist works but also from the relatively obscure works. During this period Mussolini considered himself a Marxist and he described Marx as "the greatest of all theorists of socialism."
Convinced that the war would soon be over, with a German victory looking likely at that point, Mussolini decided to enter the war on the Axis side. Accordingly, Italy declared war on Britain and France on 10 June 1940. Mussolini regarded the war against Britain and France as a life-or-death struggle between opposing ideologies—fascism and the "plutocratic and reactionary democracies of the west"—describing the war as "the struggle of the fertile and young people against the sterile people moving to the sunset; it is the struggle between two centuries and two ideas", and as a "logical development of our Revolution".
Italy joined the Germans in the Battle of France, fighting the fortified Alpine Line at the border. Just eleven days later, France and Germany signed an armistice. Included in Italian-controlled France were most of Nice and other southeastern counties. Meanwhile, in Africa, Mussolini's Italian East Africa forces attacked the British in their Sudan, Kenya and British Somaliland colonies, in what would become known as the East African Campaign. British Somaliland was conquered and became part of Italian East Africa on 3 August 1940, and there were Italian advances in the Sudan and Kenya.
In September 1940, the Italian Tenth Army was commanded by General Rodolfo Graziani and crossed from Italian Libya into Egypt, where British forces were located; this would become the Western Desert Campaign. Advances were successful, but the Italians stopped at Sidi Barrani waiting for logistic supplies to catch up. On 24 October 1940, Mussolini sent the Italian Air Corps to Belgium, where it took part in the Blitz until January 1941. In October, Mussolini also sent Italian forces into Greece, starting the Greco-Italian War. After initial success, this backfired as the Greek counterattack proved relentless, resulting in Italy losing one-quarter of Albania.
Mussolini first learned of Operation Barbarossa after the invasion of the Soviet Union had begun on 22 June 1941, and was not asked by Hitler to involve himself. Mussolini took the initiative in ordering an Italian Army Corps to head to the Eastern Front, where he hoped that Italy might score an easy victory to restore the Fascist regime's luster, which had been damaged by defeats in Greece and North Africa. On 25 June 1941, he inspected the first units at Verona, which served as his launching pad to Russia. Mussolini told the Council of Ministers of 5 July that his only worry was that Germany might defeat the Soviet Union before the Italians arrived. At a meeting with Hitler in August, Mussolini offered and Hitler accepted the commitment of further Italian troops to fight the Soviet Union. The heavy losses suffered by the Italians on the Eastern Front, where service was extremely unpopular owing to the widespread view that this was not Italy's fight, did much to damage Mussolini's prestige with the Italian people. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he declared war on the United States on 11 December 1941. A piece of evidence regarding Mussolini's response to the attack on Pearl Harbor comes from the diary of his Foreign Minister Ciano:
Mussolini was survived by his wife, Rachele Mussolini, two sons, Vittorio and Romano Mussolini, and his daughters Edda (the widow of Count Ciano) and Anna Maria. A third son, Bruno, was killed in an air accident while flying a Piaggio P.108 bomber on a test mission, on 7 August 1941. His oldest son, Benito Albino Mussolini, from his marriage with Ida Dalser, was ordered to stop declaring that Mussolini was his father and in 1935 forcibly committed to an asylum in Milan, where he was murdered on 26 August 1942 after repeated coma-inducing injections. Alessandra Mussolini, daughter of Romano Mussolini, Benito Mussolini's fourth son, and of Anna Maria Scicolone, Sophia Loren's sister, has been a member of the European Parliament for the far-right Social Alternative movement, a deputy in the Italian lower chamber and served in the Senate as a member of Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party.
By early 1942, Italy's military position had become untenable. After the defeat at El Alamein at the end of 1942, the Axis troops had to retreat to where they were finally defeated in the Tunisia Campaign in early 1943. Italy suffered major setbacks on the Eastern Front as well. The Allied invasion of Sicily brought the war to the nation's very doorstep. The Italian home front was also in bad shape as the Allied bombings were taking their toll. Factories all over Italy were brought to a virtual standstill because raw materials, such as coal and oil, were lacking. Additionally, there was a chronic shortage of food, and what food was available was being sold at nearly confiscatory prices. Mussolini's once-ubiquitous propaganda machine lost its grip on the people; a large number of Italians turned to Vatican Radio or Radio London for more accurate news coverage. Discontent came to a head in March 1943 with a wave of labor strikes in the industrial north—the first large-scale strikes since 1925. Also in March, some of the major factories in Milan and Turin stopped production to secure evacuation allowances for workers' families. The German presence in Italy had sharply turned public opinion against Mussolini; for example, when the Allies invaded Sicily, the majority of the public there welcomed them as liberators.
In 1943, Mussolini proposed the theory of economic socialization.
Earlier in April 1943, Mussolini had persuaded Hitler to make a separate peace with Stalin and send German troops to the west to guard against an expected Allied invasion of Italy. Mussolini feared that with the losses in Tunisia and North Africa, the next logical step for Allied General Dwight Eisenhower's armies would be to come across the Mediterranean and attack the Italian peninsula. Within a few days of the Allied landings on Sicily in July 1943, it was obvious Mussolini's army was on the brink of collapse. This led Hitler to summon Mussolini to a meeting in Feltre on 19 July 1943. By this time, Mussolini was so shaken from stress that he could no longer stand Hitler's boasting. His mood darkened further when that same day, the Allies bombed Rome—the first time that city had ever been the target of enemy bombing. It was obvious by this time that the war was lost, but Mussolini was unable to find a way to extricate himself from the German alliance.
By this point, some prominent members of Mussolini's government had turned against him. Among them were Grandi and Ciano. Several of his colleagues were close to revolt, and Mussolini was forced to summon the Grand Council on 24 July 1943. This was the first time the body had met since the start of the war. When he announced that the Germans were thinking of evacuating the south, Grandi launched a blistering attack on him. Grandi moved a resolution asking the king to resume his full constitutional powers—in effect, a vote of no confidence in Mussolini. This motion carried by a 19–8 margin. Mussolini showed little visible reaction, even though this effectively gave the king legal authorization to sack him. He did, however, ask Grandi to consider the possibility that this motion would spell the end of Fascism.
In an effort to conceal his location from the Germans, Mussolini was moved around before being imprisoned at Campo Imperatore, a mountain resort in Abruzzo where he was completely isolated. Badoglio kept up the appearance of loyalty to Germany, and announced that Italy would continue fighting on the side of the Axis. However, he dissolved the Fascist Party two days after taking over and began negotiating an Armistice with the Allies, which was signed on 3 September 1943. Its announcement five days later threw Italy into chaos; German troops rushed in to take over Italy in Operation Achse. As the Germans approached Rome, Badoglio and the king fled Rome, leaving the Italian Army without orders. After a period of anarchy, Italy finally declared war on Nazi Germany on 13 October 1943 from Malta; thousands of troops were supplied to fight against the Germans, while others refused to switch sides and had joined the Germans. The Badoglio government held a political truce with the leftist partisans for the sake of Italy and to rid the land of the Nazis.
Only two months after Mussolini had been dismissed and arrested, he was rescued from his prison at the Hotel Campo Imperatore in the Gran Sasso raid on 12 September 1943 by a special Fallschirmjäger (paratroopers) unit and Waffen-SS commandos led by Major Otto-Harald Mors; Otto Skorzeny was also present. The rescue saved Mussolini from being turned over to the Allies in accordance with the armistice. Hitler had made plans to arrest the king, Crown Prince Umberto, Badoglio, and the rest of the government and restore Mussolini to power in Rome, but the government's escape south likely foiled those plans.
After his fall from power in 1943, Mussolini began speaking "more about God and the obligations of conscience", although "he still had little use for the priests and sacraments of the Church". He also began drawing parallels between himself and Jesus Christ. Mussolini's widow, Rachele, stated that her husband had remained "basically irreligious until the later years of his life". Mussolini was given a Catholic funeral in 1957.
In September 1943 semi-autonomous militarized squads of Fascist fanatics sprouted up throughout the Republic of Salò. These squads spread terror among Jews and anti-Fascists for a year and a half. In the power vacuum that existed during the first three or four months of the occupation, the semi-autonomous bands were virtually uncontrollable. Many were linked to individual high-ranking Fascist politicians. Italian Fascists, sometimes government employees but more often fanatic civilians or paramilitary volunteers, hastened to curry favor with the Nazis. Informers betrayed their neighbors, squadristi seized Jews and delivered them to the German SS, and Italian journalists seemed to compete in the virulence of their anti-Semitic diatribes.
After yielding to pressures from Hitler and the remaining loyal fascists who formed the government of the Republic of Salò, Mussolini helped orchestrate a series of executions of some of the fascist leaders who had betrayed him at the last meeting of the Fascist Grand Council. One of those executed was his son-in-law, Galeazzo Ciano. As head of state and Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Italian Social Republic, Mussolini used much of his time to write his memoirs. Along with his autobiographical writings of 1928, these writings would be combined and published by Da Capo Press as My Rise and Fall. In an interview in January 1945 by Madeleine Mollier, a few months before he was captured and executed by Italian anti-fascist partisans, he stated flatly: "Seven years ago, I was an interesting person. Now, I am little more than a corpse." He continued:
On 25 April 1945, Allied troops were advancing into northern Italy, and the collapse of the Salò Republic was imminent. Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci set out for Switzerland, intending to board a plane and escape to Spain. Two days later on 27 April, they were stopped near the village of Dongo (Lake Como) by communist partisans named Valerio and Bellini and identified by the Political Commissar of the partisans' 52nd Garibaldi Brigade, Urbano Lazzaro. During this time, Petacci's brother posed as a Spanish consul. After several unsuccessful attempts to take them to Como they were brought to Mezzegra. They spent their last night in the house of the De Maria family.
On 29 April 1945, the bodies of Mussolini, Petacci, and the other executed Fascists were loaded into a van and moved south to Milan. At 3:00 a.m., the corpses were dumped on the ground in the old Piazzale Loreto. The piazza had been renamed "Piazza Quindici Martiri" (Fifteen Martyrs' Square) in honor of fifteen anti-Fascists recently executed there.
After his death and the display of his corpse in Milan, Mussolini was buried in an unmarked grave in the Musocco cemetery, to the north of the city. On Easter Sunday 1946, his body was located and dug up by Domenico Leccisi and two other neo-Fascists.
Although the National Fascist Party was outlawed by the postwar Constitution of Italy, a number of successor neo-fascist parties emerged to carry on its legacy. Historically, the largest neo-fascist party was the Italian Social Movement (Movimento Sociale Italiano), which disbanded in 1995 and was replaced by National Alliance, a conservative party that distanced itself from Fascism (its founder, former foreign minister Gianfranco Fini, declared during an official visit to Israel that Fascism was "an absolute evil"). National Alliance and a number of neo-fascist parties were merged in 2009 to create the short-lived People of Freedom party led by then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, which eventually disbanded after the defeat in the 2013 general election.
In February 2018, a poll conducted by the Demos & Pi research institute found that out of the total 1,014 people interviewed, 19% of voters of parties across the Italian political spectrum had a "positive or very positive" opinion of Mussolini, 60% saw him negatively and 21% didn't have an opinion.
Currently, Benito Mussolini is 138 years, 9 months and 18 days old. Benito Mussolini will celebrate 139th birthday on a Friday 29th of July 2022.
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