Benito Mussolini

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Benito Mussolini
Personal life
Date and place of birth July 29, 1883
Predappio, Forlì, Italy
Parents Alessandro Mussolini
Rosa Maltoni
Claimed religion Roman Catholic (rejected)
Education No higher education beyond public schooling
Spouse Ida Irene Dalser (d. 1937)
Rachele Guidi
Clara Petacci (mistress)
Children Benito Albino Mussolini (from Ida)
Rachele Mussolini
Edda Mussolini
Anna Maria Mussolini
Vittorio Mussolini
Bruno Mussolini
Romano Mussolini
Date & Place of Death April 28, 1945 (aged 61)
Giulino di Mezzegra, Italy
Manner of Death Executed by firing squad
Place of burial Predappio, Emilia-Romagna Region, Italy
Dictatorial career
Country Italy
Military service Italian Army (1917)
Highest rank attained Corporal
Political beliefs Socialism
Political party Italian Socialist Party (1901–1914)
National Fascist Party (1921–1943)
Republican Fascist Party (1943–1945)
Date of dictatorship 1922
Wars started Invasions of Libya, Ethiopia
Allied with Germany in World War II
Number of deaths attributed Unknown; believed to be in the hundreds of thousands

Benito Andrea Amilcare Mussolini (July 29, 1883 – April 28, 1945) was the Fascist dictator of Italy. A lifelong socialist intellectual[1] and self-proclaimed "socialist heretic", he was nominated prime minister by Vittorio Emmanuel III di Savoia, King of Italy, in the time of World War II. He was head of one of the strong forms of government seen in Europe in this time. He created the political structure Fasci Italiani di Combatimento, which is what later would be known as Fascism, a term which was later used to describe the merging of government and corporation. He was responsible for several war crimes in Ethiopia and Yugoslavia.

Early life

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was born July 29, 1883. He was executed on April 28, 1945.[2] Mussolini was born in the central Italian town of Predappio, in the then-province of Forlì (from 1992 called province of Forlì-Cesena). His father, Alessandro, was a blacksmith and his mother, Rosa Maltoni, was a school teacher. Alessandro Mussolini was an enthusiast socialist of the anarchic wing and an atheist. He bestowed the first name "Benito" upon his son after Mexican president Benito Juarez and the middle name "Andrea" after the founder of the short-lived Italian "Revolutionary Socialist Party of Romagna", Andrea Conti. Benito's mother, however, was a religious Catholic woman and had the child baptized.

Benito Mussolini had a troubled education: at age 10 he was expelled from a Salesian-run religious middle school in Faenza when he stabbed an older classmate with a knife. After that, he enrolled in a public and secular Teachers' School for Boys in Forlimpopoli (even there, he was poorly behaved and involved in fistfights and even at least one additional stabbing). He also had a reputation of being a bully and a fighter even as a youth, and had done acts such as pinching people in church to make them cry as well as leading a gang of boys on raids of local farmsteads. He also became adept at dueling with swords, and had at least 100 wounds sustained in battle when entering a sword duel with a rival newspaper editor in May 1922. His more violent penchant will stay with him into adulthood, admitting he had stabbed one of his girlfriends once, and also his later violence as the dictator of Italy.[3] He graduated in 1901 with an elementary teacher's license, but was jobless. He never attended any kind of university, as his school didn't grant the necessary diploma to do so.

Socialist activities

Mussolini's father was a socialist and had named him after leftist Mexican President Benito Juárez for his first name and after Italian socialists Amilcare Cipriani and Andrea Costa for his middle names.[3] Mussolini joined the Socialist Party in 1900.[4]

In order to promote his socialist views, he moved to Switzerland, where he lived by his wits.[4][5] In 1904, the Swiss government forced him to return to Italy, where he continued to promote his socialist views.[5]

In Switzerland, he started writing for the socialist newspaper L'Avvenire del lavoratore.[3] In 1912, Mussolini became the editor of Avanti!, the official newspaper of the Italian Socialist Party,[3] and served in that position for several years.[4] Among his other actions, Mussolini spoke highly of Karl Marx.[3]

Fascism and Socialism

See also: Similarities between Communism, Nazism and liberalism

Mussolini created Fascism "from the same intellectual material Lenin and Trotsky had built their movements with."

Although Mussolini originally opposed Italy's entry into World War I along with other socialists, he eventually changed his position.[5] He left the Socialist Party in 1914 due to this disagreement and joined the military in 1915.[4][5] Mussolini fought on the front line and eventually was promoted to corporal.[5] He left the army after being wounded in 1917 and returned to his political activities.[4] He strongly criticized the Italian government's apparent weakness and inability to made meaningful gains in the Treaty of Versailles.[5] After leaving the Socialist Party, Mussolini's ideology did not stray very far and he found inspiration in the works of Georges Sorel.[6] Mussolini would quip later in life that "What I am, I owe to Sorel."[7]

Indeed, Mussolini found appeal in the works of Sorel,[8] just as Sorel had made it known that he himself was a fan of Mussolini. In 1912, while Mussolini was the editor of the newspaper Avanti! (Which translates to "Forward") Sorel wrote: "Our Mussolini is no ordinary socialist! Take my word for it, you will one day see him, sword in hand, leading a holy battalion to salute the national flag of Italy. He is a fifteenth-century Italian, a Condottiere!"[9]

Mussolini had founded his own newspaper, Popolo d'Italia, and political movement in 1914.[4][5] The movement, called the Autonomous Fascists, took nationalistic positions and was friendly towards the bourgeoisie.[4] After the war, it appeared that Mussolini would not go anywhere politically, as he had started several political movement that failed.[4] In March 1919, Mussolini founded the Fascist Party, and he quickly became influential.[4][5] His party platform was very far-left.[10]

"His fluency in socialist theory was, if not legendary, certainly impressive to everyone who knew him."[11] Olindo Vernocchi declared Mussolini "not only the representative of the Romagna Socialist bu the Duce of all revolutionary socialists in Italy."[12]

Rise to Power

Mussolini after gaining power

In 1923 after rising through the ranks Mussolini became the elected member for Tuscany in the Italian Parliament. In 1927 he took over from Mario Felloni as the leader of Cullo Cappelli who were the opposition. Leading up to the 1928 election Mussolini began to begin his campaign. During this time Italy was in an economic slump and the Italian public were not satisfied with the president of the time, Francisco Delosini and his Treasurer Guido Michenelli's management of the federal budget. Mussolini preyed on this dissatisfaction and promised to eliminate all debt within the government. In 1922, Mussolini was invited by King Vittorio Emanuele III to form a new Italian government. A law passed on Christmas Eve 1925 changed Mussolini's title from "president of the Council of Ministers" (prime minister) to "head of the government." He was no longer responsible to Parliament, and could only be removed by the king.

  • "... most American liberals either admired Mussolini and his project or simply didn't care much about it one way or the other."[13]

Gun control laws, enacted shortly before Mussolini gained power during the period of instability, helped him gain power.[14]

Alliance with Hitler

Mussolini and Adolf Hitler in 1936

In 1931 Mussolini first came into contact with Adolf Hitler at a meeting of European leaders, and an alliance was formed. For the rest of the 1930s Mussolini began to recklessly spend Italy's money on obsolete arms which he planned to issue to the army if Hitler ever attempted to take over Europe. In 1935, he invaded Ethiopia with this army and using poison gas defeated the imperial troops. The world was horrified at his use of weapons of mass destruction (i.e. poison gas).

World War II

In September 1939 when England and France declared war on Germany after Hitler invaded Poland, Mussolini announced that Italy would join Germany in the war effort against the allied forces. He waited however, until after France had surrendered before invading southern France and officially entering the war. During World War 2, he increased his military, limited free speech and pushed his political views on all of his countrymen even more so.

Mussolini Deposed

When the Allies invaded the Italian island of Sicily in 1943, King Vittorio Emmanuel III panicked at the thought of an Allied invasion of the Italian mainland. He immediately stripped Mussolini of his power and ordered Mussolini to be arrested.


He was rescued through covert operations by German special forces (most notably Otto Skorzeny) without a single casualty occurring during the rescue operation. Mussolini was then installed as the head of the German sponsored Italian Social Republic or Repubblica Sociale Italiana (RSI) based at Salo in northern Italy - hence its alternative name of the Salo Republic.

Capture and Death

Mussolini was later recaptured at the end of the war by partisans. He and his mistress Claretta Petacci were shot and hanged upside down.


Benito Mussolini and Atheism

See also: Irreligion/religion and war

In his work entitled Mussolini Denis Mack Smith wrote:

From his father he [Mussolini] had learnt to be a thoroughgoing anti-clerical. He proclaimed himself to be an atheist and several times tried to shock an audience by calling on God to strike him dead. He forcibly denounced those socialists who thought religion a matter for individual conscience or had their children baptised. [In Mussolini's opinion] Science had proved that God did not exist and the Jesus of history was an ignorant Jew whose family thought him mad, and who was a pigmy compared to the Buddha. Religion, he said, was a disease of the psyche, an epidemic to be cured by psychiatrists, and Christianity in particular was vitiated by preaching the senseless virtues of resignation and cowardice, whereas the new socialist morality should celebrate violence and rebellion."[15]

Though privately hostile to the Roman Catholic Church, Mussolini oversaw the Lateran Treaties in 1929, which recognized the independence of the Vatican and even contained a provision that outlawed any display of disrespect for the Pope. In addition, all schools including Catholic schools had to honor Mussolini and his picture was prominently displayed in each classroom.[16]

By February 1918, he was calling for the emergence of a leader "ruthless and energetic enough to make a clean sweep." In May, he hinted in a speech in Bologna that he might be that leader.

Mussolini and Darwinism

See also: Irreligion/religion and war

Dr. David N. Menton wrote about the effect Darwinism had upon Mussolini:

Benito Mussolini, who brought fascism to Italy, was also greatly influenced by Darwinism, which he thought supported his belief that violence is essential for beneficial social transformation. Mussolini repeatedly used Darwinian catchwords in his speeches and ridiculed efforts at peace because they interfered with natural evolutionary process.[17]

War crimes

Mussolini is responsible for several war crimes during the Italian occupation of Abyssinia (today Ethiopia) and Yugoslavia.

During the second Italo-Abyssinian war, Italian troops committed atrocites such as the use of mustard gas, the bombing of Red Cross hospitals and ambulances, the execution of captured prisoners without trial, the Graziani massacre, the killings at Däbrä Libanos monastery, and the shooting of "witch-doctors" accused of prophesying the end of fascist rule.[18]

During the Italian occupation of Yugoslavia in WWII, Italian troops used draconian measures to intimidate the native Slavic population into silence, such as summary executions, hostage-taking, reprisals, internments and the burning of houses and villages.[19]

Many historians consider both of the forementioned an attempt of genocide.

Family Members

His legacy is continued by his neo-fascist granddaughter Alessandra Mussolini, who is a current member of the European Parliament. His daughter-in-law, Anna Maria Scicolone, was the sister of actress Sophia Loren.


  • "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato" (Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State) [20]
  • "E' meglio vivere un giorno da leone che 100 anni da pecora" (it is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a lamb)[21]

See also


  1. Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg, Page 31
  2. Execution of Mussolini
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Greenspan, Jesse (October 25, 2012). 9 Things You May Not Know About Mussolini. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Benito Mussolini. (from the Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2004. Retrieved May 9, 2017).
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 Benito Mussolini. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  6. Marxism, Fascism, and Totalitarianism: Chapters in the Intellectual History of Radicalism by A. James Gregor (review)
  7. Contesting Democracy
  8. A Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry
  9. Leaders Dreamers And Rebels, 1935
  11. Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg, Page 34
  12. Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg, Page 35
  13. Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg, Page 30
  14. Quammen, E. David (August 12, 2013). Italian ‘gun control’ right before Mussolini seized total control….. Tea Party Tribune. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  15. "Mussolini", by Denis Mack Smith, Vintage Books, 1983, page 8.
  16. [Per User:Jpatt's grandmother who went to school in Italy until age 7]
  17. The Religion of Nature: Social Darwinism by David N. Menton, Ph.D.
  18. Richard Pankhurst, Addis Ababa University, Italian Fascist war crimes in Ethiopia ([1])
  19. An independent report on Italo-Slovenian relationships in the 1941-1945 period ([2])
  20. Liberal fascism: the secret history of the American left, from Mussolini to ...‎ - Page 52

External links