Italy (1919-1939) - MrWilsonsUSHistoryWiki

Italy (1919-1939)
• Post war inflation (price increases)
and unemployment
• 460,000 WW1 deaths
• Italy disappointed by lack of WWI
gains, had wanted Germany’s African
colonies after WWI, decided to take
some by force in 1920’s (Ethopia)
• Italy’s prime minister (Vittorio
Orlando) actually cried at Versailles
when the Allies insulted Italy’s
contribution to the Allied war effort
• Socialists seized factories and
declared that there were Soviets in
several cities in Northern Italy in
• Communism increases appeal of
fascism among middle class,
industrialists, and wealthy, church,
Modern Italy only formed in 1870, not
that old
Fascist Party
• Born March 23, 1919 in Milan
• Symbol of the party is the fasces, a
bundle of sticks, symbolizes that
society is individually weak, but
collectively strong
• Fasces are also an ancient Roman
symbol of authority. They are rods
and axes wrapped into a bundle
• The rods were used for
punishment, and the axes for
• The ideal of fascism is that the
different social classes will work
together for the good of the country
• Benito Mussolini, leader of
Eagle with fasces used on the war flag
of the Repubblica Sociale Italiana (civil
flag is the same of the present day
Italian Republic, but was never used)
• Former socialist, but had favored WW1, because he saw it as a way to gain
• Used to be a propagandist for a socialist newspaper
• Fought in WWI until wounded by an exploding mortar in his trench, only advanced
to rank of corporal
• Editor for fascist party paper “Il Popolo d’Italia (The People of Italy)”
• Fasci di Combattimenti (Italian Combat Squad) (aka the Black Shirts), party street
army, beat up opponents in streets, made people drink castor oil (communists,
anarchists, strikers, etc.)
Mussolini as a
soldier 1917
Insignia for the
shoulder of the rank of
corporal of the Italian Popolo d’
and his
Painting of Mussolini’s Black Shirts
March on Rome (October 28, 1922)
• Black Shirts marched on Rome
• Mussolini waited in Milan to see if the overthrow succeeded, and then joined
and pretended to have led it
• King lets Black Shirts enter Rome without a fight, King Victor Emmanuel III
wanted to use Mussolini to destroy communists, then planned to get rid of
Black Shirts- March on Rome
March on Rome
Duce et decorum: Benito Mussolini and
four of his Generals, March on Rome
King Victor Emmanuel III and
Mussolini the dictator
March on Rome and
Commemorative March on
Rome Medal
• October 29, 1922 declared day one of
year one of the new fascist era
(Mussolini made dictator for a year)
• Mussolini became Prime Minister, later
“Il Duce” (The leader), comes from
Roman title dux (leader)
• Fascists guaranteed 2/3 majority in
legislature in 1923, by Acerbo Law
• Party won big in elections of 1924,
given decree power
• Other parties kicked out of legislature,
Socialist leaders beaten to death by
Black Shirts
Mussolini’s flag
Il Duce Mussolini before the masses in
Rome (using the Fascist salute)
Fascist Italy flag
Press controlled in 1923
• Journalists need license from Fascist party to write
• Mussolini’s paper Il Popolo d’Italia (The People of Italy)
• In 1929, Mussolini raped a reporter for the London Herald after she
gave him a bad interview
• Radio controlled
• Theater controlled
• Film scripts approved, film studio opened, pro-fascist films given 100%
government funding, government bought chain of theaters, controlled
foreign films, foreign films dubbed, exported films not dubbed
• In 1930, it was forbidden to distribute any Communist or Marxist
literature, though technically not illegal for libraries to possess it for
scholarly work (research)
• In 1938, all books relating to Communism, freemasonry, or Jewish
culture were ordered destroyed, though many librarians merely hid the
Censorship of Private Communications
Telephone calls and letters were monitored
Calls were often listened to and sometimes interrupted
Mail was opened and read
Private communications of people walking down the
street were monitored by secret police
Italians commonly walked around in silence
In 1924, the Mafia hounded after Mussolini offended the
Mafia boss in Sicily, boss emptied town of inhabitants
except for 20 beggars when Mussolini was supposed to
speak to the “assembled populace”
Freemasonry and other secret societies suppressed in
By 1926, political opposition was outlawed
Anarchist Anteo
• On October 31,
1926, 15-year-old
Anarchist Anteo
Zamboni tried to
Mussolini; he was
caught in the act
and lynched on the
Other techniques used for building Fascist support
and eliminating enemies
• Secret police organized in 1927- (OVRA) Organization for Vigilance and
Repression of Anti-Fascism
• Tribunale Speciale (Special Tribunals) courts established to try “political
• Political offenders sent to prison on remote Lipari and Ponza Islands or
other camps
• Citizens encouraged to tell on neighbors
• Death penalty re-introduced, only used 10 times before 1940
• By 1928, all elections were yes/no votes on candidates chosen by party
• In 1931, all university professors had to take an oath to defend fascism
• Report cards and required notebooks have fascist symbols, phrases, and
pictures of Mussolini
• Textbooks rewritten, overstate Italian war victories
Mussolini Propaganda
• Shaved his head to appear younger and more masculine and
• American razors were not good enough for Il Duce’s manly beard
• Pictures of him flying an airplane, driving a race car, winning a
chess match, playing the violin, jogging; many of these were faked
• “The Duce is always right”, “Believe, Obey, Fight.”
• “The book and the musket make the perfect fascist.”
• “Long live death” “War is to man as motherhood is to woman.”
• Became popular with all classes in Italy
• Formula 1 racing big for prestige, Germany (Mercedes-Benz, Auto
Union), Spain, France, Italy (Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Maserati,
Bugatti), GB (ERA)
• Stamps, architecture and sculpture used to remind people of ancient
Roman glory
• Foreign words forbidden in 1936, by the Ministry of Popular
Culture, Louis Armstrong becomes Luigi Fortebraccio, Jazz
eventually banned
• Increase the birth rate (Battle for Births)
• Each family was to try to have at least 5 children
• Bachelors taxed at more than twice the normal rate
• “He who is not a father is not a man.”
• Abortion illegal, contraceptives discouraged
• Women discouraged from working, riding horses or wearing
• Mother and Son Day created and celebrated
Youth Organizations
• By1926, they created paramilitary
organizations (The Opera National
Balilla, ONB), membership was
voluntary but coerced
• Mussolini actually met in England with
Robert Baden Powell, the founder of the
Boy Scouts, for advice
• Balilla Motto: "I believe in Rome, the
Eternal, the mother of my country……I
believe in the genius of Mussolini…and in
the resurrection of the Empire."
• “Sons of the She Wolf” (ages 6-8)
• Girls not added until 1929Piccole Italiane (Little Italian Girls) (ages 814)
Giovani Italiane (Young Italian Women)
(ages 14-18)
(Girls learned childcare, first aid, physical
exercise, political indoctrination)
The Opera National Balilla
(Fascist Youth), a failed
attempt at youth Fascist
paramilitary instruction
Robert Baden Powell and
the Boy Scouts logo
Sons of the She Wolf
Balilla ages (8-14)
Fascisti Universitari age up to 21
Avanguardista (Vanguard) (ages
Girls not originally part, added
1929 with the Fascio Femminile
• Employees got unemployment and health insurance,
but weren’t allowed to strike
• Constructed motorways (Autostrada), the first in
world history
• New public buildings, used style of Gruppo 7,
architects starting in 1926
• Tried to build new model agricultural town,
Mussolinia, in southern Italy to build prosperity
there (Battle of the Southern Problem), never
• Drained Pontine Marshes near Rome to create
agricultural land (Battle for Land)
• Rearmament helped spur employment
• Hydroelectric power programs were undertaken
• Public begging ended
Labor and
Make Work
Autostrada Highway
Fred Toelle, “P.O.W.’s draining
in the Pontine Marshes
Raised barge of Roman
emperor Caligula from
bottom of Lake Nemi
Drawing of Caligula’s boat
Catilgula’s Boat
The Fascist Economic system:
• Government controlled industry, although private ownership was
allowed to continue
• The economy was set up for the military and war
• Mussolini sought economic self-sufficiency (Battle of Grain is an
example – Mussolini tried to increase grain production, at cost of
fruit production, increased tariff on foreign grain, failed)
•Il Duce needs gold- almost half million women turn in wedding rings for steel
•Balanced budget
•Ended inflation
•Buy Italian campaign started in 1936
•Battle of the Lira, Mussolini tried to raise the value of Italian currency
• Mussolini felt it looked bad for Italy to have such a low valued currency
•Mussolini artificially raised the value of the Lira, which made prices of Italian
exports rise, and thus fewer to be sold (This raised unemployment in Italy.) (BAD)
•Mussolini could not overcome his nation’s lack of industry, Italy could not
become an economic power as quickly as he hoped
•Gold for the Fatherland Program: was a program that asked people to donate
wedding rings and gold jewelry which was melted down, cast into bars, and
distributed to Italy’s banks, people were given iron arm bands with words “Gold
for the Fatherland” on them
Religious Tolerance and Intolerance
• Labor and management combined
into corporations, workers cannot Lateran Agreements : (February 11,
strike or lockout
•Annexed Papal States (Pope’s country)
• Workers rewarded with free
and left the Vatican (1 square mile)
Sundays, cheap vacations, paid
holidays, social security, sports
• Rewarded the Pope by guaranteeing
and theater facilities
Catholicism in Italy
• Italian railroads ran on time for
first time in Italian history (or
someone died). Mussolini was
tired of other countries making fun
of the relaxed Italian sense of time.
• It was also thought the railroads
running on time would help job
Benito Mussolini reads his credentials prior
to signing the Lateran Treaty on behalf of King
Victor Emmanuel III. Cardinal Gasparri
(seated), signed on behalf of Pope Pius XI.
(Left) Mussolini signs the Lateran Pact of 1929, which brought into being the
Vatican City State. (Middle) Cardinal Gasparri signs the Lateran Concordat
as Mussolini looks on. (Right) Vatican flag
Seals and signatures; Benito Mussolini and
Cardinal Gasparri
Postcard commemorating the Lateran Pact
Pope Pius XI
Cardinal Gasparri and Benito Mussolini (seated) after exchanging
treaty ratifications
in the Hall of Congregations, the Vatican, and June 7th, 1929
•Government pays salaries of priests, teach Catholicism in schools
•Jehovah’s Witnesses persecuted because of opposition to warfare and
totalitarian government
•Mussolini adopted anti-Semitism after 1937, after meeting with Hitler
•Mussolini had to break up a romance between his daughter and a Jewish boy
At the same time Mussolini was tolerant of Islam in the Italian
colony of Libya and was named “Protector of Islam” there.

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