Thursday, November 10, 2011

Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini created the Fascist party in Italy in 1919, eventually making himself dictator prior to World War II, until being killed in 1945. Mussolini was an ardent socialist as a youth, following in his father's political footsteps, but was expelled by the party for his support of World War I. His fascist party held all the power once he became dictator.

Benito Mussolini(born July 29, 1883, Predappio, Italy—died April 28, 1945, near Dongo) Italian dictator (1922–43). An unruly but intelligent youth, he became an ardent socialist and served as editor of the party newspaper, Avanti! (1912–14). When he reversed his opposition to World War I, he was ousted by the party. He founded the pro-war Il Popolo d'Italia, served with the Italian army (1915–17), then returned to his editorship. Advocating government by dictatorship, he formed a political group in 1919 that marked the beginning of fascism. A dynamic and captivating orator at rallies, he organized the March on Rome (1922) to prevent a socialist-led general strike. After the government fell, he was appointed prime minister, the youngest in Italian history. He obtained a law to establish the fascists as the majority party and became known as Il Duce (“The Leader”). He restored order to the country and introduced social reforms and public works improvements that won widespread popular support. His dreams of empire led to the invasion of Abyssinia (later Ethiopia) in 1935. Supported in his fascist schemes by Adolf Hitler but wary of German power, Mussolini agreed to the Rome-Berlin Axis and declared war on the Allies in 1940. Italian military defeats in Greece and North Africa led to growing disillusionment with Mussolini. After the Allied invasion of Sicily (1943), the Fascist Grand Council dismissed him from office. He was arrested and imprisoned but rescued by German commandos, then became head of the Hitler-installed puppet government at Sal in northern Italy. As German defenses in Italy collapsed in 1945, Mussolini tried to escape to Austria but was captured and executed by Italian partisans.

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