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The KINGDOM OF ITALY (Italian : _Regno d'Italia_) was a state which existed from 1861
1861
, when King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia was proclaimed King of Italy
Italy
, until 1946
1946
, when a constitutional referendum led civil discontent to abandon the monarchy and form the Italian Republic . The state was founded as a result of the unification of Italy
Italy
under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia , which can be considered its legal predecessor state.

Italy
Italy
declared war on Austria in alliance with Prussia in 1866 and received the region of Veneto
Veneto
following their victory. Italian troops entered Rome
Rome
in 1870, ending more than one thousand years of Papal temporal power. Italy
Italy
entered into a Triple Alliance with Germany
Germany
and Austria-Hungary in 1882, following strong disagreements with France about the respective colonial expansions. However, even if relations with Berlin
Berlin
became very friendly, the alliance with Vienna
Vienna
remained purely formal, as the Italians were keen to acquire Trentino
Trentino
and Trieste
Trieste
, corners of the Austria-Hungary populated by Italians. So, in 1915, Italy
Italy
accepted the British invitation to join the Allies in World War I
World War I
because the western allies promised territorial compensation (at the expense of Austria-Hungary) for participation that were more generous than Vienna's offer in exchange for Italian neutrality. Victory in the war gave Italy
Italy
a permanent seat in the Council of the League of Nations
League of Nations
.

"Fascist Italy" is the era of National Fascist Party
National Fascist Party
government from 1922 to 1943 with Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
as head of government. The fascists imposed totalitarian rule and crushed the political and intellectual opposition, while promoting economic modernization, traditional social values, and a rapprochement with the Roman Catholic Church. According to Payne (1996), " Fascist government passed through several relatively distinct phases". The first phase (1923–1925) was nominally a continuation of the parliamentary system, albeit with a "legally-organized executive dictatorship". Then came the second phase, "the construction of the Fascist dictatorship proper, from 1925 to 1929". The third phase, with less activism, was 1929 to 1934. The fourth phase, 1935–1940, was characterized by an aggressive foreign policy; war against Ethiopia, which was launched from Eritrea
Eritrea
and Italian Somaliland ; confrontations with the League of Nations
League of Nations
, leading to sanctions; growing economic autarky ; and the signing of the Pact of Steel . The war itself (1940–1943) was the fifth phase with its disasters and defeats, while the rump Salò government under German control was the final stage (1943–1945).

Italy
Italy
was an important member of the Axis powers in World War II
World War II
, until 1943. It switched sides to the Allies after ousting Mussolini and shutting down the Fascist party in areas (south of Rome) controlled by the Allied invaders. The remnant fascist state in northern Italy
Italy
that continued fighting against the Allies was a puppet state of Germany, the " Italian Social Republic ", still led by Mussolini and his Fascist loyalists. Shortly after the war, civil discontent led to the constitutional referendum of 1946
1946
on whether Italy
Italy
would remain a monarchy or become a republic. Italians decided to abandon the monarchy and form the Italian Republic , the present-day Italian state.

CONTENTS

* 1 Territory * 2 Government * 3 Monarchs

* 4 History

* 4.1 Unification process (1848–1870)

* 4.1.1 Unifying multiple bureaucracies

* 4.2 Culture and society

* 4.2.1 Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
* 4.2.2 Culture * 4.2.3 Economy * 4.2.4 _"IL MEZZOGIORNO"_ (Southern Italy)

* 4.3 Liberal era of politics (1870–1914)

* 4.3.1 Depretis * 4.3.2 Crispi * 4.3.3 Colonialism * 4.3.4 Giovanni Giolitti

* 4.4 World War I
World War I
and the failure of liberal state (1915–1922)

* 4.4.1 Prelude to war, internal dilemma * 4.4.2 Italy\'s war effort * 4.4.3 Italy\'s territorial settlements and the reaction

* 4.5 Fascist regime (1922–1943)

* 4.5.1 Mussolini in war and postwar * 4.5.2 March on Rome
Rome
* 4.5.3 Culture and society * 4.5.4 Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
* 4.5.5 Technology and modernization * 4.5.6 Antisemitism * 4.5.7 Education * 4.5.8 Social welfare * 4.5.9 Police state * 4.5.10 Economy * 4.5.11 Women

* 4.5.12 Foreign policy

* 4.5.12.1 Africa
Africa
* 4.5.12.2 Race Laws * 4.5.12.3 Balkan Peninsula * 4.5.12.4 Spain * 4.5.12.5 Albania
Albania
* 4.5.12.6 Germany
Germany
* 4.5.12.7 Alliance with Germany
Germany

* 4.5.13 World War II
World War II
and the fall of Fascism

* 4.6 Civil war (1943–1945) * 4.7 Italian constitutional referendum (1946)

* 5 Military structure * 6 Historiography * 7 See also * 8 Notes * 9 References

* 10 Further reading

* 10.1 Historiography * 10.2 Primary sources

* 11 External links

TERRITORY

Map of the Kingdom of Italy
Italy
in 1919

The Kingdom of Italy
Italy
claimed all of the territory which covers present-day Italy, and even more. The development of the Kingdom's territory progressed under Italian re-unification until 1870. The state for a long period of time did not include Trieste
Trieste
or Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol , which are Italian territories today, and only annexed them in 1919. The Triple Entente
Triple Entente
promised to grant to Italy
Italy
- if the state joined the Allies in World War I
World War I
– several territories including former Austrian Littoral , western parts of former Duchy of Carniola , Northern Dalmazia , and notably Zara , Sebenico , and most of the Dalmatian islands (except Krk and Rab
Rab
), according to the secret London Pact of 1915.

After the compromise was nullified under pressure of President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
with the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
, Italian claims on Northern Dalmazia were voided. During World War II, the Kingdom gained additional territory; it gained Corsica , Nizza and Savoia from France after its surrender in 1940, territory in Slovenia
Slovenia
and Dalmazia from Yugoslavia after its breakup in 1941, and Monaco
Monaco
in 1942. After World War II, the borders of present-day Italy
Italy
were founded and the Kingdom abandoned its land claims.

The Italian Empire also gained territory until the end of World War II through colonies, protectorates, military occupations and puppet states. These included Eritrea
Eritrea
, Italian Somaliland , Libya
Libya
, Ethiopia (occupied by Italy
Italy
from 1936 to 1941), Albania
Albania
, British Somaliland , Greece
Greece
(occupied in World War II), Tunisia
Tunisia
, Croatia
Croatia
(Italian and German client state in World War II), Kosovo
Kosovo
(occupied in World War II), Montenegro (occupied in World War II), and a 46-hectare concession from China
China
in Tientsin (see Italian concession in Tianjin ).

GOVERNMENT

The Kingdom of Italy
Italy
was theoretically a constitutional monarchy . Executive power belonged to the monarch , as executed through appointed ministers . Two chambers of parliament restricted the monarch's power—an appointive Senate and an elective Chamber of Deputies . The kingdom's constitution was the Statuto Albertino , the former governing document of the Kingdom of Sardinia. In theory, ministers were solely responsible to the king. However, in practice, it was impossible for an Italian government to stay in office without the support of Parliament.

Members of the Chamber of Deputies were elected by plurality voting system elections in uninominal districts. A candidate needed the support of 50% of those voting, and of 25% of all enrolled voters, to be elected on the first round of balloting. If not all seats were filled on the first ballot, a runoff was held shortly afterwards for the remaining vacancies.

After a brief multinominal experimentation in 1882, proportional representation into large, regional, multi-seat electoral constituencies, was introduced after World War I. Socialists became the major party, but they were unable to form a government in a parliament split into three different factions, with Christian Populists and classical liberals . Elections took place in 1919, 1921, and 1924: in this last occasion, Mussolini abolished the PR replacing it with a block voting system on national bases, which gave to the Fascist Party the absolute majority of the Chamber seats.

Between 1925 and 1943, Italy
Italy
was quasi-de jure Fascist dictatorship, as the constitution formally remained in effect without alteration by the Fascists, though the monarchy also formally accepted Fascist policies and Fascist institutions. Changes in politics occurred, consisting of the establishment of the Grand Council of Fascism as a government body in 1928, which took control of the government system, and the Chamber of Deputies being replaced with the Chamber of Fasci and Corporations as of 1939.

MONARCHS

The monarchs of the House of Savoy
Savoy
who led Italy
Italy
were

* VICTOR EMMANUEL II (1861–78) – Former King of Sardinia and first king of united Italy. * UMBERTO I (1878–1900) – Approved the Triple Alliance with Germany
Germany
and Austria-Hungary . Assassinated in 1900 by an anarchist. * VICTOR EMMANUEL III (1900–46) – King of Italy
Italy
during the First World War and during the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini. * UMBERTO II (1946) – The last King of Italy
Italy
who was pressured to call a referendum on whether Italy
Italy
would retain the monarchy; Italians voted to become a republic instead of a constitutional monarchy.

HISTORY

UNIFICATION PROCESS (1848–1870)

Italian unification process between 1815 and 1870

The creation of the Kingdom of Italy
Italy
was the result of concerted efforts of Italian nationalists and monarchists loyal to the House of Savoy
Savoy
to establish a united kingdom encompassing the entire Italian Peninsula .

After the Revolutions of 1848 , the apparent leader of the Italian unification movement was Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi
, renowned for his extremely loyal followers. Garibaldi led the Italian republican drive for unification in southern Italy, but the northern Italian monarchy of the House of Savoy
Savoy
in the Kingdom of Sardinia , a state with an important Italian population, whose government was led by Camillo Benso, conte di Cavour , also had ambitions of establishing a united Italian state. Though the kingdom had no physical connection to Rome
Rome
(seen by all as the natural capital of Italy, but still capital of the Papal States
Papal States
), the kingdom had successfully challenged Austria in the Second Italian War of Independence , liberating Lombardy-Venetia from Austrian rule. The kingdom also had established important alliances which helped it improve the possibility of Italian unification, such as with the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
and France
France
in the Crimean War . Sardinia was dependent on French protection and, in 1860, Sardinia was forced to cede territory to France
France
to maintain relations, including Garibaldi's birthplace, Nizza . Count
Count
Camillo Benso di Cavour , the first Prime Minister of the unified Italy
Italy

Cavour moved to challenge republican unification efforts by Garibaldi by organizing popular revolts in the Papal States
Papal States
. He used these revolts as a pretext to invade the country, even though the invasion angered the Roman Catholics , whom he told that the invasion was an effort to protect the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
from the anti-clerical secularist nationalist republicans of Garibaldi. Only a small portion of the Papal States
Papal States
around Rome
Rome
remained in the control of Pope
Pope
Pius IX . Despite their differences, Cavour agreed to include Garibaldi's Southern Italy
Italy
allowing it to join the union with the kingdom of Sardinia in 1860. Subsequently, the Parliament declared the creation of the Kingdom of Italy
Italy
on February 18, 1861
1861
(officially proclaiming it on March 17, 1861
1861
) composed of both Northern Italy
Italy
and Southern Italy. King Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy
Savoy
was then declared King of Italy
Italy
, though he did not renumber himself with the assumption of the new title. This title had been out of use since the abdication of Napoleon I of France on April 6, 1814. Victor Emmanuel II , the first King of the united Italy
Italy

Following the unification of most of Italy, tensions between the royalists and republicans erupted. In April 1861, Garibaldi entered the Italian parliament and challenged Cavour's leadership of the government, accusing him of dividing Italy
Italy
and spoke of the threat of civil war between the Kingdom in the north and Garibaldi's forces in the south. On June 6, 1861, the Kingdom's strongman Cavour died. During the ensuing political instability, Garibaldi and the republicans became increasingly revolutionary in tone. Garibaldi's arrest in 1862 set off worldwide controversy. Giuseppe Garibaldi , major military leader during the Italian unification

In 1866 Otto von Bismarck , Minister President of Prussia , offered Victor Emmanuel II an alliance with the Kingdom of Prussia in the Austro-Prussian War . In exchange, Prussia would allow Italy
Italy
to annex Austrian-controlled Veneto
Veneto
. King Emmanuel agreed to the alliance and the Third Italian War of Independence
Third Italian War of Independence
began. Italy
Italy
fared poorly in the war with a badly-organized military against Austria, but Prussia's victory allowed Italy
Italy
to annex Veneto. At this point, one major obstacle to Italian unity remained: Rome.

In 1870, Prussia went to war with France, igniting the Franco-Prussian War . To keep the large Prussian Army at bay, France abandoned its positions in Rome
Rome
– which protected the remnants of the Papal States
Papal States
and Pius IX – in order to fight the Prussians. Italy
Italy
benefited from Prussia's victory against France
France
by being able to take over the Papal States
Papal States
from French authority. Rome
Rome
was captured by the kingdom of Italy
Italy
after several battles and guerilla-like warfare by Papal Zouaves and official troops of the Holy See
Holy See
against the Italian invaders. Italian unification was completed, and shortly afterward Italy's capital was moved to Rome. Economic conditions in the united Italy
Italy
were poor. There were no industry or transportation facilities, extreme poverty (especially in the _" Mezzogiorno
Mezzogiorno
"_), high illiteracy, and only a small percent of wealthy Italians had the right to vote. The unification movement had largely been dependent on the support of foreign powers and remained so afterwards.

Following the capture of Rome
Rome
in 1870 from French forces of Napoleon III , Papal troops, and Zouaves , relations between Italy
Italy
and the Vatican remained sour for the next sixty years with the Popes declaring themselves to be prisoners in the Vatican . The Roman Catholic Church frequently protested the actions of the secular and anticlerical-influenced Italian governments, refused to meet with envoys from the King and urged Roman Catholics not to vote in Italian elections. It would not be until 1929, that positive relations would be restored between the Kingdom of Italy
Italy
and the Vatican after the signing of the Lateran Pacts .

Unifying Multiple Bureaucracies

A major challenge for the prime ministers of the new Kingdom of Italy was integrating the political and administrative systems of the seven different major components a unified set of policies. The different regions were proud of their own historic patterns, and could not easily be fitted into the Sardinian model. Cavour started the planning, but died before it was fully developed; indeed, the challenges of administration the various bureaucracies are thought to have hastened his death. The easiest challenge was to harmonize the administrative bureaucracies of Italy's regions. They practically all followed the Napoleonic precedent, so harmonization was straightforward. The second challenge was to develop a parliamentary system. Cavour and most liberals up and down the peninsula highly admired the British system, so it became the model for Italy
Italy
to this day. Harmonizing the Army and Navy were much more complex, chiefly because the systems of recruiting soldiers, and selecting and promoting officers were so different, and needed to be grandfathered in over decades. The disorganization helps explain why the Italian naval record in the 1866 war was so abysmal. The military system was slowly integrated over several decades. The multiple educational system likewise proved complicated for there were few common elements. Shortly before his death Cavour appointed Francisco De Sanctus as minister of education, He was an eminent scholar from the University of Naples
Naples
who proved an able and patient administrator. The addition of Veneto
Veneto
in 1866, and Rome
Rome
in 1870, further complicated the challenges of bureaucratic coordination.

CULTURE AND SOCIETY

Italian society after unification and throughout most of the Liberal Period was sharply divided along class, linguistic, regional, and social lines. The North-South divide is still present to this day.

Roman Catholic Church

On September 20, 1870, the military forces of the King of Italy overthrew what little was left of the Papal States
Papal States
, capturing in particular the city of Rome. The following year, the capital was moved from Florence
Florence
to Rome. For the next 59 years after 1870, the Church denied the legitimacy of the Italian king's dominion in Rome, which, it claimed, rightfully belonged to the Papal States. In 1929, the dispute was settled by the Lateran Treaty , in which the king recognized Vatican City
Vatican City
as an independent state and paid a large sum of money to compensate the Church for the loss of the Papal States.

Liberal governments generally followed a policy of limiting the role of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
and its clergy; the state confiscated church lands. Similar policies were supported by such anticlerical and secular movements as republicanism, socialism, anarchism, Freemasonry, Lazzarettism and Protestantism.

Culture

Common cultural traits in Italy
Italy
in this time were social conservative in nature, including a strong belief in the family as an institution and patriarchal values. In other areas, Italian culture was divided. Aristocrats and upper middle class families in Italy
Italy
at this time were highly traditional in nature; they emphasized honor above all, with challenges to honor ending in duels. After unification, a number of descendents of former royal nobility became residents of Italy, comprising 7,400 noble families. Many wealthy landowners maintained a feudal-like tight control over "their" peasants. Italian society in this period remained highly divided along regional and local sub-societies which often had historical rivalries with each other.

In 1860, Italy
Italy
lacked a single national language; _Toscano_ (Tuscan) (which is what we now know as Italian ), was only used as a literary language and in Tuscany
Tuscany
, while outside, other languages were dominant. Even the kingdom's first king, Victor Emmanuel II , was known to speak almost entirely in Piedmontese and French, even to his cabinet ministers. Illiteracy was high, with the 1871 census indicating that 61.9 % of Italian men were illiterate and 75.7 % of Italian women were illiterate. This illiteracy rate was far higher than that of western European countries in the same time period. Also, no national popular press was possible due to the multiplicity of regional languages.

Italy
Italy
had very few public schools upon unification. The Italian government in the Liberal Period attempted to increase literacy by establishing state-funded schools to teach the official Italian language.

Living standards were low during the Liberal Period, especially in southern Italy, due to various diseases such as malaria and epidemics that occurred during the period. As a whole, there was initially a high death rate in 1871 at 30 people dying per 1000 people, though this reduced to 24.2 per 1000 by the 1890s. In addition, the mortality rate of children dying in their first year after birth in 1871 was 22.7 percent while the number of children dying before reaching their fifth birthday was very high at 50 percent. The mortality rate of children dying in their first year after birth decreased to an average of 17.6 percent in the time period of 1891 to 1900.

Economy

In terms of the entire period, Federico has argued that Italy
Italy
was not economically backward, for there was substantial development at various times between 1860 and 1940. Unlike most modern nations that relied on large corporations, industrial growth in Italy
Italy
was a product of the entrepreneurial efforts of small, family-owned firms that succeeded in a local competitive environment.

Political unification did not systematically bring economic integration, as Italy
Italy
faced serious economic problems and economic division along political, social, and regional lines. In the Liberal Period, Italy
Italy
remained highly economically dependent on foreign trade and the international price of coal and grain.

Upon unifying, Italy
Italy
had a predominantly agrarian society, as 60% of the active population worked in agriculture. Advances in technology, the sale of vast Church estates, foreign competition along with export opportunities rapidly transformed the agricultural sector in Italy shortly after unification. However these developments did not benefit all of Italy
Italy
in this period, as southern Italy's agriculture suffered from hot summers and aridity damaged crops while the presence of malaria prevented cultivation of low-lying areas along Italy's Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
coast.

The overwhelming attention paid to foreign policy alienated the agricultural community in Italy
Italy
which had been in decline since 1873. Both radical and conservative forces in the Italian parliament demanded that the government investigate how to improve agriculture in Italy. The investigation which started in 1877 and was released eight years later, showed that agriculture was not improving, that landowners were earning revenue from their lands and contributing almost nothing to the development of the land. Lower class Italians were hurt by the break-up of communal lands to the benefit of landlords. Most of the workers on the agricultural lands were not peasants but short-term laborers (_"braccianti"_) who at best were employed for one year. Peasants without stable income were forced to live off of meager food supplies, disease was spreading rapidly, plagues were reported, including a major cholera epidemic which killed at least 55,000 people. A factory machinery exposition in Torino , set in 1898, during the period of early industrialization . National Exhibition of Torino, 1898

The Italian government could not deal with the situation effectively because of overspending that left Italy
Italy
heavily in debt. Italy
Italy
also suffered economically as a consequence of overproduction of grapes by their vineyards. In the 1870s and 1880s, France\'s vineyard industry was suffering from vine disease caused by insects. Italy
Italy
prospered as the largest exporter of wine in Europe. But following the recovery of France
France
in 1888, southern Italy
Italy
was overproducing and had to cut back, which caused greater unemployment and bankruptcies.

The Italian government invested heavily in developing railways in the 1870s, more than doubling the existing length of railway line between 1870 and 1890.

_"IL MEZZOGIORNO"_ (Southern Italy)

Italy's population remained severely divided between wealthy elites and impoverished workers, especially in the south. An 1881 census found that over 1 million southern day-laborers were chronically under-employed and were very likely to become seasonal emigrants in order to economically sustain themselves. Southern peasants as well as small landowners and tenants often were in a state of conflict and revolt throughout the late 19th century. There were exceptions to the generally poor economic condition of agricultural workers of the south, as some regions near cities such as Naples
Naples
and Palermo
Palermo
as well as along the Tyrrhenian Sea coast.

From the 1870s onward, intellectuals, scholars, and politicians examined the economic and social conditions of Southern Italy
Italy
(_"Il Mezzogiorno"_), a movement known as _"Meridionalismo"_ ("Meridionalism"). For example, the _1910 Commission of Inquiry into the South_ indicated that the Italian government thus far had failed to ameliorate the severe economic differences and the limitation of voting rights only to those with sufficient property allowed rich landowners to exploit the poor.

LIBERAL ERA OF POLITICS (1870–1914)

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
in Milano . An architectural work created by Giuseppe Mengoni between 1865 and 1877 and named after the first King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II

After unification, Italy's politics favored liberalism : the Liberal-conservative right (_Destra storica_ or Historical Right) was regionally fragmented, and Liberal-conservative Prime Minister Marco Minghetti only held on to power by enacting revolutionary and left-leaning policies (such as the nationalization of railways) to appease the opposition.

Depretis

In 1876, Minghetti was ousted and replaced by Liberal Agostino Depretis , who began the long Liberal Period. The Liberal Period was marked by corruption, government instability, continued poverty in southern Italy, and use of authoritarian measures by the Italian government.

Depretis began his term as Prime Minister by initiating an experimental political notion known as _" Trasformismo "_ (transformism). The theory of _trasformismo_ was that a cabinet should select a variety of moderates and capable politicians from a non-partisan perspective. In practice, _trasformismo_ was authoritarian and corrupt, Depretis pressured districts to vote for his candidates if they wished to gain favourable concessions from Depretis when in power. The results of the Italian general election of 1876 resulted in only four representatives from the right being elected, allowing the government to be dominated by Depretis. Despotic and corrupt actions are believed to be the key means in which Depretis managed to keep support in southern Italy. Depretis put through authoritarian measures, such as banning public meetings, placing "dangerous" individuals in internal exile on remote penal islands across Italy
Italy
and adopting militarist policies. Depretis enacted controversial legislation for the time, such as abolishing arrest for debt, making elementary education free and compulsory while ending compulsory religious teaching in elementary schools. The Triple Alliance in 1913, shown in red

In 1887, Francesco Crispi became Prime Minister and began focusing government efforts on foreign policy. Crispi worked to build Italy
Italy
as a great world power through increased military expenditures, advocacy of expansionism, and trying to win the favor of Germany
Germany
. Italy joined the Triple Alliance which included both Germany
Germany
and Austria–Hungary in 1882 and which remained officially intact until 1915. While helping Italy
Italy
develop strategically, he continued _trasformismo_ and became authoritarian, once suggesting the use of martial law to ban opposition parties. Despite being authoritarian, Crispi put through liberal policies such as the Public Health Act of 1888 and establishing tribunals for redress against abuses by the government.

Crispi

Francesco Crispi was Prime Minister for a total of six years, from 1887 until 1891 and again from 1893 until 1896. Historian R.J.B. Bosworth says of his foreign policy that Crispi:

...pursued policies whose openly aggressive character would not be equaled until the days of the Fascist regime. Crispi increased military expenditure, talked cheerfully of a European conflagration, and alarmed his German or British friends with this suggestions of preventative attacks on his enemies. His policies were ruinous, both for Italy's trade with France, and, more humiliatingly, for colonial ambitions in Eastern Africa. Crispi's lust for territory there was thwarted when on 1 March 1896, the armies of Ethiopian Emperor Menelik routed Italian forces at Adowa...an unparalleled disaster for a modern army. Crispi, whose private life (he was perhaps a trigamist) and personal finances...were objects of perennial scandal, went into dishonorable retirement."

He greatly admired the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
but was unable to get British assistance for his aggressive foreign policy and turned instead to Germany. Crispi enlarged the army and navy and advocated expansionism. He sought Germany's favor by joining the Triple Alliance which included both Germany
Germany
and Austria-Hungary in 1882. It remained officially intact until 1915 and prevented hostilities between Italy and Austria, which controlled border regions that Italy
Italy
claimed. While helping Italy
Italy
develop strategically, Crispi continued _trasformismo_ and was authoritarian, once suggesting the use of martial law to ban opposition parties. Crispi put through liberal policies such as the Public Health Act of 1888 and establishing tribunals for redress against abuses by the government. Original Coat of Arms

Colonialism

Main articles: Italian Empire , Italian Eritrea , and Treaty of Addis Ababa Francesco Crispi promoted the Italian colonialism in Africa
Africa
in the late 19th century, but the humiliating defeat at Adwa brought about his resignation

In the late 19th and early 20th century, Italy
Italy
emulated the Great Powers in acquiring colonies, especially in the scramble to take control of Africa
Africa
that took place in the 1870s. Italy
Italy
was weak in military and economic resources in comparison with Britain, France
France
and Germany, however. It proved difficult due to popular resistance, and it was unprofitable due to heavy military costs and the lesser economic value of spheres of influence remaining when Italy
Italy
began to colonize. Britain, eager to block French influence, assisted Italy
Italy
in gaining territory of the Red Sea.

A number of colonial projects were undertaken by the government. These were done to gain support of Italian nationalists and imperialists, who wanted to rebuild a Roman Empire. Already, Italy
Italy
had large settlements in Alexandria
Alexandria
, Cairo
Cairo
, and Tunis
Tunis
. Italy
Italy
first attempted to gain colonies through negotiations with other world powers to make colonial concessions. These negotiations failed. Italy also sent missionaries to uncolonized lands to investigate the potential for Italian colonization. The most promising and realistic of these were parts of Africa
Africa
. Italian missionaries had already established a foothold at Massawa (in present-day Eritrea
Eritrea
) in the 1830s and had entered deep into the Ethiopian Empire .

The beginning of colonialism came in 1885, shortly after the fall of Egyptian rule in Khartoum
Khartoum
. Italy
Italy
landed soldiers at Massawa in East Africa. In 1888, Italy
Italy
annexed Massawa by force, creating the colony of Italian Eritrea . The Eritrean ports of Massawa and Assab handled trade with Italy
Italy
and Ethiopia. The trade was promoted by the low duties paid on Italian trade. Italy
Italy
exported manufactured products and imported coffee, beeswax, and hides.

In 1895, Ethiopia
Ethiopia
led by Emperor Menelik II abandoned an agreement signed in 1889 to follow Italian foreign policy. Italy
Italy
used this renunciation as a reason to invade Ethiopia. Ethiopia
Ethiopia
gained the help of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
, whose own interests in East Africa
Africa
led the government of Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II of Russia
to send large amounts of modern weaponry to the Ethiopians to hold back an Italian invasion . In response, Britain decided to back the Italians to challenge Russian influence in Africa
Africa
and declared that all of Ethiopia
Ethiopia
was within the sphere of Italian interest. On the verge of war, Italian militarism and nationalism reached a peak, with Italians flocking to the Royal Italian Army , hoping to take part in the upcoming war.

The Italian army failed on the battlefield and were overwhelmed by a huge Ethiopian army at the Battle of Adwa . At that point, the Italian invasion force was forced to retreat into Eritrea. The failed Ethiopian campaign was an international embarrassment to Italy, as it was one of the few major military victories scored by the Africans against an imperial power at this time. Italian mounted infantry in China
China
during the Boxer Rebellion
Boxer Rebellion
in 1900

From November 2, 1899, to September 7, 1901, Italy
Italy
participated as part of the Eight-Nation Alliance forces during the Boxer Rebellion
Boxer Rebellion
in China
China
. On September 7, 1901, a concession in Tientsin was ceded to the Italy
Italy
by the Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
. On June 7, 1902, the concession was taken into Italian possession and administered by an Italian consul .

In 1911, Italy
Italy
declared war on the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
and invaded Tripolitania , Fezzan , and Cyrenaica
Cyrenaica
. These provinces together formed what became known as Libya
Libya
. The war ended only one year later, but the occupation resulted in acts of discrimination against Libyans such as the forced deportation of Libyans
Libyans
to the Tremiti Islands in October 1911. By 1912, one third of these Libyan refugees had died from a lack of food and shelter. The annexation of Libya
Libya
led nationalists to advocate Italian domination of the Mediterranean Sea by occupying Greece
Greece
and the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
coastal region of Dalmazia . Italian dirigibles bomb Turkish positions in Libya. The Italo-Turkish War
Italo-Turkish War
of 1911–1912 was the first in history in which air attacks (carried out here by dirigible airships) determined the outcome.

Giovanni Giolitti

Giovanni Giolitti was Prime Minister of Italy
Prime Minister of Italy
five times between 1892 and 1921

In 1892, Giovanni Giolitti became Prime Minister of Italy
Prime Minister of Italy
for his first term. Although his first government quickly collapsed one year later, Giolitti returned in 1903 to lead Italy's government during a fragmented period that lasted until 1914. Giolitti had spent his earlier life as a civil servant, and then took positions within the cabinets of Crispi. Giolitti was the first long-term Italian Prime Minister in many years because he mastered the political concept of _trasformismo _ by manipulating, coercing and bribing officials to his side. In elections during Giolitti's government, voting fraud was common, and Giolitti helped improve voting only in well-off, more supportive areas, while attempting to isolate and intimidate poor areas where opposition was strong. Southern Italy
Italy
was in terrible shape prior to and during Giolitti's tenure as Prime Minister. Four-fifths of southern Italians were illiterate and the dire situation there ranged from problems of large numbers of absentee landlords to rebellion and even starvation. Corruption was such a large problem that Giolitti himself admitted that there were places "where the law does not operate at all".

In 1911, Giolitti's government sent forces to occupy Libya. While the success of the Libyan War improved the status of the nationalists, it did not help Giolitti's administration as a whole. The government attempted to discourage criticism by speaking about Italy's strategic achievements and inventiveness of their military in the war: Italy
Italy
was the first country to use the airship for military purposes, and undertook aerial bombing on the Ottoman forces. The war radicalized the Italian Socialist
Socialist
Party : anti-war revolutionaries led by future-Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
called for violence to bring down the government. Giolitti returned as Prime Minister only briefly in 1920, but the era of liberalism was effectively over in Italy.

The 1913 and 1919 elections saw gains made by Socialist, Catholic and nationalist parties at the expense of the traditionally dominant liberals and Radicals , who were increasingly fractured and weakened as a result.

WORLD WAR I AND THE FAILURE OF LIBERAL STATE (1915–1922)

Prelude To War, Internal Dilemma

In the lead-up to World War I
World War I
, the Kingdom of Italy
Italy
faced a number of short-term and long-term problems in determining its allies and objectives. Italy's recent success in occupying Libya
Libya
as a result of the Italo-Turkish War
Italo-Turkish War
had sparked tension with its Triple Alliance allies, the German Empire
German Empire
and Austria-Hungary , because both countries had been seeking closer relations with the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
. In Munich, Germans
Germans
reacted to Italy's aggression by singing anti-Italian songs. Italy's relations with France
France
were also in bad shape: France
France
felt betrayed by Italy's support of Prussia in the Franco-Prussian War , opening the possibility of war erupting between the two countries. Italy's relations with the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
had also been impaired by constant Italian demands for more recognition in the international stage following the occupation of Libya, and its demands that other nations accept its spheres of influence in Eastern Africa
Africa
and the Mediterranean Sea. Italy
Italy
and its colonial possessions at the time of the outbreak of World War I
World War I
. The area between British Egypt and the firmly held Italian territories is the region of southern Cyrenaica
Cyrenaica
which was under dispute of ownership between Italy
Italy
and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
.

In the Mediterranean Sea, Italy's relations with the Kingdom of Greece
Greece
were aggravated when Italy
Italy
occupied the Greek-populated Dodecanese
Dodecanese
Islands, including Rhodes
Rhodes
, from 1912 to 1914. These islands had been formerly controlled by the Ottoman Empire. Italy
Italy
and Greece
Greece
were also in open rivalry over the desire to occupy Albania
Albania
. King Victor Emmanuel III
Victor Emmanuel III
himself was uneasy about Italy
Italy
pursuing distant colonial adventures, and said that Italy
Italy
should prepare to take back Italian-populated land from Austria-Hungary , as the "completion of the Risorgimento". This idea put Italy
Italy
at odds with Austria-Hungary.

A major hindrance to Italy's decision on what to do about the war was the political instability throughout Italy
Italy
in 1914. After the formation of the government of Prime Minister Antonio Salandra
Antonio Salandra
in March 1914, the government attempted to win the support of nationalists and moved to the political right. At the same time the left became more repulsed by the government after the killing of three anti-militarist demonstrators in June. Many elements of the left including syndicalists , republicans and anarchists protested against this and the Italian Socialist
Socialist
Party declared a general strike in Italy. The protests that ensued became known as "Red Week " as leftists rioted and various acts of civil disobedience occurred in major cities and small towns such as seizing railway stations, cutting telephone wires, and burning tax-registers. However, only two days later the strike was officially called off, though the civil strife continued. Militarist nationalists and anti-militarist leftists fought on the streets until the Italian Royal Army forcefully restored calm after having used thousands of men to put down the various protesting forces following the invasion of Serbia by Austria-Hungary in 1914, World War I
World War I
broke out. Despite Italy's official alliance to Germany and membership in the Triple Alliance , she initially remained neutral, claiming that the Triple Alliance was only for defensive purposes. _ Gabriele d\'Annunzio , national poet (vate_) of Italy and a prominent nationalist revolutionary who was a supporter of Italy joining action in World War I
World War I

In Italy, society was divided over the war: Italian socialists generally opposed the war and supported pacificism, while nationalists militantly supported the war. Long-time nationalists Gabriele D\'Annunzio and Luigi Federzoni and an obscure Marxist journalist and new convert to nationalist sentiment, future Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini , demanded that Italy
Italy
join the war. For nationalists, Italy had to maintain its alliance with the Central Powers
Central Powers
, in order to gain colonial territories at the expense of France. For the liberals, the war presented Italy
Italy
a long-awaited opportunity to use an alliance with the Entente to gain certain Italian-populated and other territories from Austria-Hungary, which had long been part of Italian patriotic aims since unification. In 1915, relatives of Italian revolutionary and republican hero Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi
died on the battlefield of France, where they had volunteered to fight. Federzoni used the memorial services to declare the importance of Italy
Italy
joining the war, and to warn the monarchy of the consequences of continued disunity in Italy
Italy
if it did not:

Italy
Italy
has awaited this since 1866 her truly national war, in order to feel unified at last, renewed by the unanimous action and identical sacrifice of all her sons. Today, while Italy
Italy
still wavers before the necessity imposed by history, the name of Garibaldi, resanctified by blood, rises again to warn her that she will not be able to defeat the revolution save by fighting and winning her national war." _Luigi Federzoni, 1915_

Mussolini used his new newspaper _Il Popolo d\'Italia _ and his strong oratorical skills to urge nationalists and patriotic revolutionary leftists to support Italy's entry into the war to gain back Italian populated territories from Austria-Hungary, by saying "enough of Libya
Libya
, and on to Trento
Trento
and Trieste
Trieste
". Mussolini claimed that it was in the interests of socialists to join the war to tear down the aristocratic Hohenzollern
Hohenzollern
dynasty of Germany
Germany
which he claimed was the enemy of all European workers. Mussolini and other nationalists warned the Italian government that Italy
Italy
must join the war or face revolution and called for violence against pacifists and neutralists. Left-wing nationalism also erupted in southern Italy, socialist and nationalist Giuseppe De Felice Giuffrida saw joining the war as essential to relieving southern Italy
Italy
of the rising cost of bread which had caused riots in the south, and advocated a "war of revolution".

With nationalist sentiment firmly on the side of reclaiming Italian territories of Austria-Hungary, Italy
Italy
entered negotiations with the Triple Entente. The negotiations ended successfully in April 1915 when the London Pact was brokered with the Italian government. The pact ensured Italy
Italy
the right to attain all Italian-populated lands it wanted from Austria-Hungary, as well as concessions in the Balkan Peninsula and suitable compensation for any territory gained by the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
and France
France
from Germany
Germany
in Africa. The proposal fulfilled the desires of Italian nationalists and Italian imperialism, and was agreed to. Italy
Italy
joined the Triple Entente
Triple Entente
in its war against Austria-Hungary.

The reaction in Italy
Italy
was divided: former Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti was furious over Italy's decision to go to war against its former allies, Germany
Germany
and Austria-Hungary. He claimed that Italy would fail in the war, predicting high numbers of mutinies, Austro-Hungarian occupation of even more Italian territory, and that the failure would produce a catastrophic rebellion that would destroy the liberal-democratic monarchy and the liberal-democratic secular institutions of the state.

Italy\'s War Effort

_ Generalissimo _ Luigi Cadorna , (the man to the left of two officers to whom he is speaking) while visiting British batteries during World War I
World War I

The outset of the campaign against Austria-Hungary looked to initially favor Italy: Austria-Hungary's army was spread to cover its fronts with Serbia and Russia , and Italy
Italy
had a numerical superiority against the Austro-Hungarian Army . However, this advantage was never fully utilized because Italian military commander Luigi Cadorna insisted on a dangerous frontal assault against Austria-Hungary in an attempt to occupy the Slovenian plateau and Ljubljana
Ljubljana
. This assault would put the Italian army not far away from Austria-Hungary's imperial capital, Vienna
Vienna
. After eleven failed offensives with enormous loss of life, the Italian campaign to take Vienna
Vienna
collapsed.

Upon entering the war, geography was also a difficulty for Italy, as its border with Austria-Hungary was along mountainous terrain. In May 1915, Italian forces at 400,000 men along the border outnumbered the Austrian and Germans
Germans
almost precisely four to one. However the Austrian defenses were strong even though they were undermanned and managed to hold off the Italian offensive. The battles with the Austro-Hungarian Army along the Alpine foothills in the trench warfare there were drawn-out, long engagements with little progress. Italian officers were poorly trained in contrast to the Austro-Hungarian and German armies, Italian artillery was inferior to the Austrian machine guns and the Italian forces had dangerously low supply of ammunition, this shortage would continually hamper attempts to make advances into Austrian territory. This combined with the constant replacement of officers by Cadorna resulted in few officers gaining the experience necessary to lead military missions. In the first year of the war, poor conditions on the battlefield led to outbreaks of cholera causing a significant number of Italian soldiers to die. Despite these serious problems, Cadorna refused to back down the offensive. Naval battles occurred between the Italian Royal Navy
Royal Navy
(_ Regia Marina _) and the Austro-Hungarian Navy
Austro-Hungarian Navy
. Italy's warships were outclassed by the Austro-Hungarian fleet and the situation was made more dire for Italy in that both the French Navy
French Navy
and the (British) Royal Navy
Royal Navy
were not sent into the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
. Their respective governments viewed the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
as: "far too dangerous to operate in due the concentration of the Austro-Hungarian fleet there".

Morale fell among Italian soldiers who lived a tedious life when not on the front lines: they were forbidden to enter theaters or bars, even when on leave. However, when battles were about to occur, alcohol was made freely available to the soldiers in order to reduce tension before the battle. In order to escape the tedium after battles, some groups of soldiers worked to create improvized whorehouses. In order to maintain morale, the Italian army had propaganda lectures of the importance of the war to Italy, especially in order to retrieve Trento and Trieste
Trieste
from Austria-Hungary. Some of these lectures were carried out by popular nationalist war proponents such as Gabriele D\'Annunzio . D'Annunzio himself would participate in a number of paramilitary raids on Austrian positions along the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
coastline during the war and temporaly lost his sight after an air raid. Prominent pro-war advocate Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
was prevented from giving lecture by the government, most likely because of his revolutionary socialist past.

The Italian government became increasingly aggravated in 1915 with the passive nature of the Serbian army , which had not engaged in a serious offensive against Austria-Hungary for months. The Italian government blamed Serbian military inactiveness for allowing the Austro-Hungarians to muster their armies against Italy. Cadorna suspected that Serbia was attempting to negotiate an end to fighting with Austria-Hungary and addressed this to foreign minister Sidney Sonnino , who himself bitterly claimed that Serbia was an unreliable ally. Relations between Italy
Italy
and Serbia became so cold that the other Allied nations were forced to abandon the idea of forming a united Balkan front against Austria-Hungary. In negotiations, Sonnino remained prepared to allow Bosnia to join Serbia, but refused to discuss the fate of Dalmazia , which was claimed both by Italy
Italy
and by Pan-Slavists in Serbia. As Serbia fell to the Austro-Hungarian and German forces in 1915, Cadorna proposed sending 60,000 men to land in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
to help the Serbs
Serbs
now in exile in Greece
Greece
and the Principality of Albania
Albania
to fight off the opposing forces, but the Italian government's bitterness to Serbia resulted in the proposal being rejected.

After 1916, the situation for Italy
Italy
grew steadily worse. The Austro-Hungarian Army managed to push the Italian Army back into Italy as far as Verona
Verona
and Padova in their _Strafexpedition_. At the same time, Italy
Italy
faced a shortage of warships, increased attacks by submarines, soaring freight charges threatening the ability to supply food to soldiers, lack of raw materials and equipment, and Italians faced high taxes to pay for the war. Austro-Hungarian and German forces had gone deep into northern Italian territory, and finally in November 1916, Cadorna ended offensive operations and began a defensive approach. In 1917, France, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
and the United States offered to send troops to Italy
Italy
to help it fend off the offensive of the Central Powers
Central Powers
, but the Italian government refused, as Sonnino did not want Italy
Italy
to be seen as a client state of the Allies , and preferred isolation as the more brave alternative. Italy also wanted to keep Greece
Greece
out of the war, as the Italian government feared that should Greece
Greece
join the war on the side of the Allies, it would intend to annex Albania, which Italy
Italy
claimed. Fortunately for Italy, the Venizelist pro-war advocates in Greece
Greece
failed to succeed in pressuring Constantine I of Greece
Constantine I of Greece
to bring the country into the conflict, and Italian aims on Albania
Albania
remained unthreatened. Members of the Arditi corps in 1918. More than 650,000 Italian soldiers lost their lives on the battlefields of World War I
World War I

The Russian Empire
Russian Empire
collapsed in a 1917 Russian Revolution , eventually resulting in the rise of the communist Bolshevik
Bolshevik
regime of Vladimir Lenin . The resulting marginalization of the Eastern Front allowed for more Austro-Hungarian and German forces to arrive on the front against Italy. Internal dissent against the war grew with increasingly poor economic and social conditions in Italy
Italy
due to the strain of the war. Much of the profit of the war was being made in the cities, while rural areas were losing income. The number of men available for agricultural work had fallen from 4.8 million to 2.2 million, though through the help of women, agricultural production managed to be maintained at 90% of its pre-war total during the war. Many pacifist and internationalist Italian socialists turned to Bolshevism and advocated negotiations with the workers of Germany
Germany
and Austria-Hungary to help end the war and bring about Bolshevik revolutions. _Avanti! _, the newspaper of the Italian Socialist
Socialist
Party , declared: "Let the bourgeoisie fight its own war". Leftist women in northern Italian cities led protests demanding action against the high cost of living and demanding an end to the war. In Milan
Milan
in May 1917, Communist
Communist
revolutionaries organized and engaged in rioting, calling for an end to the war, and managed to close down factories and stop public transportation. The Italian Army was forced to enter Milano with tanks and machine guns to face communists and anarchists who fought violently until 23 May when the Army gained control of the city with almost 50 people killed (three of which were Italian soldiers) and over 800 people arrested.

After the Battle of Caporetto in 1917, Italian forces were forced far back into Italian territory, and the humiliation led to the arrival of Vittorio Emanuele Orlando as Prime Minister, who managed to solve some of Italy's wartime problems. Orlando abandoned the previous isolationist approach to the war and increased coordination with the Allies and the use of the convoy system to fend off submarine attack, allowed Italy
Italy
to be able to end food shortages from February 1918 onward, and Italy
Italy
received more raw materials from the Allies. 1918 also saw the beginning of official repression of enemy aliens, and Italian socialists were increasingly repressed by the Italian government. The Italian government was infuriated with the Fourteen Points of Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
, the President of the United States
United States
, as the advocation of national self-determination meant that Italy
Italy
would not gain Dalmazia as had been promised in the Treaty of London . In the Parliament of Italy
Italy
, nationalists condemned Wilson's fourteen points as betraying the Treaty of London, while socialists claimed that Wilson's points were valid and claimed the Treaty of London was an offense to the rights of Slavs , Greeks
Greeks
, and Albanians . Negotiations between Italy
Italy
and the Allies, particularly the new Yugoslav delegation (replacing the Serbian delegation), agreed to a trade off between Italy
Italy
and the new Kingdom of Yugoslavia , which was that Dalmazia, despite being claimed by Italy, would be accepted as Yugoslav, while Istria
Istria
, claimed by Yugoslavia, would be accepted as Italian. Italian propaganda dropped over Vienna
Vienna
by Gabriele D\'Annunzio in 1918

At the Battle of the Piave River the Italian army managed to hold off the Austro-Hungarian and German armies. The opposing armies repeatedly failed afterwards in major battles such as Battle of Asiago and the Battle of Vittorio Veneto
Veneto
. The Italian Army crushed the Austrian Army in the latter battle. Austria-Hungary ended the fighting against Italy with the armistice on 4 November 1918 which ended World War I
World War I
on this front (one week before the widely understood November 11 armistice on the Western front). Map of the Battle of Vittorio Veneto
Veneto
, in which the Italian Army decisively defeated the Austro-Hungarian offensive

During the war, the Italian Royal Army increased in size from 15,000 men in 1914 to 160,000 men in 1918, with 5 million recruits in total entering service during the war. This came at a terrible cost: by the end of the war, Italy
Italy
had lost 700,000 soldiers and had a budget deficit of twelve billion lira. Italian society was divided between the majority pacifists who opposed Italian involvement in the war and the minority of pro-war nationalists who had condemned the Italian government for not having immediately gone to war with Austria-Hungary in 1914.

Italy\'s Territorial Settlements And The Reaction

Main articles: Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
, Treaty of Saint-Germain
Treaty of Saint-Germain
, Treaty of Trianon , and Treaty of Lausanne Italian Prime Minister Vittorio Emanuele Orlando (2nd from left) at the World War I peace negotiations in Versailles with David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
, Georges Clemenceau and Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
(from left)

As the war came to an end, Italian Prime Minister Vittorio Emanuele Orlando met with British Prime Minister David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
, Prime Minister of France
France
Georges Clemenceau , and United States
United States
President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
in Versailles , to discuss how the borders of Europe should be redefined to help avoid a future European war.

The talks provided little territorial gain to Italy
Italy
because Wilson, during the peace talks, promised freedom to all European nationalities to form their own nation states. As a result, the Treaty of Versailles did not assign Dalmazia and Albania
Albania
to Italy, as had been promised in the Treaty of London (1915) . Furthermore, the British and French decided to divide the German overseas colonies into mandates of their own, with Italy
Italy
receiving none of them. Also, Italy
Italy
gained no territory from the breakup of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
, despite a proposal being issued to Italy
Italy
by the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
and France
France
during the war, only to see these nations carve up the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
between themselves (also exploting the forces of the Arab Revolt
Arab Revolt
). Despite this, Orlando agreed to sign the Treaty of Versailles, which caused uproar against his government. Civil unrest erupted in Italy
Italy
between nationalists who supported the war effort and opposed the "mutilated victory " (as nationalists referred to it), and leftists who were opposed to the war. _ Residents of Fiume
Fiume
cheering D'Annunzio and his Legionari_, September 1919. At the time, Fiume
Fiume
had 22,488 (62% of the population) Italians in a total population of 35,839 inhabitants

Furious over the peace settlement, the Italian nationalist poet Gabriele D\'Annunzio led disaffected war veterans and nationalists to form the Free State of Fiume
Fiume
in September 1919. His popularity among nationalists led him to be called _Il Duce _ (The Leader) and he used blackshirted paramilitary in his assault on Fiume. The leadership title of "Duce" and the blackshirt paramilitary uniform would later be adopted by the Fascist movement of Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
. The demand for the Italian annexation of Fiume
Fiume
spread to all sides of the political spectrum, including Mussolini's Fascists. D'Annunzio's stirring speeches drew Croat nationalists to his side. He also kept contact with the Irish Republican Army and Egyptian nationalists.

Italy
Italy
annexed territories that included not only ethnically-mixed places, but also exclusively ethnic Slovene and Croat places, especially within the former Austrian Littoral and the former Duchy of Carniola . They included one-third of the entire territory inhabited by Slovenes at the time and one-quarter of the entire Slovene population, who was during the 20 years long period of Italian Fascism (1922–1943) subjected to forced Italianization alongside 25,000 ethnic Germans
Germans
. According to author Paul N. Hehn, "the treaty left half a million Slavs inside Italy, while only a few hundred Italians in the fledgling Yugoslav (_i.e. Kingdom of Serbs, Croats
Croats
and Slovenes renamed "Yugoslavia" in 1929_) state".

FASCIST REGIME (1922–1943)

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Mussolini In War And Postwar

Main articles: Italian Fascism and Fascist and anti-Fascist violence in Italy
Italy
(1919–26)

In 1914, Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
was forced out of the Italian Socialist Party after calling for Italian intervention against Austria-Hungary . Prior to World War I, Mussolini had opposed military conscription, protested against Italy's occupation of Libya, and was the editor of the Socialist
Socialist
Party's official newspaper, _Avanti! _ Over time, he simply called for revolution, without mentioning class struggle. Mussolini's nationalism enabled him to raise funds from Ansaldo (an armaments firm) and other companies to create his own newspaper, _Il Popolo d\'Italia _, to convince socialists and revolutionaries to support the war. The Allies, eager to draw Italy
Italy
to the war, helped finance the newspaper. This publication became the official newspaper of the Fascist movement. During the war, Mussolini served in the Army and was wounded once. Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
(second from left) and his Fascist Blackshirts
Blackshirts
in 1920

Following the end of the war and the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
, in 1919, Mussolini created the _ Fasci di Combattimento
Fasci di Combattimento
_ or Combat League. It was originally dominated by patriotic socialist and syndicalist veterans who opposed the pacifist policies of the Italian Socialist Party. The Fascists initially had a platform far more inclined to the left, promising social revolution, proportional representation, women's suffrage (partly realized in 1925), and dividing private property held by estates.

On 15 April 1919, the Fascists made their debut in political violence, when a group of members from the _Fasci di Combattimento_ attacked the offices of _Avanti!_. Recognizing the failures of the Fascists' initial revolutionary and left-leaning policy, Mussolini moved the organization away from the left and turned the revolutionary movement into an electoral movement in 1921 named the _Partito Nazionale Fascista_ ( National Fascist Party
National Fascist Party
). The party echoed the nationalist themes of D'Annunzio and rejected parliamentary democracy while still operating within it in order to destroy it. Mussolini changed his original revolutionary policies, such as moving away from anti-clericalism to supporting the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
and abandoned his public opposition to the monarchy. Support for the Fascists began to grow in 1921 and pro-Fascist army officers began taking arms and vehicles from the army to use in counter-revolutionary attacks on socialists.

In 1920, Giolitti had come back as Prime Minister in an attempt to solve the deadlock. One year later, Giolitti's government had already become unstable, and a growing socialist opposition further endangered his government. Giolitti believed that the Fascists could be toned down and used to protect the state from the socialists. He decided to include Fascists on his electoral list for the 1921 elections. In the elections, the Fascists did not make large gains, but Giolitti's government failed to gather a large enough coalition to govern and offered the Fascists placements in his government. The Fascists rejected Giolitti's offers and joined with socialists in bringing down his government. A number of descendants of those who had served Garibaldi's revolutionaries during unification were won over to Mussolini's nationalist revolutionary ideals. His advocacy of corporatism and futurism had attracted advocates of the "third way". But most importantly, he had won over politicians like Facta and Giolitti who did not condemn him for his Blackshirts' mistreatment of socialists.

March On Rome

In October 1922, Mussolini took advantage of a general strike by workers, and announced his demands to the government to give the Fascist Party political power or face a coup. With no immediate response, a small number of Fascists began a long trek across Italy
Italy
to Rome
Rome
which was known as the March on Rome
Rome
, claiming to Italians that Fascists were intending to restore law and order. Mussolini himself did not participate until the very end of the march, with d'Annunzio being hailed as leader of the march until it was learned that he had been pushed out of a window and severely wounded in a failed assassination attempt, depriving him of the possibility of leading an actual coup d'état orchestrated by an organization founded by himself. The Fascists, under the leadership of Mussolini, demanded Prime Minister Luigi Facta 's resignation and that Mussolini be named Prime Minister. Although the Italian Army was far better armed than the Fascist paramilitaries, the Italian government under King Vittorio Emmanuele III faced a political crisis. The King was forced to decide which of the two rival movements in Italy
Italy
would form the new government: Mussolini's Fascists, or the anti-royalist Italian Socialist
Socialist
Party , ultimately deciding to endorse the Fascists. Mussolini was initially a highly popular leader in Italy
Italy
until Italy's military failures in World War II
World War II

On October 28, 1922, the king invited Mussolini to become Prime Minister, allowing Mussolini and the Fascist Party to pursue their political ambitions as long as they supported the monarchy and its interests. Mussolini, at 39, was young compared to other Italian and European leaders. His supporters named him _"Il Duce"_ ("The Leader"). A personality cult was developed that portrayed him as the nation's saviour which was aided by the personal popularity he held with Italians already, which would remain strong until Italy
Italy
faced continuous military defeats in World War II.

Upon taking power, Mussolini formed a legislative coalition with nationalists, liberals, and populists. However, goodwill by the Fascists towards parliamentary democracy faded quickly: Mussolini's coalition passed the electoral Acerbo Law of 1923, which gave two-thirds of the seats in parliament to the party or coalition that achieved 25% of the vote. The Fascist Party used violence and intimidation to achieve the 25% threshold in the 1924 election, and became the ruling political party of Italy.

Following the election, Socialist
Socialist
deputy Giacomo Matteotti was assassinated after calling for an annulment of the elections because of the irregularities. Following the assassination, the Socialists walked out of parliament, allowing Mussolini to pass more authoritarian laws. In 1925, Mussolini accepted responsibility for the Fascist violence in 1924, and promised that dissenters would be dealt with harshly. Before the speech, Blackshirts
Blackshirts
smashed opposition presses and beat up several of Mussolini's opponents. This event is considered the onset of undisguised Fascist dictatorship in Italy, though it would be 1928 before the Fascist Party was formally declared the only legal party in the country.

Over the next four years, Mussolini eliminated nearly all checks and balances on his power. In 1926, he passed a law that declared he was responsible only to the king and made him the sole person able to determine Parliament's agenda. Local autonomy was swept away, and appointed podestas replaced communal mayors and councils. Soon after all other parties were banned in 1928, parliamentary elections were replaced by plebiscites in which the Grand Council nominated a single list of candidates. Mussolini wielding enormous political powers as the effective ruler of Italy. The King was a figurehead and handled ceremonial roles; he retained the power to dismiss the prime minister on the advice of the Grand Council—which is what happened in 1943.

Culture And Society

_ Fascist propaganda depicting a number of slogans and themes of the Fascist regime. The popular Fascist militarist slogan "Book and Musket make the Perfect Fascist" is displayed. The connection of a cross to the fasces represents the link the Fascists promoted after 1929 of Christianity being naturally connected to Fascism. Anno XI E.F._ refers to the period of eleven years since Mussolini rose to power as of the time of the creation of this propaganda piece in 1933.

After rising to power, the Fascist regime set Italy
Italy
on a course to becoming a one-party state and to integrate Fascism into all aspects of life. A totalitarian state as was officially declared in the _Doctrine of Fascism _ of 1935,

The Fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State—a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values—interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of a people. _Doctrine of Fascism, 1935._ Coat of Arms commissioned by Mussolini

With the concept of totalitarianism, Mussolini and the Fascist regime set an agenda of improving Italian culture and society based on ancient Rome, personal dictatorship, and some futurist aspects of Italian intellectuals and artists.

Under Fascism, the definition of the Italian nationality rested on a militarist foundation and the Fascist's "new man" ideal in which loyal Italians would rid themselves of individualism and autonomy and see themselves as a component of the Italian state and be prepared to sacrifice their lives for it. Under such a totalitarian society, only Fascists would be considered "true Italians" and membership and endorsement of the Fascist Party was necessary for people to gain "Complete Citizenship", those who did not swear allegiance to Fascism were banished from public life and could not gain employment. The Fascist government also reached out to Italians living overseas to endorse the Fascist cause and identify with Italy
Italy
rather than their places of residence. Despite efforts to mould a new culture for fascism, Fascist Italy's efforts were not as drastic or successful in comparison to other one-party states like Nazi Germany
Germany
and the Soviet Union in creating a new culture.

Mussolini's propaganda idolized him as the nation's saviour. The Fascist regime attempted to make him omnipresent in Italian society. Much of Fascism's appeal in Italy
Italy
was based on the personality cult around Mussolini and his popularity. Mussolini's passionate oratory and personality cult was displayed at huge rallies and parades of his Blackshirts
Blackshirts
in Rome
Rome
which served as an inspiration to Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
and the NSDAP in Germany.

The Fascist regime established propaganda in newsreels, radio broadcasting, and a few feature films deliberately endorsing Fascism. In 1926, laws were passed to require that propaganda newsreels be shown prior to all feature films in cinemas. These newsreels were more effective in influencing the public than propaganda films or radio, as few Italians had radio receivers at the time. Fascist propaganda was widely present in posters and state-sponsored art. However, artists, writers and publishers were not strictly controlled; they were only censored if they were blatantly against the state. There was a constant emphasis on the masculinity of the "new Italian," stressing aggression, virility, youth, speed and sport. Women were to attend to motherhood and stay out of public affairs.

Roman Catholic Church

Relations with the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
improved significantly during Mussolini's tenure. Despite earlier opposition to the Church, after 1922, Mussolini made an alliance with the pro-church _Partito Popolare Italiano _, or Italian People's Party. In 1929, Mussolini and the pope came to an agreement that ended a standoff that reached back to 1860 and had alienated the Church from the Italian government. The Orlando government had begun the process of reconciliation during World War I, and the pope furthered it by cutting ties with the Christian Democrats in 1922. Mussolini and the leading fascists were atheists, but they recognized the opportunity of warmer relations with Italy's large Roman Catholic element.

The Lateran Accord of 1929 was a treaty that recognized the pope as the head of the new micro-nation of Vatican City
Vatican City
within Rome, which gave it independent status and made the Vatican an important hub of world diplomacy. The Concordat of 1929 made Roman Catholicism the sole religion of the state (although other religions were tolerated), paid salaries to priests and bishops, recognized church marriages (previously couples had to have a civil ceremony), and brought religious instruction into the public schools. In turn, the bishops swore allegiance to the Italian state, which had a veto power over their selection. A third agreement paid the Vatican 1.75 billion Lira (about $100 million) for the seizures of church property since 1860. The Church was not officially obligated to support the Fascist regime; the strong differences remained but the seething hostility ended. The Church especially endorsed foreign policies such as support for the anti- Communist
Communist
side in the Spanish Civil War, and support for the conquest of Ethiopia. Friction continued over the Catholic Action youth network, which Mussolini wanted to merge into his Fascist youth group. In 1931, Pope
Pope
Pius XI issued the encyclical _Non abbiamo bisogno _ ("We Have No Need") that denounced the regime's persecution of the church in Italy
Italy
and condemned "pagan worship of the State."

A nationwide plebiscite was held in March 1929 to endorse the treaty. Opponents were intimidated by the Fascist regime; the Catholic Action party (_Azione Cattolica_) instructed Italian Roman Catholics to vote for Fascist candidates to represent them in positions in churches, Mussolini claimed that "no" votes were of those "... few ill-advised anti-clericals who refuse to accept the Lateran Pacts". Nearly 9 million Italians voted or 90 per cent of the registered electorate; only 136,000 voted "no". The Lateran Treaty remains in place to this day.

Technology And Modernization

In 1933, Italy
Italy
made multiple technological achievements. The Fascist government spent large sums of money on technological projects such as the construction of the new Italian ocean liner SS Rex which in 1933 made a transatlantic sea crossing record of four days. as well as funding the development of the Macchi M.C.72
Macchi M.C.72
seaplane which became the world's fastest seaplane in 1933 and retained the title in 1934. In 1933, Fascist government member Italo Balbo , who was also an aviator, made a transatlantic flight in a flying boat to Chicago for the World\'s Fair known as the Century of Progress . The flight symbolized the power of Fascist leadership and the industrial and technological progress the state had made under Fascist direction.

Antisemitism

Until Mussolini's alliance with Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
, he had always denied any antisemitism within the Fascist Party. In an early 1920s Mussolini wrote an article which stated that Fascism would never elevate a " Jewish Question " and that " Italy
Italy
knows no antisemitism and we believe that it will never know it." and then elaborated "let us hope that Italian Jews
Jews
will continue to be sensible enough so as not to give rise to antisemitism in the only country where it has never existed." Similarly, in 1932, during a conversation Emil Ludwig , Mussolini described antisemitism as a "German vice" and stated that "There was 'no Jewish Question' in Italy
Italy
and could not be one in a country with a healthy system of government." On several occasions, Mussolini spoke positively about Jews
Jews
and the Zionist movement . Mussolini had initially rejected Nazi racism, especially the idea of a master race , as "arrant nonsense, stupid and idiotic."

On the issue of antisemitism, the Fascists were divided on what to do, especially with the rise of Hitler in Germany. A number of Fascist members were Jewish, and Mussolini himself did not personally believe in antisemitism, but to appease Hitler, antisemitism within the Fascist party steadily increased. In 1936, Mussolini made his first written denunciation of Jews
Jews
by claiming that antisemitism had only arisen because Jews
Jews
had become too predominant in the positions of power of countries and claimed that Jews
Jews
were a "ferocious" tribe who sought to "totally banish" Christians from public life. In 1937, Fascist member Paolo Orano criticized the Zionist movement as being part of British foreign policy which designed to secure British hold of the area without respecting the Christian and Islamic presence in Palestine . On the matter of Jewish Italians, Orano said that they "should concern themselves with nothing more than their religion" and not bother boasting of being patriotic Italians.

The major source of friction between National Socialist
Socialist
Germany
Germany
and Fascist Italy
Italy
was Italy's stance on Jews. In his early years as Fascist leader, while Mussolini harbored racial stereotypes of Jews, he did not hold a firm stance on Jews, and his official stances oscillated and shifted to meet the political demands of the various factions of the Fascist movement, rather than having any concrete stance. Of the 117 original members of the _Fasci Italiani di Combattimento _ founded on 23 March 1919, 5 were Jewish. Since the movement's early years, there were a small number of prominent openly anti-Semitic Fascists such as Roberto Farinacci . There were also prominent Fascists who completely rejected anti-Semitism, such as Italo Balbo , who lived in Ferrara
Ferrara
, which had a substantial Jewish community that was widely accepted and suffered few anti-Semitic incidents. Mussolini initially had no anti-Semitic statements in his policies. However, in response to his observation of large numbers of Jews
Jews
amongst the Bolsheviks, and claims (that were later confirmed to be true) that the Bolsheviks and Germany
Germany
(that Italy
Italy
was fighting in World War I
World War I
) were politically connected, Mussolini made anti-Semitic statements involving the Bolshevik-German connection as being: "an unholy alliance between Hindenburg and the synagogue ". Mussolini came to believe rumors that Bolshevik
Bolshevik
leader Vladimir Lenin was of Jewish descent. Mussolini attacked the Jewish banker Giuseppe Toeplitz of Banca Commerciale Italiana , by claiming that he was a German agent and traitor of Italy. In an article in _Il Popolo d'Italia_ in June 1919, Mussolini wrote a highly anti-Semitic analysis on the situation in Europe
Europe
involving Bolshevism following the October Revolution , the Russian Civil War , and war in Hungary
Hungary
involving the Hungarian Soviet Republic . In June 1919 Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
wrote on _Il Popolo d'Italia_:

If Petrograd (Pietrograd) does not yet fall, if Denikin is not moving forward, then this is what the great Jewish bankers of London and New York have decreed. These bankers are bound by ties of blood to those Jews
Jews
who in Moscow as in Budapest are taking their revenge on the Aryan race that has condemned them to dispersion for so many centuries. In Russia, 80 percent of the managers of the Soviets are Jews, in Budapest 17 out of 22 people's commissars are Jews. Might it not be that bolshevism is the vendetta of Judaism against Christianity?? It is certainly worth pondering. It is entirely possible that bolshevism will drown in the blood of a pogrom of catastrophic proportions. World finance is in the hands of the Jews. Whoever owns the strongboxes of the peoples is in control of their political systems. Behind the puppets (making peace) in Paris, there are the Rothschilds , the Warburgs , the Schiffs, the Guggenheims who are of the same blood who are conquering Petrograd and Budapest. Race does not betray race ... Bolshevism is a defense of the international plutocracy. This is the basic truth of the matter. The international plutocracy dominated and controlled by Jews
Jews
has a supreme interest in all of Russian life accelerating its process of disintegration to the point of paroxysm. A Russia that is paralyzed, disorganized, starved, will be a place where tomorrow the bourgeoisie, yes the bourgeoisie, o proletarians will celebrate its spectacular feast of plenty.

This statement by Mussolini on a Jewish-Bolshevik-plutocratic connection and conspiracy was met with opposition in the Fascist movement, resulting in Mussolini responding to this opposition amongst his supporters by abandoning and reversing this stance shortly afterwards in 1919. In reversing his stance due to opposition to it, Mussolini no longer expressed his previous assertion that Bolshevism was Jewish but warned that due to the large numbers of Jews
Jews
in the Bolshevik
Bolshevik
movement, the rise of Bolshevism in Russia would result in a ferocious wave of anti-Semitism in Russia. He then claimed that "anti-Semitism is foreign to the Italian people" but warned Zionists that they should be careful not to stir up anti-Semitism in "the only country where it has not existed". One of the Jewish financial supporters of the Fascist movement, was Toeplitz, whom Mussolini had earlier accused of being a traitor during World War I. Early on there were prominent Jewish Italian Fascists such as Aldo Finzi , Finzi was born of a mixed marriage of a Jewish and Christian Italian, he was baptized as a Roman Catholic. Another prominent Jewish Italian Fascist was Ettore Ovazza , who was a vocal Italian nationalist and an opponent of Zionism in Italy. 230 Italian Jews
Jews
took part in the Fascists' March on Rome
Rome
in 1922. In 1932, Mussolini made his private attitude about Jews
Jews
known to the Austrian ambassador when discussing the issue of the anti-Semitism of Hitler, saying: "I have no love for the Jews, but they have great influence everywhere. It is better to leave them alone. Hitler's anti-Semitism has already brought him more enemies than is necessary".

At the 1934 Montreux Fascist conference chaired by the Italian-led _Comitati d'Azione per l'Universalita di Roma_ (CAUR), that sought to found a Fascist International, the issue of antisemitism was debated amongst various fascist parties, with some more favorable to it, and others less favorable. Two final compromises were adopted, creating the official stance of the Fascist International:

he Jewish question cannot be converted into a universal campaign of hatred against the Jews
Jews
... Considering that in many places certain groups of Jews
Jews
are installed in conquered countries, exercising in an open and occult manner an influence injurious to the material and moral interests of the country which harbors them, constituting a sort of state within a state, profiting by all benefits and refusing all duties, considering that they have furnished and are inclined to furnish, elements conducive to international revolution which would be destructive to the idea of patriotism and Christian civilization, the Conference denounces the nefarious action of these elements and is ready to combat them.

Italian Fascism adopted antisemitism in the late 1930s, and Mussolini personally returned to invoke antisemitic statements as he had done earlier. The Fascist regime used antisemitic propaganda for the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
from 1937 to 1938 that emphasized that Italy
Italy
was supporting Spain's Nationalist forces against a "Jewish International". The Fascist regime's adoption of official antisemitic racial doctrine in 1938 met opposition from Fascist members including Balbo, who regarded antisemitism as having nothing to do with Fascism and staunchly opposed the antisemitic laws.

In 1938, under pressure from Germany, Mussolini made the regime adopt a policy of antisemitism , which was extremely unpopular in Italy
Italy
and in the Fascist Party itself. As a result of the laws, the Fascist regime lost its propaganda director, Margherita Sarfatti , who was Jewish and had been Mussolini's mistress. A minority of high-ranking Fascists were pleased with the antisemitic policy such as Roberto Farinacci who claimed that Jews
Jews
through intrigue had taken control key positions of finance, business and schools and he claimed that Jews sympathized with Ethiopia
Ethiopia
during Italy's war with it and that Jews
Jews
had sympathized with Republican Spain during the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
. In 1938, Farinacci became the minister in charge of culture, and adopted racial laws designed to prevent racial intermixing which included antisemitism. Until the armistice with the Allies in September 1943, the Italian Jewish community was protected from deportation to the German death camps in the east. With the armistice, Hitler took control of the German-occupied territory in the north and began an effort to liquidate the Jewish community under his control. Shortly after the entry of Italy
Italy
into the war, numerous camps were established for the imprisonment of enemy aliens and Italians suspected to be hostile to the regime. In contrast to the brutality of the National Socialist-run camps, the Italian camps allowed families to live together and there was a broad program of social welfare and cultural activities.

Antisemitism was unpopular throughout Italy, including within the Fascist Party; once when a Fascist scholar protested to Mussolini about the treatment of his Jewish friends, Mussolini is reported to have said "I agree with you entirely. I don't believe a bit in the stupid anti-Semitic theory. I am carrying out my policy entirely for political reasons.

Education

Propaganda
Propaganda
poster of Mussolini.

The Fascist government endorsed a stringent education policy in Italy aiming at eliminating illiteracy, which was a serious problem in Italy at the time, and improving the allegiance of Italians to the state. To reduce drop-outs, the government changed the minimum age of leaving school from twelve to fourteen and strictly enforced attendance. The Fascist government's first minister of education from 1922 to 1924, Giovanni Gentile
Giovanni Gentile
recommended that education policy should focus on indoctrination of students into Fascism, and to educate youth to respect and be obedient to authority. In 1929, education policy took a major step towards being completely taken over by the agenda of indoctrination. In that year, the Fascist government took control of the authorization of all textbooks, all secondary school teachers were required to take an oath of loyalty to Fascism, and children began to be taught that they owed the same loyalty to Fascism as they did to God. In 1933, all university teachers were required to be members of the National Fascist Party. From the 1930s to 1940s, Italy's education focused on the history of Italy
Italy
displaying Italy
Italy
as a force of civilization during the Roman era, displaying the rebirth of Italian nationalism and the struggle for Italian independence and unity during the _ Risorgimento _. In the late 1930s, the Fascist government copied Nazi Germany
Germany
's education system on the issue of physical fitness, and began an agenda that demanded that Italians become physically healthy.

Intellectual talent in Italy
Italy
was rewarded and promoted by the Fascist government through the Royal Academy of Italy
Italy
which was created in 1926 to promote and coordinate Italy's intellectual activity.

Social Welfare

A major success in social policy in Fascist Italy
Italy
was the creation of the _ Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro _ (OND) or "National After-work Program" in 1925. The OND was the state's largest recreational organizations for adults. The _Dopolavoro_ was so popular that, by the 1930s, all towns in Italy
Italy
had a _Dopolavoro_ clubhouse and the _Dopolavoro_ was responsible for establishing and maintaining 11,000 sports grounds, over 6,400 libraries, 800 movie houses, 1,200 theaters, and over 2,000 orchestras. Membership was voluntary and nonpolitical. In the 1930s, under the direction of Achille Starace , the OND became primarily recreational, concentrating on sports and other outings. It is estimated that by 1936, the OND had organized 80% of salaried workers. Nearly 40% of the industrial workforce had been recruited into the Dopolavoro by 1939 and the sports activities proved popular with large numbers of workers. The OND had the largest membership of any of the mass Fascist organizations in Italy. The enormous success of the _Dopolavoro_ in Fascist Italy
Italy
prompted Nazi Germany
Germany
to create its own version of the _Dopolavoro_, the _Kraft durch Freude _ (KdF) or "Strength through Joy" program, which was even more successful than the _Dopolavoro_.

Another organization the Opera Nazionale Balilla (ONB) was widely popular and provided young people with access to clubs, dances, sports facilities, radios, concerts, plays, circuses and outdoor hikes at little or no cost. It sponsored tournaments and sports festivals.

Police State

For security of the regime, Mussolini advocated complete state authority, and created the _Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale _ or National Security Volunteer Militia in 1923, which are commonly referred to as "Blackshirts" for the color of their uniforms. Most of the Blackshirts
Blackshirts
were members from the _Fasci di Combattimento_. A secret police force called the _Organizzazione di Vigilanza Repressione dell\'Antifascismo_ (Organization for Vigilance and Repression of Anti-Fascism) or OVRA was created in 1927. It was led by Arturo Bocchini to crack down on opponents of the regime and Mussolini (there had been several near-miss assassination attempts on Mussolini's life in his early years in power). This force was effective, but unlike the Schutzstaffel (SS) in Germany
Germany
or the NKVD
NKVD
of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
, the OVRA caused far fewer deaths of political opponents. However Fascists methods of repression were cruel which included physically forcing opponents of Fascism to swallow castor oil which would cause severe diarrhea and dehydration, leaving the victim in a painful and physically debilitated state which would sometimes result in death.

To combat organized crime, notably Mafia
Mafia
branches including the Cosa Nostra in Sicilia and the \ 'Ndrangheta in Calabria, the Fascist government gave special powers in 1925 to Cesare Mori , the prefect of Palermo
Palermo
. These powers gave him the ability to prosecute the Mafia, forcing many Mafiosi to flee abroad (many to the United States
United States
) or risk being jailed. Mori was fired however, when he began to investigate Mafia
Mafia
links within the Fascist regime. He was removed from his position in 1929, and the Fascist regime declared that the threat of the Mafia
Mafia
had been eliminated. Mori's actions weakened the Mafia, but did not destroy them. From 1929 to 1943, the Fascist regime completely abandoned its previously aggressive measures against the Mafia, and the Mafiosi were left relatively undisturbed.

Economy

Mussolini and the Fascist Party promised Italians a new economic system known as corporatism . Corporatism
Corporatism
was an outgrowth of socialism into a new economic system where the means of production were nominally left in the hands of the civil sector, but directed and controlled by the State.

In 1935, the _Doctrine of Fascism _ was published under Mussolini's name, although it was most likely written by Giovanni Gentile
Giovanni Gentile
. It described the role of the state in the economy under corporatism. By this time, Fascism had been drawn more towards the support of market forces being dominant over state intervention. A passage from the _Doctrine of Fascism_ read:

The corporate State considers that private enterprise in the sphere of production is the most effective and useful instrument in the interest of the nation. In view of the fact that private organisation of production is a function of national concern, the organiser of the enterprise is responsible to the State for the direction given to production. State intervention in economic production arises only when private initiative is lacking or insufficient, or when the political interests of the State are involved. This intervention may take the form of control, assistance or direct management.

Fascists claimed that this system would be egalitarian and traditional at the same time. The economic policy of corporatism quickly faltered: the left-wing elements of the Fascist manifesto were opposed by industrialists and landowners who supported the party because it pledged to defend Italy
Italy
from socialism. As a result, corporatist policy became dominated by the industries. Initially, economic legislation mostly favoured the wealthy industrial and agrarian classes by allowing privatization, liberalization of rent laws, tax cuts and administrative reform. However, economic policy changed drastically following the Matteotti Crisis where Mussolini began pushing for a totalitarian state. In 1926, the Syndical laws (also known as the Rocco laws) were passed, organizing the economy into 12 separate employer and employee unions. The unions were largely state-controlled and were mainly used to suppress opposition and reward political loyalty. While the Fascist unions could not protect workers from all economic consequences, they were responsible for the handling of social security benefits, claims for severance pay, and could sometimes negotiate contracts that benefited workers.

After the Great Depression hit the world economy in 1929, the Fascist regime followed other nations in enacting protectionist tariffs and attempted to set direction for the economy. In the 1930s, the government increased wheat production, and made Italy
Italy
self-sufficient for wheat, ending imports of wheat from Canada
Canada
and the United States
United States
. However the transfer of agricultural land to wheat production reduced the production of vegetables and fruit. Despite improving production for wheat, the situation for peasants themselves did not improve. 0.5% of the Italian population (usually wealthy), owned 42 percent of all agricultural land in Italy, and income for peasants did not increase while taxes did increase. The Depression caused unemployment to rise from 300,000 to 1 million in 1933. It also caused a 10 percent drop in real income and a fall in exports. Italy
Italy
fared better than most western nations during the Depression: its welfare services did reduce the impact of the Depression. Its industrial growth from 1913 to 1938 was even greater than that of Germany
Germany
for the same time period. Only the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
and the Scandinavian nations had a higher industrial growth during that period.

Italy's colonial expansion into Ethiopia
Ethiopia
in 1936, proved to have a negative impact on Italy's economy. The budget of the colony of Italian East Africa
Africa
in the 1936–1937 fiscal year requested from Italy
Italy
19.136 billion lire to be used to create the necessary infrastructure for the colony. At the time, Italy's entire revenue that year was only 18.581 billion lire.

Women

The fascists paid special attention to the role of women, from elite society women to factory workers and peasants. Fascist leaders sought to "rescue" women from experiencing emancipation even as they trumpeted the advent of the "new Italian woman" (nuova italiana). The policies revealed a deep conflict between modernity and traditional patriarchal authority, as Catholic, Fascist and commercial models of conduct competed to shape women's perceptions of their roles and their society at large. The Fascists celebrated violent "virilist" politics and exaggerated its machismo while also taxing celibate men to pay for child welfare programs. Italy's invasion of Ethiopia
Ethiopia
in 1935 and the resulting League of Nations
League of Nations
sanctions shaped the tasks assigned to women within the Fascist Party. The empire and women's contribution to it became a core theme in Fascist propaganda. Women in the party were mobilized for the imperial cause both as producers and as consumers, giving them new prominence in the nation. The Fascist women's groups expanded their roles to cover such new tasks as running training courses on how to fight waste in housework. Young Italian women were prepared for a role in Italy's "place in the sun" through special courses created to train them for a future as colonial wives.

The government tried to achieve "alimentary sovereignty," or total self-sufficiency with regard to food supplies. Its new policies were highly controversial among a people who paid serious attention to their food. The goal was to reduce imports, support Italian agriculture, and encourage an austere diet based on bread, polenta, pasta, fresh produce and wine. Fascist women's groups trained women in "autarkic cookery" to work around items no longer imported. Food prices climbed in the 1930s and dairy and meat consumption was discouraged, while increasing numbers of Italians turned to the black market. The policy demonstrated that Fascists saw food—and people's behavior generally—as strategic resources that could be manipulated regardless of traditions and tastes.

Foreign Policy

Main articles: Italo-Yemeni Treaty and Italo–Ethiopian Treaty of 1928

Stephen Lee identifies three major themes in Mussolini's foreign-policy. The first was a continuation of the foreign-policy objectives of the preceding Liberal regime. Liberal Italy
Italy
had allied itself with Germany
Germany
and Austria, and had great ambitions in the Balkans and North Africa. It had been badly defeated in Ethiopia
Ethiopia
in 1896, there was a strong demand for seizing that country. Second was a profound disillusionment after the heavy losses of the First World War. The small territorial gains from Austria were not enough to compensate for the war's terrible costs; other countries especially Poland and Yugoslavia received much more and Italy
Italy
felt cheated. Third was Mussolini's promise to restore the pride and glory of the old Roman Empire.

Mussolini promised to revive Italy's status as a Great Power in Europe, carving out a "New Roman Empire". Mussolini promised that Italy
Italy
would dominate the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
. In propaganda, the Fascist government used the originally ancient Roman term _"Mare Nostrum "_ (Latin for "Our Sea") to refer to the Mediterranean Sea. The Fascist regime increased funding and attention to military projects, and began plans to create an Italian Empire in Northern and Eastern Africa, and reclaim dominance in the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
and Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
. The Fascists launched wars to conquer Dalmazia , Albania
Albania
and Greece
Greece
for the Italian Empire. The Italian Empire in 1940

Africa

Colonial efforts in Africa
Africa
began in the 1920s, as civil war plagued Italian North Africa
Africa
(_ Africa
Africa
Settentrionale Italiana_, or ASI) as the Arab
Arab
population there refused to accept Italian colonial government. Mussolini sent Marshal Rodolfo Graziani to lead a punitive pacification campaign against the Arab
Arab
nationalists. Omar Mukhtar
Omar Mukhtar
, led the Arab
Arab
resistance movement. After a much-disputed truce on 3 January 1928, the Fascist policy in Libya
Libya
increased in brutality. A barbed wire fence was built from the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
to the oasis of Jaghbub to sever lines critical to the resistance. Soon afterwards, the colonial administration began the wholesale deportation of the people of the Jebel Akhdar to deny the rebels the support of the local population. The forced migration of more than 100,000 people ended in concentration camps in Suluq and Al-\'Aghela where tens of thousands died in squalid conditions. It's estimated that the number of Libyans who died – killed either through combat or starvation and disease – was at least 80,000, and up to half of the Cyrenaican population. After Al-Mukhtar's capture on September 15, 1931 and his execution in Benghazi, the resistance petered out. Limited resistance to the Italian occupation crystallized around Sheik Idris , the Emir of Cyrenaica.

Negotiations occurred with the British government on expanding the borders of the colony of Libya. The first negotiations began in 1925 to define the border between Libya
Libya
and British-held Egypt
Egypt
. These negotiations resulted in Italy
Italy
gaining previously undefined territory. In 1934, once again the Italian government requested more territory for Libya
Libya
from British-held Sudan
Sudan
. The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
allowed Italy to gain some territory from Sudan
Sudan
to add to Libya. These concessions were probably allowed because of the relatively good relations between Italy
Italy
and Britain prior to 1935.

In 1935, Mussolini believed that the time was right for Italy
Italy
to invade Ethiopia
Ethiopia
(a.k.a. Abyssinia) to make it a colony. As a result, the Second Italo-Abyssinian War
Second Italo-Abyssinian War
erupted. Italy
Italy
invaded Ethiopia
Ethiopia
from the Italian colonies of Eritrea
Eritrea
and Somaliland . Italy
Italy
committed atrocities against the Ethiopians during the war, including the use of aircraft to drop poison gas on the defending Ethiopian soldiers. Ethiopia
Ethiopia
surrendered in 1936, completing Italy's revenge for its failed colonial conquest of the 1880s. King Victor Emmanuel III
Victor Emmanuel III
was soon proclaimed Emperor of Ethiopia
Emperor of Ethiopia
. The international consequences for Italy's belligerence resulted in its isolation at the League of Nations . France
France
and Britain quickly abandoned their trust of Mussolini. The only nation to back Italy's aggression was Germany. After being condemned by the League of Nations, the Grand Council of Fascism declared Italy's decision to leave the League on December 11, 1937 and Mussolini denounced the League as a mere "tottering temple".

Race Laws

Main articles: Italian Racial Laws
Italian Racial Laws
and Manifesto of Race _ Front page of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera
Corriere della Sera
_ on 11 November 1938 proclaiming that the new racial laws have been passed.

Until 1938 Mussolini had denied any antisemitism within Fascist Italy and dismissed the racial policies of Nazi Germany
Germany
. However, by mid-1938 Hitler's influence over Mussolini had persuaded him to make a specific agenda on race, the Fascist regime moved away from its previous promotion of colonialism based on the spread of Italian culture to a directly race-oriented colonial agenda.

In 1938, Fascist Italy
Italy
passed the Manifesto of Race which stripped Jews
Jews
of their Italian citizenship and prohibited them from any professional position. The racial laws declared that Italians were of the Aryan race and forbid sexual relations and marriages between Italians and Jews
Jews
and Africans.

The Fascist regime declared that it would promote mass Italian settlements in the colonies that would, in the Fascist government's terms, "create in the heart of the African continent a powerful and homogeneous nucleus of whites strong enough to draw those populations within our economic orbit and our Roman and Fascist civilization". Fascist rule in its Italian colonies differed from region to region. Rule in Italian East Africa
Africa
(_ Africa
Africa
Orientale Italiana_, or AOI), a colony including Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Italian Somaliland, was harsh for the native peoples as Fascist policy sought to destroy native culture. In February 1937, Rodolfo Graziani ordered Italian soldiers to pillage native settlements in Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa
, which resulted in hundreds of Ethiopians being killed and their homes being burned to the ground. After the occupation of Ethiopia
Ethiopia
, the Fascist government endorsed racial segregation to reduce the number of mixed offspring in Italian colonies, which they claimed would "pollute" the Italian race. Marital and sexual relationships between Italians and Africans in its colonies were made a criminal offense when the Fascist regime implemented decree-law No. 880 April 19, 1937 which gave sentences of one to five years imprisonment to Italians caught in such relationships. The law did not give any sentences to native Africans, as the Fascist government claimed that only those Italians were to blame for damaging the prestige of their race. Despite racist language used in some propaganda, the Fascist regime accepted recruitment of native Africans who wanted to join Italy's colonial armed forces and native African colonial recruits were displayed in propaganda.

Fascist Italy
Italy
embraced the "Manifesto of the Racial Scientists" which embraced biological racism; it declared that Italy
Italy
was a country populated by people of Aryan origin, Jews
Jews
did not belong to the Italian race and that it was necessary to distinguish between Europeans and Jews, Africans and other non-Europeans. The manifesto encouraged Italians to openly declare themselves as racists, both publicly and politically. Fascist Italy
Italy
often published material that showed caricatures of Jews
Jews
and Africans.

In Italian Libya
Italian Libya
, Mussolini downplayed racist policies as he attempted to earn the trust of Arab
Arab
leaders there. Individual freedom, inviolability of home and property, right to join the military or civil administrations, and the right to freely pursue a career or employment were guaranteed to Libyans
Libyans
by December 1934. In famous trip to Libya
Libya
in 1937, a propaganda event was created when, on March 18, Mussolini posed with Arab
Arab
dignitaries who gave him an honorary "Sword of Islam " (that had actually been crafted in Firenze ), which was to symbolize Mussolini as a protector of the Muslim
Muslim
Arab
Arab
peoples there. In 1939, laws were passed that allowed Muslims to be permitted to join the National Fascist Party
National Fascist Party
and in particular the Muslim Association of the Lictor (_Associazione Musulmana del Littorio_) for Islamic Libya, and the 1939 reforms allowed the creation of Libyan military units within the Italian Army.

Balkan Peninsula

The Fascist regime also engaged in interventionist foreign policy in Europe. In 1923, Italian soldiers captured the Greek island of Corfu as part of the Fascists' plan to eventually take over Greece
Greece
. Corfu was later returned to Greece
Greece
and war between Greece
Greece
and Italy
Italy
was avoided. In 1925, Italy
Italy
forced Albania
Albania
to become a _de facto_ protectorate which helped Italy's stand against Greek sovereignty. Corfu
Corfu
was important to Italian imperialism and nationalism due to its presence in the former Republic of Venice
Republic of Venice
which left behind significant Italian cultural monuments and influence, though the Greek population there, especially youth, heavily protested the Italian occupation. Relations with France
France
were mixed, the Fascist regime consistently had the intention to eventually wage war on France
France
to regain Italian-populated areas of France, but with the rise of Hitler, the Fascists immediately became more concerned of Austria's independence and the potential threat of Germany
Germany
to Italy, if it demanded the German-populated areas of Tyrol . Due to concerns of German expansionism, Italy
Italy
joined the Stresa Front with France
France
and Britain against Germany
Germany
which existed from 1935 to 1936. The Fascist regime held negative relations with Yugoslavia, as they long wanted the implosion of Yugoslavia in order to territorially expand and increase Italy's power. Italy
Italy
pursued espionage in Yugoslavia, as Yugoslav authorities on multiple occasions discovered spy rings in the Italian Embassy in Yugoslavia, such as in 1930. In 1929, the Fascist government accepted Croatian extreme nationalist Ante Pavelić as a political exile to Italy
Italy
from Yugoslavia. The Fascists gave Pavelić financial assistance and a training ground in Italy
Italy
to develop and train his newly formed fascist militia and terrorist group, the Ustaše . This organization later became the governing force of the Independent State of Croatia
Croatia
, and murdered hundreds of thousands of Serbs
Serbs
, Jews
Jews
and Roma during World War II
World War II
.

Spain

In 1936 in Spain, the Fascist regime made its most significant pre-war military intervention. The Spanish Republic was divided in the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
between the anticlerical socialist Republicans and the Church-supporting nationalists led by Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco
under fascist Falange movement. Italy
Italy
sent aircraft, weapons, and a total of over 60,000 troops to aid the Spanish nationalists. The war helped train the Italian military for war and improve relations with the Roman Catholic Church. It was a success that secured Italy's naval access in and out of the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
to the Atlantic Ocean and its ability to pursue its policy of _ Mare Nostrum _ without fear of opposition by Spain. The other major foreign contributor to the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
was Germany. This was the first time that Italian and German forces fought together since the Franco-Prussian War in the 1870s. During the 1930s, Italy
Italy
built many large battleships and other warships to solidify Italy's hold on the Mediterranean Sea.

Albania

After Germany
Germany
annexed Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
, Mussolini turned his attention to Albania. On April 7, 1939, Italy
Italy
invaded the country , and after a short campaign Albania
Albania
was occupied, and its parliament crowned Victor Emmanuel III King of Albania
Albania
. The historical justification for the annexation of Albania
Albania
laid in the ancient history of the Roman Empire in which the region of Albania
Albania
had been an early conquest for the Romans, even before northern Italy
Italy
had been taken by Roman forces. But obviously by the time of annexation, little connection to Italy remained amongst Albanians . In actuality, the annexation of Albania was far from a military conquest as the country had been a de facto protectorate of Italy
Italy
since the 1920s and much of its army were commanded by Italian officers sent from Italy. The occupation was not appreciated by King Emmanuel III, who feared that it had isolated Italy
Italy
even further than its war against Ethiopia.

Germany

When the NSDAP attained power in Germany
Germany
in 1933, Mussolini and the Fascist regime in public showed approval of Hitler's regime, with Mussolini saying "The victory of Hitler is our victory". The Fascist regime also spoke of creating an alliance with the new regime in Germany. In private, Mussolini and the Italian Fascists showed disapproval of the National Socialist
Socialist
government and Mussolini had a disapproving view of Hitler despite ideological similarities. The Fascists distrusted Hitler's Pan-German ideas which they saw as a threat to territories in Italy
Italy
that previously had been part of the Austrian Empire . Although other National Socialists disapproved of Mussolini and Fascist Italy, Hitler had long idolized Mussolini's oratorical and visual persona, and adopted much of the symbolism of the Fascists into the National Socialist
Socialist
Party, such as the Roman, straight-armed salute, dramatic oratory, the use of uniformed paramilitaries for political violence, and the use of mass rallies to demonstrate the power of the movement. In 1922 Hitler tried to ask for Mussolini's guidance on how to organize his own version of the March on Rome
Rome
which would be a "March on Berlin" (which came into being as the failed Beer Hall Putsch in 1923). Mussolini did not respond to Hitler's requests as he did not have much interest in Hitler's movement and regarded Hitler to be somewhat crazy. Mussolini did attempt to read _ Mein Kampf _ to find out what Hitler's National Socialist
Socialist
movement was but was immediately disappointed, saying that _Mein Kampf_ was "a boring tome that I have never been able to read" and remarked that Hitler's beliefs were "little more than commonplace clichés." While Mussolini like Hitler believed in the cultural and moral superiority of whites over colored peoples, he opposed Hitler's antisemitic beliefs. A number of Fascists were Jewish, including Mussolini's mistress Margherita Sarfatti , the director of Fascist art and propaganda, and there was little support amongst Italians for antisemitism. Mussolini also did not evaluate race as being a precursor of superiority, but rather culture.

Hitler and the National Socialists continued to try to woo Mussolini to their cause, and eventually Mussolini gave financial assistance to the National Socialist
Socialist
Party and allowed National Socialist paramilitaries to train in Italy
Italy
in the belief that despite differences, a nationalist government in Germany
Germany
could be beneficial to Italy. As suspicion of the Germans
Germans
increased after 1933, Mussolini sought to ensure that Germany
Germany
would not become the dominant nationalist state in Europe. To do this, Mussolini opposed German efforts to annex Austria after the assassination of fascist Austrian President Engelbert Dollfuss
Engelbert Dollfuss
in 1934, and promised the Austrians military support if Germany
Germany
were to interfere. This promise helped save Austria from annexation in 1934.

Public appearances and propaganda constantly portrayed the closeness of Mussolini and Hitler and the similarities between Italian Fascism and German National Socialism . While both ideologies had significant similarities, the two factions were suspicious of each other, and both leaders were in competition for world influence. Hitler and Mussolini first met in June 1934, as the issue of Austrian independence was in crisis. In private, after the visit in 1934, Mussolini said that Hitler was just "a silly little monkey".

After Italy
Italy
became isolated in 1936, the government had little choice but to work with Germany
Germany
to regain a stable bargaining position in international affairs and reluctantly abandoned its support of Austrian independence from Germany. On October 28, 1937, Mussolini declared Italy's support of Germany
Germany
regaining its colonies lost in World War I
World War I
, declaring:

"A great people such as the German people must regain the place which is due to it, and which it used to have beneath the sun of Africa". _Benito Mussolini, October 28, 1937_.

With no significant opposition from Italy, Hitler proceeded with _ Anschluß _, the annexation of Austria in 1938. Germany
Germany
later claimed the Sudetenland
Sudetenland
, a province of Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
inhabited mostly by Germans
Germans
. Mussolini felt he had little choice but to help Germany
Germany
to avoid isolation. With the annexation of Austria by Germany
Germany
in 1938, the Fascist regime began to be concerned about the majority ethnic German population in southern Tyrol , and whether they would want to join a Greater Germany
Germany
. The Fascists were also concerned about whether Italy
Italy
should follow National Socialist
Socialist
antisemitic policies in order to gain favor from those National Socialists who had mixed feelings about Italy
Italy
as an ally. In 1938, Mussolini pressured fellow Fascist members to support the enacting of antisemitic policies, but this was not well taken, as a number of Fascists were Jewish and antisemitism was not an active political concept in Italy. Nevertheless, Mussolini forced through antisemitic legislation even while his own son-in-law and prominent Fascist Count
Count
Galeazzo Ciano personally condemned such laws. In turn for enacting the extremely unpopular antisemitic laws, Mussolini and the Fascist government demanded a concession from Hitler and the National Socialists. In 1939, the Fascists demanded from Hitler that his government willingly accept the Italian government's plan to have all Germans
Germans
in south Tyrol either leave Italy
Italy
or be forced to accept Italianization. Hitler agreed and thus the threat to Italy
Italy
from the south Tyrol Germans
Germans
was neutralized.

Alliance With Germany

As war approached in 1939, the Fascist regime stepped up an aggressive press campaign against France
France
claiming that Italian people were suffering in France. This was important to the alliance as both regimes mutually had claims on France, Germany
Germany
on German-populated Alsace-Lorraine
Alsace-Lorraine
and Italy
Italy
on Italian-populated Corsica , Nizza and Savoia . In May 1939, a formal alliance was organized. The alliance was known as the Pact of Steel , which obliged Italy
Italy
to fight alongside Germany
Germany
if war broke out against Germany. Mussolini felt obliged to sign the pact in spite of his own concerns that Italy
Italy
could not fight a war in the near future. This obligation grew from his promises to Italians that he would build an empire for them and from his personal desire to not allow Hitler to become the dominant leader in Europe. Mussolini was repulsed by the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact agreement where Germany
Germany
and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
agreed to partition the Second Polish Republic
Second Polish Republic
into German and Soviet zones for an impending invasion. The Fascist government saw this as a betrayal of the Anti-Comintern Pact , but decided to remain officially silent.

World War II
World War II
And The Fall Of Fascism

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Main article: Military history of Italy
Italy
during World War II
World War II

When Germany
Germany
invaded Poland on 1 September 1939 beginning World War II , Mussolini publicly declared on September 24, 1939, that Italy
Italy
had the choice of entering the war or to remain neutral which would cause the country to lose its national dignity. Nevertheless, despite his aggressive posture, Mussolini kept Italy
Italy
out of the conflict for several months. Mussolini told his son in law, Count
Count
Ciano, that he was personally jealous over Hitler's accomplishments and hoped that Hitler's prowess would be slowed down by Allied counterattack. Mussolini went so far as to lessen Germany's successes in Europe
Europe
by giving advanced notice to Belgium
Belgium
and the Netherlands
Netherlands
of an imminent German invasion, of which Germany
Germany
had informed Italy.

In drawing out war plans, Mussolini and the Fascist regime decided that Italy
Italy
would aim to annex large portions of Africa
Africa
and the Middle East to be included in its colonial empire. Hesitance remained from the King and military commander Pietro Badoglio
Pietro Badoglio
who warned Mussolini that Italy
Italy
had too few tanks , armoured vehicles , and aircraft available to be able to carry out a long-term war and Badoglio told Mussolini "It is suicide" for Italy
Italy
to get involved in the European conflict . Mussolini and the Fascist regime took the advice to a degree and waited as France
France
was invaded by Germany
Germany
before deciding to get involved.

As France
France
collapsed under the German Blitzkrieg , Italy
Italy
declared war on France
France
and Britain on 10 June 1940, fulfilling its obligations of the Pact of Steel. Italy
Italy
hoped to quickly conquer Savoia , Nizza , Corsica , and the African colonies of Tunisia
Tunisia
and Algeria
Algeria
from the French, but this was quickly stopped when Germany
Germany
signed an armistice with the French commander Philippe Petain who established Vichy France which retained control over these territories. This decision by Germany
Germany
angered the Fascist regime.

The one Italian strength that concerned the Allies was the Italian Royal Navy
Royal Navy
(_ Regia Marina _), the fourth-largest navy in the world at the time. In November 1940, the British Royal Navy
Royal Navy
launched a surprise air attack on the Italian fleet at Taranto which crippled Italy's major warships. Although the Italian fleet did not inflict serious damage as was feared, it did keep significant British Commonwealth naval forces in the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
. This fleet needed to fight the Italian fleet to keep British Commonwealth forces in Egypt
Egypt
and the Middle East from being cut off from Britain. In 1941 on the Italian-controlled island of Kastelorizo , off of the coast of Turkey , Italian forces succeeded in repelling British and Australian forces attempting to occupy the island during Operation Abstention . In December 1941, a covert attack by Italian forces took place in Alexandria
Alexandria
, Egypt
Egypt
, in which Italian divers attached explosives to British warships resulting in two British battleships being sunk. This was known as the Raid on Alexandria
Alexandria
. In 1942, the Italian navy inflicted a serious blow to a British convoy fleet attempting to reach Malta
Malta
during Operation Harpoon , sinking multiple British vessels. Over time, the Allied navies inflicted serious damage to the Italian fleet, and ruined Italy's one advantage to Germany.

Continuing indications of Italy's subordinate nature to Germany
Germany
arose during the Greco-Italian War , which was disastrous for the poorly-armed Italian Army. Mussolini had intended the war with Greece to prove to Germany
Germany
that Italy
Italy
was no minor power in the alliance, but a capable empire which could hold its own weight. Mussolini boasted to his government that he would even resign from being Italian if anyone found fighting the Greeks
Greeks
to be difficult. Within days of invading Greece, the Greek army pushed the Italian army back into Albania
Albania
and humiliatingly put Italy
Italy
on the defensive. Hitler and the German government were frustrated with Italy's failing campaigns, but so was Mussolini. Mussolini in private angrily accused Italians on the battlefield of becoming "overcome with a crisis of artistic sentimentalism and throwing in the towel".

To gain back ground in Greece, Germany
Germany
reluctantly began a Balkans Campaign alongside Italy
Italy
which resulted also in the destruction of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1941 and the ceding of Dalmazia to Italy. Mussolini and Hitler compensated Croatian nationalists by endorsing the creation of the Independent State of Croatia
Croatia
under the extreme nationalist Ustaše . In order to receive the support of Italy, the Ustaše agreed to concede the main central portion of Dalmazia , as well as various Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
islands to Italy, as Dalmazia held a significant number of Italians. The ceding of the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
islands was considered by the Independent State of Croatia
Croatia
to be a minimal loss, as in exchange for those cessions, they were allowed to annex all of modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
, which led to the persecution of the Serb population there. Officially, the Independent State of Croatia
Croatia
was a kingdom and an Italian protectorate, ruled by Italian House of Savoy
Savoy
member Tomislav II of Croatia
Croatia
, however he never personally set foot on Croatian soil, and the government was run by Ante Pavelić , the leader of the Ustaše. Italy
Italy
did however hold military control across all of Croatia\'s coast , which combined with Italian control of Albania
Albania
and Montenegro, gave Italy
Italy
complete control of the Adriatic Sea, thus completing a key part of the _ Mare Nostrum _ policy of the Fascists. The Ustaše movement proved valuable to Italy and Germany
Germany
as a means to counter Royalist
Royalist
Chetnik guerrillas (although they did work with them because they did not really like the Ustaše movement whom they left up to the Germans) and the communist Yugoslav Partisans under Josip Broz Tito who opposed the occupation of Yugoslavia .

Under Italian army commander Mario Roatta 's watch the violence against the Slovene civil population in the Province of Ljubljana easily matched that of the Germans
Germans
with summary executions, hostage-taking and hostage killing, reprisals, internments to Rab
Rab
and Gonars concentration camps and the burning of houses and whole villages. Roatta issued additional special instructions stating that the repression orders must be "carried out most energetically and without any false compassion". According to historians James Walston and Carlo Spartaco Capogeco, the annual mortality rate in the Italian concentration camps was higher than the average mortality rate in Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald
Buchenwald
(which was 15%), at least 18%. Monsignor Joze Srebnic , Bishop of Veglia ( Krk island), on 5 August 1943 reported to Pope
Pope
Pius XII
Pius XII
that "witnesses, who took part in the burials, state unequivocally that the number of the dead totals at least 3,500". After the war Yugoslavia , Greece
Greece
and Ethiopia requested the extradition of 1,200 Italian war criminals for trial. However they never saw anything like the Nuremberg trials, because the British government with the beginning of the Cold War
Cold War
saw in Pietro Badoglio a guarantee of an anti-communist post-war Italy. The repression of memory led to historical revisionism in Italy
Italy
about the country's actions during the war. In 1963 anthology "Notte sul'Europa" a photograph of an internee from Rab
Rab
concentration camp was included while claiming to be a photograph of an internee from a German Nazi camp, when in fact the internee was a Slovene Janez Mihelčič, born 1885 in Babna Gorica, who died at Rab
Rab
in 1943. In 2003 the Italian media published Silvio Berlusconi
Silvio Berlusconi
's statement that Benito Mussolini merely "used to send people on vacation". An Italian " AB 41 " armored car in Egypt
Egypt

In 1940, Italy
Italy
invaded Egypt
Egypt
and was soon driven far back into Libya by British Commonwealth forces. The German army sent a detachment to join the Italian army in Libya
Libya
to save the colony from the British advance. German army units in the Afrika Korps under General Erwin Rommel were the mainstay in the campaign to push the British out of Libya
Libya
and into central Egypt
Egypt
in 1941 to 1942. The victories in Egypt were almost entirely credited to Rommel's strategic brilliance. The Italian forces received little media attention in North Africa
Africa
because of their dependence on the superior weaponry and experience of Rommel's forces. For a time in 1942, Italy
Italy
from an official standpoint controlled large amounts of territory along the Mediterranean Sea. With the collapse of Vichy France, Italy
Italy
gained control of Corsica , Nizza, Savoia, and other portions of southwestern France. Italy
Italy
also oversaw a military occupation over significant sections of southern France. But despite the official territorial achievements, the so-called "Italian Empire" was a paper tiger by 1942: it was faltering as its economy failed to adapt to the conditions of war, and Italian cities were being bombed by the Allies. Also, despite Rommel's advances in 1941 and early 1942, the campaign in Northern Africa
Africa
began to collapse in late 1942. Complete collapse came in 1943 when German and Italian forces fled Northern Africa
Africa
to Sicilia .

By 1943, Italy
Italy
was failing on every front, by January of the year, half of the Italian forces serving on the Eastern Front had been destroyed, the African campaign had collapsed, the Balkans remained unstable, and demoralised Italians wanted an end to the war. King Victor Emmanuel III
Victor Emmanuel III
urged Count
Count
Ciano to overstep Mussolini to try to begin talks with the Allies. In mid-1943, the Allies commenced an invasion of Sicily
Sicily
in an effort to knock Italy
Italy
out of the war and establish a foothold in Europe
Europe
. Allied troops landed in Sicily
Sicily
with little initial opposition from Italian forces. The situation changed as the Allies ran into German forces, who held out for some time before Sicily
Sicily
was taken over by the Allies. The invasion made Mussolini dependent on the German Armed Forces (_ Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
_) to protect his regime. The Allies steadily advanced through Italy
Italy
with little opposition from demoralized Italian soldiers, while facing serious opposition from German forces.

CIVIL WAR (1943–1945)

_ Italian Social Republic poster reading: " Germany
Germany
is truly your friend"_

By 1943, Mussolini had lost the support of the Italian population for having led a disastrous war effort. To the world, Mussolini was viewed as a "sawdust caesar" for having led his country to war with ill-equipped and poorly trained armed forces which failed in battle. The embarrassment of Mussolini to Italy
Italy
led King Victor Emmanuel III and even members of the Fascist Party to desire Mussolini's removal. The first stage of his ousting took place when Fascist Party's Grand Council under the direction of Fascist member Dino Grandi voted to remove Mussolini as the party's leader. Days later, on 26 July 1943, Emmanuel III officially removed Mussolini from the post of Prime Minister and replaced him with Marshal Pietro Badoglio
Pietro Badoglio
. Upon removal, Mussolini was immediately arrested. When the radio brought the unexpected news, Italians assumed the war was practically over. The fascist organizations that had for two decades pledged their loyalty to "Il Duce" were silent — no effort was made by any of them to protest. The new Badoglio government stripped away the final elements of Fascist government by banning the Fascist Party. The fascists had never controlled the army, but they did have a separately armed militia; it was merged into the army. The main fascist organs, including the Grand Council, the Special
Special
Tribunal for the Defense of the State, and the Chambers were all disbanded. All local fascist formations clubs and meetings were shut down. Slowly, the most outspoken Fascists were purged from office.

Italy
Italy
then signed an armistice with the Allied armed forces and the Kingdom of Italy
Italy
joined the Allies in their war against Germany
Germany
. The new Royalist
Royalist
government of Victor Emmanuel III
Victor Emmanuel III
and Marshal Badoglio raised an Italian Co-Belligerent Army , an Italian Co-Belligerent Navy , and an Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force . The Badoglio government attempted to establish a non-partisan administration and a number of political parties were allowed to exist again after years of ban under Fascism. These ranged from liberal to communist parties which all were part of the government. Italians celebrated the fall of Mussolini and as more Italian territory was taken by the Allies, the Allies were welcomed as liberators by Italians, who opposed the German occupation.

However, Mussolini's reign in Italy
Italy
was not over. A German commando unit led by Otto Skorzeny rescued Mussolini from the mountain hotel where he was being held under arrest. Hitler instructed Mussolini to establish the Italian Social Republic in German-held northern Italy. The Italian Social Republic was a German puppet state . The Fascist state's armed forces were a combination of Mussolini loyalist Fascists and German armed forces. However Mussolini had little power, Hitler and the German armed forces led the campaign against the Allies and saw little interest in preserving Italy
Italy
as more than a buffer zone against an Allied invasion of Germany.

Life for Italians under German occupation was hard especially in Rome. Rome's citizens by 1943 had grown tired of the war and upon Italy
Italy
signing an armistice with the Allies on September 8, 1943, Rome's citizens took to the streets chanting "Viva la pace!" ("Long live the peace!) but within hours, German forces raided the city, and attacked anti-Fascists, royalists, and Jews. Roman citizens were harassed by German soldiers to provide them food and fuel and German authorities would arrest all opposition and many were sent into forced labor. Rome's citizens upon being liberated reported that during the first week of German occupation of Rome, crimes against Italian citizens took place, as German soldiers looted stores and robbed Roman citizens at gunpoint. Martial law was imposed on Rome
Rome
by German authorities requiring all citizens to obey a curfew forbidding people to be out on the street after 9 p.m. During winter of 1943, Rome's citizens were denied access to sufficient food, firewood, and coal which was taken by German authorities to be given to German soldiers housed in occupied hotels. These actions left Rome's citizens to live in the harsh cold and on the verge of starvation. German authorities began arresting able-bodied Roman men to be conscripted into forced labour. On June 4, 1944, the German occupation of Rome
Rome
came to an end as German forces retreated as the Allies advanced.

Mussolini was captured on April 27, 1945, by Communist
Communist
Italian partisans near the Swiss border as he tried to escape Italy. On the next day, he was executed for high treason, as sentenced in absentia by a tribunal of the CLN . Afterwards, the bodies of Mussolini, his mistress, and about fifteen other Fascists were taken to Milano , where they were displayed to the public. Days later on 2 May 1945, the German forces in Italy
Italy
surrendered.

The government of Badoglio remained in being for some nine months. On 9 June 1944 he was replaced as Prime Minister by the 70-year-old anti-fascist leader Ivanoe Bonomi . In June 1945 Bonomi was in turn replaced by Ferruccio Parri , who in turn gave way to Alcide de Gasperi on 4 December 1945. It was de Gasperi who supervised the transition to a Republic following the abdication of Vittorio Emanuele III on 9 May 1946; he briefly became acting Head of State as well as Prime Minister on 18 June 1946, but ceded the former role to Provisional President Enrico de Nicola ten days later.

ITALIAN CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM (1946)

Umberto II , the last King of Italy
Italy
Main article: Italian constitutional referendum, 1946
1946

Much like Japan
Japan
and Germany
Germany
, the aftermath of World War II
World War II
left Italy
Italy
with a destroyed economy, a divided society, and anger against the monarchy for its endorsement of the Fascist regime for the previous twenty years. Anger flourished as well over Italy's embarrassment of being occupied by the Germans
Germans
and then by the Allies. 1946
1946
referendum results map

Even prior to the rise of the Fascists, the monarchy was seen to have performed poorly, with society extremely divided between the wealthy north and poor south. World War I
World War I
resulted in Italy
Italy
making few gains and was seen as what fostered the rise of Fascism. These frustrations compacted into a revival of the Italian republican movement.

Following Victor Emmanuel III's abdication as king in 1946, his son, the new king Umberto II , was forced to call a referendum to decide whether Italy
Italy
should remain a monarchy or become a republic. On 2 June 1946, the republican side won 54% of the vote and Italy
Italy
officially became a republic.

The table of results shows some relevant differences in the different parts of Italy. The peninsula seemed to be drastically cut in two areas: the North for the republic (with 66.2%), the South for the monarchy (with 63.8%), as if they were two different, respectively homogeneous countries. Some Monarchist groups claimed that there was manipulation by Northern Republicans, Socialists and Communists. Others argued that Italy
Italy
was still too chaotic in 1946
1946
to have an accurate referendum. Regardless, to prevent civil war, Umberto II was deposed, and a new republic was born with bitter resentment by the new government against the House of Savoy
Savoy
. All male members of the Savoy family were barred from entering Italy
Italy
in 1948, which was only repealed in 2002.

MILITARY STRUCTURE

King of Italy
Italy
– Supreme commander of the Italian Royal Army, Navy, and later Air Force, from 1861
1861
to 1938 and 1943 to 1946.

First Marshal of the Empire – Supreme commander of the Italian Royal Army, Air Force, Navy, and the Voluntary Militia for National Security from 1938 to 1943 during the Fascist era, held by both Victor Emmanuel III and Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
.

* _Regio Esercito _ (Royal Army) * _ Regia Marina _ (Royal Navy) * _ Regia Aeronautica _ (Royal Air Force) * _Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale _ (Voluntary Militia for National Security also known as the "Blackshirts") Militia loyal to Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
during the Fascist era, abolished in 1943.

HISTORIOGRAPHY

Most of the historiographical controversy centers on sharply conflicting interpretations of fascism and the Mussolini regime. The 1920s writers on the left, following the lead of Communist
Communist
theorist Antonio Gramsci
Antonio Gramsci
(1891–1937), stressed that fascism was a form of capitalism. The fascist regime controlled the writing and teaching of history through the central "Giunta Centrale per gli Studi Storici" and control of access to the archives and sponsored historians and scholars who were favorable toward it such as philosopher Giovanni Gentile and historians Gioacchino Volpe and Francesco Salata. In October 1932, it sponsored a large Exhibition of the Fascist Revolution, featuring its favored modernist art and asserting its own claims to express the spirit of Roman glory. After the war most historiography was intensely hostile to Mussolini, emphasizing the theme of fascism and totalitarianism. An exception was conservative historian Renzo De Felice (1929–96), whose 6,000 pages of biography (4 vol 1965–97) remains the most exhaustive examination of public and private documents and serves as a basic resource for all scholars. He argued that Mussolini was a revolutionary modernizer in domestic issues but a pragmatist in foreign policy who continued the Realpolitik policies of liberal Italy, 1861–1922. In the 1990s, a cultural turn began with studies that examined the issue of popular reception and acceptance of Fascism using the perspectives of 'aestheticization of politics' and 'sacralisation of politics'. By the 21st century the old "anti-Fascist" postwar consensus was under attack from a group of revisionist scholars who have presented a more favorable and nationalistic assessment of Mussolini's role, both at home and abroad. Controversy rages as there is no consensus among scholars using competing interpretations based on revisionist, anti-Fascist, intentionalist, or culturalist models of history.

SEE ALSO

* Birth of the Italian Republic * History of Italy
Italy
as a monarchy and in the World Wars * Italian Fascism * Italian unification * King of Italy
Italy
* List of Prime Ministers of Italy
Italy
* Military history of Italy
Italy
during World War II
World War II
* 25 Luglio

NOTES

* ^ In 1848 Camillo Benso di Cavour had formed a parliamentarty group in the Kingdom of Sardinia Parliament named the _Partito Liberale Italiano_ (Italian Liberal Party). From 1860, with the Unification of Italy
Italy
substantially realized and the death of Cavour himself in 1861, the Liberal Party was split in at least two major factions or new parties later known as the _Destra Storica_ on the right wing, who substantially assembled the Count
Count
of Cavour's followers and political heirs, and the _Sinistra Storica_ on the left wing, who mostly reunited the followers and sympathizers of Giuseppe Garibaldi and other former Mazzinians . Both the Historical Right (_Destra Storica_) and the Historical Left (_Sinistra Storica_) were composed of royalist liberals, while radicals organized themselves into the Radical Party , and republicans into the Italian Republican Party . * ^ The Liberal-conservative Historical Right was dominated from 1860 to 1876 (but also after it was no more at the govern) by a leadership of elected Representatives from Emilia Romagna
Emilia Romagna
(1860–64) and Tuscany
Tuscany
(1864–1876), known as the "_Consorteria_", with the support of the Lombard and southern Italian representatives. The majority of the Piemontese Liberal-conservative representatives, but not all of them, organized themselves as the, all-Piemontese and more right-wing, Party's minority: the _"Associazione Liberale Permanente"_ (Permanent Liberal Association), whom sometimes voted with the Historical Left and whose leading Representative was Quintino Sella . The Party's majority was also weakened by the substantial differences between the effective Liberal-conservative (Toscano and Emiliano) leadership and Lombards on one side and the quietly conservative southern and _"Transigent Roman Catholic"_ components on the other side. ( Indro Montanelli , _Storia d'Italia_, volume 32).

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FURTHER READING

* Ashley, Susan A. _Making Liberalism Work: The Italian Experience, 1860–1914_ (2003) excerpt and text search * Baran'ski, Zygmunt G. & Rebecca J. West (2001). _The Cambridge companion to modern Italian culture_, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-55034-3 . * Barclay, Glen St. J. 1973. _The Rise and Fall of the New Roman Empire_. London: Sidgwick excerpt and text search * Duggan, Christopher (2008). _The Force of Destiny: A History of Italy
Italy
Since 1796_, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, text search * Gentile, Emilio. 2003. _The Struggle For Modernity: Nationalism, Futurism and Fascism._ Westport, CT: Praeger. * Gilmour, David. 2011. _The Pursuit of Italy: A History of a Land, Its Regions, and Their Peoples_ excerpt and text search * Hughes, Robert. 2011. _Rome: A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History_ * Kertzer, David I. (2014). _The Pope
Pope
and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe_. Oxford University Press. * Killinger, Charles L. (2002). _The history of Italy_, Westport (CT): Greenwood Press, text search * Pauley, Bruce F. 2003. _Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini: Totalitarianism in the Twentieth Century_. Wheeling: Harlan Davidson * Pollard, John F. 1985. _The Vatican and Italian Fascism, 1929–32_. Cambridge, USA: Cambridge University Press. * Salomone, A. William. 1945. _ Italy
Italy
in the Giolittian Era: Italian Democracy in the Making, 1900–1914_ * Sarti, Roland (2004). _Italy: A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present_, New York: Facts on File
File
text search * Sarti, Roland. 1974. _The Ax Within: Italian Fascism in Action._ New York: New Viewpoints. * Seton-Watson, Christopher (1967). _ Italy
Italy
from Liberalism to Fascism, 1870–1925_, New York: Taylor A Political History_. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. * Thayer, John A. 1964. _ Italy
Italy
and the Great War_. Madison and Milwaukee: University of Wisconsin Press.

HISTORIOGRAPHY

* Albanese, Giulia. "Reconsidering the March on Rome," _European History Quarterly_ (2012) 42#3 pp 403–421. * Keserich, Charles. "The Fiftieth Year of the" March on Rome": Recent Interpretations of Fascism." _History Teacher_ (1972) 6#1 pp: 135-142 JSTOR 492632.

PRIMARY SOURCES

* Mussolini, Benito. 1935. _Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions _. Rome: Ardita Publishers.

EXTERNAL LINKS

* Axis History Factbook– Italy * Mussolini\'s War Statement – Declaration of War against USA, 11 December 1941 * Declaration of War on France
France
and The United Kingdom, 10 June 1940

* v * t * e

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Italy
articles

HISTORY