Italian fascism

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Benito Mussolini 1930 (cropped) .png Giovanni Gentile sgr.jpg
The most important ideologues of Italian fascism:
Left : Benito Mussolini (1930), founder and theorist
Right : Giovanni Gentile (1930), most important theorist

The term Italian fascism (or, according to its own name, only fascism ; Italian fascismo ) means:

  1. the political movement of the fascists under their "Duce" (German leader ) Benito Mussolini , organized in the Fasci italiani di combattimento (1919–1921), the Partito Nazionale Fascista (1921–1943) and the Partito Fascista Repubblicano (1943–1945) ,
  2. the form of rule of the fascists during Mussolini's prime ministerial presidency in the Kingdom of Italy (1922–1943), which developed into a dictatorship from 1925, and the collaborative regime of the fascist republic of Salò (1943–1945) occupied by the Nazi German Reich
  3. the political ideology propagated by Mussolini's fascist movement .

The origins of the fascist movement lie in the Italian front-line fighters' association, Fasci italiani di combattimento (German: Italian combat leagues ), which was founded on March 23, 1919 and which was converted into a political party in 1921, the Partito Nazionale Fascista (German: National Fascist Party , PNF for short ) . After the so-called March on Rome in 1922, the fascists formed a coalition government with conservatives and nationalists with Mussolini as prime minister. From January 3, 1925, the fascists established a one-party dictatorship in Italy . The period from 1922 to 1943 is known in Italy as ventennio fascista ("the two decades of fascism") or ventennio nero ("the two black decades").

The imperialist foreign policy of the fascists led to a series of military interventions by Italy in Africa ( Libya , Somaliland , Ethiopia ) and in the Balkans ( Corfu incident , Albania , Greece , Yugoslavia ). In addition, Fascist Italy in 1936 supported up to 1939 military massively the nationalists of Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War ( Corpo Truppe Volontarie ) and participated as an ally of the Third Reich at the World War II ( Western campaign , Africa Campaign , East African Campaign , the war against the Soviet Union ).

After Mussolini was deposed as Prime Minister in 1943, the Allied invasion reduced the area of ​​influence of Italian fascism to the Third Reich-dependent republic of Salò , in which a reorganized Republican Fascist Party continued the one-party dictatorship. In 1945 fascism ended in Italy with the liberation by the Allies .

Italian fascism was seen as a model for similar movements, parties and organizations in various states and regions of Europe , including the National Socialism that came to power in Germany in 1933 and ruled until 1945 .

Current classifications and trends in research

Benito Mussolini on a propaganda poster

The literature on Italian fascism has produced an extraordinary variety of competing interpretations, often contradicting one another on fundamental issues. There is no generally accepted classification of fascism even in its Italian variant; the range of the individual hypotheses is consistently limited to certain historiographical schools. The American fascism researcher Stanley G. Payne distinguishes 13 different readings, twelve of which discuss Italian fascism as part of a genre of political regimes and movements, while one only allows the concept of fascism to apply to Italy. The last-mentioned line of interpretation was always a marginal position internationally, but for a long time predominated in German-language research, where (outside of the Marxist discussion ) only a few historians have worked with a comparative concept of fascism, including Wolfgang Schieder . In addition, Italian fascism plays a role in various political science models - classic, for example, in the debates on authoritarianism and totalitarianism or in some theories of modernization - which in turn have an impact on questions of historical science. The characteristic catalogs and definitions typical of political science are accepted by some historians as a methodological basis, while others - especially those who doubt the scientific value of the theory of totalitarianism - the "baroque" attempts by adding formal or ideological characteristics to a sufficient determination of the Approach fascism to be viewed with skepticism. In addition, the scientific debate - not only in Italy - has been shaped very strongly by historical-political considerations until recently: Thus the attempts by conservative Italian historians and political scientists since the 1980s to "incorporate fascism" into acceptable national history, or at least lead to it Granting just as much (and sometimes greater) legitimacy as the ' anti-fascist ' republic ”, necessary for questions and conclusions other than sticking to the point of view that fascism was a“ deeply inhumane, anti-democratic and reactionary political regime ”.

After older controversies have subsided (for example about the question of whether fascism should be classified as “modern” or “anti-modern”), the fundamentally different assessment of fascism's self-testimonies has proven to be a dividing line in research in the last few decades. These disputes were exacerbated by the so-called linguistic turn , which covered large parts of historical studies in the 1990s, but they have older roots. In the background is the question of whether ideas and ideologies or social conditions or structures of domination and dependency should be at the center of the analysis. In the more recent literature on Italian fascism, approaches that focus on the rhetoric, ideological documents, rituals and public declarations of the regime - for example with regard to its "totalitarian" and "revolutionary" character - compete with those that focus on the fascist ones Embed the “propaganda state” in a comprehensive political social history and refuse to look at the “rhetoric of the regime and from there to come to conclusions about the regime, the people, consensus or whatever”.

The first-mentioned direction was recently mainly represented by historians who view fascism as a “ political religion ”, including Emilio Gentile and Roger Griffin as leaders . The main contributions of this school have appeared in the journal Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions since 2000 ( Politics, Religion & Ideology since 2011 ). Although this approach has been rejected by well-known historians, Griffin and Gentile have repeatedly claimed to have formulated a “new consensus” in research. They regard fascism as ideologically driven, revolutionary “ palingenetic ultra-nationalism” and attest to it an at least attempted “anthropological revolution”. These historians see in the "totalitarianism" evoked by the fascist regime not a rhetorical fiction, but an at least partial reality of its own right. Comparable results for the area of ​​“fascist culture” come from the works that have developed from approaches in cultural studies since the 1990s , but without always directly following the considerations on political religions.

The methodology and results of the Griffin / Gentile school as well as the post-structuralistdiscourse analysis ” were repeatedly criticized by representatives of a political social history of Italian fascism. In particular, the Australian historian Richard Bosworth made a name for himself , who presented several authoritative works on Italian fascism and in 1998 for the first time referred to the “strange alliance” between the conservative, self-confident “anti-anti-fascist” Italian group of historians around Renzo De Felice and Emilio Gentile and those who worked on the history of ideas Fascism researchers of post-structuralist provenance pointed out. At the center of Bosworth's criticism was repeatedly the widespread acceptance and “literal” interpretation of the ideological, inherently deeply contradicting self-testimonies of fascism, through which, according to Bosworth, these historians, in extreme cases, “only gullibly report what fascism proclaimed, rather than critically to investigate what that really meant. ”Against the background of his own research, Bosworth states a“ yawning chasm between what counted according to the fascist reading and what really mattered. ”He criticizes the“ culturalist ”approaches not least as conscious attempt to ignore the social and political content of fascism:

“Another implication of this 'culturalist' rapprochement with Mussolini's regime was that fascism was best understood as a cross-class phenomenon. Fascist culture, fascism as a 'political religion' - that was squaring the circle against the traditional Marxist claims that fascism represented a class reality and a class interest and that, in Horkheimer's famous words, the one who 'does not want to talk about capitalism, should be silent about fascism '. "

John F. Pollard, who researched the relationship of the fascist regime to the church, emphasized in 2005 against Griffin / Gentile the instrumental nature of the "religious" aspects of the regime:

“If Italian fascism applied the outward signs of religion - creed, litanies, commandments and rituals - it was not to fill a secular void in Italian society, but because it made the movement and the regime more understandable and acceptable to the average Italian that was surrounded by a lively and dynamic Catholic culture. "

The historian Kevin Passmore has problematized the basic methodological assumptions of the theory of “political religion” with a view to research into fascism, thereby bringing it close to reactionary traditions of thought:

Burleigh claims that the masses are more reluctant than the elites to give up 'apocalyptic revolutionary illusions' and that the 'uneducated' are susceptible to manipulation by the counter-elites. In other words, the theorists of political religion define their own rationality as opposed to the unreasonableness of the masses and really assume that the masses are susceptible to manipulation. The argument that political religions work because they serve a need of the masses can hardly hide its derivation from the idea of ​​a manipulative elite and a manipulable mass [ formulated by Gustave Le Bon and taken up by Mussolini, among others]. (...) But of course the theory of political religions is not proto-fascist. Like its predecessor, totalitarianism, it has attracted authors of various political faiths, and theories must be judged on their merits. "

None of these debates can be considered closed. As a result, there are controversial positions in numerous important research fields. There are authors who derive the regime's foreign policy almost exclusively from the ideologically determined “will” of Mussolini, and others who start from an ideological, social and political framework of Italian great power politics that has been handed down since the Risorgimento, from which that of significant parts of the Fascist foreign policy supported by the elites had not broken out. There is also no agreement on the role and importance of Mussolini, for example in the genesis of the fascist movement. A. James Gregor, for example, emphasized the importance of what he believed to be a consistent fascist ideology and already described the young Mussolini as an innovative thinker sui generis. In contrast, Richard Bosworth has pointed out that almost all leading fascists found their way to fascism before they had any identifiable ideological or personal relationship with Mussolini. To seek intellectual conclusiveness from Mussolini is a "foolish undertaking"; the political and ideological developments that led to fascism had a breakthrough for Bosworth during the First World War at the latest: "You didn't need Mussolini to be invented."


Political, social and ideological background

Structural problems of the liberal state

The annexation of the Papal States completed the formation of the Italian nation state in 1870 (cf. Risorgimento ). This state was led by a narrow stratum ( classe politica ), which was recruited from the wealthy and educated bourgeoisie and the liberal sections of the old aristocracy ( classe dirigente ). Liberal Italy, often inappropriately referred to as democracy against the backdrop of the fascist experience, developed a political system that was far less adaptable than British or French; it embodied an “authoritarian” or “oligarchical” liberalism, which before the electoral reform of 1912 only granted around 7% of the population the right to vote. The monarch had direct control over the military, had significant influence over foreign policy, and personally appointed the head of government and members of the Senate . Although there was a “ right ” and “ left ” in the elected Chamber of Deputies inherited from the risorgimental phase, by far the greatest number of deputies regarded themselves as liberals up until the First World War . Many of them were involved in patronage and clientele networks in their respective hometowns, as their interest representatives in Rome they primarily acted. Repeated transitions from one camp to the other, "left" members in "right" governments (and vice versa) were the order of the day in this derogatory system of organizing majorities called trasformismo ; there was no need to organize political parties due to the social homogeneity and ideological flexibility of the political class. The exclusion of the landless and “uneducated” majority of the population from the political process was the prerequisite for the functioning of this system. The resulting legitimacy and stability problems continuously preoccupied the political elites:

"If there was an inherent 'crisis of the liberal state' it was: the problem of integrating people-born forces into the nation's political and parliamentary processes, which became more acute with the growth of socialism in the 1890s."

Since Pope Pius IX. In 1874, when all Catholics were banned from participating in national elections and the church consistently kept their distance from the liberal “robber state”, the country's most important conservative institution was eliminated as the guarantor of the status quo. Under the Prime Ministers Francesco Crispi , Antonio Starabba di Rudinì and Luigi Pelloux - whose premier presidency ultimately bore the features of a dictatorship - the attempt to find a purely authoritarian-repressive solution to these questions failed between 1893 and 1900. Crispi tried for the first time to combine the rigorous suppression of socialist and republican organizations (deployment of 50,000 soldiers against unrest among Sicilian farm workers and farmers 1893/94, ban on the socialist party 1894-1896) with nationalist rhetoric and colonial expansion (see Italian-Ethiopian War ) . The electoral defeat of the “historical right” ( Destra storica ) in June 1900 cleared the way for the liberal current represented by Giovanni Giolitti (multiple prime minister between 1903 and 1914), which was ready to extend trasformismo to Catholics, republicans and reformist socialists . Giolitti succeeded in integrating parts of the Catholic electorate, who had been passive at the national level, into anti-socialist electoral alliances and also in softening the officially intransigent attitude of the church towards the liberal state (cf. Gentiloni Pact ). At the same time he tried to strengthen the right wing of the socialists against the revolutionary left. He initiated limited social legislation, eased the electoral census considerably (in the parliamentary elections in autumn 1913 65% of the adult male population had the right to vote) and acted as an emphatically “neutral” mediator in labor disputes. The formation of industrial and large landowner organizations (founding of Confindustria in 1910 ), which demanded an aggressive line against the trade unions and all other "subversives", increasingly called the expanded trasformismo since 1910/11 into question. It finally failed when the revolutionary forces took control of the PSI in 1912 and most of the reformist leadership group was expelled from the party.

The crisis of the political system in the First World War

With Antonio Salandra , the political heirs of the "historical right" took over the government in the spring of 1914. Salandra's goal was to permanently isolate the socialist left, to consolidate the liberal bloc on a conservative line and expand it to the right. Italy's entry into the First World War, which Salandra and his foreign minister Sidney Sonnino were instrumental in promoting in 1914/15, was, in the eyes of the liberal right, even more subordinate to the calculus of an authoritarian reorganization of Italian domestic policy than external expansion goals.

The campaign for the intervention brought together for the first time the political currents that carried the fascist movement in the post-war crisis: conservative liberals and nationalists, nationalist syndicalists (who organized the first nationalist fasci in autumn 1914 ), republicans and some former socialists (among them Benito Mussolini , who was expelled from PSI in November 1914 ). Together, these groups only represented a small part of Italian society - even if it was clearly overrepresented in the media - which at the time of the outbreak of war did not find a real majority in the Chamber of Deputies. The country began the war, therefore, deeply divided and led it in an “atmosphere of civil war”. Instead of masking or weakening social tensions under the sign of a “national” effort, the war intensified them further.

The socialist party, whose influence on the urban working class grew steadily, maintained its anti-war line (under the ambiguous slogan “neither support nor sabotage”) after 1915 and adopted a radical new program in September 1918. The 5.7 million soldiers that Italy mobilized by 1918 were disproportionately often peasants and farm workers, many of whom were leaving their paesi for the first time . Among them, military service was deeply unpopular for a state experienced as alien and hostile; the government felt compelled to promise them generous land allotments after the war after the near collapse of the front in autumn 1917 (cf. 12th Isonzo Battle ). On the political right, too, dissatisfaction with the political class and the parliamentary system grew in the war years, which in their eyes failed to organize the war effort and fight the “subversives” and “traitors”. A Fascio parlamentare di difesa nazionale , formed in autumn 1917 under the patronage of Salandra, carried these voices, which called for an authoritarian solution to the internal crisis, and which included Mussolini and his newspaper Il Popolo d'Italia , into parliament.

Italian radical nationalism

The fundamental arguments of right-wing anti-parliamentarianism had already been formulated by intellectuals before the First World War, who first met in 1903 around the magazine Il Regno and founded the Associazione Nazionalista Italiana (ANI) in 1910 . For nationalists like Enrico Corradini , Alfredo Rocco and Luigi Federzoni , the construction of the Italian nation-state - derided by them as Italietta ("little Italy") - was deeply flawed. In their eyes, the first prerequisite for an external power politics in Italy was the destruction of the socialist movement and every other “subversion”. They viewed the extended trasformismo of the Giolitti era as a surrender to the left, which finally relegated the country to the second tier of European powers; the relaxation of the 1912 electoral census paved the way for them - repeating an argument of classical liberalism - for the triumph of the “crowd” over the “best”. They propagated an end or at least containment of the class struggle in a nation that was authoritarianly united by the state, in which "every individual worked as a cogwheel, gearbox or rivet of the locomotive that was the fatherland ." articulated anti-parliamentarianism from the liberal nationalism that was handed down in the 19th century and acted as an independent force that self-confidently demanded the replacement of the old political class by “new men”. Despite its anti-parliamentary elitism, the ANI tried from the beginning to establish itself in positions of influence in the political system. The six seats in the Chamber of Deputies that she received in the 1913 election only incompletely reflected the level of her influence she had already achieved. Between 1915 and 1918, the nationalist ideology began to dominate the self-understanding of the Italian elite, with a generational change also playing an essential role alongside the war.

Characteristic of the ANI was the use of terms that it had adopted from political opponents and specifically re-shaped (“proletarian nation”, conception of a “national syndicalism” by Corradini, Mario Viana, Tommaso Monicelli and others, “productivism” etc.). At this level it appeared less aristocratic than the side branch of Italian nationalism, which formulated its positions in magazines such as Lacerba and La Voce (with whose editor Giuseppe Prezzolini Mussolini corresponded since 1909). However, these groups had a central motive in association with the ANI: the intense will to “modernize” while at the same time disregarding and rejecting “mass society”.

Today there is a broad consensus that the main strand of the semi-official ideology of the fascist regime was fed by the intellectual fund, which before the First World War came from the " proto-fascist " ANI - in which research only began to be interested in the 1970s - or was developed in their environment.

“It is downright astonishing how nationalism in this early phase has already drafted and pointed out all the themes in the variations of which one later wanted to see the originality of Mussolini. In the phase from 1914 to 1919 Mussolini did nothing more than rediscover the approaches developed here for himself, whereby one can determine similarities right down to the wording. "

However, there is extremely controversial discussion about the practical importance of this ideology in activating the fascist movement (and ultimately in the regime itself). Reductionist and personalist approaches, which derive the fascist ideology from the intellectual development of a single person - Mussolini - are rarely represented in the scientific literature. The same applies to positions that reduce the fascist potential that arose in the prewar period and multiplied during the war on Italy, as the British historian Kevin Passmore emphasizes:

“Fascism was not the product of specific national traditions. (...) If fascism first crystallized in Italy, it was because circumstances allowed it, and not because it was ideologically predestined to do so (...). In 1914 there were proto-fascist tendencies in some European countries. They were radicalized and brutalized by the war and continued thereafter in the language or reality of the civil war. In no country has everyone been brutalized. It is the task of historians to explain why the brutalized came to power in some countries but not in others. "

The beginnings of fascism in the post-war period

Early fascism as part of nationalist mobilization

Immediately after the end of the war, the heterogeneous camp of interventionists disintegrated. "Democratic" interventionists such as Leonida Bissolati , who rejected annexations beyond the Italian language border, were now just as violently attacked by the nationalist right as rinunciatari ("renunciation") as the socialist " slackers " ( imboscati ). When, after the opening of the Paris Peace Conference, it became apparent that the maximum Italian demands (beyond what was guaranteed in the 1915 Treaty of London for all of Dalmatia , Fiume and the Inner Carniola ) against the will of Great Britain, France and the United States, Vittorio Emanuele left Orlando and Sonnino demonstratively Paris on April 24, 1919. As a result, the nationalist agitation against the "mutilated victory" ( vittoria mutilata ) took on hysterical traits. It was finally directed - with the approving "sympathy of most of the bourgeois public opinion" - against the government of the new left-liberal Prime Minister Francesco Saverio Nitti . This had signed the peace treaty with Germany on June 28, 1919 and that with Austria on September 10, 1919 . Two days later, two thousand nationalist irregulars - benevolently tolerated by the command authorities of the Italian army in Istria and Dalmatia - occupied Fiume under the leadership of the poet Gabriele D'Annunzio . The fact that Nitti did not dare to order the army to evacuate Fiume, but instead negotiated for months with mutinous officers and a "self-loving poseur" like D'Annunzio in front of the Italian and European public, suddenly demonstrated the strength of the nationalist right.

The nationalist polemics in the Fiume crisis had not only a foreign policy side, but also a domestic one. It was directed against the representatives of the politically “awakened” lower classes and thus against those forces who sought a fundamental political and social change in Italy after the war. The diciannovismo (roughly equivalent to "spirit of (19) 19"), which expressed itself in strikes and demonstrations, land and factory occupations, a rapid growth of the socialist party and the trade unions and generally in a hitherto unknown insubordination towards traditional authorities, felt the liberal elite as an elementary threat. A bourgeois status crisis exacerbated this uncertainty: Even before the war, the Italian labor market had not been able to accept university and college graduates, and now thousands of demobilized officers were also looking for “befitting” employment. For D'Annunzio and his supporters, the nationalist frenzy around Fiume was not an end in itself, but part of a “carefully laid powder trail”. The "explosion" was supposed to bring down the "democrats" Nitti: In August 1919 he introduced proportional representation , withdrew the Italian intervention troops from Soviet Russia , apparently got serious about the land reform promised during the war and still wanted the 1, Rapidly and largely demobilize an army of 5 million men . Nitti also understood D'Annunzio's action as the termination of the usual forms of communication of liberal politics by significant sections of the bourgeoisie:

“Italy is on the way to becoming a great Nicaragua . And that because of the will and the activity of those classes that claim to be in charge. This stupid and idiotic bourgeoisie has absolutely no sense of the deadly danger we are all in and is happily working to hasten the catastrophe. "

In June 1919 Mussolini's newspaper Il Popolo d'Italia published the official program of the Fasci italiani di combattimento . It contained a number of "left" reform demands, but had no significance for the political practice of the fascists either in 1919 or later.

In 1919 the radical right was still too fragmented to dictate politics in Rome. Even the remnants of the interventionist fasci , which at the suggestion of Benito Mussolini were constituted in Milan on March 23, 1919 as the Fasci italiani di combattimento , initially acquired no particular significance. The program they developed in the spring and summer of 1919 was not an expression of a mature ideology, but of “confusion and opportunism” - the mixture of anti-socialism, demands for reform and diffuse revolutionary rhetoric differed marginally the fascists from the decidedly conservative ANI, but it was not innovative. By the end of 1919 the organization had only attracted just under 900 organized supporters, mostly former Arditi officers , futurists , students and representatives of various varieties of “left” interventionism. These groups were neither socially nor politically representative of the returning war participants ( combattenti ), as their spokesmen tried unsuccessfully to stage the fasci . Mussolini, the ambitious keyword of the organization, saw in his newspaper Il Popolo d'Italia until well into 1920 and not in the initially stagnant fasci as the vehicle of his personal advancement. At least until autumn 1919, the Italian public identified the terms fascio (dt. In the literal meaning “Bund” or “bundle”), fascismo and fascisti with the “patriotic” spectrum (in the broadest sense with the extra-parliamentary appendix of the fascio parliamentare di difesa nazionale from 1917/18), but not yet with a specific political organization, content or political style.

A special feature of the fascists from the beginning was that they not only represented anti-socialism rhetorically, but - as in the beginning during the interventionist campaign of 1914/15 - brought it to the streets in a systematic and military-like manner. Members of the Milan fascio attacked a socialist demonstration as early as April 15, 1919 and then devastated the editorial office and printing of the central socialist organ Avanti! . Its political leaders Mussolini, Cesare Rossi , Giovanni Marinelli , Michele Bianchi and Umberto Pasella dropped the originally existing anti-clerical and republican components of the fascist program by the spring of 1920, when, according to Mussolini, the struggle against the Church and for the Republic towards democracy and this would inevitably lead to communism; many former “left interventionists” left the organization at this stage. What initially remained was programmatic anti-socialism, the most decisive and most knowledgeable representative of which Mussolini tirelessly turned out to be in his newspaper:

“I keep the promise I made on that stormy evening when I was expelled: I said I would be relentless, and in five years I haven't given the so-called Italian, so-called Socialist Party a moment of rest . "

Collapse of liberal hegemony

The parliamentary elections of November 16, 1919, in which all adult men could vote for the first time and the new proportional representation applied, abolished the liberal majority in the Chamber of Deputies, which had never been contested since the state was founded. The two “modern” mass parties - the PSI and the Catholic PPI , which was only founded in January 1919 - came together to 256 mandates, predominantly in northern and central Italy, while the various liberal groups together only received 220 or 252 (depending on the count). Only in the south and on the islands had the liberal clientele policy, with which elections had previously been “made”, still worked. This parliament, the composition of which was essentially confirmed by the election of May 5, 1921, was paralyzed in several respects. Cooperation between the Catholics and the PSI led by the “maximalists” was ruled out, and the Giolittians' attempted cooperation with the PPI was difficult because the trend around Luigi Sturzo that initially set the tone there was a thoroughly ambitious one, also to Giolitti's taste - the one in June Returned to the head of government in 1920 - resolutely too represented a “democratic” reform program.

The election also showed that the liberal, conservative and radical right, under the conditions of universal and equal (male) suffrage, did not have a significant electoral base on a national scale. In Milan, the fascist list, which included Mussolini, the writer Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and the conductor Arturo Toscanini , received just 1.7% of the vote. The Chamber of Deputies, dominated by a negative majority of “subversives” and “neutralists”, when the Socialist MPs were attacked in the streets of Rome by fascists and nationalists, fueled right-wing anti-parliamentarianism and steadily increased the number of liberals in the following months were ready to accept a dictatorship.

At its core, however, this right-wing development was not fed by the “fear” of an “Italian October Revolution ” (neither Giolitti nor Mussolini seriously expected the leadership of the PSI to attempt an uprising), but rather from a defensive movement against the entire bourgeoisie in the late summer and autumn of 1920 culminating, uncontrolled incursion of the “masses” into political and social spaces that had previously been the reserve of the elites. In the Chamber of Deputies, which until November 1919 was an “enlarged liberal local association”, the “subversives” now made up the strongest parliamentary group. Many industrialists saw the factory occupation in the metal industry in September 1920, which was ended by negotiation, as an unacceptable restriction on the free disposal of private property. The same was true of many large landowners when the Federterra agricultural workers ' union , after a six-month strike, enforced a collective agreement in October 1920 that secured control of the labor market in some provinces of northern Italy; many agrarians were now determined to “help themselves”. In the local elections in November 1920, the climax of the “two red years” ( biennio rosso ), the socialists won a majority in 2,162 city councils, including in large cities such as Bologna and Livorno . This election victory was in many ways even more momentous than that in the parliamentary election of the previous year; for the first time he provided PSI with a "real power" that threatened traditional relationships of power in the communities. According to the historian Philip Morgan, the significance of the temporal coincidence of the upheaval of liberal hegemony in the communities and the breakthrough of fascism into a mass movement can “hardly be overestimated.” The first massive blow by the fascists was directed against the communal positions of power of the PSI, which in the autumn of 1920 "were generally identified with the armed terrorist reaction against the socialist party and the trade unions."

The squadrismo

As early as 1919, individual Fasci - partly spontaneously, partly at the suggestion of the organization's secretary, Umberto Pasella - began to set up armed squadre ; there was apparently a connection with the plans for a nationalist coup during the Fiume crisis. In 1920 Mussolini sent Francesco Giunta to Trieste to set up a fascio there. In the spring and summer of 1920, the Trieste fascists carried out "punitive expeditions" ( spedizioni punitive ) on a large scale for the first time , which were directed against socialists, trade unionists and the Slovenian minority and which covered the whole of Venezia Giulia . In this border region, where anti-socialism was accentuated and brutalized by nationality conflicts, fascism developed into a mass movement with several thousand organized supporters before its breakthrough in the rest of the country.

After armed fascists carried out a sensational attack on the constituent meeting of the socialist city council in the “red” Bologna (November 21, 1920), the squadrismo expanded - initially in Emilia , Romagna , Umbria , Marche and Tuscany - to in the spring of 1921 very quickly extended to large parts of northern and central Italy (in the south, before 1922, fascism was only of importance in Apulia ). The number of members of the fasci multiplied from around 20,000 at the end of 1920 to almost 250,000 a year later. The militarily organized “punitive expeditions”, in which several thousand fascists were involved, followed a rapidly ritualized script. The affected community was initially surrounded and the piazza was occupied. Offices and meeting rooms of the socialist party, the cooperatives and the trade unions were ransacked or set on fire. Leading " Reds " were beaten with a baton ( manganello ); in order to humiliate them, they were often given the laxative castor oil . Socialist mayors and local councils were declared "deposed", red flags were torn down and replaced by the tricolor . In this way, especially in rural areas, the fascists often destroyed within a few hours the networks of socialists that had been built up over decades. Although it was not the rule for the fascists to kill their opponents deliberately and deliberately, about 3,000 people were killed in these actions by October 1922. Most of the time, after such attacks, the leading socialists fled to the larger cities, making it easy for the old elites to regain social control over the workers and peasants (in some provinces, such as Ferrara , after the destruction of the socialist trade unions, workers were forced into To join unions led by fascists).

The decisive weakness of the socialist movement, consistently exploited by the fascists, was its decentralized organization. Many workers were not used to political communication and coordination that went beyond the local horizon or did not have the necessary cultural and material resources. Almost all of them unarmed, they were no match for the surprisingly emerging, mobile and paramilitary organized fascists. The PSI was anything but a tightly managed management organization. The socialist organizations of each individual province - and not infrequently each individual municipality - were a "world of their own and could be attacked individually." In addition, the party was through fierce internal factional battles between the reformist right, the "maximalist" party leadership and the radical left, which broke away from PSI in January 1921 and founded the Communist Party , weakened. These conflicts also hampered the development of belatedly organized self-defense formations such as the Arditi del Popolo . The success of the fascist campaign was therefore lasting. The number of PSI members fell from 216,000 (1920) to 61,000 (1922) as numerous local organizations were destroyed and many demoralized members left the party. The membership of the agricultural workers' union Federterra, whose organizational network the fascists in the agricultural areas of northern Italy particularly violently attacked, fell from over 800,000 in 1920 to around 300,000 in the summer of 1922. While 14.1 million working days were lost in agriculture in 1920 due to strike, the figure was already there In 1921 only 407,000.

It is undisputed that industrialists, bankers and large landowners have significantly promoted the fascist movement through generous financing and other kinds of support (for example by leasing the trucks that are part of the ritualized appearance of the “punitive expeditions”). In some cases the fasci or their squadre were founded in the first place by local industrialists or landowners' associations, who used their own shop stewards as leaders. In view of the clarity of the sources, there is no Italian counterpart to the decades-long debate about the support of the NSDAP by German industrialists . Contemporaries already suspected this connection and sometimes proved it. The prefect of Milan - the city was by far the most important financial center in Italy and the seat of the fascist leadership group around Mussolini - wrote to the Ministry of the Interior on May 16, 1921:

“I can tell you that the local banks have always been particularly generous with their subsidies for the fascist organizations, even if it is difficult to name the exact sums, since such payments come directly and personally from the board of directors and not in minutes and budgets be mentioned. It is also true, as is widely believed, that not only the banks but also industrialists and business people finance the fascist organizations. "

With a few exceptions, most of the squadre were recruited socially from the middle and lower middle classes; Its members were primarily motivated by the militant confrontation with the socialists:

“The squadre were groups of young men, mostly of middle-class origin, many of whom had served as lower-ranking officers in the war. These were students and high school students, sons of freelancers, local traders, civil servants and landowners who sympathized with the anti-socialist dynamic of fascism. In some areas, such as Florence , the squadre also had a plebeian element; here they attracted the drifters and petty criminals of the urban underworld (...). They saw themselves as an army operating on the territory of the enemy and also behaved like an occupation force that had to rule and subdue a hostile population. "

Often less attention is paid to the fact that the liberal state or the political class that supported it cooperated with the fascists on several levels between 1920 and 1922. This cooperation ranged from transferring dismissed officers to the Fasci and their further salary to the kidnapping and suppression of criminal proceedings against fascists to the village policeman who "turned a blind eye" to fascist actions of his own accord or on instructions from above. In places, the fascists, police and army acted openly together, for example in early March 1921 in Florence, when riots broke out in the city's working-class neighborhoods after the murder of the local leader of the Communist Party. Sometimes active police and army officers as well as liberals influential in the municipality or province were also members of a fascio . The government decreed dismissal of hundreds of socialist city and town councilors, who had previously been "deposed" by the fascists, officially honored the fascist violence; the provisional administrators appointed by the prefects were often fascists themselves or sympathized with them. The cooperation, or at least the passivity of the police and the judiciary, was for many fascists the tacit prerequisite for their activity; When, on July 21, 1921, some Carabinieri opposed a fascist “punitive expedition” in Sarzana on the instructions of an officer , this led to a fleeting retreat of the surprised squadrists, who were then attacked by the residents with clubs and pitchforks, and a serious crisis for the entire movement. The political expression of the cooperation between fascists and liberals was the integration of the fascists in the blocco nazionale , the bourgeois electoral bloc formed by Giolitti for the parliamentary elections in May 1921; the intimidating presence of the fascists in the polling stations of many northern Italian villages and small towns, the majority of whom had still voted socialist in 1919, already turned this election into a farce in parts.

The first wave of squadrismo in 1920 and 1921 led to the political breakthrough of the fascist movement and made its leader Mussolini a national political figure. Many of the later prominent fascists also created their own regional power base as leaders of the squadrism: Dino Grandi and the former anarchist Leandro Arpinati in Bologna, Italo Balbo in Ferrara , Roberto Farinacci in Cremona , Renato Ricci in Carrara , Dino Perrone Compagni in Florence, Achille Starace in Trentino etc. He also played a central role in the political symbolism and mythology of the fascist regime. In the process "the pathetic facts behind the squadrismo , the police letting go and the funds of the industrialists and agrarians" disappeared behind the story of the "salvation of Italy" by Mussolini.

Crisis of the movement and creation of the PNF

Within a few months of the May 1921 election, considerable tensions built up in the explosion of the fascist movement. The dominant forces represented by Mussolini in the Milanese leadership group and in the 35-member parliamentary group in the Chamber of Deputies were quite ready to expand their fascist influence in the long term within the framework set by the blocco nazionale . In perspective, they saw themselves as part of a “national” power cartel that - at least in Mussolini's imagination - should also involve the right wing of the socialists and the reformist trade union leaders. This trend prepared the foundation of a "normal" party and felt the squadristic violence, largely withdrawn from their direct influence, as a burden: On July 2, 1921, Mussolini declared in Il Popolo d'Italia that there was no "Bolshevik danger" in Italy that the action against the PSI and the unions had been justified - more existed. However, an influential group of fascist extremists rejected this course. These self-proclaimed “revolutionaries” - “in practical terms on the extreme right, theoretically on the left of the movement” - whose spokespeople were mainly Dino Grandi and Italo Balbo, were particularly closely linked to large-scale agricultural conservatism in northern and central Italy; they considered a complete and permanent destruction of the labor movement possible, rejected compromises with the Giolittians and openly called for a "national" dictatorship. Often they had already begun to press workers into fascist syndicates in their areas of influence, which would have disintegrated immediately without the support of fascist violence.

When Mussolini tried to exploit the uncertainty after the events of Sarzana to bring about a decision on this issue, the conflict broke out openly in August 1921. The "pacification pact" ( patto di pacificazione ) with the socialists, mediated by the new prime minister Ivanoe Bonomi and approved by Mussolini, was rejected by almost all the important leaders of fascism in the provinces. After a conference of the fasci of the Po Valley in Bologna had rejected the pact, Mussolini announced his withdrawal from the central committee of the Fasci di combattimento on August 18, 1921 - a calculated maneuver that initially failed to have its intended effect and almost drove it politically would have promoted. In August, Balbo, Grandi and the Venetian fascist leader Pietro Marsich first sought contact with Gabriele D'Annunzio, who was not ready to put himself at the head of the fascists. The crisis was only resolved through a balancing of interests at the third congress of the Fasci di combattimento in Rome (November 7-10, 1921), where the Partito Nazionale Fascista (PNF) was founded on November 9, 1921 .

Mussolini only partially achieved his goals with the founding of the party. The squadre were reorganized, but not dissolved, and the “peace pact” was officially terminated. The influence of the Duce continued to have clear limits: "At least half of the party leadership consisted of senior squadrists, and the simple party members were usually loyal to their local boss, but not to Mussolini." The leadership of the PNF had the right to do so To formulate binding political positions as a whole party, but officially no way to control personnel selection below the national level. According to the statute of 1921, the powerful provincial secretaries were to be elected by assemblies of delegates in the provinces, which fixed the fragmentation of the fascist movement into a multitude of small provincial power centers that sealed off against each other and against the headquarters. In 1921/22, this “democratic” element led to the fact that predominantly the leading squadrists secured the decisive positions for themselves. The statute of 1926, which abolished the electoral offices and provided for the establishment of the segretario federale by the headquarters, did nothing to change the fragmentation of the party structure.

The founding of the party programmatically sealed the break with all remaining elements of the “left” reform policy from the early days of fascism. The PNF proclaimed “order, discipline, hierarchy” as the guiding principles. In “productivist” formulas, the party committed itself to private property and economic “efficiency”, called for a reduction in government spending, the privatization of public companies and a tax reform that would favor entrepreneurs. This market liberalism was linked to a commitment to the nation as the “highest synthesis of all material and immaterial values” and to the authoritarian state, led by a technocratic elite, as the “legal incarnation of the nation”, which left no room for democratic organization and participation. A programmatic article by Mussolini in the journal Gerarchia (“Hierarchy”), which was founded after the party congress, explicitly placed fascism a little later in a reactionary tradition of the struggle against the “ principles of 1789 ”.

At the time the fascist party was founded, the majority of its approximately 220,000 members were male, relatively young (around a quarter had not yet reached the voting age) and of bourgeois or petty bourgeois origin - according to Richard Bosworth "the fascist sons of liberal fathers". According to a study initiated by Umberto Pasella, the proportion of industrial and agricultural workers is said to have been around 40% in autumn 1921. However, it fell to around 15% by the end of the 1920s. The fluctuation in the party was high, as early as 1922 about half of the founding members left.

It turned out to be essential for the history of the fascist regime that the party was not only a political instrument for many members from the beginning, but also, perhaps to an even greater extent, a source of income and status. Even before it came to power, the PNF had a considerable apparatus of paid functionaries who consumed a large part of the party finances - which a few months after the party was founded mainly consisted of individual large donations from banks and industrialists, but only around 40% from membership fees and smaller donations . In this environment, nepotism and corruption flourished at the latest after the seizure of power, which was the rule rather than the exception for small functionaries and officials on site as well as for prominent leaders of the party: “Italo Balbo, a penniless ex-student at the beginning of 1921, was in 1924 a rich man. ”Whole provincial organizations, despite occasional external inspections, resembled a“ dubious business and profit- making camorra ” by the 1930s at the latest . The endless and paralyzing factional and clique struggles that, more or less energetically moderated by Mussolini, took place at the local level after 1922 were - although regularly fought on the basis of semi-official ideology - in essence very often disputes over positions, status and money : "The struggle for personal positions became more important than the communication of ideology." This was one of the reasons for the "surprisingly dysfunctional party organization" that was immediately apparent after it was founded. It partly explains why the PNF simply disintegrated after the fall of Mussolini in the summer of 1943 .


Mussolini was, when he threatened with a coup during the march on Rome in 1922 , by King Victor Emanuel III. appointed Prime Minister.

Leader cult

Propaganda depiction of Benito Mussolini on the front page of La Domenica del Corriere newspaper (1938)

In 1924 and 1925, internal power struggles broke out openly. Mussolini responded by increasingly appearing no longer just as the leader of the movement, but as the Duce (" leader ") of all of Italy. In 1925, the “extremists” briefly appointed the general secretary of the fascist party and, true to their cadre idea, enforced admission restrictions. Finally, at the end of 1925, they tried to organize a strike that also turned against Mussolini.
After its failure, internal party elections were abolished and the “extremists” removed from important positions. In the following years, several attempts to integrate the old elites and officers into the party failed. The influx came mainly from the civil service. The Italian fascist party therefore never achieved dominance over all areas of society such as the NSDAP in Germany.

In 1925 Mussolini banned the Socialist Party and anti-fascist organizations and created a model for other fascist dictatorships with his leadership cult - the mussolinismo . The Duce presented himself as a man of the people: worker, father, athlete, womanizer, soldier, with uniform and martial appearance. The claim to great power of the ancient Roman Empire remained the guiding idea of ​​Italian fascism and led, in particular, to the attack on Ethiopia in 1935. From 1938 onwards, fascism also officially pursued an anti-Semitic policy, which arose of its own accord and not only under German pressure.


Fascist Italy with its colonial empire in Europe and Africa (1939)

The politics of fascism aimed to establish Italy as a great power. This included symbolic actions to underline the hegemony (in the sense of Antonio Gramsci ) as well as the demonstration of strength, among other things with the incorporation of further areas on the Adriatic coast under the sign of irredentism. The Treaty of Rome (1924) sealed the annexation of the city of Fiume to the kingdom, after the border treaty of Rapallo had already meant the gain of Zara in 1920.

Above all, Italy should establish itself as the determining power in the Mediterranean area ( Mare Nostrum ) and assert itself as a colonial power. As early as 1924 Italy was assigned Jubaland to compensate it for not having been involved in the division of German colonial possessions. As a result of the Abyssinian War , which was fought with extremely brutal means, the whole of Abyssinia could be conquered by May 9, 1936 .

In 1939 Italy entered into a war alliance with the German Reich, known as the “ Steel Pact ”. On September 1, 1939, Mussolini proclaimed the “non-warfare” (non belligeranza) of Italy; However, he threw the announced “decisive weight” (peso determinante) of his country into battle as early as June 1940, when war was declared on England and France .

The desired empire

The creation of an Italian empire was once again declared as the war goal. Italy would expand its territory to Nice , Corsica , Malta , the entire coast of Dalmatia including Albania , Crete and other Greek islands. Tunisia , Egypt (with the Sinai Peninsula), Sudan and parts of Kenya would be added to the previous colonies to ensure a land connection from Libya to Ethiopia . The territories of British and French Somaliland as well as parts of French equatorial Africa should thus be taken into possession, and agreements on zones of influence should be made with Turkey and Arab states. In addition, the strategically important bases Aden and Perim should come under Italian control.

The Italian operations were unsuccessful, however: the attack against the already defeated France got stuck in the Alps; the offensive against the British in North Africa at the end of 1940 and the campaign against Greece failed and could only be masked by the intervention of the German armed forces. The more recent research ascribes the disastrous results above all to amateur strategic planning and excessive overestimation of himself, especially to the "Duce" himself. In 1941 an Italian expeditionary force took part in the German campaign against the Soviet Union . At the same time, the expansion of Italy and its colonial possessions reached its peak, thanks in part to German support. Soon after, the last German-Italian offensive in North Africa failed. The chain of defeats for the fascist regime now continued: after the surrender of the Axis troops in Tunisia in May 1943, the Americans and British conquered the islands of Lampedusa and Pantelleria and landed in Operation Husky in Sicily in July 1943 . The dream of an Italian empire was shattered.

Persecution of the Jews

From the middle of the 19th century onwards, anti-Semitism also began to emerge in Italy , in which the Catholic Church was also involved ( anti-Judaism ). The position of the Italian Jews was nevertheless to be regarded as comparatively favorable during this period. The support strata of the Risorgimento mainly represented liberal values, from which the equality of all citizens - including the Jews - emerged. When the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed in 1861, attention did not have to be paid to the interests of the Catholic Church, which generally opposed national unification. Most of the Italian Jews formed an urban, bourgeois class with a comparatively high level of education and mainly based in the metropolises of northern and central Italy. Because of these properties, after the turn of the century and the time of the fin de siècle, they temporarily came into focus as a symbol of modernity and its excesses. In the context of the Italo-Turkish War , too , the loyalty of Italian Jews in the growing nationalist camp was questioned. In contrast to the German Reich, however, such resentments did not find their way into the country's political leadership, which was still liberal.

After the fascists came to power in 1922, the Italian Jews were able to maintain their social position. They were also not prevented from joining the Partito Nazionale Fascista : around two hundred Jews were already there for the march on Rome . Some of them made it to high offices in the party, such as Aldo Finzi , who was expelled from the party in 1942, joined the Resistance and was murdered in the massacre in the Ardeatine Caves , or Guido Jung , Italian finance minister from 1932 to 1935.

In public, Mussolini was very critical of racial theories and anti-Semitism. One of his lovers, Margherita Sarfatti , was herself a Jew. Speaking to a meeting of foreign journalists in November 1927, Mussolini declared:

“Fascism means unity, while anti-Semitism means destruction. Fascist anti-Semitism or anti-Semitic fascism are therefore a blatant absurdity. We in Italy find it extremely ridiculous when we hear how the anti-Semites in Germany want to come to power through fascism. The news comes to us from other countries that an anti-Semitic fascism is trying to gain ground. We vigorously protest against the fact that fascism is compromised in this way. Anti-Semitism is a product of barbarism, while fascism is at the highest level of civilization and is diametrically opposed to anti-Semitism. "

Title page of the anti-Semitic journal La difesa della razza from September 5, 1938
Presentation on the race law published in La difesa della razza , November 1938

Mussolini consistently adhered to this point of view, writes Hugo Valentin in 1937. But at the beginning of the 1930s, the first signs of state-mandated anti-Semitism were also visible in Italy. The law on the Israelite communities ( Legge Falco ) brought not only the reorganization of the religious communities with it, but also increased control and interference by the state. Among other things, this was intended to limit the proportion of Jewish executives. For the time being, this did not prevent Italy from accepting Jews who had fled the German Reich or from allowing them to continue their journey to Palestine.

After Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, Italy took in numerous Jews from Germany who had to flee from the National Socialists. But there were also a number of anti-Jewish publications in Italy. Fascist magazines such as Il Tevere, Giornalissimo, Quadrivio were characterized by their radical anti-Semitism. The diary entries of his lover Clara Petacci published in 2009 from the years 1932–38 show a Mussolini who expressed himself very anti-Semitic in private. In the run-up to the Abyssinian War , there was a further increase in racism. The turning point in the Jewish policy of the fascist regime finally brought the year 1938. At the request of Mussolini put scientists to Guido Landra the Manifest of the racist scientists ( Manifesto della razza ), which in the Italian race laws ( leggi razziali ) culminated. The Jews were defined as a non-European, un-Italian and therefore not assimilable population.

The Jews in Italy (39,000 citizens and 11,200 foreigners) were henceforth registered and excluded. In September 1938, Jewish students and teachers were excluded from state schools, from autumn 1939 physical attacks on Jews increased, from May 1942 on all adult Jews under the age of 56 were obliged to do forced labor , and in 1943 they were interned in camps. When Mussolini was overthrown in July 1943, there was hardly a profession that Jews were legally allowed to pursue. From September 1943, Jews were expropriated in the Italian Social Republic , sent to Italian concentration camps and then deported via transit camps to the German extermination camps in the east . German and Italian authorities worked closely together. But it was not an isolated case that Italian military commanders refused to take part in the anti-Jewish actions of the National Socialist troops.

A total of around 9,000 Jews were deported to German concentration camps and killed under the rule of fascism.

Deposition of Mussolini, German occupation of Italy and Allied victory

Under the impact of the devastating defeats in 1942 and 1943, Mussolini was deposed in 1943 by the Grand Fascist Council , the fascist executive body. This dismissal took place in accordance with the system with a simple majority decision, since the council was the highest authority of the fascist state. Mussolini was imprisoned. King Victor Emmanuel III took over the supreme command of the armed forces and commissioned Marshal Pietro Badoglio to form a military government. This declared the fascist party and its branches to be dissolved by law.

Only ruins remained after the Battle of Monte Cassino , in which 32,000 soldiers were killed in May 1944

The German Reich then tried to bring the black shirts back to power in Italy. Italy was occupied by the Germans on September 10th . On September 12, 1943, German paratroopers in command operation Eiche freed Duce Mussolini, who had been held captive on the Gran Sasso by Italian troops loyal to the king, with gliders . Germany established a puppet government under Mussolini on the occupied part of Italy, the Italian Social Republic ("Republic of Salo"), which resided on Lake Garda. This parallel government remained allied with Germany, for its part declared war on the part of Italy occupied by the Allies and fought in central and northern Italy all persons and institutions that were involved with the legal government of Italy under that of King Victor Emmanuel III. Deputy Prime Minister Badoglio sympathized and rejected the occupation of Italy by Hitler's Germany (see Resistancea ). This also included the partisans .

In the next two years, central Italy in particular was affected in different ways by the heavy fighting along the slowly advancing front - the liberation of Rome on June 4, 1944 - but the fighting wreaked havoc in many areas. Many war crimes committed by retreating German associations during these months are documented. Communist, socialist, Catholic and liberal partisans of the Resistancea fought there against their troops and Italians allied with them. Later this struggle was perceived by the majority of Italians as a “national war of liberation”. In addition, the term “civil war”, which originally came from neo-fascist historiography, has also established itself and is controversially discussed in Italy.

At the end of April 1945, Mussolini was captured by communist partisans and shot dead on April 28 in Mezzegra on Lake Como .

On April 29, 1945 , the German armed forces surrendered unconditionally .

Social processing

After the end of the war, the era of fascism in Italy - the elimination of democratic structures, cooperation with the German National Socialists and active participation in the expulsion and murder of a quarter of Italian Jews - was received and processed completely differently than in Germany. The reasons for this were not only the smaller radius of effect of fascist domestic, foreign and military policy compared to National Socialism, but also the lack of an international war crimes trial such as the Nuremberg Trials . This development was in turn due to the internally brought about overthrow of the regime, while in Germany this only took place with defeat and surrender.

In large parts of Italian society, especially among the left, supporters of socialists and communists, who invoked the tradition of resistance and partisan struggle, fascism was and is still outlawed. Due to the strong role of the left-wing parties in the post-war period, a (at least rhetorical) unequivocal condemnation of fascism during the First Republic (1946–1993) was therefore a common fundamental conviction of all democratic parties. However, since the radical political changes of the early 1990s such as the rise of Silvio Berlusconi and the national-conservative, post-fascist Alleanza Nazionale , a positive or a relativizing assessment of the fascist past has gained influence.

Today the person Benito Mussolini is at their work places - the official residence in his respective Social Republic in Salò on Lake Garda , the family crypt in Predappio or the Mussolini Museum near Forli - sometimes mystified by neo-fascist groups and a personality cult maintained. The glorification of fascism is punishable under the current Italian legal situation, but these laws are not consistently applied.

A self-confessed neo-fascist politician was Alessandra Mussolini , the granddaughter of the former dictator. Today she is a member of the conservative Popolo della Libertà party .

Film documentaries

  • Fascist Legacy . United Kingdom 1989, directed by Ken Kirby, languages: English, Italian.
  • La guerra sporca di Mussolini / Mussolini's Dirty War. Italy 2008, directed by Giovanni Donfrancesco, languages: English, Italian.

See also



  • Davide Conti: Gli uomini di Mussolini. Prefetti, questori e criminali di guerra dal fascismo alla Repubblica italiana. Einaudi, Turin 2017, ISBN 978-8806215408 .


  • Alberto De Bernardi: Una dittatura moderna. Il fascismo come problema storica . 2nd edition, Mondadori, Milan 2001, ISBN 88-424-9646-4 .
  • Richard J. Bosworth: Mussolini and the Eclipse of Italian Fascism: From Dictatorship to Populism Yale University Press, New Haven 2021, ISBN 978-0-300-23272-1 .
  • Richard J. Bosworth: The Italian dictatorship. Problems and perspectives in the interpretation of Mussolini and Fascism . Arnold Press, London 1998, ISBN 0-340-67727-9 .
  • Renzo De Felice : Mussolini . Einaudi, Turin 1965-1997 (8 vols.).
  • Emilio Gentile : The Italian road to totalitarianism . Taylor & Francis, London 2009, ISBN 978-0-7146-5487-4 .
  • Mario Isnenghi: L'Italia del Fascio . Giunti, Florence 1996, ISBN 88-09-21014-X .
  • Malte König: Fascism in Italy. Emergence, consolidation, collapse and coming to terms with. In: Der Bürger im Staat , 60.2 (2010) , pp. 143–151.
  • Brunello Mantelli: Brief History of Italian Fascism . 4th edition. Wagenbach, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-8031-2300-8 .
  • Aram Mattioli : War Crimes: The Illegal Third Party. In: Die Zeit , No. 38/2005.
  • Aram Mattioli: Libya, promised land. In: Die Zeit , No. 21/2003.
  • Davide Rodogno: Fascism's European Empire. Italian Occupation during the Second World War . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2006.
  • Denis M. Smith: Modern Italy. A political history. University Press, New Haven CT 1997, ISBN 0-300-07377-1 (formerly Italy ).
  • Angelo Tasca : Believe, Fight, Obey. Rise of Fascism in Italy. ("Nascita e avvento del fascismo"). Edition Promedia, Vienna 2001, ISBN 3-900478-12-0 .
  • Nicola Tranfaglia: La prima guerra mondiale e il fascismo. UTET, Turin 1995, ISBN 88-02-04947-5 (Storia d'Italia; 22).
  • Hans Woller : Rome, October 28, 1922. The fascist challenge. Munich 1999.

Sociological and socio-historical approaches

  • Ruth Ben-Ghiat: Fascist modernities. Italy, 1922-1945 (= Studies on the history of society and culture. Volume 42). University Press, Berkeley, CA 2001, ISBN 0-520-24216-5 .
  • Mabel Berezin: Making the fascist self. The political culture of interwar Italy. University Press, Ithaca NY 1997, ISBN 0-8014-8420-0 .
  • Victoria De Grazia: The culture of consent. Mass organizing of leisure in Fascist Italy. University Press, Cambridge 1981, ISBN 0-521-23705-X .
  • Simonetta Falasca Zamponi: Fascist spectacle. The aesthetics of power in Mussolini's Italy. New edition. University Press, Berkeley, CA 2000, ISBN 0-520-20623-1 (partial dissertation, University of Berkeley, 1992).
  • Emilio Gentile: The sacralization of politics in Fascist Italy (“Culto del littorio”). University Press, Cambridge 1996, ISBN 0-674-78475-8 .
  • Giorgio Mezzalira, Hannes Obermair (ed.): Fascism at the borders / Fascismo di confine (= history and region / Storia e region . Volume 20/1) Studienverlag, Innsbruck / Vienna / Bozen 2012, ISBN 978-3-7065-5069-7 .
  • Jens Petersen , Wolfgang Schieder (ed.): Fascism and society in Italy. State, economy, culture (= Italy in modern times. Volume 2). SH, Cologne 1998, ISBN 3-89498-021-4 .
  • Petra Terhoeven : pledge of love for the fatherland. War, gender and the fascist nation in the Italian gold and wedding ring collection 1935/36. Niemeyer, Tübingen 2003, ISBN 3-484-82105-1 (also dissertation, TU Darmstadt, 2002).
  • Paola S. Salvatori: La seconda Mostra della Rivoluzione fascista. In: Clio. Volume 39, 2003, No. 3, pp. 439-459.
  • Paola S. Salvatori: La Roma di Mussolini dal socialismo al fascismo (1901-1922). In: Studi Storici. Volume 47, 2006, No. 3, pp. 749-780.
  • Paola S. Salvatori: L'adozione del fascio littorio nella monetazione dell'Italia fascista. In: Rivista italiana di numismatica e scienze affini. Volume 109, 2008, pp. 333-352.

Relationship to the Catholic Church

Relationship to National Socialism

  • Maurizio Bach : The charismatic dictatorships of the Führer. Third Reich and Italian fascism in comparison of their structures of rule. Nomos, Baden-Baden 1990, ISBN 3-7890-2106-7 .
  • Matthias Damm: The reception of Italian fascism in the Weimar Republic (=  extremism and democracy . Volume 27). Nomos, Baden-Baden 2013, ISBN 978-3-8487-0315-9 .
  • Malte König: Cooperation as a power struggle. The fascist axis alliance Berlin-Rome in the war 1940/41 (= Italy in the modern age. Volume 14). SH, Cologne 2007, ISBN 978-3-89498-175-4 .
  • Sven Reichardt : Fascist combat leagues. Violence and Community in Italian Fascism and in the German SA. Böhlau, Cologne 2002, ISBN 3-412-13101-6 (also dissertation, FU Berlin, 2000).
  • Sven Reichardt, Armin Nolzen (ed.): Fascism in Italy and Germany. Studies on transfer and comparison (= contributions to the history of National Socialism. Volume 21). Wallstein, Göttingen 2005, ISBN 978-3-89244-939-3 .
  • Wolfgang Schieder: Fascist dictatorships. Studies on Italy and Germany. Wallstein, Göttingen 2008, ISBN 978-3-8353-0358-4 .
  • Thomas Schlemmer, Hans Woller: Italian fascism and the Jews 1922 to 1945. In: Quarterly books for contemporary history . Volume 53, 2005, Issue 2, pp. 164–201 (PDF) .
  • Michele Sarfatti : Basic features and goals of the Jewish legislation in Fascist Italy 1938–1943. In: Sources and research from Italian archives and libraries. Volume 83, 2003, pp. 436-444 (PDF) .

Local studies

  • Roger Engelmann : Provincial Fascism in Italy. Political violence and the formation of rule in the marble region of Carrara 1921–1924 (=  Studies on Contemporary History. Volume 40). Oldenbourg, Munich 1992 ( full text available online ).
  • Stefan Lechner: “The conquest of people of foreign origin”: Provincial fascism in South Tyrol 1921–1926 (=  publications of the South Tyrolean Provincial Archives. Volume 20). Wagner, Innsbruck 2005, ISBN 978-3-7030-0398-1 .

Web links

Commons : Italian Fascism  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. Elisabetta Brighi: Foreign Policy, Domestic Politics and International Relations. The case of Italy. Routledge, Abingdon (Oxon) / New York 2013, chapter Italian foreign policy. The fascist 'ventennio' (1922-1943) , pp. 67-90.
  2. Claudio Fogu: Italiani brava gente . The legacy of fascist historical culture on Italian politics of memory. In: Richard Ned Lebow et al .: The Politics of Memory in Postwar Europe. Duke University Press, Durham (NC) / London 2006, pp. 147–176, here p. 147.
  3. See Payne, Stanley, History of Fascism. Rise and Fall of a European Movement, Vienna 2006, pp. 537-560.
  4. A critique of totalitarianism theory by a leading researcher of fascism can be found in Richard JB Bosworth , Explaining Auschwitz and Hiroshima. History Writing and the Second World War 1945–1990 , London / New York 1993, passim.
  5. ^ Bosworth, Mussolini , London 2010, p. 263.
  6. Giuseppe Finaldi, Mussolini and Italian Fascism , Harlow 2008, p. 15.
  7. a b Finaldi, Mussolini and Italian Fascism , p. 15.
  8. ↑ For a summary, see Philip Morgan, Fascism in Europe, 1919–1945 , Routledge, London / New York 2003, pp. 190–194.
  9. ^ Richard JB Bosworth, Mussolini's Italy. Life under the Dictatorship 1915-1945 , London 2006, p. 6.
  10. Most recently in German Griffin, Roger, Palingenetischer Ultranationalismus. The birth pangs of a new interpretation of fascism, in: Schlemmer, Thomas, Woller, Hans (ed.): Fascism in Europe . Ways of Research, Munich 2014, pp. 17–33. See also the contribution by Gentile in the same volume, Gentile, Emilio, The “New Man” of Fascism. Reflections on a Totalitarian Experiment , pp. 89-106.
  11. ^ Richard JB Bosworth, The Italian Dictatorship. Problems and perspectives in the interpretation of Mussolini and Fascism , London 1998, p. 127.
  12. ^ Bosworth, Italian Dictatorship , p. 21.
  13. a b Bosworth: Italian Dictatorship , p. 27.
  14. ^ Bosworth: Italian Dictatorship , p. 24.
  15. Quoted from Richard JB Bosworth: Introduction. In: ders. (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Fascism , Oxford 2010, pp. 1–7, here p. 5 (emphasis in the original).
  16. ^ Passmore, Kevin: The Ideological Origins of Fascism before 1914. In: Bosworth: Oxford Handbook of Fascism , pp. 11–31, pp. 30.
  17. Exemplary for numerous publications A. James Gregor, Young Mussolini and the Intellectual Origins of Fascism , Berkeley 1979 and (more balanced) ders., Mussolini's Intellectuals. Fascist Social and Political Thought , Princeton 2005. Gregor discusses the fascist regime as a “development dictatorship” and regards its development up to 1938 with goodwill; in English-language research he was one of Renzo De Felice's most energetic defenders.
  18. a b Bosworth, Mussolini , p. 111.
  19. Bosworth: Dictators, Strong or Weak? The Model of Benito Mussolini , in: ders., Oxford Handbook of Fascism , pp. 259–275, here p. 268.
  20. See Richard JB Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy. Life under the Dictatorship 1915-1945 , London 2006, p. 30.
  21. ^ Giuseppe Finaldi: Mussolini and Italian Fascism , Harlow 2008, p. 20.
  22. ^ Philip Morgan: Italian Fascism 1919-1945 , Houndmills / London 1995, p. 5.
  23. ^ Richard JB Bosworth: Mussolini , London 2010, p. 72.
  24. See Morgan: Italian Fascism , p. 6.
  25. See De Grand: Italian Fascism. Its Origins and Development , Lincoln / London 2000, p. 14 f.
  26. ^ Morgan: Italian Fascism , p. 7.
  27. See Kevin Passmore: The Ideological Origins of Fascism before 1914. In: Richard JB Bosworth (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Fascism , Oxford 2010, pp. 11–31, here p. 27.
  28. See De Grand, Italian Fascism , p. 13.
  29. ^ Finaldi, Mussolini and Italian Fascism , p. 56.
  30. See Alexander J. De Grand, The Italian Nationalist Association and the Rise of Fascism in Italy , Lincoln / London 1978, p. IX.
  31. See Bosworth, Mussolini's Italy , p. 48.
  32. See Bosworth: Mussolini , p. 140.
  33. See De Grand: Italian Nationalist Association , p. 19.
  34. See De Grand: Italian Nationalist Association , p. 20.
  35. See De Grand, Italian Fascism , pp. 146 f.
  36. Karin Priester: The Italian Fascism. Economic and ideological foundations , Cologne 1972, p. 74.
  37. ^ Passmore: Ideological Origins , p. 29.
  38. ^ Adrian Lyttelton: The Seizure of Power. Fascism in Italy 1919-1929 , London 1987, p. 30.
  39. Martin Clark: Mussolini , Harlow 2005, p. 41.
  40. De Grand: Italian Fascism , p. 26 f.
  41. Lyttelton, Seizure , p. 32.
  42. Nitti to Olindo Malagodi, September 14, 1919, quoted from Maier, Recasting , p. 121.
  43. Enzo Santarelli: Origini del fascismo 1911-1919 , Urbino 1963, p. 202 f.
  44. a b See Lyttelton, Seizure , p. 52.
  45. See Lyttelton, Seizure , p. 47.
  46. Bosworth, Mussolini , p. 115.
  47. Quoted from Clark: Mussolini , p. 41 f.
  48. See Maier, Recasting , p. 128.
  49. See Lyttelton, Seizure , p. 35.
  50. Maier, Recasting , p. 134.
  51. ^ Dahlia S. Elazar, The Making of Fascism. Class, State and Counter-Revolution, Italy 1919–1922 , Westport (Conn.) / London 2001, p. 58.
  52. ^ Morgan, Italian Fascism , p. 22.
  53. Lyttelton, Seizure , p. 53.
  54. ^ De Grand, Italian Fascism , p. 28.
  55. See Spriano, Paolo, Storia del Partito comunista italiano. Da Bordiga a Gramsci. Parte prima, Turin 1967, pp. 139–151.
  56. ^ See Morgan, Italian Fascism , p. 36.
  57. Quoted from Franzinelli, Mimmo, Squadrism , in: Bosworth, Oxford Handbook of Fascism , pp. 91-108, here p. 95.
  58. Morgan, Italian Fascism , pp. 50 f.
  59. Clark, Mussolini , p. 48.
  60. See Bosworth, Mussolini's Italy , p. 140.
  61. See Morgan, Italian Fascism , pp. 41 f.
  62. ^ See Morgan, Italian Fascism , p. 56.
  63. ^ See Morgan, Italian Fascism , p. 41.
  64. Lyttelton, Seizure , p. 54.
  65. Lyttelton, Seizure , p. 74.
  66. See Morgan, Italian Fascism , pp. 44f.
  67. Clark, Mussolini, p. 54.
  68. See Lyttelton, Seizure , p. 75.
  69. ^ Bosworth, Mussolini's Italy , p. 152.
  70. See Bosworth, Mussolini's Italy , p. 234.
  71. See Payne, History , p. 141.
  72. ^ Corner, Paul, The Fascist Party and Popular Opinion in Mussolini's Italy , Oxford 2012, p. 156.
  73. ^ Research report on the Provincial Federation of Parma from 1931, quoted in Corner, Fascist Party and Popular Opinion , p. 157.
  74. Corner, Fascist Party and Popular Opinion , p. 161. Exemplary for Roberto Farinacci Bosworth, Mussolini's Italy, p. 129.
  75. ^ Corner, Fascist Party and Popular Opinion , p. 124.
  76. Arnd Krüger : Sport in Fascist Italy (1922-1933), in: G. Spitzer, D. Schmidt (Ed.): Sport between independence and external determination. Festschrift for Prof. Dr. Hajo Bernett . P. Wegener, Bonn 1986, pp. 213-226; Felice Fabrizio: Sport e fascismo. La politica sportiva del regime, 1924–1936. Guaraldi, Rimini 1976
  77. Thomas Schlemmer, Hans Woller: The Italian Fascism and the Jews 1922 to 1945. In: Karl Dietrich Bracher , Hans-Peter Schwarz, Horst Möller (eds.): In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte , vol. 53, 2005, issue 2, Pp. 164–201, (PDF).
  78. ^ Hugo Valentin: Antisemitenspiegel: the anti-Semitism: history, criticism, sociology . Vienna 1937, p. 72.
  79. ^ Brunello Mantelli: Racism as a scientific explanation of the world. About the deep cultural roots of racism and anti-Semitism in Italy and elsewhere . In: Christof Dipper (Ed.): Germany and Italy 1860–1960 (= writings of the Historisches Kolleg - Colloquia 52). Oldenbourg, Munich 2005, p. 207.
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  81. Diaries of the Beloved. In: Welt Online , November 19, 2009, accessed November 27, 2009.
  82. Quotation from the Manifesto della razza ariana (published in the daily newspaper "Il giornale d'Italia" on July 14, 1938): Gli ebrei rappresentano l'unica popolazione che non si è mai assimilata in Italia perchè essa è costituita da elementi razziali non europe, diversi in modo assoluto dagli elementi che hanno dato origine agli Italiani. ( online )
  83. ^ Ulrich Wyrwa: Italy . In: Wolfgang Benz (Hrsg.): Handbuch des Antisemitismus. Volume 1: Countries and Regions . De Gruyter Saur, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-11-023510-4 , p. 171 (accessed via De Gruyter Online).
  84. ^ Georg Bönisch / Jan Friedmann / Cordula Meyer / Michael Sontheimer / Klaus Wiegrefe : The dark continent . In: Der Spiegel . No. 21 , 2009, p. 82-92 ( Online - May 18, 2009 ).
  85. ^ Carlo Moos: Exclusion, internment, deportations, anti-Semitism and violence in late Italian fascism (1938–1945) . Chronos Verlag, Zurich 2004, ISBN 3-0340-0641-1 .
  86. Aram Mattioli : "Viva Mussolini". The appreciation of fascism in Berlusconi's Italy. Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 2010.
  87. Thomas Migge : Mussolini's men in the democratic constitutional state. In: , March 12, 2017.