Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) was an Italian dictator from 1925 to 1943.
As founder of the Fascist Movement 1919 and prime minister from 1922, he became known as Dace ("the leader"). He invaded Ethiopia (1935-1936), intervened in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) in support of Franco, and conquered Albania in 1939.
In June 1940 Italy entered World War II supporting Hitier. Forced by military and domestic setbacks to resign in 1943, Mussolini established a breakaway government in North Italy (1944-1945), but was killed trying to flee the country.
Mussolini was born in the Romagna, the son of a blacksmith, and worked in early life as a teacher and journalist. He became active in the socialist movement, from which he was expelled in 1914 for advocating Ita
lian intervention in World War I.
In 1919 he founded the Fascist Movement, whose programme combined violent nationalism with demagogic republican and anti-capitalist slogans, and launched a campaign of terrorism against the socialists. This movement was backed by many landowners and industrialists, and by the heads of the army and police, and in October 1922 Mussolini was in power as prime minister at the head of a coalition government.
In 1925 he assumed dictatorial powers, and in 1926 all opposition parties were banned. During die years that followed, the entire political, legal, and education system was remodelled on Fascist lines.
Mussolini's Blackshirt followers were the forerunners of Hitler's Brownshirts, and his career of conquest drew him into close cooperation with Nazi Germany. Together they formed the Axis alliance in 1936.
During World War II, Italian defeats in North Africa and Greece, the Allied invasion of Sicily, and discontent at home destroyed Mussolini's prestige, and in July 1943 he was compelled to resign by his own Fascist Grand Council. He was released from prison by German parachutists in September, and set up a :Republican Fascist" government in North Italy.
In April 1945 he and his mistress, Clara Petacci, were captured at Lake Como by partisans while heading for the border, and shot. Their bodies were hung upside down and exposed to the execration of the mob in Milan.
Why is Benito Mussolini famous?
Benito Mussolini was the leader of National Fascist Party from 1922 to 1943.
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