Challenges to, and the fall of, the fascist state, c1935-46


Mussolini's foregin policy aims

  • It is hard to pin downs his aims because his actions do appear to be erratic and opportunistic, often aiming to maximize his prestige and material gain for Italy.
  • Wanted to assert Italy as a world power
  • standing up to Italy's territoral claimes (irrendte lands)
  • reversing the versaille settlement (treaty)
  • overcome the shame in the 'mutilated victory' in africa (libya)
  • and expand into Africa (abyssinissa)
  • assert greater power in the mediteranian sea (more than the british)
  • italians would become more militant
  • 'spazio vitale (living space)
  • the goals never changed but the means to acheive them did
  • his actions were more cautious in the beginning because he fear Britian and the league of nations.
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Foreign Policy, success abd failure before 1934

  • Mussolini traveled to London and Switzerland to neglegate issues from the first world war, predominatly reperations payments, the aimed was to demonstaited himself as a world power and a greater presence in world affairs
  • was more aggrssive however, to smaller powers such as Greece.
  • 1923 Enrico Tellini was murdered while leading an inter-allied commision on drawing the border between greece and albaina.
  • Mussolini took advantage and attacked the greek govererment, claiming that they were behind the assassination.
  • he demanded that they attended the funeral in atheans were they would publicly honour the italian flag and would pay a penelty of 50 million lire to Italy otherwise they would invade Corfu
  • Italy them bombared Corfu without warning and occupied the island
  • at home mussolini was named a hero- celebrated by the elites and nationlists
  • the league of nations + Britian forced Italy to leave and the matter was but to international arbitration
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Foreign Policy, success abd failure before 1934, C

  • The reality of the italian military position shaped his decision. Italy's navey would barely last 48 hours against the british, if they decided to act.  
  • they left but did recive the 50 million Lira
  • was both a success and a failure
  • Next success, 1924 Yugoslavia recognised the Fiume as being apart of Italy
  • d'Announizio occupation previously
  • was a popuar acheivment in italy
  • Yugo- however no longer needed the Fiume because they were buliding a bigger and better port
  • was not really a success because they got Yugo's cast offs
  • in terms of Africa, he had barely passafied the libya rebellion.
  • did do with chemical gas, stavation tactics and excutions
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Relations with Britian

  • Historically had a good reletionship
  • had worked together on Locarno 1925
  • had helped Italy's intentions concerning Albania after Italy put pressure on Turkey into giving
  • UK a colliany they wanted (oil)
  • however, UK did not compramise on the mediteranian control (Corfu did not help)
  • attempted to undermine Uk power by supporting Pro-italian groups in Malta  
  • the revaluation of the Lira (1927) could only be acheived with funding from the british government
  • policy up to 1936 was very ambiguous and fairly friendly
  • Italy was building up its militay to challagne UK
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Relations with France

  • Lots of anti-facist exiles in France- the french were angry that the OVRA (italian secret police) had been working in france to infiltrate these groups
  • veiwed each other as a rivial for impericalist aims in Africa 
  • Italian foregin policy aims to france were ambivalant
  • was rasing the possablily of an anti french alliance with spain or Germany or hungary
  • his aims aganst france were prevented by italys ablity to actually acheive them.
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Relations with Germany

  • Mussolini was quite contemptious towards the Weimer Republic which he beleived was run by socialists and pacifists
  • he gave his support to the nationlist groups that sought to undermine the government
  • was concerned with Anshluss because he wanted Austria too
  • sought to encorage german goals of revising Versaille
  • Hilter was open with his praise of Mussilini, he was his hero
  • they both hoped to undermine the league of nations
  • they were on good terms
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Consequecence of Abyssinia (short term)

  • the planning for war undoubtably helped the ecconomy. war related contracts were commisioned in 1932 helped fuel italian industry
  • the invasion linked to the idea of autarky. Abyissina would provided raw materials and help with expansion. Would give italy greater export markets
  • hoped that the southern peasents would more their and take up  farming land, in the hope of easing the growing preasure for land reforms in the south
  • establish an italian empire in Africa was also part of the greater radicalization policy that took after Mussilini's consolidation of power. -would also demonstate the military aspects of facism
  • within the party some people were worried that he was not pursing facsit policies and so was un fit to lead
  • he beleived that such a victory would as to the prestige of his dictatorship and make people forget the shameful defeat at adwa.
  • would demonstate the power of facsit rule was would diswade Hitler from pursing Ashuluss
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Consquence of Abyssinia (Longterm)

  • Abyssinina had not been fully conqoured- two thirds of the counrty was yet to be occupied
  • the cost of the troops needed to fight an on going gurillia war was more than antisipated
  • only 130,000 italians ever settled in Abyssinia
  • the Lira devauled by 40%
  • illegal use of chemical weapons
  • overseas the perception of italy had changed for the worse
  • before people saw his as a dictor who was helping Italy now he was seen as someone who could and would indanger europiean peace.
  • Mussolini's actions demonstated the weakness of the league
  • encourged Hitler's own ambitions in disrupting the delicate balance of power in europe
  • ehanced italy's own ecconomic problems
  • to mussolini however, he thought it showed french and UK weakness
  • encoraged his own agressive actions
  • made him more dangourous and radical
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Consquences of the Spanish Civil war

  • Mussolini commited italian troops to the side of Franco in the Spanish civil war (1936)
  • Hitler also commited troops to the same side.
  • Muss thought that it would preasure Uk and FRA into making the concessions that he sought
  • Franco was victorous
  • the civil war had lasted longer than antisipated
  • had lead to the disruption of the italian ecconomy
  • the lira was furthur devauled
  • italy's foregin currency halfed
  • his terriorial ambitions came to nothing
  • Franco was determind not to let spain become an italian satalite state
  • weakened italian attempts to consolade themselves in africa
  • gowing concern from the italian popualtion that ideals where slowly becoming more Nazi
  • people did not know why italy intevened, resented the ecconomic cost
  • had shown problems in the military battle of Guadajajara, had fought against anti fascit italians
  • was not the great victory thatr Muss had hoped for
  • would lead to the break down of a reletionship between Muss +UK +FRA and an alliance with Nazi Germany
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Beakdown of Stresa Front

  • over sevral years the relationship between Italy and Uk and FRA had weakened
  • the fact that facism and Nazims shared traits was not a defining feature
  • Muss still feared aschluss
  • Hoare-Lavel pact (secrat) two thirds of Abyssisnia would go to italy in return for Muss to maintain the Stresa Front , but the UK press found out and there was publc outcry- plan was dropped.
  • spanish civil made things worse
  • italian submarines pretending to be spanish sunk british ships in the mediteraninan
  • 1937 gentelmans agreement, italy and britian confimred the satus quo in the mediteranian and limited italian intevernetin in the civil war.
  • signed the Anti cominterm pact with germany and japan, which claimed mutual support is there was an attack from the soviet union - in reality the pact was aimed at britian
  • Muss directed foregin affairs away from the league an to germany
  • they both sought to rewrite the TOV
  • this confirmed the end of stresa
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Domestic tentions

  • Facist state faced growing opposition
  • between 1935 and 1939, military spending accounted for around 80% of the massive increased state  defcisit
  • in the quest for autarky many consumer goods became very expensiv, they would have been very cheap on intenational markets 
  • the battle for grain had contrubuted to the worsing diest of the italian people
  • genral living standards went down 
  • industrail and civial sector were in decline 
  • italy was becoming more reliant on Germany 
  • italian workers were transfered to Germany and were poorly treated (not aryan)
  • 1938 anti-sementic policies were introduced
  • the italian militery were trying (and failing) to copy the german goose step- looked silly
  • the image of the youthful dyniamic dictaor was getting harder to sustain (he has been in power 17 yrs and is 55) cult of il duce
  • no evidence of anti facist polictics
  • there was a whole generation of iltalians who had grown up with no other leader
  • he was still pouplar
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  • 1939 April Muss launched an invasion into Albania- there were ecconomic motives behind this
  • King Zog had encoraged investment from other countries in order to become less dependent on italy 
  • Ciano proposed that Albania was compensation for letting Germany takeing  Austria 
  • the invasion showed the weaknesses in Italian army
  • they were unorganised and using weapons with which they had never trained with. there was poor co ordination between army, navey and air force
  • the invasion had little impact on europian affairs and the italian ecconomy
  • it confirmed that italy still had an agressive nature and pushed it further away from britian and france
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Pact of Steel 1939

  • May 1939 there was a growing strength between Germany and Italy
  • they decided to create the pact of steel
  • it would be a full blown alliance between the two countries, military, ecconomic and social
  • Muss realised that if he wanted the medieranian he would eventually come into conflict with ENG and FRA and he knew that he would need the backing of Germany to do so.
  • the drafting ot the pact was left to germany
  • artical 3 said that if germany went to war then italy would go and vice versa
  • the pact was merely fro defensive purposes
  • germany promised that they would not declare war untill at least 1943 because italy wasn't ready
  • Ciano signed and three days later hitler told ciano that they were planning to attack poland.
  • italy was now trapped
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Neutrality 1939-40

  • Germant's announcement that they were going to war came as a shock to Muss and Ciano
  • as was the Nazi-soviet non agression pact which Muss was not invited to talk about. he was also not getting any of poland that the ussr and germany were planning to get.
  • For italy, the Nazi-soviet pact contradicted the Anti-cominterm agreement
  • italy would be entangled into a costly war with the allies- they could not afford it.
  • if italy stayed neutral it would undermine fasict rule
  • the ideology was born on the battle fields of europe
  • Muss then presented HItler with a massive supply list of all the equitment and resorces that he would need for war. 
  • 170 million tonnes of goods.
  • hitler understood what Muss was really asking and released him from the pact od steel
  • he asked for psycological support instead
  • everyone one advised MUss to avoid intevention in the war after UK and FRA decared war.
  • Muss beleive that italy would have to enter the war at some point because of facsit ideology and if germant won they would not be kind to an ally who had not helped them 
  • 1940 june Muss thought that germany would be vicotoius and sided with him.
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Failure in France

  • june, france requested and armstice with germany before italian troops had attacked them.
  • Muss met with Hitler and demanded terriotry from france.
  • germany did not want to punish France to harshly because he feared that it would drive french
  • troops to defect to britian 
  • Muss was afraid of pushing italian claims without actually doing anything.
  • italian troops suddenly advanced into the alps- but thety were badly sutied to the terin (tanks) they only catupre 13 unimportaint villiges
  • Itallian newspapers claimed that they had been vitial to the surredering of France
  • in reality it saved italy from further embarrassment.
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Greece 1940

  • running parralle to italy's failure in France, North Africa and the medditeranian Muss attempted an invasion of Greece.
  • Muss wanted to prove to Germany that they were a powerful world and military ally 
  • did not tell hitler about the invasion -power game
  • it was a disaster. 
  • MUss only asumed that Greece had 30,000 men therefore italy attacked with 60,000
  • in fact greece had 300,000
  • he also had this unfounded idea that bulgaria would join them 
  • did not coordinate the attack
  • italy could not deal with the weather conditions 
  • the greeks counter attacked the invasion and took over italian terriorty in albania (on quarter)
  • after 6 months Muss had to call germany for help and they defeated the greeks within weeks.
  • it showed how weak and reliant apon germany italy truley was 
  • Facist properganda was unable to hide the truth from the italian people
  • they gave complete power to germany 
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Mussolini as a leader

  • Muss blamed italy's military weakness on the italian people- because they had not been transformed into true facsits 
  • the poor military prefromance was due to the bad ecconomy 
  • Muss held the positions minister of war, minster of the navy, minster air force and supreame commander of the italian army. this happered italys effectivenss 
  • was unable to disinqish between trivial points and critical desicions 
  • he was bored by detailed disscuions and spent alot of time on his German lessions 
  • give vauge instrustions to his military leaders about improving war production without explaining how this would be acheived. 
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Military Weaknesses

  • Italy had 75 divisons that had enough equitment to adaquatly equit 35
  • lacked the tanks and vehicles requires for the machanised fighting taking place in Africa. most of the ones they already had were being destoryed by the british. 
  • many of the weaponry was left over from WW1
  • the air force was out dated compared to the british spirtfires and they had no long range bombers to attack the britsh position in eygpt 
  • there was languegae problems between the officers and the peasent soilders 
  • many did not understand why they were fighting so far from home
  • tatics were outdated- italians still employed 19th centry charges against the enemy. in WW2 this was virtually sucidal 
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War Economy

  • was completly inadaquate for WW2
  • in 1942 the USA was producing jmore in a week than Italy could produce in a year
  • it imported half of it oil from romainia 
  • it depended on german coal 
  • it was alos producing in adaquate and out of date war items 
  • Germany estematied that Italy was only opearating at 25% of its portential 
  • it was the only contry in WW2 that did not increase its profit 
  • still had tens of thousands unemployed 
  • italy did improve its production in 1924 but there were set backs from allied bombing in industrail cities
  • the coordination of food supplys in italy was poor 
  • in 1943 overseas domestic difficulties had brought facsitm to a crtical point 
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Allied invasion of Sicily 1943

  • Axis troops in North Africa surrendered 
  • the occupation of Tunisia gave a open rotue to sicily 
  • british, american and commonwealth troops invaded scily 
  • faced little opposition 
  • conquared the western half of sicily after a week 
  • Muss asked for Hilters help but he refused 
  • allied planes bombed rome for 2 hours 
  • within two weeks the allieds had control of the island 
  • German and italian forces conducted a successful retreat which alowed them to re group and take hold of stratigic positions on italian mainland 
  • the ivasion of italy prompted the removal of Muss 
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Mussolini deposed

  • the plan to removed Muss began in 1942 from leadinf facsits Grandi and Ciano 
  • the allies had made it clear that they would not offer an armstice if Muss was still in power 
  • only the King could dismiss Muss if he could be persauded to join 
  • the king and ciano dissused the possobliilty of replacing Muss's goverment 
  • the invasion of sicily forced the fasicts to act
  • the king was totally on bored 
  • he ware replace by Marshel Badoglio and he was arrested and sent to prision 
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Mussolini and his great escape

  • After his removal Mussolini was placed under arrest.

  • However, in one of the most daring actions of the war he was freed from being held as a prisoner in a daring raid by German Paratroopers.

  • Hitler now put Mussolini in charge of what became known as the Italian Social Republic, or Salo republic. (See map below)

  • Neither the Salo republic in the North or the Italian government that now existed in the South had any real power and the country was chaotic as the advancing allies fought for control against the Germans.

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Nature of the Salo Republic

  • Salo was a small lakeside resort on the shore of Lake Garda; there was no real central authority and many government agencies were based in Milan.

  • Hitler did not want Mussolini to establish too much power so that it would run counter to German interests in Italy. Rome became the official capital of the Salo republic even though they had no direct control over it as the Germans did.

  • The republic itself lasted only 600 days - Mussolini was both Head of State and Foreign Minister.

  • Loyal Fascists headed up government departments and the party was reorganised from the PNF to Republican Fascist Party. The membership for the new version of the party was 487,000 members compared with 2.6 million members when Fascism was at it’s height.

  • They fought alongside German forces and had an army navy and police force as well as its own militia known as the ‘Black Brigades’.

  • Fascists that had been involved in the removal of Mussolini as Prime minister were executed, this included Ciano

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Why was the power of Mussolini and the Salo Republ

  • Many Italians had completely lost faith in Mussolini and the Fascists

  • The republic was heavily dependent upon German support

  • Mussolini was closely controlled by the Germans and was treated as a puppet leader

  • Mussolini had lost his charisma and was suffering from ill health.

  • By 1944 the partisans posed an increasing and serious threat to German forces and the Salo Republic.

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What was happening in the South at this time?

  • This was being run by Victor Emmanuel and a provisional government.

  • The allies gave the government of the South control of 4 south eastern provinces but this was in reality a small area of land.

  • They also had limited military capabilities.

  • Fighting was slow and conditions for many Italians were bad

  • A new government established itself in Bari under Bonomi after Badoglio was forced to remain
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The Allied Victory

  • By April 1945 the German army were on the verge of defeat in Italy and without the support of the Germans there was no way in which the Salo republic could survive

  • Mussolini was a broken man by this stage and held out hopes that the USA would turn on the USSR and need Italy and Germany to help - this was something that did not materialise.

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The capture of Mussolini

  • As the allies advanced Mussolini looked to escape, he disguised himself as a German soldier but was captured by Italian partisans.

  • He was executed along with his mistress and his body displayed to people in Milan 

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What happened to Italy after this?

  • Italy was left in a terrible social and economic condition by the end of the war.

  • The cost of living was 23 times higher in 1945 than in 1938 and all colonies were lost apart from Somalia.

  • Italy’s first post war government was led by Ferriccio Parri in June 1945, it consisted of Socialists, Communists and Christian Democrats but in reality it was an extremely divided party.

  • King Victor Emmanuel was unable to regain his authority and Italy became a republic in 1946 - this was supported by Italians in a referendum in 1946. The greatest level of support for a republic came in the north whereas the South showed broad support for the monarchy.

  • A new constituent assembly was also established which saw the Christian Democrats as the biggest party along with the Communists, Socialists and Liberals.

  • Women were allowed to vote and this government was anti-fascist but also weak government that could not repeat the actions of the Fascist years.

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