Italian Empire

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Kingdom of Italy
Regno d'Italia

Flag of Italy

Flag of the Italian Social Republic

TAG = ITA
Politics
CapitalRome
Ruling Party Partito Nazionale Fascista (Tr: National Fascist Party)
Head of StateKing Umberto II
Head of GovernmentDuce Galeazzo Ciano
Diplomacy
Sphere Italian Sphere
Foreign Alignment Triumvirate Founder
Economy
GDP$104.27B
Credit Rating Good
Market Type Corporatism

Italy (Italian: Italia), officially the Kingdom of Italy (Italian: Regno d'Italia), and informally known as the Italian Empire (Italian: Impero Italiano), is a country in southern Europe, with colonial territory in Africa and the Near East, and a founding member of the Triumvirate. Italy's heartland is located on the Italian peninsula in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, and the country is bordered by France to its west, Burgundy to its northwest, Switzerland and Germany to its north, and Croatia, Montenegro, and Albania to its east.

Italy is considered by many to be the fourth most powerful country in the post-WW2 world. In many ways a "lesser among equals" during the war, having a terrible start, the Italian Empire came out of the war a force to be reckoned with. Italy became a country only on March 18, 1861, after the Second War of Independence, where the armies of the Kingdom of Sardinia, along with France, conquered Lombardy from the Austrians, and the subsequent dissolution of all kingdoms allied to Austria in central Italy. And thus the Kingdom of Italy was born, with Sardinian king Victor Emmanuel II becoming King. The young nation however, was troubled from the start, and after the infamous "Vittoria Mutilata" in WWI, Benito Mussolini and his National Fascist Party seized power in the March on Rome in October 1922. After seizing complete power, Mussolini would embark on a radical development of the nation, promising the people to bring back the past glory of Rome. After the Second Italo-Ethiopian War in 1936, "Il Duce" declared the Italian Empire. After a difficult start in WW2, the Italians, with help from the Germans, would modernize their Army and it's tactics. Now, in the aftermath of the war, the Italian Empire is at the helm of the Triumvirate, an alliance led by the three Mediterranean Axis members to combat against German aggression, Italy, Turkey and the Iberian Union (plus their various colonies, client states and independent allies). The first fascist state, Italy is led by Mussolini's successor, his son in-law, Gian Galeazzo Ciano.

Geography[edit | edit source]

Italy controls a large empire with vast territory, however its heartland is located on the Italian peninsula in Southern Europe, in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea. Italy borders many other countries in Europe, as well as via its colonial possessions. In Europe, Italy is bordered by France to its west, Burgundy to its northwest Switzerland and Germany to its north, and Croatia, Montenegro, and Albania to its east. Through the islands it owns in the Aegean Sea, it has a maritime border with Turkey. In Africa, it has colonial borders with German Africa and French Africa, as well as Egypt. Its colonies in the Near East border Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Oman.

The Italian Empire[edit | edit source]

Though often used to refer to the entire country and its territories, the title of Kingdom of Italy refers only to the core lands of Italy. So, the term Italian Empire has been used to refer to all the territories controlled by the King and Duce in Rome. Alongside the Kingdom of Italy itself, the Italian Empire includes:

History[edit | edit source]

Great War[edit | edit source]

It all began with the Great War. With the start of the war in 1914, Italy was immediately divided between pro and anti war forces in politics, as Italy remained on the sidelines for a year since the government at the time was led by the anti-war government of Giovanni Giolitti. Among the "interventionists" was the young Socialist journalist Benito Mussolini, who for violent accusations against major politicians and his general riotous attitude in favor of the war, the majority anti-war PSI kicked Mussolini out of the party. But we'll return to Mussolini later.

Mussolini is arrested in 1915 for participating in an interventionist riot

Returning to the war, with the ascent of Antonio Salandra's government, and under the impression the war would be quick, and especially after being promised large swathes of land, such as South Tyrol, Venezia-Giulia, Istria and Dalmatia by the British and French, in the spirit of what Salandra called "sacred egoism" on the 23rd of May, 1915, Italy would declare war on Austria-Hungary.

Territorial concessions promised to Italy in the Pact of London

Italy's experience in the Great War was terrible to say the least. Far from a quick victory as they expected, not only was the "Regio Esercito" outdated and with insufficient resources for modern weaponry, it was also commanded by the infamously incompetent General Luigi Cadorna, who would lead young Italians into suicidal charges against the Austrian defenses, most infamously at the 12 Battles of the Isonzo River. The constant fighting in the mountains would scar a generation of Italians. Then, in 1917, with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Germany defeated Russia and then proceeded to reinforce the Austrians, while sending a majority of their troops to the Western Front. Due to the utter exhaustion of troops on the Italian side, led to the embarrassing defeat at Caporetto, where the Italians would be pushed back all the way to the Piave River, where, under the command of newly appointed General Armando Diaz, they would desperately defend the front.

Propaganda poster of the defense of the Piave

After that, the momentum of the advance was stopped, as the Italians would soon be reinforced by the French and British, plus more modern equipment from factories, and finally defeated the Austrians at Vittorio Veneto.

Post-War[edit | edit source]

The Fiume Incident and the birth of the Fasci[edit | edit source]

Following Vittorio Veneto, Italy would continue advancing through the territories it claimed, seizing South Tyrol, Venezia Giulia and Trieste. Problems though, quickly arose on the exact borders, as tensions began to rise between with the nascent Kingdom of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, since both claimed Istria and Dalmatia. When the government began negotiations however, it did not sit well with many irredentist Italians, as the government was signing off territory they claimed as theirs. In the midst of this, legendary poet Gabriele d'Annunzio marched a large contingent of Arditi and idealists of his caliber to seize Fiume (in Croatian Rijeka) and declared the Italian Regency of the Carnaro.

D'Annunzio at Fiume

What became known as the Fiume incident shook Italia politics to its very core, as P.M.'s Francesco Nitti's Radical government fell apart, while the crippling debt and unemployed soldiers were putting the country in a precarious situation. Even if the whole incident would last only a few months, before the 1920 Treaty of Rapallo, between Italy and the Kingdom of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, settling the borders and giving Istria to Italy, while Dalmatia would go the soon to be Iugoslavians, and Fiume would become a free city within the Kingdom of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs.

The new borders settled by the Treaty of Rapallo

Among the chaos caused by Fiume, young Benito Mussolini rose to the occasion, having served himself in the war, he created the extremist "Fasci del Combattimento" in Piazza San Sepolcro, Milan, at the time only counting about 50 people. However, Mussolini would quickly become popular among some of the disillusioned populace, and fervent interventionists such as the Futurist movement, and would begin contact with D'Annunzio through Harukichi Shimoi, a young Japanese nobleman who was with D'Annunzio, who nicknamed him "Compare Samurai" or "Comrade Samurai".

The Red Biennium and the Rise of the Blackshirts[edit | edit source]

Mussolini's major support, though, came from the Milanese bourgeoisie, who were terrified of the rise of communism in the country. As mentioned before, Italy was in a pitiful state after the Great War, and the populace was furious with the political establishment and while some turned to Mussolini, others turned to communism, as the Russian Revolution spurred on a wave of proletarian movements, especially in the North, which would lead to the creation of the Red Guards and culminate in the separation of the more radical members of the PSI and the creation of the Italian Communist Party or PCI at a conference in Livorno, in 1921.

Red Guards in 1920 during the Red Biennium

This time period would go down in popular history as "Il Biennio Rosso" or "The Red Biennium" where on many occasions there was a genuine fear of communist revolution in Italy. Mussolini, in response to the growth of communist street gangs, created his own group, the "squadre d'azione"", but they are better known in reference to their iconic black attire, the "Blackshirts". The "blackshirts" would become an essential tool used by Mussolini and factory owners who were members of the Fasci.

Squadra d'Azione "Disperata" (Firenze)

Some iconic examples are, the repression of the general worker's strike at thew Alfa Romeo factory in August, 1920 or the repression of Socialist movements, in the Po Valley following the murder of Bolognese councilor Giulio Giordani. In 1920, when the socialists won many local elections, the Blackshirts responded brutally, dissolving trade unions under the threat of "physical destruction". The Fasci would join Gioltti's anti-socialist National Blocs coalition in the 1921 general election and would succeed in securing 35 seats in parliament, one of which was held by Mussolini himself. After a few weeks, Mussolini dissolved his alliance with Giolitti's Liberal Party (PLI), who then failed to dissolve the "Blackshirts", and Mussolini would sign the "Pact of Pactification" with the Socialists in the summer of that year. That too however, would be dissolved at the Third Fascist on the 7th to 10th of November 1921, where Mussolini would fully espouse his views, declaring a new ideology, fascism and renaming the party to the National Fascist Party, which now counted 320,000 members. In August, 1922, a socialist led anti-fascist general strike was held throughout the country. Mussolini declared that his men would immediately intervene, in such a way that his party would be viewed as the defender of law and order. The "blackshirts" began in Ancona, on August the 2nd, where they would fiercely repress the strikers, proceeding through each striking city, including Genova. On August 3rd and 4th, the PNF thugs captured Milan, burning the iconic Socialist newspaper "Avanti!" and overthrowing, alongside local business owners, they would remove the socialist from the town hall, installing fascists in their stead. And so, Milan became the base of operations for the party.

The March on Rome[edit | edit source]

The central government did not respond to Mussolini's actions, prompting Mussolini to begin planning a March on Rome, where, from their new Milanese base. and with financial support from big companies determined to fight against "strikes, bolshevism and nationalization". Mussolini spoke with the General Confederation of Italian Industry (or Confindustria) two days before, and also spoke with American ambassador Richard Washburn Child about whether the USA would object to Fascist participation in the Italian government to which Child gave him American support. And so, having received news of new P.M. Luigi Facta's preparation for a celebration commemorating the Italian victory in WWI, which would be headed by D'Annunzio, Mussolini sprung into action. On the 24th of October, 1922, Mussolini declared at the behest of 6000 Blackshirts in Naples, "Our program is simple, we want to rule Italy". On the following day, Mussolini would appoint the Quadrumvirs, Emilio De Bono, Italo Balbo, Michele Bianchi and Cesare Maria de Vecchi, at the head of the march, while he left for Milan. And so, an army of Blackshirts began marching towards Rome.

Squadristi marching on Rome

He would not participate in the march, but he would have pictures taken with him. Among other supporters of the march were the Marquis Dino Perrone Compagni and Ulisse Igliori, and generals Gustavo Fara and Sante Ceccherini. In Rome, on October 26, Salandra would warn Facta that Mussolini was demanding his resignation and that he was preparing to march on Rome. Facta (who was still in power even if having resigned) dismissed this, believing Mussolini wanted to simply become a member of his cabinet, and to repel the fascist forces, would decide to declare Rome in a state of siege. However, when he requested the King's permission, to his dismay, Victor Emmanuel refused, fearing a civil war, refused to sign the military order. On October 28, some of Mussolini's industrialist allies met with him at the headquarters of "Il Popolo d'Italia" to try and convince him to rule together with P.M. nominee Salandra. Mussolini refused. On October 30, with fascist forces converging on the capital, the King handed power to Mussolini. On the 29th of October, Mussolini would be requested to form his cabinet, while thousands of Blackshirts paraded in the streets.

The Mussolini Government[edit | edit source]

The Bivouac[edit | edit source]

Mussolini would give his first speech as P.M. in the Chamber of Deputies on November 11, 1922 and it would go down as the Speech of the Bivouac, in which he famously compared the Chamber to a rickety postal coach and exposed his plans for Italy. (This is the Wikisource page in Italian for this speech)[1]

Mussolini gives his first speech as P.M. in the Chamber of Deputies on November 11, 1922

In response, among the silent opposition, the old Socialist Fillppo Turati condemned in an equally hard and vehement speech against Mussolini and the sloth of his fellow Deputies:

"... The Chamber is not called upon to debate and deliberate on confidence; it is called upon to give it; and, if it does not give it, the Government takes it. In short, it is the march on Rome, which for you is a cause for honour, which continues, in impeccable redingote, within Parliament. Now, what confidence can a Chamber grant in these conditions? A Chamber of dead, of embalmed, as was already diagnosed by the doctors of the fourth power? One had the impression of an improbable hour, of an hour taken from fairy tales, from legends; I would almost say a gay hour after, as I was saying, the new Prime Minister had spoken to you with whip in hand, like a tamer of beasts in the circus - oh! Beasts, on the other hand, deh, how narcotized! - and the spectacle offered of the rump offered to the whip and the thanksgiving of plaudits at each nerfing ..."

Then, referring to the proposal by Mussolini to modify the electoral law that would give the majority a humongous advantage, which would delay the elections in order to have the law pass, Turati said:

"I am well aware, ladies and gentlemen, that the reason for the compromise - which will be brief, and therefore useless, which the House will uselessly accept - is that elections upset many personal interests, and those of groups, and of camarillae, and from too many rectors therefore the cry is raised: averte a me calicem istum. Also because there are not many who believe - oh, certainly wrongly; but people are so distrustful! - that the elections, under your rule, given the precedents that led you to government, will ensure electoral freedom, that is, they will be true elections [...]".

A voice from the extreme right retorted "You would like the ones from 1920!"

Turati: "We didn't do them"

Francesco Giunta: "We'll do them with the truncheon!" (Lively noises - Comments from the extreme left - Lively protests from MP Salvadori leaving the Chamber - Applause from the extreme left - Comments) [...] [...]

Turati: "[...] You have also spoken [...] of universal suffrage as a toy that must be given to this stupid and impatient child that is the people, so that they can play with it to their heart's content [...]. For us - unlike and in diametrical contrast to what you have proclaimed - for us cowards and 'lamentable zealots of super-constitutionalism', universal suffrage, free, respected, effective (and by this we also mean unadulterated proportional representation, without which suffrage is a deception and an abuse); for us, universal suffrage, despite its errors, which it alone can correct, is the only basis of a legitimate sovereignty - but what do I mean legitimate? - of a sovereignty that can, in modern times, live, act, and remain [...] To call elections at once, sparing the farce of this convocation of the Chamber, was your duty! Nor did we have any reason to fear them [...]. But that, I understand perfectly well, was wasting your time [...].

Mussolini: "Natural!"

Turati: "[...] and you are in a great hurry. [...] You demand full powers [...] even in tax matters; which means you abolish Parliament, even if you let it subsist, as a painted scenario, for your convenience. You ask it to swoon. It will obey you [...]"

Mussolini would obtain the vote of confidence with 306 votes in favor, 116 votes against (mostly socialists, communists and a few outliers and 7 abstained (mostly representatives of national minorities) while in the Senate 196 voted in favor and 19 votes against. Among the voters in favor were Giolitti, Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, Facta and Salandra while Nitti abandoned the hall in protest.

Events of the Mussolini Government[edit | edit source]

On the 25th of November, Mussolini is granted full powers in the tax and administrative areas by the Chamber until the 31st of December 1923 in order to "restore order".

On the 15th of December, 1922, the Grand Council of Fascism is instituted.

On the 14th of January, 1923, the Blackshirts were institutionalized as the "Voluntary Militia for National Security".

On the 9th of June, after having succeeded with threats in getting one of his main parliamentary antagonists, Don Sturzo, to resign and split the Popular Party group with his calm speech on 15 July, he presented the new Acerbo law on elections to the House, which was approved by the House on 21 July and on 13 November by the Senate, later becoming Law 2444 of 18 November 1923. Mussolini had a subsequent vote of confidence on 15 July with 303 votes in favour, 140 against and 7 abstentions.

Always in July, thanks to British support, in the Treaty of Lausanne, Italian dominion of the Dodecanese (occupied by the Italians since 1912) was officially recognized.

Meanwhile, on the 27th of August 1923, General Enrico Tellini, two of his aides, their interpreter and a driver were ambushed and murdered by unknown assailants at the border crossing of Kakavia, which is near the city of Ioannina in Greek territory. The five victims were Tellini, Major Luigi Corti, Lieutenant Mario Bonacini, Albanian interpreter Thanas Gheziri and driver Remigio Farnetti. None of the victims were robbed. The incident, later known as the Ioannina massacre, occurred near the disputed border and therefore could have been executed by either side. Mussolini sent an ultimatum to Greece to demand reparations, apologies and honours for the dead and, following the partial refusal of the Greek government, ordered the Italian navy to occupy Corfu. With this action, the new Prime Minister wanted to show that he wanted to pursue a strong foreign policy and obtained, thanks to the League of Nations, the requested reparations (in return for the abandonment of the occupied island). The event would go down as the Corfu Incident.

On the 19th of December, he presided over the signing of the agreement between Confindustria and the Confederation of Fascist Corporations (the so-called "Palazzo Chigi pact").

On the 27th of January, 1924, the Treaty of Rome was signed between Italy and Yugoslavia, by which the latter recognized Fiume to Italy, annexed on 22 February. Following this, on the 26th of March the king conferred the honour of the Supreme Order of the Holy Annunciation on Mussolini.

Beginning with the March on Rome, the Italian government established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, which were improved during February 1923, leading to the recognition of the USSR and the stipulation of a trade and navigation treaty on 7 February 1924.

An agreement with the UK allowed Italy to acquire Jubaland, a Kenyan region that was annexed to Italian Somalia.

Also, on the 24th of March, the first attempt at radio broadcasting of a political speech took place.

The 1924 Elections and the ascension of "Il Duce"[edit | edit source]

The 1924 Elections[edit | edit source]

Mussolini goes to vote

In the elections on the 6th of June, 1924, Mussolini's Lista Nazionale Coalition (also known as "Il Listone"), won 60.1% of the popular vote and won 356 seats in the Chamber of Deputies (335 after the death of Giuseppe Nava, who was never replaced). To add on, in the "extra list" there was an additional 4.8% and 19 seats, all totaling to 64.9% of valid votes and 375 seats in the Chamber, 275 of which were members of the PNF. In addition to the PNF, the majority of liberal and democratic exponents (including Orlando, Salandra, and Enrico De Nicola, who, however, withdrew his candidature before the elections), former Popular Party members expelled from the party, pro-fascist Demosocialists and Sardinians, and numerous personalities from the Italian right wing had joined the "Listone".

The elections were in a general atmosphere of violence and intimidation, even if Mussolini had sent reiterations for order to the fascists and had explicitly telegrammed the prefects to stop any intimidation, provocation or aggression in order to not provoke an annulment request from the minority parties. However, he also explicitly told the prefects, always through telegraphs, to use any method to assure victory for the "Listone", from convincing uncertain voters and combating abstentionism, to propaganda on the correct filling out of the ballot paper, and above all through public patriotic and religious demonstrations and celebrations, in which the local Fascists could present themselves as the only holders of the legitimacy to represent the nation. The elections ended with an overwhelming victory for the "Listone", which exceeded the expectations of Mussolini himself, who, on the basis of the information received from the prefects, had expected a percentage of consensus of just over 50%. ending up with the aforementioned 64.9%, which was just enough to grant Lista Nazionale the 65% necessary to activate the new Acerbo Law's relative majority advantage. The defeat of the opposition led to the anti-fascist press and the non-fascist press to a sustained attack against the violence and illegalities committed by the fascists and the state organs aligned with fascism. Only a few newspapers recognized the electoral victory of the "Listone".

Giacomo Matteotti

On the 30th of May, the abuses, violence and fraud perpetrated by the fascists during the electoral campaign and during the voting were denounced by the Unitary Socialist deputy Giacomo Matteotti in a harsh but circumstantiated speech to the Chamber, in which he called for the annulment of the election results. (Here's the exact speech in Italian from Wikisource[2]) .The speech provoked an agitated session, in which Matteotti was interrupted several times, in particular by fellow Deputy, and member of the PNF, Roberto Farinacci, who in turn blamed the opposition for the illegalities committed by the anti-fascist movements, while the majority and the opposition exchanged mutual accusations. Some members of the National List left the Chamber in protest against the accusations made by Matteotti.

The Murder of Matteotti[edit | edit source]

On the 10th of June, Matteotti was kidnapped by a gang of fascist thugs and wasn't heard about for weeks on end. The event caused great upheaval throughout the nation and many members of the National Fascist Party tore up their membership cards; the most resounding reaction, however, was the one that went down in history as the "Aventine secession", i.e. the abandonment of parliament by the opposition deputies in protest against the kidnapping. Indicated by the press and the opposition but also by some of his allies as the instigator, Mussolini was not, however, charged in the trial, which resulted in the sentencing to six years for manslaughter of three fascist militants (Amerigo Dumini, Albino Volpi and Amleto Poveromo) who, according to the verdict, had acted on their own initiative in assassinating Matteotti (who turned out to have been stabbed to death moments after being kidnapped). Although the political, if not factual, responsibility clearly lay with Mussolini and the PNF, the trial in the High Court Senate of the Kingdom against Emilio De Bono also did not involve Mussolini. Mussolini's responsibility as the instigator of the Matteotti murder was contested by Renzo De Felice, who opined that he was the most damaged in his politics and his person by that crime at that time. The stress due to the events produced in Mussolini the first symptoms of a duodenal ulcer that accompanied him for the rest of his life.

Satirical comic from Becco Giallo, with Mussolini sitting on Matteotti's tomb

The autumn of 1924 was full of tensions for Mussolini: some Fascists distanced themselves from him, and many demanded his resignation, so that "Fascism" could "restore itself free from the responsibilities of the supreme powers" (thus the Minister of Finance, De Stefani, presented his resignation - rejected - to Mussolini on 5 January 1925). The publication of the "Rossi memorial" (perhaps desired by Mussolini himself) brought further accusations, but due to his internal inconsistencies Mussolini managed with a skillful press campaign to turn them to his advantage. Mussolini merely handed over the interim of the Interior to Luigi Federzoni, who was charged with first of all repressing any spontaneous motion both of the oppositions and of the squadristi (who, especially after the on 12 September 1924 assassination of the Honourable Armando Casalini who was returning home with his daughter, became known as "squadracce" and resumed arbitrary violence, including verbal violence against Federzoni himself).

As the situation became more and more tense, rumours also swirled that Mussolini was thinking of a coup d'état to resolve the issue: a theory that De Felice denied: Mussolini's initial desire to resolve the crisis politically and within the limits of constitutional legality led the RAS to put his back to the wall. After a very harsh press campaign carried out by the extremist fascist press, on the evening of 31 December a group of "Milizia" consuls led by Aldo Tarabella and Enzo Galbiati went to Palazzo Chigi. The verbal clash was extremely violent: the squadrists accused Mussolini of wanting to get rid of the "Milizia" and the party and threatened him with a "pronunciamiento" a.k.a. a coup. In Florence, in the meantime, more than ten thousand squadristi had gathered, ready for violent action: the head office of the "Giornale nuovo" and other anti-fascist offices were set on fire, and the Murate prisons were stormed, from which the fascists detained there were taken. In all this situation, the king was silent and the Army did not move. Mussolini, at this point decided to "play big": take advantage of the king's attitude to put the opposition out of action, thus firming up his own shaky power and giving satisfaction to the intransigents, but at the same time dealing them a mortal blow. A part of the right wing that had voted in favour of Mussolini's government considered challenging him and replacing him with a moderate exponent, but in September a communist militant, Giovanni Corvi, killed a fascist deputy, Armando Casalini, an episode that recomposed the parliamentary majority.

Encouraged by the indecision of the opposition and pressed by his more radical comrades (Balbo, Farinacci and Bianchi above all), on 3 January 1925 Mussolini gave a speech in the Chamber of Deputies on the Matteotti murder in which he challenged anyone to drag him before a special court to judge him,[173] if he was really found to have committed the crime against Matteotti. Moreover, after rejecting every charge and accusation regarding Matteotti's murder, he expounded on the events of the fascist revolution, internal struggles and fascism's rise to power, going so far as to challenge the courtroom by claiming that if fascism was nothing more than 'an association to commit crimes', they would immediately proceed to prepare 'the pole and the rope' to hang him on the spot and then concluding in order to reaffirm his power over Fascism as well, Mussolini proclaimed that he wanted to take "the political, moral, historical responsibility" for the climate in which the assassination had occurred, and therefore also the command of the most extreme fringes of the movement and the party that had brutally pushed him towards the dictatorial turn in those very days. (Here's the speech from Wikisource, always in Italian[3]).

The next day Mussolini had Federzoni send out a series of telegrams to the prefects in which he called for the most stringent repression of any uprising or tumult of any faction but particularly on "communists and subversives", the control of the press (that of the opposition through censorship, that of the fascists through a peremptory call to order) and then, directly to the leaders of the fascist federations a call to order with direct threats against the leaders who had allowed disturbances by their own wingmen.

In January police actions began of seizing newspapers (the first of which was The Conquest of the State, of the fascist left) of closing down opposition branches and circles (95 branches and 150 public meeting places, in particular against the communists and the circles of "Free Italy") and of arresting "suspicious" elements (111 "dangerous subversives" had been arrested).

To the resignation of some moderate liberal elements from Mussolini's government, the latter responded with a rapid 'round of chairs', bringing into the ministries personalities fundamental to fascism such as the jurist Rocco and Giovanni Giuriati. These men - directed by Mussolini - would within a year build the legal and functional framework of the Fascist dictatorial state.

The New Fascist Governement[edit | edit source]

The Initial Fascist Reforms and Projects

As Mussolini ascended to power, now widely known as “Il Duce” a title originating from the Latin “dux” which means leader or commander. Mussolini swiftly began new reforms to shape his new Italy.

New hygiene regulations for businesses were enshrined in Law No. 473 of April 17, 1925, with the obligation to provide sanitary service in the company, not to burden women and minors with excessive loads, and to report as such and guard harmful substances. National labor contracts assumed the force of law, and "bosses" ("employers") could only enter into individual contracts that differed from the collective labor agreements if better conditions were provided for workers. Compliance with the act was supervised by the newly established Corporate Inspectorate. By Royal Decree No. 582 of May 1, 1925, the Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro ("OND") was established for the purpose of "promoting the healthy and profitable use of the free hours of intellectual and manual workers with institutions directed toward developing their physical, intellectual and moral capacities."

Poster for the "National Competition for Grain" one of the core elements of the "Battle for Grain"

On June 14, 1925, the Prime Minister announced the start of the Battle of the Grain. The campaign aimed to have Italy achieve self-sufficiency from abroad in the production of wheat (the importation of which was the direct cause of 50 percent of the balance of payments deficit) and, more generally, of all agricultural products. Although the goal of complete self-sufficiency was not achieved, in terms of increased production success was conspicuous. Agriculture, however, lost profitability, and there was a loss of export markets for the most valuable agricultural products, due to the fact that many areas intended for other crops were cultivated with cereals.

Photo of the work on the bonification of the Agro Pontino

More successful was the project of reclaiming the marshy territories still present in the Italian peninsula (including the Agro Pontino) carried out between 1928 and 1932. New municipalities were often born in connection with a particular predetermined economic destination (Carbonia in Sardinia, for example, was founded for the exploitation of neighboring coal deposits). Land reclamation also enabled the implementation of an effective health program that made it possible to eradicate malaria, with significant results also against tuberculosis, smallpox, pellagra and rabies. On June 21, 1925, the fourth and final PNF congress was held, at which Mussolini called on the blackshirts to abandon violence for good. Many squadristi elements were rendered impotent by the end of the year thanks to the reform of the police system (and this allowed for the strengthening of the power of the executive). But the squadracce were still active such as the case of Giovanni Amendola, who would be beaten to a bloody pulp by Blackshirts in Cannes by 15 Blackshirts on the 7th of April, 1926 or Piero Gobetti, who was beaten on many occasions by Blackshirts, and would die of bronchitis at a hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine in France, on the February 15, 1926, attended by, among many other important anti-fascists, also Nitti.

On July 18 Italy and Yugoslavia signed the Treaty of Nettuno for the definition of their respective borders in the Dalmatian area; at the same time, following the decision to "Italianize" South Tyrol, often implemented in a brutal manner (Mussolini himself spoke of mass deportation of linguistic minorities), the Italian government undermined diplomatic relations with Austria for some time. After a series of high contrasts between the Fascist trade union and industrialists, Mussolini arrived at the Palazzo Vidoni Pact on October 2, 1925, which made the National Confederation of Trade Union Corporations the only body recognized by Confindustria.

Prefect Cesare Mori

On October 20, Mussolini appointed Cesare Mori prefect of Palermo, with extraordinary powers and with jurisdiction extended to all of Sicily, in order to curb the Mafia phenomenon on the island. The "iron prefect," even through extralegal methods (including torture, hostage-taking among civilians and blackmail), with Mussolini's explicit support, achieved significant results, continuing his action throughout the two-year period 1926-27. The "excellent victims" also began to include the likes of Army Corps General Antonio di Giorgio, who managed to obtain confidential talks with Mussolini, which prevented neither the trial nor the high officer's early retirement. Soon, however, political-business circles in the fascist area colluded with the Mafia, managing to direct, through dossier activities, the investigations of Mori and Attorney General Luigi Giampietro on the radical wing of Sicilian fascism, also involving the federal Alfredo Cucco, one of the top fascist figures on the island. Cucco in 1927 was expelled from the PNF "for moral unworthiness" and put on trial on charges of having received money and favors from the Mafia, being acquitted on appeal four years later, but in the meantime the Sicilian fascio had been beheaded of its radical elements. Cucco's elimination from the political life of the island favored the installation in the Sicilian PNF of the island's landowners, themselves affiliated, colluding or at least contiguous with the Mafia.

Added to this action was that of the "anonymous letters" which stormed the desks of Mussolini and Justice Minister Alfredo Rocco, warning of the exasperation of the Palermo people and threatening riots if Giampietro's excessively moralistic actions did not moderate. Contextually, Cucco's trial turned out to be a scandal, in which Mori was portrayed by Cucco's lawyers as a political persecutor, and in 1929 Mussolini decided to lay prefect Mori to rest by having him co-opted by the Senate of the Kingdom. Fascist propaganda proudly declared that the Mafia had been defeated: however, the activities of Mori and Giampietro had had drastic effects only on second-ranking figures, leaving the so-called "dome" (composed of notables, landowners and politicians) partly intact, which was able to fight back through the elimination of Cucco, and so even installed itself within the Sicilian fascist federations. Some authors claim that Mussolini removed Mori because he would have gone too far in his investigations, going after interests and collusions between the state and the Mafia. This thesis is flatly rejected by others, such as Alfio Caruso.

The "Fascistissime" Laws[edit | edit source]

Between 1925 and 1926 the “fascistissime laws”, inspired by the jurist Alfredo Rocco, were passed. Law No. 2029 of Nov. 26, 1925, stipulated that collective bodies operating in Italy (associations, institutes and corporations) were required, at the request of the public security authority, to declare statutes, deeds of incorporation, internal regulations and lists of members and executives, under penalty, in case of omitted or unfaithful declaration, of dissolution of the body itself, indeterminate prison sentences and fines from a minimum of 2,000 to a maximum of 30,000 liras. In this way, the government came to have a clear map of the type and number of nongovernmental associations present. Law No. 2300 of December 24, 1925, stipulated that all public officials who refused to swear allegiance to the Italian state should be dismissed. Law No. 2263 of December 24, 1925, provided that the term "president of the council" be changed to "head of the government prime minister secretary of state"; the "head of the government" was appointed and dismissed only by the king and was responsible only to him. Ministers became responsible to both the monarch and Mussolini. The Press Law of December 31, 1925, recognized as illegal all newspapers without a person in charge recognized by the prefect (and, therefore, indirectly by Mussolini). Law 100 of January 31, 1926, gave Mussolini, as head of the government, the power to issue legal regulations. By Law No. 237 of February 4, 1926, the municipal council and the mayor were eliminated from the municipal system, the latter being replaced by the figure of the podestà, who exercised the functions of the mayor, the council and the city council and was appointed by royal decree by the executive power. On April 3, 1926, the right to strike was abolished and it was stipulated that collective agreements could only be entered into by trade unions legally recognized by the state; in this context, the Ministry of Corporations was established on July 8, 1926, of which Mussolini assumed the leadership.

The later reforms[edit | edit source]

Meanwhile, Mussolini imposed an unofficial form of protectorate on Ahmet Zogu's Albania. In addition, Italy adhered to the Locarno Pact for the guarantee of borders and general security. In April 1926, in a speech in Tripoli, Mussolini advanced the idea of the mare nostrum (i.e., an Italian thalassocracy on the Mediterranean Sea) and pitted fascism and democracy against each other for the first time. Also in 1926, the borders of Libya were redefined in favor of Italy, which acquired, among other things, Fezzan.

Also on April 3, the Opera Nazionale Balilla (ONB) was founded, with the task of "reorganizing youth from a moral and physical point of view," that is, to the spiritual and cultural education and pre-military, gymnastic-sporting, professional and technical instruction of young Italians between the ages of 8 and 18. In 1927 all other youth organizations were disbanded by law, with the exception of Gioventù Italiana Cattolica. In 1937 the ONB would be replaced by the Gioventù Italiana del littorio (GIL).

On August 18, the Duce gave a speech in Pesaro in which he proclaimed that, in order to combat devaluation, the lira-sterling exchange rate would be set at the fateful "90 share": in the period following his declaration, the lira continued to fall, touching 150 liras to a pound, but he insisted that the 90 exchange rate had to be won at any cost, for the personal and political prestige he, Fascism and Italy would gain from it; the economic consequences for citizens did not matter to him. Finance Minister Giuseppe Volpi was aware that we had gone too far (and indeed stock market stocks fell while production and living costs rose) but Mussolini held firm and would not admit he had been wrong. A few years later, he was forced to accept a massive devaluation, but no one was allowed to say in public that "quota 90" was a mistake. Meanwhile, Mussolini renounced any form of public remuneration for the government post he held. International newspapers competed for his signature and were prepared to pay handsomely for his articles, which, particularly in the United States of America, were considered of supreme interest. After the war, Mussolini's widow tried to apply for a survivor's pension for her husband's work as head of the government; the postwar social security agencies replied to Rachele Mussolini that she was not entitled to any survivor's pension: not because of any moral judgment on her husband's dictatorial action, but because of the simple technical issue that Mussolini had never accepted any public salary.

On October 8, the Grand Council passed the new statutes of the PNF, by which internal elections of party members were abolished. In addition, on October 12 Mussolini assumed command of the MVSN. On November 5, all parties outside the PNF were dissolved and it was established that the press was subject to censorship. Police confinement and the death penalty were introduced for attacks perpetrated or organized against the highest figures of the state, and the Special Tribunal for the Defense of the State was established. On December 30, the “fascio littorio” was declared the symbol of the state.

On January 15, 1927 Winston Churchill, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, was welcomed in Rome by Mussolini, who in the meantime launched the campaign to support population growth: bachelors were required to pay a special tax, on the occasion of weddings the state bestowed a cash prize to the bride and groom, and loans, economic benefits (including in the field of children's schooling) and tax exemptions for large families (birth premiums) were provided.

By Law No. 2693 of December 9, 1928, the Grand Council of Fascism, or the highest body of the PNF (chaired by the Duce himself), was institutionalized and recognized as the supreme constitutional body of the state. On January 15, 1928, the Ente Italiano per le Audizioni Radiofoniche (EIAR) was founded, a state-owned entity that was exclusively responsible for the management of public radio service throughout the country. In 1944 it would be renamed RAI (Radio Audizioni Italiane).

On March 14 Mussolini presented a reform bill (later approved) to the Chamber of Deputies, by which he proposed reducing the total number of deputies to 400, who would be elected in a single national constituency; the National Confederation of Fascist Trade Unions and the qualified cultural associations would be in charge of submitting nominations.

On February 11, 1929, Mussolini ended the decades-long Roman Question by signing with Cardinal Pietro Gasparri the Lateran Pacts, which were ratified in the House in May.

The elections of March 24, 1929, for the renewal of the Chamber of Deputies resulted in a plebiscite in favor of Mussolini. Voters were asked to vote "yes" or "no" to approve a "slate" of deputies decided by the Grand Council of Fascism. The consultation was held in an intimidating atmosphere; the "yes" ballot was tricolor, and the "no" ballot simply white, thus making the vote cast recognizable. Participation in the vote was 90 percent, and the votes in favor of the "slate" amounted to 98.4 percent.

On April 2 the Duce met with British Foreign Minister Neville Chamberlain, and toward the end of the year the seat of government was moved from Palazzo Chigi to Palazzo Venezia. In 1930 Italy signed a treaty of friendship with Austria. In January 1931 Mussolini, in an interview with the Daily Mail, stated the need for a review of the Great War peace treaties. On July 9 he received U.S. Secretary of State Henry Lewis Stimson, while in December he welcomed Mahatma Gandhi to Palazzo Venezia.

Between March 23 and April 4, 1932, the Duce met several times with Emil Ludwig, who would write about it in Colloqui con Mussolini. After thirteen hours of face-to-face time (one hour each evening) Ludwig, who had interviewed Stalin the previous year, called Mussolini "a great man, much greater than Stalin."

At this time his love affair with Margherita Sarfatti, to whom he nevertheless continued to be linked, began to loosen. On the other hand, in early 1932, he had met Claretta Petacci for the first time.

On April 12, the new FIAT Balilla, which in Mussolini's intentions should have been the car of all Italians, was presented at the International Automobile Salon in Milan; from that year on, in fact, its diffusion was encouraged, which, however, never reached the hoped-for results (a similar initiative was later adopted by Adolf Hitler with Volkswagen).

In June, the entry Fascism, signed by Mussolini and written with the collaboration of Giovanni Gentile, was published in the Treccani Encyclopedia; it explained the doctrine proper to the fascist party. On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Fascist revolution, the Via dell'Impero was inaugurated Oct. 28, and membership in the PNF, which had been closed since 1928, was reopened. On Dec. 18 Mussolini inaugurated Littoria, the first of the "new cities" built in the Agro Pontino, reclaimed in previous years.

On March 29, 1933 Mussolini met with German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels in Rome. At Mussolini's initiative, on June 7, a four-party pact was signed in Rome between Italy, France, the United Kingdom and Germany, by which these states assumed responsibility for the maintenance of peace and the reorganization of Europe in accordance with the principles and procedures laid down in the statute of the SdN. The speech delivered by Mussolini to the Senate immediately after reaching an agreement on the signing of the pact (which would be sealed at Palazzo Venezia immediately after the speech to the Senate) was described by historian Francesco Salata and a number of influential diplomats present in the room as the best speech ever delivered by an Italian head of state or minister. Salata also called it the best interpretation of "the feeling and the reasons for the life of others and universality" by a statesman; conscious as Mussolini was of the "ideal and practical feeling and reasons for the life of his own country."

Also in 1933, the Istituto Nazionale Fascista della Previdenza Sociale (INFPS) was created, which assumed the name INPS from 1943, a public law body with legal personality and autonomous management with the purpose of guaranteeing social security for workers. By Royal Decree Dec. 30, 1923, no. 3184, pension insurance against old age had been made compulsory, extended from only public employees (for whom it had the name of pension) to private employees. The various existing Accident Insurance Funds, to which the protection of workers against accidents at work (compulsory since 1898, albeit limited to certain sectors) was deputed, were unified in the National Fascist Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work ("INFAIL"), renamed INAIL in 1943. The purpose of the state agency was to "carry out insurance against accidents at work and occupational diseases (part of which were legally equated with accidents at work), reinsurance of other authorized agencies and assume particular functions and services on their behalf."

Giuseppe Graziosi, Model for the Equestrian Monument to Benito Mussolini, 1929

On February 5, 1934, the 22 corporations were established. The first lictorials of culture and art were also held in 1934, and the Coppa Mussolini, a forerunner prize of the Golden Lion, was established as part of the third edition of the Venice International Film Festival.

On March 14 Mussolini met in Rome with Austrian Chancellor Dollfuß and Hungarian Head of Government Gyula Gömbös to discuss a review of territorial arrangements in the Balkans. On March 17, a "three-way pact" was concluded with Hungary and Austria in an anti-German and anti-French function (Protocols of Rome).

The elections of March 25, 1934, for the renewal of the Chamber of Deputies - held with the same single "listone" scheme already adopted in 1924, with tricolor ballot for "yes" and white for "no" - resulted in a new plebiscite: the number of participants increased and the votes against turned out to be 15,201 (0.15%).

Law No. 654 of March 22, 1934 for the Protection of Maternity of Female Workers and Law No. 653 of April 26, 1934 for the Protection of the Work of Women and Children established the right of pregnant workers to keep their jobs, a period of leave before and after childbirth, and mandatory leave for breastfeeding (for companies with more than 50 female workers there was an obligation to provide a room for this purpose).

Law No. 2316 of December 24, 1934, established the creation of the ONMI (Opera Nazionale per la Protezione della Maternità e dell'Infanzia); the body could also finance private institutions working in the same fields. 1935 saw the establishment of the Fascist Sabbath.

On June 14 and 15, Mussolini and Hitler met in Stra and Venice; the talks focused mainly on the Austrian question (the German chancellor was aiming at the annexation of Austria). However, relations between the two remained strained, partly as a result of the failed coup d'état in Austria (by which National Socialist Germany intended to proceed with the annexation of the country), which led to Dollfuß's death. The situation was resolved after Hitler desisted from his intention. On August 21, Mussolini met with Kurt Alois von Schuschnigg, Dollfuß's successor. On Sept. 6, in Bari, he took a stand against National Socialist foreign policy and Hitler's racist doctrines, proclaiming that "thirty centuries of history enable us to look with sovereign pity upon certain doctrines from beyond the Alps, sustained by progeny of people who ignored writing, with which to hand down the records of their lives, in the time when Rome had Caesar, Virgil and Augustus."

Parties and Factions[edit | edit source]

Pre-Penelope's Web Rework[edit | edit source]

At the Start of Game
Name Ideology Leader
National Fascist Party Fascism Galeazzo Ciano
National Fascist Party - Monarchy Despotism Umberto II
National Fascist Party - National Socialist National Socialism Roberto Farinacci
Democracy Restored
Name Ideology Leader
Italian Socialist Party - Berlinguer Clique Neocommunism Enrico Berlinguer
Italian Socialist Party - Maximalist Revolutionary Front Pietro Nenni
Italian Democratic Socialist Party Democratic Socialism Giuseppe Saragat
Christian Democracy Christian Liberalism Aldo Moro
Italian Democratic Party of Monarchist Unity Paternalism Achille Lauro
Italian Social Movement National Conservatism

Neofascism (Giorgio fascist route)

Giorgio Almirante

Penelope's Web Rework[edit | edit source]

At the Start of Game
Name Ideology Leader
National Fascist Party Fascism

Sansepolcrismo Fascist Mysticism

Galeazzo Ciano
Democracy Restored
Name Ideology Leader
Italian Socialist Party Revolutionary Front Pietro Nenni
Italian Democratic Reformist Party Progressivism Giuseppe Saragat
Italian Liberal Party Oligarchic Liberalism Giovanni F. Malagodi
Italian People' Party Christian Liberalism

Christian Conservtivism National Catholicism

Carlo Donat-Cattin
Monarchist National Party Right-Wing Populism Alfredo Covelli
National Front Fascism Fascism
Communist Takeover
Name Ideology Leader
Communist Party of Italy Left Communism

Marxism-Leninism Guevarism Christian Socialism

Onorato Damen