Born in 1883, Mussolini served as Prime Minister of Italy from 1922 – 1943.
His first political tendencies had been more Socialist than Conservative, and he opposed the outbreak of war in 1914. However, having served in the army, by the end of the war he did not consider himself a socialist at all, calling the idea itself a failure. He entered politics in 1917, and very quickly established himself as a Fascist, holding the ideology of spazio vitale, which was very similar to the expansionist ideals of the Nazis. His policies were less aggressively racist than those of Hitler, but still somewhat unforgiving of hat he considered ‘inferior’ races, such as the Salvic race.
The National Fascist Party, of which Mussolini was the leader, led the famous coup d’état, the March on Rome, in 1922. As a result of this, the former Prime Minister was ousted, and Mussolini was asked by the King to assume power in his place. By 1927, Mussolini had removed all traces of democracy and transformed Italy into a police state. Under his rule, Italy supported the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War, which led to the relationship between Italy and Germany becoming stronger, culminating in the Pact of Steel in May 1939.
Italy did not enter World War Two until 1940, joining on the side of Germany, who looked at the time the most likely victors of the conflict. The defeat at El Alamein in 1942 led to significant discontentment amongst the Italian people, and after Allied bombing in Rome in 1943, the situation worsened. He was arrested on the orders of the King in July 1943. He lived in exile for two years, during which time Italy declared war on the Nazis.
In 1945, Mussolini tried to escape exile, but was discovered in Como. He was executed, and his body – along with the bodies of others found with him – was strung up and displayed on an Esso petrol station in Milan. He was later buried in an unmarked grave.
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