Benito Mussolini was born on July 29, 1883 in Dovia di Predappio in Italy. The Mussolinis were a poor family living in a packed two-bedroom flat. Benito Mussolini’s father was a follower of socialism and a blacksmith, and his mother taught elementary school. Although intelligent, Benito Mussolini had a large ego and was violent. He wasn’t a good student in school and learned very little. While being a student at a boarding school in Faenza, Italy, Benito Mussolini was expelled for stabbing another student. After getting his diploma in 1901, he taught in secondary school for a short time. To avoid military service, he went to Switzerland in 1902, where he hung around other socialists. He then went back to Italy in 1904, spent some time in the military and immersed himself in politics full time after that.
In 1900, Mussolini had become a member of the Socialist Party and had started to attract wide admiration. In articles and speeches he was violent and extreme, encouraging revolution at any cost. He was however, very well spoken. Benito Mussolini earned many posts as editor and labour leader until he appeared in the 1912 Socialist Party Congress. At the age of twenty nine, Mussolini became editor of Avanti, the party’s daily paper. His powerful writing sparked excitement in Socialist ranks.
Socialist to Fascist
Mussolini left the Socialist Party in1914 to move to the enemy camp, the Italian middle class. He believed that World War I would end the old Europe, and he started to prepare for the unknown. He founded an independent newspaper in late 1914 called the Popolo d’Italia and backed it up with the Autonomous Fascists – his own movement. Mussolini was wounded in army training in 1917 but managed to go back to politics that same year. His main strength was his newspaper, which he now backed with Revolutionary Fascists, a second political movement. Mussolini’s career declined after the war. He orchestrated a third movement in 1918, Constituent Fascists, but it did not last.
In 1921, the elections sent him to Parliament at the head of thirty-five Fascist deputies. Mussolini successfully marched into Rome in October 1922.
As soon as he was in power, Mussolini took steps to stay there. He organized general elections. However, they were always fixed to ensure him absolute majority in parliament. He imposed open dictatorship, destroyed all opposition and suspended civil liberties.
Mussolini enjoyed wide support and was safely in power at the start of the 1930s. On the other hand, the living standard of the working majority fell. As a national leader, Mussolini provided no solutions for Italy’s problems. He encircled himself with greedy and ambitious people and allowed them to bleed Italy dry.
The eruption of World War II left Mussolini an unimportant person in world politics, and he was concerned that Hitler would redraw the map of Europe without him. Mussolini chose to make war “at any cost.” However, the price was clear: popular support, modern armies and modern industry. Mussolini had none of these. Nevertheless, he pushed Italy to war in 1940, against the will of the people.
Downfall and Death
Between 1940 and 1941, Mussolini’s armies, poorly fed and badly supplied, were defeated by Europe. Italy lost its war in 1942 and the power of Mussolini collapsed six months later. Back as Hitler’s puppet in northern Italy in 1943, he pushed Italy deeper into occupation, invasion and civil war during 1944 and 1945. Mussolini struggled to survive. On April 28, 1945 at Dongo in Como province, Mussolini was finally executed by firing squad.