Benito Mussolini

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Mussolini fights to throw off a Communist bogey.

Benito Amilcare Andrea "The Moose" Mussolini (29 July 1883 – 28 April 1945) was an Italian politician, journalist, Mario Brother, and the batshit dictator of Italy from 1922 until his execution in 1945. Mussolini was the original fascist (after all, he popularised the term), but always lived in the shadow of his rival Adolf Hitler.

Political career[edit]

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For those without comedic tastes, the so-called experts at Wikipedia have an article about Benito Mussolini.

While Hitler had a superficial connection with socialism, being a member of the German Workers' Party and then the National Socialist German Workers' Party, Mussolini actually was a socialist at first: he was the leading member of the National Directorate of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI). Like Hitler, however, Mussolini would be injured in World War I and from then on it all went a bit right wing.

Mussolini switched from believing that class transcended all national borders to deciding that the war had meant the concept of the nation transcended all class borders, a change in attitude known in Italian as "il switcheroo". More Italian: he took the concept of "fascio", meaning a bundle of sticks,[1] from 19th century revolutionary groups, and popularised the term fascismo, publishing his ideas in a newspaper called Il Popolo d'Italia, which, despite sounding like a lovely authentic family restaurant that serves pasta made fresh on-site, was a hate-spewing rag.

The concept of Fascism was very loosely defined, something which has proved an absolute nightmare for history students, who have been asked "What is fascism?", "Was Mussolini a fascist?" and "Is it accurate to describe all of Western Europe's dictators in the 1930s as fascist?" ever since.

In 1922, he demonstrated mass opposition to then-Prime Minister Luigi Facta[2] by leading the March On Rome, an act which would be much more dangerous today given Italian motorcyclists' approach to road safety.

King Victor Emmanuel III reacted curiously to the march: he refused Facta's request to declare martial law, accepted the Prime Minister's resignation, and offered Mussolini the chance to form a government. Mussolini accepted and led a vaguely democratic government for four years, still an Italian record.[3]

Dictatorship[edit]

Although many Europeans prefer to ignore the fact, the world's first bikinis featured a design inspired by Mussolini.

By 1925, Mussolini had grown weary of maintaining the thinly-veiled pretence of democracy, and declared himself a dictator, Il Duce, not realising that the name would be a source of amusement to American schoolchildren some seven decades later.

Benito aspired to re-create the Roman Empire, and began by invading the glorious kingdoms that had made Rome a superpower: Ethiopia and Albania.

The 1935 campaign in Ethiopia was relatively easy, given that the locals were malnourished, scantily-clad and mostly fought with spears. Only 10,000 Italians died in the campaign, and less than 50,000 deserted as they seized a country with a GDP the size of an average Starbucks.

Buoyed by this step forward, Mussolini deployed military forces into Albania in 1939. Monstrous, industrialised European superpowers with highly-trained armies were entirely absent from this conflict, which can be best summed up as: the incompetent beat the defenceless.

Perhaps after reflecting on his army's less impressive performance in a country where several people owned revolvers and trousers, Mussolini employed a policy of smiling and nodding at rising star Adolf Hitler, without every committing himself to fighting a war against anyone big.

World War 2[edit]

A depiction of Hitler and Mussolini's relationship. Just be glad you can't see what's going on below.

Some 12 months later, in 1940, Mussolini swept into south-east France after the French had surrendered, and a German puppet government, Vichy France, was in power. Mussolini then tried to push into Greece but did not realise that World War One tanks weren't effective on mountainous terrain and had to ask Hitler for some help. Greece promptly fell.

In 1941, Mussolini drove his military into British-held Egypt. Unfortunately, water and supplies were forgotten and the entire army was lost before a single British soldier was spotted.

As Italy's involvement in the war stretched into a second exhausting year, it became clear that the country did not have much in the way of raw materials for building arms. Always a keen military strategist, Mussolini took to begging Hitler to make peace with the Russians, in order that the Germans could help with stemming the Allied invasion coming in from Northern Africa.

When the Allied invasion force rolled into Italy in 1943, Mussolini boldly ordered the army to crush the enemies, but before he could finish the sentence he was deposed and sent to jail. Marshal Pietro Badoglio took control of the country, and maintained the impressive juggling act of publicly supporting the Nazis while simultaneously signing an Armistice with the Allies. The fascist party was dissolved, and Italians rejoiced, having not enjoyed the war particularly. However, the joy was short-lived, as the Nazis promptly invaded Italy, and the Italian government bravely declared war on Germany. From Malta.

Mussolini was moved from prison to prison in an attempt to keep his location a secret, but was fatefully granted his right to a phone call. He called Hitler and asked to be bailed out. The German Army broke him out of jail, took over Northern Italy, and declared Mussolini the leader of a new puppet state, the Salò Republic.

Mussolini's glorious reign lasted for another two years, but, in an odd correlation, he was deposed and arrested at around the same time Nazi Germany started to crumble.

Death[edit]

First, things got unpleasant...

“He's hanging from a lamppost at the corner of the street...”

~ George Formby on Mussolini
Then things got real unpleasant.

Mussolini and his lover, Clara Petacci, were killed, possibly by British spies,[4] soon afterwards in the small but perfectly formed town of Dongo.[5] Their bodies were taken to Milan, where, in possibly the most Catholic move ever, the locals hung them upside down John-the-Baptist style, and then proceeded to throw stones at them. Just two days later, Hitler died. It was a bad week for fascism.

After several days of the crowd stoning Mussolini, one of Il Duce's most loyal men, the excellently-named Achille Starace, was brought before his former leader, who could no longer be considered to be in possession of classical good looks. Starace, to his credit, managed a dignified salute to what now closely resembled a bloodied sack of potatoes, before being shot and hung next to Mussolini.

Mussolini's body was then laid respectfully to rest. Oh, no, wait...

First, the photo below right was taken in the local morgue, demonstrating that recent events hadn't just changed the face of Italy. It actually earned Mussolini his final honour, as he was posthumously awarded an Oscar for Face Which Most Looks Like A Sofa Cushion, an Academy Award which has since been discontinued. Many modern day fascist sympathisers prefer to liken his death-face to a bowl of spaghetti, suggesting that this was the final act of a great Italian patriot.

Mussolini's body was then laid respectfully to rest. Oh, no, wait...

In an attempt to avoid creating a site of pilgrimage for the country's extremists, the Italian government had Mussolini buried in an unmarked grave in the Musocco cemetery, north of Milan. However, Neo-fascist[6] Domenico Leccisi, along with a couple of amici, dug Mussolini up and went on the run with his corpse. In possibly the most Catholic move ever, this was done on Easter Sunday.

Il Duce's body was finally recovered in August, hidden in a small trunk at the Certosa di Pavia, just outside Milan. In possibly the most Catholic move ever, two Fransciscan brothers were the ones caught with the corpse, though it was discovered on further investigation that Mussolini had been constantly on the move, like an Italian fascist version of the school hamster.

Mussolini's body was then laid respectfully to rest. Oh, no, wait...

The government dithered over what to do with the body and, incredibly, it was held in an unknown location for ten years. He was reinterred, in his family's mausoleum, in 1957. Coincidentally, the Prime Minister of Italy at this time, Adone Zoli, who made the decision to give Mussolini a dignified burial, was desperately in need of parliamentary support from Italy's still-popular far-right parties.

Even more coincidentally, one such member of parliament was named Domenico Leccisi.

Benvenuto in Italia!

Footnotes[edit]

  1. It probably sounds better in Italian.
  2. Whose surname offers the opportunity to make jokes with the punchline "fucked-ah" pronounced in a cod-Italian accent.
  3. Check out this list of numb-nuts.
    N. Name
    (Born–Died)
    Term of office
    Took office Left office Time in office
    31 Giuseppe Pella (1902–1981) 17 August 1953 18 January 1954 50000000000000000000

     years , 7002154000000000000154  days

    32 Amintore Fanfani (1908–1999) 18 January 1954 10 February 1954 50000000000000000000

     years , 700123000000000000023  days

    33 Mario Scelba (1901–1991) 10 February 1954 6 July 1955 70001000000000000001

     year , 7002146000000000000146  days

    34 Antonio Segni (1891–1972) 6 July 1955 19 May 1957 70001000000000000001

     year , 7002317000000000000317  days

    35 Adone Zoli (1887–1960) 19 May 1957 1 July 1958 70001000000000000001

     year , 700143000000000000043  days

    (32) Amintore Fanfani (1908–1999) 1 July 1958 16 February 1959 50000000000000000000

     years , 7002230000000000000230  days

    (34) Antonio Segni (1891–1972) 16 February 1959 25 March 1960 70001000000000000001

     year , 700138000000000000038  days

    36 Fernando Tambroni (1901–1963) 25 March 1960 26 July 1960 50000000000000000000

     years , 7002123000000000000123  days

    (32) Amintore Fanfani (1908–1999) 26 July 1960 21 February 1962 70002000000000000002

     years , 7002330000000000000330  days

    21 February 1962 21 June 1963
    37 Giovanni Leone (1908–2001) 21 June 1963 4 December 1963 50000000000000000000

     years , 7002166000000000000166  days

    38 Aldo Moro (1916–1978) 4 December 1963 22 July 1964 70004000000000000004

     years , 7002203000000000000203  days

    22 July 1964 23 February 1966
    23 February 1966 24 June 1968
    (37) Giovanni Leone (1908–2001) 24 June 1968 12 December 1968 50000000000000000000

     years , 7002171000000000000171  days

    39 Mariano Rumor (1915–1990) 12 December 1968 5 August 1969 70001000000000000001

     year , 7002237000000000000237  days

    5 August 1969 27 March 1970
    27 March 1970 6 August 1970
    40 Emilio Colombo (1920–2013) 6 August 1970 17 February 1972 70001000000000000001

     year , 7002195000000000000195  days

    41 Giulio Andreotti (1919–2013) 17 February 1972 26 June 1972 70001000000000000001

     year , 7002140000000000000140  days

    26 June 1972 7 July 1973
    (39) Mariano Rumor (1915–1990) 7 July 1973 14 March 1974 70001000000000000001

     year , 7002139000000000000139  days

    14 March 1974 23 November 1974
    (38) Aldo Moro (1916–1978) 23 November 1974 12 February 1976 70001000000000000001

     year , 7002249000000000000249  days

    12 February 1976 29 July 1976
    (41) Giulio Andreotti (1919–2013) 29 July 1976 11 March 1978 70003000000000000003

     years , 70006000000000000006  days

    11 March 1978 20 March 1979
    20 March 1979 4 August 1979
    42 Francesco Cossiga (1928–2010) 4 August 1979 4 April 1980 70001000000000000001

     year , 700175000000000000075  days

    4 April 1980 18 October 1980
    43 Arnaldo Forlani (1925–) 18 October 1980 28 June 1981 50000000000000000000

     years , 7002253000000000000253  days

    44 Giovanni Spadolini (1925–1994) 28 June 1981 23 August 1982 70001000000000000001

     year , 7002156000000000000156  days

    23 August 1982 1 December 1982
    (32) Amintore Fanfani (1908–1999) 1 December 1982 4 August 1983 50000000000000000000

     years , 7002246000000000000246  days

    45 Bettino Craxi (1934–2000) 4 August 1983 1 August 1986 70003000000000000003

     years , 7002257000000000000257  days

    1 August 1986 18 April 1987
    (32) Amintore Fanfani (1908–1999) 18 April 1987 29 July 1987 50000000000000000000

     years , 7002102000000000000102  days

    46 Giovanni Goria (1943–1994) 29 July 1987 13 April 1988 50000000000000000000

     years , 7002259000000000000259  days

    47 Ciriaco De Mita (1928–) 13 April 1988 22 July 1989 70001000000000000001

     year , 7002100000000000000100  days

    (41) Giulio Andreotti (1919–2013) 22 July 1989 12 April 1991 70002000000000000002

     years , 7002342000000000000342  days

    12 April 1991 28 June 1992
    48 Giuliano Amato (1938–) 28 June 1992 28 April 1993 50000000000000000000

     years , 7002304000000000000304  days

    49 Carlo Azeglio Ciampi (1920–2016) 28 April 1993 10 May 1994 70001000000000000001

     year , 700112000000000000012  days

    50 Silvio Berlusconi (1936–) 10 May 1994 17 January 1995 50000000000000000000

     years , 7002252000000000000252  days

    51 Lamberto Dini (1931–) 17 January 1995 17 May 1996 70001000000000000001

     year , 7002121000000000000121  days

    52 Romano Prodi (1939–) 17 May 1996 21 October 1998 70002000000000000002

     years , 7002157000000000000157  days

    53 Massimo D'Alema (1949–) 21 October 1998 22 December 1999 70001000000000000001

     year , 7002187000000000000187  days

    22 December 1999 25 April 2000
    (48) Giuliano Amato (1938–) 25 April 2000 11 June 2001 70001000000000000001

     year , 700147000000000000047  days

    (50) Silvio Berlusconi (1936–) 11 June 2001 23 April 2005 70004000000000000004

     years , 7002340000000000000340  days

    23 April 2005 17 May 2006
    (52) Romano Prodi (1939–) 17 May 2006 8 May 2008 70001000000000000001

     year , 7002357000000000000357  days

    (50) Silvio Berlusconi (1936–) 8 May 2008 16 November 2011 70003000000000000003

     years , 7002192000000000000192  days

    54 Mario Monti (1943–) 16 November 2011 28 April 2013 70001000000000000001

     year , 7002163000000000000163  days

    55 Enrico Letta (1966–) 28 April 2013 22 February 2014 50000000000000000000

     years , 7002300000000000000300  days

    56 Matteo Renzi (1975–) 22 February 2014 12 December 2016 70002000000000000002

     years , 7002294000000000000294  days

    57 Paolo Gentiloni (1954–) 12 December 2016 1 June 2018 70001000000000000001

     year , 7002171000000000000171  days

    58 Giuseppe Conte (1964–) 1 June 2018 5 September 2019 70002000000000000002

     years , 7002257000000000000257  days

    5 September 2019 13 February 2021
    59 Mario Draghi (1947–) 13 February 2021 Incumbent 50000000000000000000

     years , 700194000000000000094  days

  4. No one does conspiracy theories better than Italians. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Benito_Mussolini#Post-war_controversy
  5. In Italy's Innuendo region. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dongo,_Lombardy
  6. Perhaps the world's first neo-fascist, bearing in mind fascism had only just popped its clogs.

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