- NAME: Benito Mussolini
- OCCUPATION: Dictator
- BIRTH DATE: July 29, 1883
- DEATH DATE: April 28, 1945
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Dovia di Predappio, Forlì, Italy
- PLACE OF DEATH: Mezzegra, Italy
- Full Name: Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini
- AKA: Benito Mussolini
- Nickname: "Il Duce" ("the Leader")
- Nickname: "Iron Perfect"
Best Known For
Benito Mussolini created the Fascist Party in Italy in 1919, eventually making himself dictator prior to World War II. He was killed in 1945.
Mussolini - The Bully (3:51)
Although Italy's king peacefully relinquished power to Mussolini in 1922, the dictator mythologized that he took the country by force.
Born in northern Italy in 1833, Benito Mussolini grew up with an unloving father and became a bully who clung to Socialist values and defied authority.
In 1919 Mussolini formed the Fascist Party. He convinced Italians to replace their messy democratic system with a dictatorship.
Fearing Hitler's growing power in Germany, Mussolini found himself forced into World War II by his more powerful ally.
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In 1935, determined to show the strength of his regime, Benito Mussolini invaded Ethiopia. The ill-equipped Ethiopians were no match for Italy's modern tanks and airplanes, and the capital, Addis Ababa, was quickly captured. Mussolini incorporated Ethiopia into the new Italian Empire. In 1939, he sent support to Fascists in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, hoping to expand his influence.
Impressed with Italy's early military successes,
German dictator Adolf Hitler sought to establish a relationship with Benito Mussolini; he was flattered by Hitler's overtures and interpreted the recent diplomatic and military victories as proof of his genius. By 1939, the two countries had signed a military alliance known as the "Pact of Steel." Influenced by Hitler, Mussolini instituted discrimination policies against the Jews in Italy. In 1940, Italy invaded Greece with some initial success.
With Italy's resources stretched to capacity, many Italians believed the alliance with Germany would provide time to regroup. But Hitler's invasion of Poland and declaration of war with Britain and France forced Italy into war, and exposed weaknesses in its military. Greece and North Africa soon fell, and only German military intervention in early 1941 saved Mussolini from a military coup.
In 1942, at the Casablanca Conference, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt devised a plan to take Italy out of the war and force Germany to move its troops to the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union. Allied forces secured a beachhead in Sicily and began marching up the Italian peninsula. With pressure mounting, Mussolini was forced to resign and arrested; German commandos later rescued him. Mussolini then moved his government to northern Italy, hoping to regain his influence. On June 4, 1944, Rome was liberated by Allied forces, who marched on to take control of Italy.
Mussolini and his mistress, Claretta Petacci, attempted to escape to Switzerland, but were captured by the Italian underground on April 27, 1945. They were executed the following day, on April 28, 1945, in Mezzegra (near Dongo), Italy, and their bodies were hung on display in a Milan plaza. The Italian masses greeted Mussolini's death without regret. Mussolini had promised his people Roman glory, but his megalomania had overcome his common sense, bringing them only war and misery.
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