On this day January 3rd

Home » Latest News » On this day January 3rd

Mussolini becomes dictator

Benito Mussolini, born on 29 July 1883, worked his way up through Socialist and Fascist politics until he finally seized total control of Italy.

Known as Il Duce ("The Leader"), Mussolini was the founder of Italian Fascism In 1912, Mussolini was a leading member of the National Directorate of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI), but was expelled from the PSI for advocating military intervention in World War I, in opposition to the party's stance on neutrality. Mussolini served in the Royal Italian Army during the war until he was wounded and discharged in 1917. Mussolini denounced the PSI, his views now centering on nationalism instead of socialism and later founded the fascist movement which came to oppose egalitarianism6 and class conflict, instead advocating revolutionary nationalism transcending class lines.7 Following the March on Rome in October 1922,

After removing all political opposition through his secret police and outlawing labour strikes, Mussolini and his followers consolidated their power through a series of laws that transformed the nation into a one-party dictatorship. Within five years, Mussolini had established dictatorial authority by both legal and extraordinary means and aspired to create a totalitarian state.

On 10 June 1940--with the Fall of France imminent--Italy officially entered the war on the side of Germany, though he was aware that Italy did not have the military capacity and resources to carry out a long war with the British Empire. Mussolini believed that after the imminent French armistice, Italy could gain territorial concessions from France and then he could concentrate his forces on a major offensive in North Africa, where British and Commonwealth forces were outnumbered by Italian forces. However, the UK government refused to accept proposals for a peace that would involve accepting Axis victories in Eastern and Western Europe, plans for an invasion of the UK did not proceed and the war continued. In the summer of 1941, Mussolini sent Italian forces to participate in the invasion of the Soviet Union and war with the United States followed in December.

In 1943, Italy suffered one disaster after another: by February the Red Army had completely destroyed the Italian Army in Russia (ARMIR), May saw the collapse of the Axis in North Africa, on 9 July the Allies invaded Sicily, and by the 16th it became clear the German summer offensive in the USSR had failed. As a consequence, early on 25 July, the Grand Council of Fascism passed a motion of no confidence for Mussolini; later that day the King dismissed him as head of government and had him placed in custody. On 12 September 1943, Mussolini was rescued from captivity in the Gran Sasso raid by German paratroopers and Waffen-SS commandos led by Major Otto-Harald Mors.

Adolf Hitler, after meeting with the rescued former dictator, then put Mussolini in charge of a puppet regime in northern Italy, the Italian Social Republic. In late April 1945, in the wake of near total defeat, Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci attempted to flee to Switzerland, but both were captured by Italian communists and summarily executed by firing squad on 28 April 1945 near Lake Como. His body was then taken to Milan, where it was hung upside down at a service station to publicly confirm his demise.

But in which year did Mussolini formally assume the role of dictator?

Work out your answer and then check it by clicking on the photo.