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Benito Mussolini

Birthdate: 29. July 1883
Date of death: 28. April 1945

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician and journalist who was the leader of the National Fascist Party . He ruled Italy as Prime Minister from 1922 to 1943; he constitutionally led the country until 1925, when he dropped the pretense of democracy and established a dictatorship.

Known as Il Duce , Mussolini was the founder of Italian Fascism. In 1912, Mussolini had been a leading member of the National Directorate of the Italian Socialist Party , 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 egalitarianism and class conflict, instead advocating "revolutionary nationalism" transcending class lines. Following the March on Rome in October 1922, Mussolini became the youngest Prime Minister in Italian history until the appointment of Matteo Renzi in February 2014. After removing all political opposition through his secret police and outlawing labor 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. In 1929, Mussolini signed the Lateran Treaty with the Vatican, ending decades of struggle between the Italian state and the Papacy, and recognized the independence of Vatican City.

After the Abyssinia Crisis of 1935–1936, Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in the Second Italo–Ethiopian War. The invasion was condemned by the Western powers and was answered with economic sanctions against Italy. Relations between Germany and Italy improved due to Hitler's support of the invasion. In 1936, Mussolini surrendered Austria to the German sphere of influence, signed the treaty of cooperation with Germany and proclaimed the creation of a Rome–Berlin Axis. From 1936 through 1939, Mussolini provided huge amounts of military support to Franco's forces in the Spanish Civil War. This active intervention further distanced Italy from France and Britain. Mussolini had sought to delay a major war in Europe, but Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939, resulting in declarations of war by France and the UK and the start of World War II. On 10 June 1940—with the Fall of France imminent—Italy officially entered the war on the side of Germany, though Mussolini was aware that Italy did not have the military capacity and resources to carry out a long war with the British Empire. He believed that after the imminent French armistice, Italy could gain territorial concessions from France, and he could then concentrate his forces on a major offensive in North Africa, where British and Commonwealth forces were outnumbered by Italian forces. However, the British 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 October 1940, Mussolini sent Italian forces into Greece, starting the Greco-Italian War. The invasion failed and the following Greek counter-offensive pushed the Italians back to occupied Albania. The Greek debacle and simultaneous defeats against the British in North Africa reduced Italy to dependence on Germany.

Beginning in June 1941, Mussolini sent Italian forces to participate in the invasion of the Soviet Union, and Italy declared war on the United States in December. In 1943, Italy suffered one disaster after another: by February the Red Army had completely destroyed the Italian Army in Russia; in May the Axis collapsed 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, appointing Pietro Badoglio to succeed him as Prime Minister. 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 , informally known as the Salò 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 communist partisans 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.

Works

The Doctrine of Fascism
The Doctrine of Fascism
Benito Mussolini
My Autobiography
My Autobiography
Benito Mussolini

„All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.“

—  Benito Mussolini

Speech to Chamber of Deputies (9 December 1928), quoted in Propaganda and Dictatorship (2007) by Marx Fritz Morstein, p. 48
1920s

„Better to live a day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.“

—  Benito Mussolini

Attributed in "Duce (1922-42)" in TIME magazine (2 August 1943)
Also quoted by Generale Armando Diaz in "Il pensiero dei leoni" in Il Carroccio. The Italian review (1922) attributed to graffiti by an unknown soldier https://archive.org/stream/ilcarroccioitali15newyuoft#page/14/mode/2up
Though not precisely a repetition of any of them, this is somewhat resembles far earlier remarks attributed to others:
An army of sheep led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a sheep.
Attributed to Alexander the Great, in The British Battle Fleet : Its Inception and Growth Throughout the Centuries to the Present Day (1915) by Frederick Thomas Jane
To live like a lion for a day is far better than to live like a jackal for a hundred years.
Tipu Sultan, as quoted in Encyclopedia of Asian History (1988) Vol. 4, p. 104
It is far better to live like a tiger for a day than to live like a jackal for a hundred years.
Tipu Sultan, as quoted in Tipu Sultan : A Study in Diplomacy and Confrontation (1982) by B. Sheikh Ali, p. 329
I should prefer an army of stags led by a lion, to an army of lions led by a stag.
Chabrias, as quoted in A Treatise on the Defence of Fortified Places (1814) by Lazare Carnot, p. 50
He has been frequently heard to say, that in this world he would rather live two days like a tiger, than two hundred years like a sheep.
Tipu Sultan, as quoted in A View of the Origin and Conduct of the War with Tippoo Sultaun; Comprising a Narrative of the Operations of the Army under the Command of Lieutenant-General George Harris, and of the Siege of Seringapatam (London, G. and W. Nicol, 1800) by Alexander Beatson, pp. 153-154. http://oudl.osmania.ac.in/bitstream/handle/OUDL/7905/212261_Origin_And_Conduct_Of_The_War_With_Tipoo_Sultaun.pdf https://indianhistorybooks3.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/99999990039373-view-of-the-origin-and-conduct-of-the-war-with-tipoo-sultan.pdf
1940s

„We do not argue with those who disagree with us, we destroy them.“

—  Benito Mussolini

The Lazio Speeches (1936), as quoted in The Book of Italian Wisdom by Antonio Santi, Citadel Press, 2003. p. 88.
1930s

„The Socialists ask what is our program? Our program is to smash the heads of the Socialists.“

—  Benito Mussolini

Article in Popolo d'Italia, quoted in "A History of Terrorism" (2001) by Walter Laqueur, p. 71
Undated

„You want to know what fascism is like? It is like your New Deal!“

—  Benito Mussolini

As quoted by Mussolini in Mr. New York: The Autobiography of Grover A. Whalen by Grover Aloysius Whalen, G.P. Putnam’s Sons (1955) p. 188. Mussolini explained Fascism to Whalen in 1939.
Undated

„You cannot get rid of me because I am and always will be a socialist. You hate me because you still love me.“

—  Benito Mussolini

Denis Mack Smith, Mussolini: A Biography (1983) p. 8. As quoted by Mussolini after he was expelled from the Italian Socialist Party in 1914.
1910s

„Fascism entirely agrees with Mr. Maynard Keynes“

—  Benito Mussolini

As quoted from Mussolini's review of Keynes' new book in Universal Aspects of Fascism, James Strachey Barnes, Williams and Norgate, London: UK, (1928) pp. 113-114
Context: Fascism entirely agrees with Mr. Maynard Keynes, despite the latter's prominent position as a Liberal. In fact, Mr. Keynes' excellent little book, The End of Laissez-Faire (1926) might, so far as it goes, serve as a useful introduction to fascist economics. There is scarcely anything to object to in it and there is much to applaud.

„For this I have been and am a socialist.“

—  Benito Mussolini

The accusation of inconsistency has no foundation. My conduct has always been straight in the sense of looking at the substance of things and not to the form. I adapted socialisticamente to reality. As the evolution of society belied many of the prophecies of Marx, the true socialism folded from possible to probable. The only feasible socialism socialisticamente is corporatism, confluence, balance and justice interests compared to the collective interest.
As quoted in “Soliloquy for ‘freedom’ Trimellone island”, on the Italian Island of Trimelone, journalist Ivanoe Fossani, one of the last interviews of Mussolini, March 20, 1945, from Opera omnia, vol. 32. Interview is also known as "Testament of Benito Mussolini, or Testamento di Benito Mussolini. Also published under “Mussolini confessed to the stars”, Publishing House Latinitas, Rome, 1952. (Intervista di Ivanoe Fossani, Soliloquio in “libertà” all'isola Trimellone, Isola del Trimellone, 20 marzo 1945)
1940s

„We are fighting to impose a higher social justice.“

—  Benito Mussolini

The others are fighting to maintain the privileges of caste and class. We are proletarian nations that rise up against the plutocrats.
As quoted in “Soliloquy for ‘freedom’ Trimellone island”, on the Italian Island of Trimelone, journalist Ivanoe Fossani, one of the last interviews of Mussolini, March 20, 1945, from Opera omnia, vol. 32. Interview is also known as "Testament of Benito Mussolini, or Testamento di Benito Mussolini. Also published under “Mussolini confessed to the stars”, Publishing House Latinitas, Rome, 1952. (Intervista di Ivanoe Fossani, Soliloquio in “libertà” all'isola Trimellone, Isola del Trimellone, 20 marzo 1945)
1940s

„As the past century was the century of capitalist power, the twentieth century is the century of power and glory of labour.“

—  Benito Mussolini

Four Speeches on the Corporate State, Rome, (1935) pp. 39-40. Speech delivered to the workers in Milan. Eric Jabbari, Pierre Laroque and the Welfare State in Postwar France, Oxford University Press, (2012) p. 46
Context: Fascism establishes the real equality of individuals before the nation… the object of the regime in the economic field is to ensure higher social justice for the whole of the Italian people… What does social justice mean? It means work guaranteed, fair wages, decent homes, it means the possibility of continuous evolution and improvement. Nor is this enough. It means that the workers must enter more and more intimately into the productive process and share its necessary discipline… As the past century was the century of capitalist power, the twentieth century is the century of power and glory of labour.

„For Fascism, the growth of Empire, that is to say the expansion of the nation, is an essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite a sign of decadence.“

—  Benito Mussolini

Context: For Fascism, the growth of Empire, that is to say the expansion of the nation, is an essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite a sign of decadence. Peoples which are rising, or rising again after a period of decadence, are always imperialist; any renunciation is a sign of decay and of death. Fascism is the doctrine best adapted to represent the tendencies and the a people, like the people of Italy, who are rising again after many centuries of abasement and foreign servitude. But Empire demands discipline, the coordination of all forces and a deeply felt sense of duty and sacrifice.

„I declare that henceforth capital and labor shall have equal rights and duties as brothers in the fascist family.“

—  Benito Mussolini

As quoted in The Fate of Trade Unions Under Fascism https://digital.library.pitt.edu/islandora/object/pitt%3A31735061539114/viewer#page/2/mode/2up, by Gaetano Salvemini, Chap. 3: “Italian Trade Unions under Fascism”, New York, NY, published by the Anti-Fascist Literature Committee, (1937), p. 35, Mussolini’s statement (Feb. 1928)
1930s

„State intervention in economic production arises only when private initiative is lacking or insufficient, or when the political interests of the State are involved. This intervention may take the form of control, assistance or direct management.“

—  Benito Mussolini

Quoted from “The Labor Charter: The Corporate State and its Organization”, promulgated by Mussolini's Grand Council of Fascism, Article 9, (April 21, 1927) Copy found in Mediterranean Fascism 1919-1945, Charles F. Delzell, The MacMillan Press, (1971) p. 122. Also in Benito Mussolini’s “Doctrine of Fascism”, published as “Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions” (1935), Rome: Ardita Publishers, p.135-136.
1920s

„Let us have a dagger between our teeth, a bomb in our hands and an infinite scorn in our hearts.“

—  Benito Mussolini

Speech (1928), as quoted in The Great Quotations (1966) by George Seldes, p. 349
1920s

„War is to man what motherhood is to a woman. From a philosophical and doctrinal viewpoint, I do not believe in perpetual peace.“

—  Benito Mussolini

Speech to the Chamber of Deputies (28 April 1939), quoted in The Military Quotation Book (2002) by James Charlton, p. 2
1930s

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