Benito Mussolini was the dictator of Italy for almost twenty years. He seized power after the so-called ‘March On Rome’. After he was appointed prime minister he went on to make himself the unchallenged ruler of Italy. Mussolini sought to make Italy as a great power and for this reason, he became an ally of Hitler and invaded several smaller countries in order to expand the Italian Empire. He made the fateful mistake of entering WW II on the side of the Nazi. This ultimately was to lead to the defeat of Italy and his own downfall.
Mussolini was something of a bully at school and was often in trouble for fighting.
He worked as a journalist for many year and was a very popular and well-known one. This is how he managed to get the attention of the public and used his writings to begin a career in politics.
At first, Mussolini was a socialist and he wanted all power and property to be in the hands of the people. He became a prominent member of the Italian Socialist Party. However, when war broke out in 1914, he wanted Italy to join the war, with the allies. Mussolini saw the war as a great change to make Italy a great power. The Socialists sought Italian neutrality and because of this Mussolini broke with the party and became an ardent nationalist.
Mussolini volunteered to fight on the front lines during the war. He served with some distinction with an elite unit and was severely wounded. After this, he was no longer able to fight and after being demobilized he became involved in politics.
Mussolini found the Fascist Party during the war and it soon became very popular because of its anti-communist rhetoric. Many Italians were scared of a Soviet-style revolution in their country.
After coming to power Mussolini launched a war against the various Mafias in southern Italy. He almost managed to eliminate the Mafia in Sicily in the 1920s.
At first, he and Hitler mistrusted each other. However, when Mussolini did not oppose Hitler’s occupation of Austria, the two men became firm allies and friends.
He constantly involved the poorly-led Italian army into wars. This was often against the advice of his generals and it made him unpopular with the public. His army was generally ineffective in the campaigns and in North Africa and Greece his forces, needed the support of the Nazis to avoid outright defeat.
In 1943, after the invasion of Sicily Mussolini was deposed from power by a coup. He was also held as a prisoner in a mountain fastness. the Germans later rescued him and made him the leader of the Salo Republic in Northern Italy. He was, however, in reality only the German’s puppet.
Mussolini was killed by Communist partisans as he was fleeing to Germany in 1945. He was killed along with his mistress and their bodies displayed in a public square in Milan.