WW2 - "Il Duce" Benito Mussolini

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Mussolini, Benito A former socialist, Benito Mussolini founded the Italian Fascist Party in 1919, thereby establishing the basis for a philosophy of military dictatorship and authoritarianism that would sweep through Europe in the 1920s and 30s, culminating in the overthrow of democracy in much of Southern and Central Europe. Taking advantage of acute economic distress and fears of a communist take over, Mussolini led his supporters in a march on Rome, a demonstration of strength and popular support that persuaded the Italian monarch to confer power on Mussolini, thus lending a spurious legitimacy to political violence. By 1929 Mussolini had eliminated all opposition, created a one party state, and concentrated all political and legislative power in a Fascist Grand Council, entirely dominated by himself. Linked, but distinct ideologies brought Mussolini into close contact with Adolf Hitler, after the latter's accession to power in Germany. The Anti-Commintern Pact of 1936 committed their countries, along with Japan, to a diplomatic alliance against the spread of communism and laid the foundations for a more comprehensive military alliance that became known as the Axis. But from this time onwards, Mussolini's star declined, his status as the senior statesman of the European dictatorships, eclipsed by the burgeoning economic and military power of Hitler's Germany. When Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, Mussolini was neither consulted nor informed. Yet the stunning victories of ...


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