The Rise of Fascism In Italy

1922 - March on Rome:
Facta’s failure to act against  growing Fascist violence and the failure of Filippo Turati’s  Socialists to cooperate with Sturzo’s Catholics strengthened  Mussolini. Two wings existed within the PNF: Dino Grandi’s approach that pressed to come to power legally and Italo  Balbo’s ‘insurrectional’ approach. This second had the upper  hand. On October 28, the ‘March on Rome’ took place with  the Fascist occupation of strategic sites. King Victor Emmanuel III refused to sign martial Law to restore order  and the army failed to act. The fascists’ coup d’état thus succeded.  On November 30, Mussolini was invited by King  Victor Emmanuel III to become Prime Minister and, for  all intents and purposes, the parliamentary constitutional  tradition came to an end.

1923 - Acerbo’s electoral reform:
Mussolini consolidates  his ‘illiberal regime. On December 15, 1922 the Fascist  Grand Council is formed. It assumes both party and state  functions foreshadowing the one-party system Italy was  becoming. Giacomo Acerbo’s bill on electoral reform is  approved on July 10. It eliminates proportional representation  and gives two-thirds of the seats to the electoral coalition  that receives 25% of the vote cast.

1924 - Giacomo Matteotti  murdered:
National Elections  are held in April. Internal disputes  within the Socialist and  Catholic ranks and Mussolini’s  control of the voting machines  allows the Fascists to win the  election. The leader of the  Socialists Giacomo Matteotti  gives a speech contending that  Fascist violence has invalidated  the recent elections. Matteotti  disappears on June 10 1924. His body is found only in  August. Did Mussolini give the order to kill him? Historians  are still debating. On June 30, the Senate and the  Chamber grant Mussolini a vote of confidence. The  opposition is absent from the Chamber after the ‘Aventine  Secession’ makes it easy for Mussolini to introduce repressive  legislation and establish his fascist dictatorship.

1925 - Alfredo Rocco’s new electoral law:
Between January 1925 and the end of 1926 the regime  consolidates itself. Abolition of antifascist political parties,  of free labour unions and of freedom of speech.  Italy becomes a Fascist state. Creation of special tribunals  that have the power to confine persons who subvert the  political and social order. Only Fascist unions can negotiate  and enforce contracts. In 1927 the Confindustria  becomes formally Fascist and its president enters the  Fascist Grand Council. According to Alfredo Rocco’s new  electoral law, political parties are eliminated and only persons  on a national list can become members of  Parliament. Voters can only accept or reject the list.  Mussolini announces the ‘Battle of the Grain’, to make  Italy self-sufficient in foodstuffs. Only large landowners  benefit from it and consolidate their position.

1929 - The Lateran Accords with the Vatican:
On  February 11 Mussolini signs the Lateran Accords with the  Vatican. They end the dispute with the papacy that resulted  from the annexation of the Papal States during the  Risorgimento. The Accords created the small independent  state of the Vatican City in Rome, paid the Pope compensation  for the annexed territories and made Catholicism the  official religion of Italy. The Accords had vast repercussions.  The Duce came to be seen as a man sent by Providence  against the threat of communism and solidified Mussolini’s  regime both at home and abroad.

1933 - IRI (Istituto per la Ricostruzione  Industriale):
As a means to face the Great Depression,  to finance industries in difficulty and stimulate economic  recovery, Banker Alberto Beneduce and finance minister  Guido Jung founded a new state agency: IRI (Istituto per la  Ricostruzione Industriale). IRI’s role was far-reaching and  significant. It owned one fifth of outstanding stocks in  Italian companies. IRI stimulated industries in Northern Italy,  improved production methods and enabled the country to  match the most advanced international industrial standards.  Italo Baldo with his ‘flying armada’ crossed the Atlantic  ocean and visited Canada and the world Exposition in  Chicago and flew back to Italy. A major achievement in the  history of aviation.

1934 - Fascism, a Corporate State :
Mussolini  opposes Adolf Hitler’s attempt of annexation (Anschluss) of  Austria into Germany after Chancellor Dolfuss’ assassination  by the Nazis. Founding of the 22 Corporations, the ‘third  way’ between Marxist class struggle and ‘plutocratic’  capitalism with equal representation of employers and  employees. Fascism thus defined itself as a Corporate  State and in 1938 a law abolished the Chamber of  Deputies and replaced it with the Chamber of Fasces and  Corporations. The Fascist State relied also on ONB (Opera  Nazionale Balilla), which regimented boys and girls and  prepared them to become militant members of the regime  and the GUF (Gioventù Universitaria Fascista) to which university  students were obliged to adhere. The OND (Opera  Nazionale Dopolavoro) rounded out the Fascist socialization  network.The OND was in contact with millions of workers and  was the regime’s most successful institution.

1935-36 - Conquest of Ethiopia:
After meeting  French Premier Laval in Rome and receiving his nod,  Mussolini has a free hand to conquer Ethiopia. In October  1935, Italian troops under the command of generals Del  Bono and Graziani invade Abyssinia. After a few months the  Italian troops enter Addis Ababa and Ethiopia becomes an  Italian colony. The shameful defeat at Adua is finally  avenged. The king of Italy becomes emperor of an empire  that includes Lybia, the Dodecanese Islands, Eritrea,  Somalia and Ehtiopia. As a result of this conquest, economic  sanctions are imposed on Italy. During the 1930s the  Duce accentuates his personal power and slogans like  ‘Mussolini ha sempre ragione’ (Mussolini is always right’  and ‘Credere obbedire, combattere’ (Believe, Obey, Fight)  cover Italian buildings. In 1935 radio, cinema and other  means of communications become favourite tools for propaganda  under the umbrella of the Ministry of Popular  Culture (Minculpop).

1936-1939 - Civil war in Spain:
A pro-Germany  policy in Foreign affairs begins. In 1936 Hitler and Mussolini  support Francisco Franco’s revolt in Spain and send troops to  help him. The Rome-Berlin Axis is born and Mussolini’s sonin-  law Count Galeazzo Ciano becomes Minister of Foreign  Affairs. 1937. Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany adhere to the  Anti-Comintern Pact.

1937-38 - Anti-Semitism in Italy:
An anti-Semitic  faction emerges within Italian Fascism. Only in May 1938,  after Hitler’s visit to Rome, Mussolini lets Gerarchi like  Bottai who identify Jews with the ‘bourgoisie’ have their  way. There were only 50,000 Jews living in a country of  about 40 million people. The Duce who wanted to transform  Italians into a ‘warrior’ race and had prohibited  racial interactions in Italian East Africa, allows the foundation  of a racist magazine: La Difesa della Razza, and a  law is passed in September 1938 which prohibits foreign  Jews from entering Italy, bans Jews from the teaching  profession and excludes them from receiving an education  in public secondary schools. A ban on intermarriage,  exclusion from the army and public jobs and a limit to  Jewish economic activities are later added. Anschluss  (annexation) of Austria by Germany takes place.

1939 - Conquest of Albania:
In April Italy occupies  and annexes Albania. Signing of the Pact of Steel between  Italy and Germany. The Second World War begins. Mussolini  declares Italy’s non-belligerence.

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