This documentary reviews the career and personal life of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. He quickly became one of Italy's most intelligent and menacing young Socialists. He broke with the Italian Socialist Party after advocating intervention in World War 1. In 1922, he became prime minister, and by 1925, he had established himself as dictator. His rule saw an official totalitarian system; the establishment of the Vatican state; the annexation of Abyssinia and Albania; and the formation of the Axis with Germany. His declaration of war on Britain and France was followed by a series of defeats in Africa and in the Balkans. Following the Allied invasion of Sicily, his supporters deserted him, and he was overthrown and arrested. Rescued from imprisonment by German paratroopers, he was placed in charge of the puppet Italian Social Republic, but in 1945 he was captured by the Italian Resistance and executed.
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini
(29 July 1883 â€“ 28 April 1945)
was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party, ruling the country from 1922 to his ousting in 1943, and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of fascism.
Originally a member of the Italian Socialist Party and editor of the Avanti! from 1912 to 1914, Mussolini fought in World War I as an ardent nationalist and created the Fasci di Combattimento in 1919, catalyzing his nationalist and socialist beliefs in the Fascist Manifesto, published in 1921. Following the March on Rome in October 1922 he became the 27th Prime Minister of Italy and began using the title Il Duce by 1925, about which time he had established dictatorial authority by both legal and extraordinary means, aspiring to create a totalitarian state. After 1936, his official title was Sua Eccellenza Benito Mussolini, Capo del Governo, Duce del Fascismo e Fondatore dell'Impero ("His Excellency Benito Mussolini, Head of Government, Duce of Fascism, and Founder of the Empire") Mussolini also created and held the supreme military rank of First Marshal of the Empire along with King Victor Emmanuel III, which gave him and the King joint supreme control over the military of Italy. Mussolini remained in power until he was replaced in 1943; he remained the leader of the Italian Social Republic until his death a short time later.
Since 1938 Mussolini had sought to delay a major war in Europe until at least 1942 to allow Italy to focus its resources to rearm its military. The military desperately needed to rearm its army with up-to-date artillery and man its army with colonial recruits from the newly established Italian East Africa. The navy needed time to complete constructing a squadron of new battleships. Mussolini also wanted time to secure Italy's foreign currency reserves through the planned world exposition in Rome to be held in 1942. He also wanted to allow time for the repatriation of the largest number possible of Italians abroad to fight for Italian forces in a major war. However, Germany invaded Poland on the first day of September in 1939, starting World War II. On 10 June 1940, Mussolini led Italy into the calamity of siding with Germany. Mussolini was aware that Italy did not have the military capacity in 1940 to carry out a long war with France and the United Kingdom. Therefore, he had waited until the former was on the verge of imminent collapse because of the German invasion before declaring war on France and the United Kingdom, He had mistakenly concluded that following France's collapse the war would be short-lived. He believed that peace negotiations would take place shortly after France fell. Mussolini believed that after the imminent French surrender, Italy could gain territorial concessions from France and then he could concentrate his forces on a major offensive in Egypt, where British and Commonwealth forces were outnumbered by Italian forces. However the UK refused to accept German proposals for a peace that would involve accepting Germany's victories in Eastern and Western Europe, plans for a German invasion of the UK did not proceed, and the war continued.
On 24 July 1943, soon after the start of the Allied invasion of Italy, through the Ordine del giorno Grandi Mussolini was defeated in the vote at the Grand Council of Fascism, and the day after the King had him arrested. On 12 September 1943, Mussolini was rescued from prison in the daring Gran Sasso raid by German special forces. Following his rescue, Mussolini headed the Italian Social Republic in parts of Italy that were not occupied by Allied forces. In late April 1945, with total defeat looming, Mussolini attempted to escape north, only to be quickly captured and summarily executed near Lake Como by Italian partisans. His body was then taken to Milan where it was hung upside down at a petrol station for public viewing and to provide confirmation of his demise.