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While working for various labour organizations in Switzerland, Benito Mussolini made a name for himself as a charismatic personality and a consummate rhetorician. After returning to Italy, he amassed a large following while working as an editor for the socialist magazine Avanti! His political beliefs took a hairpin turn to the right midway through World War I , when he stopped decrying the war effort and began advocating for it.
After World War I he began organizing fasci di combattimento —nationalist paramilitary forces known for wearing black shirts. In Mussolini and other fascist leaders organized a march on Rome with the intention of forcing the king to yield the government to Mussolini.
It worked, and Mussolini was appointed prime minister that same year. His father was an ardent socialist who worked part-time as a journalist for leftist publications. It was during this period, and after, that the nationalist and anti- Bolshevik strands of thought that would characterize his later politics began to emerge. These politics included the themes of racial superiority, xenophobia, and imperialism that defined his actions as a dictator. Benito Mussolini was the less dominant half of the Rome-Berlin axis , formalized by the Pact of Steel between Adolf Hitler and himself.
Anxious that he would lose claim to conquered European lands as Hitler advanced, Mussolini entered the war in Italy fared poorly from the outset, with ignominious defeats in North Africa, Greece, and the Soviet Union. Benito Mussolini was born to a poor family in Predappio, a town in northeastern Italy. His father was a blacksmith who wrote part-time as a socialist journalist, and his mother was a staunchly Catholic schoolteacher. As an adult, Benito Mussolini would have two wives and many mistresses. He had one child with his first wife, Ida Dalser, but would eventually abandon them and seek to hide them from the public eye.
He would have five children—three boys and two girls—by another wife, Rachele Guidi. It was alongside his longtime mistress, Clara Petacci, that he died, however. The two were executed in by Italian partisans as they tried to escape to Switzerland, and their bodies were hung upside down in Milan.
Mussolini was the first child of the local blacksmith. A restless child, Mussolini was disobedient, unruly, and aggressive. He was a bully at school and moody at home. Because the teachers at the village school could not control him, he was sent to board with the strict Salesian order at Faenza, where he proved himself more troublesome than ever, stabbing a fellow pupil with a penknife and attacking one of the Salesians who had attempted to beat him.
He was also intelligent, and he passed his final examinations without difficulty. He obtained a teaching diploma and for a time worked as a schoolmaster but soon realized that he was totally unsuited for such work. At the age of 19, a short, pale young man with a powerful jaw and enormous, dark, piercing eyes, he left Italy for Switzerland with a nickel medallion of Karl Marx in his otherwise empty pockets.
For the next few months, according to his own , he lived from day to day, jumping from job to job. At the same time, however, he was gaining a reputation as a young man of strange magnetism and remarkable rhetorical talents. He read widely and voraciously, if not deeply, plunging into the philosophers and theorists Immanuel Kant , Benedict de Spinoza , Peter Kropotkin , Friedrich Nietzsche , G. Hegel , Karl Kautsky , and Georges Sorel , picking out what appealed to him and discarding the rest, forming no coherent political philosophy of his own yet impressing his companions as a potential revolutionary of uncommon personality and striking presence.
While earning a reputation as a political journalist and public speaker, he produced propaganda for a trade union , proposing a strike and advocating violence as a means of enforcing demands. Repeatedly, he called for a day of vengeance. More than once he was arrested and imprisoned.
When he returned to Italy in , even the Roman newspapers had started to mention his name. For some time after his return little was heard of him. So successful was this paper that in he was appointed editor of the official Socialist newspaper, Avanti! Soon, however, he changed his mind about intervention.
He reed from Avanti! Mussolini went to fight in the war. Benito Mussolini. Videos Images. Additional Info. Print print Print. Table Of Contents. While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions. Facebook Twitter. Give Feedback External Websites. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article requires . External Websites. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. See all media. Born: July 29, Italy Show more Died: April 28, aged 61 Italy Show more Political Affiliation: Fascist Party Show more.
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