The Rise of Italian Fascism

In Italy, Benito Mussolini, known as “El Duce” or “the leader,” was installing a Fascist system similar to the Nazis in Germany. His political party was called the National Fascist Party. Mussolini became Prime Minister of Italy in 1922 and ruled until he was deposed in 1943. Characteristic of the Fascist approach was a quote attributed to El Duce:   “We have buried the putrid corps of liberty” through the use of secret police, the Blackshirts. Once in power, Mussolini’s party became the only legal party, and Italy became a totalitarian state with a strong nationalistic bent. Mussolini promised to raise Italy to the glory days of the Roman Empire.

The basic underlying idea behind Mussolini’s foreign policy was that of spazio vitale (vital space), a concept in Italian Fascism that was analogous to Lebensraum in German National Socialism. According to the Fascist doctrine, Italy could not grow economically without this spazio vitale. Mussolini claimed that the entire Mediterranean area was Italy’s spazio vitale. Akin to spazio vitale and similar to Nazi racist theories was the Fascist belief that Italians were superior to the Slavs in the Balkans, who Mussolini viewed as “barbaric.” In April 1939, Mussolini ordered the Italian invasion of Albania. Italy defeated Albania within just five days, forcing the king to flee and setting up a period of Italian control of Albania. Mussolini also claimed that the blacks of Africa were inferior peoples and, as a result, Italy had a right to pursue an imperialist policy there. Consequentially, Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935. Emperor Haile Selassie was forced to flee the country, with Italy entering the capital city, Addis Ababa, to proclaim the Italian East Africa empire.

”Giovinezza” was the Fascist anthem. Lyrics with English subtitles are at (

Italian lyrics

Salve o popolo d’eroi

Salve o patria immortale

Son rinati i figli tuoi

Con la fede e l’ideale

Il valor dei tuoi guerrieri,

La virtù dei tuoi pionieri

La vision dell’Alighieri

Oggi brilla in tutti i cuor

Giovinezza, giovinezza,

Primavera di bellezza

Per la vita, nell’asprezza

Il tuo canto squilla e va!

E per Benito Mussolini,

Eja eja alalà

E per la nostra Patria bella,

Eja eja alalà

Dell’Italia nei confini

Son rifatti gli italiani;

Li ha rifatti Mussolini

Per la guerra di domani

Per la gloria del lavoro

Per la pace e per l’alloro,

Per la gogna di coloro

Che la patria rinnegar.

I poeti e gli artigiani

I signori e i contadini

Con orgoglio d’italiani

Giuran fede a Mussolini.

Non v’è povero quartiere

Che non mandi le sue schiere

Che non spieghi le bandiere

Del fascismo redentor.

English translation

Hail, people of heroes,

Hail, immortal Fatherland,

Your sons were born again

With the faith and the Ideal.

Your warriors’ valor,

Your pioneers’ virtue,

Alighieri‘s vision,

Today shines in every heart

Youth, Youth,

Spring of beauty,

In the hardship of life

Your song rings and goes!

And for Benito Mussolini,

Eja eja alalà

And for our beautiful Fatherland,

Eja eja alalà

In the Italian borders,

Italians have been remade

Mussolini has remade them

For tomorrow’s war,

For labor’s glory,

For peace and for the laurel,

For the shame of those

Who repudiated our Fatherland

The poets and the artisans,

The lords and the countrymen,

With an Italian’s pride

Swear fealty to Mussolini

No poor neighborhood exists

That doesn’t send its hordes

That doesn’t unfurl the flags

Of redeeming Fascism

On October 25, 1936, Mussolini and Italy agreed to form the Rome-Berlin Axis with Hitler and Nazi Germany. This cooperation agreement envisioned a military alliance.