1918, 4 November: The Armistice ending World War I signed by France, England, and Italy.


1919, 21 March: Benito Mussolini, journalist and editor of Il Popolo d’Italia, founds the  Fascio Milanese di Combattimento political party; the 120 men who originally banded together came to be called Sansepolcristi from the name of the square where they met.  Clearly seen as a revolution that begins as an alternative to the Bolshevik Revolution, the Fascists are anti-capitalist, anti-monarchical, anti-clerical, anti-socialist, anti-parliamentary, and anti-bourgeois.


1919, 12 September: Gabriele D’Annunzio, a political maverick, in a spirit of revolt and remembering Italy’s territorial claims not satisfied at the Paris Peace Conference, conquers the town of Fiume on the Adriatic with a band of volunteer fighters not authorized by the government (until 25 December, 1920).


1920-1921, Winter: Growth and transformation of Fascism and emergence of the Squads.  Squadristi appear in Bologna province and the Po Valley.  Squads of rural Fascists specialized in punitive raids against local governments, labour unions and rival parties that did not agree with them.


1921, 1 July:  Giovanni Giolitti’s government falls and the Fascists win 35 seats in the Chamber of Deputies.


1922, 28 October: The March on Rome. Mussolini, along with Bianchi, Balbo, De Bono and De Vecchi, leads 14,000 Black Shirts to the capital.


1922, 31 October: Mussolini as Prime Minister and presents the list of ministers to King Victor Emanuel III for approval.  Even the moderates vote for the proposed platform and Giovanni Giolitti agrees.  Mussolini succeeded, as there was no precedent for a demagogue who was also a skilled politician.


1924, 6 April: The Conservative Coalition which includes Mussolini and his PNF (Partito Nazionale Fascista) obtains 374 votes out of 535 for the Chamber of Deputies, winning an absolute majority. Clearly seen as a revolution that begins as an alternative to the Bolshevik Revolution, the Fascists are anti-capitalist, anti-monarchical, anti-clerical, anti-socialist, anti-parliamentary, and anti-bourgeois.


1924, 10 June: Giacomo Matteotti, after having protested violent Fascist methods in the pre-election, is kidnapped along the lungotevere in Rome by Mussolini’s men and killed.


1925, 3 January: In a speech to the Chamber of Deputies, Mussolini, the Duce, accepts responsibility for Fascist violence.  The Fascist regime, ever more violent and antidemocratic, gradually gets stronger and more powerful, eliminating Mussolini’s enemies and neutralizing those that cannot be eliminated.  Thus, the Fascist regime is established without any effective resistance in a country that had been ruled by parliamentary liberals since its unification in 1861.


1926-1929: Construction of the new authoritarian state.


1926, 25 November:  Antifascists are imprisoned or interned and the death penalty is established. 


1929, 11 February:  Mussolini and Pius XI sign The Lateran Treaty.  The Catholic Church, in effect, gave its blessing to the Fascist regime in return for sovereignty over Vatican City, a financial settlement, and increased influence in public life, especially in the schools.


1929, 24 March:  Italy becomes totally Fascist after a plebiscite with a one-party slate in which 90% of those who could vote did so, with 8.5 million voting its approval and only 135,761 against.


1933, 8 September: Mussolini signs the Quadruple Pact with France, Germany and England.


1934, 12 June: Mussolini meets Adolf Hitler for the first time in Stra di Venezia.


1935, 3 October: The War of Africa breaks out and Adua and Adigrat are immediately captured.


1936, 9 May:  Italy wins the War of Abissinia, the negus flees abroad.  Mussolini declares that Italy has its Empire.


1937, 25 September:  Hitler receives Mussolini.  At Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, over a million people applaud the two dictators.


1938, 1 March:  Gabriele D’Annunzio dies at Gardone on Lake Garda.


1938, 12 March:  Germany invades Austria.


1938, 3 May: Hitler visits Rome.  Germany and Italy cooperate more closely, the Rome-Berlin Axis is strengthened.


1938, 15 July:  The Manifesto of Fascist Racism is issued.


1938, 3 September:  The Gazzetta del Popolo announces the first racist measures against the Jews decided by the Fascist Grand Council.


1938, 9-10 November: Kristallnacht (Glass Night).


1938, 17 November: King Victor Emanuel III signs The Racial Laws.


1939, 19 January:   The Chamber of the Fasci and the Corporations substitutes The Chamber of Deputies.  The separation between the legislative and executive branches of the government ceases to exist. 


1939, 4 April:  Italy invades Albania.


1939, 22 May:  Galeazzo Ciano who married Edda Mussolini on April 24th, 1930, and Joachim von Ribbentrop sign the Pact of Steel, the military alliance between Germany and Italy.


1939, 1 September:  World War II begins when Germany invades Poland.  France and Great Britain declare war against Germany; Italy remains neutral. 


1940, 10 June:  Italy declares war against France and Great Britain.


1940, 28 September:  Italy signs the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Japan.


1940:  15 October:  Mussolini begins a military campaign against Greece.


1941, June:  Germany begins to invade Russia.


1941, 26 June:  Mussolini declares war against the Soviet Union.


1941, 27 November:  Duke Amadeo D’Aosta surrenders 250,000 Italian troops to the British in East Africa marking the end of the Empire.


1941, 11 December:  Mussolini declares war on the United States siding with Japan.


1942, 4 June:  The clandestine  anti-Fascist party, the Partito d’Azione is founded.


1943, 6 February: Galeazzo Ciano and Dino Grandi are removed as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Justice, respectively.


1943, 10 July:  Allies land in Sicily, which precipitates the downfall of Mussolini.


1943, 24 July:  The Grand Fascist Council meets and invites Mussolini to step down. The King takes control of all of the armed forces.


1943, 25 July:  Mussolini is arrested and full powers are given to Maresciallo Pietro Badoglio with the approval of King Victor Emanuel III.


1943, 26 July: The National Fascist Party is dissolved.


1943, 14 August:  Badoglio declares Rome an open city.


1943, 8 September: Armistice, an unconditional surrender of Italy to the Allies.  Germany occupies most of Italy.


1943, 10 September: Germany announces that the Italian armed forces “ no longer exist”.


1943, 12 September:  the Germans free Mussolini, a prisoner at Gran Sasso.


1943, 23 September:  Mussolini returns to Italy and forms the new government, the Social Republic at Salò, near Verona.


1943, 29 September: The Armistice at Malta.


1943, 16 October:  Roman Jews rounded up and sent to Birkenau.


1944, January:  Allies land at Anzio.


1944, 8 January:  Galeazzo Ciano and others are condemned to death for their activities against the Duce on July 25.


1944, May: Gustav Line collapses. The Gothic Line from La Spezia to Rimini holds.


1944, 5 June:  Rome is liberated.


1944, mid-August:  Florence is liberated.


1945, 11 February: Yalta Conference.


1945, 26 April:  Mussolini flees towards Como but is captured by the partisans.


1945, 28 April:  Mussolini and his lover, Claretta Petacci, are condemned to death and killed immediately.  Their bodies hanging by their feet are displayed in Piazzale Loreto in Milan and are objected to violence.


1945, 30 April: Hitler kills himself and his wife.


1945, 2 May: Germans in Italy surrender to the Allies.


1945, 8 August: America drops the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.


1945, 10 August: Japan surrenders.


1945, 20 November: The Nuremberg Trials against the Nazi Germans begin.


1946, June:  The Savoy family leaves Italy.




How did Fascism happen in Italy?  We can easily say that the seven or eight years of history preceding Mussolini’s rise to power and his seizure of it explain the situation and the reasons for it.  On the peninsula, there is a backward economy after World War I with an underdeveloped growing industry that had no raw materials to speak of to draw upon.  The peasants had no way of improving their low status and there was a fairly rigid social structure.  Italy failed to produce a ruling class that was both talented and respected either by tradition or for services rendered.  World War I did improve industrialization, but then there were no markets after the War and the industries had to lay off workers.  Frustration and resentment reigned. 

Regionalism hindered the growth of a national culture and a national civic spirit.  The values of the educated middle classes are alien to the urban and rural masses.  There is a great lack of cultural integration and an extreme degree of social disorganization.  There is a loss of faith on all levels in the existing political leadership.  Fascism appeals to certain people who see themselves as losers in a modern technological civilization.  It appeals to poor farm workers who oppose the urbanizing aspects of industrialism.  There is a glorification of rural, populist, anti-modern values.  Italian farmers feel threatened by modernization and the socialism of the 1920s.  Small businessmen and workers engaged in traditional crafts that oppose mechanization and concentration into specific areas are also drawn to fascism.  The lower levels of the professions, especially the teaching profession, which opposed changing social values, are also drawn to fascism.

Once in power, the system keeps these followers in tow by organizing them into non-political organizations.  Then, there is enormous emphasis and stress put on nationalism, ultra-nationalism, anti-communism.  The fascist movements, once in power are totalitarian while preaching revolution against the existing authority.  There is great emphasis on youth.  It gains power and popularity as it maintains “law and order”.  This demonstrates, at this time, the inability of the Italian people to work together in a spirit of trust and cooperation – a civic culture.




Italian Fascism was the post World War I political expression of anti-intellectual mass  movements that began to appear at the end of the 1800’s.





The word Fascism with a capital “F” pertains to a particular political system existing in Italy from 1923 to 1945.  Fascism with a small “f” is less easily definable.  It can be described as a system of government (and not necessarily as a movement seeking power under certain given conditions).