Hall of Fame

Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini

40th Prime Minister of Italy 1922 - 1943

Born

29 July 1883

Died

28 April 1945

Political party

Fascist

Fact

Mussolini claimed that he was Italy's greatest lover. He claimed that he used to work all night, but his study light was always left on while he was in fact in bed.

About

Benito Mussolini was born in 1883 and after first working as a schoolteacher, he escaped to Switzerland so that he could avoid military service. He returned to Italy in 1904 and worked as a journalist. He was a socialist at first but changed his views and served in the Italian Army in WW1. After the war Mussolini helped to organize the different right-wing groups in Italy into the Fascist Party, and in 1922, was appointed as Prime Minister.

He carried out public-works schemes and the fall in unemployment made him popular. In 1935, Mussolini conquered Abyssinia, creating an Italian East African Empire. International pressure drove him to form an alliance with Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, but Mussolini did not declare war on Britain and France until 10 June 1940.

By 1943 it was clear that the Allies were winning the war. Mussolini was placed under arrest, but was released by German paratroopers. He set up the Italian Social Republic, a fascist regime in German occupied northern Italy, but by 1945, with Allied troops approaching, Mussolini and his mistress attempted to escape to Switzerland. They were captured at Lake Como by Italian partisans, shot the following day and their bodies displayed in public in Milan.

Key events

  • 1883 Mussolini was born.
  • 1919 Forms the Fascist movement in Milan.
  • 1922 Marches on Rome.
  • 1922 Becomes premier of Italy.
  • 1923 The Fascist Voluntary Militia forms in Italy under Mussolini. They were called the Blackshirts.
  • 1924 Socialist Giacomo Matteotti disappears from Rome and the Italian parliament after speaking against Mussolini and his fascists. His body was later found.
  • 1925 Dissolves Italian parliament and becomes dictator.
  • 1935 Abyssinia is invaded by Italy.
  • 1936 Italy sends troops to fight in the Spanish Civil War.
  • 1936 Mussolini describes alliance between Italy & Germany as an 'axis'.
  • 1940 Mussolini joins Hitler in Germany's war and Italy declares war against France and Britain.
  • 1945 28 April - Mussolini is captured and hanged by Italian partisans.

BBC iD

Sign in

bbc.co.uk navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.