OMTEX CLASSES: Benito Mussolini Biography

Benito Mussolini Biography

Benito Mussolini Biography

Born: July 29, 1883 
Predappio, Italy 
Died: April 28, 1945 
Como, Italy 
Italian dictator

Benito Mussolini was head of the Italian government from 1922 to 1943. He was the founder of fascism, and as a dictator he held absolute power and severely mistreated his citizens and his country. He led Italy into three straight wars, the last of which led to his overthrow by his own people.

Early life and career

Benito Mussolini was born at Dovia di Predappio, Italy, on July 29, 1883. The Mussolinis were a poor family who lived in a crowded two-bedroom apartment. His father was a blacksmith and a follower of socialism (a system providing for the sharing of land and goods equally among all people); his mother taught elementary school. Benito, although intelligent, was violent and had a large ego. He was a poor student at school and learned very little. As a student at a boarding school in Faenza, Italy, Mussolini stabbed another student, and as a result he was expelled. After receiving his diploma in 1901 he briefly taught secondary school. He went to Switzerland in 1902 to avoid military service, where he associated with other socialists. Mussolini returned to Italy in 1904, spent time in the military, and engaged in politics full time thereafter.

Mussolini had become a member of the Socialist Party in 1900 and had begun to attract wide admiration. In speeches and articles he was extreme and violent, urging revolution at any cost, but he was also well spoken. Mussolini held several posts as editor and labor leader until he emerged in the 1912 Socialist Party Congress. He became editor of the party's daily paper, Avanti, at the age of twenty-nine. His powerful writing injected excitement into the Socialist ranks. In a party that had accomplished little in recent years, his youth and his intense nature was an advantage. He called for revolution at a time when revolutionary feelings were sweeping the country.

From Socialist to Fascist
Mussolini deserted the Socialist Party in 1914 to cross over to the enemy camp, the Italian middle class. He knew that World War I (1914–18) would bury the old Europe, and he began to prepare for "the unknown." In late 1914 he founded an independent newspaper, Popolo d'Italia, and backed it up with his own movement, the Autonomous Fascists. He drew close to the new forces in Italian politics, the extreme middle-class youth, and he made himself their spokesman. The Italian working class now called Mussolini "Judas" and "traitor." Mussolini was wounded during army training in 1917, but he managed to return to politics that same year. His newspaper, which he now backed with a second political movement, Revolutionary Fascists, was his main strength. After the war, Mussolini's career declined. He organized his third movement, Constituent Fascists, in 1918, but it did not survive. Mussolini ran for office in the 1919 parliamentary elections but was defeated.