Benito Mussolini

by Henry Kulikov

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Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was born in Predappio in Italy in 1883 on July 29. Died on April 28 1945 near Dongo. He was the first fascist dictator in Europe. 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. Mussolini was wounded during army training in 1917, but he managed to return to politics that same year. Once in power, Mussolini took steps to remain there. He set general elections, but they were fixed to always provide him with an absolute majority in Parliament. As the 1930s began, Mussolini was seated safely in power and enjoyed wide support. The strongest groups who had put Mussolini into power now profited from it. In 1930 economic depressionarrived in Italy. Mussolini reacted at first with a public works program but soon shifted to foreign adventure. The 1935 Ethiopian War was planned to direct attention away from internal problems. In 1940–41 Mussolini’s armies, badly supplied and poorly led, suffered defeats from Europe across the Mediterranean to the African continent. Italy lost its war in 1942; Mussolini’s power collapsed six months later. Restored as Hitler’s puppet in northern Italy in 1943, he drove Italy deeper into invasion, occupation, and civil war during 1944 and 1945. The end approached, but Mussolini struggled to survive. He was finally executed by a firing squad on April 28, 1945, at Dongo in Como province.