The Emmanuel II.Victor’s grandson, Victor Emmanuel III, was
The streets of Italy are filled with cheers and celebrations, followed by processions within the street celebrating Italian liberation day. The date is April 25th, each year has experienced a similar public celebration since 1946. This day marks the end of the Italian Civil War and the end of the Nazi Occupation of Italy during World War II. Italians do not work on this day, but instead gather in the streets to celebrate the time where their country was liberated from Mussolini’s fierce dictatorship. After his father retired, Victor Emmanuel II suppressed the republicans, and in 1852, he gave the government control to Count Cavour. With Cavour’s cunning maneuvers, he made Emmanuel king of Italy. Always at war, Emmanuel secured Venetia and Rome for Italy. Most of the Italian Peninsula was united under Victor Emmanuel II.Victor’s grandson, Victor Emmanuel III, was forced to elect Mussolini as the prime minister. Contrary to the end of his reign, Mussolini was greatly supported by the people in the beginning. This is due to the lack of unity and strong leadership after World War 1. Mussolini used this opportunity to swoop in and make Italy a strong, fascist, state. Mussolini actually coined the term fascist, which is a country that is completely controlled by a dictator. This dictator usually controls all important decisions and most of societies daily choices. Also, the individual citizen has almost no rights. Historically, this dictator tends to be racist. In 1922, Mussolini gave a speech before thousands of his supporters. In this speech, he said, “Either the government will be given to us, or we will seize it by marching on Rome.” Following through on his ultimatum, he ordered his followers to perform a humongous march to Italy’s capital city. The government leaders of Rome resigned out of fear. At age 39, Mussolini became the sole leader of Italy. Mussolini ended up being more of a dictator than a prime minister. He wanted to control all parts of society, and did not fail in doing so.Italians were forced to obey Mussolini and his followers. Mussolini obtained this obedience from the Blackshirts. The Blackshirts motto was “Me ne frego”, which loosely translates “I don’t give a damn”. These men were usually ex-soldiers and their job was to beat obedience into those who opposed Mussolini. The Blackshirts murdered Matteotti, an outspoken critic of Mussolini. Another brutal and common way of making citizens conform was to tie an opposer to a tree, force castor oil down the victim’s throat, and then make them eat a live toad. These actions obviously made Mussolini unpopular with all the opposing citizens, promoting rebellion. Education was controlled too. Fighting was normalized in a young boys lifestyle. A famous fascist slogan was “War is to the male what childbearing is to the female.” Girls were taught that giving birth was natural, and in 1927, Mussolini even launched a movement called the Battle for Births. Children were taught to obey the fascist party. This was a common move in a dictatorship. Once the OVRA (Mussolini’s secret police) dealt with the citizens who fought the authority of Mussolini, all future adults of Italy would be better and model civilians. Mussolini also cunningly took over labor rights too. In 1927, the government produced a charter that stated workers had a right to good working conditions, equitable wages, and social security. This seemingly great choice made by the government was actually a sly way to take all workers rights to strike away. In addition, Mussolini tried to make Italy self-sufficient to prepare for the war ahead. He promoted the farming of grain by starting a propaganda movement called the “Battle of Grain” in 1925. Although it was greatly successful and decreased grain imports significantly, it also only benefited big agricultural businesses and farms only, and most small farms went bankrupt and out of business. Mussolini also went on to conquer other aspects of life, like religion, sports (both professional and recreational), and radio and theatre entertainment through various ways. All of these feats were done to promote the fascist party and usually benefited the elites or upper class the most. World War 1 was a devastating war, and weakened Germany greatly. After the war Germany was forced to obey the Treaty of Versailles. This was created by the allies to deliberately weaken Germany further. The main points of the treaty included, Germany had to pay for the damages of the first world war, and they could have a very limited standing army. Needless to say, Germany was lacking in enthusiasm about the treaty. When Hitler rose to power, he attacked Poland in search of new territory. To do this, he built a massive army that violated the Treaty of Versailles, and thus started World War 2. Hitler was a great admirer of Mussolini, and followed in his footsteps. This led to an alliance between Hitler and Mussolini. In fact, in 1941, the Italian generals conspired a military coup against Mussolini, and Hitler rescued him. This alliance was known as the “Pact of Steel.” This pact was not supported by the majority of Italians. It also made Italy a puppet state, as it was from then until the Allies freed them, that German soldiers occupied Italy. Although Mussolini praised him globally, his personal views were quite different. Mussolini described Hitler as undrawing of attention and thought Hitler’s ideas and theories were unrefined and too simple. Mussolini also had a very low opinion of Hitler’s rise to power, which he thought was not as glorious as his own. Mussolini had his disgusts, and admiration for Hitler. One admiration of Hitler’s, was his aggressive push for more land. Mussolini engaged in a similar project of his own by trying to acquire Ethiopia (formerly known as Abyssinia), when Hitler began to expand the German territory. Mussolini had to pick a nation that would be a rather smooth victory, to boost national prestige and morale. A ripe target was Ethiopia who had defeated the Italian forces in 1896. Mussolini wanted revenge, and to do this, he drained the Italy of any resources they could muster, for the war effort. After 5 years of war, Ethiopia fell under Mussolini’s banner.Italy was liberated by the allies, which was accomplished by an invasion in 1943, the end of which occurred in 1945. Not only was the decision to free Italy very debated, it also was just a clever distraction to draw some German troops away from the forefront of the battle in Germany and other locations and to Italy instead. The start of the invasion began in Sicily and moved to the southern peak of Italy, and eventually through central Italy. The start of the invasion began with relative ease. The codename for the assault was called “Operation Husky.” The Battle of Sicily ended with an allied victory at the port city of Messina. Unfortunately, a number of German troops were able to flee to the mainland, undermining the Allied victory. After the successful capture of Sicily, Germany realized the threat that the Allies had on the Italian regime. Falling right into this clever military strategy, Hitler responded to this by deploying 16 new divisions of German soldiers to reinforce Italy. These soldiers helped fight the Allied advance on the Italian coast of Salerno. At the region of Cassino, the Germans halted the Allies for 4 months. It took the Allies several rough months to push through the multiple German defensive lines. The Italian resistance also assisted the Allies in the invasion of Italy. Most of this resistance was either ex-soldier or young men who avoided conscription and had nowhere to go. Over 200,000 partisans took part in the resistance. The Italian campaign lasted roughly a year and 10 months. Finally, Italy joined the Allies.The end of Mussolini’s regime was not as lucky as the beginning. Mussolini became very unpopular with the common people (and even most government officials) after becoming extremely dictatorial, On July 25, 1943, Mussolini’s Grand Council voted to transfer Mussolini’s power to the king. Unlike himself, Mussolini did nothing to stop this, and went on to speak with the king, as he routinely does. Instead of Mussolini updating the king on military affairs, the king told Mussolini that he had elected a new prime minister, General Pietro Badoglio. As Mussolini, defeated and meek, left the meeting, he was promptly arrested. When this news was made public, relief was felt by all of Italy. Fortunately for the war and Italy alike, Mussolini was executed by firing squad on April 28, 1945. After Mussolini was executed, Victor Emmanuel III took back the control of Italy. He ruled for some time. During this time, Victor promised the Italian people that they could choose their form of government. The choice of Italian government came from a referendum of the people. Soon, Victor abdicated himself on May 9th, 1946. He renounced the throne in favor of his son Umberto II. Umberto managed to rule from May 9th to the 12th of June (all in the same year). His month long rule was ended by the vote of the people who quickly abolished the monarchy, after seeing its devastating effects involving the tyrannous Mussolini. Eventually a constitution was drafted in a constituent assembly. This assembly ended 2 years later in January 1948. The constitution was enforced on the first of January 1948.April 25, was not randomly selected. This day corresponds with the liberation of Milan and Turin from Nazi occupation. Additionally, on this day the National Liberation Committee of Upper Italy called for a death sentence to all fascists over a radio announcement. This confirmed their insurgency and rallied the resistance forces of Italy. Consequently, 3 days later Mussolini was executed by two fatal shots to the chest. “E questo è il fiore del partigiano … morto per la libertà!” is sung by small groups of people all over Italy on April 25. It means ” This is the flower of the partisan … who died for freedom”. And for freedom these soldiers truly died. After thousands of deaths, and two years of vicious fighting, Mussolini’s cold, fascist grip was ripped away from Italy.