Friday, June 17, 2011

Mussolini

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The first treaty of the peaceful 10s in which Mussolini was included was the Locarno Treaty of 15. Mussolini, contrary to belief, played a major role in the Locarno talks. For instance, Mussolini settled differences with the British Foreign Secretary Chamberlain. The agreement 1) guaranteed Germanys western frontier as long as the Rhineland stayed de-militarized. ) guarenteed that Germany was a member of the League of Nations. ) It guaranteed German-French borders and German-Belgian borders. 4) Britain and Italy would support the non-aggressor if conflict arose. The weakness of Locarno was that Germanys eastern neighbors and their borders were not guaranteed against Germany. And as well come to see, this little problem reared its ugly head. As Lamb noted, Mussolini genuinely believed, as did the other Powers, that Locarno improved the chances of a lasting peace in Europe (8). Because of Locarno, Mussolini achieved recognition as a great leader of a great power.


The next treaty was the Briand Plan of 1. Briand was the French Foreign Minister and he wanted to create a Common Market throughout Europe which contained a customs union and free trade. The plan never took hold because Britain and Italy rejected it. Mussolini did not like the plan because it would tip the balance of power in favor of France. (France was the natural enemy of Italy throughout Italys history.)


The 10s were filled with lots of eventful happenings in Europe. The first one being in 11 and it dealt with the Customs Union Crisis. This was mainly between Austria and Germany and their hopes to create Anschluss which was a union of Austria and Germany. Mussolini was interested in this because of the economic feasibility. BUT the Duce did not realize that such a union between the nations would most likely cause a competition between Germany and Italy. In addition, a union between Austria and Germany would be a threat to Italys borders because Mussolini was fearful of Germanys rise and he wanted Austria to be a buffer between the nations.


The Four-Power Pact signed in 1 was a response to Germany called by Mussolini. Britain, France, Germany, and Italy signed it to keep the peace. Mussolinis draft of the pact called for a revision of Versailles. Specifically, Mussolini wanted the port city of Danzig to go to Germany so that Germany would keep its hands off of Austria. The problem was that the final draft was nothing like Mussolinis. Mussolini only got a promise by Germany that it would consult with the other three powers and it would pursue a policy of cooperation within the framework of the League of Nations.


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On March 17, 14, Austria, Hungary, and Italy signed the Rome Protocols. The agreement said that each of these nations would 1) provide for a military combination in case of need. ) lower import duties. ) Italy would give aid to Austria and Hungary. Italy signed this pact because it gave Italy another buffer against Germany and Mussolini declared that he would defend Austrias independence at all costs.


Mussolini did so after the assassination of the Austrian head of government, Dollfuss on July 15, 14. Mussolini sent 4 army divisions to the border of Austria to scare Hitler away from taking Austria and Mussolini succeeded.


Hitler introduced conscription in 15 and by doing this, the Versailles Treaty was now in pieces. In response to such action, Britain, France and Italy met to condemn Hitler of his actions at Stresa. Mussolini wanted to address issues at Stresa. 1) Hitlers intentions of Austria. Mussolini said that if Hitler got Austria, then the east would be open for him to take. But Britain dragged its feet and owuld not agree with the other nations. ) Illegal German rearmament. The Big (Britain, France and Italy) condemned Hitler for his actions, but nothing concrete came out because of Britains interest in the naval agreement it wanted to sign with Germany.


The most important event for Mussolinis Roman Empire was the invasion of Ethiopia on October , 15. Mussolini believed that only war could make Italy the militarist nation he demanded. This was a turning point for Mussolini. He would never be trusted again and this war pushed the Duce into the arms of Hitler. By invading Ethiopia and claiming what was rightfully his, Mussolini invited hostility from the League of Nations. Action was swiftly taken by the League. Firstly, they issueds an arms and munitions embargo. Secondly, it put a ban on loans and credits. Lastly, it prohibited the export of materials important for Italys war production. Interestingly enough, oil was not on the list of sanctions. This benefited Italy because the United States, a non-League member, could supply Italy with its oil.


While Mussolini led his Italians against Ethiopia, the British and French devised a secret plan for peace. The Hoare-Laval Pact said that Italy would be offered annexation of a large part of the Abyssinian Empire (Ethiopia) and economic control over the remainder. Unfortunately the plan was leaked to the French press in Paris. The leak produced an outcry in Britain and France against rewarding Italian aggression.


On May , 16, Mussolini claimed his empire. He had succeeded in Ethiopia and embarrassed Britain and France. As Mussolini said in Lambs book, I announce to the Italian people and to the world that the war is finished. Ethiopia is Italian...the diverse races of the Lion of Judah have shown by the clearest of signs that they wish to live tranquilly in the shadow of the Italian tricolor (164).


The after affects of the African campaign were numerous. 1) the economic cost was enormous. It bled Italy dry in the next few years. ) Diplomatically, Italy was all alone. Britain never forgave Mussolini and the agreement with France was shattered. The lessons that Mussolini took from the war were all wrong. Italy was not the Great Power like he said. Mussolini now thought that he did not need any allies----he could do it alone. Mussolini overestimated Italys bargaining power because Italy was not even a determining weight in the European balance of power.


The Spanish Civil War (16-) was a serious step to the eventual alliance between Germany and Italy. On November 16, 16, both Germany and Italy recognized the Franco regime. Simply put, the Spanish Civil War served as a playground for Hitlers and Mussolinis toys. It demonstrated to Europe that both men were gaining a friendship. The Duce poured men and equipment into Spain. In early 18, 11 British ships were sunk by Italian bombers in the Spanish Mediterranean ports.


What about the Austrian question? Early in 18, Germany reunites Austria into the Fatherland. Mussolini does not stop Hitler because 1) he knew that he could never defeat Hitler. ) Mussolini recognized that Austria was more German than Italian. ) Italy was diplomatically isolated because of the Ethiopian War.


At the Munich Conference, it has been noted that the Big conceded the Sudetenland to Hitler. This is true, but what is interesting is the fact that Mussolini was the peacekeeper. Hitler threatened to mobilize his forces against Britain and France unless they let him take the Sudetenland. Mussolini came to the rescue when he drew up a plan allowing Hitler to take the Sudetenland if he did not go to war against Britain and France. And the three other countries agreed to Mussolinis plan. As Burgwyn noted, Hitler seemed putty in his hands (181).


On March 15, 1, Hitler invaded Prague. This was a clear breach of the Munich Conference which was signed six months prior. Mussolini and Italy were left empty-handed while Hitler gobbled up Czechoslovakia and Mussolini felt that he lost parity in the Axis. But Mussolini invaded Albania less than a month later and this can be seen as a retaliatory effect of Hitlers invasion of Czechoslovakia. The basis for Mussolinis adventure in Albania was justified because he felt he should grab something before Hitler did. Launched basically as an Italian warning to Germany, it ended up as a British pledge to defend the Eastern Mediterranean against Italian pretensions. While the democracies wagged censorious fingers, the Germans, having snapped up Prague without opposition from anyone, flooded Rome with expressions of solidarity and congratulations over Italys consolation prize (Burgwyn 11). An after effect of the invasion, Mussolini was seen in the same light as Hitler, an aggressive disturber of the peace.


Mussolini signed Italys death warrant on May 1 in the Pact of Steel. Italy would now come to the aid of Germany if it got involved in war, even if it was Germanys fault. During these talks, Mussolini was told that war was inevitable and it would begin in 14. Moreover, Hitler would not involve Mussolini in his plans for the invasion of Poland. That was because Hitler felt that Mussolini would call another Munich Conference or the Duce would pull out of the Axis. In addition, by signing the Pact of Steel, Mussolini disregarded the British Navy. Now when Germany went to war, the British would be able to sail into the Mediterranean Sea and have the capability of striking the Italian coastline.


September 1, 1-Hitler invades Poland, thus starting WWII. Because of the Pact of Steel Mussolini was obligatedto go to war with Germany. But it was not prepared. Mussolini thought that the war would not begin until 14. Mussolini told Hitler that if he wanted Italys help, he would have to send war materials that Italy lacked. Hitler responded saying that he unerstood, but he could not help Italy at the moment. Therefore, Mussolini declared Italy as a non-belligerant. This was applauded by many people in Italy including some Fascists who did not trust Hitler. Mussolini had one main concern from his declaration of non-belligerance. Hitler would call off the Axis and attack Italy. But to realize his dreams of a Roman Empire, Mussolini stayed with Hitler until the end.


June 10, 140-Italy enters the war. WHY?? Mussolini saw the array of victories by Hitlers Blitzkrieg as a chance to join and gobble up some territory. As Mussolini said himself, This the hour of destiny for our country - the hour of irrevocable destiny. We are going to fight against the democracies of the West who have always tried to stop our march and often laid traps to threaten the very existence of the Italian people. Run to your arms, show your stubbornness, courage, and valor... (Lamb 86). When it came to the French surrender, Mussolini did not get anteing of significance.


Overall, Italian soldiers fought well. The problems lay in the upper echelons of the military. The generals did not lay out solid plans. And Mussolinis forces fought in remote areas East and North Africa, Greece, the Balkans, and even the Soviet Union. These plans required long supply lines and certain equipment. Mussolini never anticipated this. For example, the Greek campaign was a disaster. The Greeks defeated the Italians and captured one-quarter of Albania (which was Italian). Because of this, Italian prestige and morale were dealt a huge blow. even worse than Greece was the African campaign. Short on mechanized support, the Italian forces wee unable to attack the British. Instead, the British took the offensive and defeated the Italians. February 7, 141 0,000 Italians surrendered at Tobruk and 11,000 surrendered at Beda Fomm.


After many more fateful battles, the Fascist Regime began to crumble. In order to get out of a very unpopular war (by 14) the king, Victor Emmanuelle III needed to act. Victor wanted Mussolini gone so that Italy could surrender and save itself from more humiliation. There were many factors that doomed Mussolini and the war effort 1) Starvation within the cities. ) Allied bombardment (especially in 14-4). ) Dissatisfaction within the Mussolini government. 4) That dissatisfaction led to strikes.


July 4, 14-In a dramatic meeting of the Fascist Grand Council, the Italian Ambassador to London and fellow Fascist Grandi drew up a motion that called upon Mussolini to hand over his powers to the king, Victor Emmanuelle III. The council produced a heated debate and voted 1-7 in favor od disposing Mussolini as el Duce of Italy. As the announcement spread, many Italians rejoiced by dancing in the streets, tearing down Fascist posters, and desecrating Mussolinis public icons.


September 8, 14-Italy surrendered, but the war continued. Actually there were two war being fought in Italy. One was Germany versus the Allies. the second war in Italy was the Resistance fighters against the Fascists. Mussolini was head of the Salo Republic in Northern Italy where Hitler beckoned him to continue fighting against the Allies.


For the next two years, Mussolini continued the fight, but not as the Italian leader. On April 4, 145, Mussolini was captured by Resistance fighters and was shot with 15 other Fascist members. Their bodies were taken to Piazzale Loreto in Milan where Mussolinis was hung upside-down at a gas station. While hanging lifeless, Italians in Milan spit on him and shouted at him.


Fascism died like it arose, because of war. Gone with the Duce was the dream of Fascist imperial glory.


Annotated Bibliography


Burgwyn, H. James. Italian Foreign Policy in the Interwar Period 118-140. Westport, Connecticut Praeger Publishers, 17.


Just by looking at its title, I knew this book was the one. Burgwyn does a terrific job in analyzing the Italian interwar foreign policy. Mussolini, Burgwyn argues, was unfortunately tied to Hitler thanks to an ideological predispostion... Burgwyn gives a great overview of foreign policy and why Mussolini finally sided with Hitler.


Clark, Martin. Fascist Diplomacy and Fascist War, in Clark, Modern Italy, 1871-15, London Longman, 16, 80-00.


In this chapter of a much larger book, Clark gives a quick little overview of Mussolinis diplomacy and World War II. But unlike the other readings I annotated, Clark also gives a synopsis of how Italy was doing in the prewar days. Clark talks about the economy, Fascist propaganda, and the fmaous July plot that overthrew Mussolini as leader of Italy


.


Lamb, Richard. Mussolini as Diplomat. New York Fromm International, 17.


Like Burgwyn, Lambs book is an analysis of Mussolinis foreign policy. But it differs in that this book is more political. For instance, it tells alot about the other leaders in Italy besides Mussolini and how they tried to work with the Duce. One of the benefits of this book and the main reason I chose it was because of the massive amounts of quotations that Lamb has in the book. Just by reading most of the book, I could tell that a lot of time and effort went into writing this book.


Mack Smith, Denis. Italy and its Monarchy. New Haven Yale University Press, 18.


I chose this book because I kept in from my Modern Italy class and I liked how this book went into detail about the July plot to overthrow Mussolini. Mack Smith is one of the best Italian historians and it shows in this book. I also chose this book because it discusses the ever-changing role that the King plays in Italian history.





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