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World War 2 for Kids
- Occupation: Dictator of Italy
- Born: July 29, 1883 in Predappio, Italy
- Died: April 28, 1945 in Giulino di Mezzegra, Italy
- Best known for: Ruling Italy during World War II and founding the Fascist Party
Where did Mussolini grow up?
Benito Mussolini was born in Predappio, Italy on July 29, 1883. Growing up, young Benito sometimes worked with his father at his blacksmith shop. His father was involved in politics and his political opinions had a strong influence on Benito as he grew up. Benito also played with his two younger brothers and went to school. His mother was a schoolteacher and a very religious woman.
After graduating from school in 1901, Mussolini became involved in politics. He worked for the socialist party as well as for political newspapers. A few times he was put in jail for protesting the government or advocating strikes.
When Italy entered World War I, Mussolini was originally against the war. However, he later changed his mind. He thought that the war would be good for the people of Italy. This idea was different from the socialist party who were against the war. He parted ways with the socialist party and joined the war where he fought until he was wounded in 1917.
In 1919, Mussolini started his own political party called the Fascist Party. He hoped to bring Italy back to the days of the Roman Empire when it ruled much of Europe. The members of the party wore black clothes and became known as the "Black Shirts." They were often violent and didn't hesitate to attack those who had different views or opposed their party.
What is Fascism?
Fascism is a type of political ideology, like socialism or communism. Fascism is often defined as being a type of "authoritarian nationalism." This means that the government has all the power. The people living in the country should be devoted to supporting their government and country without question. Fascist governments are usually ruled by a single strong leader or dictator.
The Fascist Party became popular with the people of Italy and Mussolini began to grow in power. In 1922, Mussolini and 30,000 Black Shirts marched to Rome and took control of the government. By 1925, Mussolini had total control of the government and was established as dictator. He became known as "Il Duce", which means "the leader."
Mussolini and Hitler
Photo by Unknown
Once in control of the government, Mussolini looked to build up Italy's military strength. In 1936, Italy invaded and conquered Ethiopia. Mussolini thought that this was only the beginning. He felt that Italy would soon rule much of Europe. He also allied himself with Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany in an alliance called the "Pact of Steel."
World War II
In 1940, Italy entered World War II as an ally of Germany and declared war on the Allies. However, Italy was not prepared for such a large war. Early victories became defeats as the Italian army became spread out across a number of fronts. Soon the Italian people wanted out of the war.
In 1943, Mussolini was removed from power and put in prison. However, German soldiers were able to break him free and Hitler put Mussolini in charge of Northern Italy, which was controlled by Germany at the time. By 1945, the Allies had taken over all of Italy and Mussolini fled for his life.
As Mussolini tried to escape from the advancing Allied forces, he was captured by Italian soldiers. On April 28, 1945 they executed Mussolini and hung his body upside down at a gas station for all the world to see.
Interesting Facts about Benito Mussolini
- He was named after liberal Mexican President Benito Juarez.
- Adolf Hitler admired Mussolini and modeled his Nazi Party after fascism.
- He was known as a bully as a child and was once expelled from school for stabbing a classmate.
- Actor Antonio Banderas played Mussolini in the movie Benito.
Learn More about World War II:
World War 2 for Kids