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Benito Mussolini's Rise and Fall to Power

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Essay title: Benito Mussolini's Rise and Fall to Power

Benito Mussolini's Rise and Fall to Power

Benito Mussolini had a large impact on World War II. He wasn't always a powerful dictator though. At first he was a teacher and a socialist correspondent. He later married Rachele Guide and had 5 children. He was the editor of the Avanti, which was a socialist party newspaper in Milan.

Benito Mussolini founded the Fasci di Combattimento on March of 1919. "This was a nationalistic, anti liberal, and anti socialist movement. This movement attracted mainly the lower middle class."1 Fascism was spreading across Europe. Mussolini was winning sympathy from King Victor Emmanuel III. Mussolini then threatened to march on Rome. This persuaded King Victor Emmanuel III to invite Mussolini to join a coalition, which strongly helped him gain more power.

Benito Mussolini brought Austria on Germany's side by a formal alliance. "In 1937, he accepted a German alliance. The name of this alliance was the Anti Comntern Pact. On April 13, 1937 Benito Mussolini annexed Albania. He then told the British ambassador that not even the bribe of France and North Africa would keep him neutral."2 The British ambassador was appalled and dismayed.

On May 28, 1937, Mussolini strongly gave thought to declaring war. He then attacked the Riviera across the Maritime. "On September 13, 1937 he opened an offensive into British-garrisoned Egypt from Libya."3

On October 4, 1937, while the offensive still seemed to promise success, Benito Mussolini met Adolf Hitler at the Brenner Pass, on their joint frontier. "The two of them discussed how the war in the Mediterranean, Britain's principal foothold outside its island base, might be turned to her decisive disadvantage. Hitler suggested to Mussolini that Spain might be coaxed on the axis side, thus giving Germany free use of the British Rock of Gibraltar, by offering Franco part of French North Africa, and that France might be persuaded to accept that concession by compensation with parts of British West Africa".4

Mussolini seemed enthusiastic and very understandable why this was the case, since this scheme included the gaining of Tunis, Corsica, and Nice (annexed by Napoleon III in 1860) from France. Hitler then hurried home to his house in Berlin to arrange visits to Franco and Petan. "Back in the capital Hitler created a letter to Stalin inviting Molotov, the Soviet Foreign Minister, to visit early, when Germany and the U.S.S.R. might then agree among themselves how to profit from Britain not having a defense. A week later, on October 20, he left in his command train, Amerika, to meet Petan and Franco. The meeting with Franco took place on October 23 at Hendaye on the Franco-Spanish frontier."5 It had become quite famous in the history of World War Two for Hitlers furious parting shot that he would "rather have three or four teeth extracted from than go through that again." Franco, who was greatly supported by his Prime Minister, Serrano Suner, stonewalled throughout the hours towards negotiation with Franco. When his train left at two in the morning, Hitler had not advanced an inch towards co-belligerency with Franco. Petan met Hitler on October 24, and proved to be equally unresponsive. Petan convinced Hitler that they had a meeting of minds. Petan had only agreed to a promise to consult his government, Hitler decided to make a bigger deal out of it and believed that they were united in a productive hostility to Britain. Hitler now had the outlines, despite Francos struggle, of a larger coalition war to present to Molotov at his next visit. "When Hitler was waiting for the Soviet Foreign minister to come, he was distracted by the weird behavior of Mussolini, who then chose to mount an attack from Albania (occupied by the Italian army in April 1939) into Greece."6 Mussolini said that he was motivated by the fear that the British would establish positions in Greece if he did not. "He had good strategic reasons for wishing to deny them naval and air bases any closer to his own along the Adriatic that those who already possessed in Egypt and Malta. He attacked Greece in October, 1937."7 Mussolini's participation in the Battle of France aroused the derision of neutrals and enemies. He was determined to win in Greece his share of the laurels which had fallen in a not proportionate number to the Wehrmacht. The failure of Mussolini's invasion of Greece greatly upset Hitler as he waited Molotov's arrival. This not only messed up his scheme to change the Balkans into a satellite zone by peaceful diplomacy; it was also upsetting the Soviet Union. "On October 31, Britain occupied Crete and the Aegean Island of Lemnos with troops sent from Egypt. In the next few days they transferred air units to southern Greece, putting Romania's Ploesti oil fields, his main

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