1922-1925 History of Italy 1935-1939

Italy, 1925-1935

Foreign Policy . Domestic Policy . The Economy . Cultural History

Foreign Policy . Italy pursued an armament policy. Britain, aware that the Italian public opinion still felt short-changed by the British promise of Dalmatia in 1915, in 1925 ceded the Somalia) as well as a stretch of land on the Egyptian-Libyan border to Italy. In 1934, reacting to political turmoil in Austria caused by the Austrian Nazis and obviously steered by Nazi Germany, Mussolini ordered Italian troops to march to Brenner Pass. Hitler got the message and refrained from pressing for immediate annexation of Austria.

Domestic Policy . The nonreaction of the political establishment on Mussolini's speech on January 3rd 1925 marks the beginning of the end of Italy's parliamentary movement. During the next year, Mussolini deal with opposition within the PNF (Fascist Party) by appointing one of his most outspoken inner-party critics Roberto Farinacci party secretary and sacking him a few months later; the party was purged of several 10,000 members. The political wing of the labour movement was split, the communists (PCI), the socialists (PSI) both were widely regarded as suspicious and their share of the vote was a mere shadow of what it used to be in 1919/20. The Catholic PPI had practically been disempowered by Pope Pius XI. Mussolini arranged a merger of his PNF with the small, but influential Nationalist Party. Step by step, a One-Party-State had been established (1926).
The state encouraged families to have more children (Battle for Births). In 1929, Italy and the papacy signed the Lateran Pacts, defining the relation between church and state; Catholicism again became state religion (a civilian divorce was impossible until a 1970); the Catholic church, on the other hand, promised to stay out of politics.

The Economy . The economy was restructured, with entrepreneurs and labour unions together forming Syndicates intended to do away with labour conflict. Mussolini announced the intention to achieve Autarchy, the aim for Italy's economy to become independent from imports. The Battle of Grain aimed to make Italy self-sufficient in grain production; in order to achieve this aim, the area under cultivation was extended by the drainage of swamps, such as the Pontine Marches (Battle for Land. Autostradas (highways) were built by the state both to employ those who were otherwise unemployed and to improve the country's infrastructure. Hydroelectric dams were built for the same purpose. The state promoted the formation of new industrial complexes, the aluminum plant at Porto Marghera for instance, and Italy's state petroleum company AGIP. The state attempted to keep the value of the Lira at an artificially high level, believing it to symbolize the strength of Fascist Italy (Battle of the Lira); it had an adverse effect on the Italian economy, as it resulted in decreased exports and increased imports.
The Great Depression had a considerable impact on Italy's economy; the country's exports dropped sharply, unemployment rose. The state reacted by nationalizing a number of bankrupt firms and banks; they were managed by the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction (IRI), which managed to keep the industries going, thus avoiding a further rise in unemployment figures.

Culture . In Fascist Italy, art was to serve the political system. Propaganda progagated a wide range of Fascist policies (Battles for Grain, Land, Births; sports events, national pride, the armed forces). It established the Duce Cult. Mussolini was portrayed as the leader (Il Duce, a man excelling in every field, a role model worthy to admire and imitate.
Sports served to distract the Italians from stress caused by economic hardship and lack of political freedom. Car races at Monza (Grand Prix) were held since 1922; Italian race cars (Bugatti, Ferrari (est. 1930)) featured prominently. At Olympic Games, Italian athletes did well, especially in track and field. Italy hosted the Soccer World Cup 1934; her national team, the Squadra Azzurra, won the world cups of 1934 and 1938. Italy's national soccer league, the Seria A, was established in 1930.
In 1926, Italian Grazia Deledda, in 1934 Italian Luigi Pirandello was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Fascist Italy did not yet (Race Laws 1938) discriminate against her Jewish population; writer Alberto Moravia (an early exponent of Existencialism), of Jewish ancestry, was employed as a journalist

Cronologia, Italian language site on Italian and World History
History of Italy : Monarchy, from Wikipedia
The History of Fiat, from Fiat New Zealand, from Fiat, from Wikipedia
Italian Fascism, by Stanley G. Payne, from Library, Unib. of Wisconsin
Futurism Website, with timeline (1909-1944), manifestos, images etc.
Italian Life under Fascism, online exhibition by Library Univ. of Wisconsin
La Italia feixista (1922-1944), from La Pagina de la Historia, in Catalan
Life in Mussolini's Italy, from History Learning Site
History of Grand Prix Races at Monza, from monzanet
DOCUMENTS World Statesmen : Italy
Historical Population Statistics : Italy, from Population Statistics, Univ. Utrecht
Benito Mussolini : What is Fascism, 1932, from Modern History Sourcebook
Non Abbiamo Bisogno, Encyclical of Pope Pius XI, June 29th 1931, on Catholic Action in Italy, posted by EWTN
Poster : Battle for Grain, 1935, posted by RAI Italica; here comment
REFERENCE History Book Reviews : Italy under Fascism, 1922-1945

Christopher Duggan, A Concise History of Italy, Cambridge Concise Histories, 1994, pp.210-232
Article Italy, in : Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, Macropaedia, Vol.22 pp.165-247, KMLA Lib.Sign. R 032 B862n v.22
Martin Clark, Profiles in Power : Mussolini, Harlow : Pearson 2005 [G]
Article : Italy, in : Statesman's Yearbook 1926 pp.993-1017, 1928 pp.1020-1044, 1929 pp.1005-1028, 1932 pp.1021-1043 [G]
Article : Italy, in : Americana Annual 1927 pp.459-465, 1928 pp.416-420, 1930 pp.411-416, 1931 pp.411-418, 1932 pp.375-380, 1933 pp.403-407, 1934 pp.315-317, 1935 pp.373-376 [G]
Article : Italy, in : New International Year Book 1928 pp.369-371, 1930 pp.393-397, 1932 pp.400-404, 1933 pp.387-392, 1934 pp.330-334, 1935 pp.342-347 [G]
Article : Italy, in : Funk & Wagnall's New Standard Encyclopedia Year Book 1932 pp.327-329, 1933 pp.289-292, 1934 pp.303-307, 1935 pp.299-303 [G]
VIDEOS Mussolini - Italy's Nightmare, documentary from A & E biography

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First posted in 2000, last revised on August 24th 2007

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