Hitler Visits Venice
Opera Nazionale Balilla
Italian Littorio Youth
Partido Nacional Fascista Piazza
44 Chilling Photos Of Life Inside Fascist Italy
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Before the Nazis, there was fascist Italy. Often overshadowed by the other members of the Axis and treated as little more than a footnote in the history of World War II, Italy was actually the world’s first fascist state.

After Benito Mussolini took power in 1922, life in Italy radically changed. Every person in the nation was forced to sign up as a member of the National Fascist Party, and to swear allegiance to both Mussolini and to the ideals of fascism. Anyone who refused was denied complete citizenship, which meant that they were barred from holding jobs and ostracized from every part of society.

Meanwhile, state newspapers and cinemas across the country set to work to develop a cult of personality that treated Mussolini like a god. His presence overwhelmed the nation, whether he was making impassioned speeches or marching through the streets while crowds of dedicated followers cheered him on.

Many of those followers were indoctrinated into the party when they were young. Mussolini restructured schools across the country, making fascist indoctrination and obedience to authority the center of Italian education. Teachers were forced to use textbooks created by the Fascist Party and to swear an oath of loyalty to Mussolini.

Boys were taught the value of being strong and healthy, and of an unquestioning obedience to authority. Girls were taught to know their place. They joined groups for young Fascist women, where they were taught housework, cooking, and subservience to their husbands.

While most everyone nationwide was subservient, some fought back against Mussolini’s fascist Italy – but the violence of his Black Brigades (Blackshirts) paramilitary ruled the streets. Mussolini’s armed thugs smashed anyone who opposed the rule of fascism in Italy, sometimes forcing them to swallow castor oil until they died of dehydration.

Ultimately, it took more than 20 years for Mussolini to fall. Finally, the invading Allied armies brought fascist Italy to its knees in 1943. By the time Mussolini fell, a whole generation had only known life under his iron fist.


For more glimpses into life in the Axis, check out these photos of everyday life in Nazi Germany and these revealing images of life inside the Hitler Youth.

Mark Oliver
Mark Oliver is a writer, teacher and father whose work has appeared on The Onion's StarWipe, Yahoo, and Cracked, and can be found on his website.
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