Italian leader, Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (1883-1945), founded Facism – the belief that nations need a sole identity and remain strong by waging war and destruction.
Unsurprisingly, Mussolini, who was head of Italy from 1922 until 1943, was an ally of Nazi Germany and of Japan during the Second World War. He also supported General Franco in the Spanish Civil War.
Beginning his career as a socialist journalist, the young Mussolini soon broke from that particular way of thinking by supporting Italy’s involvement with WW1 and he signed up to the Italian army in 1915.
Just four years later, Mussolini created the Fascist Party, which acquired the formidable name of the ‘Black Shirts’ squads and subsequent political terror ensued. It paid off and the Fascist Party joined the coalition government in 1921.
The following year however saw Mussolini claw back control, as Italian politics entered a turbulent period. Invited by King Victor Emmanuel to form a government, Mussolini went on to dissolve democracy, replacing it with dictatorship in 1925, when he became ‘Il Duce’ – the dictator.
Mussolini declared war on Britain and France in June 1940, but this declaration was followed by numerous military defeats. In July 1943, he was overthrown and imprisoned by his own Fascist government and in September the same year, Italy signed an armistice with the Allies.
However, Mussolini’s German friends freed him from his prison bonds during the Italy’s Occupation and he took on a new, but rather less powerful role, as a government leader. The former dictator was forced to flee towards Switzerland as the Allies advanced and he was later captured and shot by Italian partisans on April 28, 1945.