The collapse of Liberal Italy & The rise of Mussolini and Fascism 1915-1922

WW1 (Dates)
28 July 1914 – 11 November 1918
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Triple Entente VS Triple Alliance
Britain + France + Russia VS Austria-Hungary + Germany
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Why did Italy not support the Triple Alliance?
Broke the rules of the alliance as Austria attacked Serbia without consulting Italy, Austria-Hungary resisted Italian unification, Italy was not ready for war and would damage econ/society -Liberals(Giolitti)+Catholics+Socialists
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Who succeeded Giolitti and when?
Salandra in 1914
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What did Salandra fear when choosing sides?
Triple Alliance victory - would strengthen Austrian resistance to revision of Italian borders, Entente victory - not be sympathetic to Italian ambitions, mass of population didn't want war
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What did the Entente powers promise Italy?
Irredenta - Trentino, Trieste, Tyrol, Istria, Dalmatia and African colonies
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Treaty of London
Signed on 26 April 1915 by Italy, France and Britain - Italy entered war in May 1915 on the side of the Entente
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How many men served in the Italian army during WWI?
5 million
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Battle of Caporetto
24 Oct - 19 Nov 1917 - 700,000 Italian forced to retreat on the Austro-Italian front, losing 150km, 300,000 Italian taken prisoner
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How far did the Italians get inside the Austrian border?
Only 10 miles
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Who did the Italians have to fight during the battle of Caporeto?
The Italians had to fight the whole Austrian Army and 7 divisions of German troops
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Vittorio Veneto
24 October to 3 November 1918 - Fought on the Italian front, secured the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and contributed to the end of the First World War less than two weeks later
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Effects of Caporetto
Brought humiliation and shame to Italy - great psychological impact
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Italian casualties of WWI
By the end of the war in 1918, 600,000 Italians were dead, 950,000 were wounded and 250,000 were crippled for life
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Economic effects of WWI on Italy
The war cost more than the government had spent in the previous 50 years – and Italy had only been in the war three years. By 1918, the country was hit by very high inflation and unemployment was high
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What was the name of the newspaper that Mussolini was editor of?
'Popolo d'Italia'
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Why was Mussolini no longer a socialist?
The war convinced him that Italy needed a regime that would end the struggle between social classes and provide dynamic leadership for Italy both at home and abroad - he shared D'Annunzio's contempt for Liberalism and hatred of Socialism
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Creation of the Fascist movement
1919 Mussolini called an inaugural meeting of a new movement - Fasci di Combattimento, 100 people attended in Milan, little in common besides a hatred of Liberal state and contempt for the class struggle rhetoric of the Socialists
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Fasci de Combattimento political programme
New national assembly, Proclamation of Italian republic, Abolition of monarchy, Suppression of major companies, Control and taxation of private wealth, Workers to have significant share of businesses
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Early failure of Fasci de Combattimento
General election Nov 1919 - Mussolini failed to become a deputy and only polled 5000 votes out of 270,00, not a single seat won
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Why did Fascists not want a liberal coalition?
Unstable, short-lived governments unable to maintain law and order or deal with economic problems
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Government instability May 1921 - Oct 1922
Gov unable to form a coalition with Popolari, Liberals divided among themselves - Giolitti, Salandra, Facta and Orlando all disliked each other
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Collapse of law and order May 1921 - Oct 1922
Socialists were attacked, Fascist violence even extended to parliament as a Socialist deputy was beaten on the floor of the Chamber
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Reassuring Catholics and Conservatives May 1921 - Oct 1922
Fascism opposed to divorce, Settle Roman question with Pope, Dropped some socialist policies
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How many Fascist deputies were elected in 1921?
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Fascist violence May 1921 - Oct 1922
Mussolini encouraged squads to continue violence but disassociated himself with it, 1922 Fascists attacked Trade unions and town centres, Police reluctant to intervene, Socialists strike in 1922 which was a complete failure - Fascists shut it down
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The failings of the Liberal regime could be a result of:
WW1, Russian revolution, Social/political/economic instability, Mussolini/Fascism
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Failure of the Liberal State
Foisted on the Italian people, made no attempt to represent or involve the masses in political life, repression against popular protest,Political system was unstable - Fragile coalitions - Transformismo
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Fear of Socialism
WWI worsened class conflict, Socialists became largest political party in parliament 1919, Rich and middle classes terrified, demanded more dynamic response that would restore law and order and protect their interests - Anti-Socialist violence
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Role of Mussolini
Took every opportunity to exaggerate Socialist threat and to depict Fascists not as violent thugs, Abandoned radical programme set out in 1919 and took care to appear moderate when talking to Liberals, Altered his message according to his audience
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When was the Armistice signed?
3rd November 1918
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Italian national debt as a result of WWI
Increased from 16 billion lire in 1914 to 85 billion lire in 1919
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Government economic response to consequences of WWI
Quantitative easing - inflation shot up, Prices quadruples, inflation destroyed savings
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Effect of war on the purchasing power of factory workers
Wages fell by about 25% between 1915 and 1918
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Effect of war on industrialists
Ensured of a market - made profit, e.g. Fiat became the largest manufacturer of Commercial vehicles in Europe 1918
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Government budget
Government spent 23.3 billion lire in 1918 more than they collected in taxes - profits fell as government spending was cut back
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Unemployment after war
Rose to over 2 million during 1919
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Socialist threat
Workers resented long hours, fall in real wages, ban on industrial action - During 1919 over a million workers took part in strikes, as economy worsened political divisions widened
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Membership of Socialist trade unions
Shot up from a quarter of a million in 1918 to 2 million in 1920
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PSI Membership
50,000 in 1914 to 200,000 in 1919, Nov 1919 PSI had 32.4% of vote winning 156 seats- largest party in parliament
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What did socialists advocate?
A Bolshevik style revolution of 1917
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What were peasants doing to increase the Socialists threat?
Occupying uncultivated land and farming it for themselves
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What were workers doing to increase the Socialists threat?
Striking - demanding higher wages and guaranteed employment
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Seizure of Fiume
Sep 1919, Nationalist D'Annunzio led 2000 armed men and occupied Fiume in defiance to Italian gov, Gov lacked will and courage to use troops to control situation, D'Annunzio held the city of Fiume for over a year
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'Mutilated Victory'
Nationalists believed gov failed to defend Italian interests at peace conference, Entente refused to hand over Fiume, Dalmatia and German colonies in Africa, Demobilised soldiers found it hard to get work/adapt to society
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Which two places did the Entente powers give Italy in the Treaty of St Germain?
Tyrol and Trentino
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March on Rome
Beginning of Oct 1922 Mussolini planned a coup to pressure gov to make him PM, around 30,000 Fascists would march on capital, Mussolini used this to blackmail liberals - the king could easily use the army to crush Fascists
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How did Mussolini persuade the monarchy?
He stressed that fascism and the monarchy could work together, blackmailed using the threat of a coup against the government
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When did Mussolini become PM?
29th October 1922
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When did Italy enter WWI?
May 1915
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When was the Italian defeated at Battle of Caporetto?
Oct 1917
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When was the Italian victory at Vittorio Veneto?
Oct 1918 - Caused Austria to sue for peace
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When was the first meeting of the Fascist movement?
March 1919
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When was the Treaty of Versailles?
June 1919
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When was the Treaty of St Germain?
Sep 1919
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When did D'Annunzio seize Fiume?
Sep 1919
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When did the Socialists become the largest party in parliament?
Nov 1919
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When did 400,000 engineering workers occupy factories?
Sep 1920
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When did Fascist Squad violence begin?
Nov 1920
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When did the Fascists gain 35 seats in the general election?
May 1921
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When was the National Fascist Party organisation created?
Oct 1921
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When was the failed mass socialist strike?
July 1922
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When did Fascists seize key building in northern cities - the first move in the 'March on Rome'?
27th October 1922
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When was the resignation of the final Liberal government?
28th October 1922
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How many seats did the Liberals get in the 1919 election?
Only 180 out of a possible 508 seats
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Liberal problems in parliament 1919-1921
Lacked cohesion and party discipline, Francesco Nitti relied on Catholic deputies for fragile majority, Disliked by both left and right - unwillingness to grant reform or crush protest
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When was Nitti replaced with Giolitti?
In 1920, his fragile majority collapsed, however Giolitti used transformismo to appeal to left and right which was even more fragile
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Anti-Socialist reaction 1919-1921
Conservatives felt abandoned by government, Squadrismo burned down Socialist offices and beat up trade unionists, 1920 - 80 trade union offices destroyed, 200 dead, 800 wounded - police looked other way
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Socialist occupation of the factories 1919-1921
Sep 1920 workers engaged in dispute over wages, 400,000 workers occupied factories in north, Giolitti was neutral - enraged industrialists, occupation collapsed within a month, however Giolitti was not forgived
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Fascist Supporters 1919-1921
Middle-Class students, demobilised soldiers, small farmers, farm managers - angered by socialism, Fascist leaders thought of Fascism as a revolutionary movement that would over throw the government
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How many supporters did Fascism have in 1921?
200,000 - 50% ex-servicemen, 10% students, 25% below voting age
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Key Fascist leaders 1919-1921
Mussolini, Farinacci, Balbo, Grandi
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Electoral breakthrough May 1921
Giolitti underestimated Fascism and Mussolini, Fascist and Liberal coalition, Socialists remained largest party - 123 seats, Fascists secured 7% of total vote and won 35 seats, Mussolini was a deputy
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Socialist advances in the countryside 1919-1921
Agricultural strikes and land occupations, Socialist trade unions expanding, Demanded higher wages/guarantee of job, 1920 election socialists controlled 26/69 provinces, urban middle class feared higher local taxes
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Mussolini's control over Fascist squadrismo 1919-1921
Mussolini did not guide squadrismo but saw the political opportunities they offered, With Mussolini as leader Fascism could be seen as a national movement with a new vision of Italy
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How did Mussolini's experience in journalism come in handy?
He could depict Fascist violence not as simple thuggery, but rather as a painful necessity if Italy was to be saved
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


Britain + France + Russia VS Austria-Hungary + Germany


Triple Entente VS Triple Alliance

Card 3


Broke the rules of the alliance as Austria attacked Serbia without consulting Italy, Austria-Hungary resisted Italian unification, Italy was not ready for war and would damage econ/society -Liberals(Giolitti)+Catholics+Socialists


Preview of the back of card 3

Card 4


Salandra in 1914


Preview of the back of card 4

Card 5


Triple Alliance victory - would strengthen Austrian resistance to revision of Italian borders, Entente victory - not be sympathetic to Italian ambitions, mass of population didn't want war


Preview of the back of card 5
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