Who was he: Benito Mussolini was a ruthless Italian dictator during the period following World War I and extending through World War II. His primary legacy is his connection to Hitler during World War II while he was in control of the Italian Fascist state. He is largely considered to be the originator of the Fascist government model in neo-Machiavellian and Friedrich Nietzsche's principle, which included some of Plato's concepts on social engineering. The original disposition of Mussolini's Fascism at the time it gained political traction and the final state of the governmental theory are clearly different.
Background: Mussolini was born in 1883 in Forli, Italy, in a family with a politically driven father who was a blacksmith in the community and a devout socialist. His mother was a devout Catholic schoolteacher. Religion was a contentious issue in his home while young and he was actually sent to a monastery boarding school in his youth, but was dismissed for anti-social behavior. Mussolini's name Benito is in honor of Mexican revolutionary President Benito Juarez, and was chosen by his father.
Benito Mussolini left Italy for Switzerland in the early 1900s in order to avoid military conscription. He would eventually return to Italy after the desertion amnesty law was implemented and actually enlisted in the Italian army later, fighting in World War I for nine months. He was medically discharged with an injury suffered from a trench explosion.
Mussolini had been a journalist prior to his military service and returned to develop his theory of fascism through his position as editor at Avanti. He was very active in the Socialist Party during this period, but would eventually be dismissed from the party for the evolution of his political views toward his concept of Italian Fascism and support for military intervention in World War II as a partner of the Axis.
Italy had sided with Great Britain in World War I and the UK was hoping Italy would join the Western Allies. Mussolini, attempting to play politics with his decision, supported Hitler even though the two were not necessarily friendly. The Fascist Party and the Nazi Party had more in common. Mussolini had requested Hitler to sign a non-aggression pact with Russia and only fight on one front, but Hitler chose to fight on both fronts and Russia retreated into the middle of the nation, freezing the German troops out when support systems could not run.
As a dictator, once Mussolini noticed the opportunity to seize and enhance power, he changed his theoretical tactic. In very short order he claimed control of nearly 75 percent of Italian industries, and assigned himself control of several integral agencies of the Italian government. He began a public employment program to mask his move as proper governmental economic policy. Mussolini also subjugated mental control by maintaining tight inventory over media information outlets, relying on his experience as a former journalist. He declared himself to be El Duce, but did officially name the Roman Catholic Church as the state church. He actually pretended publicly to be a Christian himself, but it was widely known that he was irreligious.
Mussolini was removed from power by the Parliament in 1943 and arrested shortly thereafter. He had survived four assassination attempts during his reign and was rescued from captivity once again, as Hitler wanted to restore him to power shortly after his removal. But his heavy-handed and egotistical approach to governance left him with very few friends. He spent the remainder of the war in Germany masquerading as a German soldier until he was finally identified. He was eventually assassinated by one of his former Fascist operatives and hung in the streets for attack from his former subjects.
Mussolini also had intense followers who actually dug his body out of his grave and transported it to various locations, as a chase was on to locate his corpse. The neo-Fascist followers based their action on their claim that Mussolini was a god. The issue continued until 1957 when his body was finally returned for proper internment.