Benito Mussolini

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Directions: Once you have been assigned a leader, research information about the assigned leader and be prepared to share it with your group. Look for how they rose to power, how they maintained power, and crucial things they are known for. In addition to finding out the historical impact your assigned leader had, fill out the charts on page two and three.

Benito Mussolini

After graduating from school in 1901, Mussolini became involved in politics. He worked for the socialist party as well as for political newspapers. A few times he was put in jail for protesting the government or advocating strikes.

When Italy entered World War I, Mussolini was originally against the war. However, he later changed his mind. He thought that the war would be good for the people of Italy. This idea was different from the socialist party who were against the war. He parted ways with the socialist party and joined the war where he fought until he was wounded in 1917.

In 1919, Mussolini started his own political party called the Fascist Party. He hoped to bring Italy back to the days of the Roman Empire when it ruled much of Europe. The members of the party wore black clothes and became known as the "Black Shirts." They were often violent and didn't hesitate to attack those who had different views or opposed their party.

The Fascist Party became popular with the people of Italy and Mussolini began to grow in power. In 1922, Mussolini and 30,000 Black Shirts marched to Rome and took control of the government. By 1925, Mussolini had total control of the government and was established as dictator. He became known as "Il Duce", which means "the leader."
Once in control of the government, Mussolini looked to build up Italy's military strength. In 1936, Italy invaded and conquered Ethiopia. Mussolini thought that this was only the beginning. He felt that Italy would soon rule much of Europe. He also allied himself with Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany in an alliance called the "Pact of Steel."

In 1940, Italy entered World War II as an ally of Germany and declared war on the Allies. However, Italy was not prepared for such a large war. Early victories became defeats as the Italian army became spread out across a number of fronts. Soon the Italian people wanted out of the war.

In 1943, Mussolini was removed from power and put in prison. However, German soldiers were able to break him free and Hitler put Mussolini in charge of Northern Italy, which was controlled by Germany at the time. By 1945, the Allies had taken over all of Italy and Mussolini fled for his life.

As Mussolini tried to escape from the advancing Allied forces, he was captured by Italian soldiers. On April 28, 1945 they executed Mussolini and hung his body upside down at a gas station for all the world to see.

Adolf Hitler


Adolf was born on April 20, 1899 in a city named Braunau am Inn in the country of Austria. His family moved around some, living a short while in Germany and then back to Austria. Hitler did not have a happy childhood. Both his parents died fairly young and many of his brothers and sisters died as well.

Adolf did not do well in school. He was expelled from a couple of schools before he moved to Vienna, Austria to pursue his dream of becoming an artist. While living in Vienna, Hitler found that he did not have much artistic talent and he soon became very poor. He would later move to Munich, Germany in hopes of becoming an architect.

When World War I began, Hitler joined the German army. Adolf was awarded twice with the Iron Cross for bravery. It was during World War I that Hitler became a strong German patriot and also came to love war.

After the war, Hitler entered politics. Many Germans were upset that they had lost the war. They were also not happy with the Treaty of Versailles, which not only blamed the war on Germany, but took land from Germany. At the same time, Germany was in an economic depression. Many people were poor. Between the depression and the Treaty of Versailles, the time was ripe for Hitler to rise to power.

Once entering politics, Hitler discovered that he was gifted in giving speeches. His speeches were powerful and people believed what he said. Hitler joined the Nazi party and soon became its leader. He promised Germany that if he became leader he would restore Germany to greatness in Europe. In 1933 he was elected Chancellor of Germany.

After becoming Chancellor, there was no stopping Hitler. He had studied his idol, Benito Mussolini of Italy, about how to install a fascist government and become a dictator. Soon Hitler was dictator of Germany.
In order for Germany to grow, Hitler thought the country needed more land or "living space". He first annexed Austria as part of Germany and then took over part of Czechoslovakia. This wasn't enough, however. On September 1, 1939 Germany invaded Poland and World War II began. Hitler formed an alliance with the Axis Powers of Japan and Italy. They were fighting the Allied Powers of Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States.

Hitler's army began to take over much of Europe. They attacked quickly in what was called Blitzkrieg or "lightning war". Soon Germany had captured much of Europe including France, Denmark, and Belgium.

However, the Allies fought back. On June 6, 1944 they invaded the beaches of Normandy and soon liberated France. By March of 1945 the Allies had defeated much of the German army. On April 30, 1945 Hitler committed suicide.

Hitler was responsible for some of the most horrible crimes committed in human history. He hated Jewish people and wanted to exterminate them from Germany. He forced Jewish people to go to concentration camps where 6 million Jews were killed during World War II. He also had other people and races he didn't like killed including handicapped people.

Francisco Franco

A lifelong military figure in Spain, Francisco Franco rose through the ranks until the early 1930s, when he found himself, a right-wing monarchist, in the midst of a left-wing republic. He was essentially demoted, but by 1935 he had been named chief of staff of the Spanish Army, a position he used to purged the army hierarchy of left-wing figures and strengthened military institutions. When the social and economic structure of Spain, in the governing hands of the left, began to crumble, Franco joined the growing rebel movement. He soon led an uprising against the sitting administration and took control of Spain after the Spanish Civil War (1939). From then until his 1975 death, he presided over a military dictatorship.

Franco intended to restore Spain to its former glory once the Civil War came to an end, but he soon discovered his country to be as economically damaged and politically divided as ever, and the outbreak of World War II only five months later made his government’s grasp on the country even more tenuous. Franco was ideologically sympathetic to the Axis cause, but he initially declared Spanish neutrality in the war. In June 1940, he met with Adolf Hitler and said he would bring Spain into the war on Germany’s side in return for certain concessions. Hitler was either unable or unwilling to meet Franco’s terms, and Franco’s government thenceforth tentatively sided with the Axis powers while cautiously avoiding direct diplomatic and military commitment to their war effort.

Spain again declared complete neutrality in 1943, but the declaration came too late for the Allies to treat with any amount of significance. While the Allies weren’t impressed and the newly formed United Nations ostracized the Franco government, Franco’s calculated wartime diplomacy did manage to keep his regime and possibly Spain from being toppled along with the Axis powers. And the ostracism came to an end when tensions between the Soviets and the West ramped up at the height of the Cold War, and Franco was then seen as one of the world’s foremost anticommunist figures.

Militarism is the belief or desire of a government or people that a country should maintain a strong military capability and be prepared to use it aggressively to defend or promote national interests. It may also imply the glorification of the ideals of a professional military class and the "predominance of the armed forces in the administration or policy of the state"
Principles of Militarism

  1. Complete Control

  2. Imperialism

  3. Extreme Nationalism

  4. Total War Production

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