Executed in a remote lakeside town in northern Italy – that’s how it ended for the world’s first fascist. On 28th April 1945, just a few days before World War Two was officially over, Benito Mussolini and his lifelong companion, lover and partner Claretta Petacci were caught and killed at Lake Como before their corpses were heavily abused by a furious mob in Milan.
In “Mussolini. Der erste Faschist”, Hans Woller reconstructs Mussolini’s political and personal development – from growing up in a small village in Emilia-Romagna, strongly influenced by his leftist father to his ridiculous final ambitions against Italy’s enemies in the Second World War.
Woller describes Mussolini’s first acknowledgements as a writer and his clever journalistic propaganda which helped him coming to power as well as his evolution from a socialist full of self-doubts to a megalomaniac nationalist dictator. Mussolini and his violent troops benefited from the passivity of an incompetent government as frustration among agricultural workers and industrial labourers soared by the day.
“Mussolini. Der erste Faschist” documents war crimes in Africa when the fascist Italian regime became increasingly ambitious abroad but also Mussolini’s repressions against political competitors and the country’s Jewish community.
A key aspect of the biography is, of course, the complex partnership of the Italian dictator and Third Reich leader Adolf Hitler, a relationship shaped by lifelong admiration but also permanent mistrust.
Mussolini. Der erste Faschist
By Hans Woller
Published by C.H. Beck (www.beck.de)