Benito Mussolini had a large impact on World War II. He wasn’t always a
powerful dictator though. At first he was a school teacher and a
socialist journalist. He later married Rachele Guide and had 5 children.
He was the editor of the Avanti, which was a socialist party newspaper
Benito Mussolini founded the Fasci di Combattimento on March of 1919.
“This was a nationalistic, anti liberal, and anti socialist movement.
This movement attracted mainly the lower middle class.”1 Fascism was
spreading across Europe. Mussolini was winning sympathy from King Victor
Emmanuel III. Mussolini then threatened to march on Rome. This persuaded
King Victor Emmanuel III to invite Mussolini to join a coalition, which
strongly helped him gain more power.
Benito Mussolini brought Austria on Germany’s side by a formal
alliance. “In 1937, he accepted a German alliance. The name of this
alliance was the Anti Comntern Pact. On April 13, 1937 Benito Mussolini
annexed Albania. He then told the British ambassador that not even the
bribe of France and North Africa would keep him neutral.”2 The British
ambassador was appalled and dismayed.
On May 28, 1937, Mussolini strongly gave thought to declaring
war. He then attacked the Riviera across the Maritime. “On September 13,
1937 he opened an offensive into British-garrisoned Egypt from Libya.”3
On October 4, 1937, while the offensive still seemed to promise
success, Benito Mussolini met Adolf Hitler at the Brenner Pass, on
their joint frontier. “The two of them discussed how the war in the
Mediterranean, Britain’s principal foothold outside its island base,
might be turned to her decisive disadvantage. Hitler suggested to
Mussolini that Spain might be coaxed on the axis side, thus giving
Germany free use of the British Rock of Gibraltar, by offering Franco
part of French North Africa, and that France might be persuaded to
accept that concession by compensation with parts of British West
Mussolini seemed enthusiastic and very understandable why this was the
case, since this scheme included the gaining of Tunis, Corsica, and Nice
(annexed by Napoleon III in 1860) from France. Hitler then hurried home
to his house in Berlin to arrange visits to Franco and Petan. “Back in
the capital Hitler created a letter to Stalin inviting Molotov, the
Soviet Foreign Minister, to visit early, when Germany and the U.S.S.R.
might then agree among themselves how to profit from Britain not having
A week later, on October 20, he left in his command train, Amerika, to
meet Petan and Franco. The meeting with Franco took place on October 23
at Hendaye on the Franco-Spanish frontier.”5 It had become quite famous
in the history of World War Two for Hitlers furious parting shot that he
would “rather have three or four teeth extracted from than go through
that again.” Franco, who was greatly supported by his Prime Minister,
Serrano Suner, stonewalled throughout the hours towards negotiation with
Franco. When his train left at two in the morning, Hitler had not
advanced an inch towards co-belligerency with Franco.
Petan met Hitler on October 24, and proved to be equally unresponsive.
Petan convinced Hitler that they had a meeting of minds. Petan had only
agreed to a promise to consult his government, Hitler decided to make a
bigger deal out of it and believed that they were united in a productive
hostility to Britain.
Hitler now had the outlines, despite Francos struggle, of a larger
coalition war to present to Molotov at his next visit. “When Hitler was
waiting for the Soviet Foreign minister to come, he was distracted by
the weird behavior of Mussolini, who then chose to mount an attack from
Albania (occupied by the Italian army in April 1939) into Greece.”6
Mussolini said that he was motivated by the fear that the British would
establish positions in Greece if he did not. “He had good strategic
reasons for wishing to deny them naval and air bases any closer to his
own along the Adriatic that those who already possessed in Egypt and
Malta. He attacked Greece in October, 1937.”7
Mussolini’s participation in the Battle of France aroused the derision
of neutrals and enemies. He was determined to win in Greece his share of
the laurels which had fallen in a not proportionate number to the
The failure of Mussolini’s invasion of Greece greatly upset Hitler as
he waited Molotov’s arrival. This not only messed up his scheme to
change the Balkans into a satellite zone by peaceful diplomacy; it was
also upsetting the Soviet Union. “On October