On July 29, 1883, Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was born in Dovia di Predappio in the north central province of Forli-Cesena, located about 45 miles southeast of Bologna and 45 miles northeast of Florence, Italy. His father, a blacksmith, was an ardent socialist who shared his views with his son. Throughout his school years Mussolini was known as a violent and undisciplined child.
In 1901, Mussolini at the age of 18, began to teach school.
In 1902, Mussolini left Italy and went to Switzerland in a proclaimed self-exile. While in Switzerland, Mussolini jumped from one job to another. He was a voracious reader but read the works of authors like Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Immanuel Kant, Georges Sorel and others like them. He clung onto the parts of their writings that he liked and formed his own vague political ideology. At the same time, he developed his speaking skills and was described as attracting the attention of others and persuading them to think like himself. He advocated violence as a means of solution and pushed for a labor strike among a local trade union.
In 1904, Mussolini returned to Italy, moving to an area in the northern Alps.
In 1909, at that age of 26, Mussolini fell in love with Rachele Guidi, the 16-year-old daughter of his father’s mistress. She soon moved in with him and they got married and lived in the Forli Province.
In 1912, Mussolini became part of the Socialist Party Congress, becoming the editor of the party’s paper, Avanti. As editor, he wrote about the need for a revolution which seemed to gather the attention of many and help build the Socialist Party.
In 1914, Mussolini left the Socialist Party for his own new political party, the Autonomous Fascists. He started his own fascist newspaper, the Popolo d’Italia. His departure from the Socialist Party, considered the party of the working class in Italy, caused many to label him as a traitor and some called him Judas.
In 1914, Mussolini was drafted into the Italian Army.
In 1917, Mussolini was wounded during an army training exercise and returned to civilian life where he became part of another political movement called the Revolutionary Fascists.
In 1918, Mussolini started another political movement known as the Constituent Fascists, but it was short lived.
In 1919, Mussolini ran for office but lost.
In March 1919, Mussolini starts the Fighting Fascists political party in which he actively courted a number of the Italian youth that were becoming more militant.
In 1921, Mussolini again runs for office and is elected to the Italian Parliament. His political party becomes the National Fascist Party with over 250,000 members. Mussolini is the Party’s unanimous leader already known as Il Duce.
On October 25, 1922, the Fascist Party Congress closes in Naples with Mussolini. He tells the Congress:
“I take a solemn oath that either the government of the country must be given peacefully to the Fascisti or we will take it by force.”
On October 27, 1922, Mussolini leads his Blackshirt followers on a march on Rome to seize control of the nation.
On October 29, 1922, Benito Mussolini is named the Foreign Minister of Italy, Minister of the Interior and Prime Minister of Italy. Over 25,000 Blackshirt fascist followers of Mussolini march through the streets of Rome in a show of force to intimidate the people. For the next two years, the Blackshirts will continue to publicly intimidate the people of Rome.
On January 3, 1925, Mussolini makes his power move and assumes dictatorial rule over Italy.
On June 12, 1934, Mussolini and Adolf Hitler meet in Venice and talk for several hours. At the time, Mussolini is more powerful than Hitler and later described him as ‘a silly little monkey.’
On January 4, 1935, Controversial French President Pierre Laval travels to Rome to meet with Mussolini to form an alliance. However, problems and factions within the French fascist parties prevent the two nations from uniting under a common cause.
On February 16, 1838, Mussolini announces that there are no longer any problems with Italy’s Jews, after several years of Jewish persecution by his Blackshirt fascist.
On May 3, 1938, Hitler again travels to Rome where he and Mussolini begin dividing up Europe between the two nations. Hitler will take Czechoslovakia and Austria and allows Mussolini to keep South Tyrol (now an autonomous province in northern Italy along the Austrian and Switzerland borders. The significance of allowing Italy to keep South Tyrol is that most of the population spoke German and considered themselves to be more German-Austrian than Italian.
On September 1, 1938, Mussolini dictates new law revoking citizenship to all Jews who became Italian citizens after January 1, 1919. The edict also applies to Libya, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Italian Somaliland, which were all under the control of Italy.
On October 17, 1938, Mussolini informs US government that his decision to expel all foreign Jews, including American Jews, from Italy. Any foreign Jews remaining in Italy will be arrested and sent to Nazi concentration camps where they are later killed.
On July 25, 1943, Italian Kin Victor Emmanuel III summons Mussolini and informs him that he is replacing Mussolini with Marshal Pietro Bagdoglio as Prime Minister. As Mussolini leaves the meeting, he is arrested and imprisoned. He is moved from prison to prison in an attempt to prevent Hitler’s government from locating and freeing him.
On September 8, 1943, Italy surrenders to Allied forces.
On September 12, 1943, Germany rescues Mussolini from prison.
On this day, September 23, 1943, Mussolini re-establishes his Fascist Party and takes control of Italy, escalating Italy’s war efforts.
On October 13, 1943, Mussolini declares war against Germany.
On June 5, 1944, Allied forces have driven German forces in Italy back and enter Rome.
On April 28, 1945, Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci are captured and executed by the Italian resistance. Additionally, a number of high ranking members of Italy’s Fascist Party are also arrested and executed.
Sources for the above includes: Mussolini Timeline; Benito Mussolini (1883-1945); Mussolini’s Return to Italy; Benito Mussolini; Mussolini Re-establishes a Fascist Regime in Northern Italy; Benito Mussolini; Benito Mussolini Biography; World War II In Europe; Timeline of Selected Events 1931-1945