Italian Fascism under Mussolini 1922-1943 - Educational Travel Lesson Plan

Educational Travel Lesson Plans

Italian Fascism under Mussolini 1922-1943

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Description

Through the investigation of primary and secondary sources, students in this lesson will identify, understand and be able to explain the major points of the fascist doctrine as defined by its Duce, Benito Mussolini, how the Duce came to power in Italy and how fascism inspired German National Socialism (yet was very different in its aims).

Subjects

World History

European History

Grade Level

11-12

Duration

90 minutes

Tour Links

  • Piazza Venezia
  • EUR, Roman Suburb
  • Foro Italico

Essential Questions

  • Who was Benito Mussolini? How did he develop his political doctrines? 
  • What were the ideas behind the creation of Fascism in 1919? 
  • What were the major points of Italian fascism?
  • Were German National Socialism and Italian Fascism like twin brothers or more like distant cousins?

Key Terms

  • Corporatism
  • Il Duce
  • Fascism
  • Militarism
  • Mussolini
  • Claretta Petacci
  • Propaganda
  • Roman Empire
  • Socialism

I believe in the high Duce, maker of the Black Shirts,
And in Jesus Christ his only protector.
Our Savior was conceived by a good teacher and an industrious blacksmith.
He was a valiant soldier; he had some enemies.
He came down to Rome. On the third day, he reestablished the state.
He ascended into the high office.
He is seated at the right hand of our Sovereign.
From there, he has come to judge Bolshevism.
I believe in the wise laws, the Communion of Citizens, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of Italy and the eternal force. Amen.

"Prayer for the Duce", published in La Tribuna on July 25, 1929

On 28 Apr 1945, in the small village of Giulino de Mezzegra close to the Swiss border, Benito Mussolini, Il Duce of the Kingdom of Italy from 1922-1943, the man who had captivated both Italy and the world with his visions of grandeur and his promises to return Italy to its former Roman glory, was executed along with his mistress, Claretta Petacci, by Italian partisans.  The following day, their bodies were hung up with piano wire in an Esso petrol station in Milan with over a dozen other fascist leaders.  Italians from all over the city flocked to the square to see the spectacle.   Mussolini and Petacci’s bodies were viciously beaten and spit upon in the very city where 26 years earlier saw the birth of the fascist movement.

Fascism was always too complicated for most Italians to fully understand.  Today, Mussolini’s ideas and doctrines, born in the chaotic days of the Great War, are often linked to Adolph Hitler’s National Socialism in Germany.  Unfortunately, these analyses often miss many distinctions and differences in the two systems.  While they may have had some common elements, German National Socialism and Italian fascism were markedly different on issues of race and purpose.  Italian Fascism focused on hyper-militarism, a citizen’s absolute allegiance to the state, economic corporatism for the economic good of all citizens, and finally an attempt to recreate the glory of the Roman Empire.  As Mussolini’s Doctrine of Fascism (1932) points out,

The Fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State—a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values—interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of a people.

Through the investigation of primary and secondary sources, students in this lesson will identify, understand and be able to explain the major points of the fascist doctrine as defined by its Duce, Benito Mussolini, how the Duce came to power in Italy and how fascism inspired German National Socialism (yet was very different in its aims). 

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  1. Students will identify, understand and be able to explain the major points of Italian Fascism as articulated by its duce, Benito Mussolini and how it tore Italians apart between 1870 and 1929.
  2. Students will identify, understand and be able to explain how Mussolini came to power in Italy and implemented the fascist program.
  3. Students will identify, understand and be able to explain why Mussolini’s fascism is linked to German National Socialism and how that association with Hitler not only eventually brought Il Duce’s regime down, but also continues to cause misunderstandings today.

To view resource web pages, download the lesson plan PDF above.

I. Anticipatory Set

  • Writing / Question: Which is better – Freedom or Security?  Why? (5 min)
  • Handouts – Copies of documents and readings from the websites listed. (5 min)

II. Body of Lesson

  • Lecture / PPT – Il duce Benito Mussolini and Italian Fascism (20 min)
  • Video –  (5 min)
  • Independent Activity – Students read the articles and sources Mussolini and his ideas behind fascism, taking notes as appropriate.  (30 min)
  • Group Activity – Socratic Seminar: Discussion: Mussolini and Fascism (15 min)

III. Closure

  • Exit Ticket / Assessment – Short Essay: Explain in detail the major points of fascism as articulated by Il Duce Benito Mussolini.  How was Fascism different from National Socialism in Germany?

Extension

On tour: Fascist Symbols in Rome

While on tour, you will visit the Piazza Venezia in Rome, where students will have the opportunity to see for themselves the balcony from where Mussolini often rallied crowds with his fiery oratory. Although many of the “fascist” symbols from that era were purposely taken down after World War II, it is still possible to see a few examples in areas around the Italian capital. Look carefully.

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