Salò was Mussolini’s German-backed experiment in ‘real Fascism’ and fine living. Italians find it hard to come to terms with its legacy.
Though many writers, film-makers and other artists found it difficult to work in Fascist Italy, modernist architecture flourished under the less than watchful gaze of Mussolini.
Historic attachments to heroic leadership combined with a mastery of propaganda techniques to mesmerise Germany into acceptance of the charismatic authority offered by the Führer.
Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, attempted to portray himself as a reluctant antisemite, a narrative many historians have bought into. Daniel Tilles argues that such a reading is wrong. Opposition to Jews was at the very core of the would-be dictator’s ideology.
Hitler had taken enthusiastically to his years in the army during the first World War. D.C. Watt describes how, afterwards, the future führer worked with equal zeal — and served his political apprenticeship — as a propagandist for a Bavarian counter-revolutionary army group.
The conflagration of the Reichstag provided Hitler with a heaven-sent opportunity. But the theory that the Nazis had planned it themselves now appears to be entirely baseless.
All the Nazi leaders had a talent for self-dramatisation. None was more enamoured of the role he had chosen than Heinrich Himmler.
Richard Storry describes how the Army Mutiny of February 1936 was the climax of revolutionary nationalism in Japan. Its outcome meant action against China, and in the end led to Pearl Harbour
Elizabeth Wiskemann describes how Hitler ruthlessly consolidated his power in Germany by the slaughter of some of his closest former colleagues.
There were repulsive sides to Fascist Italy; but Mussolini’s movement sprang from deeply patriotic sources, and endured for two decades.