Italy’s African Dream, Part III: Nemesis in 1941

Prospects seemed encouraging for the Italian Empire in 1940, writes Patricia Wright, but an arduous defeat ensued.

When Italy entered the Second World War in June 1940, in Mussolini’s view, it was a time when no truly virile race could hold back from the challenge of a Fascist Europe in the making - so nearly achieved that only by rapid action could Italy be certain of purchasing ‘with a few thousand dead’ her place in a sublime moment of history.

Mussolini had long foreseen that European civilization would be rejuvenated by fascism and had interpreted events in Ethiopia, Spain and Nazi Germany in the light of this belief; yet he still remained Italian enough to be shaken at seeing that the principal instrument of this shattering new departure was to be Germany and not, as he had hitherto supposed, New Rome.

At Bari in 1934 Mussolini had referred to ‘thirty centuries of history (which) enable us to regard with supreme indifference certain doctrines taught beyond the Alps by the descendants of people who were wholly illiterate when... Caesar, Vergil and Augustus flourished in Rome’, and his attitude had not since fundamentally changed, however jealous he might be of Hitler’s successes.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.