This “stato totalitario” could not encompass all of the powers that be in society; the Catholic Church in particular was able to maintain remnants of its influence (e.g. through its own youth organizations). The crown was discredited by many as a result of its cooperation with fascism and the scope of action of the prime minister and “Duce del Fascismo” had been expanded in several steps beyond the constitution at the expense of the king. But Viktor Emanuel III remained head of state .with which the power of the dictator and the fascist-totalitarian claim was designated a limit. Opposition ideas came through contacts with emigration (e.g. Giustizia e Libertà) in the country. The regime did not venture into major opposition figures in the intellectual life of Italy, among them especially the philosopher and historian B. Croce, and in the only superficially aligned press in Italy they also had the opportunity to publish. In its foreign policy, Fascist Italy took part in conflict-solving activities of European diplomacy in the phase of its internal expansion (including participation in the League of Nations; co- signing of the Locarno Treaties, 1925); however, the occupation of Corfu (1923) showed Mussolini’s early on Willingness to use violence in international politics. The settlement with Yugoslavia (Treaty of Rome, 1924), through which Fiume now came to Italy, was an early attempt to revise the order in the Mediterranean area created by the Paris suburban treaties. The Italian-Yugoslav antagonism reignited in the period that followed in Albania, which both states included in their sphere of influence, and Rome secretly supported separatist movements and uprisings within the “South Slav” multi-ethnic state. After Hitler came to power in Germany (1933), the aggressive German policy towards Austria sparked a sharp power-political conflict between Germany and Italy.
In the Roman Protocols (March 17, 1934) Italy agreed closer cooperation with Austria and Hungary. After the murder of the Austrian Chancellor E. Dollfuss by the Austrian National Socialists (July 1934) France and Great Britain came closer and in April 1935 made agreements with them against unilateral German actions (Stresa Front). In January 1935 Italy signed a colonial agreement with France. In general, the fascist foreign policy followed a strategy of “decisive weight in the scales” of European power politics, through which Italy should make the greatest possible profit in the pendulum between Western powers and the German Reich, which challenged them in the destruction of the order of 1919. A commitment to Germany was not intended, at least until the spring of 1939. With the attack on Ethiopia (October 1935) Italy adopted a policy of open expansion. In 1936 the East African colonial territories of Eritrea, Italian Somaliland and Ethiopia were combined under the name Italian East Africa; they formed the Italian colonial empire with Libya. Victor Emmanuel III. took on the title of “Emperor of Ethiopia” in 1936. After Italy came into conflict with the Western powers, it moved closer to National Socialist Germany in the course of mutual intervention in the Spanish Civil War (1936–39). In 1936, agreements on Spain established Mussolini’s speech about a now existing Berlin – Rome axis. Fascist Italy consequently joined the German-Japanese Anti-Comintern Pact the following year. In 1938 Mussolini accepted the “annexation” of Austria to the German Reich and brokered the negotiations for the Munich Agreement. After the occupation of Albania by Italian troops (April 1939) Mussolini closed a military alliance with Germany, the Steel Pact (May 22, 1939), in which both powers assured each other of support in every case of war and in which Hitler once more accepted the Brenner border (South Tyrol). At the beginning of the Second World War (September 1, 1939) Italy initially remained a “non-belligerent” power, but joined Germany on June 10, 1940 to intervene in the war to meet its territorial demands with regard to Corsica, Nice, possibly to assert parts of Savoy, Tunisia and French Somaliland (Djibouti) against the defeated France. After the defeat of France, Germany, Italy and Japan signed the tripartite pact (September 1940). In the theaters of war in Greece and North Africa, Italian offensives were unsuccessful in attempting to carry out a “parallel warfare” on an equal footing with the German because of inadequate armament. The military and political leadership became even more dependent on Germany. Italy was only able to participate in the occupation of Greece and Yugoslavia as a »junior partner«. For more articles about Italy and Europe, please follow Naturegnosis.
In view of the growing economic hardship and great losses on all fronts, as well as the increasing bombing of Italian cities in 1943, anti-fascist forces gained ground (strikes in March 1943). After the Fascist Grand Council, under the influence of the Allied invasion of Sicily, at the instigation of Count Count Grandis, turned against Mussolini (July 24th / 25th, 1943), the king dismissed him as Prime Minister and arranged for his immediate arrest (July 25th, 1943).) and appointed Marshal P. Badoglio to his successor; the PNF was soon disbanded. After the conclusion of an armistice (September 3, 1943) with the Allies, Italy joined the war against Germany on October 13, 1943 on their side. German armed forces were initially able to occupy most of Italy; Under their protection, Mussolini, freed by German paratroopers, founded the Republic of Salò (officially: Repubblica Sociale Italiana). While voluntary fascist troops on the German regular armed forces of the Badoglio government intervened on the Allied side, partisan formations supported the western allies behind the front in central and northern Italy. In the underground, old parties formed anew (e.g. PCI, PSI) and new parties were constituted, e.g. the Democrazia Cristiana (DC) and the Partito d’Azione, which failed soon after the end of the war. As the bearers of the resistance, they joined together to form the Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale (CLN) (Resistancea). The struggle behind the German lines between anti-fascists and fascists took on the character of a civil war; The German fight against the partisans was repeatedly associated with serious crimes against the civilian population. After the conquest of Rome by the Allies (June 4, 1944) Umberto, the son of Viktor Emanuel III. , on June 5th as governor-general to head the kingdom; the former Socialist Prime Minister I. Bonomi formed the government on June 18, supported by the forces of the CLN. After the surrender of the German armed forces in Italy (April 29th / May 29th, 1945), the Republic of Salò dissolved; Mussolini was murdered on April 28, 1945 while fleeing.