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Monday, July 29, 2013

Today is Mussolini's birthday

The Germans should allow themselves to be guided by me if they wish to avoid unpardonable blunders. In politics it is undeniable that I am more intelligent than Hitler.
- Benito Mussolini (attributed, 1934)

It is humiliating to remain with our hands folded while others write history. It matters little who wins. To make a people great, it is necessary to send them to battle even if you have to kick them in the pants. This is what I shall do.
- Mussolini (quoted in the diary of his son-in-law, Count Galeazzo Ciano, 11 April 1940, the day after Mussolini brought Italy into World War II)

Voglia partire in perfetto orario... D'ora innanzi ogni cosa deve camminare alta perfezione.
- Mussolini (to a railway station-master, attributed)

(We must leave exactly on time... From now on, everything must function to perfection.*)

(Today is the 130th anniversary of the birth of Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) in Forli province. Mussolini studied in Lausanne and Geneva but was expelled from Switzerland because of his socialist activities. As a journalist in Italy, he continued his political agitation and argued for Italy's entry into World War I, in which he was later wounded. He founded his fascist party in Milan in 1919 and by 1922 was invited to form a government during a political crisis partly of his own making. During the 1920s, Mussolini soon embarked on a wide-ranging reform program while gradually eliminating opposition parties and becoming more aggressive in foreign policy. His alliance with Germany in 1939 led directly to Italy's disastrous role in World War II, for which he was deposed in 1943 and later executed by Italian partisans. Of Mussolini, English writer J. B. Priestly said in 1934,

"The man's a fraud, a mountebank, a megaphone. He doesn't amount to anything more than a black-shirted bullfrog croaking away in the mud.")

* N.B. Likely the origin of the view that "Mussolini made the trains run ontime," which indeed he did.

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