44 Photos Of What Life In Fascist Italy Looked Like

Published July 25, 2017
Updated January 22, 2019

These photos reveal what life was like inside fascist Italy in the blood-soaked years both before and during World War II.

Hitler Visits Venice
Opera Nazionale Balilla
Italian Littorio Youth
Partido Nacional Fascista Piazza
44 Photos Of What Life In Fascist Italy Looked Like
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Before the Nazis, there was fascist Italy. Often overshadowed by the other members of the Axis and treated as little more than a footnote in the history of World War II, Italy was actually the world’s first fascist state.

After Benito Mussolini took power in 1922, life in Italy radically changed. Every person in the nation was forced to sign up as a member of the National Fascist Party, and to swear allegiance to both Mussolini and to the ideals of fascism. Anyone who refused was denied complete citizenship, which meant that they were barred from holding jobs and ostracized from every part of society.

Meanwhile, state newspapers and cinemas across the country set to work to develop a cult of personality that treated Mussolini like a god. His presence overwhelmed the nation, whether he was making impassioned speeches or marching through the streets while crowds of dedicated followers cheered him on.

Many of those followers were indoctrinated into the party when they were young. Mussolini restructured schools across the country, making fascist indoctrination and obedience to authority the center of Italian education. Teachers were forced to use textbooks created by the Fascist Party and to swear an oath of loyalty to Mussolini.

Boys were taught the value of being strong and healthy, and of an unquestioning obedience to authority. Girls were taught to know their place. They joined groups for young Fascist women, where they were taught housework, cooking, and subservience to their husbands.

While most everyone nationwide was subservient, some fought back against Mussolini’s fascist Italy – but the violence of his Black Brigades (Blackshirts) paramilitary ruled the streets. Mussolini’s armed thugs smashed anyone who opposed the rule of fascism in Italy, sometimes forcing them to swallow castor oil until they died of dehydration.

Ultimately, it took more than 20 years for Mussolini to fall. Finally, the invading Allied armies brought fascist Italy to its knees in 1943. By the time Mussolini fell, a whole generation had only known life under his iron fist.

For more glimpses into life in the Axis, check out these photos of everyday life in Nazi Germany and these revealing images of life inside the Hitler Youth.

Mark Oliver
Mark Oliver is a writer and teacher, and father whose work has appeared on The Onion's StarWipe, Yahoo, and Cracked.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
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Oliver, Mark. "44 Photos Of What Life In Fascist Italy Looked Like." AllThatsInteresting.com, July 25, 2017, https://allthatsinteresting.com/fascist-italy. Accessed June 14, 2024.