HST 504 - Week 8.docx
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HST 504 – Week 7
World Disarmament Conference
Il Duce: The Rise of Italian Fascism
Italy emerged from the Great War as one of the main victors.
Rome had decided early in the war that siding with Britain and France would reap more benefits,
especially along the Adriatic Coastline, the traditional sphere of influence of the Austrian
And so Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary and opened another front in the war.
The next years had a gruelling effect on the Italian society and economy, as the two powers were
deadlocked in trench warfare (as on the Western front).
When war finally came to an end, Vittorio Orlando wanted to reap the full rewards of victory,
especially in view of the human losses and material damage in Northern Italy.
In Paris, the extensive promises to Italy made in the Treaty of London were reversed.
Woodrow Wilson preferred to support the South Slavs of the Balkans than to satisfy the Italian
desires on Dalmatian territories.
As if that was not enough, none of the German colonial possessions were granted to Italy. Rome
could not replace Vienna as the paternal overseer of the Balkan Peninsula.
Disappointed and angry, Orlando promptly left Paris and went home to an even more fuming
It was unbearable to consider that all the suffering and sacrifices had been for nothing. In 1919,
in opposition to the decisions being made in Paris, a volunteer army of Italian nationalists seized
the city of Fiume.
The Italian government did not seem capable or willing to take action or to respond to the
By the early 1920s, as democracy and parliaments failed to stabilize the economy and resolve
national problems, alternative ideologies and leaders began to emerge on the political scene.
Exploiting the mass discontent, Benito Mussolini appeared as one of the key voices criticizing the
Paris Peace Settlement.
He called for national unity, elimination of elitism, and patriotism.
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