Mussolini in the First World War: The Journalist, the Soldier, the Fascist

By Paul O'Brien | Go to book overview

4
Digging In
November 1915-June 1916

For all measures, even the most difficult, that the Government will take, we will place
the following dilemma before the citizens: either accept them out of high patriotic spirit
or have them imposed.

Mussolini, Reply to the Minister for
Finance, 7 March 1923

Consent is as variable as the sand on the sea shore… Posed as axiomatic that all gov-
ernment measures create malcontents, what will you do to prevent the disquiet from
spreading and representing a danger for the solidity of the State? You will avoid it by
resorting to force.

Mussolini, Forza e consenso, March 1923

No hierarch is he who does not know how to go down among the people in order to
glean its sentiments and interpret its needs.

Mussolini, Speech at the Foro, 28 October 1937


Home Front, November 1915-February 1916

On 24 November Mussolini developed a viral infection (or so it is presumed, since this remains an open question, for which see O'Brien, 2002a: 13, n. 48) and was transferred to the military hospital in Cividale where he remained for thirteen days, upon which he was transferred to Treviglio (about 60 km from Milan) for further treatment. He had therefore left the front line community and was distant from the final spasm of the Fourth Battle of the Isonzo. Mussolini was granted a month's convalescent leave to expire on 16 January. He did not, however, reach the front until 11 February. The period between 16 January and 11 February has never been adequately accounted for, though it seems that Mussolini spent some time in a Bersagliere depot on the way back to the front (Pini and Susmel, 1953, I: 306). Once back in Milan, he swapped the war diary for commentaries in Il Popolo d'Italia. The paper, for which circulation figures are not available, apparently remained on a sound financial basis, as Mussolini confirmed in a 19 January letter to his sister, Edwige (Mancini Mussolini, 1957: 57).

-87-

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