A century of the March on Rome, Benito Mussolini’s seizure of power

Benito Mussolini, center, in Rome with members of the Fascist Party after the March on Rome, on October 28, 1922. After that action, King Victor Emanuel III commissioned Mussolini to form a new government (AP)

The horizon was black Rome on such a day as today a century ago, when thousands of militiamen were preparing to harass the capital and hand over power to their leader, Benito Mussolini. Fascism pounced on the weak liberal democracyforever marking the history of the world with its jaws.

The “March on Rome”which began on October 28, 1922, opened the darkest page of dizzying Italian history and, one hundred years later, it is still remembered as the warning of a past that never completely went away, especially when the first far-right government has just been formed of its democracy.

At the beginning of the 1920s, Italy, sixty years after its reunification, was a country exhausted between the malaise of the Big war and the latent threat of a soviet revolution.

March on Rome - Benito Mussolini - Fascism - Italy
Image of the march on Rome, October 28, 1922. (Wikipedia)

In its streets resounded the workers struggles and the fascist violence rooted dangerously based on Castor oil and beatings of trade unionists, while Mussolini, a journalist with a socialist past, warmed up the atmosphere from his newspaper, Il Popolo d’Italia.


Thus, in 1919 he brought together the jackals of the battered army in his Combat Fascia and later in the Fascist Party (PNF), which would grow like a parasite in the heat of a weak state.

But the fascist leader was not willing to wait and would end up launching his hordes at his prey: power. Thus, in a rainy autumn, the “March on Rome”. It only took four days.

The threats were frequently read in his diary, but the challenge sounded more realistic than ever at the PNF Congress in Naples on October 24, the prelude to disaster: “We must grab this miserable political class by the throat,” Mussolini attacked.

March On Rome - October 28, 1922 - Benito Mussolini - Fascism
Mussolini parades during the Fascist Congress in Naples

It referred especially – but not only – to the man who ruled at that time, Luigi Factaa pushover with nineteenth-century mustaches chosen by the king Victor Emmanuel III in the midst of a political storm.

However, the government and a large part of the left underestimated the risk, as evidenced by a telegram from Facta that day: “I think the idea of ​​marching on Rome is past”, naively referring to a monarch on holiday in the Tuscan forests.

Even the communist newspaper Antony Gramsci he left his naivety in writing: “It is evident that fascism is in the process of disintegration.” The thinker would die in 1937, after knowing the dungeons of the regime.

Meanwhile, the subversive machinery began to work, and three days later four hierarchs –Italo Balbo, michele bianchi, Emilio Bono Y Cesare Maria DeVecchi– directed their fronts to Rome while the leader followed everything from Milan for fear of arrest.

March on Rome - Benito Mussolini - Fascism - Italy
Fascists around the Hotel Brufani in Perugia, already close to Rome

On the 27th numerous prefectures were occupied due to the permissiveness of a politicized army and a day later some 20,000 “black shirts” they were concentrated in Perugia (downtown), near the capital.

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The Government reacted late and, when at dawn on October 28 it decreed the Site statusthe king refused to sign it for, two days later, to deliver the Government to Mussolini.

March on Rome - Benito Mussolini - Fascism - Italy
Barriers on the banks of the Tiber in Rome. The government declared a state of siege, the king refused to sign it and, two days later, hand over the government to Mussolini.

The “man of Providence”as he would baptize him Vaticanachieved power and his henchmen paraded under the king’s balcony, like the pawns of a system that would crystallize into a two-decade dictatorship, whose calendar began on October 28.

Without knowing it, Italy was also headed for the abyss, towards a new world war.


“The March on Rome was the most disastrous event in Italian history and also fateful for European history because it generated imitators,” he explains to EFE the historian Marco Mondinauthor of the book “Rome 1922: il fascismo e la guerra mai finita” (Il Mulino).

It is the case of Adolf Hitler, which in 1923 attempted a coup in Munich. That Italian check “created a ripple effect that stimulated the will to deliver the coup de grâce to liberal states in Europe and abroad,” he maintains.

March on Rome - Benito Mussolini - Fascism - Italy
Fascist parade at the Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) in Rome

In Italyhe stresses, it worked because the squad violence it was tolerated because of the panic of an internal enemy: “The idea was to use fascism to annihilate socialism.”


In a short time Mussolini imposed a fierce dictatorship that assassin Y confined to dissidence, dreamed of a new and imperial world, enacted Racial Laws Y went to war against the world, digging his final grave.

March on Rome - Benito Mussolini - Fascism - Italy
Fascist parade in the Quirinale, then residence of the King and currently of the President of the Republic

The fall of fascism gave birth to the current Republic but, by a fluke of fate, a hundred years later the Government has ended up in the hands of the Brothers from Italyheir party to the Italian Social Movement, created in 1946 by the last fascists.

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However, Mondini believes that “very little remains” of this ideology, since the far-rightists do not threaten power with violence, the true genetics of fascism, although a “symbolic and moral legacy”. But no one can doubt the solidity of Italian democracy, he adds.

Precisely fate reserved another whim at the beginning of the current legislature, when the presidency of the Senate was occupied for one day by Liliana Segre, Jewish victim of Racial Laws and survivor of Auschwitz. It was the other side of a tragic story that no one has yet forgotten, for the good of future generations.

With information from EFE

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