Mussolini and the Italian Empire, 1935–41
in The cult of the Duce
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The role of the image of Benito Mussolini in winning over Ethiopians to Italian overlordship was bound to be paramount. Italian Empire was neither long-lived nor particularly high on the national agenda except for the critical period 1935-41, where it did take centre stage in defining what Fascism stood for. The cult of the Duce was always bargained with, even by its self-proclaimed acolytes. Searching for a 'cult of the Duce' specific to Italy's colonies needs to take into account that there was a pre-Fascist empire, although it was only in the Ventennio that investment in the colonies became substantial. Italo Balbo saw Libya as presenting an excellent opportunity to demonstrate to Italians and to the world what Fascism meant and how the Duce's subjects related to the relaunching of Mussolini's Italy in the late 1930s. The territory which eventually became Libya was in many ways a 'normal' European colony.

The cult of the Duce

Mussolini and the Italians

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