Mussolini's March on Rome

The idea of `a march on Rome' by returned servicemen and other ultranationalist elements benefitting from the acquiescence of the security services had been publicly discussed for some time, being first associated with the names of D'Annunzio and the Duca d'Aosta, scion of the cadet branch of the House of Savoy. It came to pass as a way of forcing the cooperation of conservative elements within the liberal parliamentary elite, with Mussolini at first refusing ministries as insufficient and ending with the demand of the premiership. Just prior to the fascist mobilisation, the Liberal deputy and financier of the fascism Dino Philipson had the Commander in Chief of the Army Marshal Diaz ferried between Rome and Florence in his own car for discrete consultations.The `marciasuroma' eventuated as an implicit demonstration of force rather than a genuine military concentration. At Malo` near San Vito the father of the writer Luigi Meneghello was able to participate in the Vicentine mobilisation for the `marcia' without travelling far from his family and business. Thus a show of force was simultaneously organised provincially and in the capital. Everything depended on brinkmanship so as to ensure that the King and the armed forces did not intervene, for a whiff of grapeshot would have dispersed the fascist militia, as a few small scale incidents in the civil war had shown. The death of liberal Italy was in fact a suicide, and the above photo of Mussolini marching into Rome at the head of his death squads is a relic of an episode in the management of consensus, an act of political theatre, a triumphal procession.

Photo Gernsheim `Historic Events 1839-1939' Longmans London 1960