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Italian imperialism under Fascism

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For the pre-Fascist colonial empire, see Italian Empire. For the Fascist concept of "living space", see Spazio vitale.

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Imperialism, colonialism and irredentism played an important role in the

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foreign policy of Fascist Italy. Among the regime's goals were the acquisition

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of territory considered historically Italian in France (e.g. Nice) and

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Yugoslavia (e.g. Dalmatia), the expansion of Italy's sphere of influence into

the Balkans (e.g. Greece) and the acquisition of more colonies in Africa.


The pacification of Libya (192332), the invasion of Ethiopia (193536), the

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invasion of Albania (1939), the invasion of France (1940), the invasion of

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Greece (194041) and the invasion of Yugoslavia (1941) were all

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undertaken in part to add to Italy's national space.

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1 History

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2 First step: the Dodecanese

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3 Second Step: the Fourth Shore

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4 Third step: the Western Balkans

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5 A project that never materialized

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The fascist Project to create an Italian Empire from

Libya to Somalia after the victory in WWII. In light
green the territories of the projected Imperial Italy.

6 Notes
7 References


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After his appointment as Governor of the Dodecanese in 1936, the fascist leader Cesare Maria De Vecchi started to promote
within Benito Mussolini's National Fascist Party an idea [1] of a new "Imperial Italy" (Italian: Italia imperiale), one that, like the


Roman Empire, went beyond Europe and included northern Africa (the Fourth Shore or "Quarta Sponda" in Italian).


De Vecchi's dream was an Imperial Italy that included not only all the European territories wanted by the Italian irredentists (Nice,


Savoy, Ticino, Dalmatia, Corfu, Malta and Corsica) and populated by Italian communities for many centuries, but even the north


African territories (Libya and Tunisia), where Italian emigrants had created "colonies" in the late nineteenth century.


After 1936 and during World War II, the Greek Dodecanese islands were also included in the project (with the Ionian islands of
Zante, Ithaca, etc.) and the fascist regime soon promoted a process of forced Italianization of these Greek islands.[2]

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Italy annexed the coastal provinces of its colony of Libya in 1938 and made them national provinces of Italy that were to be

In preparation for war with France in 1940, the Fascist regime intended to gain Corsica, Nice, Savoy, and the colonies of Tunisia

and Djibouti from France.[3] Foreign Minister Count Ciano on 10 June 1940 issued support for the partition of Switzerland
between Germany and Italy, with Italy annexing Ticino, Grisons, and Valais.[4]


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Srpskohrvatski /


The opinions of De Vecchi were partially accepted[5] by Mussolini in the 1940s, when Italy entered World War II, but found
opposition (and scepticism) in the King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel III.
In 1942, with the Italian occupation of Corsica and Tunisia, the territories of the "Imperial Italy" dreamed of by the fascist De
Vecchi were fully in Italian hands, with the exception of Malta, but the project was not politically implemented because the war
was turning against the Axis powers.[6]

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First step: the Dodecanese

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De Vecchi effected the first step towards an Italia Imperiale (or Grande Italia) when in 1936, as Italian Governor of the
Dodecanese islands, he imposed official use of the Italian language and created a colony of 7,000 Italians in Rhodes and
surrounding islands.[7] In 1940 he was appointed to the Grand Council of Fascism where later, during the Italian occupation of
Greece, he proposed that the Kingdom of Italy annex the Dodecanese and Ionian islands, with the island of Chios, which had
once belonged to the Republic of Genoa.

Second Step: the Fourth Shore

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Another fascist leader, Italo Balbo, promoted actively the development of Italian communities in coastal Libya, after the country
was pacified from an Arab guerrilla war. Balbo called Tripolitania and Cyrenaica the Quarta Sponda (Fourth Shore) of Italy in
reference to the other three shores (the western, the Adriatic and the southern) of the Italian peninsula.
One of the initial Italian objectives in Libya, indeed, had been the relief of overpopulation and unemployment in Italy through
emigration to the undeveloped colony. With security established, systematic "demographic colonization" was encouraged by King[31/01/2016 18:43:22]


Italian imperialism under Fascism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Victor Emmanuel III's government. A project initiated by Libya's governor, Italo Balbo, brought the first 20,000 settlers the
"Ventimila" - to Libya in a single convoy in October 1938. More settlers followed in 1939, and by 1940 there were approximately
110,000 Italians in Libya, constituting about 12 percent of the total population.[8]
Plans envisioned an Italian colony of 500,000 settlers by the 1960s: so, the Italians would be 2/3 of the population in coastal Libya
by then. Libya's best land was allocated to the settlers to be brought under productive cultivation, primarily in olive groves.
Settlement was directed by a state corporation, the "Libyan Colonization Society", which undertook land reclamation and the
building of model villages and offered a grubstake and credit facilities to the settlers it had sponsored.
In November 1942, Tunisia was also included in the "Quarta Sponda" (with nearly 100,000 Tunisian Italians), but a few months
later it was occupied by the Allies.

Third step: the Western Balkans

[ edit ]

In spring 1941, Mussolini - with the help of the German Army - finally defeated Greece and conquered coastal Yugoslavia.
General Vittorio Ambrosio, the commander of the Italian Army during the conquest of Yugoslav Dalmatia, created a military line of
occupation from Ljubljana to northern Montenegro that successively was to be considered as the future border of the "Imperial
Italy" in the North-Western Balkans.[9] Within the borders to the south were included Fascist Montenegro, Greater Albania and
De Vecchi promoted the inclusion of Corfu (with a significant community of the Corfiot Italians), the Ionian islands and the
southern Aegean islands (once controlled by the Republic of Venice), in order to form an "arch" that stretched toward the
Dodecanese, Lesvos and Chios (Once controlled by the Republic of Genoa).

A project that never materialized

[ edit ]

In the 1940s, De Vecchi contemplated an "Imperial Italy" stretching from Europe to north Africa, made of the "Imperial Italy" (with
an enlarged Italian Empire in eastern Africa, from the Egyptian shores on the Mediterranean to Somalia).
He dreamed of a powerful Italy enlarged:
1) in Europe, from Nice to the Governatorato di Dalmazia in Dalmatia and possibly Greater Albania (see map ), the Ionian
islands, the Principality of Pindus in Epirus (northern Greece), the Dodecanese.
2) in northern coastal Africa, from Tunisia to Libya (the Fezzan of Libya was to be considered a colony of the empire).
In a hopeful peace negotiation following an Axis victory, Mussolini had planned to acquire for his Imperial Italy the full island of
Crete (that was mostly German occupied) and the surrounding southern Greek islands, connecting the Italian Dodecanese
possessions to the already Italian Ionian islands.[10]
South of the Fourth Shore, some fascist leaders dreamed of an Italian Empire that, starting in the Fezzan, would include Egypt,
Sudan and reach Italian East Africa.[11]
The Allied victory in the Second World War ended these projects and terminated all fascist ambitions for the empire.
Finally, in 1947 the Italian Republic formally lost all her overseas colonial possessions as a result of the Treaty of Peace with Italy.
There were discussions to maintain Tripolitania (a province of Italian Libya) as the last Italian colony, but they were not
In November 1949, Italian Somaliland was made a United Nations Trust Territory under Italian administration and with capital
Mogadishu. This lasted until 1 July 1960, when Italian Somalia was granted its independence along with British Somaliland to
form the Somali Republic.


[ edit ]

1. ^ Baioni, Massimo. Risorgimento in camicia nera. pag. 47

2. ^ Del Boca, A. Le guerre coloniali del fascismo. p. 71; Galeotti, Carlo. Credere obbedire combattere - I catechismi fascisti. p. 72
3. ^ Owen Chadwick. Britain and the Vatican during the Second World War. 3rd edition (paperback). Cambridge University Press,
1988. Pp. 104.
4. ^ MacGregor Knox. Mussolini Unleashed, 1939-1941: Politics and Strategy in fascist Italy's Last War. 1999 Edition. Cambridge,
England, UK; New York, New York, USA; Oakleigh, Melbourne, Australia: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Pp. 138.
5. ^ Baioni, Massimo. Risorgimento in camicia nera. p. 73
6. ^ Blitzer, Wolf. Century of War. p.125
7. ^ [1]

. Italian rule in the Dodecanese: 1912-1943

8. ^ Chapin Metz, Helen. Libya: A Country Study. Chapter XIX

9. ^ Rosselli, Alberto. Storie Segrete. Operazioni sconosciute o dimenticate della seconda guerra mondiale p. 36
10. ^ Davide Rodogno. Fascism European Empire
11. ^ Rosselli, Alberto. Storie Segrete. Operazioni sconosciute o dimenticate della seconda guerra mondiale pag. 49


[ edit ]

Baioni, Massimo. Risorgimento in camicia nera. Carocci. Arezzo, 2006.

Blitzer, Wolf. Century of War. Friedman/Fairfax Publishers. New York, 2001 ISBN 1-58663-342-2
Chapin Metz, Helen. Libya: A Country Study. GPO for the "Library of Congress". Washington, 1987.
De Felice, Renzo Interpretations of Fascism (translated by Brenda Huff Everett). Harvard University Press. Cambridge, 1977
ISBN 0-674-45962-8.[31/01/2016 18:43:22]

Italian imperialism under Fascism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

De Felice, Renzo. Mussolini l'Alleato: Italia in guerra 1940-1943. Rizzoli Ed. Torino, 1990.
Del Boca, A. Le guerre coloniali del fascismo Laterza. Roma, 1991
Galeotti, Carlo. Credere obbedire combattere - I catechismi fascisti Stampa Alternativa. Milano, 1996.
Lamb, Richard. Mussolini as Diplomat. Fromm International Ed. London, 1999 ISBN 0-88064-244-0
Payne, Stanley G. A History of Fascism, 1914-45. University of Wisconsin Press. Madison, Wisc., 1995 ISBN 0-299-14874-2
Rosselli, Alberto. Storie Segrete. Operazioni sconosciute o dimenticate della seconda guerra mondiale Iuculano Editore.
Pavia, 2007
Italian Empire

v t e
Western Mediterranean


Southeastern France Monaco

Albanian Kingdom

Islands of the Aegean


Kingdom of Croatia Dalmatia

(Hellenic State

Principality of the Pindus

Ionian Islands)

Italian Province of Lubiana

Kingdom of Montenegro
Italian Eritrea
(Eritrea Governorate)

Italian Somalia
(Somalia Governorate

Italian East Africa

Italian Oltre Giuba

British Somaliland) Italian Ethiopia

(Amhara Governorate

Harrar Governorate

Galla-Sidamo Governorate

Scioa Governorate)

Italian Libya
Far East

Planned expansion

(Cyrenaica Tripolitania

Italian concession of Tientsin

Concessions and forts of Italy in China

Egypt Majorca

Tentative to occupy French Somaliland

Kenya Sudan Malta

Ticino, Valais and Grisons Tunisia

Settlers and colonists

Settlers and Irredentism

Albania Dodecanese Dalmatia

Eritrea Ethiopia Libya Somalia

Tunisia Egypt Lebanon Gibraltar

Corsica Nice Savoy Dalmatia


Istria-Venezia Giulia Malta

Switzerland Corfu

Governor's Palace (Mogadishu)


Governor's Palace (Tripoli)

Governor's Palace (Asmara)

Asmara Presidential Palace (Asmara)

Mogadishu Cathedral St. Joseph's Cathedral




Political concepts

Police and military

Currencies and Stamps

Benghazi Cathedral Tripoli Cathedral

Cinema Impero Fiat Tagliero Building

Marble Arch Asmara's Opera

Lighthouse "Francesco Crispi" (Cape Guardafui)

Italian Tripoli Italian Benghazi Italian Asmara

Italian Massaua

MogadishuVillabruzzi Railway Ethio-Djibouti Railways

Eritrean Railway Asmara-Massawa Cableway

Railway stations in Eritrea Railway stations in Somalia Via Balbia

Via della Vittoria Linea dell'Impero Italian Libya Railways

Libyan Railway stations History of Italian colonial railways

Greater Italy Mare Nostrum New Roman Empire Spazio vitale

Fourth Shore Third Rome

Eritrean Ascari Italian African Police

Bands (Italian Army irregulars) Zapti Dubats Savari Spahis

Royal Corps of Colonial Troops

Royal Corps of Somali Colonial Troops Ascari del Cielo Paratroops

Italian 1st Eritrean Division Italian 2nd Eritrean Division

1st Libyan Division Sibelle 2nd Libyan Division Pescatori

Italian Libyan Colonial Division

Italian Somali Divisions (101 and 102) Maletti Group

Legione Redenta Italian guerrilla units (A.O.I.)

Eritrean tallero Italian East African lira Italian Somaliland lira

Italian Somaliland rupia Italian Somaliland somalo

Postage stamps and postal history of Italian East Africa

Postage stamps and postal history of Oltre Giuba

Postage stamps of Italian Libya

Categories: Contemporary Italian history[31/01/2016 18:43:22]

Kingdom of Italy (18611946)

Italian fascism

Italian empire before WWII in red color, while in pink

color are shown the areas annexed/occupied during
different periods in 1940-1943. Italian concessions and
forts in China are not shown.

Italian imperialism under Fascism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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