Saturday, March 3, 2012

Speeches in Florence, June 19, 1923

By Benito Mussolini

First Speech: In the Hall of the Five Hundred in the Palazzo Vecchio

Mr. Mayor, Councillors, People of Florence, the capital for many centuries of Italian art,—You will notice that—on account of the honour which you pay me—I feel moved. To be made a citizen of Florence, of this city which has left such indelible traces on the history of humanity, represents a memorable and dominating event in my life. I do not know if I am really worthy of so much honour. (Cries of "Yes." "May God preserve you for the future of our Italy." Applause.)

What I have done up to now is not much; but oh! Citizens of Florence, my determination is unshakable. Human nature, which is always weak, may fail, but not my spirit, which is dominated by a human and religious truth—the truth of the country.

From the moment in which Italian Fascism raised its standards, lit its torches, cauterised the sores which infected the body of our divine country, we Italians, who felt proud to be Italians, are in spiritual communion through this new faith.

Citizens of Florence! I make you a promise, and be sure I shall keep it! I promise you—and God is my witness in this moment of the purity of my faith—I promise you that I shall continue now and always to be a humble servant of our adored Fatherland!

Second Speech: From the Balcony of the Palazzo Vecchio

Black shirts of Florence and Tuscany! Fascists! People! Where shall I find the necessary words to express the fullness of my feelings at this moment ? My words cannot but be inadequate for the purpose. Your solemn, enthusiastic welcome stirs me to the depths of my heart. But it is certain that it is not only to me that you pay this extraordinary honour, but also, I think, to the idea of which I have been the inflexible protagonist.

Florence reminds me of the days when we were few. Here we held the first glorious meeting of the Italian "Fasci di Combattimento." You remember, we had often to interrupt our meeting to go out and drive away the base rabble. We were few then! Well, in spite of this huge crowd here assembled, I say that we are still few, not with regard to the enemies who have been put to flight for ever, but with regard to the enormous tasks that lie before our Italy. I said that our enemies have been put to flight, as we shall no more do the honour of considering as enemies certain corpses of the Italian political world—who delude themselves that they still exist simply because they abuse our generosity. Tell me, then, Black shirts of Tuscany and of Florence, were it necessary to begin again, should we begin again? (Deafening applause and cries of "Yes! Yes!"). This loud cry of yours, more than a promise, is an oath which seals for ever the Italy of the past, the Italy of the swindlers, of the deceivers, of the pusillanimous, and opens the way to "our" Italy, the Italy whom we bear proudly in our hearts, who belongs to us who represent the new generation who adore strength, who is inspired by beauty, who is ready for anything when it is necessary to sacrifice herself to struggle and to die for the ideal.

I tell you that Italy is going ahead. Two years ago, when the bestiality of the red demagogy raged, only twenty aeroplanes entered for the Baracca Cup. Last year they were thirty-five; this year, up to now, ninety. And as we have regained the mastery of the air, so we do not want the sea to imprison us. It must be, instead, the way for our necessary expansion in the world.

These, O Fascists, Citizens, are the stupendous tasks which lie before us. And we shall not fail in our aim if each of you will engrave in his own heart the words by which is summed up the commandment of this ineffable hour of our history as a people: "Work," which little by little must redeem us from foreign dependence; "Harmony," which must make of the Italians one family; "Discipline," by which at a given moment all Italians become one and march hand in hand towards the same goal.

Black shirts! You feel that all the manoeuvres of our adversaries tending to sever me from you are ridiculous and grotesque. And I hope it will not seem to you too proud a statement if I say that Fascism, which I have guided on the consular roads of Rome, is solidly in our hand—and that if anybody should delude himself in this respect I should only need to make a sign, to give an order: "A noi!"

Raise up your standards! They have been consecrated by the sacred blood of our dead. When faith has thus been consecrated it cannot fail, cannot die, will not die!

Black shirts! Who will fight? (A voice cries out: "Us!")

To whom goes the glory? ("To us!")

To whom goes Rome? ("To us!")

To whom goes Italy? ("To us!")

And so be it!