Sunday, March 4, 2012
Speech in Turin, May 14, 1939
By Benito Mussolini
People of Savoyard, Most Fascist, industrious and faithful Turin! Comrades!
Do you remember the final words of the speech that I had the honor of delivering before you seven years ago? (A formidable cry rises from the crowd: "Yes!"). March forward and build and, if necessary, fight and win. (The people cry out: "Yes!").
Looking back at these past seven years, now that I have the good fortune and the joy of returning to you again, I ask you: Have the Italian people remained faithful to this order? (The people cry out: "Yes!"). Are the Italian people prepared to remain faithful? (The crowd responds with passionate consent).
Indeed, the Italian people have marched forward and built, fought and won. They fought and won in Africa, against an enemy that European military experts regarded as absolutely unbeatable. Did you hear that? Unbeatable! So much for their expertise!
They fought and won against the sanctionist coalition staged by the League of Nations which, I am not sorry to say, now lies buried in that great mausoleum of marble that was erected on the banks of Lake Geneva.
They fought and won in Spain, on the side of Franco's heroic infantry, against a democratic-Bolshevik coalition which emerged literally broken from the war.
A summary of these last seven years: the conquest of the Empire; the union of the Kingdom of Albania to the Kingdom of Italy; an increase in our power in all fields.
As I speak to you, millions of men, perhaps hundreds of millions of men across the globe, through ups and downs of optimism and pessimism, ask themselves: "Are we heading towards peace or war?". It is a serious question for everyone, but especially for those who are have the responsibility of making that decision.
Now I answer this question by stating that, through an objective, cold analysis of the situation, there are currently no issues in Europe of such magnitude and sharpness as to justify a European war developing into a world war. There are some nodes in European politics, but in order to solve these problems, perhaps it is not necessary to resort to the sword. However, these nodes must be resolved once and for all, because sometimes a harsh reality is preferable to an overly long uncertainty.
This is not only the thought of Italy, but it is also the thought of Germany, and therefore of the Axis, of that Axis which, after having been for many years a parallel action of two Regimes and two Revolutions, will become—through the pact of Milan and through the military alliance that will be signed this month in Berlin—an inseparable communion between two States and two Peoples.
Those who every morning are desperately looking for a possible crack or fracture, will now be confused and humiliated. And no one cultivates ridiculous, superfluous illusions and no one surrenders to a superficial casuistry, because the doctrine of Fascism is clear and my will is inflexible. Just as before, and even more so than before.
We will march with Germany to give Europe that peace with justice, which is the common desire of all peoples. We invite the polemicists of the great democracies to give a fair judgment of our point of view. We do not want peace merely because our internal situation is "catastrophic", as they claim. For the past 17 years, our adversaries have been waiting in vain for the famous "catastrophe" and will continue to wait in vain for a long time.
And nor is it due to a physical fear of war, a sentiment which is unknown to us. This is why the ruminations of certain strategists from nearby countries—who ridiculously speak of a cake walk through the Po Valley—make us laugh.
The times of Francis I and Charles VIII have passed; a war of "chalk" is no longer thinkable.
Also, behind the Alps there was not, as there is today, a formidably close-knit people of 45 million souls, and the foreign invaders from Talamone to Fornovo would never have such lengthy fortune in Italy. And in your glorious military history, dear Piedmontese, there are many memorable episodes which show how it is not very wise for these arrogant strategists to propose an easy invasion of Italy.
But we must ask ourselves: does the sincere desire for peace by the totalitarian States correspond to an equally sincere desire for peace on the part of the great democracies? (The crowd cries out: "No! No!"). You have already answered: I will limit myself to saying that the state of affairs certainly gives us reason to doubt.
In recent times the geographical map of three continents has been modified; but it should be noted that neither Japan, nor Germany, nor Italy have subtracted even one square inch of territory nor a single inhabitant from the sovereignty of the great democracies. So how do you explain this fury? (The people cry out: "Fear!"). Do they really expect us to believe that it is due to moral scruples? Perhaps we are ignorant of the methods by which their empires were built and the methods by which they are still maintained? (The crowd responds: "We know them!").
It is therefore not a question of territory; it is another matter. A system was built at Versailles. It was the system of guns aimed at Germany and Italy. Now this system has irreparably collapsed. And we are trying to replace it with more or less demanded guarantees, more or less unilateral.
That the democracies are not sincerely devoted to the cause of peace is demonstrated by an indisputable fact: that they have already begun what might be called a white war: that is, a war in the economic sphere: they delude themselves into thinking they are weakening us! (Cheers and shouts burst from the crowd: "Autarky!").
Wars are not won with gold alone. In addition to gold, will is more important and courage is even more important. A formidable bloc of 150 million fast-growing men, stretching from the Baltic to the Indian Ocean, will not be overwhelmed. Any attack will be useless, every attack will be repulsed with the utmost decision.
After the system of guns, the system of guarantees will also collapse. (The crowd shouts out: "Yes! Yes!"). This I had to tell you, dear comrades, because it is not the style of Fascism to propose excessive hopes or false illusions. A strong people like the Italians love truth and reality. And it will also be clear to you why we arm ourselves ever more powerfully (the crowd responds with a very loud cry: "Yes!") in order to be able to protect our peace and to defend ourselves at any moment from any aggression that threatens us.
Comrades! I will refrain from discussing internal matters. These matters can be reduced to a single sentence: In the Italy the People and the Regime constitute an absolutely inseparable bloc.
From the social point of view, we will keep faith strictly in the postulates of our Revolution. Through the education of the new generations, we will recreate the physical and moral type of the New Italian. Through the valorization of our overseas lands, we intend to improve the living conditions of the working people.
All this requires a strict discipline, a coordination of efforts and a tension of our unprecedented will. But none of this can frighten the Italians of the Fascist Era, and least of all you.
Ninety years ago, little Piedmont dared to challenge a centuries-old empire. It seemed like an act of reckless madness; instead it was a great act of faith and this act of faith was in the wake of history. And since then, all peoples who made themselves the initiators of a unitary movement were called "Piedmontese". It ought to be the motive of profound and legitimate pride to the people of Turin to remember that time and compare the Italy of 1848 with the Italy of the seventeenth year of the Fascist Era.
What arc of power has arisen in these 90 years! Who today could doubt of our future? (The crowd cries: "No one!").
Comrades! Whatever may occur, I tell you with absolute certainty that all our aims will be attained.