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Title: Myth and Reality in the Fascist War
Authors: Petrella, Luigi
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: New studies that focus on the air bombardment of civilians in Italy during the Second World War regard the Italian home front as a privileged ‘observation post’ from which to study the relationship between Fascism and society during the years of the collapse of Mussolini’s regime. Yet the role of propaganda, on the specific aspect of people vulnerability to total war, in influencing that relationship, has received little attention. The main aim of this work is to reconstruct the narrative of bombing and of civilians’ life in Italy during the first phase of the war (1940-1943) as it emerges from reports, stories and works of invention in the Italian media. These have been compared with both the public reaction and the regime propaganda that had constructed some of the most powerful ideological tenets of the Italian Fascism during the 1930s, first of all the myth of air power and the creation of a ‘new man’. Investigating specific sections of the home front and situating the breakup of the Italian morale at the time of the first serious setbacks of Mussolini’s armies at the end of 1940, this research focuses in particular on the effectiveness - or otherwise - of government policies in steering the media and cultural activities that reflected life in wartime Italy. Drawing mostly on primary sources such as government papers, personal memoirs, censored letters and confidential reports, the study argues that propaganda’s failure to continue to bolster Fascist myths was due both to the catastrophic impact of war on civilians’ life and to institutional and political flaws. Uneven and inconsistent directives from propaganda controllers reflected similar attitudes and policy failures within the regime as a whole, whereas the enemy proved increasingly more effective in conveying the message that there was no aggression against Italy and that Italians were paying a high price for Mussolini’s mistakes.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of History, Classics and Archaeology

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