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Mussolini: Speech of the 10 June 1940, Declaration of War on France and England

Delivered 6:00 PM from his balcony in the Palazzo Venezia in Rome

Soldiers, sailors, and aviators! Black shirts of the revolution and of the [Fascist] legions! Men and women of Italy, of the Empire, and of the kingdom of Albania! Pay heed!
An hour appointed by destiny has struck in the heavens of our fatherland. (Very lively cheers).

The declaration of war has already been delivered (cheers, very loud cries of “War! War!”) to the ambassadors of Great Britain and France. We go to battle against the plutocratic and reactionary
democracies of the west who, at every moment have hindered the advance and have often endangered the very existence of the Italian people.
Recent historical events can be summarized in the following phrases: promises, threats, blackmail, and finally to crown the edifice, the ignoble seige by the fifty-two states of the League of Nations. Our consience is absolutely tranquil. (Applause). With you the entire world is witness that Fascist Italy has done all that is humanly possible to avoit the torment which is throwing Europe into turmoil; but all was in vain. It would have suffieced to revise the treaties to bring them up to date with the changing needs of the life of nations and not consider them untouchable for eternity; it would have sufficed not to have begun the stupid policy of guarantees, which has shown itself particularly lethal for those who accepted them; it would have sufficed not to reject the proposal [for peace] that the Fuhrer made on 6 October of last year after having finished the campaign in Poland.

But now all of that belongs to the past. If now today we have decided to face the risks and the sacrifices of a war, it is because the honor, the interests, the future impose and iron necessity, since a great people is truly such if it considers sacred its own duties and noes not evade the supreme trials which deternin the course of history.

We take up arms to resolve, after having resolved the problem of our land frontier, the problem of our maritime frontiers; we want to break the territorial chains which suffocate us in our own sea; since a people of forty-five million sould is not truly free if it does not have free access to the ocean.

This gigantic struggle is nothing other than a phase in the logical development of our revolution; it is the struggle of peoples that are poor but rich in workers against the exploiters who hold on ferociously to the monopoly off all the riches and all the gold of the earth; it is the struggle of the fertile and young people against the sterile people moving to the sunset; it is the struggle between two centuries and two ideas.
Now that the die are cast and our will has burned ourships at aour backs, I solomnly declare that
Italy does not intend to drag into the conflict other peoples bordering her on land or on sea. Switzerland, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, Egypt take note of these my words and it depends on them
and only on them whether or not they will be rigorously confirmed.

Italians!

In a memorable meeting, that which took place in Berlin, I said that according to the laws of Fascist morality, when one has a friend, one marches with him to the end. (“Duce! Duce! Duce!”). This we have done with Gernamy, with its people, with its marvelous armed forces. On this eve of an event of century wide scope, we direct our thought to the majesty of the King and Emperor (the multitudes break out in great cheers for the House of Savoy) which as always has understood the soul of the fatherland. And we salute with our voices the Fuhrer, the head of great ally Germany (The people cheer Hitler at length). Proletarian and Fascist Italy stands up a third time, strong, proud, and united as never before. (The crowd cries with one single voice: “Yes!”) The single order of the day is categorical and obligatory for all. It already spreads and fires hearts from the Alps to the Indian Ocean; Victory! (The people break out into raucous cheers). And we will win, in order finally to give a long period of peace with justice to Italy, to Europe, and to the world.

People of Italy!

Rush to arms and show your tenacity, your courage, your valor!

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This Speech in Italian

Combattenti di terra, di mare e dell’aria! Camicie nere della rivoluzione e delle legioni! Uomini e donne d’Italia, dell’impero e del regno d’Albania! Ascoltate!
Un’ora segnata dal destino batte nel cielo della nostra patria. (Acclamazioni vivissime). L’ora delle decisioni irrevocabili. La dichiarazione di guerra è già stata consegnata (acclamazioni, grida altissime di “Guerra! Guerra!”) agli ambasciatori di Gran Bretagna e di Francia. Scendiamo in campo contro le democrazie plutocratiche e reazionarie dell’Occidente che, in ogni tempo, hanno ostacolato la marcia, e spesso insidiato l’esistenza medesima del popolo italiano.

Alcuni lustri della storia più recente si possono riassumere in queste frasi: promesse, minacce, ricatti e, alla fine, quale coronamento dell’edificio, l’ignobile assedio societario di cinquantadue stati.

La nostra coscienza è assolutamente tranquilla. (Applausi). Con voi il mondo intero è testimone che l’Italia del littorio ha fatto quanto umanamente possibile per evitare la tormenta che sconvolge l’Europa; ma tutto fu vano.

Bastava rivedere i trattati per adeguarli alle mutevoli esigenze della vita delle nazioni e non considerarli intangibili per l’eternità; bastava non iniziare la stolta politica delle garanzie, che si è palesata soprattutto micidiale per coloro che le hanno accettate; bastava non respingere la proposta che il Fuhrer fece il 6 ottobre dell’anno scorso, dopo finita la campagna di Polonia.

Oramai tutto ciò appartiene al passato. Se poi oggi siamo decisi ad affrontare i rischi e i sacrifici di una guerra, gli è che l’onore, gli interessi, l’avvenire ferramente lo impongono, poichè un grande popolo è veramente tale se considera sacri i suoi impegni e se non evade dalle prove supreme che determinano il corso della storia.

Noi impugnamo le armi per risolvere, dopo il problema risolto delle nostre frontiere continentali, il problema delle nostre frontiere marittime; noi vogliamo spezzare le catene di ordine territoriale che ci soffocano nel nostro mare, poichè un popolo di quarantacinque milioni di anime non è veramente libero se non ha libero accesso all’oceano.

Questa lotta gigantesca non è che una fase dello sviluppo logico dela nostra rivoluzione; è la lotta dei popoli poveri e numerosi di braccia contro gli affamatori che detengono ferocemente il monopolio di tutte le richezze e di tutto l’oro della terra; è la lotta dei popoli fecondi e giovani contro i popoli isteriliti e volgenti al tramonto; è la lotta tra due secoli e due idee.

Ora che i dadi sono gettati e la nostra volontà ha bruciato alle nostre spalle i vascelli, io dichiaro solennemente che l’Italia non intende trascinare nel conflitto altri popoli con essa confinanti per mare o per terra. Svizzera, Jugoslavia, Grecia, Turchia, Egitto prendano atto di queste mie parole e dipende da loro, soltanto da loro, se esse saranno o no rigorosamente confermate.

Italiani!

In una memorabile adunata, quella di Berlino, io dissi che, secondo le leggi della morale fascista, quando si ha un amico si marcia con lui fino in fondo. (“Duce! Duce! Duce!”) Questo abbiamo fatto con la Germania, col suo popolo, con le sue meravigliose forze armate. In questa vigilia di un evento di una portata secolare, rivolgiamo il nostro pensiero alla maestà del re imperatore (la moltitudine prorompe in grandi acclamazioni all’indirizzo di Casa Savoia) che, come sempre, ha interpretato l’anima della patria. E salutiamo alla voce il Fuhrer, il capo della grande Germania alleata (Il popolo acclama lungamente all’indirizzo di Hitler.)

L’Italia proletaria e fascista, è per la terza volta in piedi, forte, fiera e compatta come non mai. (La folla grida con una sola voce:”Sì!”) La parola d’ordine è una sola, categorica e impegnativa per tutti. Essa già trasvola e accende i cuori dalle Alpi all’Oceano indiano: vincere! (il popolo prorompe in altissime acclamazioni.) E vinceremo, per dare finalmente un lungo periodo di pace con la giustizia all’Italia, all’Europa, al mondo.

Popolo italiano!

Corri alle armi, e dimostra la tua tenacia, il tuo coraggio, il tuo valore!

See also: Mussolini’s War Statement – Declaration of War against USA, December 11, 1941

See also: Armistice with Italy; September 3, 1943

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Mussolini’s War Statement – Declaration of War against USA, December 11, 1941

Rome, December 11, 1941

This is another day of solemn decision in Italy’s history and of memorable events destined to give a new course to the history of continents.

The powers of the steel pact, Fascist Italy and Nationalist Socialist Germany, ever closely linked, participate from today on the side of heroic Japan against the United States of America.

The Tripartite Pact becomes a military alliance which draws around its colors 250,000,000 men determined to do all in order to win.

Neither the Axis nor Japan wanted an extension of the conflict.

One man, one man only, a real tyrannical democrat, through a series of infinite provocations, betraying with a supreme fraud the population of his country, wanted the war and had prepared for it day by day with diabolical obstinacy.

The formidable blows that on the immense Pacific expanse have been already inflicted on American forces show how prepared are the soldiers of the Empire of the Rising Sun.

I say to you, and you will understand, that it is a privilege to fight with them.

Today, the Tripartite Pact, with the plenitude of its forces and its moral and material resources, is a formidable instrument for the war and a certainty for victory.

Tomorrow, the Tripartite Pact will become an instrument of just peace between the peoples.

Italians! Once more arise and be worthy of this historical hour!

We shall win.

Benito Mussolini

Source: New York Times, December 12, 1941

See also:
Armistice with Italy; September 3, 1943

See also: Declaration of War on France and England, 10 June 1940

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