Fascism in Venice

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Ryan Johnson
December 13, 2012
HIST 3400
Soper
Venetian Fascism in the Shadow of Wars
The qualities that compose fascism are debatable and endless. What is really important about fascism is how it attempted to succeed by influencing not only Venetian, but also Italian culture and society from the beginning of World War I until the end of World War II. Benito Mussolini when speaking on fascism stated that, “…For Fascism, the growth of empire, that is to say the expansion of the nation, is essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite a sign of decadence…” (Enciclopedia Italiana, Handout). The success with which fascism had in expanding the nation is an argument for another time, but the ways they attempted to maintain the “essential manifestation of vitality” and challenged the boundaries of cultural society in hopes of success are well worth mentioning. Fascism did not have many cultural victories and this could be one aspect of an argument as to why it was a failure. However, one of fascisms greatest “cultural victories” in Italy can be viewed when studying the floating city of Venice and events that accompanied it.

Fascism, as a whole, attempted to conquer in more ways than just obtaining land by means of military victory or tangible items as tokens of their success. As stated above by Mussolini himself, if fascism was indeed to succeed, it needed to support the growth of the Italian nation. The Fascist Party needed to not only influence the Italian people through propaganda, but also gain the support of the Italian nation while challenging the cultural and societal boundaries. In the years between World War I and World War II, fascism made attempting strides to try and create an aesthetic visual for the party, mainly by intervening in society and culture. All moves made by the fascists with regards to culture appeared to be solely instrumental and functional to gaining one hundred percent support of the population in favor of the dictatorship. The effects of World War I, World War II, and fascism can still be seen today in Venetian and Italian culture.

World War I was a horrendous time for Italian soldiers fighting in the trenches. Venice was very close to the battle lines on the border with Austria-Hungary, just North of where they lie. Venetians could not only feel the constant threat from the Austrians, but also had a daily reminder when they stepped outside. Venice closed their port, for fear of attack, but they also had to deal with the fact that, “…barrage balloons could be seen…”. Barrage balloons had long steel cables attached to them and were mainly used to deter low-flying enemy aircraft from reaching or bombing an area. These defense balloons were used during World War I and II. For the short distance that Venice was from the battlefront they were fairly lucky in how little devastation took place during the war. During World War I Venice was always extremely nervous about their next-door neighbors, the Austrians, of attacking the maritime port, but the city never fell to enemy attack. There were very few bombing that occurred in Venice, and the deaths that did take place mainly happened during the “black-out” hours. These “black-out” hours would occur in hopes of minimizing the amount of light escaping outside. By doing this, the Venetians were making it very difficult for any sort of aerial attack to bomb their city, port, or boats off of visibility alone. These were the only significant negative effects even worth mentioning that occurred for the city of Venice during World War I.

World War II was similar to World War I with regards to the significantly negative effects it had on the city of Venice, there were just about none. As opposed to the devastation that occurred throughout much of Italy, Venice got away pretty nicely. Yet again, the “blackout” hours when people would fall into the canal or injure themselves in other ways in the dark were one of the...
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