In 1919 Benito Mussolini founded the Fascist organisation (known as the Fasci di combattimento) in Milan. Supported by veterans of the Great War and the middle classes, the movement became the National Fascist Party in 1921.
On October 28th 1922, the Fascists marched on Rome. King Victor Emmanuel III did nothing to prevent the initiative, and entrusted Mussolini with the task of forming a new government.
The future Duce thus laid the foundations of his dictatorship: he restricted political and trade union freedoms, set up a special court and secret police, and violently repressed his opponents, who were forced into prison, exile or confinement, if not physically eliminated. Between 1923 and 1926 the priest Don Giovanni Minzoni, the socialist politician Giacomo Matteotti, and the intellectuals Piero Gobetti and Giovanni Amendola lost their lives at the hands of the Fascists. In 1937, the communist leader Antonio Gramsci died after 11 years in prison; the same year, Carlo and Nello Rosselli, the founders of the Justice and Liberty movement, were assassinated in France.
From the beginning of the 1930s, a new generation of anti-fascists took shape, ready to fight against the dictatorships sweeping across Europe. One example of this was the several thousand volunteers of the international brigades, including over 4,000 Italians, who enlisted in defence of the Republic in the Spanish Civil War. In Italy, too, there were growing signs of discontent with the regime, even if its stability was not compromised.