Life in the Italy in the 1930s

June 23, 2017 Religion

Life in Italy in the 1930’s Life in Italy in the 1930’s caused difficulty to some Italians during that time period. During the 1930’s a large number of Italians who had opposed the fascist rule of Benito Mussolini arrived in the United States. After the news spread in Italy about the bombing of Pearl Harbour almost all Italians supported the war against Benito Mussolini. At this point, Italy was slowly becoming under the Nazi rule, the significance of a woman’s role in Italy was emphasised as they were expected to accept the fascist ideology.

Girls were expected to get married and conceive lots of children. Many young women in Italy felt the pressures of politics that were dominated by men and felt that women’s rights were disappearing as they were expected to carry out these tasks. Before the 1930’s, Mussolini launched his battle of births in 1927 which was a campaign that encouraged the people of Italy to increase their family sizes. Mussolini felt as though the population in Italy was too small, he encouraged this idea to women so that the more children they had the better tax privileges they would receive, an idea Hitler was built on.

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A programme was set out in the early 1930’s were families were given a target of conceiving 5 children. Mothers who produced more were warmly received by the Fascist government. Mussolini greatly wanted to increase the population of Italy to 60 million by 1950. The programme was successful in its early years however, the Battle of Births was a failure because as the population grew there was a lack medical aid as the elderly population was growing at a fast rate. Due to this problem, the birth rate actually decreased between 1927 and 1937.

Many adults opposed the education system Mussolini had placed for the children of Italy; those who opposed him were dealt with harshly. Democracy was very much limited under the rule of Mussolini. Mussolini understood the importance of the children of Italy as they were the Fascists of the future. He took great interest in the state’s education department and youth organizations as he recognized that this was the best way to teach the children about Fascism. Much of his ideas and actions were inspired by Hitler’s Nazi regime. Mussolini wanted a nation full of Fascist warriors.

Mussolini clearly outlined what jobs were expected of each gender in Italy. Boys were expected to grow into fierce soldiers who would fight with glory for Italy while girls were expected to be good mothers who would provide Italy with a population that had great power and was expected to produce boys in their high numbers so that they would become soldiers in the future. Within the education system, schools were expected to teach the children about the Fascist government and how glorious it was. Children were taught that Mussolini was the only man who could lead Italy back to greatness.

They expected to address Mussolini as “II Duce”. Young boys were encouraged to attend youth organizations and clubs which were controlled by the Fascist government. Within these youth clubs boys were taught about the Mussolini leadership and how heroic it was to become a soldier for Italy. Boys were taught that fighting for them was a natural extension of the normal male lifestyle. Mussolini has numerous slogans to publicise how glorious the Fascist regime was, one of the slogans was “War is to the male what childbearing is to the female”.

This emphasised the idea that girls were taught that giving birth is natural while for boys fighting is natural for them. Italy in the 1930s, whilst the Fascist government ruled the country, a new art phenomenon started in the busy market streets of Italy. During the political dominance of Mussolini, artistic battles took place between the commoners and politicians about the artistic freedom that was restricted by the Fascist regime. Abstract art started making inroads into the industry and artists like Salvador Dali and Kurt Schwitters became famous for this time of art.

Abstract art was disliked by Mussolini as this type of art was very different and modern, it had its own identity however, Musslolini only accepted traditional religious paintings to be a part of the Italian lifestyle. Artistic freedom was further restricted by Mussolini’s introduction of Fascist design and mass communication this included posters, radio and TV commercials which stole numerous ideas from the fine arts and showed the public a distorted view of this art phenomenom.

During the 1930’s the public began to feel the effects of the Great Depression, many designers were restricted in experimenting with new fashions due to the fall in the economy and the rise in employment. However, this difficult time period did not stop women from flocking to the shops to enjoy the new fashion craze that was arising. Women were expected to wear clothing that was sombre and modest, it reflecting the difficult social and economical situation of the decade. In Italy, women’s fashions moved away from the seductive and daring style of the 1920s towards more romantic, feminine ilhouette inspired fashion. Fashion was more significant during this time period in Italy because of the expectations of women having many children. Women wanted clothes that were catered to their needs of easy and comfortable but up to date clothing. Fashions such as knee length skirts, backless evening gowns and soft fitting day dresses proved popular with women in Italy. Two of the most prominent and influential fashion designers of the 1930’s was Elsa Schiaparelli and Madeleine Vionnet both originated from Italy.

They both mastered designing short, fitted suits and comfortable evening dresses. They were two of the designers that allowed Italy to become the capital place for the fashion industry. Music also played a significant part during the 1930’s in Italy. During the 20th century, Italy became the centre for classical music and opera. People enjoyed the music composed by some of the greats of Italy such as Richard Wagner, Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss. Swing music started becoming popular from the early 1930s and it gradually replaced Jazz which had become popular for the first half of the decade.

In this time period, opera symbolized romance and a sense of escapism for the people especially in Italy due to the great depression which left millions in unemployment and unhappy because of what it had caused. Also in Italy, the significance of religion and God was emphasised as many of Italians were Catholics. Under the rule of Mussolini, he preached his dictatorship through religion. He used religion and God to show the people he was a man of god and took advantage of this to advertise how glorious Fascist regime was. By Lipa Hussain


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