Italian fascism in Britain : the Fasci Italiani all'Estero, the Italian communities, and fascist sympathisers during Grandi Era (1932-1939)
The activity of the Italian Fasci Abroad provides a new perspective on the nature of both Italian and European fascism, as well as on Italy's foreign policy during the 1930s. This thesis focuses on the means employed by the Fasci in the transformation of Italian communities in Great Britain into 'little Fascist Italies'. It argues that fascistisation of Italian emigrants became effective from 1932 and seemed to succeed in creating a corporativist and totalitarian community from 1935-36, until the international crisis of 1938-39 brought that Fascist dream to an end. The Ethiopian war and Italy's alliance with Germany were the most crucial events in the development of the Fasci in their relationship with both the Italian communities and the British government. The thesis also concentrates on the relationship between Italian and British fascism. Until the end of 1934 both the Fasci and the embassy established regular contacts with the British Union of Fascists; in the same period, BUF propaganda reflected the belief that British fascism was part of universal fascism, and that Rome was its origin. BUF's shift from Italophilia to admiration for National Socialism in 1935, and the contemporary unleashing of an aggressive anti-British propaganda in Italy coincided with a worsening in Anglo-Italian fascist relations. Consequently, the Italian Ambassador to London Dino Grandi strengthened his collaboration with British Conservative Italophiles, who worked with the Italian embassy in an attempt to support the cause of Italy and to improve Anglo-Italian relations. The divergence between Grandi's and the Italophiles' beliefs on the one hand and Italy's anti-British propaganda and foreign policy on the other were evident especially from 1938. The attitude of the Fasci Abroad reflected this divergence. Despite the increased centralisation of the Fasci under the control of the foreign ministry from 1938 onward, the Fasci in Britain continued to share Grandi's views on Italian foreign policy. The Fascist press in Britain, strongly anti-British during the Ethiopian war, became pro-British at the beginning of 1938. Grandi saw himself as the man who could prevent war, until Mussolini declared his mission in London at an end in July 1939.