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Staging the Fascist War

The Ministry of Popular Culture and Italian Propaganda on the Home Front, 1938–1943


Luigi Petrella

Historians regard the Italian home front during the Second World War as an observation post from which to study the relationship between Fascism and society during the years of the collapse of the Mussolini regime. Yet the role of propaganda in influencing that relationship has received little attention. The media played a crucial role in setting the stage for the regime’s image under the intense pressures of wartime. The Ministry of Popular Culture, under Mussolini’s supervision, maintained control not only over the press, but also over radio, cinema, theatre, the arts and all forms of popular culture. When this Fascist media narrative was confronted by the sense of vulnerability among civilians following the first enemy air raids in June 1940, it fell apart like a house of cards.
Drawing on largely unexplored sources such as government papers, personal memoirs, censored letters and confidential reports, Staging the Fascist War analyses the crisis of the regime in the years from 1938 to 1943 through the perspective of a propaganda programme that failed to bolster Fascist myths at a time of total war.


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acs Archivio Centrale dello Stato, Rome arp Air Raid Precautions b. Busta bbc British Broadcasting Corporation cab Cabinet cai Corpo Aereo Italiano cbs Columbia Broadcasting System dagr Direzione Affari Generali e Riservati dgps Direzione Generale Pubblica Sicurezza dicat Difesa Contraerea Territoriale eiar Ente Italiano Audizioni Radiofoniche fasc. Fascicolo fo Foreign Office gab Gabinetto gil Gioventù Italiana del Littorio guf Gruppi Universitari Fascisti hc House of Commons luce L’Unione Cinematografica Educativa mcp Ministero della Cultura Popolare mi Ministero dell’Interno ovra Organizzazione di Vigilanza e Repressione dell’Antifascismo pcm Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri pnf Partito Nazionale Fascista raf Royal Air Force rai Radio Audizioni Italiane rsi Repubblica Sociale Italiana scp Segreteria del Capo della Polizia sd Sicherheitsdienst x Abbreviations spd Segreteria Particolare del Duce tna The National Archives, Kew, London tsds Tribunale Speciale per la Difesa dello Stato unpa Unione Nazionale Protezione Antiaerea

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