Figure 1.-These Italian school children, probably in the 1930s are participating in some kind of patriotic tribute. The girls wear their school smocks. The boy at the front wear a fancy outfit hile the boys in the back wear their Balilla uniforms. Boys also commonly wore smocks, but here for ome reason are not wearing them. Presumably a more military look was deemed appropriate for this ceremony.
The democratic era ended in 1922-25 with the rise of Mussolini and his fascists. Mussolini was appointd premier in 1922 and he estblished a dictatorship in 1925. Italy was the first Fascist government in Europe. The Fascists were overthrown in 1943, but the NAZIs occupied much of Italy and established a Fascist state in northern Italy under Mussolini as a puppet figurhead. The Fascists seized control of Italian education. Children wee subject to Fascist propaganda in every phse of their studies. Unlike Germany, however, the Fascist did not manage to completely control the country's education system. Children were exposed to Fascist symbols and taught to venerate Mussolini. The Church continued to be involved in the state schools and to operate many Catholic schools. We have no information about the academic effectiveness of Italian education at this time. Many reports suggest that in Germany the NAZIs significantly weakened the education system by replacing qualified educators with reliable party hacks. We are not sure to what extent this occurred in Italy. Another aspect of Italian education that we are not sure about. The propaganda aimed at the children was deigned to create a martial spirit to motivate Italian soldiers to create a new Italian empire. We know that NAZI education was very effective in preparing German boys for World War II. Italian education wouldseem to have been decidely unsuccessful. Of all the major combatant countries, Itlian soldiers seem to have been the least prepared to fight.