View Full Version : MI5 and Mussolini, pacifist-beater and union-buster

Paul Rigby
10-14-2009, 06:50 PM
The tip of MI5's fascist ice-berg.


MI5 paid Benito Mussolini ‘£6,000 a week’ during World War I to peddle British propaganda

By Kate Loveys

Last updated at 1:45 PM on 14th October 2009

British intelligence considered Benito Mussolini to be a good investment.

As an Italian dictator and ally of Nazi Germany, he is the last person most would suspect of ever being on the payroll of the British government.

But it appears the British intelligence agency M15 once considered Benito Mussolini, to be a good investment.

Il Duce (of The Leader) got his start in politics back in 1917 with the help of a £100 weekly wage from MI5 - the equivalent of £6,000 today - it was reported yesterday.
The future dictator, then a 34-year-old journalist, was paid to publish propaganda in his paper to ensure Italy fought alongside the allies in World War I.

The startling discovering was made by Cambridge University historian Peter Martland whilst he researched the papers of Sir Samuel Hoare.

Mr Hoare was at the time Britain's man in Rome and had 100 intelligence officers in Italy. They had been sent there to stiffen the resolve of the industrial working classes.
At that time in 1917 Russia had collapsed into the Bolshevik revolution and Italy was defeated at the Battle of Caporetto. It was at this point that the payments were made.
Mussolini's socialist publication, Il Popolo d'Italia, played a key role because it served the factory workers of Milan whose output was essential for the war effort.


Leading up to World War I, Italy had sided with Germany and Austria-Hungary in the Triple Alliance. Italy was expected to join these two nations when war broke out in 1914. However she did not and decided to wait it out and see how the war progressed. She argued she could renege on the Alliance commitments because the other two countries had behaved aggressively and that the terms of the agreement did not apply.

Then, in April 1915, she came into the war on the side of the Triple Entente – Britain, France and Russia. After first being against the war Mussolini signed up to fight. In 1915, Italy had signed the secret Treaty of London. In this treaty Britain had offered Italy large sections of territory in the Adriatic Sea region. The idea was that Italy would open a new front which would split the German and Austrian-Hungarian forces. But after two years of fighting Italy only managed to get ten miles within Austrian territory. The Battle of Caporetto in October 1917 was disastrous for its army and they lost 300,000 men. After first being against the war Mussolini signed up to fight. He was wounded by a mortar explosion in 1917

Dr Martland said: 'Britain's least reliable ally in the war at the time was Italy after revolutionary Russia's pullout from the conflict.

‘Mussolini was paid £100 a week from the autumn of 1917 for at least a year to keep up the pro-war campaiging - equivalent to about £6,000 a week today.'

Hoare, later to become Lord Templewood, mentioned the recruitment in memoirs in 1954, but Martland stumbled on details of the level of payments for the first time while scouring Hoare's papers.

Within the papers were also references to Mussolini sending Italian army veterans to beat up peace protestors in Milan - a dry run for his fascist black shirt units.
Dr Martland, author of The Future Of The Past, explained why Britain was eager to pay Mussolini the high sum.

He said: 'The last thing Britain wanted were pro-peace strikes bringing the factories in Milan to a halt.

‘It was a lot of money to pay a man who was a journalist at the time, but compared to the £4million Britain was spending on the war every day, it was petty cash.
‘I have no evidence to prove it, but I suspect that Mussolini, who was a noted womaniser, also spent a good deal of the money on his mistresses.

Mussolini rose to power after the end of World War I. He had established a facist dictatorship by the mid-1920s.

During the time he led the country he became desperate to create an Italian Empire, and so in 1935 Italy decided to invade Ethiopia. Its forces were far superior to the Abyssinian army particularly because of its air force and victory was swiftly secured.
During World War II Italy fought alongside Germany as part of the Axis powers. At the end of the war he tried to escape to Switzerland with his mistress but was caught by Communist partisans and executed. Their bodies were later hung from meathooks in a Milan square.

Dr Martland's findings were included in Christopher Andrew's history of MI5, Defence of the Realm, published last week.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1220263/MI5-paid-Benito-Mussolini--6-000-week-peddle-British-propaganda.html#ixzz0Tw2zC0d2

See also:

Influence Peddling: Defending Democracy With Dictators and Dosh


Link to many other articles on subject:


William A. Renzi, “Mussolini’s Sources of Financial Support, 1914-15,” History: The Journal of the Historical Association, June 1971, (Vol 56, No 187), pp. 189-206; see p.205 for Hoare and Mussolini. Hoare’s book, Nine Troubled Years (London, 1954), p.154.

Paul Rigby
10-14-2009, 07:40 PM
...subtitled "Decadency, Conspiracy and the First World War" (London: Duckworth, 1997) offers a fascinating account of how fascism was incubated in Britain by the spooks and Britain's military-media-industrial complex at much the same time Mussolini was put on MI5's payroll. The full, true history of Noel Pemberton Billing, sometime MP, would make intriguing reading.

Magda Hassan
10-15-2009, 12:07 PM
Priceless isn't it? What would we do without them? Out there creating enemies for us and making enemies of us.