The Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale (MVSN, "Voluntary Militia for National Security"), commonly called the Blackshirts (Italian: Camicie Nere, CCNN, singular: Camicia Nera) or squadristi (singular: squadrista), was originally the paramilitary wing of the National Fascist Party and, after 1923, an all-volunteer militia of the Kingdom of Italy under Fascist rule. Its members were distinguished by their black uniforms (modelled on those of the Arditi, Italy's elite troops of World War I) and their loyalty to Benito Mussolini, the Duce (leader) of Fascism, to whom they swore an oath. The founders of the paramilitary groups were nationalist intellectuals, former army officers and young landowners opposing peasants' and country labourers' unions. Their methods became harsher as Mussolini's power grew, and they used violence and intimidation against Mussolini's opponents. In 1943, following the fall of the Fascist regime, the MVSN was integrated into the Royal Italian Army and disbanded.
per la Sicurezza Nazionale
MVSN insignia, helmet stencil version
Blackshirts with Benito Mussolini during the March on Rome on 28 October 1922
|Paramilitary organization overview|
|Formed||23 March 1923|
|Preceding paramilitary organization|
|Dissolved||8 December 1943|
|Parent paramilitary organization||PNF|
The Blackshirts were established as the squadristi in 1919 and consisted of many disgruntled former soldiers. It was given the task of leading fights against their bitter enemies – the Socialists. They may have numbered 200,000 by the time of Mussolini's March on Rome from 27 to 29 October 1922. In 1922 the squadristi were reorganized into the milizia and formed numerous bandiere, and on 1 February 1923 the Blackshirts became the Voluntary Militia for National Security (Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale, or MVSN), which lasted until the 8 September 1943 Armistice of Cassibile. The Italian Social Republic, located in the areas of northern Italy occupied by Germany, reformed the MVSN on 8 December 1943 into the National Republican Guard (Guardia Nazionale Repubblicana, or GNR).
Benito Mussolini was the leader, or Commandant–General and First Honorary Corporal, of the Blackshirts, but executive functions were carried out by the Chief of Staff, equivalent to an army general. The MVSN was formed in imitation of the ancient Roman army, as follows:
The terms after the first are not words common to European armies (e.g., the Italian battaglione has cognates in many languages). Instead, they derive from the structure of the ancient Roman army.
These units were also organized on the triangular principle as follows:
The MVSN original organization consisted of 15 zones controlling 133 legions (one per province) of three cohorts each and one Independent Group controlling 10 legions. In 1929 it was reorganized into four raggruppamenti, but later in October 1936 it was reorganized into 14 zones controlling only 133 legions with two cohorts each, one of men 21 to 36 years old and the other of men up to 55 years old. There were also special units in Rome, on Ponza Island and the black uniformed Moschettieri del Duce ("The Leader's Musketeers", Mussolini's Guard), the Albanian Fascist Militia (four legions) and Milizia Coloniale in Africa (seven legions).
During the 1935–36 Abyssinian Campaign seven CCNN Divisions were organized:
The first six Divisions were sent to Ethiopia and participated in the war.
The Blackshirts Rifle Battalions had three rifle companies but no MMG company. The rifle companies had three platoons (three squads with one LMG each). Each Legion had a MMG company with four platoons of three weapons each (plus two spare ones). The Blackshirts replacements battalions were organized as the Blackshirts Rifle Battalions, but its platoon were overstrength (60 men each) and with only 1 x LMG in each platoon.
Three CCNN Divisions were sent to participate in the Spanish Civil War as part of the Corpo Truppe Volontarie. The Blackshirt (Camicie Nere, or CCNN) Divisions contained regular soldiers and volunteer militia from the Fascist Party. The CCNN divisions were semi-motorised.
The 3rd CCNN Division was disbanded and consolidated with the 2nd CCNN Division in April 1937 after their defeat at Guadalajara. After the campaigns in Northern Spain ended in October 1937, the 2nd CCNN Division was consolidated with the 1st CCNN and renamed the XXIII de Marzo Division "Llamas Negras".
In 1940 the MVSN was able to muster 340,000 first-line combat troops, providing three divisions (1st, 2nd and 4th – all three of which were lost in the North African Campaign) and, later in 1942, a fourth division ("M") and fifth division Africa were forming.
Mussolini also pushed through plans to raise 142 MVSN combat battalions of 650 men each to provide a Gruppo di Assalto to each army division. These Gruppi consisted of two cohorts (each of three centuriae of three manipoli of two squadre each) plus Gruppo Supporto company of two heavy machine gun manipoli (with three HMG each) and two 81 mm mortar manipoli (with three Mortars each).
Later 41 Mobile groups were raised to become the third regiment in Italian Army divisions as it was determined through operational experience that the Italian army's binary divisions were too small in both manpower and heavy equipment. These mobile groups suffered heavy casualties due to being undermanned, under equipped and under trained.
Late in the war Mussolini decided to create 22 highly trained combat battalions called M Battalions. These battalions were given the designation M alongside their names in the Army OOB to indicate their status; that they had received specialist assault and combat training, or had proven themselves in combat and had received a battlefield promotion to this status. By the end of the Fascist regime only 11 battalions had been fully formed.
The MVSN fought in every theater where Italy did.
The Blackshirts wore the same uniform as the Italian army with the addition of a black shirt and tie and a black fez. The uniform jacket had black flames with two ends on the collar in place of the insignia and the lictor bundles instead of the army's stars . There was an all-black dress uniform worn by some officers and the Moschettieri del Duce ("The Leader's Musketeers", Mussolini's Guard).
With translated material from the corresponding Italian Wikipedia article
Mussolini as Comandante Generale was made Primo Caporale Onorario (First Honorary Corporal) in 1935 and Adolf Hitler was made Caporale Onorario (Honorary Corporal) in 1937. All other ranks closely approximated those of the old Roman army as follows.
|Rank||Insignia||Royal Italian Army equivalent (with UK/US equivalent)|
|Primo Caporale d'Onore
(First Honorary Corporal of the MVSN)
|First Marshal of the Empire (None/General of the Armies)|
(Honorary Corporal of the MVSN)
|Marshal of Italy (Field Marshal/General of the Army)|
|Army General (General)|
|Luogotenente Generale Capo di Stato Maggiore
(Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General)
|Corps General (Lieutenant-General)|
|Divisional General (Major-General)|
|Brigade General (Brigadier/Brigadier General)|
|Lieutenant (Lieutenant/First Lieutenant)|
|Sotto Capo Manipolo
|Sublieutenant (Second Lieutenant)|
|Rank||Insignia||Army Equivalent (with UK/US equivalent)|
|Marshal-Major (Conductor/Command Sergeant Major)|
|Chief Marshal (WO1/Sergeant Major)|
|Ordinary Marshal (WO2/Master Sergeant)|
|Primo Capo Squadra
(First Squad Chief)
|Sergeant-Major (Staff Sergeant)|
|Vice Capo Squadra
|Camicia Nera Scelta
The ethos and sometimes the uniform were later copied by others who shared Mussolini's political ideas, including Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany, who issued brown shirts to the "Storm Troops" (Sturmabteilung) and black uniforms to the "Defense Squad" (Schutzstaffel, also colloquially known as "Brownshirts", because they wore black suit-like tunics with brown shirts), Sir Oswald Mosley in the United Kingdom (whose British Union of Fascists were also known as the "Blackshirts"), the Warriors for the Advancement of the Bulgarian National Spirit who wore red shirts, William Dudley Pelley in the United States (Silver Legion of America or "Silver Shirts"), in Mexico the Camisas Doradas or "Golden Shirts", Plínio Salgado in Brazil (whose followers wore green shirts), and Eoin O'Duffy in the Irish Free State (Army Comrades Association or "Blueshirts"). "Blueshirts" can also refer to Canadian fascists belonging to the Canadian National Socialist Unity Party and to the members of Falange Española, the most influential party within Franco's dictatorship in Spain. The paramilitary fascist Iron Guard members in Romania and the fascist Yugoslav Radical Union wore green shirts.
After the Armistice of Cassibile was signed, the Blackshirts were dissolved; in the pro-fascist Italian Social Republic they were replaced by the National Republican Guard and the Black Brigades in the militia role, alongside the Republican Police Corps.
Events from the year 1922 in Italy.1st Blackshirt Division (23 March)
The Blackshirt Division 23 March (Italian:Divisione CC.NN. "23 Marzo") was an Italian MVSN Blackshirt (Fascist) militia unit formed for the Second Italo-Abyssinian War.
During the Second World War it was encircled at Bardia and surrendered to the British forces in January 1941. It was named 23 Marzo (Italian, 23 March) in honor of the founding of the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento on 23 March 1919.2nd Blackshirt Division (28 October)
The 2nd Blackshirt Division 28 Ottobre was an Italian Camicie Nere (Blackshirt) militia unit formed for the Second Italo-Abyssinian War.
It was named 28 ottobre (Italian for "28 October") in honor of the Fascist March on Rome (28 October 1922).3rd Blackshirt Division (21 April)
The 3rd CCNN Division (CCNN standing for Camicie Nere, Black Shirts; also known as 3rd CCNN Division XXI Aprile) was one of the seven Black Shirt militia Divisions that were organized and fought in the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. The name 21 Aprile was in honor of the legendary date of the founding of Rome, and also the date of the publication of the Manifesto of the Fascist Intellectuals on 21 April 1925.
Its commander was Generale di Divisione Giacomo Appiotti .4th Blackshirt Division (3 January)
The 4th CCNN Division "3 Gennaio" (CCNN standing for Camicie Nere, Blackshirts) was one of seven Black Shirt Divisions that were organized and fought in the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. Its commander was Generale di Divisione Alessandro Traditi. The name 3 Gennaio ("3 January") was given in honor of the date of assumption of dictatorial powers by Benito Mussolini on 3 January 1925.Albanian Fascist Militia
The Albanian Fascist Militia (Milizia fascista albanese, MFA) was an Albanian fascist paramilitary group formed in 1939 following the Italian invasion of Albania in April 1939, part of the Italian Blackshirts (MVSN). It was initially recruited from Italian colonists in Albania, and later on Albanians were also recruited. It was headquartered in Tirana and consisted of four legions:
First Legion – Tirana
Second Legion – Korçë
Third Legion – Vlorë
Fourth Legion – ShkodërIt was disbanded in 1943 following the surrender of Italy in World War II.Biennio Rosso
The Biennio Rosso (English: "Red Biennium" or "Two Red Years") was a two-year period, between 1919 and 1920, of intense social conflict in Italy, following the First World War. The revolutionary period was followed by the violent reaction of the Fascist blackshirts militia and eventually by the March on Rome of Benito Mussolini in 1922.Blackshirts (American football)
The Blackshirts are the starting defensive players for the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team.British Union of Fascists
The British Union of Fascists, or BUF, was a fascist political party in the United Kingdom formed in 1932 by Oswald Mosley. It changed its name to the British Union of Fascists and National Socialists in 1936 and, in 1937, to British Union. It was finally disbanded in 1940, after it was proscribed by the British government following the start of the Second World War.
The BUF emerged in 1932 from the British far-right, following the electoral defeat of its antecedent, the New Party, in the 1931 general election. The BUF's foundation was initially met with popular support, and it attracted a sizeable following. The press baron Lord Rothermere was a notable early supporter. As the party became increasingly radical, however, support declined. The Olympia Rally of 1934, in which a number of anti-Fascist protestors were attacked by the paramilitary wing of the BUF, the Fascist Defence Force, isolated the party from much of its following. The party's embrace of Nazi-style anti-semitism in 1936 led to increasingly violent clashes with opponents, notably the 1936 Battle of Cable Street in London's East End. The Public Order Act 1936, which banned political uniforms and responded to increasing political violence, had a particularly strong effect on the BUF whose supporters were known as "Blackshirts" after the uniforms they wore.
Growing British hostility towards Nazi Germany, with which the British press persistently associated the BUF, further contributed to the decline of the movement's membership. It was finally banned by the British government in 1940 after the start of the Second World War, amid suspicion that its remaining supporters might form a pro-Nazi "fifth column". A number of prominent BUF members were arrested and interned under Defence Regulation 18B.Daily Mail
The Daily Mail is a British daily middle-market newspaper published in London in a tabloid format. Founded in 1896, it is the United Kingdom's second-biggest-selling daily newspaper after The Sun. Its sister paper The Mail on Sunday was launched in 1982, while Scottish and Irish editions of the daily paper were launched in 1947 and 2006 respectively. Content from the paper appears on the MailOnline website, although the website is managed separately and has its own editor.The paper is owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust. Jonathan Harmsworth, 4th Viscount Rothermere, a great-grandson of one of the original co-founders, is the current chairman and controlling shareholder of the Daily Mail and General Trust, while day-to-day editorial decisions for the newspaper are usually made by a team led by the editor, Geordie Greig, who succeeded Paul Dacre in September 2018.A survey in 2014 found the average age of its reader was 58, and it had the lowest demographic for 15- to 44-year-olds among the major British dailies. Uniquely for a British daily newspaper, it has a majority female readership with women making up 52–55% of its readers. It had an average daily circulation of 1,222,611 copies in November 2018. Between July and December 2013 it had an average daily readership of approximately 3.951 million, of whom approximately 2.503 million were in the ABC1 demographic and 1.448 million in the C2DE demographic. Its website has more than 100 million unique visitors per month.The Daily Mail has been widely criticised for its unreliability, as well as printing of sensationalist and inaccurate scare stories of science and medical research, and for copyright violations.The Daily Mail has won a number of awards, including receiving the National Newspaper of the Year award from the British Press Awards seven times since 1995.Fascist paramilitary
A fascist paramilitary is a fighting force - whether armed, unarmed, or merely symbolic - that is independent of regular military command and is established for the defence and advancement of a movement that adheres to the radical nationalist ideology of fascism. Since fascism is such a militarist ideology, there are very few varieties of fascism where paramilitaries do not play a central role, and some kind of paramilitary participation is almost always a basic requirement of membership in fascist movements. Fascist paramilitaries have seen action in both peacetime and wartime. Most fascist paramilitaries wear political uniforms, and many have taken their names from the colours of their uniforms.
The first fascist paramilitary was the Blackshirts of Italian Fascism led by Benito Mussolini. While many of the Blackshirts were former members of the Arditi who had fought in World War I or the Fascio of the immediate post-war years, the most direct inspiration for the first fascist paramilitary was Giuseppe Garibaldi's Redshirts.
A number of other fascist movements established paramilitaries modelled after the Italian original, most notably Nazism with its Sturmabteilung and Schutzstaffel. Others include:
in Ireland, in the 1930s, the Blueshirts under Eoin O'Duffy
the gold shirts and the Red Shirts of 1930s Mexico
the Greenshirts of Brazilian Integralism
the Heimwehr in Austria, in the 1920s and 1930s
the Legionary Greenshirts of the Romanian Iron Guard
Iron Wolf (organization)
National Union (Portugal)Several fascist movements took their cue from the Sturmabteilung rather than the Blackshirts, such as the Greyshirts in South Africa and the Silver Legion of America. Following the Axis invasion of Albania, the occupation forces formed the Albanian Militia under the Blackshirts. Several fascist paramilitaries were active in Romania including the Lăncieri.
Some fascist movements have also established paramilitary youth organizations such as the Hitler Youth or the Mocidade Portuguesa.
A number of fascist paramilitaries have been deployed in conventional warfare. For example, in the later years of World War II the Italian Blackshirts developed into the Black Brigades. Likewise, the combat wing of the Schutzstaffel, the Waffen-SS, fought in many major battles of World War II. The Einsatzgruppen were death squads active in Eastern Europe which carried out the Holocaust and other political killings. In an act of desperation, the Nazis deployed remnants of the Hitler Youth and Sturmabteilung against the Red Army in the Battle of Berlin. At the eleventh hour of the war, the Nazis laid plans for a guerrilla resistance movement they called the Werwolf. However, these plans amounted to little more than a handful of sabotages and assassinations which were ineffective.
Neo-Nazis have used the white power skinhead scene as a recruitment base for neofascist paramilitaries like Combat 18. Soccer hooliganism throughout Europe is another source of recruits. Some groups in the white supremacist wing of the militia movement in the United States can be seen as neofascist paramilitaries.Founding of Blackshirts
The original organization of Mussolini's MVSN (Blackshirts) by Royal Decrees on 1 February 1923 and 4 August 1924 consisted of 15 zones, as follows:
1st Zona (Piemonte) Hq Torino
first Sabauda - Torino
second Alpina - Torino
third Subalpina - Cuneo
fourth Marengo - Allessandria
fifth Valle Scrivia - Tortona
eleventh Monferrato - Casale
twelfth Monte Bianco - Aosta
twenty eighth Randaccio - Vercelli
twenty ninth Alpina - Pallanza
thirtieth Oddone - Novara
thirty seventh P. Prestinari - Torino
thirty eighth N. Alfieri - Asti
Second Zona (Lombardia) Hq Milano
Third Zona (Liguria) Hq Genova
Fourth Zona (Venezia Tridentina) Hq Verona
Fifth Zona (Veneto) Hq Venezia
Sixth Zona (Venezia Giulia) Hq Trieste
Seventh Zona (Emilia Romagna) Hq Bologna
Eight Zona (Toscana) Hq Firenze
Ninth Zona (Umbria Marche) Hq Perugia
Tenth Zona (Lazio) Hq Roma
Eleventh Zona (Abruzzo Molise) Hq Pescara
twelfth Zona (Campania) Hq Napoli
thirtieth Zona (Puglie) Hq Bari
fourteenth Zona (Sicilia) Hq Palermo
fifteenth Zona (Sardegna) Hq CagliariL'Alba
L'Alba was an Italian-language fascist weekly newspaper published from Tunis, Tunisia. It was founded by Giuseppe Colombo and R. A. Oliva, with the first issue published on 5 September 1935.Regarding the war against Ethiopia, l'Alba boasted of having two companies of blackshirts from Tunisia, "Numidie" and "Zama", at the battle-fields. The publication attacked freemasons and anti-fascists, while appealing to Italians to buy products from their own nation. The British consulate found the diatribes in l'Alba insulting to Great Britain and Malta, and lodged a formal complaint against the publication. It was subsequently shut down by French colonial authorities - with the last issue published on 14 November 1935.March on Rome
The March on Rome (Italian: Marcia su Roma) was an organized mass demonstration in October 1922, which resulted in Benito Mussolini's National Fascist Party (Partito Nazionale Fascista, or PNF) ascending to power in the Kingdom of Italy (Regno d'Italia). In late October 1922, Fascist Party leaders planned an insurrection, to take place on 28 October. When fascist troops entered Rome, Prime Minister Luigi Facta wished to declare a state of siege, but this was overruled by King Victor Emmanuel III. On the following day, 29 October 1922, the King appointed Mussolini as Prime Minister, thereby transferring political power to the fascists without armed conflict.March on Rome (film)
March on Rome (Italian: La marcia su Roma) is a 1962 comedy film by Dino Risi with Vittorio Gassman and Ugo Tognazzi, aimed at describing the March on Rome of Benito Mussolini's blackshirts from the point of view of two newly recruited, naïve blackshirts.
The movie's main theme is the gradual betrayal of all the promises of the National Fascist Party: the two gradually tick all the main points of the fascist program as described on a propaganda flyer every time they are contradicted by practice. In its early stages fascism was a radical republican movement, suspicious of large businesses, nobility and the Catholic Church (Mussolini himself had been a socialist earlier in his career, being cast out of the Italian Socialist Party when his nationalism grew more and more pronounced). When arriving in Rome, and having ticked them all off, they leave the fascist party in the moment of its victory.Patrick Boyle, 8th Earl of Glasgow
Patrick James Boyle, 8th Earl of Glasgow, DSO (18 June 1874 – 14 December 1963) was a Scottish nobleman and a far right political activist, involved with fascist parties and groups.Revolutionary Union (Peru)
Revolutionary Union (Spanish: Unión Revolucionaria, UR) was a fascist political party in Peru that lasted from 1931 to 1942. It was founded in 1931 by Luis Miguel Sánchez Cerro and became the governing party that same year. It took part in elections in 1931 and 1945. In 1933 the leadership was taken over by Luis A. Flores who sought to mobilize mass support for the group's nationalism in a manner akin to fascism. He even started a Blackshirts paramilitary arm as a copy of the Italian group. Even though The Revolutionary Union was made in Peru,it took control of Chile. The Union lost heavily in the 1942 elections and faded into obscurity.Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung (SA; German pronunciation: [ˈʃtʊɐ̯mʔapˌtaɪlʊŋ] (listen)), literally Storm Detachment, was the Nazi Party's original paramilitary. It played a significant role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s. Its primary purposes were providing protection for Nazi rallies and assemblies, disrupting the meetings of opposing parties, fighting against the paramilitary units of the opposing parties, especially the Red Front Fighters League (Rotfrontkämpferbund) of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), and intimidating Romanis, trade unionists, and, especially, Jews – for instance, during the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses.
The SA were also called the "Brownshirts" (Braunhemden) from the color of their uniform shirts, similar to Benito Mussolini's blackshirts. The SA developed pseudo-military titles for its members, with ranks that were later adopted by several other Nazi Party groups, chief amongst them the Schutzstaffel (SS), which originated as a branch of the SA before being separated. Brown-colored shirts were chosen as the SA uniform because a large number of them were cheaply available after World War I, having originally been ordered during the war for colonial troops posted to Germany's former African colonies.The SA became disempowered after Adolf Hitler ordered the "blood purge" of 1934. This event became known as the Night of the Long Knives (die Nacht der langen Messer). The SA continued to exist, but was effectively superseded by the SS, although it was not formally dissolved until after Nazi Germany's final capitulation to the Allies in 1945.