Youth Movements, Fascist

   The organization of youth by age groups began with the paramilitary Balilla (Organizzazione Nazionale Balilla, ONB)—organized in January 1926—for 8- to 14year-olds. At 14, one enrolled in the Avanguardisti(for those between 14 and 19) and, finally, in Fascist University Youth (Gioventu Universitaria Fascista), which aimed at continuing the inculcation of military values in young Italians (18- to 29-year-old male and female university students). This system was proclaimed by nationalists as ensuring that in any future war, a race of warriors would meet the enemy with “eight million bayonets.” (A favorite comment on this Mussolinian boast was that the enemy, unfortunately, was equipped with tanks.) Similarly, young females were brought into the Piccole Italiane(Little Italians) group to acquire and perfect the skills needed to be the mothers of tomorrow’s warriors, the true heirs of Roman military prowess. It also served as a sporting, athletic, and disciplinary body. Giovani Italiane/Female Italian Youth drew Italian adolescent females (ages 14–18). Once adulthood approached, it was expected that all these young people, male and female alike, would move into membership in the Partito Nazionale Fascista/National Fascist Party (PNF).
   One of the functions of senior members of these organizations was to take a supervisory part in the summer camps, which were widely admired abroad. These camps exposed urban children to fresh air, exercise, and sunshine at seaside and mountain resorts established for them. Special trains were laid on for the participants, and camping kits were distributed while they were taught patriotic and party songs. Healthy bodies and high spirits, it was assumed, make better soldiers.
   See also Fascism.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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