Voluntary Militia for National Security

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For other uses see, Blackshirts (disambiguation).
National Security Volunteer Militia
Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale
487px-Emblem of Italian Blackshirts.svg.png

Emblem, with a fasces

Abbreviation Blackshirts, MVSN
Existence 1922–1943
Type National Security, Gendarmerie
Location Italy
Leader Benito Mussolini
(Commandant General)

The Voluntary Militia for National Security (Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale, MVSN), initially called squadristi, in English often called Blackshirts, was originally the paramilitary wing of the National Fascist Party. Its members were distinguished by their black uniforms (modeled 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 National Security Volunteer Militia was a national security organisation, similar to a gendarmerie, which operated in Italy between 1922 and 1943. It originated in paramilitary and street-fighting activity in the period after World War I, inspired by the Arditi, daring Italian Army vanguardists. Perhaps their most noted act was the March on Rome, in which four columns of Blackshirts marched on the capital of Rome unopposed and brought their leader Il Duce, Benito Mussolini, into power.

The early decentralised Squadre d'Azione, or Squadristi groups, active locally under charismatic chiefs, were formally constituted into the MVSN in 1922 to defend the new government of the state. The new organisation and purpose was somewhat similar to a yeomanry or territorial army, in that they were called upon to defend local law and order, formally through cooperating with the local state authorities and police forces. This usually saw them clashing with subversive groups such as communists.

The group was reorganised again in 1924, evolving into part of the Italian armed forces, directly under the control of Benito Mussolini. Legions of Blackshirts were deployed to Eritrea and took part in the Italo-Ethiopian War. Three divisions aided the Nationalist side in the Spanish Civil War. They also participated extensively during World War II. Much of the remaining MSVN became part of the Guardia Nazionale Repubblicana in 1943.


The fascists described it as being for defensive purposes, such as for protection of meetings against far leftist attackers, while opponents described it as attacking others. After the March on Rome, in which they participated without armed conflict, in 1923 they became a volunteer militia of the Kingdom of Italy and participated in wars, such as the Spanish Civil War and World War II.

See also