World War I (1914-1918) does not directly affect San Marino (which participates only by sending volunteers), but the consequences are also reflected on the Titan.
Unemployment, already severe, increases dramatically, along with inflation. The political class totally lacks the initiative, ability and courage to implement changes to stem the phenomenon.
Strong conflicts between the poor classes (the majority of the population) and the middle class (consisting of a few landowning and middle-class families) thus take shape.
The moderate government then enacts some concessions to the poor classes, but the middle class, in an effort to maintain its privileges of an almost feudal nature (sharecropping still existed), reacts by assuming the fascist model already present in Italy. Such a model, at least in the initial stages, needs the consent of the masses, but this did not occur among the San Marino people.
Therefore, it would be correct to speak of an oligarchic dictatorship, which found the Italian fascist regime as justification for its existence.
The San Marino Fascist Party (PFS) was born in 1922, immediately lacking internal unity: the only common interest of its adherents was the maintenance of personal and class privileges. The rise to power is not difficult: the parties of the time lack the strength and compactness to oppose it.
In 1923 comes the dissolution of the Great and General Council, which is transformed into the Prince and Sovereign Council. New elections are called for which a single list is presented containing fascist candidates in the majority and a small representation of Catholics. At this point the actual regime begins and the consequent transformation of the state on the model of the Italian one.
The lack of internal membership, however, forces the PFS to continually seek the support of the Italian Fascist Party. The consequence is the continued interference of the PFI in the “affairs” of San Marino, which sees a decrease in its autonomy. On the other hand, this is the only chance for the oligarchy to assert its power and pursue its political opponents (represented by members of the Socialist Party).
In San Marino, Mussolini starts the Rimini-San Marino railroad construction project, fully financed by Italy. Fascist power seems to be unrivaled by now.
That is until 1941-42, when some socialist leaders return to San Marino and start an underground anti-fascist movement. Thanks to them, opposition to fascism grows, gradually becoming more compact and stronger, until it results in the great demonstration of July 28, 1943, which succeeds in obtaining the dissolution of the PFS and the calling of new elections.
Unfortunately, the shadow of fascism still hovers: the liberation of Mussolini by the Germans and the subsequent restoration of fascism cannot fail to have consequences in San Marino. Too defenseless to stand up to the Germans, the new government hastens to formulate a pacification pact with the regime, which would also allow it to take a neutral line with the belligerent states.
Following it, the Great and General Council delegates its powers to a Council of State composed of twenty members, some of whom are Fascists, an action that can mean nothing more than the freezing of policy while awaiting a less critical moment.
In this climate the country faces World War II.
The only weapon of defense for such a small state is diplomacy, and the Council of State must use all its skill to get San Marino’s neutrality recognized.
For almost the entire duration of the war, foreignness to the conflict is respected enough to turn San Marino into a safe haven for the surrounding inhabitants. More than 100,000 people seek and obtain asylum, including a group of Jews, thus saved from concentration camps. The refugees are housed in palaces, churches, railroad tunnels and anywhere else that can accommodate them. To a population of not even fifteen thousand, procuring food for so many people involved an enormous effort, which was nevertheless accomplished without hesitation.
Unfortunately, the hope of remaining the only island of peace within a world at war is dashed on June 26, 1944, when an air raid leaves against the country. Completely unprepared for such an eventuality, the Sammarinese and refugees think nothing of taking shelter, and this causes the death of sixty people and the wounding of many others.
Unjustified bombing caused, as the British government later admits, by misinformation.
The country’s diplomatic activity must intensify thereafter to try to prevent further violations of neutrality. But diplomacy is of no avail when direct confrontation between the Anglo-Americans and Germans comes in September. When the war ends, the Anglo-Americans remain another two months in the territory accompanying the slow outflow of refugees.
New elections are called on March 11, 1945, bringing leftist parties to power until 1955.
In 1957 the elected government is instead a Christian Democrat and Democratic Socialist majority. By the law of Dec. 23, 1958, the right to vote is extended to female citizens of San Marino, a faculty that fully came into effect on Jan. 1, 1960.
With the law of September 11, 1973, the rights between men and women for access to public and political office are also equalized.