The execution of Benito Mussolini (April 28, 1945) - History Key

The execution of Benito Mussolini (April 28, 1945)

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was the founder of Italian Fascism. He ruled his country as a Prime Minister between 1922 and 1943. In 1925 the democracy pretence were dropped totally by him and set up a legal dictatorship. Known as “Il Duce”, his entry into WW2 alongside with Nazi Germany made Italy a target for Allied attacks, which eventually led to the fall of fascist dictatorship and his death. In 2004 he was voted in an Italian TV poll the 34th great Italians of all time.

Mussolini was helped by Hitler to escape

Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler
Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler © Image Source: Libero Quotidiano

Mussolini involved his country in the WW2 alongside with Nazi Germany in June 1940. However, he was against violence at the beginning of the WW1. While he was a journalist he wrote several articles about his socialist ideas and even a novel (L’amante del Cardinale: Claudia Particella). Returning to the WW2 period, Mussolini was arrested and deposed from his position in 1943 during the invasion of the Allies in Sicily.

Right after his arrest, Italy changed its side and joined the Allies, but not for a very long time. In the same year, Mussolini escaped thanks to the intervention of the German Special Forces raid from Gran Sasso. After his “release”, Hitler installed him back as the leader of the Italian Social Republic, a puppet state of Germany. Italian Social Republic worked in northern Italy with the capital city of Salo. The “Republic of Salo” was threatened by the Allies advancing from the south and also by the anti-fascist Italians, which lead to a brutal conflict known as the Italian Civil War.

Mussolini was “spiritually dead” when he was captured

Claretta Petacci
Claretta Petacci © Image Source: Wikipedia

By the end of 1944 the Allies conquered Rome and Florence starting to advance in northern Italy. The fall of fascist Italy was inevitable. It happened after the destruction of important defensive lines from Germany. Seeing that his dream of a fascist world was collapsing, Mussolini tried to run in Switzerland on April 25. Among with his mistress Claretta Petacci and other fascist leaders, Mussolini reached at the village of Dongo, Italy.

The fugitives were spotted by a group of local communist partisans and forced them to stop. The communists recognized one of the fascist leaders and later on discovered that Mussolini was hiding inside of a vehicle. Urbano Lazzaro, one of the communists said that Mussolini’s expression was cold, blind and seemed spiritually dead. Around the area of Dongo, battles weren’t over which determined the communists to take them at a local farm. They thought it would be a better place to keep them because fascist supporters might rescue them.

Who executed him?

Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini © Image Source: Wikipedia

Different stories are told about who made the decision and who actually executed Mussolini. Palmiro Togliatti, General Secretary of the Communist Party claimed that he ordered Mussolini’s execution live on the radio in April 26. On the other hand, Ivanoe Bonomi, the Prime Minister, denied that the order was made over the radio. Another version of the story is related by Luigi Longo, a communist leader from Milano. He said that the order came from the General Command of the Partisan Military Units and one of its members executed Mussolini.

In any case, the official version of the story is related by Walter Audisio. On 28 April, Audisio and Aldo Lampredi went at the local farm from Dongo to take Mussolini and his mistress. Audisio drove near at Giulino di Mezzegra, a small village around the area. On a narrow road, Mussolini and Petacci were taken outside of the vehicle and were forced to stand in front of a wall. Audisio shot them at 4:10 PM. Despite the fact that several different stories are told about the execution, Audisio wrote a book in 1970. He claimed that the decision to execute Mussolini constituted a valid court case. However, the lack of a judge raises questions about the execution.

The corpses have been publicly mocked

The corpse of Mussolini (second from left) in Piazzale Loreto, Milan, 1945
The corpse of Mussolini (second from left) in Piazzale Loreto, Milan, 1945 © Vincenzo CarreseImage Source: Wikipedia

Before the sunset on April 28, the bodies of Mussolini, Petacci and other executed fascists were transported in Milan. Next day, in the early hours, they were thrown on in Piazzale Loreto, a suburban town square from Milan. People near the square have urinated, shot, hit and thrown vegetables in the corpses. After the crowd calmed down, the corpses were lifted onto a metal beam and hung down on a butcher’s hooks. Some of the videos made in Piazzale Loreto can be found online. We must say the atmosphere is out of control and very sinister.

Besides being the founder of fascism and the dictator of Italy, Benito Mussolini was courageous, charismatic and a very good speaker dedicated to his cause.

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