DEAD: Benito Mussolini

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

Benito Mussolini (aged 61)
Duce and President of the Council of Ministers of Italy. Leader of the National Fascist Party and subsequent Republican Fascist Party

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (Italian: [beˈniːto mussoˈliːni]; 29 July 1883 – 28 April 1945) was Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy from his golpe in 1922 to 1943 and Duce of Fascism from 1919 to his execution in 1945 during the Italian civil war. As dictator of Italy and founder of fascism, Mussolini inspired several totalitarian rulers such as Adolf Hitler.

DEATH: On 25 April 1945, allied troops were advancing into northern Italy, and the collapse of the Salò Republic was imminent. Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci set out for Switzerland, intending to board a plane and escape to Spain. Two days later on 27 April, they were stopped near the village of Dongo(Lake Como) by communist partisans named Valerio and Bellini and identified by the Political Commissarof the partisans’ 52nd Garibaldi Brigade, Urbano Lazzaro. During this time, Petacci’s brother posed as a Spanish consul. After several unsuccessful attempts to take them to Como they were brought to Mezzegra. They spent their last night in the house of the De Maria family.

The next day, Mussolini and Petacci were both summarily shot, along with most of the members of their 15-man train, primarily ministers and officials of the Italian Social Republic. The shootings took place in the small village of Giulino di Mezzegra and were conducted by a partisan leader who used the nom de guerre Colonnello Valerio. His real identity is unknown, but conventionally he is thought to have been Walter Audisio, who always claimed to have carried out the execution, though another partisan controversially alleged that Colonnello Valerio was Luigi Longo, subsequently a leading communist politician in post-war Italy. Mussolini was killed two days before Hitler and his wife Eva Braun committed suicide. The RSI only survived for another four days before Mussolini’s defence minister, Rodolfo Graziani–the lone Italian marshal who remained loyal to Fascism after 1943–surrendered its remains on 1 May.

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