Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Demise of Il Duce

Mozart's music would have made
the ideal backdrop on April 28, 1945.

I've always been fascinated by the concept of time travel.

If time travel was a reality, I'm guessing that the last week of April in 1945 would be a popular destination. That was when World War II was coming to an end in Europe.

Tomorrow, for example, is the 65th anniversary of the wedding of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun in the bunker in Berlin where they killed themselves the next day. On that same day, American troops liberated Dachau.

And, on this day in 1945, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and his mistress, Clara Petacci, were executed by a firing squad. Their bodies were brought to Milan the next day, where they were hung upside down on hooks from a gas station's roof. This was in keeping with a medieval practice of hanging criminals by their feet.

The dangling corpses of Mussolini, Petacci and other officials were stoned by observers who vented their anger at being betrayed by a leader they had once loved.

Mussolini was in power for more than 20 years. During that time, Italy saw its old economic problems resolved by fascism — and countless others created by it.

I suppose it was due, in part, to a desire to resolve these new issues that Mussolini forged an uneasy relationship with Adolf Hitler. Hitler considered Mussolini (who rose to power a decade before Hitler did) to be an influence, but Mussolini was uncomfortable with Hitler, particularly when it came to the subject of race. Germans accused Italians of being "mongrelized," and Mussolini responded by questioning whether the Aryan race was as pure as the Nazis contended that it was.

Nevertheless, Italy joined Germany and Japan in signing the Tripartite Pact, the original basis for the Axis alliance.

Italy surrendered in 1943, more than a year before either Germany or Japan. The situation had grown progressively worse for the Italian people since the outbreak of the war, and discontent with Mussolini reached the point that when he was removed from power by the king and placed under arrest, they offered little, if any, resistance. German troops rescued Mussolini from being handed over to the Allies, per the Italian armistice agreement, and Mussolini was a puppet ruler for the remainder of the war.

Sixty–five years ago today, the Italian people — and the people of the world — were rid of him, once and for all.

1 comment:

May said...

Now Italian people would like to get rid of the widespread political corruption.