He was an important leader in WWII, a leader of the national Fascist Party, and a good friend of Adolf Hitler. This man’s name was Benito Mussolini. We are not talking about his birth, but his death which took place on this day 72 years ago.
Benito Mussolini was the 27th Prime Minister of Italy and then became the leader of the National Fascist party. Before he became the prime minister, he got his start in politics with the British M15, which helped keep anti-war protestors at home and helped publish pro-war propaganda.
When Mussolini was a child, he was heavily influenced by his father’s socialist and nationalist views, which led him to reform the National Fascist Party on March 23rd, 1919. One of the main concepts to get others to join in the party’s early stages was its claim to oppose discrimination based on one’s social class and the opposition of class wars. Mussolini used the work of Plato, Sorel, and Georges in his ideologies to help develop the Fascist Party.
Years after his re-establishment of the Fascist Party, he became the 27th Italian Prime Minister. His first year in rule was made up of a right-wing coalition government which included Fascists, nationalists, liberals, and the Popular Party. The fascists comprised a small minority of his original government, and his domestic goal was the later establishment of the totalitarian state, with himself as the supreme leader.
Months before World War II was officially declared, Mussolini believed that Germany and Italy were destined to rule over all of Europe, due to their demographic strength, and that Britain and France were finished. This conclusion led him to create an alliance with Germany and made him see international relations as struggle between “virile” nations and “effete” nations.
When the war finally broke out in 1939, Mussolini was hesitant to enter Italy in the war until he convinced himself that a German victory was likely and that the war would be short fought. To Mussolini, WWII was a war of life-or-death struggle between ideologies and a “struggle of the fertile and young people against the sterile people moving between two centuries and two ideas.”
In the later years of the War, Mussolini and the Italian army lost many battles, and entered Italy in battles that they had no sense being in. One of the battles being Operation Barbarossa, where he took initiative to send troops to the front because he thought that he could get an easy victory to restore the shine of the Fascist Party. Mussolini was also trying to piggy back off Germanies success, by hoping that he could get there before it’s over so that Italy’s name would be attached to the victory.
By the year 1942, Italy’s military became very poor, and the home front was even worse due to bombings and the fight coming closer to Italy.
During this time, Mussolini became stressed and tired of his friend Adolf boasting, and some high up members of his government turned against him, one of which was Grandi. His downfall lead him to summon the Grand Council of Fascism on July 24th, 1943, which then led to him being replaced as prime minister by Pietro Badoglio. After hearing the news, Mussolini walked out of the palace, and was arrested on the spot. News of his arrest and takedown was broadcasted over the radio. Many people cheered and rejoiced because they thought the war was over.
Two months after being arrested, he was rescued from the prison where he was kept, and this kept him from being turned over to the Allies.
Three days after his rescue, he met with Hitler in Germany, and Hitler was upset that Mussolini didn’t want to go after the people who overthrew him.
On April 28th, 1945, exactly 72 years ago, on this day, Mussolini, and his mistress Clara Petacci were shot, along with members of the entourage. The identity of the shooter is still unknown to this day, even though a couple of people have come forward to claim responsibility.
The following Mussolini and Petacci’s bodies were put into a van and taken to Milan, where they were dumped onto the ground, shot, kicked, and spit on. They then were hung upside down from a gas station where they were stoned. This was to discourage any fascist to keep participating in the war. Mussolini was then buried in an unmarked grave, only to be dug up by two neo-fascists. His remains were eventually buried in a crypt in his home town of Predappio.
Mussolini’s part in the war is talked about to this day, and what would have happened if the Germans would have won the war? All people can think of now are the “what ifs,” but, for the United States and its allies, they got the outcome they wanted.