Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pop History Moment: Mussolini's Downfall


On this day in 1945 Benito Mussolini - for 21 years the Fascist dictator of Italy - along with his mistress Clara Petacci and an entourage of 15 were all shot and killed* in the village of Giulino di Mezzegra while attempting to escape to Spain; the following day the corpses of Mussolini and Petacci were hung on meathooks from a gas station in Milan's Piazzale Loreto, during which time they were stabbed, shot, pelted with rocks, spat upon, and generally desecrated by the crowds.

Il Duce was secretly buried in an unmarked grave at Musocco, Milan's municipal cemetery. On Easter Sunday 1946 his body was located and dug up by neo-fascist Domenico Leccisi (along with two friends), who took it on the lam for four months; it was found that August in a steamer trunk in Certosa di Pavia. Weekend at Benito's was over.

After 10 years in legal limbo - reasonably short in Italian terms - his remains were entombed at his birthplace of Predappio, the only posthumous honour he was given. Unless you count the reacharound of his epitaph, that is:

Here lies one of the most intelligent animals who ever appeared on the face of the earth.

Uh... Yeah. Just not smart enough to avoid being strung up by an angry mob, apparently.

The entire ghoulish story is related in Sergio Luzzato's book, The Body of Il Duce: Mussolini's Corpse and the Fortunes of Italy.

*According to his own self, by
Walter Audisio.

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