Count Galeazzo Ciano executed. On 11 January 1944, Benito Mussolini had his son-in-law, the politician Galeazzo Ciano age 40, shot for treason outside the gates of Verona along with four other fascists who had abandoned Mussolini.
A glamorous playboy in public life, Galeazzo Ciano was the scion of a wealthy fascist founder. The youth wed Mussolini’s eldest daughter in 1930 and quickly ascended the party’s ranks, becoming Foreign Minister at the tender age of 33.
Ciano’s treachery, and that of the others seated in chairs and shot from behind on this day, was to have voted with the majority of the Fascist Grand Council for deposing Mussolini as Allied attacks thrust Italy into a desperate position. This confused affair lacked the character of a coup d’etat, but Mussolini was indeed placed under arrest the next day and a separate peace concluded with the Allies in early September.
Soon after, an audcious German glider raid freed Mussolini, who was quickly re-installed as head of a Nazi puppet state in northern Italy. Galeazzo Ciano’s capture by this body set in motion a final personal drama with implications for later students of the Second World War. Edda Ciano escaped to Switzerland with her husband’s diaries — potentially damaging notes on the machinations of the Axis.
These scribblings she took hostage for the life of her husband. The blackmail was not accepted — to the grief of Edda, who never spoke to her father again.
One final quixotic rescue attempt cooked up by a female SS administrator on Ciano’s guard detail — the last of many women drawn to this charismatic man — foundered; the preordained death sentence came down on January 10th. Ciano was arrested by the Germans in Oct 1943, and was tried for high treason for his vote against Mussolini at the Fascist Grand Council. He was sentenced to death by firing squad on 8 Jan 1944 and was executed three days later without interference from his father-in-law Mussolini. Mussolini reportedly fretted in the small hours of the night over whether his standing in Hitler’s eyes would suffer should he intervene.
Edda had the diaries published as she threatened, and if they exposed scant novel evidence against his German and Italian compatriots, they offer a window upon diplomatic intrigue and personal relationships within the Pact of Steel.
On 27-04-1945, when the convoy of escaping Italian Social Republic members, including Benito Mussolini, was blocked by communist partisans and captured, it is said that his mistress Clara Petacci was offered the opportunity to go unmolested, but she refused to leave Mussolini. On 28 April, she and Mussolini were taken to Mezzegra and shot, Mussolini age 61, Clara 33 years old.