Mussolini, Benito, born, on 29-07-1883 in Predappio, a small town in the province of Forli in Emilia-Romagna. In the Fascist era, Predappio was dubbed “Duce’s town”, and Forlì was “Duce’s city”. Pilgrims went to Predappio and Forlì, to see the birthplace of Mussolini. His father Alessandro Mussolini was a blacksmith and a socialist, while his mother Rosa Maltoni, a devoutly Catholic schoolteacher. They both died very young, Alessandro died age 56, on 19-11-1910 and Rosa, age 47 of meningitis, in 1905. Owing to his father’s political leanings, Mussolini was named Benito after Mexican reformist President Benito Juarez, while his middle names Andrea and Amilcare were from Italian socialists Andrea Costa and Amilcare Cipriani. Benito was the eldest of his parents’ three children. His siblings Arnaldo and Edvige followed. As a young boy, Mussolini would spend some time helping his father in his smithy. Mussolini’s early political views were heavily influenced by his father, Alessandro, a revolutionary socialist who idolized 19th century Italian nationalist figures with humanist tendencies .His father’s political outlook combined views of anarchist figures as Guiseppe Garibaldi . Garibaldi died age 74, on 02-06-1882. In 1902, at the anniversary of Garibaldi’s death, Benito Mussolini made a public speech in praise of the republican nationalist. The conflict between his parents about religion meant that, unlike most Italians, Mussolini was not baptized at birth and would not be until much later in life. As a compromise with his mother, Mussolini was sent to a boarding school run by Salesian monks. After joining a new school, Mussolini achieved good grades, and qualified as an elementary schoolmaster in 1901 After working briefly as a schoolteacher, Mussolini fled to Switzerland in 1902 in an effort to evade military service.
Mussolini returned to Italy in 1904 and having been arrested in Geneva, expelled for falsifying his papers, he returned to Lausanne, where he attended the University of Lausanne’s Department of Social Science. Over the next ten years worked as a journalist and eventually became editor of Avanti. Mussolini was active in the socialist movement but moved to right in 1914 when the Italian government failed to support the Triple Alliance. In 1915 Mussolini resigned from the Socialist Party when it advocated support for the Allies in the First World War. When Italy entered the war Mussolini served in the Italian Army and eventually reached the rank of corporal. After being wounded he returned to Milan to edit the right-wing Il Popolo d’Italia. The journal demanded that the Allies fully supported Italy’s demands at the Paris Peace Conference. After the war Mussolini attacked Vittorio Orlando, he died age 92, in 1952, for failing to achieve Italy’s objectives at the Versailles Peace Treaty and helped to organize the various right-wing groups in Italy into the Fascist Party. After a series of riots in 1922 King Victor Emmanuel III appointed Mussolini in an attempt to prevent a communist revolution in Italy. Mussolini headed a coalition of fascists and nationalists and parliamentary government continued until the murder of the socialist leader, Giacomo Matteotti in 1924
. He was murdered age 39, on 10-06-1924, Left-wing parties were suppressed and in 1929 Italy became a one-party state. Mussolini also carried out an extensive public-works programme and the fall in unemployment made him a popular figure in Italy. Italy controlled Eritrea and Somalia in Africa but had failed several times to colonize neighbouring Ethiopia. When Mussolini came to power he was determined to show the strength of his regime by occupying the country. In October 1935 Mussolini sent in General Pietro Badaglio.
Badaglio died age 85, in 1952 and the Italian Army into Ethiopia. The League of Nations condemned Italy’s aggression and in November imposed sanctions. This included an attempt to ban countries from selling arms, rubber and some metals to Italy. Some political leaders in France and Britain opposed sanctions arguing that it might persuade Mussolini to form an alliance with Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. Over 400,000 Italian troops fought in Ethiopia. The poorly armed Ethiopians were no match for Italy’s modern tanks and aeroplanes. The Italians even used mustard gas on the home forces and were able to capture Addis Ababa, the capital of the country, in May 1936, forcing Emperor Haile Selassie to flee to England. Adolf Hitler had been inspired by Mussolini’s achievements and once he gained power in Germany he sought a close relationship with Italy. In October 1936 the two men signed a non-military alliance. In 1939 Italy invaded Albania and soon afterwards Mussolini signed a full defensive alliance with Nazi Germany (the Pact of Steel). However, Mussolini did not declare war on Britain and France until 10-06-1940. Mussolini already had over a million men in the Italian Army based in Libya. In neighbouring Egypt the British Army had only 36,000 men guarding the Suez Canal and the Arabian oilfields. On 13-09-1940, Marshall Rodolfo Graziani, died age 72, on 11-01-1955
Rodolfo Graziani. Haili Selassie. Archibald Wavell.
and five Italian divisions began a rapid advance into Egypt but halted in front of the main British defences at Mersa Matruh. In October 1940, Mussolini declared war on Greece. Attempts by the Italian Army to invade Greece ended in failure. The war was also going badly in North Africa. Although outnumbered, General Archibald Wavell, died age 67, on 24-05-1950, ordered a British counter-offensive on 09-12-1940. The Italians suffered heavy casualties and were pushed back more than 800 km, 500 miles. British troops moved along the coast and on 22-01-1941, they captured the port of Tobru in Libya from the Italians. By the end of 1941 Italy was totally dependent on Nazi Germany. On 07-08-1941, Mussolini’s son, the 23-year-old Bruno Mussolini
, commander of the 274 a of 274th Squadron, was flying in one of the prototypes of the “secret” Piaggio bomber, MM22003, near the San Giusto Airport in Pisa, when the aircraft flew too low and crashed into a house.
On 24-07-1943, soon after the start of the Allied invasion of Italy, the Grand Council of Fascism voted against him, and the King had him arrested the following day. On 12-09-1943, Mussolini was rescued from prison in the Gran Sasso raid by German special forces under command of SS Obersturrmbannführer Otto Skorzeny.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Galaezzo Ciano,
married with his daughter Edda, Hermann Goering named his only child, a daughter, after her, was executed on 11-01-1944, age 41, sitting on a chair, became increasingly dissatisfied with the way Mussolini was running the country. After a series of heated arguments with Mussolini, Ciano resigned in February, 1943.
At the Casablanca Conference Sir Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt discussed ways of taking Italy out of the war. It was eventually decided to launch an invasion of Sicily, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, south-west of Italy.
It was hoped that if the island was taken Mussolini would be ousted from power. It was also argued that a successful invasion would force Adolf Hitler to send troops from the Eastern Front and help to relieve pressure on the Red Army in the Soviet Union. The operation was placed under the supreme command of General Dwight Eisenhower. General Harald Alexander was commander of ground operations and his 15th Army Group included General George Smith Patton US 7th Army and General Bernard “Monty” Montgomery, 8th Army. Admiral Andrew Cunningham, died age 80, on 12-06-1963, was in charge of Naval operations
and Air Marshal Arthur Tedder, died age 76, on 03-06-1967, was air commander. On 10-07-1943, the 8th Army landed at five points on the south-eastern tip of the island and the US 7th Army at three beaches to the west of the British forces. The Allied troops met little opposition and Patton and his troops quickly took Gela, Licata and Vittoria. The British landings were also unopposed and Syracuse was taken on the same day. General Patton now moved to the west of the island and General Omar “Brad” Bradley headed north and the German Army was forced to retreat to behind the Simeto River. Patton took Palermo on 22nd July cutting off 50,000 Italian troops in the west of the island. Patton now turned east along the northern coast of the island towards the port of Messina. Meanwhile General Montgomery and the 8th Army were being held up by German forces under Field Marshal Albert Kesselring
. The Allies carried out several amphibious assaults attempted to cut off the Germans but they were unable to stop the evacuation across the Messina Straits to the Italian mainland. This included 40,000 German and 60,000 Italian troops, as well as 10,000 German vehicles and 47 tanks. The loss of Sicily created serious problems for Mussolini. It was now clear that the Allies would use the island as a base for invading Italy. A meeting of the Fascist Grand Council is held on 24th July and Ciano gets support for his idea that Italy should sign a separate peace with the Allies. The following day Victor Emmanuel III told Mussolini he was dismissed from office. His successor, Badoglio, declared martial law and placed Mussolini under arrest. On 29-07-1943, Adolf Hitler had a meeting with Otto Skorzeny, died 05-07-1975, age 67, about the possibility of rescuing Mussolini, imprisoned high in the Abruzzi Apennines. Skorzeny agreed and on 13th September he led an airborne force of commandos to the hotel where he was being held. Mussolini was soon freed and Skorzeny flew him to safety. Mussolini now set up the Salo Republic, a fascist regime in German-occupied northern Italy. His first was the arrest and execution of five of those who had voted against him on the Fascist Grand Council, including his son-in-law, Ciano. On 18-05-1944, Allied troops led by General Wladyslaw Anders, Polish Corps and General Alphonse Juin , died age 78, on 27-01-1968, French Corps, captured Monte Cassino. This opened a corridor for Allied troops and they reached Anzio on 24th May. The German defence now began to disintegrate and General Alexander ordered General Mark “Contraband” Clark
to trap and destroy the retreating 10th Army. Clark ignored this order and instead headed for Rome and liberated the city on the 4th June. After the capture of Rome Badoglio resigned and Invanoe Bonomi died age 79, in 1952, formed a new government. On 23rd April the 8th Army began to cross the River Po at Mantua. German resistance now began to collapse and Parma and Verona were taken and partisan uprisings began in Milan and Genoa. With Allied troops approaching, Mussolini and his mistress, Clara Petacci, attempted to escape to Switzerland. Knowing that the guards would not let him pass, he disguised himself in a Luftwaffe coat and helmet, hoping to slip into Austria with some German soldiers. On 27-04-1945, when the convoy of escaping Italian Social Republic members, including Mussolini, was blocked by communist partisans and captured, it is said that 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.
The following day the bodies were taken to the Piazzale Loreto in Milan and hung upside down in front of a petrol station. The bodies were photographed as a crowd vented their rage upon them and their bodies displayed in public in Milan. Clara Petacci’s brother, Marcello Petacci, was captured with Mussolini and Petacci. But, rather than being murdered in Dongo, he was shot while trying to escape. Mussolini is buried on the cemetery of Predappio, in a family grave. Clara Petacci is buried on the Cimitero Comunale Monumentale Campo Verano, Rome, Lazio.
Mussolini was by all accounts one of the worst fathers of all the World War II leaders. Mussolini had a secret family before he became prominent. One reports suggests that Mussolini committed his first wife Ida Dalser to a lunatic asylum (1917). Mussolini denounced her as “dangerous, unbalanced, and criminal”. He labeled her an “enemy alien”. She lived for 10 years before dying in the asylum (1927). As he never married Dasler, the family was an embarrassment when he became prominent. Italy’s Fascist Government suppressed any information about it and few Italians knew anything about his first family until after World War II and even today accounts were sketchy. Benito Albino (1915-?) was illegitimate and he grew up under the supervision of guardians because his mother had been institutionalized. Accounts of his deah vary. Some say he was also institutionalized and died there. Others say he died in a World War II naval battle. Mussolini married Donna Guidi Rachele . They had four children. Edda ( born 1910 and died 09-04-1995 ) was by all accounts his favorite and looks most like her father. The two oldest boys were Vittorio (born 1916 and died 12-06-1997) and Bruno (born 1918 and he died in a airplane crash on 07-08-1941). They were born very close together and grew up very close. A third son Romano (born 1927 and died 03-02-2006) was born later. Mussolini had a family before he became prominent. One reports suggests that Mussolini committed his first wife Ida Dalser to a lunatic asylum (born 1917). Mussolini denounced her as “dangerous, unbalanced, and criminal”. He labeled her an “enemy alien”. She lived for 10 years before dying in the asylum (1927). As he never married Dasler, the family was an embarrassment when he became prominent. Italy’s Fascist Government suppressed any information about it and few Italians knew anything about his first family until after World War II and even today accounts were sketchy. Benito Albino (1915-?) was illegitimate and he grew up under the supervision of guardians because his mother had been institutionalized. Acoounts of his death vary. Some say he was also institutionalized and died there. Others say he died in a World War II naval battle. Mussolini married married Rachele Guidi (1890-1979) in 1915 (civil weddings) and in 1925 (Roman Catholic weddings). She was commonly referred to as Donna Rachele is a deference form, something like Lady Rachele. He was not an engaged father. Raising the children was left to his wife and Mussolini himself was away much of the time. He seems to have taken little real interest in his children.