Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fatto Storico 28.4.45: Death of Mussolini

Back from a holiday on Lake Como, Italy. One of few things that I knew about the area beforehand was that Mussolini, the Italian fascist dictator, had been captured there by Communist partisans and shot in the village of Mezzegra along with his mistress, Clara Petacci. It was only a few days before the end of the War as he was trying to flee to Switzerland. His body was later hung upside down in a public square in Milan, together with other executed fascists.  

I was staying only 2k away and walked through Mezzegra on route to a day out in the mountains. You cannot miss the “Fatto Storico” signs in the village centre (see photo below double click).

Which is not a slight on Mussolini’s size but Italian for “historical event”. It is some 10 minutes walk from the village square, in what is
now at least a quiet and prosperous looking suburb, overlooked by a large Catholic Church.

There are conflicting accounts on what actually happened but it is on this spot (or thereabouts) in front of the gates of Villa Belmonte that Mussolini was taken out of a vehicle and machine gunned to death by "Colonel Valerio". “Valerio” was a former accountant and civil servant whose real name was Walter Audisio.

I was not sure what to expect but all you get at the scene is this simple cross with “Benito Mussolini 28 April 1945” outside a gate. There was some long dead, dried out flowers on the wall above - and that was it. I suppose in one way, such a squalid and banal end was fitting for one who thought he was one of Nietzsche's supermen

It would have been better for him to have been tried as a war criminal but those who had suffered so much and for so long were entitled to deal with him in a way he had dealt out to so many others. The square he was hung up after death had been used for public executions of civilian hostages and antifascists.

I hadn’t twigged before that the anniversary of his execution (28 April) is now remembered as “Workers Memorial Day”. So – it is a day to remember Sic semper tyrannis as well.  This is I think quite fitting.

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