Mussolini plays at war

German soldiers manning an anti aircraft gun overlooking an Italian port.

Dummy air raids continue at Rome. It was the Duce who personally ordered an air raid in the capital every time there is one in Naples. He does this because he wants to give the country the impression that a war is taking place. He has also ordered that at the first opportunity anti-aircraft guns should fire in order to make it more exciting.




Italian partisans triumph – and capture Mussolini

The body of Mussolini, his mistress Clara Petacchi and colleagues were driven to Milan where they were exhibited in a piazza on 29th April. An unruly mob stamped and spat on the bodies before they were hoisted up for all to see.

The medal of the Iron Cross, its ribbon stained crimson brown above its red, black and white, lay amongst the papers. The Hauptmann’s book was full of photographs of Storm Troops and of soldiers, of sisters in white blouses and dark skirts, of a heavy-built father with close-cropped hair, of other young officers with the same relentless faces.

This was the type Hitler had loosed on Europe, brave, desperate, efficient. And now he had come to his end in an Italian field, shot down by an Italian farmer’s boy with a Sten gun, shot in the back, I learned later, as he crouched in hiding.




Galeazzo Ciano’s last reflections before execution

From left Goring, Ciano, Hitler and Mussolini in 1938.

There was no reason whatever, in my opinion, for us to be bound in life and death to the destiny of Nazi Germany. Instead, I favored a policy of collaboration, because given our geographic position we can and must detest the 80 million Germans, brutally set in the heart of Europe, but we cannot ignore them. The decision to enter the alliance was taken by Mussolini, suddenly, while I was in Milan with von Ribbentrop.




The Allies welcomed as they enter Naples

Daimler scout car of 1st King's Dragoon Guards at the town hall in Naples, 1 October 1943.

They screamed in relief and in pure hysteria. In tens of thousands the dirty ragged children kept crying for biscuits and sweets. When we stopped the jeep we were immediately surrounded and overwhelmed. Thrusting hands plucked at our clothing.




Mussolini is rescued in daring Fallschirmjäger raid

One of the gliders on the mountainside, illustrating the tight landing area.

Liberation in the Apennines was undertaken with gliders. One of these landed fifty feet in front of the hostelry in which the Duce was staying. Within a few minutes he was free. He was of course deeply touched at being rescued from captivity by German soldiers. Our soldiers proceeded pretty brutally and thereby kept the Italian Carabinieri guards in check. A few hours later the Duce was in Vienna. Just before calling me the Fuehrer had had a telephone conversation with him.




Italy’s dictator Benito Mussolini is deposed

Mussolini in Tripoli during a visit to Libya. He is pictured on horseback brandishing the "Sword of Islam" which was presented to him by an Arab delegation. His plans to grab Egypt from the British had been a humiliating failure - now Italy faced war on home soil.

Mussolini went in the direction indicated when he suddenly he found himself surrounded by secret police who asked him to get into a motor ambulance which was standing a little distance away. ‘Can’t I use my car ?’ he asked, ‘and where are you taking me to’ ‘To a place where you will be quite safe,’ answered the oicer. Without saying anything more, Mussolini got into the motor ambulance and was taken to a Carabinieri barracks.




Roosevelt and Churchill appeal to the Italians

A soldier guards a group of German and Italian prisoners taken at Noto, 12 July 1943.

Your soldiers have fought, not in the interests of Italy, but for Nazi Germany. They have fought courageously, but they have been betrayed and abandoned by the Germans on the Russian Front and on every battlefield in Africa from El Alamein to Cape Bon. Today Germany’s hopes for world conquest have been blasted on all fronts. The skies over Italy are dominated by the vast air armadas of the United States and Great Britain. Italy’s seacoasts are threatened by the greatest accumulation of British and Allied sea-power ever concentrated in the Mediterranean.




Mussolini sacks his Foreign Minister, Count Ciano

The ceremonial signing of the alliance pact between Germany and Italy in the Ambassadors' Chamber of the new Reichschancellery by the Italian foreign minister, Count Ciano and Reichsminister for Foreign Affairs von Ribbentrop. 20-25 May 1939

I can document all the treacheries perpetrated against us by the Germans, one after another, from the preparation of the conflict to the war on Russia, communicated to us when their troops had already crossed the border. If you need them I shall provide the details, or, better still, I shall, within the space of 24 hours, prepare that speech which I have had in my mind for three years, because I shall burst if I do not deliver it.




Mussolini – the Italians are not up to this war

Hitler and Mussolini at one of a series of meetings in the Brenner Pass. On the right is Count Ciano the Italian Foreign Minister.

The Duce, who is dissatisfied with the way things are going, said, “This war is not for the Italian people. The Italian people do not have the maturity or the consistency for such a tremendous and decisive test. This war is for the Germans and the Japanese, not for us.”




Hitler meets Mussolini at the Brenner Pass

Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini meet at the Brenner Pass

The conference … is more a monologue than anything else. Hitler talks all the time, but is less agitated than usual. He makes few gestures and speaks in a quiet tone. He looks physically fit. Mussolini listens to him with interest and with deference.