About 75 years ago, on April 28, 1945, Italian partisans executed the Fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini. The death of Benito Mussolini represented more than the eradication of the Fascist dictatorship. The event marked the beginning of the end of the Italian monarchy.
Francesco Crispi, one of the founders of united Italy, proudly exclaimed: “La monarchia ci unisce, la repubblica ci divide“(” The monarchy unites us, the republic divides us “). That was the political thought that prevailed among most of the people of Italy for about 85 years, until the 1946 referendum.
On October 28, 1922, Mussolini’s Fascist troops marched on Rome. Furthermore, on October 29, 1922, King Vittorio Emanuele III appointed Mussolini’s prime minister, thereby transferring political power to Mussolini and the Fascists. With that authority, Mussolini joined the Axis Forces and led Italy to war in 1940. Italy was not ready for war; and, after many disasters on the battlefield, the king sacked Mussolini from power in 1943, and imprisoned him. However, the damage to the monarchy’s credibility began to take root.
Otto Skorzeny freed Mussolini from custody during the Gran Sasso attack. After that, Adolf Hitler put Mussolini in charge of the puppet regime in northern Italy, La Repubblica Sociale Italiana (Italian Social Republic). In April 1945, Mussolini and her employer tried to escape to neutral Switzerland. The partisans captured them, killed him and his mistress, stained their bodies; and, after that, hang them upside down from the girder at the service station in Milan. Hitler will commit suicide two days later.
After Germany’s surrender, King Vittorio Emanuele abdicated; and his son, Umberto II, took the throne for about 30 days before the Italians chose the republic.
Italy’s view of monarchy has changed drastically after the Fascist failure; much of the chaos was blamed on the monarchy. The Italians realized that the blessing of freedom – the freedom to choose their national leaders – placed the faith and fate of the nation in their hands. And, even though the Republic of Italy has gone through many changes of government since 1946, the republic has remained captivating to the Italians – and, obviously, very durable.
With the utmost respect for yours,
Albert J. Cupo, President of the Dante Alighieri Society
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