Posted on December 13th, 2017 by:

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From the May 1, 1944 Edition of Stars and Stripes

The broken and disfigured body of Benito Mussolini remained on exhibition in a Milan public square yesterday, as the story of how the former Italian dictator had met his death was given to the world he set out to conquer a decade ago.


The bodies of Il Duce and his mistress Clara Petacci hang in Milan after their execution

A United Press correspondent established that Il Duce had been shot and killed by an Italian patriot execution squad near the village of Dongo on Lake Como at ten minutes past two last Saturday afternoon. Mussolini cried “no, no,” but  a split second later his bullet-riddled body crumpled. One bullet entered through the left forehead and tore out part of the skull above the right ear.

An Italian patriot tribunal had condemned Mussolini to death. he was shocked to think that his former subjects considered him a criminal, and begged for mercy wen the death sentence was pronounced. “Let me save my life,” Il Duce screamed. “Let me save my life, and I will give you an empire.”

From Dongo, where he was tried for his crimes against the world and found guilty, the dead Mussolini was transported in a furniture van to Milan, where in 1922 he had fathered a Fascist movement. As his body hung in a Milan public square, Mussolini’s face wore a disdainful snarl and his brains were said by an American correspondent to be oozing on the pavement.

Earlier Mussolini’s head had rested on the breast of his last mistress, 25-year-old Clara Pettaci, who was tried and executed with him. His bloodstains showed up on her white blouse, which somehow had escaped the mud and filth that covered Mussolini.

Leading diplomats and newspapers of the Italian government yesterday condoned the summary execution of Mussolini and his former henchmen by patriots in northern Italy as “supreme justice.”

The Rome press generally agreed that Mussolini had met the fate he deserved, and many newspapers saw in his passing the opportunity for Italy to throw off any remaining Fascist tinge and become a respected democracy. A similar viewpoint was expressed by Italian Ambassador Alberto Tarchiani in Washington. Calling for a change in Italy’s wartime status from co-belligerent to full ally, he asserted that “with the passing of Fascist ignominy and abuse, a new chapter of Italian history begins to unfold.”

Meanwhile the roundup of men who had served Mussolini, even after Italy’s declaration of war against Germany, continued. Latest unconfirmed reports said that Giovonni Preziosi,  leader of the Fascist anti-Jewish campaign in Italy, had been arrested, as was Peter Calcagno, Italy’s Catholic-baiter.

For Further Reading Check Out:

The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe

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