This week sees the 75th anniversary of the fall of Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and, since nobody likes a fascist dictator, we thought that we would nod to it here.
The actual circumstances surrounding the death of “Il Duce” as he liked to be called are somewhat vague but the best guess is that he was intercepted trying to flee to Switzerland with his mistress by communist partisans. Having little idea what to do with them they held them for a bit and then it was decided by the upper echelons of command that they should be executed without trial and an executioner was dispatched to do the job. That kind of remains the most likely explanation at least outside of Italy. If you do a bit of reading around the subject you’ll find that within the country itself there are all kinds of other explanations and theories, some of them quite bizarre – for example British Special Operations did the deed because Mussolini had incriminating correspondence about him in which Churchill had offered he and Hitler a deal to ‘team up’ against The Soviet Union. Hmmm. Not sure about that but we suppose stranger things have happened.
Anyhow after the execution the body was put on public display for the purpose of humiliation before being taken away for autopsy by the Americans. Supposedly samples of his brain were taken away to America in an attempt to prove that he was suffering from syphilis which had driven him mad (he hadn’t – it turns out that fascism is just its own kind of madness). Thereafter the body was buried in an unmarked grave, dug up by fascist sympathisers, recovered and then hidden for many years until some bright spark decided that it should be buried in the Mussolini family plot. Now it’s a place of pilgrimage for neo Fascists to go every 28th March. Way to go…
Anyway we don’t like fascists so we’ll give you this decent anti-fascist tune by the redoubtable Elvis Costello: