Allied operations for the liberation of Italy from the Nazi troops came to an end. German troops could no longer hold the territory of the Italian Social Republic under control, under the conditions of a massive offensive by superior Allied forces in the anti-Hitler coalition. A small detachment of 200 German soldiers, commanded by Lieutenant Hans Fallmeier, on the night from 26 to 27 in April, 1945 was moving towards the Swiss border. From the settlement of Menaggio, to which the Germans were leaving Italy, led the road to neutral Switzerland. German soldiers had no idea that the column was watched by partisans from the detachment of Captain David Barbieri. The armored car following at the head of the German column, armed with two machine guns and an 20-mm gun, posed a certain threat to the partisan detachment, since the partisans did not have heavy weapons, and did not want to go with rifles and machine guns. Therefore, the guerrillas decided to act only when the column approached the rubble blocking its further path.
Elderly Noncom Officer Luftwaffe
At about 6.50 in the morning, watching the movement of the column from the mountain, Captain Barbieri fired a pistol into the air. In response, there was a machine-gun burst from a German armored car. However, the German column could not continue moving forward. Therefore, when the three Italian partisans with a white flag appeared from behind a truck behind the armored car, German officers Kiznatt and Birzer came out of the truck following the armored car. Negotiations began. From the part of the partisans they were joined by Count Pierre Luigi Bellini della Stella (pictured) - the commander of the 52 division of the Garibaldi Brigade. Despite his 25 years, the young aristocrat enjoyed great prestige among the Italian partisans - anti-fascists. Lieutenant Hans Fallmeier, who speaks Italian, explained to Bellini that the convoy was moving to Merano and the German unit did not intend to engage in armed clashes with the partisans. However, Bellini had the order of the command of the partisans - not to let the armed groups pass, and this order also extended to the Germans. Although the guerrilla commander himself was well aware that he did not have the strength to resist the Germans in an open battle - with the detachment of Captain Barbieri, the partisans who stopped the German convoy numbered only fifty against two hundred German soldiers. The Germans had a few guns, and the partisans were armed with rifles and daggers, and only three easel machine guns could be considered as serious weapons. Therefore, Bellini sent messengers to all partisan detachments stationed nearby, with a request to withdraw armed fighters along the road.
Bellini demanded that Lieutenant Fallmeier separate the German soldiers from the Italian fascists who followed along with the convoy. In this case, the partisan commander guaranteed the Germans unhindered access to Switzerland through partisan-controlled territories. Fallmeier insisted on fulfilling Bellini's demands, eventually convincing Birzer and Kizatt to land the Italians. Only one Italian was allowed to follow on with the Germans. A man in the uniform of a non-commissioned officer of the Luftwaffe, in a helmet pulled over his forehead and dark glasses, got into the truck of the convoy along with other German soldiers. Leaving the Italians surrounded by partisans, the German column moved on. It was three in the afternoon. At three hours and ten minutes, the convoy reached the Dongo checkpoint, on which Urbano Lazzaro, the political commissar of the partisan detachment, was in command. He demanded that Lieutenant Fallmeier show all the trucks and, together with the German officer, began checking the convoy vehicles. Lazzaro had information that Benito Mussolini himself could be in the convoy. True, the political commissar of the partisan detachment reacted to the words of captain Barbieri with irony, but it was still worth checking the convoy. When Lazzaro, along with Fallmeier, studied the documents of the German column, Giuseppe Negri ran up to him - one of the partisans who had once served in the naval navy. At one time, Negri had the opportunity to serve on a ship that was carrying Duce, so he knew well in the face of the fascist dictator. Running to Lazzaro, Negri whispered: "We found a villain!" Urbano Lazzaro and Count Bellini della Stella approached the checkpoint. When a middle-aged non-commissioned officer, the Luftwaffe was slapped on the shoulder with the words “gentleman Benito Mussolini!”, He was not surprised at all, said “I will not do anything”, and got down from the car to the ground.
Last hours of life
Mussolini was taken to the municipality, and then, at about seven o'clock in the evening, was transported to Germazino - to the financial guard barracks. Meanwhile, Clara Petacci, who was planted during the day from a German column along with other Italians, had a meeting with Count Bellini. She asked him only one thing - to allow her to be with Mussolini. In the end, Bellini promised her to think and consult with her comrades in the partisan movement - the commander knew that Mussolini expected to die, but did not dare to allow the woman, who had no political decisions in general, to go to certain death with his beloved daughter. At half past twelve in the evening, Count Bellini della Stella received an order from Colonel Baron Giovanni Sardagna to transport the arrested Mussolini to the village of Blevio, eight kilometers north of Como. Bellini was required to maintain the status of "Incognito" for Mussolini and pass off as an English officer who was wounded in one of the battles with the Germans. So the Italian partisans wanted to hide the whereabouts of the Duce from the Americans, who hoped to “take” Mussolini from the partisans, as well as prevent possible attempts to free the Duce from the dead fascists, and prevent self-propelling.
When Bellini drove the duce towards Blevio village, he received permission from the deputy political commissar of the brigade Michel Moretti and regional inspector for Lombardy Luigi Canali to place Clara Petacci to Mussolini. In the area of Dongo Clara, brought to Moretti's car, got into the car, where they drove the Duce. In the end, Duce and Clara were taken to Blevio and placed in the house of Giacomo de Maria and his wife Leah. Giacomo was a member of the partisan movement and was not used to asking unnecessary questions, so he quickly prepared a night for the night guests, although he did not know who he was receiving at his house. In the morning, high-ranking guests came to Count Bellini. The deputy political commissar of the Garibaldi brigade Michel Moretti brought a middle-aged man to the Bellini who introduced himself as “Colonel Valerio”. Thirty-six-year-old Walter Audisio, as the colonel was actually called, was a participant in the war in Spain, and later an active partisan. It was on him that one of the leaders of the Italian Communists, Luigi Longo, laid a mission of special importance. Colonel Valerio was to personally lead the execution of Benito Mussolini.
During his sixty-year life, Benito Mussolini survived a lot of attempts. He had been in the balance of death more than once in his youth. During the First World War, Mussolini served in the regiment of the Bersaliers - the elite Italian infantry, where he rose to the rank of corporal solely because of his courage. Mussolini was commissioned from the service because during the preparation of the mortar for a shot, the mine exploded in the barrel, and the future duce of Italian fascism was seriously wounded by the leg. When Mussolini, who led the National Fascist Party, came to power in Italy, at first he enjoyed enormous prestige among the general population. Mussolini’s policy was mixed with a combination of nationalist and social slogans - just what the masses need. But among the anti-fascists, among whom were communists, socialists and anarchists, Mussolini provoked hatred - after all, fearing the communist revolution in Italy, he began repressions against the leftist movement. In addition to police persecution, leftist activists were exposed to the daily risk of physical violence by the Squadrists, the militants of the Mussolini fascist party. Naturally, among the Italian left more and more voices were heard in support of the need for the physical elimination of Mussolini.
Attempt by a deputy named Tito
Tito Dzaniboni, forty-two years old (1883-1960) was a member of the Italian Socialist Party. From a young age, he actively participated in the public and political life of Italy, was an ardent patriot of his country and a champion of social justice. During World War I, Tito Dzaniboni served as a major in the 8 Alpine Regiment, was awarded medals and orders and demobilized as a lieutenant colonel. After the war, he sympathized with the poet Gabriele D'Annunzio, who led the movement "Popolo d'Italia". By the way, Annunzio is considered the most important predecessor of Italian fascism, so Tito Dzaniboni had every chance to become, rather, Mussolini’s ally rather than his enemy. However, fate decreed otherwise. By 1925, the fascist party under the leadership of Mussolini had already moved away from the early slogans of social justice. Duce increasingly collaborated with large capital, sought to further strengthen the state and forgot about the social slogans that he proclaimed in the first post-war years. Tito Dzaniboni, on the contrary, actively participated in the socialist movement, was one of the leaders of the Italian socialists, and besides, was in one of the Masonic lodges.
4 November 1925 of the Year Benito Mussolini was to receive a parade of the Italian army and the fascist militia, welcoming the passing units from the balcony of the Italian Foreign Ministry in Rome. This is what Socialist Tito Dzaniboni decided to take advantage of in order to crack down on the hated duce. He rented a room in the hotel, whose windows overlooked Palazzo Chigi, where he was to appear on the balcony of Benito Mussolini. From the window, Tito could not only observe, but also shoot at a duce who appeared on the balcony. To remove suspicion, Dzaniboni acquired the form of a fascist militia, after which he carried a rifle to the hotel.
It is likely that Mussolini’s death could have occurred then, in the 1925 year, twenty years before the end of World War II. Perhaps there would be no war, for Adolf Hitler would not have risked joining it without a reliable ally in Europe. But Tito Dzaniboni, to his misfortune, turned out to be too trusting towards his friends. And too talkative. He spoke about his plan to an old friend, without assuming that the latter would report the impending assassination attempt on the cannon police. For Tito Dzaniboni was monitored. Police agents followed the socialist for several weeks. But the police did not want to “take” Dzaniboni before he decided to attempt. They expected to arrest Tito at the crime scene. On the appointed day of the parade, November 4 1925, Mussolini prepared to go out to the balcony to greet the passing troops. At this moment, Tito Dzaniboni was preparing to commit an attempt on the life of a duce in a rented room. His plans did not come true - police officers rushed into the room. Benito Mussolini, who received the news of the assassination attempt on him, went to the balcony ten minutes after the appointed time, but accepted the parade of the Italian troops and the fascist militia.
All Italian newspapers reported on the assassination attempt on Mussolini. For some time, the theme of the possible murder of Mussolini became the most important both in the press and in backroom conversations. The Italian population, in general, positively perceived the duce, sent him letters of congratulations, ordered prayers in Catholic churches. Tito Dzaniboni, of course, was accused of having links with the Czechoslovak socialists, who, according to the Italian police, and paid for the upcoming murder of the Duce. Also, Tito was accused of drug addiction. However, since in the 1925, the domestic policy of the Italian fascists was not yet marked by the harshness of the pre-war years, Tito Dzaniboni received a relatively lenient sentence for the totalitarian state — he was given thirty years in prison. In 1943, he was released from prison on Ponza, and in 1944 he became the high commissioner responsible for filtering the ranks of the fascists who had surrendered to the resistance. Tito was lucky not only to be released, but also to spend a decade and a half on it. In 1960, he passed away at the age of seventy-seven.
Why did an Irish lady shoot a duce?
In the spring of 1926, another attempt was made on Benito Mussolini. 6 April 1926 Dutsch, who was to go to Libya the next day - then an Italian colony, spoke in Rome at the opening of the International Medical Congress. After welcoming the speech, Benito Mussolini, accompanied by adjutants, headed for the car. At that moment, an unknown woman fired a pistol at a cannon. The bullet went on a tangent, scratching the nose of the leader of Italian fascism. Again, by a miracle Mussolini managed to avoid death - if the woman were a bit more marked and the bullet would hit the head. The shooter was detained by police. It turned out that this was British subject to Violet Gibson.
Italian intelligence agencies are interested in the reasons that prompted this woman to decide to make an attempt on the Duce. First of all, they were interested in the possible connections of a woman with foreign intelligence services or political organizations that could shed light on the motives of the crime and, at the same time, discover hidden enemies of the Duce who are ready for its physical elimination. The investigation of the incident was entrusted to the officer Guido Letty, who served in the Organization for the Observation and Suppression of Anti-Fascism (OVRA) - the Italian counterintelligence service. Letty contacted his British colleagues and was able to get some reliable information about Violet Gibson.
It turned out that the woman who attempted on Mussolini, is a representative of the Anglo-Irish aristocratic family. Her father served as Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and her brother, Lord Eschborn, lived in France and did not engage in any political or public activity. We managed to find out that Violet Gibson sympathized with Shin Fein - the Irish nationalist party, but she had never personally participated in political activities. In addition, Violet Gibson was clearly mentally ill - so, once she had a seizure in central London. Thus, the second attempt on Mussolini was not politically motivated, but was committed by an ordinary mentally unbalanced woman. Benito Mussolini, considering the mental state of Violet Gibson, and not wanting to quarrel with the UK to a greater extent if the representative of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy was convicted, ordered to deport Gibson from Italy. Despite a scratched nose, the day after the assassination attempt, Mussolini left for Libya with a planned visit.
Violet Gibson did not incur any criminal liability for the attempted assassination. In turn, in Italy, the next attempt on Mussolini caused a flurry of negative emotions among the population. 10 April, four days after the incident, Benito Mussolini received a letter from a fourteen-year-old girl. Her name was Clara Petachchi. The girl wrote: “My duce, you are our life, our dream, our glory! About the duce, why was I not there? Why I could not strangle this nasty woman who hurt you, hurt our deity? ” Mussolini sent his photograph to the next young lover who was in love with her, unaware that after twenty years Clara Petacci would leave his life with him, becoming his last and most faithful companion. The attempts themselves were used by the Duce to further toughen the fascist regime in the country and move to full-scale repression against left-wing parties and movements, which also enjoyed the sympathies of a significant part of the Italian population.
Anarchists vs. Duce: The Attempt of the Veteran Luchetti
After the unsuccessful attempt of the socialist Tito Dzaniboni and the unhappy woman Violet Gibson, the relay of the organization of attempts on the duce passed to the Italian anarchists. It should be noted that in Italy the anarchist movement traditionally had very strong positions. Unlike in Northern Europe, where anarchism never became so widespread, in Italy, Spain, Portugal, and partly in France, anarchist ideology was easily perceived by the local population. The ideas of free peasant communities "according to Kropotkin" were not foreign to Italian or Spanish peasants. In Italy in the first half of the twentieth century, numerous anarchist organizations operated. By the way, the anarchist Gaetano Bresci killed the Italian king Umberto in 1900 year. Since the anarchists had a lot of experience in underground and armed struggle, they were ready to commit acts of individual terror, they were the first time in the vanguard of the anti-fascist movement in Italy. After the establishment of the fascist regime, the anarchist organizations of Italy had to operate in an illegal situation. In 1920-s. in the mountains of Italy, the first partisan units were formed, controlled by anarchists and sabotage against objects of national importance.
Another 21 March 1921. Young anarchist Biagio Mazi came to Benito Mussolini's house at Foro Buonaparte in Milan. He was going to shoot the fascist leader, but did not find him at home. The next day, Biagio Mazi reappeared in the house of Mussolini, but this time there was a whole group of fascists there and Mazi decided to leave without starting an assassination attempt. After that, Mazi left Milan for Trieste and there he told a friend about his intentions regarding the murder of Mussolini. The friend was “suddenly”, and reported on the attempted assassination attempt made by Mazi to the police of Trieste. Anarchist arrested. After that, the message about the unsuccessful attempt was published in the newspaper. This was the signal for more radical anarchists who blew up a bomb in the Diana Theater in Milan. Killed 18 people - ordinary visitors to the theater. The explosion played into the hands of Mussolini, who used the anarchist act of terror to denounce the leftist movement. After the explosion, fascist detachments throughout Italy began to attack the anarchists, attacked the office of the editorial board of “Defeat Nuova” - the newspaper “New humanity”, which was published by the most authoritative Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta, who was friends with Kropotkin himself. The release of the newspaper after the attacks of the Nazis was discontinued.
11 September 1926, when Benito Mussolini drove by car through the Piazza Pia square in Rome, an unknown young man threw a grenade into the car. The grenade bounced off the car and exploded on the ground. The guy who tried to live on the duce could not fight off the police, although he was armed with a pistol. The bomb was detained. It turned out to be twenty-six years old Gino Luchetti (1900-1943). He calmly told the police: “I am an anarchist. I came from Paris to kill Mussolini. I was born in Italy, I have no associates. ” Two more grenades, a pistol and sixty lira were found in the detainee’s pockets. In his youth, Lucetti participated in the First World War in the assault units, and then joined the "Arditi del Popolo" - the Italian anti-fascist organization, created from former front-line soldiers. Lucetti worked in the marble quarries in Carrara, then emigrated to France. As a member of the anarchist movement, he hated Benito Mussolini, the fascist regime he created, and dreamed that he would kill the Italian dictator with his own hands. To this end, he returned from France to Rome. After the arrest of Luchetti, the police began to search for his alleged accomplices.
The secret services arrested his mother, sister, brother Luchetti, his colleagues at the marble quarries, and even his neighbors in the hotel where he lived after returning from France. In June, 1927 held a trial on the assassination attempt on Gino Lucetti on Benito Mussolini’s life. The anarchist was sentenced to life penal servitude, since the death penalty was not yet in force in Italy during the period under review. Twenty years in prison were twenty-eight-year-old Leandro Sorio and thirty-year-old Stefano Vatteroni, who were accused of complicity in the attempted assassination. Vincenzo Baldazzi, a veteran of the Arditi del Popoli and a long-time comrade Luchetti, was convicted for giving his assassin to use. Then, after serving his term, he was again arrested and sent to prison - this time for organizing help to his wife Lucetti while her husband was in prison.
Among historians there is still no consensus on the nature of the assassination of Lucetti. Some researchers argue that the attempt on Mussolini was the result of a carefully planned conspiracy of Italian anarchists, in which a large number of people participated, representing anarchist groups from various locations in the country. Other historians see in the attempt on the life of Lucetti, the typical act of a loner. Like Tito Dzaniboni, Gino Luchetti was liberated in the 1943 year, after the Allied forces occupied a large part of Italy. However, he was less fortunate than Tito Zamboni - in the same 1943 of the city, 17 of September, he died as a result of the bombing. He was only forty-three years old. In the name of Gino Luchetti, the Italian anarchists called their partisan formation “the Battalion of Lucetti”, the detachments of which operated in the Carrara region - just where Gino Luchetti worked in his marble career as a youth. Thus, the memory of the anarchist who assaulted Mussolini was immortalized by his like-minded people - the anti-fascist partisans.
The assassination of Gino Luchetti seriously worried Mussolini. After all, one thing - a strange woman Gibson and quite another - Italian anarchists. Mussolini knew the degree of anarchist influence among the Italian common people, since he himself was an anarchist and a socialist in his youth. The Directorate of the fascist party issued an appeal to the Italian people, which said: “The merciful god saved Italy! Mussolini remained unharmed. From his command post, to which he immediately returned with magnificent calm, he gave us the order: No repression! Blackshirts! You must follow the orders of the chief, who alone has the right to judge and determine the line of conduct. We call upon him, who fearlessly meets this new proof of our boundless devotion: Long live Italy! Long live Mussolini! ” This appeal was aimed at appeasing the agitated masses of Duce supporters who gathered in Rome a hundred-thousand rally against the assassination attempt on Benito. Nevertheless, although the statement said “No reprisals!”, In fact, after the third attempt on the life of the Duchi, police control in the country was even more strengthened. The indignation of the masses, who deified the duce, and the actions of the anti-fascists who encroached on his life grew. The consequences of the fascist propaganda did not take long to wait - if the first three people who attempted to kill Mussolini survived, the fourth attempt on Mussolini ended in the death of the attempted person.
Sixteen anarchist torn apart by a mob
October 30 1926, a little more than a month and a half after the third attempt, Benito Mussolini, accompanied by his relatives, arrived in Bologna. In the old capital of Italian higher education was scheduled parade of the fascist party. In the evening of October 31, Benito Mussolini went to the train station, from where he was supposed to take a train to Rome. Relatives of Mussolini went to the station separately, and Duce went in the car with Dino Grandi and the mayor of Bologna. The fighters of the militia were on duty on the sidewalks among the public, so the duce felt safe. On the Via del Indipendenza, a young man standing on the sidewalk in the shape of a fascist youth avant-garde shot Mussolini into a car with a revolver. The bullet hit the uniform of the mayor of Bologna, Mussolini himself was not injured. The driver drove at high speed to the railway station. Meanwhile, a crowd of onlookers and fighters of the fascist militia attacked the attempted youth. He was beaten to death, knifed and shot through with pistols. The body of the unfortunate was torn to pieces and worn around the city in a triumphal procession, thanks to heaven for the miraculous salvation of the duce. By the way, the first who grabbed the young man was a cavalry officer, Carlo Alberto Pasolini. A few decades later, his son Pierre Paolo will become a world famous director.
The young man who shot at Mussolini was called Anteo Zamboni. He was only sixteen years old. Like his father, a printer from Bologna Mammolo Zamboni, Anteo was an anarchist and made the decision to kill Mussolini on his own, approaching the assassination attempt seriously. But if Father Anteo then went over to the side of Mussolini, which was typical for many former anarchists, then the young Zamboni was loyal to the anarchist idea and saw a bloody tyrant as a duce. For conspiracy, he joined the fascist youth movement and acquired the avant-garde outfit. Before the assassination attempt, Anteo wrote a note in which it was said: “I cannot fall in love, because I don’t know if I would stay alive by doing what I decided to do. To kill a tyrant who torments a nation is not a crime, but justice. To die for the cause of freedom is beautiful and holy. " When Mussolini found out that a sixteen-year-old boy had attempted to kill him and that he was torn apart by a mob, the Duce complained to his sister about the immorality of “using children to commit crimes”. Later, after the war, the name of the unfortunate youth Anteo Zamboni would name one of the streets of his hometown of Bologna and place a memorial plaque with the text “The people of Bologna in one striving revere their brave sons who fell victims in the twenty-year anti-fascist struggle. This stone has illuminated the name of Anteo Zamboni for centuries, for his selfless love of freedom. The young martyr was brutally murdered here by the thugs of the dictatorship 31-10-1926. ”
The tightening of the political regime in Italy was followed precisely by the assassination attempts on Mussolini committed in the 1925-1926 years. At that time, all the basic laws that restricted political freedoms in the country were adopted, massive repressions were started against dissidents, first of all against communists and socialists. But, having survived the assassination and brutally repaid his political opponents, Mussolini could not retain his power. After twenty years, he, along with Clara Petacci, the same fan from the mid-twenties, was sitting in a small room in the village house of the de María family when a man entered the door who said that he had come to "save and free". Colonel Valerio said so to appease Mussolini - in fact, he, along with the driver and two partisans named Guido and Pietro, arrived in Blevio to execute the death sentence of the former dictator of Italy.
Colonel Valerio, aka Walter Audiosio, had personal accounts for Mussolini. Even in his youth, Valerio was sentenced to five years in prison on Ponza Island for participating in an underground anti-fascist group. In 1934-1939 he was serving a prison sentence, and after his release resumed underground activities. Since September, 1943, Mr. Walter Audiodio, has organized partisan detachments in Casale Monferrato. During the war, he joined the Italian Communist Party, where he quickly made a career and became an inspector of the Garibaldi brigade, commanded units operating in the province of Mantua and in the valley of the river Po. When the fighting broke out in Milan, it was Colonel Valerio who became the main protagonist of the Milan anti-fascist resistance. He enjoyed the confidence of Luigi Longo and the latter ordered him to personally lead the execution of Mussolini. After the war, Walter Audiodio took part in the work of the Communist Party for a long time, was elected a deputy, and died in 1973 from a heart attack.
Penalty Benito and Clara
Gathered, Benito Mussolini and Clara Petacci followed Colonel Valerio into his car. The car started off. Arriving at the Villa Belmonte, the colonel ordered the driver to stop the car at the dead gate and ordered the passengers to leave. “By order of the command of the Freedom Corps volunteer corps, I was entrusted with the mission to carry out the sentence of the Italian people,” announced Colonel Valerio. Clara Petachchi was indignant, not yet fully believing that they were going to be shot without a court sentence. Automatic Valerio jammed, and the gun misfired. The colonel shouted to Michel Moretti, who was nearby, to give him his automatic rifle. Moretti had a French D-Mas sample, released in 1938 under No. F. 20830. It was this weapon, which was armed with the deputy political commissar of the Garibaldi brigade, put an end to the life of Mussolini and his faithful companion Clara Petacci. Mussolini unzipped his jacket and said, “Shoot me in the chest.” Clara tried to grab the barrel of the machine gun, but was shot first. Nine bullets were shot by Benito Mussolini. Four bullets hit the descending aorta, the rest in the thigh, cervical bone, nape, thyroid, and right arm.
The bodies of Benito Mussolini and Clara Petacci were taken to Milan. At a gas station near Piazza Loreto, the bodies of the Italian dictator and his mistress were hung upside down on a specially built gallows. Thirteen fascist leaders who were executed in Dongo were hanged there, among them the general secretary of the fascist party Alessandro Pavolini and Clara's brother Marcello Petacci. The fascists were hanged in the same place where half a year earlier, in August 1944, fascist punishers shot fifteen captured Italian partisans - communists.