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Benito Mussolini & Count Galeazzo Ciano


Benito Mussolini & Count Galeazzo Ciano

Despite his daughter’s pleas, Mussolini ordered his own son-in-law, Count Galeazzo Ciano, executed by firing squad after his conviction for treason.

Despite his daughter’s pleas, Mussolini ordered his own son-in-law, Count Galeazzo Ciano, executed by firing squad after his conviction for treason.

by Michael Haskew

Allied victory in North Africa and the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, meant only one thing for the Fascist government of Benito Mussolini. Its grip on Italy was slowly slipping. Within days of the Allied landings in Sicily, Mussolini was ousted from office and arrested.

Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler sent commandos to rescue Il Duce (the leader) from his mountain prison, and subsequently Mussolini established a new Fascist state in northern Italy, the Italian Social Republic. With German support, Mussolini set about evening the score with those who had supported his removal from the seat of government in Rome.

Well-Founded Suspicions

Among those members of the Fascist Grand Council who had voted to remove Mussolini was former Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano, Mussolini’s own son-in law. Married to Il Duce’s daughter Edda and the father of his three grandchildren, Ciano was a hero of the Italian conquest of Ethiopia during the mid-1930s. But Mussolini had distrusted his daughter’s husband for some time. That distrust had prompted Il Duce to remove Ciano from the post of foreign minister in February 1943, and subsequently appoint him as ambassador to the Holy See at Vatican City. There in the confines of Rome, Mussolini could keep an eye on his disloyal son-in-law.

Mussolini’s suspicions of Ciano were well founded. Ciano did not support Italy’s march toward war in Europe, believing that his country’s military was far from ready to engage in a conflict with other major powers. When Mussolini declared war on France on June 10, 1940, he wrote in his diary, “I am sad – very sad. The adventure begins. May God help Italy!” Ciano was also reported to have slipped information to the government of Belgium, a neutral country, that its territory would serve as a highway for the coming Nazi invasion of France in the spring of that year. Ciano became further disillusioned with the steady string of defeats suffered by the Italian armed forces from 1939 to 1943.

By the time the Nazis had propped Mussolini up as the head of the Italian Socialist Republic, Ciano and his family had sought sanctuary in Germany. Rather than providing sanctuary, the Nazis handed Ciano over to his vengeful father-in-law. He was charged with treason and imprisoned for more than a year. During a show trial in the city of Verona, he was found guilty and sentenced to death. Although Edda pleaded for Ciano’s life, her father was unmoved.

“Long Live Italy!”

On January 11, 1944, Ciano and 17 other enemies of Il Duce were marched out of their prison cells, tied to chairs, and shot in the back. Reportedly, Ciano’s last words were, “Long live Italy!”

Edda failed in an attempt to trade Ciano’s secret diary, filled with compromising and embarrassing information about Mussolini, Hitler and several members of their Fascist and Nazi regimes, for her husband’s life. After his execution, she hid the manuscript for several months. It was translated and published in English for the first time in 1946. Numerous authors have also used the diary as a primary source, providing a unique glimpse into the treachery of Hitler and Mussolini that plunged Europe into war.

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  1. Posted June 11, 2015 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    My late husband,Navy, and father,Army, were both in WW11. My father was in the Liberation of the Philippines as a radio man.
    I discovered by my husbands’ Naval records that his ship’s fleet was in Philippine Sea at the same time, protecting General Douglas MacArthur and his troops. That of course is something neither of them knew, as I didn’t discover this fact till long after they passed. My father suffered from PTSD because of this horrific battle. My husband was a Gunners Mate and at 19 was fighting the Kamakazi Suicide planes that attacked his ship, which was also one of the ships in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, but had slight damage to it and was repaired to return to battle. My husband was Two years in the Atlantic and two years in the Pacific in 5 theaters of war. He was a brave man and so young! I grew up in WW11 and it left a huge footprint of mixed memories that I will never forget. There is so much I could tell about America and its’ response to the attack, but the biggest memory I have is the entire American Nation , coast to coast, was devoted to our winning the war and we were as one huge family from December 7, 1941 to August 15, 1945. ‘911’ was a
    flashback to WW11. Our 230 year Republic government has been the longest in history, and we can be very proud of that fact. My great uncle also fought in the American Revolution and the War of 1812. I feel a devotion to America and have watched many changes… from bad to good and good to bad. But the American soul will always be deeply felt in pride and in preserving its’ place in world history. God Bless America!

  2. Posted June 11, 2015 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    I just watched a video called “Tea With Mussolini” which is a true story of how a group of English women and 2 American women survived the Socialist Party of Benito Mussolini from 1936 to 1943. It featured the story of why and how these women lived in Italy at the time. The entire story was deeply moving to a degree of understanding for the first time what Italy had undergone during this mans disturbing time as dictator. I would strongly recommend seeing it if there is an interest in what that period of time was actually like. It was filmed in the actual areas that the story took place with all the historical buildings and galleries to see.

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  1. […] back to King Vittorio Emanuele III. Ciano was one of the many members of the Grand Council whose voted no confidence in […]

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