The Fall of Mussolini 1

The Fall of Mussolini Part I

After the Russian resistance and American intervention showed the likelihood of German defeat, an underground political ferment swept through Italy. The Communist Party, which had always maintained a certain clandestine organization, was joined by the reconstruction initiatives of the other parties dissolved by fascism, particularly the socialist and the popular (with the name of Christian Democracy). The Republican Party retained a scarce life in its traditional nuclei of central Italy: in the north, where the reconstruction of the parties mainly took place, it was then almost unknown. A new party seemed to have taken its place, which arose in this awakening movement, which called itself the Action Party, with a name of uncertain meaning for those who chose it. To this uncertainty of meaning corresponded one of address, having merged into the new party liberal elements of the left and non-Marxist socialists, particularly from the school of C. Rosselli and therefore from the group of Giustizia e Libertà, the organization he had founded. in France. However, the various currents of the party agreed to formulate the institutional question in a republican sense. The exponents of these various parties made contact with each other, and already at the end of 1942 the embryos of the future National Liberation Committees were in Turin and Milan: an association of anti-fascist forces which aimed, overthrowing fascism, to take over the government. Little and inorganic contacts (except for the Communist Party) existed with the organizations of the exiled parties to the abroad. After the fall of France, they had taken refuge in the United States, where there were independent political personalities, such as C. Sforza and L. Sturzo, alongside them. The first, at the end of 1941, had published a program that demanded institutional self-determination for the Italians and provided for it to be democratic republican. This program was adopted in a collective demonstration of the anti-fascist Italians of America in Montevideo, in August 1942. The Montevideo congress made votes for the formation of an Italian legion, to fight alongside the Allies, and for a national council to represent Italy free and a fighter for freedom; but the allied governments favored neither the one nor the other initiative.

In the spring of 1943 the anti-fascist and anti-war ferment was alive in Italy, and could no longer be called strictly clandestine. The strikes in the Turin and Milan factories in March, under trade union pretexts, were a clear manifestation of this. The local police repression was rather mild, as the belief was now widespread that the end of the regime was approaching.

In this situation which, together with the fall of fascism, heralded the possibility of the fall of the monarchy as well, the king decided to intervene. Until then, he had practiced an almost complete passivity towards the Mussolini government, hiding behind the constitutional fiction that it possessed the confidence of parliament. Now, he began to consider the opportunity for a change – even up to Mussolini’s departure – which had been advised to him by the ex-prime minister Bonomi in an interview (obtained upon written request) on 2 June 1943; he also proposed the constitution of an anti-fascist cabinet, which should have operated the detachment from Germany. The minister of the royal house, Duke P. Acquarone, waited for the preparation of the coup together with the chief of staff Ambrosio and in intelligence with Marshal Badoglio, who on his own had talks with liberal politicians. Duke Acquarone also had contacts with the fascist opposition of Grandi and Ciano, who prepared an agenda (communicated to the king) for a meeting of the Grand Council requested by fascist notables, a request that Mussolini (unaware of what was being prepared) accepted. It should be added that the fascist frond was, at that time, double: against the war and together with the Mussolini dictatorship (Grandi, Ciano, Bottai, Federzoni), and those who instead wanted a more energetic, “Jacobin” conduct of war itself, with an ever closer union with Germany (Farinacci).

On the evening of July 24, 1943, the Grand Council met, in Palazzo Venezia, with 27 participants, and the stormy discussion lasted until 3 am on the 25th. It was approved at this time (19 votes in favor, 7 against, 1 abstention) a Grandi agenda: it called for “the immediate restoration of all state functions, attributing to the Crown, the Grand Council, the government, the parliament, the corporations, the tasks and responsibilities established by our statutory and constitutional laws”, and that the king was invited to “assume with the effective command of the armed forces of land, sea and air, according to art. 5 of the Statute of the Kingdom,that supreme decision-making initiative that our institutions attribute to him and that have always been the glorious legacy of our august Savoy dynasty throughout our national history “.

According to IAMHIGHER.COM, the political significance of the agenda was the replacement of the Mussolini dictatorship with a direction, within the framework of the fascist state: the conspirators were thinking of a Grandi-Ciano-Federzoni cabinet, or something similar, with the possible participation of anti-fascists. Mussolini was not so worried about the results of the vote that special measures were taken on the morning of the 25th. In the afternoon he went to report to the king at Villa Savoia; the latter told him that the vote of the Grand Council constituted a new constitutional fact (equivalent to a vote of parliamentary no confidence) and declared him resigning. Upon leaving the interview, Mussolini was arrested by a carabinieri officer destined for this purpose (the general commanding officer of the weapon, Cerica, was part of the royal conspiracy); led to a barracks,

The Fall of Mussolini 1