The Fall of Mussolini Part II

In the evening, the king appointed Badoglio as president of the council; but he rejected the idea presented by him (according to the prior agreement with Bonomi) of calling anti-fascist politicians with him, saying that they were “ghosts”. The announcement of the two facts was given by the radio at 10.45 pm; at the same time a proclamation from the king was published, declaring that he would assume command of the armed forces. “No deviation must be tolerated, no recrimination can be allowed… Italy… will find in the respect of the institutions that have always supported its rise, the path of recovery”. It was, therefore, a vague announcement of a return to the statutory system; but at the same time a warlike recovery program against the Allies. At the proclamation of King Badoglio he accompanied one signed by him, of which he had been given the text: “By order of His Majesty the king and emperor I assume the military government of the country, with full powers. The war continues: Italy… keeps its word, jealous guardian of its millenary traditions. Close ranks around His Majesty the king and emperor… The delivery received is clear and precise… anyone who deceives himself into being able to hinder normal development, or tries to disturb public order, will be inexorably affected “. It was said (and never denied) that Orlando had collaborated in the drafting of the proclamations, to whom the phrase: “The war continues” would particularly go back. This was followed by the referral of the protection of public order to the military authorities, the curfew from dusk to dawn, the ban on meetings in closed rooms. On July 27, ministers were appointed, taken solely from the high ranks of the bureaucracy. Mussolini, from his detention, made an act of adhesion to the new government.

At the announcement of the fall of Mussolini, all the people in Rome, it can be said, had gone down the same night in the streets, praising the end of fascism and freedom: the same happened a little later in the other cities. An attempt was made to stem and neutralize this impetuous movement of political recovery with the first measures of the new government, which were, in addition to those indicated by the police, the suppression of the Grand Council and the special tribunal, the dissolution of the PNF, the prohibition of the constitution of any departed for the duration of the war, the dissolution of the Chamber of Fasci and Corporations, the announcement of the election of a new chamber within four months of the end of the war. Evidently, the royal plan was to keep all power in hand, through the constitutional screen of Badoglio’s counter-signature, and to consider the pure and simple return to the statute already acquired, with the elimination of the PNF. Then there was a rumor that the princess of Piedmont, for having advocated the abdication of the king and prince of Piedmont, and the proclamation of the prince of Naples under regency – which should have been that of the princess herself – was sent to arrest in a castle of the Piedmont.

However, it was not so easy to get rid of political parties, and in general of the resumption of political life, even if control over the press could be exercised through the maintained Ministry of Popular Culture. The same series of anti-fascist measures followed in a chain prevented the monarchical-authoritarian crystallization dreamed of by the sovereign. The guilds were abolished, with all the annexed organs; dissolved the Italian youth of the lictor; set up a commission to ascertain the rapid growth of fortune by people holding public office after the march on Rome; appointed trade union commissioners. There had also been a number of arrests; others followed after the discovery of a fascist plot (23 August); in this circumstance E. Muti was killed, the former party secretary. All of this was not enough to satisfy the political parties, which, despite the prohibition, acted little less than in the light of day, and had set up in Rome a central committee of six parties (liberal, Christian Democrat, Labor Democrat, shareholder, socialist, communist), chaired by the former Prime Minister, Ivanoe Bonomi.

One of the first acts of this committee was to present to Badoglio (3 August) an agenda for the breaking of the alliance with Germany and the cessation of the war, promising the cooperation of the people to face the consequences. Badoglio replied that he would report to the king. Nothing had been prepared on this crucial point; neither in terms of contacts with the Allies, nor to paralyze the positions occupied by the Germans in Italy and stop the influx of their armed forces on this side of the Brenner (see below, in this vol., pp. 108-109).

According to MYSTERYAROUND.COM, the government was almost at the mercy of coup d’├ętat of the armored divisions and of the German air force: and therefore it held with the German representatives in Italy and had the newspapers hold a language of loyalty to the alliance. In a conference in Tarvisio, on 6 August, by the Foreign Minister Guariglia and Ambrosio with Ribbentrop and Keitel, the military situation was discussed. Hitler was ruminating on his intentions of intervention thoroughly, which, however, were not carried out at the time. The Allies, for their part, assumed threatening tones against the new government, for its announcement: “the war continues”, and intensified the bombings on the cities: particularly disastrous those of August 13 in Milan and Turin, which was accompanied on the same day a second in Rome. On 17 August, with the fall of Messina, the Sicilian campaign was completed.

Only on 10 August did the king decide to make secret contact with the Allies, in order to obtain military help in the operation of detachment from the Axis, and only on 12 evening did the emissary (Gen. Castellano) leave for Lisbon and Madrid. Thus (September 3) came the conclusion of Cassibile’s “short armistice” (see in this App.): Practically an unconditional surrender. The armistice was associated with an allied military intervention plan in the peninsula, also in the immediate vicinity of Rome, in support of the Italian government when the armistice was announced: a moment that the Allies had reserved for themselves to establish: he air intervention near Rome did not take place, because the Italian military authorities did not consider it possible; when, on the 8th evening, the armistice was announced, nothing had been done to organize the defense of the capital. This was immediately hit by German forces, while the king and Badoglio left Rome without providing for either the government or the defense. Despite partial resistance, Rome was occupied; at the same time, in northern and central Italy, the German commanders acted against the Italian forces whose leaders capitulated almost everywhere without resistance. This collapse was the culmination of the “fascism” of the army. The fleet, on the other hand, obeying the order received, sailed together for Malta. Even the Italian forces in the Balkans capitulated, except for some partial resistance, sometimes heroic. The Germans suddenly became masters of Italy, from the Alps to the south of Naples.

The Fall of Mussolini 2