Benito Mussolini's reading copy of his last speech delivered on December 16, 1944Benito Mussolini Typed Speech in Italian with corrections in Mussolini's hand, 24.5 pages, 8.25" x 11.75".. [Milan, December 16, 1944.] Not signed. In large type, with cross-outs and over 100 words in his hand,
this was Mussolini's reading copy of his December 16, 1944, speech at the Lyric Theatre.
On July 25, 1943, two weeks after Allied forces landed in Sicily and three days after General Patton entered Palermo, Mussolini was deposed by the Fascist Grand Council and arrested. During the next seven weeks he was moved around Italy to hide him from the Germans.
On September 12, 1943, Mussolini was rescued by the Germans in Italy's Gran Sasso, high in the Apennine Mountains, and was brought to Munich where he met with Hitler. In July, while he was still in power, Mussolini had agreed to let Germany occupy Italy in exchange for more military assistance. The former Italian leader was sent to Saló in now-German occupied northern Italy and was named Provisional Head of State and Prime Minister of the Italian National Republican State. King Victor Emmanuel III and the Allies controlled southern Italy and on October 13, 1943, the King declared war on Germany. The new Italian government in the north, controlled by Hitler, was forced to take revenge on any supporters of the King and all Fascists, but for the next year, Mussolini tried to convince the Italian people to give him another chance. On December 13, 1944, Mussolini told Serafino Mazzolini, deputy-secretary for Foreign Affairs in the Saló government, that he had decided to make an important speech in Milan on Saturday, December 16th. It would be his first public appearance since his return to "power" in Saló. The near hour-long speech was delivered at Milan's Lyric Theatre and only Republican Fascists were allowed entrance. The theatre was packed with people overflowing into the street.
The speech opens with an acknowledgment of his long absence. He first attacks the "criminal formula of Casablanca, the appraisal of the events places to us, once again, these questions: Who has betrayed? Who has endured and endures the consequences of the traitor?" At Casablanca in 1943, Roosevelt and Churchill announced that the Allies were now fighting for the "unconditional surrender" of Germany, Italy and Japan.
Mussolini recalls "Mazzini, the master of the republic" who sent a "commissioner to Ancona in order to teach to the Jacobins that it was lawful to fight the papalists, but not to steal or to capture - as it would be said today - the silverware from their houses." Mussolini asserts that any attack by the Allies on German-controlled soil is as if the Allies were attacking Rome. He alludes to the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion of Normandy in France by stating, "Indeed, the Anglo-Americans enter in Rome June 5th to the next day 6th, the first Allied units disembark to you on the coast of Normandie, between the rivers Vire and Orne. The succeeding months have been truly hard, on all the fronts where the soldiers of the Reich were and are engaged to you."
Mussolini devotes part of his speech to "Il Manifesto di Verona" of November 14, 1943, which established the structure and socialization of the new republic in Saló. He also tells of "new German crews" working "secretly" and that "many believe that thanks to the employment of such crews, surely - pressing a button - the war would be ended in a blow." This no doubt refers to the development of the V-1 and V-2 rockets.
Mussolini also says that "Roosevelt promised American mothers that no soldier would go to fight to the death overseas. He lied as is the custom in all the democracies." In this speech, Mussolini also refers to Churchill, Stalin, and DeGaulle by name. He concludes by declaring that "it is Milan which must give the men, the arms, the will and the signal for insurrection." Mussolini was cheered as he left the theatre and rode back to the Prefecture with Rudolf Rahn, Hitler's Ambassador to Italy who was responsible for general political issues and for relations with Mussolini.
This was to be Mussolini's last public appearance. Two days later, on Monday, December 18, 1944, over Rahn's objections, Mussolini moved his office to Milan. On April 20, 1945, as Allied troops approached Milan, Mussolini disbanded his government offices. He was caught by Italian partisans as he tried to take refuge in Switzerland and on April 28, 1945, Benito Mussolini was executed. Ex. Forbes.
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