On This Day

Fall of Benito Mussolini

The recorded votes of the Grand Council of Fascism voting no confidence in Benito Mussolini
The recorded votes of the Grand Council of Fascism voting no confidence in Benito Mussolini

Historical Context

By July 1943, Italy's war effort against the Allied powers had floundered. The North African front had collapsed and Allied forces were pushing their way into Sicily, which brought them one step closer to an invasion of the country's mainland. There was a widespread perception of incompetence at the highest level, and Benito Mussolini's allies in the government began to turn against him.

On the night of July 24-25, the Grand Council of Fascism met to decide Mussolini's fate. Dino Grandi, a member of the council, argued for Mussolini's removal, and after nine hours of discussions called a vote to oust 'Il Duce'. This vote passed, and Mussolini prepared to bring the news to the King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel III. The King informed Mussolini that his successor would be General Pietro Badoglio. After this meeting, Mussolini was arrested by the police.

The announcement of the downfall of Mussolini and by extension the fascist regime in Italy was met with joy across Italy. The most pressing matter, however, was the war. The Allies would not reach an armistice with Italy until September, on the day Allied forces invaded the mainland. Peace, however, was not to be attained quickly. Germany invaded northern Italy, freed Mussolini, gave him a puppet state to rule and began to defend against the Allied armies. At the same time, a civil war erupted between anti-fascist and pro-fascist Italian forces.

Eventually, the Italian and German fascist forces crumbled. Mussolini was himself captured and executed by a partisan in the waning days of World War II, in the small town of Giulino.

Document Info

Date taken: July 25, 1943
Location signed: Rome, Italy

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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