I’m settled at last and back into the swing of things. I slept fairly well last night and now I’m ready to go. Last evening we sat around and talked with the new Colonel. He’s a pretty regular guy and much less stiff and formal than Lane. What he’ll be like later on – we’ll have to wait and see. One thing we do know: he’s a rabid Bridge player – and believes in psychic bidding. A couple of boys have played with him and say that not infrequently he opens with game bids or more – and often makes it, too.
This morning I’ve already gathered together a bunch of laundry and a little later I’ll have to dig up some German woman to do it. Then I’ve got to do a bit of traveling around and visit the various elements of the outfit that are scattered all over the place. One element is looking after recaptured Russians and Poles; another – after recaptured British and Americans; and one – is running a tremendous Prisoner of War cage – filled with thousands of Germans.
I had 4 letters from you – in the week I was gone – and two from home. The reaction to Roosevelt’s death was just as stunning over here, dear. We won’t know for a long time just what effect his death will have on the world. But aside from that – most everyone felt that he had lost a good friend.
One of your letters was written in New York – on the 15th of April – my latest letter from you, dear. I’m so glad you were able to make the trip – the change ought to do you a lot of good. You seemed to be enjoying yourself, dear, and yet you sounded sad. Darling – this long wait is getting you down a little – and I can’t blame you one bit. When you write in that vein – I usually blame myself for not being a more ardent fiancé – in my letters. One of the things that seems to be troubling you most of all, sweetheart, is whether we still love each other as much as we felt we did when I left; you often wonder if you’ll be thrilled – whether you’ll react to me the way you once did. All I can say, darling, is that if you haven’t changed, you will react the same way – for I know I haven’t. I, too – crave the closeness and intimacy which we’ve been without – for so long, and which – the Lord knows – we had precious little of – when I was in the States. But, sweetheart, that thrill which both of us experienced was there and will return; that reaction is one which either is or isn’t present; if it isn’t – then love is missing an important element. If it is – then you unconsciously, instinctively feel that with all the other compatibilities, the person who responds that way to you – is the person for you. It works both ways too. I miss your love and your closeness as much as you miss mine – dear – but most of all – I miss you, your presence. I just want to see you, talk with you, keep looking at you; I want to realize there is a you; you know what I mean. This writing and writing to a person over a long period of time – to any person – leaves you with a feeling of abstractness after a while. It is then that the letter in answer becomes so important; it is then that every word you read has so much significance. Sweetheart – if words have significance – I can say truly that what I feel for you is a deep, sincere love in every sense of the word; I love you for the Sweetheart you’ve been during all these lonesome months. I can prove that love to you when I get back. Do you believe me, dear?
I’ll have to stop now, darling, and get to work. For now – so long, love to the folks – and
At the age of 49, Mussolini became the youngest Prime Minister of Italy in 1922 and began using the title Il Duce by 1925. Skillfully using his secret police to intimidate his opponents into silence and exercising his absolute control over the press, Mussolini gradually built up the legend of Il Duce. Mussolini's fascist state, established nearly a decade before Adolf Hitler's rise to power, would provide a model for Hitler's later economic and political policies. In 1925 he introduced the press laws, which stated that all journalists must be registered fascists. However, not all newspapers were taken into public ownership and Corriere della Sera sold on average ten times as many copies as the leading fascist newspaper Il Popolo D'Italia. After 1936, his official title was "His Excellency Benito Mussolini, Head of Government, Duce of Fascism, and Founder of the Empire“.
Mussolini also created and held the supreme military rank of First Marshal of the Empire. By April 1943, the leading anti-Fascist movements had joined forces to overthrow Mussolini. On 25 July, King Victor Emmanuel III summoned him to the palace and dismissed him from office. Upon leaving the palace, Mussolini was arrested. For the next two months he was moved to various places to hide him from the Germans. Ultimately Mussolini was sent to Campo Imperatore, a mountain resort in central Italy (Abruzzo). He was kept there in complete isolation. On 12 September 1943, two months after he was stripped of power, Mussolini was rescued by the Germans in Operation Oak. The Germans relocated Mussolini to northern Italy where he set up a new fascist state, the Italian Social Republic (Repubblica Sociale Italiana, RSI). Benito Mussolini lived in Gargnano on Lake Garda in Lombardy during this period but he was little more than a puppet under the protection of his German liberators. After yielding to pressures from Hitler and the remaining loyal fascists who formed the government of the Republic of Salo, Mussolini helped orchestrate a series of executions of some of the fascist leaders who had betrayed him at the last meeting of the Fascist Grand Council. As Head of State and Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Italian Social Republic, Mussolini used much of his time to write his memoirs, titled "My Rise and Fall".
On 27 April 1945 Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci were stopped by communist partisans and identified by the political commissar of the partisans' 52nd Garibaldi Brigade, Urbano Lazzaro, near the village of Dongo (Lake Como), as they headed for Switzerland to board a plane to escape to Spain. Benito Mussolini had been traveling with retreating German forces and was apprehended while attempting to escape recognition by wearing a German military uniform. After several unsuccessful attempts to take them to Como they were brought to Mezzegra. They spent their last night in the house of the De Maria family.
The next day, Mussolini and his mistress were both shot, along with most of the members of their 15-man train, primarily ministers and officials of the Italian Social Republic. The shootings took place in the small village of Giulino di Mezzegra. According to the official version of events, the shootings were conducted by "Colonel Valerio" (Colonnello Valerio). Valerio's real name was Walter Audisio. Audisio was the communist partisan commander who was reportedly given the order to kill Mussolini by the National Liberation Committee.When Audisio entered the room where Mussolini and the other fascists were being held, he reportedly announced: "I have come to rescue you!... Do you have any weapons?"
He then had them loaded into transports and driven a short distance. Audisio ordered them to "get down". Petacci hugged Mussolini and refused to move away from him when they were taken to an empty space. Shots were fired and Petacci fell down. Just then Mussolini opened his Jacket and screamed, "Shoot me in the chest!". Audisio shot him in the chest and Mussolini fell down, but he didn't die. He was breathing heavily. Audisio went near and shot one more bullet into Mussolini's chest.
Mussolini’s corpse, along with those of his mistress and others, were dragged through the streets of Milan before being strung up at a gas station. On 29 April the bodies of Mussolini and his mistress were found hanging upside down on meat hooks in a plaza, Piazzale Loreto in Milan, along with those of other fascists, to show the population that the dictator was dead.
The corpse of the deposed leader had been dragged through the streets and became subject to ridicule and abuse by many who felt oppressed by the former dictator's policies. This was both to discourage any fascists to continue the fight and as an act of revenge for the hanging of many partisans in the same place by Axis Powers authorities. Il Duce, himself, had previously expounded upon the idea: “Every man dies the death which befits his character.”
Mussolini's body was eventually taken down and later buried in an unmarked grave in a Milan cemetery until the 1950s, when his body was moved back to Predappio. It was stolen briefly in the late 1950s by neo-fascists, then again returned to Predappio. At the request of his widow, his body was returned and he was buried in a crypt in the family mausoleum. Mussolini was survived by his wife, Donna Rachele Mussolini, by two sons, Vittorio and Romano Mussolini, and his daughters Edda, the widow of Count Ciano and Anna Maria. A third son, Bruno, was killed in an airplane accident while flying a bomber on a test mission on 7 August 1941. Mussolini's granddaughter Alessandra Mussolini, daughter of Romano Mussolini, is currently a member of the European Parliament for the extreme right-wing party Alternativa Sociale; other relatives of Edda (Castrianni) moved to England after the Second World War.