The Plot to Exhume Mussolini

It’s got all the elements of a top-notch thriller: Decades after Benito Mussolini was executed and hung upside down from the scaffolding of an Esso gas station in Milan’s Piazza Loreto, the fascist leader’s nephew want to exhume Benito Mussolini’s body.

Guido Mussolini – nephew of Benito Mussolini – is now 69 years old and wants some answers before any more time passes.

The accepted timeline – in brief – is that during the last days of the war in Italy, Dictator Benito Mussolini attempted to escape the advancing Allied Army by hiding in a German convoy headed toward the Alps. Partisan soldiers stopped and searched the convoy at Dongo – near Lago di Como. They found Mussolini hiding in the back of a truck wearing a private’s overcoat over his striped general’s pants. The partisans took him prisoner where he was later joined by his mistress, Clara Petacci. Two days later – Mussolini and Pettacci were executed.

Guido Mussolini – whose father Vittorio was Benito Mussolini’s son – doesn’t buy into that story at all. At least not all of it. Guido Mussolini contends that after the Fascist leader was captured, he should have been turned over or the Americans, who would decide his fate. Instead, depending on which version you want to hear, Benito Mussolini was spirited away and secretly executed.

Or was he?
One of the resistance fightes who captured Mussolini, Urbano Lazzaro, recounted in an interview which took place n 1995 that “…that Mussolini and Petacci had been dead four hours prior to when their partisan “execution” took place…”
Citing testimony from a resistance fighter who said he was there, Lazzaro remarked that Mussolini and Petacci died while struggling to escape. “…Petacci tried to grab a gun from one of the guards who were escorting them to Milan for Mussolini’s planned public execution. Several shots went off in the struggle, one of which hit Mussolini who dropped to the ground wounded.” According to Lazzaro, the partisans (reputed to be Aldo Lampredi and Walter Audisio) pumped another bullet or two into Mussolini to finish him off, and then shot Petacci as well.
Truth or fiction? Lazzaro died in January 2006 and took whatever secrets he had with him.
All the more reason says Guido Mussolini, to exhume the remains of his uncle and conduct a thorough autopsy.
The story doesn’t end with Benito Mussolini’s execution. His body was taken to Milan and strung up along with Petacci and several others in the same piazza where only a year earlier, 15 resistance fighters were executed. Mussolini’s body was taken down and buried in a secret grave in Milan’s Musoco Cemetery. Almost a year later, three Fascists dug up his coffin and transferred the remains to a small trunk that measured 40 by 24 inches. The trunk was temporarily hidden in a local convent and then at the Carthusian Monastery in Pavia – until the Chief of Police confiscated the trunk and secretly hid it for 10 years. After many requests by Mussolini’s wife Donna Rachele (who had escaped to Switzerland in late 1944) the police released the body. On September 1, 1957, his remains were finally buried in a private ceremony at the Mussolini family vault in the town of Predappio.

Guido Mussolini has stated that he is not looking for money or retribution. He just wants to know who pulled the trigger. Mussolini says he will take the matter to the European Union Tribunal if the matter cannot be resolved locally. He has asked Italian Premier Romano Prodi to intervene on his behalf.

In the meantime, the issue has divided what is left of the Mussolini family. Mussolini’s niece Allessandra – no longer a B-movie actress but a respected politician representing Italy’s Communist Party – feels an autopsy proves nothing. In an interview published in the September 5th edition of the Italian journal “La Republica” Allessandra Mussolini said that matter should be left alone. “…For better or worse history has been written. The only way to find more answers is with further study. My uncle should be left in peace…”

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