On this day: Bloody reckoning with Mussolini

After partisans killed his mistress, Clara Petacci, the Duce opened his coat and shouted: “Shoot to my chest!” Gunfire sounded; Mussolini collapsed but did not die. The dictator, lying on the ground and struggling to breathe, received another shot into the chest that killed him.

In April 1945 demonstrations started in the fascist state, which was followed by uprisings. Mussolini had to flee; with his mistress, Clara Petacci, he wanted to escape to neutral Switzerland. From there they wanted to travel to Spain, which sympathized with the fascists.

The Duce was not lucky; the fugitives were captured by the partisans on the 27th of April, 1945, in Dongo, near Lake Como. Mussolini wore a Nazi uniform but his countrymen recognized him and he was captured with his mistress Clara Petacci. They were executed the following day.

The partisan war was characterized by bloody retaliations; the uncontrolled anger could not be stopped: the bodies of the Duce and Petacci were taken to Milano where they were hung on meat hooks upside down from the rooftop of a gas station. The angry civilians pelted them with stones.

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Mussolini's Downfall

28th April 1945: Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini (1883 – 1945) and others captured with him, including his mistress, Clara Petacci, hang by their feet from a filling station after their execution at Giulino di Mezzegra, near Lake Como, Italy. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)



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