Why Benito Mussolini Had His Own Son-In-Law Executed

Some of the most dangerous and terrifying people in history were leaders who monopolized all of the power in the country they ruled. Some of history's most infamous dictators, like Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, and Joseph Stalin, left their mark in the most brutal ways, executing an excessive number of people. Often, you either complied with their demands or you died. This rule was applied to everyone, including those closest to the leader in question.

Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini is a perfect example of the fact that being family or close friends of a dictator was no guarantee of safety. As any ruler would do, Mussolini surrounded himself with those he trusted. This included his son-in-law, Galeazzo Ciano. Though they were family, this did not stop Mussolini from removing him from his role in the government and eventually executing him.

Mussolini's Rise To Power

Benito Mussolini came to power in Italy in a somewhat unconventional fashion. In 1919, he tried to get elected to the government as a member of the Fascist party but was defeated. Two years later, Mussolini did manage to gain a position in the Italian parliament, and over the next year, the Fascist party took over multiple cities. By October 1922, Mussolini gained significant influence in his party and threatened to take control of the existing government.

Following his threats, King Victor Emmanuel III ultimately shut down what was left of the government and requested that Mussolini build a new one. As a result, Mussolini was declared the supreme leader in 1925. From that moment forward, he was essentially the dictator of Italy. With his new power, Mussolini took control of the country's elections, ensuring more of his Fascist buddies came to power. He also essentially made being anti-Fascist a crime that could result in being thrown in prison without a trial. Soon no one was exempt from accusations of disloyalty to the regime, including his daughter's spouse.

His Son-In-Law Betrayed Him

Galeazzo Ciano, conte di Cortellazo was an Italian diplomat who was married to Edda Mussolini. Following his marriage to Mussolini's daughter, Ciano quickly rose through the ranks of the Fascist government that his father-in-law was building. He started as the chief of the press bureau in 1933, and by 1936, he became minister of foreign affairs. There were even rumors floating around that he was the next in line to succeed Mussolini.

Unfortunately, suspicion fell on Ciano when he became a bit apprehensive of Mussolini's new ally Adolf Hitler when the Nazi leader invaded Poland without notifying Mussolini. While Ciano still initially encouraged Italy to enter World War II on the side of the Axis powers, by 1942, he began to push the idea of seeking peace with the Allies. Due to these actions, Mussolini dismissed his Cabinet a year later, on February 6, 1943 (per History).

Though he was technically removed from power, Ciano held on to enough influence with other ousted members of the government to push Mussolini out of power in July 1943. Mussolini then saw his son-in-law as a traitor for his "betrayal." Ciano eventually ended up in the clutches of the fascist government's supporters and was subsequently charged with treason. Mussolini, who was now the head of a puppet government created by the Germans, ordered Ciano's execution on January 11, 1944. Ironically,  Mussolini himself would meet a similar fate when he was reportedly executed by firing squad on April 28, 1945.