The Final Moments Of Benito Mussolini

There are bad people, and then there are murderous psychopaths with unimaginable political power. You know the type. They're your Adolf Hitlers, Emperor Neros, and Vlad the Impalers of the world. Benito Mussolini is included in those ranks. Mussolini was an Italian political leader turned fascist dictator who ruled the country from 1925 until 1945. He was one of Hitler's allies in World War II and, as if that wasn't bad enough, committed a bunch of awful acts all on his own.

Under the control of the National Fascist Party, of which Mussolini was a member, Italy rounded up socialists, restricted the press, and imprisoned suspected anti-fascists without trial. He started his own little fascist youth group, according to History, similar to what the Nazis did in Germany. Due to his alignment with Hitler, Mussolini called for the expulsion of Jews from Italy. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum writes that this led to the death of 8,950 Italian Jews in Nazi concentration camps between 1943 and 1945.

Mussolini was able to dominate using an organized group of ex-soldiers he called the Blackshirts (via Life in Italy). History writes that the Blackshirts used violence to instill fear and keep people in check. He made every part of the country fascist. Even the movie theaters were required to play fascist propaganda. He took special emergency powers so he couldn't legally be voted out of his office as prime minister. Of course, that was before the Axis powers were defeated. As they were being defeated, Mussolini was losing all control.

Mussolini's morbid end

Throughout World War II, Mussolini was worried about being handed over for his crimes, but he had a stroke of luck when the German forces took over northern Italy in 1943. Mussolini ran Hitler's puppet government until the Allied forces triumphed in 1945. History reports that he then discovered that the Nazis were going to surrender him. At that point, Mussolini tried to flee the country, heading toward the Swiss border. He did this by pretending to be a German soldier driving in a convoy, according to Britannica.

But he and his mistress, Claretta Petacci, were quickly caught. They were given a trial by a group of Partisan soldiers and condemned to death. "Let me save my life and I will give you an empire!" Mussolini said, to no effect. On April 28, 1945, Mussolini and Petacci were shot and killed by a firing squad (via UPI). His last words were reportedly "No! No!" One witness observed, "Mussolini died badly." No one is officially sure who killed them, but the Communists are the prime suspects. Mussolini's story didn't end with his death, though. His body and that of Petacci, along with several other executed corpses, were dumped on the cobblestones of Piazzale Loreto in Milan.

An announcement was made in the paper and over a radio station about the bodies, and a crowd gathered. One man kicked the jaw of Mussolini's corpse. A woman fired five shots into the corpse's skull — one for each of her dead sons, she said. The body was beaten, urinated on, spit on, had flaming objects thrown at it, and was whipped.

This is what happened to Mussolini's body after his death

Finally, Britannica states that the bodies of Mussolini, Petacci, and four others were strung up by the ankles, to the crowd's delight. Per the Warfare History Network, Piazzale Loreto was a significant place for this to occur. Less than a year earlier, in August 1944, several members of Italy's resistance had been shot and killed there by the Nazis. A 1945 article from The New York Times expressed that Mussolini deserved nothing less. According to History, his body was then taken to the morgue by American soldiers.

An autopsy found that Mussolini had been shot by seven to nine bullets (while he was still alive). Some of these were around the heart, which ultimately caused his death. His body was subsequently buried in an unmarked grave in Milan that was by all accounts easy to find and easy to access. It was continually vandalized until fascists eventually dug up his corpse, per All That's Interesting. It was later discovered in August, 1946 at a monastery near Milan. There, the body was laid to rest for some time.

This, however, is still not the end of Mussolini's corpse. After 11 years at the monastery, the body was returned to his widow, Rachele Mussolini. She then buried it at a family crypt in Mussolini's hometown of Predappio, Italy (via History). In 1966, a piece of Mussolini's brain was returned to Rachele by the United States. They had allegedly taken it to test it for syphilis during his autopsy.