Benito Mussolini`s Fascist Italy during World War II and the aftermath.
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A controversial museum is forcing Italy to talk about its fascist past
The shops that line the main street of Predappio, a small town in Italy`s countryside, seem innocent enough—the biggest one is simply called `Predappio Souvenirs.` But it`s what`s inside that makes them remarkable: a vast collection of fascist memorabilia, including statuettes, towels, books, posters, and postcards covered in fascist symbols; and images and busts of fascism`s founder, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. The window displays feature batons bearing Mussolini`s name or quotes, while pink and pale blue baby rompers are adorned with the dictator`s portrait and most famous slogans. I decided to visit Predappio for the first time to learn about the Museum of Fascism that the town`s mayor, Giorgio Frassineti, wants to build here, to counter the strain of nostalgia for fascism he feels has infested his town.
Italy`s World War II Battleship Fleet: Super Weapon or Paper Tiger?
Italy`s Regia Marina was one of the busiest navies of the interwar period. Four old battleships were rebuilt so completely that they barely resembled their original configuration. This helped Italy achieve what was really, by the late 1930s, significant ship-to-ship superiority over the French Navy. The reconstruction of these ships helped generate ideas as to what their new battleships should look like. The new ships were to have enough speed to catch Dunkerque and Strasbourg (a new pair of French fast battleships), and enough firepower to destroy them.
Conflict-Series: A highly rated strategy game series for Android
If you love classic PC war games and legendary strategy board games make sure to check out the highly rated Conflict-series for Android. Some of the WWII Campaigns include D-Day 1944, Operation Barbarossa, Invasion of Poland 1939, France 1940, Kursk 1943, Market Garden, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Rommel's North African campaign, the Battle of Bulge, and the Battle of Berlin 1945. In addition there are American Civil War, First World War and American Revolutionary War scenarios available.
(available on Google Play & Amazon App Store)
Conflict-Series: Italy 1943 campaign now available on Google Play
Experience the Allied invasion of Italy 1943-1945 in this classic board game styled strategy game. The so called "soft underbelly of Axis powers" turned out to be fierce campaign after Germans threw in their Mountain and Paratrooper formations to defend the mountainous country. Conflict-Series includes over 20 campaigns and is available from both Google Play and Amazon App Store.
Photos: Inside Mussolini`s secret bunker
In order to provide shelter to party leaders during World War II, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini built several secret bunkers under the city of Rome. Now, many of those bunkers open to the public for the first time. This bunker was a 55 m (180 ft) long converted wine cellar, deep beneath Mussolini`s residence, Villa Torlonia, which housed the dictator and his family from 1925 to 1943. Mussolini ordered its construction in 1940, fearing his house would become the target of an Allied bombardment. The bunker had 3 escape routes and was quipped with a double set of steel, gas-proof doors, and a sophisticated air filtering system that could provide oxygen for 15 people for 3-6 hours. Later, Mussolini decided to build another bunker, and then a third, which was still unfinished by the time he was arrested in 1943.
Canadian soldier Jack Wallace`s wartime diary: Invading Sicily, 1943
70 years ago, Canadian soldiers finally saw action in one of the biggest assaults of the Second World War: The invasion of Sicily. For Jack Wallace, it was his first taste of war and the young tank commander preserved it vividly in a diary. --- July 18: Our orders were to contact the main force of Canadian troops on our right in the area around Grammichele. At a distance, we could see smoke rising from the town. Near the railway track on the outskirts, one of our tanks had been destroyed and five of our reconnaissance carriers were on fire. An intelligence officer said the carriers had walked right into an ambush by a German rear-guard force. Inside the town, there were two knocked-out German Mark IV tanks.
Battle for Monte Cassino told in new film by John Irvin
A film about the battle for Monte Cassino is being made to coincide with the battle`s 70th anniversary by British director John Irvin, whose previous films include Hamburger Hill and The Dogs of War. Over several months in 1944, Monte Cassino was the focal point of a series of German defensive positions stretching across the Italian peninsula that prevented the Allied advance to Rome. The abbey was destroyed by aerial bombing in February 1944, but not before the German troops had rescued its treasures. With nearly 200,000 soldiers participating from over 30 different countries, there were heavy losses on both sides. 55,000 Allied and 20,000 German soldiers were injured or killed.
Website explores Rome`s World War II bunkers and military underground shelters
WWII bunkers built to protect Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and Italy`s royal family in the heart of Rome can be explored by the public through a new website. The website www.bunkerdiroma.it locates each bunker on the map, gives a description of the shelter and includes links to video footages or images of the structure. With all but one of the bunkers closed to the public, the video footages offer a rare glimpse into the sites. "Mussolini liked reinforced, underground bunkers and wanted to copy Hitler, so 12 anti-aircraft posts were built during WWII," said journalist Lorenzo Grazzi, who set up the website.
Italy`s treatment of Jews reconsidered: Italians took the wealth but sheltered from Nazi camps
Italians seized everything from Ursula Korn Selig`s family, but they also sheltered her family from being sent to the Nazi camps. The two faces WWII Italy had have become the focus of recent historical research.
The Italian Resistance By Tom Behan [WW2 book review]
"Italian Resistance" explores a complex history of how hundreds - and later hundreds of thousands - of Italian partisan volunteers fought to bring down Benito Mussolini`s Fascist rule. The volunteers, mostly Communist-inspired, were driven by desperation. After several years of failed World War II campaigns they had nothing left to lose. This book tells how success was achieved in the mountains and cities through an uneasy alliance with the Allies - resulting disappointment in the aftermath of the war as Stalin and Churchill agreed that Italy would remain part of the West and that the left must be kept from power.
Italy to put on trial German officer in "Captain Corelli`s Mandolin" massacre
Italy wants to put on trial a former German officer said to have been involved in a massacre of Italian soldiers depicted in the Louis de Berniere`s novel and film "Captain Corelli`s Mandolin". Otmar Muelhauser was a young officer when 5,000 Italian soldiers were machine gunned by the Germans after surrendering at the end of a battle on the Greek island of Cephalonia in Sept. 1943. Italian military prosecutors in Rome are preparing to indict Muelhauser for his supposed role as the commander of a firing squad which killed General Antonio Gandin, the commander of the Italian army`s 33rd Acqui Division.
Italian partizans to protest Spike Lee`s World War II film
Italian veteran partisans outraged by American director Spike Lee`s WW2 film "Miracle at St. Anna" planned a protest at an advance screening in Italy. The film depicts a member of the resistance collaborating with the Nazis and failing to warn the villagers of the Germans` advance. Partizans plan to stage a sit-in in Viareggio, a town near the village of Stazzema, where withdrawing German soldiers slaughtered 560 civilians in 1944. A dozen of the anti-Fascist partisans who were present during the slaughtered and 50 survivors contest this version. "It is an erroneous version," said veteran partisan Giorgio Bocca.
Corsicans still remember the U.S. Air Force of 1943-1945
So many American aircraft and airmen were placed on Corsica during World War II that they called it the USS Corsica - an unsinkable aircraft carrier. Up and down its eastern shore unfolded a chain of 14 airfields, the jumping-off points for B-25 bombers and P-47 fighters. 50,000 American pilots, mechanics, nurses and others passed through Corsica after it was seized from Nazis in late 1943. In the spring of 1945, Americans left as hastily as they came, moving their bases to Italy - but memories still linger. "Once, some got drunk and were riding on our donkeys hollering `I am a cowboy,`" recalled Toussaint Cesari.
Italy needed fascism, says mayor of Rome Gianni Alemanno, former neo-fascist
The mayor of Rome, a former neo-fascist, has praised Benito Mussolini as an architect who modernised Italy. The election of Gianni Alemanno has inspired fears of a fascist revival because he once led the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI). His arrival at the city hall was observed by a crowd giving the fascist salute and yelling "Duce! Duce!" – the title used by Mussolini, who ruled Italy 1922-1943. "What’s historically positive is the process of modernisation, fascism was fundamental to modernising Italy. The regime reclaimed much marshland; it set up the country`s infrastructure."
World War II ``foibe` killings were ethnic cleansing - Italy`s president says
The `foibe` massacres of thousands of Italians by Yugoslav partisans in and around the Trieste towards the end of WW2 were "ethnic cleansing," Italy`s president Giorgio Napolitano said. "Those from outside Italy who reacted rashly to my speech of one year ago should calm down, " Napolitano, a former communist said in his remembrance day address to commemorate the victims of the `foibe`. 70 relations collected medals on behalf of the `foibe` victims. `Foibe` is the Italian word for deep chasms into which several thousand Italians were thrown in 1943 after Italy`s surrender by Croatian and Slovenian partisans loyal to General Josip Broz Tito.
Benito Mussolini museum opened - Requested by German tourists
The museum in Salò, on the shores of Lake Garda, studies the last days of fascism in the town that Mussolini used as his HQ in the last 19 months of WWII. The Republic of Salò was set up by the Nazis after german paratroopers liberated Mussolini from prison in Gran Sasso in 1943. From here Il Duce spent his time suppressing partisans, even executing his own son-in-law Galeazzo Ciano. History professor Roberto Chiarini denied that the museum would boost nostalgia for Italy`s fascist era. "Until now there were more than 70 historical institutes... devoted to partisans but not one that looked at Salò."
Mussolini and the rise of fascism, by Donald Sassoon
Benito Mussolini came to power in Italy in 1922 by marching into Rome at the head of a vast column of armed "blackshirts". But Donald Sassoon says it wasn`t like that. Most of the fascists got in Rome by special trains. The ones who did march were a rain-soaked gang with hardly a weapon among them, and who could have been easily stopped by the army. Some of them might have starved to death if they hadn`t been fed by soldiers. And far from sharing the hardships, Benito Mussolini, an MP, was whisked by limousine to the palace where King Victor Emmanuel III declared him in as head of a coalition, not a fascist, govt.
Italians honor World War II 36th Infantry Division Soldiers
The 36th Infantry Division (ID) was the first American combat division to land on the continent of Europe. Located half way between Naples and Rome is one of the bloodiest battlefields from the Italian campaign. It was in the Liri Valley that Allied Forces struggled their way to victory through San Pietro and Monte Cassino 1943-1944, finally liberating Rome. Herman Chanowitz - a captain in the 2nd Tactical Air Communications Squadron, assigned to the 36th ID - has first-hand knowledge of the bloody Battle of San Pietro Infine. He was dismayed by the conditions: "War is hell... We shared our food, blankets ... whatever we could spare."
Savoy dynasty, Italy`s former royals exiled after WWII, demand £260M
Italy`s ex-royals are demanding £260 million for being sent into exile after World War II. The Savoy dynasty unified Italy in the 1800s and ruled the country as a kingdom until in 1946 Italians voted to become a republic. Two years later new Constitution barred the last king Umberto II, and his male descendants from Italy. King Victor Emmanuel III, father of Umberto II and grandfather of Victor Emmanuel, is blamed for his ties to Benito Mussolini. He did turn against Mussolini in 1943, surrendering to the Allies. But in what was considered a betrayal of Italy, the royals then fled Rome for the Allied-occupied south, leaving majority of the country in Nazi hands.
Giovanni Pesce: leading Italian partisan, who kept fighting for freedom
Working class hero Giovanni Pesce was buried in Milan. When his coffin was brought out, a thousand people saluted with red flags, trade union banners, choruses of "The Internationale" and Italian partisan song "Bella Ciao". Among the many things he did in his life, Pesce signed up to fight against fascism in the Spanish Civil War - and inside his body was shrapnel from the wounds he received on the Saragozza front in 1936. He was one of only 5 people to be awarded a Gold Medal of the Resistance. As he explained, "You need to understand that the vast majority of Italians were passive, they were frightened. But deep down they hated the Germans."
Il Duce still rules in the hearts of some Italians
Last Friday I was entertained to dinner at a restaurant in the town of Artena, 25 miles south-east of Rome. The service, the wine - all were impeccable. Yet we were uneasy, for it was apparent that we were dining in what amounted to a shrine to Benito Mussolini. All around us were memorabilia; the walls were festooned with photographs of the dictator. Our hosts are not and never have been fascists or fascist sympathisers. Historian Dennis Mack Smith has pointed out that for the long period in which Mussolini ruled the country before World War II, he attracted more popular admiration than anyone else in the Italian history.
Angry spat over WWII massacre of thousands of Italians by Croatia
Italy has cancelled a visit to Croatia following an angry exchange over the massacre of thousands of Italians during WW2. In 1943-1945, up to 10,000 were tortured or killed by Yugoslav communists who occupied the Istrian peninsula. This little known chapter of World War II still causes pain and division. It is known as the Foibe, after the deep mountain chasms into which the victims were thrown. At the end of the war, it was hushed up to heal Italy`s war wounds. It also sat uncomfortably with the image communist partisans had forged as national heroes, who had saved the country from an alliance with Adolf Hitler.
Italy confronts its demons with debate over burial of Mussolini
The clan of Benito Mussolini, Italy`s dictator for 20 disastrous years, was locked in tense meetings as a new argument broke over the fate of Il Duce`s remains. If it is decided that Mussolini should leave the crypt the town of Predappio might heave a sigh of relief - or not: "The presence of Mussolini is vital to the town," said Nicholas Farrell, the author of a biography of the dictator. During the 84th anniversary of Mussolini`s "March on Rome", 6,000 black-shirted Fascist sympathisers visited the town to pay their respects - and buy items most countries banned long ago: flags, caps and other WW2 militaria emblazoned with Fascist, Nazi and SS symbols.
Infantry regiment`s casualties were high in Italy
Dante Salamone fought in the U.S. Army on the front lines in Italy for more than 300 days during WW2. He watched men fall all around him in the 350th Infantry Regiment of the 88th Division. More than 15,000 soldiers in the division were killed or injured. "It was hard to make friends with new replacements because I saw so many come and go." The first body he saw changed his life. "I realized that this is not a John Wayne movie. People were trying to kill me. Living in a foxhole was kind of unique: I mean that was home. Italy was low priority... guys were suffering because of a lack of support."
Ethiopia demand Italy`s compensation for 500,000 lives lost (Article no longer available from the original source)
Italy paid Ethiopia $5 million after a 1947 peace treaty, although the Emperor Haile Selassie had demanded $600 million. 70 years on, memories are still fresh in Ethiopia of the 1935 invasion ordered by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, whose forces used mustard gas and other chemical weapons in the country then known as Abyssinia. When Addis Ababa fell, Ethiopia formed part of Italian East Africa with Eritrea and Italian Somaliland until its liberation by WW2 allies in 1941. Mussolini`s troops torched 2,000 churches and killed 5 million cattle, 70 million sheep and goats, 1 million mules and horses, and 700,000 camels during the campaign.
The fascist invasion of Abyssinia (Article no longer available from the original source)
Abyssinia had been one of the few states to survive "the scramble for Africa" by the major European powers in the late 19th century, having defeated Italy at the battle of Aduwa in 1896. Now Benito Mussolini, Italy`s fascist dictator, dreamed of taking revenge and carving out a "New Roman Empire" in East Africa. The Abyssinians were left isolated in the face of fascist Italy`s far more technologically developed war machine. The Italian military used poison gas to wipe out the Abyssinian civilian population. The Italians bombed civilian targets, hospitals and even the International Red Cross.
Italy’s National Memorial Day of the Exiles and Foibe
According to the ultra-right version of history, Marshal Tito’s Yugoslav Stalinist regime was responsible for the mass murder of 20,000 innocent Italians who were captured, killed and thrown into the foibe in 1943 and 1945. During WWII, after the devastating bombing of Belgrade by the German Luftwaffe, the Italian military, alongside the armed forces of fascist Germany invaded Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia then became the theater of some of the most horrific war crimes ever committed, for which hardly any Italian officials were ever held accountable, thanks in part to the Vatican’s protection.
Nazi mosquitoes drew blood on Italian front
The Nazis tried to halt the advance of British and American troops through Italy during World War II by unleashing malaria-carrying mosquitoes in what is believed to be the only biological warfare attack carried out in Europe, according to new research. It was meant to hinder the Allied push from the south and to punish the Italian people for what the Germans saw as treachery after Italy switched sides.
Row over Mussolini`s Nazi army opens old wounds
The soldiers of Benito Mussolini`s Nazi puppet republic should be accorded the same status as wartime resistance fighters and regular combatants. The bill would recognise the 200,000 soldiers of the Italian Social Republic as "military combatants", but would make no difference to the state benefits enjoyed. But the controversial move by Silvio Berlusconi`s government will reopen old wounds, raising painful questions about the Italians` view of their past and which side they feel they were really on in the second world war.
Urbano Lazzaro - Man who captured Mussolini dies
The World War II resistance fighter who captured Italy`s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini as he tried to escape Allied forces died overnight. Urbano Lazzaro stormed into Italy`s history books on April 27, 1945, when he halted a Nazi truck in the village of Dongo and discovered Il Duce disguised as a Nazi soldier inside. Lazzaro then found Mussolini`s mistress, Clara Petacci, and high officials of his rump fascist republic hidden in the retreating column of Nazi troops headed for Switzerland.