Italy 1936 - An alternate Italian history of World War II
January 12th 1960
An unconscious Mussolini arrives in the nearest hospital and a team of doctors begin examining and working on him. They quickly discover that the dictator most likely suffered a minor to moderate stroke and immediately begin treatment to limit any damage.
Soldiers and Blackshirts begin arriving at the hospital en masse establishing a secure perimeter.
Emperor Umberto II and Count Ciano are the first high ranking officials to arrive at the hospital.
Rome falls silent as more and more government officials rush to the hospital. Information throughout the Empire is extremely sketchy at this time, all that is known before the communicationís blackout is that Mussolini missed a speech.
Taking over a too small conference room within the hospital, the Grand Council calls an emergency session to discuss the fate of the Empire. They have to come to realize the painful truth that Mussolini will not always be there to rule and he might not even last the day.
They have two issues in front of them that must be solved in short order. How to restructure the government when nearly all documents had to pass through Mussoliniís office to be approved and to decide on a system of succession.
Without any orders forthcoming from Rome many colonial governments begin shutting down operations and declaring martial law.
The Viceroyís office of Greece is one of the few offices still continuing to run through the blackout with Viceroy Medici stepping in to take full control in the absence of guidance from Rome. While not declaring martial law, he warns the Hellenic Council that any militant disturbances or even rumors of a possible situation will be dealt with harshly.
The nature of the emergency has forced the Grand Council to approve a hasty plan for succession. Unable to create a truly Fascist system to decide succession they take the most compatible system available, that of the Catholic Church for electing a new Pope.
The Grand Council of Fascism upon the death of Mussolini will all come together to vote in a silent ballot(to prevent retribution later,) there will be no public politicking as Fascism must present just one face. Every council member will just have one vote, no matter how many seats they possess on the Council. The Emperor will also be allowed to sit in on the voting process and place his own vote.
During the time of voting they will be largely sequestered from the outside world until a majority can be reached on who will be the next leader of the Council. The title of "Duce" will be retired, as Mussolini will be the one eternal leader of the New Roman Empire. A new title will be decided upon at a later date for the new leader of the council. The title will be held for life or until dismissal by the Council.
The Council will also formally establish a set number of seats to put an end to the constant creation of new seats and the removal of old seats which was rampant in the early days.
There is also debate between the original March on Rome era Fascists and War era Fascists on who should be chosen to lead the next government. The elder Fascists believe they should appoint someone who was with the party from the beginning while the younger members believe that one of their own should be appointed to show the new face of Fascism and assure the new leader will have a long reign.
A doctor informs the Council that Mussolini has been stabilized and they believe they have prevented any massive long term damage. When asked on the chance of recovery, he answers that barring no emerging conditions the Duce will have at least another year of life ahead of him.
This answer pleases the council, it will take most of them a few months to a year to restructure their departments and move away from the Mussolini-centric system of decrees and approvals.
A debate breaks out amongst the Council on who should announce this situation to the Italian people. Ciano proposes that he make the announcement but many Council members are opposed to this viewing it as a power grab by the Count to make him look as if he is the "heir apparent."
After much arguing a consensus is finally reached, Emperor Umberto II will give the first speech reporting on Mussoliniís health. This will be followed by Dino Grandi giving a report on the State of the Empire.
The Emperor speaks to the Italian people say that Mussoliniís hard work ethic, and constant running around has caused him to fall ill from exhaustion but he is on his way to recovery.
Grandi, President of the Council speaks next to reassure the public that the Empire is as strong as it ever was and will continue to run smoothly even as Mussolini recovers. He ends his speech with the memorable line "We will have Fascism today, Fascism tomorrow, Fascism forever!"
January 13th 1960
Mussolini regains consciousness around midday.
Count Cianoís diary entry: The Duce has awakened today after an entire day of slumber. He appears to be alert but I fear that there is something missing within him. He recognized the Emperor, and myself as well as other party members who served with him from the beginning, but he was at a loss with many of the younger members of the Council. The doctors have assured me that this forgetfulness will pass. I pray to Almighty God that it does.
I spoke with Viceroy Medici over the phone today expressing concern of his decision not to declare martial law. The "little duce" completely ignored my concerns basically saying that in the absence of the Duce only the Emperor may command him. Since his induction as Viceroy he has constantly acted without the approval of Rome on matters of grave importance and I fear that he is attempting to carve out his own Empire in the East, he is a dangerous man. I would voice my grievances to the Emperor but unfortunately he believes greatly in Medici, especially after the "gift" of former Greek Royal Lands. The Duce is in no shape yet to weigh in on this matter, but unfortunately in the past he has not seen eye to eye with me on Medici. The Duce believes that Medici has brought lasting peace to Greece. I will do all in my power to make sure this "little duce" is removed from Greece, even if he must be promoted to do so. Promoveatur ut amoveatur [Let him be promoted and forgotten.]
January 15th 1960
Mussolini gets out of bed and begins moving about on his own. He walks with a slight limp but otherwise he appears fine. He insists on addressing the people that night in a television broadcast.
Dressed in his uniform, Mussolini delivers a speech from a conference room in the hospital. The speech starts out fine with Il Duce speaking in his usual bombastic style, though after a few minutes it becomes quite clear that Mussolini is getting tired and he begins slurring his words. Out of breath, he sees the speech to its conclusion.
Though the stroke did not take his life, it took away his public figure. His advisors and the Grand Council recognize that he will never be able to engage in hours and hours of speaking to the people. He will be forced to become a more symbolic figure, almost mystical, only appearing in times of great need. The Grand Council members will be the ones who will have to take a much more prominent role...and to the more power hungry ones this is a quite acceptable compromise.
January 16th 1960
The Grand Council prepares for the inevitable death of Mussolini, whether it comes in days or years. They commission a team of Artisans and Craftsmen to construct an elaborate tomb within the Pantheon for the leader.
January 18th 1960
Despite his desire to remain in Rome to be with Mussolini(and to remain in the running for leading the nation should Mussolini pass on), Count Ciano is forced to make a state visit to Cuba to discuss the possible entry of the nation into the Lira Block. He will first travel to the United States to plead the Empireís case.
End of Part 33.
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