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Death of Il Duce by Eric Lipps

Author says: what if Il Duce was assassinated much earlier?, muses Eric Lipps. Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).

In 1926,

in Rome, the Englishwoman Violet Gibson, daughter of Edward Gibson, first Earl Ashbourne, fired three shots at Italian dictator Benito Mussolini while he sat in a car after leaving an assembly of the International Congress of Surgeons, to whom he had delivered a speech on the wonders of modern medicine.

Two of the shots struck Mussolini in the face, inflicting what would have been comparatively minor injuries had the third not struck him in the eye, penetrating the ocular cavity to reach his brain.

Mussolini was rushed to the hospital, but doctors were unable to save him. At 3:15 A.M., Rome time, on the morning of April 8, he was pronounced dead.

His assassin, who had been arrested by Rome police at the scene, did not give her reason for attacking the self-styled modern Caesar. She was sentenced to death, but after a diplomatic outcry she was deported to Britain on the condition that she be confined to a mental institution. She died at St. Andrews Hospital in Northampton, England, on May 2, 1956.

Mussolini's assassination destabilized Italian politics. After a round of what contemporary humorists dubbed "musical prime ministers", during which tensions between radicals of the right and left escalated into street warfare, a Communist uprising installed a government of the far left, which swiftly established an authoritarian regime at least as repressive as Mussolini's, justifying its actions by pointing to the real and alleged actions of its rightist opponents as threatening "the integrity of the Italian state". In 1929, the new regime signed a treaty of "socialist fraternity" with the Soviet Union.

The Communist order in Italy, however, would not survive for long. In March 1939, with the tacit approval of the West, Hitler's Wehrmacht invaded the country, swiftly overrunning it and instituting its own reign of terror, which would last until the Allied liberation in 1943. The Western acquiescence in Hitler's occupation of Italy would later be described by journalist and author William Shirer as the "last surrender" to the Nazis; in September 1939, following the invasion of Poland by Germany and the USSR, the West would finally move against Hitler, months too late to save Italians from being ground under the Reich's jackboots.

After World War II, U.S. General Mark Clark would prove instrumental in establishing a new government, as his colleague Douglas MacArthur would do in Japan. Italy's postwar government would be dominated by center-right parties, many with ties to the Catholic Church. Socialists would be relegated to the fringes, and Communists, while not formally banned, would be kept from regaining any political power via a variety of political maneuvers in the name of preserving Italy from absorption into the Soviet bloc. By 1955, the U.S.-supported Center Party had emerged as the leading political faction; it would dominate Italian politics until the mid-1980s, when a series of scandals would finally break its hold on power.

Author says to view guest historian's comments on this post please visit the Today in Alternate History web site.

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Eric Lipps

Guest Historian on Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today. Follow us on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.


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