This Day in Military History: Death of Benito Mussolini

April 28, 1945 – Benito Mussolini and his mistress, Clara Petacci, were shot by Italian partisans as the couple attempted to flee Italy. The former Italian dictator was the figurehead of a puppet government in German-occupied Italy. As Allied victory became increasingly likely, Mussolini realized he needed to escape Italy and seek refuge in a neutral country to avoid being tried as a war criminal. Mussolini attempted to avoid detection by dressing in a Luftwaffe uniform and traveling in the company of retreating German troops, but he was recognized at the Swiss border. Mussolini and Petacci were executed and their bodies were transported to Milan, where they were publicly displayed. The assembled masses shot, kicked, and spat upon Mussolini’s body before it was hung upside down on a meat hook to serve as a warning to other Fascists.

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