This Day in History: Benito Mussolini Was Killed

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In 1945, on this day, Benito Mussolini and Clara Petacci, his mistress, were killed by Italian partisans as they attempted to flee to Switzerland. Towards the end of WWII, the former dictator knew the Axis powers were nearing defeat and decided to attempt to escape to a neutral country.

Northern Italy was occupied by the Germans at this time, but the Allied powers were making their way up the Italian peninsula. Mussolini was hellbent on not being captured by the British or the Americans nor being tried as a war criminal by the communist partisans, so his only option was to try to escape.

He and Petacci made it to the Swiss border, but what they hadn't planned for was that the guards had crossed to the partisan side. He attempted to disguise himself with a Luftwaffe coat and helmet but was discovered and shot by the partisans. Their bodies were sent to Milan and displayed publicly as an example to the masses.

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