On this day: Italy declares war.

Italy’s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini stands on the balcony of the Palazzo Venezia in Rome to declare war on France and Great Britain on the 10th of June, 1940.

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Mussolini_DOW_10_June_1940 Italian leader Benito Mussolini delivering his war declaration on France and Great britain from the Palazzo Venezia Balcony in Rome. Fscist dictator.

Meanwhile, in Turin in the north of the country, people gather in a piazza to listen to the declaration on the radio.

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Turin-10-6-1940 People in Charles Albert Square, Turin, listening to the radio message of Benito Mussolini from Rome, announcing the italian declaration of war, 10th June 1940.

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On this day: the invasion of Albania

Italy’s rapidly successful invasion of Albania, run by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, began on the 7th of April, 1939. The Albanian king, Zog I, was forced into exile, and the entire operation was complete only five days later, on the 12th.
Italian_soldiers_passing_Albanians,_7_April_1939 Italian invasion of Albania Fascist
Albania was made part of the Italian Empire, with its sea ports being considered important to the regime.
Italian_army_2Italian invasion of Albania 7th April 1939 Fascist Italy Italian Empire

On this day: a dictator and his pet

Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini photographed with his pet lion cub, Ras on the 16th of February, 1924. He would run Italy for another twenty-one years before being captured and executed alongside his mistress Clara Petacci. His wife was elsewhere at the time.

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italian-fascist-dictator-benito-mussolini-photographed-with-his-pet-lion-cub-ras-on-the-16th-of-february-1924-he-would-run-italy-for-another-twenty-one-years-before-being-captured-and-executed-along

On this day: the birth of “Axis Sally”

mildred-gillars-american-nazi-collaborator-axis-sally-propaganda

American woman Mildred Gillars, nicknamed “Axis Sally” for the prominent role she played broadcasting Nazi propaganda during World War Two, was born on the 29th of November, 1900.

Born in Maine, but moving to Ohio as a child, Gillars moved to Germany to study in 1934, and then later obtained work as an English teacher in Berlin.

mildred-gillars-axis-sally-as-a-young-actress-in-the-1920s-nazi-collaborator-american-history-propaganda

As a young actress in America in the 1920s. X

By 1940, she was working as an announcer for Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft: German State Radio.

Along with an Italian-American woman by the name of Rita Zucca, who performed the same work for Mussolini in Fascist Italy, she was dubbed “Axis Sally” for her anti-American propaganda that was broadcast to US troops once her home country joined the war.

Gillars’ broadcasts told stories of wives and sweethearts at home who cheated with other men while the troops were away, and spread defeatist propaganda to try and destroy American morale.

At the end of the war “Wanted” posters for Gillars were put up around Berlin. Once she was found and arrested in 1946 she was returned to the United States, where she was put on trial for treason.

axis-sally-to-go-to-trial-september-25-1948-the-new-york-times-new-york-september-25-1948

The New York Times announces that Mildred Gillars is to stand trial for treason. X

She was eventually convicted of treason for a broadcast titled Vision Of Invasion, and spent twelve years in prison before being released on parole.

an-unidentified-fbi-agents-escorts-mildred-gillars-as-she-arrives-for-her-treason-trial-in-washington-d-c-in-1949

The FBI escorts Gillars to her trial in 1949. X

Gillars went on to live in a convent and work as a schoolteacher, before dying of cancer in 1988.

Her fellow “Sally”, Rita Zucca, spent nine months in an Italian prison, and – having given up her American citizenship – was barred from the United States.

On this day…

American publication Newsweek declares Italian leader Benito Mussolini the “Key Man of the Mediterranean” on the 13th of May, 1940. Fascist Italy sided with Hitler in the Second World War.

Newsweek_May_13_1940_MussoliniCover of the May 13, 1940 issue of Newsweek magazine. The issue features Benito Mussolini on the cover. The issue cost 10 cents.

On this day: the executions of Benito Mussolini and Clara Petacci

Mussolini_biografiaBenito MussoliniClara Petacci mistress of Benito Mussolini

Italy’s Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, and Clara Petacci, his mistress, were executed by partisans in the northern Italian village of Giulino di Mezzegra on the 28th of April, 1945.

25-aprile-1945-prefettura-di-milanoprobabilmente-lultima-foto-da-vivo3Benito Mussolini leaving the prefecture in Milan on 25 April 1945. Last photo of him alive.

Believed to be the last photograph of Mussolini, taken three days before his death.

Mussolini_e_Petacci_a_Piazzale_Loreto,_1945

Mussolini, second from left, and Petacci, centre.

Alongside a number of others, the bodies of both Mussolini and Petacci were hung on display in Milan the following day. Mussolini’s wife was not present at the time of his execution.

On this day: Fascist Italy Banned Foreign Words

Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini with Adolf Hitler Hitlermusso2_edit

Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini with Adolf Hitler

On the 23rd of July, 1929, Italy’s Fascist government banned foreign words.

This was part of a larger act of the “Italianisation” of minorities in Italy and surrounding territories, as well as the annexation of nearby countries.

Naturally, this policy included banning the teaching of minority languages, even for people who were not ethnic Italians.