1945: Benito Mussolini, his mistress, and his aides

On this date in 1945, Communist partisans shot Benito Mussolini and his mistress, Clara Petacci near Lake Como, along with fifteen or so additional fascist aides and officials.

It was an inglorious end for the flamboyant onetime socialist turned violent rightist, the man who had founded (and named) fascism; whose had inspired Hitler when the latter was still a streetcorner rabble-rouser, and then wandered suicidally into Germany’s orbit.

The next day, the victims’ bodies were hung up in Milan — the heart of Mussolini’s own power and still a stronghold of neo-fascist parties today — at Piazza Loreto for public abuse. The deposed Duce still had it in his power to stir the imagination of his Teutonic partner: news of the Italian dictator’s fate made it to the Fuhrer’s bunker and was said to have steeled Hitler’s resolve to take his own life with the dread vision of what should befall him if he were taken alive.