1926: Anteo Zamboni, Mussolini near-assassin, lynched

Add comment October 31st, 2018 Headsman

Halloween of 1926 was a festival of triumph for the Italian fascists … and they crowned it in a festival of blood.

The occasion marked (not exactly to the day) the fourth anniversary of Benito Mussolini‘s bloodless coup via the October 1922 March on Rome. And as a gift for himself and his populace, Benito Mussolini on that date inaugurated Bologna’s Stadio Littoriale by riding a charger into the arena and delivering a harangue.


Fascist-built and still in service, it’s now known as the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara and it’s home to Bologna F.C. 1909. (cc) image by Udb.

After another address to a medical conference later that afternoon, Mussolini was motorcading down via Rizzoli in an Alfa Romeo when a gunshot whizzed through his collar.*

It had been fired by a 15-year-old anarchist named Anteo Zamboni, vainly and sacrificially hoping to turn history’s tide with a well-placed bullet.

Instead, his act would offer Il Duce a Reichstag Fire-like pretext — there was always bound to be one, sooner or later — for a raft of repressive legislation including the creation of a nasty secret police, the dissolution of political opposition, and (of interest to this here site) reintroduction of the death penalty.**

But Anteo Zamboni would see his penalty delivered summarily after the crowd seized him.†

Zamboni was done to death with blows and blades by Mussolini’s fascist admirers right on the spot. In a turn of heart, Bologna — by tradition a leftist stronghold — now has a street named for the young would-be assassin. (Here is the source for the ghastly Mature Content images below of Zamboni’s brutalized corpse.)

The incident is the subject of the 1978 film Gli Ultimi Tre Giorni.

* Zamboni’s was only one of three assassination attempts on Mussolini in 1926 alone.

** Just days afterwards during the post-Zamboni repressive pall, the great Marxist intellectual Antonio Gramsci was tossed into prison, never to emerge. Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks issued out of his dungeon, before his health succumbed in 1937 to the intentional neglect of his captors.

† It’s reportedly cavalry officer Carlo Alberto Pasolini who first detained the youth: the father of postwar film director Pier Paolo Pasolini.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Arts and Literature,Assassins,Attempted Murder,Bludgeoned,Borderline "Executions",Children,History,Italy,Lynching,Martyrs,Mature Content,No Formal Charge,Notable for their Victims,Public Executions,Put to the Sword,Revolutionaries,Summary Executions,Torture

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

1944: Admiral Inigo Campioni

Add comment May 24th, 2012 Headsman

On this date in 1944, Italy’s fascist rump government shot its former naval commander in Parma.

Inigo Campioni (English Wikipedia page | Italian) was both a Senator and the Admiral in charge of Italy’s main battle fleet when war came in 1940.

Knocked for overcaution during a few engagements with the British, he was relieved of his leading command position by the end of that year.

Come September 1943, he was at the island of Rhodes when Italy agreed to an armistice with the Allies. This was actually quite an unlucky spot to be, since the Germans, anticipating this development, had prepared a lightning Dodecanese Campaign to seize Italy’s positions in the Greek islands.

Many Italians resisted the German incursion, and suffered some of the war’s more infamous massacres for their trouble.

Campioni, who likewise recognized the government that signed the armistice, was captured within three days.

Unlike those recalcitrant Italians who met a summary fate, the admiral’s stature made him worth the trouble of trying to persuade. He was shipped first to a camp in Poland then to a prison in the northern Italian fascist statelet still headed by his former boss, Mussolini.

Campioni just kept refusing to recognize this Italian Social Republic: even to the end, he had a reprieve from shooting on offer for the price of an expedient word.

For never speaking that word, and instead suffering the fusillade with fellow-admiral Luigi Mascherpa, Admiral Campioni has been well-honored in posterity.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Germany,History,Italy,Occupation and Colonialism,Power,Public Executions,Shot,Soldiers,Treason,Wartime Executions

Tags: , , , , , , ,

1931: Severino Di Giovanni, anarchist

1 comment February 1st, 2011 Headsman

On this date in 1931, Italian anarchist Severino di Giovanni was shot in Buenos Aires for a terroristic bombing campaign.

Having just cracked his twenties, the young Abruzzo native fled to Argentina with the rise of Benito Mussolini.

Argentina was a popular destination for Italian emigrants, so Giovanni landed right in a yeasty community of emigre anarchists. And Argentine anarchists, for that matter: anarchism burgeoned in early 20th century Buenos Aires.

Giovanni was among the most active — and most vocal. He founded his own paper, Culmine, to advocate his brand of propaganda of the deed.

Its pages summoned comrades to arms in support of those worldwide icons condemned in Massachusetts, Sacco and Vanzetti.

Iconoclasts! Rebels against all oppression and injustice! Young temperaments uncowed by all the storms of life, the time has come when we must COOPERATE with all our powers in order to save the lives of Sacco and Vanzetti, and the revolutionary dignity which moves us. Let us light the fuse on the dynamite of vengeance! Let us destroy the obscene caste of slavers and let us commit ourselves to the most desperate struggle for the complete liberty of the two inmates of the jail at Charlestown!”

And Giovanni wasn’t just messing around.

Though little-known to present day Anglophones, Severino Di Giovanni was one of the most energetically committed anarchist terrorists in history, and a giant (and controversial, among his comrades) on the Argentine anarchist scene.

Further to Sacco and Vanzetti’s cause, Giovanni bombed the U.S. embassy in Buenos Aires (withstanding police torture upon his subsequent arrest), a George Washington statue, a Ford Motor Company concession, a tobacco firm attempting to commercialize the Sacco and Vanzetti name, and U.S. banks as part of his campaign. After Sacco and Vanzetti’s execution, Giovanni attempted to orchestrate a strike on the American President-elect Herbert Hoover during his state visit to the southern cone.

The Braintree martyrs were far from Giovanni’s sole concern, however; late in the 1920s his circle authored a number of bombing attacks on various targets of reactionary violence and bourgeois complacency, including the Italian embassy, locally-based fascists, and possibly even the editor of one of the rival anarchist journals that opposed his dynamite-oriented politics.

Spending monotonous hours among the common people, the resigned ones, the collaborators, the conformists; that isn’t living, that’s a vegetative existence, simply the transport, in ambulatory form, of a mass of flesh and bones. Life needs the exquisite sublimity experienced by rebellion of mind and arm.

Haters gonna hate, and collaborators gonna collabor-ate.

The anarchists who’d been complaining that Giovanni’s bomb-chucking would only make a right-wing coup more likely must have been in full I-told-you-so mode when a right-wing coup happened in 1930. Weeks later, Giovanni was finally taken in a firefight, along with his comrade Paulino Scarfo.

In a drumhead military tribunal, their lawyer was so impolitic in his advocacy that he himself was arrested after the sham proceedings, and eventually deported.

Giovanni met his firing squad fusillade with an energetic “Evviva l’Anarchia!” Scarfo shared his fate a few hours later.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Activists,Argentina,Capital Punishment,Cycle of Violence,Death Penalty,Execution,History,Murder,Revolutionaries,Shot,Terrorists

Tags: , , , , , , ,

1936: Aboune Petros, Ethiopian bishop

Add comment July 29th, 2010 Headsman

On this date in 1936, the Italian forces occupying Ethiopia executed anti-occupation cleric Aboune Petros.

War on Ethiopia had been Benito Mussolini‘s monument to muscular Italian nationalism.

By May of 1936, it had forced Haile Selassie into exile and established control of the country. Mission accomplished!

At last Italy has her empire.

-Mussolini

As is often the case, the war of conquest instead transmogrified into a war against continuing resistance to foreign military occupation, and the colony of Italian East Africa was a short-lived and bloody affair.

The Duce will have Ethiopia, with or without the Ethiopians.

-Italian Gen. Rodolfo Graziani

(Though the progressive counterpart to Italy’s iron-fisted approach to troublemakers was monumental construction, and 1930s-era fascist architecture is still to be seen in Addis Ababa today.)

Ethiopian Orthodox patriarch Aboune — it’s a title that can also be rendered Abuna or Abune — Petros cut a public profile a little too sympathetic to the native subversives. When the Italians demanded that he tone it down, he replied (according to a hagiography that appears several places online),

The cry of my countrymen who died due to your nerve-gas and terror machinery will never allow my conscious to accept your ultimatum. How can I see my God if I give a blind eye to such a crime?

On July 28, Italians repelled a large* Abyssinian insurgent attack by the sons of Ras Kassa between Addis Ababa and Petros’s stomping-grounds of Dessie; the next day, Petros was escorted to an abrupt martyrdom to the mirroring causes of national self-determination and anti-insurgency realpolitik.

His sacrifice is commemorated in statuary as well as a couple of notable theatrical pieces, Yedam Dems (The Voice of Blood) by Makonnen Endalkachew** and Petros Yachin Saat (Petros At That Hour) by Tsegaye Gebre-Medhin.

* On the scale of thousands. It “showed a certain tenacity,” according to the London Times‘ droll Rome correspondent in a July 30 story.

** Not the same guy as the post-colonial Prime Minister who was executed in a 1974 purge.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Activists,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Ethiopia,Execution,Famous,History,Italy,Martyrs,Occupation and Colonialism,Power,Religious Figures,Shot,Wartime Executions

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1916: Cesare Battisti and Fabio Filzi

5 comments July 12th, 2010 Headsman

On this date in 1916, the Austro-Hungarian empire executed Cesare Battisti and Fabio Filzi for treasonous Italian nationalism.

It was the multiethnic Habsburg state that was itself dying of its constituents’ national aspirations; in little more than two years, the state entity that carried out this day’s sentences would no longer exist at all.

Pre-World War I, Battisti (English Wikipedia entry | Italian) was actually a Socialist representative in the Austrian parliament.

When the unpleasantness broke out, though, he made a break for the peninsula where he agitated* (successfully) for Italian entry into the fray against Austria-Hungary. Irredentists had long coveted Habsburg properties with a heavy Italian population, like the Adriatic port of Trieste and Battisti’s own native Trento; the war offered an opportunity to swipe those territories, notwithstanding Italy’s putative prewar alliance with the Austrians.

Although already 40 years of age when Italy entered the war, the intrepid Battisti enlisted to fight. He was captured along with an otherwise obscure subaltern, Fabio Filzi, on the Alpine slope of Monte Corno (now known as Monte Corno Battisti) repelling the Austrian Strafexpedition.**

Austria did not stand on ceremony with these men; their capture took place on July 10, their trial on July 12, and their executions at the Castello del Buon Consiglio — an ironic Calvary, for a parliamentarian — later that same day. (To complete the scene, the strangulation-hanging was botched when Battisti’s first rope broke.)

The Austrian writer Karl Kraus would observe that “they thought they were hanging Italy, but it was really Austria on the gallows.”

Whichever one it was, they took a lot of pictures.


Battisti and Filzi as prisoners.


Battisti leaving the courtroom en route to his execution.


Battisti approaches the scaffold.


Battisti waiting at the scaffold as the sentence is read.


The Austrian army offers a prayer and salute to the shrouded body of Cesare Battisti.

* As a socialist who broke against the internationalist position and in favor of violent nationalism, Battisti was an ally of Benito Mussolini. It was Battisti, actually, who pioneered the socialist-nationalist-newspaperman act upon which Mussolini would later raise is own star, to such an extent that Battisti’s paper, Il Popolo — the apparent inspiration behind Mussolini’s own subsequent paper, Il Popolo d’Italia — gave the still-obscure future Duce some of his earliest gigs.

A martyr’s death during World War I fortuitously spares Battisti’s legacy the unpleasant association with his friend’s postwar turn towards fascism, so there are many streets and plazas named for Battisti, as well as a memorial in Trento. He’s also honored by name in the 1918 patriotic tune La Leggenda del Piave (lyrics).

** “Punitive expedition”.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Botched Executions,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Famous,Habsburg Realm,Hanged,History,Intellectuals,Italy,Martyrs,Mature Content,Occupation and Colonialism,Politicians,Power,Separatists,Soldiers,Treason,Wartime Executions

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1944: Galeazzo Ciano and four other Italian Fascists

11 comments January 11th, 2008 Headsman

On this date in 1944, Benito Mussolini had his son-in-law, the politician Galeazzo Ciano, shot for treason outside the gates of Verona along with four other fascists who had abandoned Mussolini.

A glamorous playboy in public life, Ciano was the scion of a wealthy fascist founder. The youth wed Mussolini’s eldest daughter in 1930 and quickly ascended the party’s ranks, becoming Foreign Minister at the tender age of 33.

Ciano’s treachery, and that of the others seated in chairs and shot from behind on this day, was to have voted with the majority of the Fascist Grand Council for deposing Mussolini as Allied attacks thrust Italy into a desperate position. This confused affair lacked the character of a coup d’etat, but Mussolini was indeed placed under arrest the next day and a separate peace concluded with the Allies in early September.

Soon after, an audacious German glider raid freed Mussolini, who was quickly re-installed as head of a Nazi puppet state in northern Italy.

Ciano’s capture by this body set in motion a final personal drama with implications for later students of the Second World War. Edda Ciano escaped to Switzerland with her husband’s diaries — potentially damaging notes on the machinations of the Axis.

These scribblings she took hostage for the life of her husband. The blackmail was not accepted — to the grief of Edda, who never spoke to her father again.

One final quixotic rescue attempt cooked up by a female SS administrator on Ciano’s guard detail — the last of many women drawn to this charismatic man — foundered; the preordained death sentence came down on January 10th, and the men were shot the next morning.* Mussolini reportedly fretted in the small hours of the night over whether his standing in Hitler’s eyes would suffer should he intervene.

Edda had the diaries published as she threatened, and if they exposed scant novel evidence against his German and Italian compatriots, they offer a window upon diplomatic intrigue and personal relationships within the Pact of Steel.

The last entries were written from prison just three weeks before his execution, and (allowing that by that time the author had reason to lay blame for policy missteps explicitly at Mussolini’s door) the protracted effort they describe to steer the impulsive Duce towards some sane foreign policy — something that might have spared Italy the devastation of war and maintained a fascist government, as Spain managed to do — reads almost farcically in retrospect. Italy could make little material contribution to the war, and probably had as much to fear from Hitler in victory as from the Allies in defeat … but at every turn, Hitler’s inspiring star pulled the Italian dictator away from realpolitik and towards romantic catastrophe.

As the invasion of Poland approached, for instance, Ciano watched Mussolini vacillate on whether to cast his lot irrevocably with Hitler.

The Duce’s reactions are varied. At first he agrees with me [not to commit to war]. Then he says that honor compels him to march with Germany. Finally, he states that he wants his part of the booty in Croatia and Dalmatia.

Like World War II’s every nook and cranny, the Italian experience bestrode by Ciano has received eager literary coverage.

Edda and Galeazzo Ciano’s son Fabrizio also wrote a personal memoir entitled Quando il nonno fece fucilare papa (“When Grandpa had Daddy Shot”).

* Four of the five were only wounded by the initial volley, and the fifth was missed altogether; all were dispatched with a coup de grace.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Botched Executions,Famous,Famous Last Words,Germany,Italy,Mature Content,Notably Survived By,Occupation and Colonialism,Politicians,Shot,Treason,Wartime Executions

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


Calendar

July 2019
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

Archives

Categories

Execution Playing Cards

Exclusively available on this site: our one-of-a-kind custom playing card deck.

Every card features a historical execution from England, France, Germany, or Russia!