Skip to content

Dozens in Italy give a fascist salute on anniversary of Mussolini’s execution

Police separated demonstrators from hundreds of protesters singing ‘Bella Ciao’

Dozens of people raised their arms in the fascist salute and shouted a fascist chant during ceremonies Sunday to honor Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on the 79th anniversary of his execution.

Dressed in black, these nostalgics marched through northern Italian towns where Mussolini was arrested and executed at the end of World War II, and also in Predappio, Mussolini’s birthplace and final resting place.

Mussolini was stopped by anti-fascist partisans in Dongo, on the shores of Lake Como, on April 27, 1945, as he tried to escape with his lover, Clara Petacci, following the Allied liberation of Italy.

On Sunday, a group of his supporters marched through Dongo and placed 15 roses in the lake in memory of the ministers and officials from the Mussolini government who were killed there, according to video of the event by LaPresse news agency.

The partisans executed Mussolini and Petacci the following day in the nearby lakeside town of Mezzegra-Giulino, where commemorations were also held Sunday. After a rendition of Taps, the leader of the commemorations shouted “Comrad Benito Mussolini,” and the crowd responded with a stiff-armed fascist salute and chant of “present.”

Several police trucks separated the demonstrators in Dongo from hundreds of protesters who sang the famous partisan song “Bella Ciao” during the ceremony.

The anniversary of Mussolini’s execution fell on the same day that Premier Giorgia Meloni was leading her far-right Brothers of Italy party in an election rally in the city of Pescara. Brothers of Italy traces its roots to the Italian Social Movement, which was founded in 1946 by a chief of staff in Mussolini’s last government and drew fascist sympathizers and officials into its ranks after Mussolini’s fall.

Meloni, who joined the MSI’s youth branch as a teenager, has tried to distance her party from its neo-fascist roots. She has condemned fascism’s suppression of democracy and insisted that the Italian right handed fascism over to history decades ago. On Sunday, Meloni accused the left of being more of a totalitarian threat to Italy today.

READ ALSO: Italy shifts to the right as voters reward Meloni’s party

She noted that Communist Party members had made a formal complaint about the tent structures built on the Pescara beachfront to host the Brothers of Italy rally, during which Meloni announced she would head the party’s campaign ahead of European Parliament elections in June.

“I note that the Communist Party still exists, and I say so to show where the nostalgics for totalitarianism are in Italy today,” she said.

She earned rounds of applause as she listed her government’s accomplishments since coming to power in 2022, and drew cheers when she reaffirmed her working-class roots.

“If you still believe in me, just write ‘Giorgia’ on the ballot, because I am and always will be one of you,” she said.

The message recalled one of her most famous campaign slogans, “I am Giorgia,” which emphasized her Christian nationalistic messaging and went onto become a viral meme and the title of her memoir.

Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press