The Verona Trial was held in the Italian Social Republic (ISR) to "punish" - by five almost immediately executed death sententences and one 30-year imprisonment - the essential part of those members of the Grand Council of Fascism who had committed the "crime" to vote for Benito Mussolini's removal from power in the Kingdom of Italy and later had been arrested by Mussolini's forces.
This was a prominent event of the period of the second world war.
Following the Allied invasion of Sicily, the Grand Council of Fascism had in fact voted, on 25 July 1943, with 19 against 8 votes and one abstention, to strip Mussolini of his function as Duce. When Mussolini refused to accept this decision and his dismissal by the king, he was arrested. In September 1943, German paratroopers "rescued" Mussolini from his captors via the Gran Sasso raid. He was then installed as the leader of the Italian Social Republic, effectively a puppet state of Nazi Germany.
At the urging of the German authorities, the ISR persecuted those plotters they could find, six in number. These included Galeazzo Ciano, the former Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Mussolini's son-in-law; the honoured "marshal of Italy" Emilio De Bono; and Tullio Cianetti, a young fascist. All of the six captured defendants were found "guilty", and all, except Cianetti, were sentenced to death. Another three prominent persons of the 19 were non-captured, but nonetheless also sentenced to death, although "in absence", among them Dino Grandi, who was responsible for the agenda of the meeting of July 25.
The trial took place from 8 till 10 Jan. 1944. The execution of the five captured defendants sentenced to death was performed as hastily as possible, by shooting them in the morning of 11 Jan. 1944.
A contemporary comment
Victor Klemperer, a famous Dresden-based literature professor and diarist, who - although being Jewish - had survived the Hitler years, writing diary notices for almost every day, has commented the trial and the execution in a diary notice from 15 January 1944 as follows (translating the German original):
- "For me it is certain that the trial was a farce, that the execution was work of the Germans, that Mussolini had almost nothing to do any longer with the whole affair - he is now almost invisible, the shadow of a puppet -, above all: that with this whole affair one wants to deter primarily internal opponents (Paulus, Seydlitz)."
- Giorgio Bocca, La Repubblica di Mussolini, Ed. Mondadori. (it.)
- Victor Klemperer: Ich will Zeugnis ablegen bis zum letzten, Tagebücher 1933-1941 und 1942-1945, Aufbau-Verlag, 11. Aufl., Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-351-02340-5 (in German; I will give witness until the last minute, diary notes 1933 - 1945)