Assassination attempts on Benito Mussolini

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Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini survived several assassination attempts as the head of state in the 1920s and 1930s.

Tito Zanibóni[edit]

The former Socialist deputy Tito Zanibóni was arrested for attempting to assassinate Mussolini on November 4, 1925. In a hotel with a view unto Palazzo Chigi, where Mussolini had planned to give a balcony speech, Zanibóni set up a rifle with telescopic sights. Shortly before his target appeared, however, Zanibóni was arrested. A friend and double agent had informed the police. Historians believe that the plot itself was engineered by the Mussolini administration as a pretext to consolidate power, which is what followed.[1][2] Mussolini's laws enacted in late 1925 enabled the suppression of any oppositional political organization.[3]

The Italian army officer Luigi Capello was arrested in conjunction with the Zanibóni plot and received a 30-year prison sentence.[4] The author and labor organizer Carlo Tresca wrote a play and political satire in late 1925 based on the attempt, L'Attentato a Mussolini ovvero il segreto di Pulcinella (The Attempt on Mussolini or the Secret of Pulcinella).[1]

Zanibóni received a 30-year prison sentence, but was released in 1943 and later named to government positions.[5]

Violet Gibson[edit]

The next year, on April 7, 1926, Violet Gibson shot a pistol at Mussolini, which grazed his nose. He was bandaged and continued on to give his scheduled speech.[2] Gibson, the daughter of the Irish Lord Chancellor, was nearly lynched, later jailed, and spent the remainder of her life in an asylum.[6]

Gino Lucetti[edit]

Later in 1926, on September 11, anarchist marble worker Gino Lucetti threw a bomb at Mussolini's limousine in Porta Pia, Rome, which injured four others.[2]

Anteo Zamboni[edit]

The next month, on October 11, 1926, a shot fired at Mussolini, who rode in an open car through Bologna, led to the lynching of a 15-year-old boy. Terrorism specialist J. Bowyer Bell wrote that the boy was likely innocent and the affair either a put-up job or plot between Fascists. The attempt resulted in laws creating Mussolini's secret police.[2]

The attempt has been adapted into two films: the 1977 film Gli ultimi tre giorni (The Last Three Days)[7] and the fictionalized 1973 film Love and Anarchy.[8] A street in Bologna is named after Zamboni.[9]

1930s plots[edit]

As Italian Fascism became a stable institution, the potential murder of Mussolini became harder to attempt and offered less potential impact to destabilize his regime. In May 1931, American anarchist Michele Schirru was arrested and executed in Italy for plotting to kill Mussolini. The next month, Angelo Sbardellotto was arrested and executed for a similar plot.[2]


  1. ^ a b Pernicone, Nunzio (2010). "L'Attentato a Mussolini". Carlo Tresca: Portrait of a Rebel. AK Press. p. 167. ISBN 978-1-84935-043-3.
  2. ^ a b c d e Bell, J. Bowyer (2017). Assassin: Theory and Practice of Political Violence. Taylor & Francis. p. 158. ISBN 978-1-351-31542-5.
  3. ^ Thompson, Doug (1991). State Control in Fascist Italy: Culture and Conformity, 1925-43. Manchester University Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-7190-3463-3.
  4. ^ Tucker, Spencer C. (2013). The European Powers in the First World War: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. p. 166. ISBN 978-1-135-50694-0.
  5. ^ "Zanibóni, Tito". Treccani. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  6. ^ Hughes-Hallett, Lucy (February 27, 2010). "The Woman Who Shot Mussolini Book Review". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on May 12, 2016. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  7. ^ Brunetta, Gian Piero (2004). The Cinema of Italy. Wallflower Press. p. 185. ISBN 978-1-903364-98-7.
  8. ^ Bullaro, Grace Russo (2006). Man in Disorder: The Cinema of Lina Wertmüller in the 1970s. Troubador Publishing. p. 37. ISBN 978-1-905886-39-5.
  9. ^ Colonnelli, Igino (2008). Giuseppe Moscatelli «Moschino». HALLEY Editrice. p. 485. ISBN 978-88-7589-333-0.

Further reading[edit]