Assassination attempts on Benito Mussolini

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Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini survived several assassination attempts while head of government of Italy in the 1920s and 1930s.

Tito Zaniboni[edit]

The former Socialist deputy Tito Zaniboni 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, Zaniboni set up a rifle with telescopic sights. Shortly before his target appeared, however, Zaniboni 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 Zaniboni 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]

Zaniboni received a 30-year prison sentence, but was released in 1943 after the King dismissed Mussolini as prime minister, 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 31, 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. ^ "Zaniboni, 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. A Bologna ad Anteo Zamboni sono dedicate la via Mura Anteo Zamboni e una lapide.

Further reading[edit]

  • Corsentino, Michele (1990). Michele Schirru e l'attentato anarchico (in Italian). Catania: Edizioni anarchismo. OCLC 879927860.
  • Del Boca, Lorenzo; Masso, Elisabetta (2000). Il dito dell'anarchico: storia dell'uomo che sognava di uccidere Mussolini (in Italian). Casale Monferrato (Alessandria): Piemme. ISBN 978-88-384-4703-7. OCLC 44444588.
  • Dalla Casa, Brunella (2009). Attentato al duce: le molte storie del caso Zamboni (in Italian). Milan: Il Giornale. OCLC 879946183.
  • Falasca-Zamponi, Simonetta (August 31, 2000). "Mussolini the Myth". Fascist Spectacle: The Aesthetics of Power in Mussolini's Italy. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-22677-7.
  • Ferri, Enrico; Cassola, Mary Flint (1928). "A Character Study and Life History of Violet Gibson Who Attempted the Life of Benito Mussolini, on the 7th of April, 1926". Journal of the American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology. 19 (2): 211–219. doi:10.2307/1134640. ISSN 0885-4173. JSTOR 1134640.
  • Ferro, Lorena (April 7, 2011). "Los atentados contra Benito Mussolini". La Vanguardia (in Spanish). Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  • Fiori, Giuseppe (1990). Vita e morte di Michele Schirru: l'anarchico che pensò di uccidere Mussolini (in Italian). Roma: Laterza. ISBN 978-88-420-3529-9. OCLC 476641180.
  • Galzerano, Giuseppe (2003). Angelo Sbardellotto: vita, processo e morte dell'emigrante anarchico fucilato per l'intenzione di uccidere Mussolini (in Italian). Casalvelino Scalo (SA): Galzerano. OCLC 799222803.
  • Onnis, Omar; Mureddu, Manuelle (2019). Illustres. Vita, morte e miracoli di quaranta personalità sarde (in Italian). Sestu: Domus de Janas. ISBN 978-88-97084-90-7. OCLC 1124656644.
  • Rizzo, Vincenzo (1981). Attenti al Duce: storie minime dell'Italia fascista, 1927-1938 (in Italian). Florence: Vallecchi. OCLC 11754402.
  • Saunders, Frances Stonor (2011). The Woman Who Shot Mussolini. London: Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-23979-5. OCLC 987024459.
  • Seldes, George (1978). "'Live Dangerously' Is My Motto". Sawdust Caesar: The Untold History of Mussolini and Fascism. New York: AMS Press. ISBN 978-0-404-56197-0. OCLC 3772712.