Mussolini’s ‘Last’ Bunker To Be Opened to the Public

The bunker was built at the end of 1942 when Mussolini began to worry that the Royal Air Force (RAF) was planning an assassination attempt on the Italian leader and an attack on his headquarters, researchers say.

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Mussolini
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Benito Mussolini in Rome, on July 5, 1939.

One of Benito Mussolini’s secret bunkers, discovered in Rome’s central Palazzo Venezia, will be opened to the public this fall, reports La Stampa. City superintendent Anna Imponente and architect Carlo Serafini originally unearthed the bunker in early 2011 when engineers were carrying out work on the foundations of the famous Italian palazzo. On discovering a small wooden trap door, they descended a narrow flight of brick stairs that led them to the bunker. There had been no official records of the hideout, which had been abandoned during construction.

(TIME: Was Mussolini Misunderstood?)

“When we saw the reinforced concrete, we realized what it was,” Serafini told La Stampa. “Mussolini never stayed there but without a doubt he would have gone down to inspect the progress of the work.” The bunker is 50 feet below ground, so deep that it also revealed some buried Roman ruins. However, the rough concrete walls and holes in the wall for electric wiring show that the hideout was never finished. Serafini also believes the bunker was designed for two people, most likely Mussolini and his mistress, Claretta Petacci.

The bunker was built at the end of 1942 when Mussolini began to worry that the Royal Air Force (RAF) was planning an assassination attempt on the Italian leader and an attack on his headquarters. He was right – in July 1943 Air Marshal Arthur “Bomber” Harris proposed a plan to simultaneously bomb the Palazzo Venezia and the Villa Torlonia where Mussolini’s family lived, Christopher Duggan told the Daily Telegraph. However, Winston Churchill and the British Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, rejected the plan, believing it would fail. They also worried that British bombers could cause real damage to the nearby ancient ruins including the Roman Forum and the Colosseum.

(TIME: Arrivederci, Italia: Why Young Italians are Leaving)

The bunker has two escape routes, one to the gardens of San Marco and another that goes to the Altare della Patria where there was another bunker. But Mussolini never got the chance to find out how safe the bunker was. He was imprisoned in July 1942 after Allied troops landed in Sicily. Following the German occupation he was reinstalled as the leader of a new Italian government, but fled to Switzerland when the Allies arrived in northern Italy. He was captured by Italian partisans in 1945, and shot.

16 comments
haroldgoldmeier
haroldgoldmeier

If only the British and American govts had the same pity for the concentration camp victims as the ancient ruins of Italy, perhaps many of the Holocaust victims might have lived.

mario47
mario47

There'i a mistake. Mussolini was imprisoned in July 1943 after the "Gran Consiglio"

mario47
mario47

There's a mistake. Mussolini was imprisoned in 1943 after Grand Consiglio 25th of July. 

poliphobic
poliphobic

 "to simply drop bombs and kill anyone"

Rather rich, if coming from an American, since that's what you lot have been doing a great deal of from V-Nam onwards.

BTW- It wasn't only the Raf that bombed Dresden, guess who else took a major part?

Churchill sanctioned the bombing but, sadly, subsequently disowned Harris and Bomber Command, for his own political reasons.

To my generation , Harris and Bomber Command, who lost over 58,000 aircrew, are heroes as are the men of the USAAC who came  and "joined in".

Germany did their utmost to bomb and destroy British cities from the outset, they reaped what they had sowed.

You, sir, are talking through your lower orifice.




CraigAllen
CraigAllen like.author.displayName 1 Like

Bomber Harris was willing bomb anything and everything, without any thought to what else might happen.  He was the most blood-thirsty official, rivalling Stalin in his willingness to simply drop bombs and kill anyone and everyone.  In fact, if the Nürnberg Tribunal hadn't been limited to prosecuting Germans, he would have been in the dock too, and easily found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.  He went after Dresden, which had no military significance, and even proudly admitted that when he set the target he made no attempt to hit the few remotely military places in the area.  He did exactly the same thing earlier in Hamburg.

Rael007
Rael007 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

well I only clicked on this article to "see" the bunker...another terrible headline.....waste of my time...

IrishinToronto
IrishinToronto like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

Please tell me Gerarldo Rivera is going to open it...

holbrooksbookie
holbrooksbookie

It was 1943 when the Allies landed on the Italian mainland. 

LostInIowa
LostInIowa like.author.displayName 1 Like

@holbrooksbookie that tidbit of info applies here how?

lleeth
lleeth

It was obvious to me.

holbrooksbookie was merely commenting on the story's statement that "

"He was imprisoned in July 1942 after Allied troops landed in Sicily."

LostInIowa
LostInIowa

@CraigAllen @lleeth I guess I don't read it as related items, but rather events of coincidence. Sentence suggests to me that the Italians took matters into their own hands when they knew the Allies were near and eventually bearing down on Italy.

Isabell17415448
Isabell17415448

@lleeth ALLIED TROOPS ARE LANDED IN 1943 IN SICILY, TRUST ME, I'M SICILIAN. ANYWAY, MUSSOLINI RAPPRESENT A DARK STORY OF ITALY.  NEVER MORE RACISM

CraigAllen
CraigAllen

@lleeth The article seems to suggest that he was imprisoned by the allies, which, of course, is not true.  Poor writing, but historically factual.

LostInIowa
LostInIowa

@lleeth Since when is Sicily (an island) part of the Italian mainland?