Why Mussolini?


In 1940, Mussolini took his country into World War II on the side of Nazi Germany.  After 5 years of war, Mussolini was captured on 27 April, 1945, by local partisans near Lake Como in Italy.  He was shot the following afternoon, two days before Adolf Hitler’s suicide in a Berlin bunker.  The body of Mussolini was later taken and hanged upside down on display in a Milan plaza. The Italian masses greeted Mussolini’s death without regret.  He had promised his people Roman glory, but his megalomania had overcome his common sense, bringing them only war and misery.

On 8th May 1945 – Winston Churchill announced VE Day – Victory in Europe. This day marked the end of WW2 in Europe. 

Street parties were held and bonfires lit all over Britain to celebrate the end of the war in Europe.  At the age of 9, I was there for one of these in a small town on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors.

End of WW2 bonfire-effigy

WHY MUSSOLINI ?

Not Hitler
This Scarecrow Figured
Fat Wicker man
Atop a May bonfire
But that lesser devil
Second rate despot
Sinister Latin sinner
Chosen sacrifice
Victory Symbol
Hanged upside down again
Dead and gone
Ring-a-ring of dead roses
Now danced around
On victory’s bonfire

The joy and jubilation surrounding me
I was part of
though I hardly comprehended
heedless
of its full meaning
Save some sinister presence
The current Guy
Personified devil
Evil’s symbol
Was being fire-and-flame crucified
Inverted as St Peter
But here
In England
Now
For the world’s sins
And to lift a shadow
From our lives

While the tarmac ‘neath his pyre
melted
Into one more moment of history
And then
Into nothingness

End of WW2 bonfire-vintage-photos

 

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10 thoughts on “Why Mussolini?

  1. Wow! What a strong, rousing and yet sensitive poem. As a little boy I think you must have felt the atmosphere strongly even if you didn’t understand. I feel as if I were there. Beautifully written Roland. Did they really burn an effigy in straw of Moussolini?

    I can’t believe you unwittingly got me to read up a number of entries about Mussolini this morning. Realised that I only knew the centre part of his life. All both men wanted was glory for themselves – promising glory to the people.
    Miriam

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    • I appreciate you taking the time to respond in so full a way. Well .. . I remember my father helping to organise the event, but apart from joining in the general euphoria, and, I believe, helping to repair the damaged road surface afterwards, I wasn’t myself otherwise involved.

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  2. At approximately 3.00 pm yesterday I was watching a foreign film dramatization of the execution of Mussolini and his wife, also reading about the German Fallschirmjager mountain top rescue of IL Duce, the entangled thoughts of poets.
    Thank you Roland, you never fail to lift our art beyond dreams and breaking dawns, always interesting, always a delight.

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  3. Those memories must bring back mixed feelings Roland. Il Duce certainly made his mark in history, and it seems that Fascism is making a comeback in many various parts of Europe. It is excellent how you have combined these two events. Your commentary before the poetry gives it so much more meaning.

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