the mvsn and the 25th July 1943

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sebi98
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the mvsn and the 25th July 1943

Post by sebi98 » 18 May 2019 19:09

The main task of the mvsn as guard of the revolution was to defend the fascist state inside Italy from interior enemys and traitors and possible coup d etates. But why didnt the mvsn didnt even make a step to stop the downfall of Mussolini and the fascist regime?

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DrG
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Re: the mvsn and the 25th July 1943

Post by DrG » 18 May 2019 21:46

The blackshirts had sworn their oath to the King, not the Duce. Moreover, the situation was not clear at first: the radio told that Mussolini had resigned and therefore the King had appointed Marshal Badoglio as new President of the Council. Then, in the following days, the top commanders of the MVSN, starting with the chief of staff Gen. Galbiati, were replaced by officers of the Army and the MVSN was turned into an apolitical Armed Force.

During the Italian Social Republic several fascists criticized Gen. Galbiati for his lack of action, but he justified himself making reference to the oath sworn to the King and to the reluctance to start a civil war (in which, by the way, the MVSN would have been defeated easily by the Army) and therefore he wasn't put on trial.

Take also into account that Badoglio wrote a letter to Mussolini on 25 July 1943 telling him that he hadn't been arrested, instead he had been taken into custody for his own safety, in order to avoid attempts from antifascists. Mussolini then replied, on 26 July, with a message of congratulations to Badoglio, informing him that he would have provided his support if needed.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: the mvsn and the 25th July 1943

Post by Sid Guttridge » 20 May 2019 05:37

Hi Guys,

It is also as well to remember that the coup against Mussolini began in the Fascist Grand Council. Thus Fascism had divided loyalties and this would presumably have affected the MVSN as well.

Besides, it was clear that the population at large had had enough of Fascism. Earlier in 1943 Northern Italy had been paralysed by strikes in the main industrial centres and the MVSN had been reluctant to get heavy handed even then.

Cheers,

Sid.

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jwsleser
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Re: the mvsn and the 25th July 1943

Post by jwsleser » 21 May 2019 14:55

Sid Guttridge wrote:
20 May 2019 05:37
It is also as well to remember that the coup against Mussolini began in the Fascist Grand Council. Thus Fascism had divided loyalties and this would presumably have affected the MVSN as well.
This is the main point. The fascist government didn't end with the ouster of Mussolini, he was simply removed from office by the Grand Council. Completely legal. There wasn't any reason for the MVSN to react.

The fascist government remained in power up until 8 Sept.

Pista! Jeff
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DrG
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Re: the mvsn and the 25th July 1943

Post by DrG » 21 May 2019 17:53

The beginning of Marshal Badoglio's government had an image of legality and Mussolini himself had no problem admitting it, albeit implicitly, in his own private letter sent to Badoglio on 26 July, but frankly on a purely legal point of view it was fully coup d'etat. And this fact became clearer in the following weeks, when:
- Mussolini's resignation and Badoglio's appointment were never formalized (they should have been published on the "Gazzetta Ufficiale", i.e. the official gazette of Italian laws and decrees, which cannot enter into force if they are not published on it);
- the King appointed Badoglio without prior consultation with the Grand Council of Fascism, as required by law (which, anyway, gave to the Council just a consultive function, in fact the King was free to appoint a President of the Council of Ministers not suggested by the Council of Fascism);
- Badoglio didn't get a vote of confidence from the Parliament and, instead, the Chamber of Fasces and Corporations was suppressed, therefore blocking also the legislative power of the Senate (laws in Italy had, and still have, to be voted by both the branches of the Parliament);
- when Badoglio and the military ministers (War, Navy and Air Force) moved to Brindisi with the King on 9 Sept. 1943, the majority of the ministers remained in Rome, therefore legally blocking the executive power, given that in Italy the Government (Council of Ministers) was and is a collegial organism, which votes its decrees by majority of its members.

As a consequence, by 9 Sept. 1943 Italy had lost both its legislative power, i.e. the Parliament, and its executive power, i.e. the Government. This latter on two points of view: due to the absence of any formalization of the passage of powers from Mussolini to Badoglio and then due to the split between Rome and Brindisi after the Armistice, with the majority remaining in Rome and acting as the governing power of the Open City of Rome until it was dismissed by the Germans after the proclamation of Mussolini's new government, which was not legal too, given that its members hadn't sworn in the hands of the King.

Plainly speaking, in the summer of 1943 nobody was acting following the rule of law in Italy, it was instead a constitutional crisis which, actually, turned law into its most basic origin: brute force. Badoglio governed outside the limits of the Albertine Statute and the Constitutional Laws, merely because he was supported by the Army, especially by the Supreme Chief of Staff Gen. Ambrosio (who was probably the true man in the shadow and puppetmaster of Badoglio, whose mental capacities were quite limited due to his age and maybe by a beginning of dementia), and apparently by the King (who had suffered a stroke and was not in good health too; the exact role of Victor Emanuel III in the fall of Mussolini and the Armistice is still far from clear).

Returning to the main focus of this topic, i.e. the MVSN and the reasons for its relative lack of action (a few acts of violence happened anyway, but later in August 1943), it can be summarized with the following points:
- the oath sworn to the King, which was not subject to any limitation;
- the apparent legality of Mussolini's willing resignation (while, in truth, Mussolini was dismissed by the King, he didn't resign);
- the huge disparity of forces between the MSVN and the other Armed Forces;
- the hopes in Marshal Badoglio's capacities as opposed the series of defeats that Mussolini's government had suffered since the late 1942 (after the fall of Tripoli and the destruction of the VIII Army in Russia little hope in a victory was present in the population, Fascists included).

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Re: the mvsn and the 25th July 1943

Post by Sid Guttridge » 24 May 2019 06:22

Hi DrG,

An interesting post.

I have a few questions.

As I understand it, the Fascist Grand Council hadn't met for many years.

Who had the power to summon it?

Was it only the movement's Duce?

If so, did this give the Duce the power to prevent any legal internal moves against him by simply not summoning it?

Why did Mussolini feel it necessary to meet the Grand Council in July 1943 after such a prolonged lapse?

Many thanks,

Sid.

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jwsleser
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Re: the mvsn and the 25th July 1943

Post by jwsleser » 25 May 2019 04:13

I will let DrG answer your questions.

However Deakin's The Brutal Friendship will answer many of your questions. The Chapters in Part One, Book IV; 'Feltre', 'Five Minutes to Twelve', and 'The Meeting for the Grand Council' covers most of the points.

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DrG
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Re: the mvsn and the 25th July 1943

Post by DrG » 25 May 2019 18:20

Dear Sid,

your questions start from the commonly held assumption that the Grand Council of Fascism (GCF) had any real and legal power. In reality, its functions were almost completely consultative, not deliberative. The only matters in which the GCF's decisions were binding were:
- the list of candidates for the elections;
- the statutes and regulations of the Fascist National Party.
The powers of the GCF were defined by the law n. 2693 of 1928 and the law n. 2099 of 1929.

On any other matter the GCF provided only non-binding suggestions to the Government or the King. With regards to this latter one, the GCF, upon proposal of the Head of Government (i.e. Mussolini himself), kept the list of names of possible Heads of Government to be proposed to the King in case of vacancy. As far as I know Mussolini never asked the GCF to prepare such a list, anyway.

Only the Head of Government, who was also the President of the GCF, had the right to summon the GCF itself. Moreover, art. 2 of the internal rules of the GCF stated that the President of the GCF "has the right to interrupt the discussion of any issue at any moment, and to suspend the carrying out of the decisions of the Grand Council".

Of course, therefore, the Duce, as Head of Government, was perfectly free to avoid any vote against his policy, by simply not summoning the GCF or interrupting it. What should be clear, anyway, is that the GCF had not the power to dismiss the Head of Government, only the King had this right, but not by his own initiative. Usually a Head of Government (before and after Fascism known as President of the Council) presented his resignation to the King because he had got a vote of no confidence by a chamber of the Parliament. Then the King accepted his resignation and gave the duty of forming a new government theoretically to whoever he wanted, but usually to the leader designated by the largest group in the Parliament. When the new Government had sworn in the hands of the King it had to require a vote of confidence from the Parliament.

In 1943 the Chamber of Fasces and Corporations was made of Fascist deputies unwilling to contradict Mussolini. The Senate was more free, given that its members were appointed by the King and had a lifetime membership, but many senators were Fascists too and since the late XIX century it was a praxis that the Senate, being an unelected chamber, was not allowed to provide a no confidence vote to the Government (the so called "il Senato non fa crisi" principle).

Therefore, Mussolini summoned the GCF on 24 July 1943 because he knew that it hadn't the constitutional powers to force his resignation, nor to ask the King to dismiss him. Thousands of pages have been written about the reasons behind Mussolini's choice, given that he fully knew the texts of the three different proposals of agenda (ordine del giorno) by the members of the GCF. Personally, I am inclined to believe that Mussolini was confident of persuading his internal Fascist opposers and thus of turning the meeting into his personal victory and a way to deter any further opposition, especially from non-Fascists. Moreover, given the limited powers of the GCF, in my opinion he hoped that his possible defeat would have caused just some changes in the composition of the Government and/or in its policy, in full agreement with the King, but not his personal fall. A defeat, moreover, would have meant more powers and thus responsibilities attributed to the King; a fact that, in a moment of exceptional crisis, would have left Mussolini and Fascism less responsible for the defeats suffered by Italy (by the way, this was apparently the motivation for most of the members of the GCF that voted in favor of Dino Grandi's proposal).

I provide here my translation the last three paragraphs of Dino Grandi's proposal (source https://it.wikisource.org/wiki/Italia_- ... l_Fascismo) in the GCF of 24-25 July 1943, which won by 19 votes in favor versus 8 votes against and 1 abstained (see the list of voters: https://it.wikisource.org/wiki/Italia_- ... Grandi.jpg). As you can read, there isn't a clear request of Mussolini's resignation, but only of giving back to the legitimate bodies the powers that he had concentrated in his hands during the war, going well beyond his constitutional powers.
[the GCF] affirms the necessity of the moral and material union of all the Italians in this hour, serious and decisive for the destinies of the nation;

[the GCF] declares that, for this purpose, the immediate restoration of all the functions of the State is necessary, attributing the tasks and responsibilities established by our State and constitutional laws to the Crown, the Grand Council, the Government, the Parliament, the Corporations;

[the GCF] invites the Head of Government to ask His Majesty the King, towards Whom the heart of the whole nation is turned faithfully and trustfully, so that He may, for the honor and for the salvation of the Fatherland, assume - with the effective command of the armed forces of land, sea and air, according to article 5 of the Statute of the Kingdom - that supreme initiative of decision that our institutions attribute to Him and that have always been, in all national history, the glorious heritage of our August Dynasty of Savoy.

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Re: the mvsn and the 25th July 1943

Post by DrG » 28 May 2019 00:34

DrG wrote:
25 May 2019 18:20
Of course, therefore, the Duce, as Head of Government, was perfectly free to avoid any vote against his policy, by simply not summoning the GCF or interrupting it. What should be clear, anyway, is that the GCF had not the power to dismiss the Head of Government, only the King had this right, but not by his own initiative. Usually a Head of Government (before and after Fascism known as President of the Council) presented his resignation to the King because he had got a vote of no confidence by a chamber of the Parliament. Then the King accepted his resignation and gave the duty of forming a new government theoretically to whoever he wanted, but usually to the leader designated by the largest group in the Parliament. When the new Government had sworn in the hands of the King it had to require a vote of confidence from the Parliament.
I have to clarify this passage of mine, because I have somewhat mixed praxis and law. By praxis, the King did not dismiss the Head of the Government by his own will, but the Albertine Statute (i.e. the constitution of the Kingdom of Italy) gave him this right (art. 65), confirmed also by the law of 24 Dicember 1925, n. 2263, art. 2. The praxis, instead, was that this action by the King happened only after a vote of no confidence by the Chamber of Deputies (then turned into the Chamber of Fasces and Corporations), but the King was not forced to wait this vote: it was just a custom typical of the Parliamentary system existing before Fascism.

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Re: the mvsn and the 25th July 1943

Post by Sid Guttridge » 31 May 2019 15:45

Hi Dr.G,

Thank you very much for so complete and informative a reply.

If only all posts were of such usefulness!

It is responses like yours here that remind me of the value of the internet and of sites like this.

Thanks again,

Sid.

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DrG
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Re: the mvsn and the 25th July 1943

Post by DrG » 02 Jun 2019 00:20

You are welcome, and thank you for your appreciation.

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Re: the mvsn and the 25th July 1943

Post by DavidFrankenberg » 19 Jul 2019 15:24

Mussolini was part of the 25th july coup.
For him, it was about finding a way to escape the catastrophe...
He decided to give up the power.
What surprised Ciano was that the King would associate Mussolini with the power, which he did not. But nothing surprised Mussolini who knew that everything was doomed anyway.

From 25th july to 5 september the new government kept on fighting the allies. The new government kept on being allied with Hitler.

Only the 5 sept things changed. Italy made peace with the Allies.

Hitler then decided to kidnap Mussolini. It was done the 12th sept by Skorzenny. Mussolini would have prefered to stay in jail but he was forced to follow the nazis. Mussolini was just a tool in Hitler's hands. Mussolini considered himself as a prisoner.
He could do nothing to save the lives of Ciano and of the others "traitors". Because their fate was sealed by Hitler, not by him.

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Re: the mvsn and the 25th July 1943

Post by DrG » 19 Jul 2019 23:43

DavidFrankenberg, I fear there are some misconceptions and plain mistakes in your account.

While we cannot know exactly what Mussolini thought (also given that his diaries have disappeared), there is no evidence and reason to believe that he thought he would have been defeated in the vote of the Grand Council or, at least, that he desired this outcome. His depression came later, when he was under arrest during Badoglio's "45 days".

The decision to start negotiations with the Allies was taken on 31 July 1943, after the report by gen. Marras (a telephone call made in strict Sardinian dialect, in order to confuse German phone tapping), military attaché in Berlin, about his meeting, along with the diplomat Michele Lanza, with Hitler, gen. Jodl, Hewel and gen. Schmundt in Rastenburg on 30 July. During the meeting, Marras showed Mussolini's letter to Badoglio of 26 July, which I have already mentioned in this thread, and reported to Hitler king Victor Emmanuel III's request to meet him, in order to define the true military and political situation of the Axis and clarify the command chain in Italy (where the Germans were operating in an independent way and had clearly decided to leave Sicily).
When Marras's report made clear that Hitler did not want to meet the Italian king and instead he was sure of an Italian defection, the Italian government took the definitive choice to seek and armistice, which was signed in Cassibile on 3 September and proclaimed on 8 September.

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Re: the mvsn and the 25th July 1943

Post by Dili » 19 Jul 2019 23:56

DrG what is know about Mussolini diaries?

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Re: the mvsn and the 25th July 1943

Post by DrG » 20 Jul 2019 00:29

Dili, please refer to this old post of mine: viewtopic.php?p=1294322#p1294322

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