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26 March 2013

Inside Mussolini's Secret - Unfinished - Bunker (Photo Essay)

Mussolini was eventually executed by Italian partisans in 1945

By Hannah Roberts

Pictures of Benito Mussolini's last wartime bunker that he built to protect him from an RAF bomb attack have been released for the first time.

The reinforced concrete cell, constructed 50ft below the former fascist headquarters in Rome, was so secret it was not discovered until 2011.

Anthony Eden cancelled an attempted assassination plot on Mussolini that would have included a bomb attack on his main residence at the Villa Torlonia, pictured 

Historians believe Mussolini, one of Hitler's closest allies during the Second World War, had the underground bunker built for himself and his mistress Claretta Petacci.

Mussolini also had a series of underground chambers, pictured, built under Villa Torlonia 



As you'll very shortly see, a bunker should not be judged by its entrance cover.  Claretta Petacci may have settled for wartime spelunking, but I doubt Eva Braun would have...



Dobbiamo tutti iniziare il Grand Tour?

Experts believe Mussolini's 'last bunker' was made for him and his mistress Claretta Petacci

Experts believe Mussolini's 'last bunker' was made for him and his mistress Claretta Petacci 

The underground chamber was accessed through a flight of stairs, left, hidden under an iron hatch

The underground chamber was accessed through a flight of stairs, above, which led to the first room, below.

which led to the first room

The bunker built below the former fascist headquarters in Rome contained nine rooms

The nine room chamber was located so that it could be accessed within seconds of an attempted assassination attempt.

It is due to be opened to the public for the first time, two years after it was discovered under the building, which is now a museum.

Engineers stumbled across the chamber when they found an iron hatch while doing structural repairs on the foundations of the headquarters.

The 80 square metre reinforced bunker opened onto a flight of brick stairs, which led down to a number of compartments.

The secret bunker was built underground on the orders of Benito Mussolini, who feared an Allied bomb attack

The bunker was unfinished and there are holes in the wall meant for a sewer system and electric wiring

Mussolini and Hitler were close allies and the Italian dictator was rescued by the Nazis after he was arrested

Mussolini ordered its construction in 1942 because he suspected that the RAF was planning a deadly strike on his headquarters.

However, he never stayed there but the dictator would have gone down to inspect the progress, Mr Serafini said.

The shelter overlaps with the original ruins of a Roman tower, which can still be seen.

The condition of the bunker, which has rough concrete walls, show that it was never finished.

There are holes in the wall meant for a sewer system and electric wiring, and flooring had not yet been installed, La Stampa reported.
There would have been two escape routes from the bunker - one directly to the gardens of the adjoining church of San Marco and the other to another nearby bunker under the monument to Victor Emmanuel II.

During the last few months of power the fascist leader correctly believed that his life was under threat.

In July 1943 the Commander of the RAF asked permission from Winston Churchill to eliminate the dictator, known as Il Duce - the leader.


Experts said the underground chamber was the dictator's 'last bunker'
It was only discovered after engineers stumbled across an iron hatch
Bunker contains nine rooms but was never finished before he was arrested

The chamber, under the former fascist headquarters, will be open to public

Their plan was to simultaneously bomb his headquarters and his official residence Villa Torlonia.

But Foreign Minister Anthony Eden had doubts about the plot's success and feared the collateral damage on civilians in Rome and the city itself.


 One of the two emergency exits to Mussolini's bunker

Mussolini was arrested on the King's orders in 1943 after the Allied invasion of Italy.

He was rescued from prison by the Nazis but was captured again in 1945 and executed by Italian partisans.

His body was then taken to Milan and hung upside down for a petrol station for public viewing. 


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Inside Mussolini's Secret - Unfinished - Bunker


More to come...

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