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Benito Mussolini, leader of the Italian Fascist movement, was prime minister of Italy from 1922 until he was dismissed in July 1943. After the Italian armistice with the Allies in September 1943, German forces occupied northern Italy and installed Mussolini as head of a new pro-German government. In April 1945, as Allied forces advanced into northern Italy, Mussolini attempted to escape to neutral Switzerland. However, Italian partisans caught and executed him before he could reach the border. This footage is a brief survey of Mussolini's rise to power and rule.
In 1936, Germany and Italy signed a military alliance. The two powers formed the so-called Berlin-Rome Axis. This footage shows Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini's state visit to Germany in September 1937. He met with Hitler in Munich and the two leaders also toured other parts of Germany. During the state visit, Mussolini attended a military parade in Berlin, Germany's capital. Although both dictators declared their desire for peace, Germany would begin World War II in 1939. Italy would then enter the war as Germany's ally against Britain and France.
After Italy's armistice with the Allies in September 1943, the Italian army disintegrated. The country was divided between German forces holding the northern and central regions (including Rome) and Allied forces in the south. After nine months of bitter combat, Allied forces—specifically the US Fifth Army—liberated Rome in June 1944. This footage shows scenes of celebration as troops move through Rome. It ends with a prayer by Pius XII (pope, 1939–1958).
Allied forces occupied most of Germany by the end of April 1945. German forces fighting in Italy were the first to surrender unconditionally to the Allies. Representatives of the German command in Italy signed the surrender on April 29, and it became effective on May 2, 1945. Five days later, on May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered unconditionally to the western Allies, ending the war in Europe.
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