It was on the 27th April that a column of German trucks made their way north to Switzerland. Amongst the group was Benito Mussolini, thinly disguised in a German army helmet, and his mistress, intending to take a plane to Spain. The group was checked by communists of the 52nd Garibaldi Partisan Brigade in the village of Dongo on Lake Como – and Mussolini was immediately recognised by Urbano Lazzaro, the political officer. That evening Radio Milano announced:
The head of this association of delinquents, Mussolini, while yellow with rancour and fear and trying to cross the Swiss frontier, has been arrested. He must be handed over to a tribunal of the people so it can judge him quickly. We want this, even though we think an execution platoon is too much of an honour for this man. He would deserve to be killed like a mangy dog.
There are differing accounts of what happened next but within 24 hours Mussolini had been summarily executed by the partisans. Winston Churchill was to express shock when he saw the subsequent photographs – but later wrote ‘at least the world was spared an Italian Nuremberg’.