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ON THIS DAY

28 April 1945: Italian partisans kill Mussolini. Benito Mussolini, dictator of Italy until his downfall in 1943, has been killed by partisans along with his mistress, Clara Petacci, and some close associates. Their bodies were taken to Milan from the Lecco district near Lake Como where they were arrested and then killed yesterday. According to the Times correspondent in Milan, the corpses of Mussolini, Petacci and 12 Fascists are on display in Piazzale Loreto “with ghastly promiscuity in the open square under the same fence against which one year ago 15 partisans had been shot by their own countrymen”. One woman fired five shots into Mussolini’s body, according to Milan Radio, and shouted: “Five shots for my five assassinated sons!” Other passers-by spat on the bodies. Most British people are shocked at Mussolini’s end not knowing the full history of Piazzale Loreto. The executions are the first conspicuous demonstration of mob violence carried out by the partisans who until now have been kept under control by their leaders. The partisan commander-in-chief General Raffaele Cadorna said such incidents were regrettable but desirable in this case as a way for the public to vent their anger against the former dictator and his cohorts. Among the bodies were former general secretary of the Fascist Party, Roberto Farinacci and Carlo Scorza, former secretary of the party. Mussolini was spotted yesterday heading towards Switzerland by an Italian customs guard at Dongo, near Lake Como. He was driving a car in a column of other German cars wearing a German greatcoat over his uniform. Other members of his party were found in neighbouring villages. On 11 October 1943 the Badoglio government declared war on Germany. (Source: BBC)

01 May 1945: Germany announces Hitler is dead. Adolf Hitler has been killed at the Reich Chancery in Berlin, according to Hamburg radio. At 2230 local time a newsreader announced that reports from the Fuhrer’s headquarters said Hitler had “fallen at his command post in the Reich Chancery fighting to the last breath against Bolshevism and for Germany”. It said he had appointed Grand Admiral Doenitz as his successor. There followed an announcement by Admiral Doenitz in which he called on the German people to mourn their Fuhrer who, he said, died the death of a hero in the capital of the Reich. Reports from Washington say US officials are suspicious of the announcement and are certainly not celebrating as yet. The news and the rumours now started to mount up – Hitler is dead, Mussolini has been hanged… They fear the timing of Doenitz’s appointment may mean that Hitler is not dead but trying to escape or go underground. In London, Prime Minister Winston Churchill would not make a statement to the Commons about the war situation in Europe except to say it was “definitely more satisfactory than it was this time five years ago”. Admiral Doenitz, famous for his U-boat victories in the first three years of the war, vowed to continue the battle against the Soviets and their western Allies. “The British and the Americans do not fight for the interests of their own people but for the spreading of Bolshevism,” he said. As new head of state and supreme commander of the Wehrmacht – the German armed forces – he demanded discipline and obedience and urged German soldiers, “Do your duty. The life of our people is at stake.” There is now speculation in the British press as to whether the weakened German forces will follow Doenitz or Heinrich Himmler, head of the home army, the Volkssturm, the SS and the Gestapo. He has made peace overtures to the Allies in recent days in meetings with Count Folke Bernadotte, a nephew of the King of Sweden, but so far these have come to nothing. (Source: BBC)

30 April 1975: Saigon surrenders. The war in Vietnam ended today as the government in Saigon announced its unconditional surrender to North Vietnamese forces. The President, Duong Van Minh, who has been in office for just three days, made

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