I diari (1932-1938) di Claretta Petacci (1912-1945), a cura di Mauro Suttora
Titolo: Mussolini Segreto, Rizzoli, Novembre 2009
Pagina sobre Claretta Petacci
Blog de Mauro Suttora
Miria di San Servolo
NOTA DE LEITURA
Claretta Petacci foi assassinada com o seu amante Mussolini (1883-1945) em 28 de Abril de 1945, quando tentavam ambos fugir de Itália.
Clara (ou Claretta) pertencia à burguesia romana, e era filha de Francesco Saverio Petacci (1883-1970), que tinha a mesma idade que Mussolini, e era médico pessoal do Papa Pio XI.
Desde o início da adolescência admirava o ditador, que aliás, habitava um palácio perto de sua casa. Conseguiu que ele a conhecesse em 1932, aos 20 anos, quando já estava noiva de um aviador. Mussolini deve ter tido um pressentimento dos problemas que teria se iniciasse uma relação com ela, pois incitou-a a casar-se, esperando talvez que o marido fosse benevolente, ou melhor, “manso”, como se costuma dizer. Não era o caso e Ricardo Federici não suportava o amor, então ainda platónico, que Claretta dedicava a Mussolini, os quais trocavam frequentes missivas. O casamento acaba em 1936 e Claretta pode dedicar-se já a Mussolini; em Junho de 1936, começa a tratá-lo por "tu".
O ditador, porém, nunca foi monogâmico e a jovem travou uma luta titânica para que ele se livrasse das suas amantes, embora aceitando, de mau grado, que ele pagasse o “tributo” (como se diz no livro) à esposa legítima, D. Raquel.
Com uma cuidada educação, Claretta gostava de escrever. Escreveu cartas de 1932 a 1936 e depois iniciou um diário em que descreve em pormenor toda a sua vida de dedicação permanente a Mussolini.
O diário vai até 1945, mas, por enquanto, só conhecemos o período de 1932 a 1938, inclusive. Descoberto o diário por volta de 1950, o Governo italiano declarou-o de interesse nacional e histórico e, assim, confiscou-o aos herdeiros que normalmente, teriam a propriedade dos respectivos direitos autorais. Essa medida naturalmente deixou-os furiosos e a irmã Maria Petacci, a Mimi (1923-1991) (que como actriz usou o nome de Miriam Di San Servolo e foi também conhecida como Myriam Petacci) e o sobrinho Ferdinando Petacci, que hoje vive nos USA (filho de Marcello, irmão de Claretta, e que foi morto com ela ), puseram uma acção ao Estado Italiano para reaver os diários que se encontravam no Arquivo de Estado. Perderam a acção, na qual o Ministério Público declarou: “Os documentos são tão importantes que a sua divulgação poderia prejudicar as boas relações diplomáticas com outras nações”.
Chegou depois o ano de 1995, em que os diários perfaziam 50 anos, data limite para divulgar documentos do Arquivo de Estado. Mas aí o Governo italiano negou a divulgação com o argumento de que os direitos de autor só desaparecem ao fim de 70 anos. E foi assim que a primeira parte dos diários (1932-1938) só pôde ser revelada em 2008. O resto dos 15 volumes dos Diários fica à espera que vá decorrendo tal prazo.
É pois apenas o primeiro volume que agora apareceu em edição da Rizzoli. É um volume de 523 páginas. Claretta Petacci escreve bem e revela uma aguda inteligência. O livro é algo monótono, porque muito repetitivo . Ela põe as palavras de Mussolini em discurso directo e depois a sua narração na primeira pessoa.
São os dois terrivelmente ciumentos, ela com razão e ele sem nenhuma. A vida dela era passada quieta junto do telefone, à espera que ele a mandasse chamar. Estava loucamente apaixonada por ele e possivelmente até exagera as expressões de carinho que põe na boca dele e, também as proezas sexuais dele (em 1938, ele tem 55 anos e ela, 26).
Discute-se em Itália até que ponto o livro tem valor histórico pois, embora desenhe a personalidade do ditador, não é certo que a reprodução das suas afirmações seja totalmente exacta. Assim, Claretta fá-lo dizer no livro que era racista e odiava os judeus desde 1921, o que alguns põem em dúvida.
O livro tem um aspecto muito voyeurista, até porque as descrições da autora são por vezes muito gráficas. Também por isso, a leitura é muito fácil.
Mussolini aparece como a história o pinta: egocêntrico, narcisista, autoritário. Afinal, era um ditador. O editor Mauro Suttora refere algumas das leis mais estranhas: proibição do tratamento por "lei" ( o senhor), que devia ser substituído por "voi"; o uso da saudação fascista em vez de apertos de mão; a festa da passagem de ano, substituída pelo aniversário da marcha sobre Roma (28 de Outubro).
O jornal inglês “Independent” e mais alguns periódicos fazem a comparação e assimilação do comportamento dele com o de Berlusconi; o “Independent” põe até, lado a lado, as fotografias de Claretta Petacci e de Patrizia d’Adario. Nada mais injusto e incorrecto: Mussolini era um garanhão, Berlusconi é um putanheiro. Não é a mesma coisa. Os jornais italianos não fazem tal confusão, embora o livro de Patrizia d’Adario (Gradisca, Presidente) também tenha sido publicado na mesma altura.
Claretta Petacci teve um fim triste: foi estuprada e assassinada pelos guerrilheiros da resistência italiana. Recusara antes fugir com a irmã Myriam para Espanha, quando ambas já tinham viagem e passaporte.
4 marzo 2009
Gli amori del duce nei diari di Claretta
Il 24 aprile 1932 Mussolini e Claretta Petacci s'incontrano per la prima volta, casualmente, sulla via del Mare, fra Roma e Ostia. E' una domenica ventosa di una primavera imbronciata e Claretta si imbatte nel mito, il signore del tempio, un uomo da amare e per cui morire. Quel giorno nella vita del duce irrompe una storia d'amore che si concretizzerà nel '36, una vicenda tenera e sensuale che correrà parallela alle vicende ufficiali. Solo nel tragico epilogo le due trame si intersecheranno secondo le regole dei feuilleton in cui amore e morte si coniugano nel capitolo finale.
Che cosa rappresenta per Mussolini Claretta? Forse uno specchio di innocenza da mantenere pulito per potersi guardare e riconoscersi. Forse una giovane donna, quella che chiama il "mio soffio di primavera", che lo capisca e lo emancipi dal crudo realismo di Rachele, dalla sua sbrigativa semplicità casalinga. Forse Claretta è diversa, speciale, capace di incondizionata ammirazione e di profonda tenerezza, di docilità, di dolcezza, un antidoto contro la solitudine di un uomo onnipotente che sta invecchiando e scopre il bisogno di una consolatrice e di una confidente. O forse, più banalmente, è la verifica di un fascino senza età, che Benito ama spazzolare, per provarne la brillantezza, con una ragazza che gli si concede con gioia perché vede in lui l'ideale di maschio.
Claretta è una sognatrice romantica e una donna sensibile, appassionata e molto femminile. Bella come un capriccio degli dei, solare, media statura, lineamente delicati, pelle lucente, occhi radiosi, bocca smagliante, seni generosi, appare al duce come una nudità vestita. La sua voce, bassa, calda e un po' roca, è carica di promesse e di una malinconica dedizione. Appagata di vivere nel cono d'ombra di lui, si annulla in un'adorazione fatale, che la porta a vivere e, in un soffio del tempo, a morire.
Il duce è un sottaniere stagionato, un collezionista di scalpi muliebri, un gagliardo consumatore di donne di un attimo. Gallo di provincia, stakanovista dell'eros, ha l'occhio più alla quantità che alla qualità. E' di bocca buona, un cultore del mordi e fuggi, dell'usa e getta: le sue usanze amatorie sono rapaci, senza delicatezze né preamboli, incontri rustici, impenetrabili alla poesia. Per lui la posizione femminile è solo orizzontale e i suoi amori sono udienze sessuali, possibilmente brevi. Le donne sono un bisogno, un vezzo, uno sfogo, forse solo un'abitudine, generici accessori di una sessualità aggressiva e di una realtà sentimentale arida. "La mia carne non mi permette di essere santo", si giustifica. E aggiunge: "Sono un garibaldino dell'amore", liquidando con una battuta una vita.
Attratto dal gioco pesante della politica, fatica a nutrire sentimenti profondi ed esclusivi. Nel cuore ha solo la madre Rosa, il fratello Arnaldo e la figlia Edda. In una vita dedicata agli uomini di potere investe poco sulle donne, eppure ne ha tante da non ricordarsele più. Per lui sono ombre ma qualcuna, negli anni, prende forma. Ne ama, ma a modo suo, tre: la bionda Rachele, moglie solida e fidata degli anni duri, sempre tradita ma mai rinnegata; la rossa e sofisticata Margherita Sarfatti, donna intellettuale e difficile, l'unica capace di metterlo in difficoltà, e la bruna Claretta, quella che ama di più e da cui è più amato, cui si lega con l'incosciente violenza della seconda giovinezza. Il loro amore, fra un uomo che non può dare tutto se stesso e una donna che precipiterà aggrappata a una stella cadente, ha la suggestione di un romanzo ed entra di diritto nelle favole che sfumano in tragedia.
Moriranno insieme, condannato lui dalla Storia, lei dalla passione. Il giorno della morte lei ha un viso dolce, impietosamente striato dalle rughe. La sua bellezza è stanca e consumata, nascosta sotto la pelle, così diversa da quella solare del lontano 1932. E' appesa per i piedi a un distributore di morte e un debole respiro di vento fa dondolare lievemente il suo corpo. Una turpe folla di monatti urla, schernendolo, il suo nome. Molti anni prima, quando era ancora una bambina e già si sentiva attratta da quell'uomo tanto grande e tanto lontano, aveva scritto un verso naïf per augurargli lunga vita: "Gesù, conservalo cent'anni ancora, al nostro amore forte e sicuro". Sul retro di una sua foto Mussolini aveva scritto, come dedica: "Nessuna donna occupò mai prima di te un posto così grande come quello che tu occupi nella mia anima". Forse non era vero, forse era solo l'esercizio di un impenitente maestro di retorica ma Claretta, macchiandola di lacrime gelose, l'aveva conservata fino all'ultimo respiro.
In uscita libro di Suttora sul Duce
Nel diario di Claretta il Mussolini segreto
Un duce ferocemente antisemita, che rivendica il suo razzismo di lunga data, sprezzante verso la moglie Rachele, insofferente dei Savoia, ammaliato dalla potenza del Terzo Reich di Adolf Hitler, furibondo con Papa Pio XI per la difesa degli ebrei, spavaldo nelle fantasie erotiche. E' il ritratto che emerge dalle confidenze di Benito Mussolini, trascritte dalla sua amante Claretta Petacci e contenute nel volume "Mussolini segreto", pubblicato da Rizzoli mercoledì prossimo.
Un duce ferocemente antisemita, che rivendica il suo razzismo di lunga data,
sprezzante verso la moglie Rachele, insofferente dei Savoia, ammaliato dalla
potenza del Terzo Reich di Adolf Hitler, furibondo con Papa Pio XI per la difesa
degli ebrei, spavaldo nelle fantasie erotiche. E' il ritratto che emerge dalle
confidenze di Benito Mussolini, trascritte dalla sua amante Claretta Petacci e
contenute nel volume "Mussolini segreto", pubblicato da Rizzoli mercoledì
Nel libro il giornalista Mauro Suttora, anticipa il Corriere della Sera, ha raccolto una sintesi dei diari di Claretta dal 1932 al '38, custoditi a Roma nell'Archivio Centrale dello Stato, oggetto di un lungo contenzioso tra lo Stato e la famiglia Petacci, che non ha mai smesso di rivendicarli. Sono confessioni che rivelano un volto sconosciuto del capo del fascismo.
I giudizi del Duce
"Hitler è un sentimentalone - afferma, ad esempio, il Duce - Questo Papa è nefasto, l'entusiasmo degli italiani è un'apparenza, li conosco bene". Per i primi anni, si tratta di biglietti e brevi annotazioni, ma dall'ottobre 1937 il resoconto della Petacci diventa fluviale. Oltre ai proclami di amore eterno verso l'amante ("Ho un folle desiderio di te"), nei diari di Claretta ci sono le recriminazioni di Mussolini verso la moglie (afferma di essere stato tradito per lungo tempo) e anche certe vanterie erotiche (sostiene che Maria Jose' di Savoia, moglie del principe Umberto, avrebbe tentato di sedurlo).
Claretta con Churchill?
Dopo il primo blocco di diari inediti, altre annate delle annotazioni di Claretta saranno desecretate "allo scadere dei settant'anni dalla loro compilazione". E secondo Ferdinando Petacci, nipote e oggi unico erede di Claretta, potrebbero contenere novità esplosive, tali da far ritenere che l'amante del duce fosse in qualche modo collegata a Winston Churchill. Ma anche se l'ipotesi si rivelasse infondata, il contributo di queste carte alla conoscenza dell'uomo Mussolini resta indiscutibile.
I furori amorosi del dittatore
Il 5 gennaio 1938 Mussolini riceve l'amante a Palazzo Venezia e lei cosi' riporta le sue parole sulla serata precedente: "Lo sai amore che ieri sera a teatro ti ho spogliata tre volte almeno. Quando mi sono alzato in piedi dietro a mia moglie io sentivo di prenderti. Avevo un folle desiderio di te. Mi dicevo: 'Il suo piccolo corpo, la sua carne di cui io sono folle, domani sara' ancora mia'. Ti vedevo, e quando sei salita su ti sei accorta che ti spogliavo. Ti guardavo, ti svestivo e ti desideravo come un folle. Dicevo: 'Il suo corpicino delizioso è mio, è tutto mio. Io la prendo, vibra per me, è un tutt'uno con il mio corpo'. Vieni, ti adoro. Come puoi pensare che io, schiavo della tua carne e del tuo amore, pensi ad altre?".
Gita in barca
Il 4 agosto 1938 i due amanti sono in barca. Venti giorni prima è uscito il "Manifesto della razza" e così Mussolini, secondo il resoconto di Claretta, affrontò il tema: "Io ero razzista dal '21. Non so come possano pensare che imito Hitler, non era ancora nato. Mi fanno ridere. (...) Bisogna dare il senso della razza agli italiani, che non creino dei meticci, che non guastino ciò che c'è di bello in noi". E il 28 agosto 1938, mentre erano insieme sulla spiaggia, Mussolini sbotto': "Ogni volta che ricevo il rapporto dell'Africa ho un dispiacere. Anche oggi cinque arrestati perché convivevano con le negre. (...) Ah! Questi schifosi d'italiani, distruggeranno in meno di sette anni un impero. Non hanno coscienza della razza".
Il 1 ottobre 1938 il Duce racconta all'amante i retroscena della conferenza di Monaco, nella quale Francia e Gran Bretagna hanno accettato le pretese di Hitler sulla Cecoslovacchia. "Le accoglienze di Monaco sono state fantastiche, e il Fuhrer molto simpatico. Hitler è un sentimentalone, in fondo. Quando mi ha veduto aveva le lagrime agli occhi. Mi vuole veramente bene, molto. (...) Ma ha degli scatti di una violenza
dal ’32 al ’38. Le confidenze del capo del fascismo: «Hitler è un sentimentalone»
Mussolini segreto nei diari della Petacci
Furibondo con ebrei e Pio XI, spavaldo nelle fantasie erotiche: le confessioni del Duce alla sua amante
Avete presente il Benito Mussolini descritto nei ricordi di seguaci e parenti, o quello che emerge dai suoi pretesi «diari» acquistati da Marcello Dell’Utri, di cui gli storici negano l’autenticità? Un uomo bonario, attaccato alla famiglia, diffidente verso i nazisti, ossequioso nei riguardi del Papa, generoso con gli ebrei e dubbioso sulle leggi razziali. Ebbene, dai diari della sua amante, Claretta Petacci, esce un ritratto opposto in tutto e per tutto: un Duce ferocemente antisemita, che rivendica il suo razzismo di lunga data, sprezzante verso la moglie, insofferente dei Savoia, ammaliato dalla potenza del Terzo Reich, furibondo con Pio XI per le sue parole in difesa degli ebrei.
Le eloquenti confidenze del Duce, trascritte dalla Petacci e qui anticipate, provengono dal volume Mussolini segreto (Rizzoli, pp. 521, € 21), in uscita dopodomani, nel quale Mauro Suttora ha raccolto una sintesi dei diari di Claretta dal 1932 al 1938. Per i primi anni si tratta di biglietti e brevi annotazioni, ma dall’ottobre 1937 il resoconto diventa fluviale. Naturalmente non tutto il contenuto dei diari può essere preso per oro colato. Sulla sincerità dei proclami di amore eterno, delle recriminazioni di Mussolini verso la moglie (afferma di essere stato tradito per lungo tempo) o di certe vanterie erotiche (sostiene che Maria José di Savoia, moglie del principe Umberto, avrebbe tentato di sedurlo) è lecito nutrire dubbi. Ma non si vede perché il Duce avrebbe dovuto alterare i suoi giudizi politici parlando con Claretta.
Oggetto di un lungo contenzioso tra lo Stato e la famiglia Petacci, che non ha mai smesso di rivendicarli, ma ha visto respingere le sue richieste, i diari si trovano all’Archivio di Stato, «la cui lunga custodia di questi documenti — sottolinea Suttora — ne garantisce l’autenticità». Dopo il primo blocco, altre annate saranno desecretate «allo scadere dei settant’anni dalla loro compilazione». E secondo Ferdinando Petacci, nipote e oggi unico erede di Claretta, potrebbero contenere novità esplosive, tali da far ritenere che l’amante del Duce fosse in qualche modo collegata a Winston Churchill. Ma anche se l’ipotesi si rivelasse infondata, il contributo di queste carte alla conoscenza dell’uomo Mussolini resta indiscutibile.
Le confidenze del duce a Claretta
5 gennaio 1938. Mussolini riceve l’amante a Palazzo Venezia.
Tenero e appassionato, ricorda la serata precedente. E lei riporta così le sue
«Lo sai amore che ieri sera a teatro ti ho spogliata tre volte almeno? Quando mi sono alzato in piedi dietro a mia moglie sentivo di prenderti. Avevo un folle desiderio di te. Mi dicevo: 'Il suo piccolo corpo, la sua carne di cui io sono folle, domani sarà mia'. Ti vedevo, e quando sei salita su ti sei accorta che ti spogliavo. Ti guardavo, ti svestivo e ti desideravo come un folle. Dicevo: 'Il suo corpicino delizioso è mio, è tutto mio. Io la prendo, vibra per me, è un tutt’uno con il mio corpo'. Vieni, ti adoro. Come puoi pensare che io, schiavo della tua carne e del tuo amore, pensi ad altre».
19 febbraio 1938. Al monte Terminillo, Claretta amareggiata rinfaccia a Mussolini le scappatelle con altre donne. Lui si scusa.
«Sì amore, faccio male, tanto più che ti amo sempre di più, e sento che mi sei necessaria più di ogni cosa. Ti adoro e sono uno sciocco. Non ti devo far soffrire, anche perché questa tua sofferenza si riversa su di me, perché io soffro di ciò che soffri»
17 luglio 1938. Mussolini e Claretta sono al mare, a Ostia. Lui
riferisce un suo sfogo.
«Ah, questi italiani, io li conosco bene, li vedo nelle viscere. E so che sto sullo stomaco a molti. L’entusiasmo è un’apparenza. La verità è che sono stanchi di me, che li faccio marciare»
4 agosto 1938. I due amanti sono in barca. Venti giorni prima è
uscito il Manifesto della razza.
«Io ero razzista dal ’21. Non so come possano pensare che imito Hitler, non era ancora nato. Mi fanno ridere. (...) Bisogna dare il senso della razza agli italiani, che non creino dei meticci, che non guastino ciò che c’è di bello in noi».
28 agosto 1938. Sono insieme sulla spiaggia. Mussolini legge, poi scatta.
«Ogni volta che ricevo il rapporto dell’Africa ho un dispiacere. Anche oggi cinque arrestati perché convivevano con le negre. (...) Ah! Questi schifosi d’italiani, distruggeranno in meno di sette anni un impero. Non hanno coscienza della razza».
1 ottobre 1938. Il Duce racconta all’amante i retroscena della conferenza di Monaco, nella quale Francia e Gran Bretagna hanno accettato le pretese di Hitler sulla Cecoslovacchia.
«Le accoglienze di Monaco sono state fantastiche, e il Führer molto simpatico. Hitler è un sentimentalone, in fondo. Quando mi ha veduto aveva le lagrime agli occhi. Mi vuole veramente bene, molto. (...) Ma ha degli scatti di una violenza che solo io riuscivo a frenare. Faceva faville, fremeva, si conteneva con sforzo. Io invece, l’imperturbabile. (...) «Ormai le democrazie devono cedere il passo alle dittature. Noi eravamo una forza sola, avevamo un significato, rappresentavamo un’idea e un popolo. Lui con la camicia bruna, io in camicia nera. Loro così, umiliati e soli. Ti sarebbe piaciuto davvero, essere lì a vedere. (...) «La vittoria è ormai delle dittature. Questi regimi vecchio stile non vanno più, sono creatori di disordine. Uno solo deve essere al timone, e comandare. Oggi la Germania è la più grande potenza del mondo. Sono ottanta milioni di uomini che bisogna pensarci, prima di attaccarli. (...) Dovevi vedere con che affetto, simpatia e devozione mi hanno accolto ovunque lungo la strada. Hanno compreso anche là che l’artefice della pace, l’unico che poteva far desistere Hitler da qualsiasi movimento, ero io. Lo smacco della politica rossa è insormontabile. No, è falso, non abbiamo mai mangiato insieme a Daladier e a Chamberlain. Sempre fra nazisti e fascisti, e mi sono trovato benissimo».
8 ottobre 1938. Mussolini è indignato con Pio XI, che ha dichiarato «spiritualmente siamo tutti semiti» e chiede di riconoscere la validità dei matrimoni religiosi misti tra ebrei e cattolici.
«Tu non sai il male che fa questo papa alla Chiesa. Mai papa fu tanto nefasto alla religione come questo. Ci sono cattolici profondi che lo ripudiano. Ha perduto quasi tutto il mondo. La Germania completamente. Non ha saputo tenerla, ha sbagliato in tutto. Oggi siamo gli unici, sono l’unico a sostenere questa religione che tende a spegnersi. E lui fa cose indegne. Come quella di dire che noi siamo simili ai semiti. Come, li abbiamo combattuti per secoli, li odiamo, e siamo come loro. Abbiamo lo stesso sangue! Ah! Credi, è nefasto.
«Adesso sta facendo una campagna contraria per questa cosa dei matrimoni. Vorrei vedere che un italiano si sposasse con un negro. Abbiamo veduto che anche i matrimoni con i bianchi stranieri portano, in caso di guerra, alla disgregazione delle famiglie. Perché l’uno e l’altro coniuge si sentono in quell’attimo assolutamente per la propria Patria. Perché l’hanno nel sangue. Di qui naturalmente l’impossibilità d’accordo, e le famiglie a rotoli. Lui dia pure il permesso, io non darò mai il consenso. (...) Ha scontentato tutti i cattolici, fa discorsi cattivi e sciocchi. Quello dice: 'Compiangere gli ebrei', e dice: 'Io mi sento simile a loro'... È il colmo».
11 ottobre 1938. Al mare con Claretta, il Duce si scaglia contro gli ebrei.
«Questi schifosi di ebrei, bisogna che li distrugga tutti. Farò una strage come hanno fatto i turchi. Ho confinato 70 mila arabi, potrò confinare 50 mila ebrei. Farò un isolotto, li chiuderò tutti là dentro. (...) Sono carogne, nemici e vigliacchi. Non hanno un po’ di gratitudine, di riconoscenza, non una lettera di ringraziamento. La mia pietà era viltà, per loro. Dicono che abbiamo bisogno di loro, dei loro denari, del loro aiuto, che se non potranno sposare le cristiane faranno cornuti i cristiani. Sono gente schifosa, mi pento di non aver pesato troppo la mano. Vedranno cosa saprà fare il pugno d’acciaio di Mussolini. (...) È l’ora che gli italiani sentano che non devono più essere sfruttati da questi rettili».
10 novembre 1938. Il governo approva il decreto legge sulla razza che entrerà in vigore una settimana dopo. Benito ne parla a Claretta.
«Oggi abbiamo trattato la questione degli ebrei. Certamente sua Santità solleverà delle proteste, perché non riconosceremo i matrimoni misti. Se la Chiesa vorrà farne, faccia pure. Però noi, Stato, non li riconosceremo, e saranno come amanti. Di conseguenza, nemmeno i figli. Tutti quelli che si sono fatti cattolici fino ad oggi, e quindi i figli, rimarranno come adesso. Dalla data stabilita in poi non si ammetteranno più. Diversamente si farebbero tutti cattolici pur di potersi sposare, e allora la questione della razza non avrebbe ragion d’essere. Questo il Papa non lo vuol capire, quindi faccia come crede».
16 novembre 1938. Nuovo sfogo contro Pio XI.
«Ah no! Qui il Vaticano vuole la rottura. Ed io romperò, se continuano così. Troncherò ogni rapporto, torno indietro, distruggo il patto. Sono dei miserabili ipocriti. Ho proibito i matrimoni misti, e il papa mi chiede di far sposare un italiano con una negra. Solo perché questa è cattolica. Ah no! A costo di spaccare il muso a tutti».
November 22, 2009
The fascist dictator Benito Mussolini boasted of keeping 14 lovers at one time, according to an eye-popping account of his sex life which has emerged from the diaries of his long-term mistress.
The journals of Claretta Petacci, a Vatican doctor’s daughter who met Mussolini in 1932 at the age of 20 and became his lover four years later, were published last week. Held in the Italian state archives, they cover the period from 1932 to 1938 and were released under Italy’s 70-year rule.
Petacci was so jealous of the other women in Mussolini’s life that she made him call her at least a dozen times a day, and every half hour after he got home in the evening, because she — correctly — suspected him of betraying her. She wrote down the times of the calls and their content.
“The diaries are an intimate chronicle, minute by minute, of the daily life of the founder of fascism,” said Mauro Suttora, who edited the diaries for his book Secret Mussolini.
Petacci unsparingly recorded her rows with Mussolini, 29 years her senior, who was married with five children, over his philandering. In April 1938, Petacci described their exchange after she caught him having sex with his former girlfriend Alice De Fonseca Pallottelli.
“All right, I did it. I hadn’t seen her since before Christmas. I felt like seeing her; I don’t think I committed a crime. I spent 12 minutes with her,” he admitted.
Petacci interrupted to exclaim: “Twenty-four!”
“All right, 24 then, so it was a quick thing. Who cares? she’s past it. After 17 years there’s no enthusiasm; it’s like when I take my wife,” he said. He told her that the idea of sleeping with only one woman was “inconceivable” to him. He said: “There was a period in which I had 14 women, and I’d take three or four every evening, one after the other ... That gives you an idea of my sexuality.”
Again and again he talked about her rivals. One mistress, Cornelia Tanzi, was “frigid, so cold it’s incredible ... Imagine, she never felt anything, not even with me”. Of Giulia Brambilla Carminati, he said: “I met her in 1922 and then I didn’t see her again for more than 10 years ... I never loved her; it was purely physical.”
He swore “on my five children” that he had never loved Romilda Ruspi: “It was a purely physical, sexual attraction ... Every so often, when I felt like it, I’d have her. I took other women in front of her.”
Later, a contrite Mussolini told a tearful Petacci that he had slept with Ruspi again: “My love, don’t cry. I adore you. I’m bad — hit me, hurt me, punish me, but don’t suffer. I love you. I think about you all day, even when I’m working,” he said.
The dictator frequently declared his passion for Petacci. “Your flesh has got me — from now on I’m a slave to your flesh.
“I tremble in telling you, but I have a feverish desire for your delicious little body which I want to kiss all over. And you must adore my body, your giant.”
In February 1938, he told her: “Be afraid of my love. It’s like a cyclone. It’s tremendous; it overwhelms everything. You must tremble.” He added that if he could have done, he would have had sex with her on horseback that day.
The diaries include her descriptions of their embraces: “I can feel that all his nerves are taut and ready to spring,” she wrote. “I hold him tightly. I kiss him and we make love with such fury that his screams seem like those of a wounded beast. Then, exhausted, he falls onto the bed.”
After another encounter, she wrote that he had hurt her: “We made love with such force that he bit my shoulder so hard his teeth left a mark. He’s mortified; he sits on the bed looking a bit pale and panting: ‘My love, what have I done to you, look at that mark. One of these days I’ll tear a shoulder off’.”
He boasted of the “sexual education” he had given her and lectured her on the benefits of orgasm: “Orgasm is good for you: it sharpens your thoughts, it widens your horizons, it helps your brain, makes it vivid and brilliant.”
In a prescient exchange in March 1938, Mussolini told Petacci: “You know why I’m sorry to die? Because I’m sorry to leave you. But after at least two years you’ll get another lover. You’ll belong to another ... And I’ll be dead. It’s terrible. I won’t survive you; I’ll follow you. I was born for you; I will end with you.”
Seven years later, after he had been deposed, Mussolini and Petacci were caught by partisans as they tried to flee Italy, shot dead and strung up by their heels at a petrol station in a Milan square.
By Nick Pisa
Diaries written by the mistress of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini have revealed how he thought Adolf Hitler 'an old sentimentalist at heart'.
The previously unpublished diaries of Claretta Petacci also note Mussolini's fervent anti-Semitism, his disgust at mixed-race marriages between Italians and locals in African colonies, and his anger at the pre-war Pope, Pius XI.
Her father was the Pope's personal doctor. She was just 20 in 1932 when she met Mussolini, who was then 49.
She was his lover for nine years before at the end of the war she, like him was shot and hanged upside down from a garage forecourt by partisans.
Now her diaries, which are held by her nephew who lives in the US, are to be published as a book, Mussolini Segreto (Secret Mussolini).
In them Petacci recalls how Mussolini described to her the infamous conference at Munich in October 1938 where he met Hitler and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to discuss the carve-up of Czechoslovakia.
Petacci wrote of how Mussolini had described the meeting in an entry dated October 1, 1938: 'The welcome at Munich was fantastic and the Fuhrer was very pleasant. Hitler is an old sentimentalist at heart.
'When he saw me he had tears in his eyes. He really does like me a lot. But he does have angry outbursts which only I can control.
'There were sparks and he was quivering, he struggled to control himself. I on the other hand was unperturbed.'
In another entry from January 5, 1938, written after they met at his residence in Rome, she describes how married father of five Mussolini had told of his erotic fantasies with her.
She wrote of how Mussolini had told her: 'Do you know, love, last evening at theatre I undressed you at least three times?
'I had a mad desire to have you. Your small body, your flesh which drives me mad, tomorrow will be mine.
'Your delicious body will be mine, all mine. I will take it and it will be one with mine.'
Petacci also wrote in her diary of how Mussolini had other lovers. She describes his apology in one entry from February 19, 1938.
It reads: 'Yes my love, I do wrong and all the more I love you and I feel that you are necessary more than ever. I adore you, I am a madman.
'I should not make you suffer because this suffering of yours reverses itself onto me because I suffer when you suffer.'
Petacci then writes of how Mussolini had described his racist views to her from an entry dated 4th August 1938 when the two lovers are on a boat.
It reads: 'I have been a racist since 1921. I don't know why people think I am imitating Hitler, he wasn't even born. It makes me laugh... I need to teach these Italians about race, that they don't create half castes and that they don't ruin what is beautiful in us.'
Twenty-four days later in another entry on race Petacci writes of Mussolini's views on Africa: 'Every time I receive a report from Africa it upsets me. Today five more arrests because people were living with Negroes.
'Oh these dirty Italians, they are destroying in less than seven years an Empire. They have no conscience of race.'
On 8th October 1938 Petacci writes of Mussolini's anger towards Pope Pius XI.
The entry reads: 'You have no idea of the bad this Pope is doing towards the Church. Never has there been a such an ill-omened Pope towards religion.
'There are committed Catholics who detest him. He has lost virtually all the world. Germany completely. He doesn't know how to keep them and he has made mistakes in everything.'
In another entry three days later Petacci also records Mussolini's hatred of Jews. It reads: 'These disgusting Jews, they should all be destroyed. I will massacre them as the Turks did. I have isolated 70,000 Arabs (Italy's North African colonies), I can easily contain 50,000 Jews. I will build a little island and put them all on there.'
Excerpts from the diaries were published in today's Corriere Della Sera newspaper. It is due to serialise the book, written by its American editor Mauro Suttora.
He has been allowed to use the diaries which are kept in America by Petacci's only surviving relative, her nephew Ferdinando Petacci, who lives in Arizona.
The fascist Casanova: New diaries lay bare Mussolini's insatiable appetite for women
By Jane Fryer
Benito Mussolini didn't look like your average Casanova. He was short (barely 5ft), bald, suffered horribly from constipation and, by all accounts, rather let himself down when it came to personal hygiene.
But the father of fascism must have had more than just a very twinkly eye.
Because while we've always known he possessed a certain 'je ne sais quoi' - he wasn't known as Italy's 'Phallus-in-Chief' for nothing - the full extent of his extravagantly wild sex life has stayed safely under wraps.
Until now, that is, and the emergence of a series of graphically detailed diaries kept by Claretta Petacci - his lover for nine years and the woman with whom he was shot dead as they tried to flee Italy in 1945.
The diaries reveal that Il Duce regularly had 14 lovers at a time, would rattle through three or four ladies in an evening and was startlingly noisy when in the throes of passion.
Oh yes, and he wasn't averse to a bit of playful biting.
After decades under lock and key - Italy has a 70-year secrecy rule on state documents - the journals are due to be published this month in a book called Mussolini Segreto (Secret Mussolini).
They cover the period from 1932 to 1938 - the halcyon days of Mussolini's dictatorship - and, according to the book's editor Mauro Suttora, provide 'an intimate chronicle, minute by minute, of the daily life of the founder of fascism'.
It's certainly intimate. Claretta didn't spare any blushes and every moan, whimper and pant of their sex life is included.
'I can feel that all his nerves are taut and ready to spring,' one entry reads.
'I hold him tightly. I kiss him and we make love with such fury that his screams seem like those of a wounded beast. Then, exhausted, he falls onto the bed.'
They met by chance when Claretta was just 20 and Mussolini 49 - and married with five children.
The young Claretta - who'd had a crush on him since her early teens and had been writing him poems and letters for years - was driving with her parents in the family Lancia when Mussolini's red Alfa Romeo roared past.
She recognised him, shouted 'Il Duce, Il Duce!' out of the window and, obligingly, Mussolini stopped for a chat and invited her over to his official residence, Palazzo Venezia.
They struck up a supposedly platonic four-year friendship, during which she married and separated from a young air force officer before Benito finally took her as his lover.
It was a passionate affair.
'We made love with such force that he bit my shoulder so hard his teeth left a mark,' she writes.
'He's mortified; he sits on the bed looking a bit pale and panting: "My love, what have I done to you, look at that mark. One of these days I'll tear a shoulder off."'
He didn't hold back in his letters either.
'Your flesh has got me - from now on I'm a slave to your flesh.
'I tremble in telling you, but I have a feverish desire for your delicious little body which I want to kiss all over. And you must adore my body, your giant...
'Be afraid of my love. It's like a cyclone. It's tremendous; it overwhelms everything. You must tremble.'
But as well as the good times, the diaries also chart their screaming rows - invariably sparked by his promiscuity.
In April 1938, she records their exchange after she caught him with former girlfriend Alice De Fonseca Pallottelli.
'All right, I did it. I hadn't seen her since before Christmas, I felt like seeing her; I don't think I committed a crime. I spent 12 minutes with her,' he conceded.
'Twenty-four!' screamed Claretta.
'All right, 24 then, so it was a quick thing,' grumbled Il Duce.
'Who cares? She's past it. After 17 years there's no enthusiasm; it's like when I take my wife.'
Claretta was right to be concerned. Mussolini was never going to be faithful - not to his wife Rachele Guidi, whom he'd married when he was 31, and certainly not to his lover.
Ever since he'd lost his virginity at 17 to a prostitute - 'she was an elderly woman who spilled out lard from all parts of her body' - he'd been obsessed with sex.
'Naked women entered my life, my dreams, my desires. I undressed them with my eyes, the girls that I met, I lusted after them violently with my thoughts.'
So it was happy coincidence that, despite his rather diminutive size, Italian women seemed to feel the same way about him.
It can't have been easy being Claretta.
At the peak of his power, thousands of letters arrived every day from women begging Mussolini to sleep with them - one teacher from Piedmont even wrote pleading that he deflower her on her wedding night.
The letters were sorted into 'known' or 'new' categories.
After background checks by his policemen on the 'new' women, they were passed on to the great man himself, who'd pick out any that caught his eye - generally, the older women with big breasts and powerful hips - and have them summoned to the Palazzo Venezia.
It meant a busy schedule and, like Napoleon, he didn't waste time.
Trysts took place in the afternoon, usually on a stone window seat, the carpet or against a wall, and - according to one former lover - ended without ceremony, 'coffee, liqueur or even a piece of cake'.
Meanwhile, Claretta sat waiting for him in her apartments, listening to Chopin and miserably eating sweets.
According to one man servant, from the moment he moved into the Palazzo in September 1929 until the collapse of his regime in July 1943, Mussolini had sex with a different woman nearly every day.
Exaggeration or not, he was at it hammer and tongs - something he freely admitted to Claretta, explaining monogamy was 'inconceivable' to him and lecturing her on the benefits of the orgasms.
'Orgasm is good for you: it sharpens your thoughts, it widens your horizons, it helps your brain, makes it vivid and brilliant.'
Yet he was at pains to insist many of the liaisons meant nothing to him.
So there was Cornelia Tanzi, who was 'frigid, so cold it's incredible... imagine, she never felt anything, not even with me'.
And Giulia Brambilla Carminati, of whom he said: 'I met her in 1922 and then I didn't see her again for more than ten years... I never loved her; it was purely physical.'
And Romilda Ruspi. 'It was a purely physical, sexual attraction... Every so often, when I felt like it, I'd have her.
'I took other women in front of her,' he admitted, swearing 'on his five children' that he never loved her, before confessing weeks later that he'd slept with her again.
'I'm bad - hit me, hurt me, punish me, but don't suffer. I love you. I think about you all day, even when I'm working.'
But perhaps the most startling tale involves Marie-Jose of Belgium, Italy's last Queen, who ruled for just 35 days and, according to the journal, tried to seduce him at Castelporziano, a beach resort near Rome, in the autumn of 1937.
'Marie-Jose came and said "May I?" Then with a small movement her dress fell and was there virtually naked,' he confessed.
'All she had on was a very short pair of knickers and two scraps of material over her chest.'
Claretta wrote of how Mussolini later told her: 'To be honest, I find her repulsive, she makes no impression on me at all.'
With all that sex, it's a wonder he had any time to focus on work. But politics did, occasionally, get a mention.
Such as the description of a meeting Mussolini had with Hitler in 1938 after Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister, agreed to Germany's annexation of the Sudetenland.
'The Fuhrer was very kind. At heart, Hitler is an old sentimentalist. When he saw me he had tears in his eyes. He really does like me a lot. But he does have angry outbursts.'
And in an entry dated August 4, 1938, Claretta records his deep irritation at being viewed as Hitler's junior in fascism and anti-Semitism.
'I've been racist since 1921. I don't know why people think I am imitating Hitler... It makes me laugh.
'I need to teach these Italians about race, that they don't create half castes and that they don't ruin what is beautiful in us.'
A few weeks later, on October 11, 1938, Claretta's record of his hatred of Jews makes particularly chilling reading: 'These disgusting Jews, they should all be destroyed. I will massacre them as the Turks did.
'I have isolated 70,000 Arabs in Italy's North African colonies, I can easily contain 50,000 Jews. I will build a little island and put them all on there.'
It's hard to see how such an appalling, sexist, racist, bigot could have driven so many women into such a frenzy for so many years, but Benito Mussolini clearly had some kind of animal magnetism that drove women wild.
For two decades he went on a sexual rampage, sleeping with hundreds, if not thousands, of women and treating them and his long-suffering wife Rachele and the ever-loyal Claretta, disgracefully throughout.
It was not until spring 1945 that it all finally unravelled for Il Duce.
With Fascism in its death throes, the Allied victory over the Germans in Italy only days away and numerous plots to kill him, he and Claretta tried to flee the country, but were intercepted by partisans and shot by machine gun at point-blank range.
Their bodies were taken to Milan and strung up by their feet from the roof of a petrol station as the crowds of men and - more tellingly - women jeered, laughed and roared.
Finally, in death, the Italian stallion had lost his magic.
Revealed: The rampant sex life of Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini
By Craig McDonald
FASCIST dictator Benito Mussolini had 14 lovers on the go at once, according to an eye-popping account of his sex life.
The father of fascism once told a mistress the idea of sleeping with only one woman was "inconceivable".
He said: "There was a period in which I had 14 women - and I'd take three or four every evening, one after the other. That gives you an idea of my sexuality."
He said of one conquest: "It was a purely physical, sexual attraction. Every so often, when I felt like it, I'd have her. I took other women in front of her."
The lurid revelations are contained in diaries of Mussolini's long-term mistress, Claretta Petacci, published last week.
Held in the state archives, they cover the period from 1932 to 1938 and were released under Italy's 70-year disclosure rule.
Petacci was so jealous of the other women in Mussolini's life that she made him call her at least a dozen times a day.
He was 29 years her senior and married with five children. But she correctly suspected him of betraying her and wrote down the times and content of the calls - including their rows over his philandering.
In April 1938, she described one exchange after she caught him having sex with former girlfriend Alice De Fonseca Pallottelli.
Mussolini admitted: "All right, I did it. I hadn't seen her since before Christmas. I felt like seeing her - I don't think I committed a crime. I spent 12 minutes with her."
Petacci interrupted to shout: "24!" Mussolini replied: "All right, 24 then, so it was a quick thing. Who cares? She's past it. After 17 years there's no enthusiasm - it's like when I take my wife."
The dictator often declared his passion for Petacci, once telling her: "Your flesh has got me - from now on I'm a slave to your flesh."
After one lusty encounter, Petacci wrote: "We made love with such force that he bit my shoulder so hard his teeth left a mark.
"He's mortified - he sits on the bed looking a bit pale and panting, 'My love, what have I done to you, look at that mark. One of these days I'll tear a shoulder off'."
Mussolini, 61, and Petacci, 33, were caught and executed in 1945 as they tried to flee Italy.
DICTATOR'S BRAIN FOR SALE ON EBAY
Police are probing claims that Mussolini's brain was offered for sale on eBay.
Il Duce's granddaughter Alessandra called the cops after being told glass phials holding his brains and blood were posted on the website with a 15,000 euro price tag.
After Mussolini was executed, his body was taken to a hospital in Milan. His brain was removed on US orders and sent to a secret military base for examination.
Alessandra, a right-wing MP, was tipped off about the sale during a conference.
She stormed: "This is outrageous. I am furious that such a sacrilege should be carried out. These items were either stolen from the hospital and put up for sale or they could be part of the remains that were sent to the USA."
Alessandra said her grandfather's brains were on the auction site for two hours.
But a spokesman for eBay in Italy said no one had a chance to bid and stressed that the sale of human body parts was banned.
His mistress's newly published diary reveals Benito Mussolini's lust for women – and a kiss-and-tell memoir does the same for Silvio Berlusconi. Do the similarities end there, ask Michael Day and Peter Popham
Benito Mussolini and Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's two most charismatic leaders of the past century, have more in common than we thought.
Both emerged as dynamic leaders when Italian democracy was tying itself in knots. Both enjoyed vast popularity almost amounting to fan-worship, which endured for years and appeared immune to scandal. Both were short and sturdy, of classic peasant physique.
And both, it emerges, had gargantuan sexual appetites.
Exactly how gargantuan became clear this week with the publication of a memoir by Patrizia D'Addario, the prostitute who claims to have spent two nights with Berlusconi last year, and of the intimate diaries of Clara Petacci, Mussolini's most enduring mistress. The diaries of Petacci, shot dead with the ex-dictator as they were fleeing to Switzerland at the end of the war, have been published following the expiry of a 70-year secrecy rule on state documents.
Both Mussolini and Berlusconi, it emerges, demanded sex in industrial quantities. Even for Patrizia D'Addario, with years of experience as an escort behind her, the number of women Il Cavaliere (Berlusconi's Italian nickname) liked to have on tap was a shock. "The prime minister needs cuddles," she writes in Gradisca, Presidente (Take your pleasure, prime minister). "Having been an escort, I thought I'd seen a fair few things, but I'd never seen 20 women for one man ... Normally in an orgy you have roughly the same number of men and women, otherwise people get upset. But here the other men had no say. There was just one man with the right to copulate, and that was the prime minister."
Mussolini was in the same league. He told his jealous lover Clara – complaining bitterly about him returning to an old flame – that the idea of sleeping with only one woman was "inconceivable". "There was a period in which I had 14 women and I'd take three or four every evening, one after the other ... that gives you an idea of my sexuality." Nicholas Farrell, author of a biography of Il Duce, has calculated that Mussolini enjoyed at least 5,000 women during his life. "Mussolini's butler revealed that he was screwing women all the time," Farrell said yesterday, "even behind Clara Petacci's back."
Like Mussolini, Berlusconi clearly has incredible stamina. Despite his age (74) and a brush with prostate cancer, he was inexhaustible, D'Addario reports – though he failed to satisfy her.
Describing the night they spent together in his villa in Rome she recalls: "After the first assault, in which he achieved complete satisfaction, we started all over again ... He never even appeared slightly tired ... I'd never seen such passion for sex with a woman ... I was honest when he asked me if I'd enjoyed myself. It didn't seem right to lie. He obviously took this as challenge and began again ... Then more sex ... He goes down on my intimate parts and stays there for a long time, such that I thought that he might be sleeping. But no, of course not. He starts up again with more energy than before." He didn't let up until eight in the morning.
The only striking difference between the two men's sexual behaviour is aftercare. Despite her grudges – Berlusconi's alleged failure to do what he promised and help her sort out a property problem, which is why, D'Addario claims, she made their fling public – she admits that the prime minister was the perfect gent in the morning. "Coffee or tea?" he enquired. He raised the possibility of another meeting – "Next time we'll need other women," he decided. And as a parting gift he gave her "a tortoise, covered in precious stones. I had to admit it was lovely."
Mussolini by contrast was far more brusque. According to Petacci's diaries, his trysts occurred anywhere the fancy took him, on the carpet or against a wall, and ended abruptly, without "coffee, liqueur, or even a piece of cake."
What is it about Italy that causes it to produce potentates like this – when elsewhere sexual athleticism is more likely (think of John Profumo or Alan Clarke) to leave a politician on the sidelines or, as nearly happened to Bill Clinton over Monica Lewinsky, to bring a meteoric career crashing to earth?
"Sex is used as an expression of power," James Walston, professor of Italian politics at the American University in Rome said. "It's been a constant since the beginning of humanity, as well as in the animal kingdom." The only reason it is "more explicit and more acceptable" in Italy, he argues, is that it has taken the Italian media a long time to catch up with their colleagues in northern Europe and the US.
"Lloyd George and Kennedy both had many lovers but people in London and the US didn't know what they were getting up to at the time ... Until April 2009 as far as the public was concerned, Italian politicians didn't have lovers: it wasn't an issue until Veronica Lario made an issue of it when she sued for divorce. Until then there was a general agreement in the media that this was out of bounds. Some politicians had lovers, some were gay but nobody heard about it."
And when Lario hurled her thunderbolts, she aimed them carefully, he said. "If she had complained about Patrizia D'Addario, probably no-one would have paid much attention. The reason it became an issue was because she complained about Berlusconi 'frequenting minors' and putting up bimbos as election candidates." And once the dam was broached, media inhibitions vanished pretty fast. Two-and-a-half years ago there was little fuss when an adviser to the then Prime Minister Romano Prodi was caught cruising prostitutes in Rome, and he hung on to his job. But last month when a leading centre-left politician was found to have had affairs with trans-gender prostitutes, he was forced to resign amid a media firestorm.
But Nicholas Farrell, Mussolini's biographer believes there is nothing universal about the wild promiscuity of Mussolini and Berlusconi. Rather it is a reflection of the sexually rapacious culture from which they both emerged.
"Italian men are like this," he said. " If you look at Italian TV it illustrates clearly what men like, and Italian women are prepared to play ball with it – the half-naked girls dancing on the desk in the equivalent of Have I Got News For You, for example. Imagine what Ian Hislop and Paul Merton would say about that. You can't blame Berlusconi for this – it's what the audience wants."
"Both Mussolini and Berlusconi are charismatic leaders," he went on, "both are very popular. You have to talk about the Italian people – what is it about them that they throw up such individuals – why do they get such popular support? The fact is that they like a strong, charismatic leader."
And there is a parallel, he maintained, between sexual charisma and political performance. "Mussolini and Berlusconi achieved far more than, say, Giulio Andreotti or Romano Prodi. And there is a connection between the lacklustre sex lives of those men and their lack of effectiveness in office."
Mussolini... and the mistress
"I hold him tightly. I kiss him and we make love with such fury that his screams seem like those of a wounded beast ... We made love with such force that he bit my shoulder so hard his teeth left a mark." Clara Petacci on Mussolini
"Your flesh has got me – from now on I'm a slave to your flesh ... I have a feverish desire for your delicious little body which I want to kiss all over. And you must adore my body, your giant..." Mussolini to Petacci
Berlusconi... and the escort
"He invited me to dance, a passionate dance. He pulled me towards himself and kissed me on the lips and caressed me. He held me tighter and said, don't go."
"He started to kiss me passionately, on the lips, my neck, my breasts...he covered me with the duvet... He wanted me to know straightaway that he was the man and I was the woman. He entered me and suffocated me with kisses..."
Patrizia D'Addario on Berlusconi
June 30, 2010
MUSSOLINI SEGRETO, Diari 1932–1938, Edited by Mauro Suttora
521pp. Milan: Rizzoli. ISBN 978 88 17 03737 2
In March 1919, an obscure political agitator, Benito Mussolini, assembled a ragbag of black-shirted followers in Milan and launched the movement that was to become, two years later, the National Fascist Party. As a child growing up in Fascist Italy, Claretta Petacci was dutifully adoring of Mussolini and the cult of ducismo. At school she gave the stiff-armed Roman salute (after the Duce had declared hand-shaking fey and unhygienic), and chanted the Fascist youth anthem “Giovinezza” at rallies. Her family had been involved in a number of financial scandals, yet Mussolini guaranteed them virtual immunity from prosecution, not least because Petacci’s father was the Pope’s personal doctor. For the Petacci clan, Mussolini was the incarnation of animal cunning – furbizia – and the manful Fascist soul. Claretta dreamed of meeting the “divine Caesar”.
In April 1932, while motoring to the seaside resort of Ostia, she caught sight of her idol behind the wheel of his Alfa Romeo. “Follow him!” she ordered her driver. The cars drew level, and Mussolini pulled over to confront his pursuer. Petacci was twenty; he was forty-nine. Yet, to judge by Petacci’s diaries, the encounter may also have been love at first sight. As the weeks went by, the doctor’s daughter began to court Mussolini in a decorous way, first by sending him notes, then by calling on the telephone. Before long, bouts of “savage, ardent sex” routinely occurred in Mussolini’s headquarters at Palazzo Venezia in Rome.
Petacci was blessed with a “delicious little body” (Mussolini informed her), and showed great resources of patience and loyalty. Indeed, she turned out to be far more devoted to Mussolini than he to her. The dictator’s “god-like potency” and “bull-like” allure worked on her like an aphrodisiac, yet Petacci’s parents were not averse to the match, even though Claretta was engaged to another man (and Mussolini himself was married with five children). In her diaries, Petacci recorded the dictator’s every movement and all his words to her, no matter how banal. Evidently, her need to do so was overwhelming, and she wrote as though she was thinking aloud, undisciplined and expansive. In 1950, her diaries were impounded by Italian police and consigned to the National Archive, not to be released until seven decades after they were written. The embargo provoked the question: why the secrecy? The diaries belonged to Italy, historians objected, not to a safe-deposit box. Finally, last year, the diaries were published in Italy as Mussolini segreto (Secret Mussolini). The book contains edited extracts from entries made between 1932 and 1938, and one can only marvel at their seventy-year neglect.
Despite the repetitive nature of the pillow talk and Mussolini’s vainglorious sexual boasting (“They say I’ve got the most beautiful body in Italy”), the entries have much to say about the dictator’s inner life, personality and politics. Ever the opportunist, Mussolini forbade his daughter from marrying a Jew, yet one of his mistresses, Margherita Sarfatti, was Jewish. Sarfatti’s influence on the dictator was clearly much stronger than is generally realized. Mussolini first met her in 1912 (“the year I was born”, notes Petacci), and she became one of the masterminds behind his grandiose celebration of ancient Rome. The eagle motifs and suckling she-wolves visible today on Fascist architecture are partly Sarfatti’s legacy. Yet her name was dirt once Mussolini had committed Italy to Hitler’s anti-Semitic cause. The dictator’s spiteful remarks about his Jewish concubine are gleefully set down by Petacci: “p—a” (puttana, whore), Mussolini typically calls Sarfatti.
Initially, Mussolini had greeted Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 warily. A racial dogma that glorified blond Northerners conflicted somewhat with the Fascist cult of romanità. Mussolini anyway did not approve of Hitler’s biological anti-Semitism. Nevertheless a latent tension had always existed between Fascism and Italian Jews. Zionists, in particular, were seen by Mussolini as a self-regarding, supranational sect inimical to the sturdy Blackshirt bond of race and nation. “They should mind their own business”, he tells his mistress while sunbathing with her in Ostia. “They’re carrion [carogne], cowards.”
There is no evidence in the diaries to suggest that Nazi Germany ever demanded an anti-Semitic campaign as the price of friendship with Italy. Indeed, Mussolini seems to resent the imputation that his anti-Jewish legislation of 1938 was merely a blueprint of Hitler’s policy. His anti-Semitism, on the contrary, dated back to the 1920s, before Hitler rose to prominence. “I’ve been a racist since 1921. I don’t know how they can think that I’m imitating Hitler”, he tells Petacci during a boating trip on August 4, 1938, adding: “We must give Italians a feeling of race so that they don’t create half-castes”. Later, with Hitler’s collusion, Mussolini helped to deport more than 6,800 Italian Jews to Auschwitz and other camps within the Greater Reich.
In Petacci’s view, Hitler was unappealingly furtive and ratlike beside her grandly uniformed Dux. Yet Mussolini himself was quite enamoured of the Nazi leader. On his return from the Munich conference in September 1938, he summoned Petacci: “The Führer was very likeable. At heart, Hitler is an old sentimentalist [un sentimentalone]. When he saw me, there were tears in his eyes”. For all his Machiavellian adroitness, however, Mussolini was in reality the junior partner to Hitler, who came to dominate the Axis.
Ultimately, Petacci’s diaries assert the dangers of blind adherence to ideology. In April 1945, with Mussolini’s defeat looming, she was executed by anti-Fascists and her body strung up alongside her lover’s in Milan, not far from the site where, twenty-six years earlier, the Fascist movement had been launched. A passer-by is believed to have remarked: “One thing you can say of Petacci: she did have nice legs”.
Ian Thomson’s Primo Levi: A Life won the W. H. Heinemann Award in 2003. His book The Dead Yard: Tales of modern Jamaica, 2009, won the Ondaatje Prize earlier this year.
Sex was at the centre of the Italian dictator's image
Il Duce and His Women: Mussolini's Rise to Power
by Roberto Olla, translated by Stephen Parkin
In 1919 Benito Mussolini, an obscure political agitator, assembled a ragbag of black-shirted followers in Milan, and launched the political movement that was to become, two years later, the National Fascist party. The party took its name from the classical Roman symbol of authority – an axe bound in rods, or fasces. Part idealist, part buffoon, Mussolini dreamed of a second Roman empire for Italy, and dominion over the Mediterranean. Occasionally he liked to wear a richly tasselled fez and would pose for the cameras, thrusting out his chin pugnaciously. He introduced the stiff-armed Roman salute, disapproving of the handshake as fey and unhygienic. As Mussolini's regime strengthened, the high priests of fascism began to hail their leader as "divine Caesar", and adopted the passo romano, the Latin goosestep, in parades. Behind the bombast, however, Italian fascism relied on bludgeons, intimidation and, according to Roberto Olla, Mussolini's vainglorious sexual antics and boastfulness.
Olla, an Italian writer and TV journalist, provides an absorbing account of Mussolini's self-proclaimed manful potency and "animal allure". In the course of his life, he had relations with hundreds of women, perhaps "as many as 400". The women were brusquely mauled by him under his desk or on mattress-like cushions installed for the purpose. Towards the end of his 23-year-dicatorship, facing defeat, he became addicted to a German-manufactured aphrodisiac pill trade-marked Hormovin. Taking this prototype Viagra was a "political act", says Olla, as it served to prolong the myth of the Duce as one who never flagged. Undeniably, sex was at the centre of the myth of Mussolini and his image as a man of power. Yet Mussolini's sexuality has been "ignored" by historians as being unworthy of study. In Il Duce and His Women, Olla remedies the deficiency, and gives us a portrait of Mussolini in all his priapic foolery – and occasional daring.
Mussolini's most notorious mistress, Claretta Petacci, saw a "god-like potency" and "bull-like" magnetism in her idol. A doctor's daughter, she began to court Mussolini in 1932 and before long, bouts of "savage, ardent sex" routinely occurred in his headquarters at Palazzo Venezia in Rome. Mussolini was by then married with five children, yet the more women he had, the more he felt puffed out with a sense of his own rank and self-importance. Petacci's diaries, first published in Italy in 2009 as Mussolini segreto ("Secret Mussolini"), are amply quoted by Olla. In spite of her adoring pillow talk ("Anchor yourself in me, my great and glorious ship"), Petacci has much to say about Mussolini's inner life, personality and politics. He forbade his daughter from marrying a Jew, yet one of his mistresses, Margherita Sarfatti, was Jewish. Sarfatti, a rather "overlooked character", according to Olla, exerted a stronger influence on the dictator than is generally realised.
She first met Mussolini in 1912, and was one of the masterminds behind fascism's pompous celebration of ancient Rome. The eagle motifs and suckling she-wolves visible today on fascist architecture in Italy are partly Sarfatti's legacy. Her bestselling 1926 biography of Mussolini, Dux, exalted the leader as a sacred manifestation of romanità ("Romanness") and the noble Italian race. Yet her name was dirt once Mussolini had committed Italy to Nazi Germany's antisemitic cause. A racial dogma that glorified blond northerners of course conflicted somewhat with the Mediterranean cult of romanità. Yet a latent tension had always existed between fascism and Italian Jews. Zionists, in particular, were seen by Mussolini as a self-regarding, supranational sect inimical to the sturdy Blackshirt. "They should mind their own business," Mussolini told Petacci while sunbathing with her one day in Rome. "They are carogne [carrion], cowards." While Sarfatti managed to escape Nazi-occupied Italy, her sister Nella and her husband died on a transport bound for Auschwitz.
To Petacci, Hitler was unappealingly furtive and rat-like beside her grandly uniformed Dux, whose smouldering, lantern-jawed features were said to radiate a sense of physical daring – ardimento – and the very masculine fascist soul. Other women were no less impressed. Ida Dalser went so far as to sell her beauty salon in order to raise funds for Mussolini. In time, she became the mother of Mussolini's first-born son and, it seems, married the dictator. Years later, after Mussolini had cynically discarded her, Dalser accused him of cowardice and dereliction of duty. Enraged, Mussolini confined Dalser to a mental home, where, shortly before Christmas 1937, she died.
Olla's biography ends that momentous year of 1937, when Mussolini paid his disastrous official visit to Nazi Germany. Having invaded Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) two years earlier, the dictator decided to hitch his carnival chariot to Hitler's funeral hearse, and a last chance for peace in Europe was lost. Olla has read widely into the cult of ducismo, and writes illuminatingly of his subject. Ultimately, his psycho-sexual study asserts the dangers of blind adherence to ideology. In April 1945, with Italy's defeat now certain, Mussolini was executed by anti-fascists and his body strung up alongside that of the starry-eyed Claretta Petacci in Milan, not far from the site where, 26 years earlier, the fascist movement had been launched.
Ian Thomson's Primo Levi: A Biography is published by Vintage.