Salò Republic Collection

Reference: MS 1724, MS 2686 Date: 1943-1945Extent: 1 box

The Italian Social Republic, more commonly known as the Salò Republic, was the Fascist government in the north of Italy established by Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) in 1943.

In July 1943, after the Allies invaded Italy, a number of leading Fascists of the Grand Council voted against el Duce’s continuing control of the war effort. Following the vote against Mussolini, King Victor Emmanuel III (1869-1947) dismissed him from office and had him arrested.

In early September 1943, the Italian government surrendered to the Allies. Aware of Italy’s negations with the enemy and faced with an imminent defection of Italy to the Allies, Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) immediately ordered German troops to seize control of northern and central Italy. On 12 September, a German air-force unit rescued the imprisoned Mussolini from a hotel in the Abruzzi mountains and took him to Germany for an audience with the Führer.

Hitler instructed Mussolini, now in Hitler’s debt following his rescue, to head a new Fascist mini-state in German-occupied Italy. This regime was a republic by default, since King Victor Emmanuel had renounced Fascism, and was officially called the Repubblica Sociale Italiana, or the Italian Social Republic.  It was based along the shores of Lake Garda, with most of the more important administrative offices located in the small town of Salò, and therefore came to be known as the Salò Republic.

Although the Republic exercised official sovereignty in northern Italy, as a puppet regime it had no power and was dependent on the German military to maintain control. The German government had control of almost everything, controlling the Salò government’s telephones, censoring letters and giving orders to the Republic’s army and police. Although Mussolini claimed power over all of Italy, the actual boundaries of the state were those of the German-occupied zone, being the stretch of plain on either side of the River Po.

The Republic lasted until the German army corps in Italy surrendered to the British and American allies in the spring of 1945, before the war in Germany had ended. Mussolini was captured and executed along with most of the other ministers of the Republic. The Salò Republic disappeared without trace after a mere one and a half years in existence.

This collection comprises of about 500 items from some of the administrative departments of the Salò Republic. One group of files from the Ministero degli affari esteri (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) contains around 350 documents pertaining to the requisition of properties for government use. Other sections include orders from the Ministero delle forze armate: Sottosegretariato di Stato per la marina (Ministry of Armed Forces: State Secretariat for the Navy), vehicle and travel permits from the Guardia del Duce, and anti-Allied and pro-Fascist propaganda from the Ministero della cultura popolare (Ministry of Popular Culture). There are also three passports issued by the regime, around 40 intercepted radio messages from Allied broadcasts, including from Reuters and from the Vatican radio, a booklet entitled ”Agendina del Soldato” (“Soldier’s Agenda”), and 20 bulletins issued by the regime’s news agency, the Agenzia Stefani.

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