Edda Mussolini

Edda Mussolini

Edda Mussolini (September 1, 1910April 9, 1995) was the eldest child of Benito Mussolini. Upon her marriage she became Edda Ciano, Countess of Cortellazzo and Buccari.

Early life

She was born out of wedlock to Benito Mussolini and Rachele Guidi in Forlì, Romagna. Her parents did not marry until December 1915. In her early years, while her father was editor of "Il Popolo d'Italia" in Milan, Edda lived with Rachele in Forlì. Her father became Prime Minister of Italy in October 1922 and Dictator after January 1925.

In March 1925, Rachele and Edda with her brothers and sisters, moved from Milan to Carpena and then to Rome in November 1929 to live with their father. Edda was, herself, a wild young woman in her youth. Her powerful father made dating difficult, as most young men feared him. She has been described as being opinionated and outspoken. It was while in Rome that she met Galeazzo Ciano, son of Admiral Count Costanzo Ciano, a loyal Fascist and supporter of Benito Mussolini before his March on Rome. They were married on April 24, 1930 in a lavish ceremony attended by 4,000 guests.

Her husband was appointed Italian Consul in Shanghai and it was there their first son, Fabrizio Ciano was born on October 1, 1931. The couple moved back to Italy in 1932, where Galeazzo took the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs. By many accounts, theirs was an open marriage, and both had lovers. However, her father liked Galeazzo and so Ciano's career prospered.

World War II

After the Italian invasion of Albania in June 1939, the city of Santi Quaranta (Sarandë in Albanian) was renamed "Porto Edda" in her honour during the annexation.

In July 1939 she was depicted on the front cover of "Time" in a feature entitled "Lady of the Axis". [ [http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,19390724,00.html TIME magazine cover: Edda Ciano, 24 July 1939.] ]

During the Greco-Italian War Edda Ciano volunteered for service with the Italian Red Cross. On 14 March 1941, she was embarked near the Albanian port of Valona (now Vlorë) on the Lloyd Triestino liner "Po", which had been converted into a hospital ship. British planes attacked and sank the ship, with some loss of life, but Edda managed to survive by swimming to the shore. She continued to work for the Red Cross until 1943.

Husband's execution

In July 1943, when internal opposition against Mussolini finally emerged in the Fascist Grand Council, Galeazzo Ciano voted against his father-in-law. For this act, he was arrested for treason, tried and executed on 11 January 1944 (despite Edda's appeals to her father). Mussolini had Galeazzo tied to a chair and shot in the back.

Escape to Switzerland

Edda escaped to Switzerland on 9 January 1944, disguised as a peasant woman. She managed to smuggle out the Count's wartime diaries, which had been hidden in her clothing by her confidant Emilio Pucci. At that time he was a lieutenant in the Italian Air Force but would later find fame as a fashion designer.cite web|url=https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/kent-csi/docs/v13i2a16p_0015.htm|title= The Ciano Papers: Rose Garden | last= McGaw Smyth |first= Howard | date=1969 | publisher=Central Intelligence Agency | accessdate=2008-04-23Detailed CIA history of the events leading up to the Count's death and Edda's flight to Switzerland] War correspondent Paul Ghali of the "Chicago Daily News" learned of her secret internment in a Swiss convent and arranged the publication of the diaries. [James H. Walters. (2006). "Scoop: How the Ciano diary was smuggled from Rome to Chicago where it made worldwide news". Booksurge. ISBN 9781419636394.] They reveal much of the secret history of the Fascist regime between 1939 and 1943 and are considered a prime historical source. The diaries are strictly political and contain little of the Cianos' personal lives.

After World War II

After returning to Italy from Switzerland, Edda was held in detention on the island of Lipari and on 20 December 1945 was sentenced to two years' imprisonment for aiding Fascism. After her release she moved to France, where she wrote her memoirs.

Her autobiography, "La mia vita", was published in translation as "My Truth" by Weidenfeld and Nicolson in 1975. She died in Rome in 1995.


Like many a child born out out-of-wedlock in early 20th century Italy, Edda was registered under her father's name, "mother unknown".

It was widely reported at the time that the daughter of Hermann Göring and Emmy Göring (born 2 June 1938) was named Edda after her, but it is now thought that Edda Göring was named after a friend of her mother's. [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/printout/0,8816,771660,00.html Time magazine: "Lady of the Axis"] published 24 July 1939] A number of films have been made about Edda's life, including "Mussolini and I" (1985) in which she was played by Susan Sarandon.

Her son Fabrizio Ciano wrote a personal memoir entitled "Quando il nonno fece fucilare papà" ("When Grandpa had Daddy Shot").


* "The Ciano Diaries 1939-1943: The Complete, Unabridged Diaries of Count Galeazzo Ciano, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, 1936-1943" (2000) ISBN 1-931313-74-1
* "Ciano's diplomatic papers: being a record of nearly 200 conversations held during the years 1936-42 with Hitler, Mussolini, Franco; together with important memoranda, letters, telegrams etc"; edited by Malcolm Muggeridge; translated by Stuart Hood; London: Odhams Press, (1948)
* Giordano Bruno Guerri - "Un amore fascista. Benito, Edda e Galeazzo." (Mondadori, 2005) ISBN 88-04-53467-2
* Ray Moseley - "Mussolini's Shadow: The Double Life of Count Galeazzo Ciano", (Yale University Press, 1999) ISBN 0-300-07917-6
* R.J.B. Bosworth - "Mussolini" (Hodder Arnold, 2002) ISBN 0-340-73144-3
* Michael Salter and Lorie Charlesworth - "Ribbentrop and the Ciano Diaries at the Nuremberg Trial" in "Journal of International Criminal Justice" 2006 4(1):103-127 doi:10.1093/jicj/mqi095
* Fabrizio Ciano - "Quando il nonno fece fucilare papà" ("When Grandpa had Daddy Shot") Milano, Mondadori,. 1991
* Jasper Ridley - "Mussolini", St.Martins Press, 1997


External links

* [http://biografie.leonardo.it/biografia.htm?BioID=1224&biografia=Edda+Ciano+Mussolini Biography]

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