War-dated handwritten telegram, in Italian, signed “Mussolini,” two pages, 8.25 x 11.5, on his personal telegram stationery headed “The Duce [Leader] of Fascism” and “Head of the Government,” December 30, 1943. Mussolini sends a telegram to Marshal Rodolfo Graziani, Minister of Defense of the Italian Social Republic and Commander-in-Chief of the Italian forces still fighting on the German side after his rescue by SS Col. Skorzeny’s special forces on September 12, 1943. In full (translated): “I’m informing you that by my decree published in the Official Gazette the 15th of this month…I have temporarily suspended payments to the armed forces…War indemnities are to be given only to those who in fact make War…civil servants cannot benefit from similar allowances…I am certain, Marshal, that you approve of my suspension, which is justified not only by our insupportable financial burden but most especially by reasons of a moral nature, which you will be the first to appreciate.” Central horizontal fold to both pages, several blue pencil notations to text, and some light toning, otherwise fine condition.
Two months after being dismissed by the Italian Fascist government and arrested on orders from the king, Mussolini was rescued from his prison by Otto Skorzeny and taken to Germany for a meeting with Hitler. Although in poor health and hoping to leave politics behind, the Duce agreed to set up a new regime, the Italian Social Republic, in late 1943 in hopes of blunting the edges of Nazi repression. With Allied bombings taking their toll, leaving factories at a standstill from lack of materials, coal, and oil, the Italian economy had been all but destroyed. Completely dependent on German funding, Mussolini suspended payments to the armed forces and denied all war indemnities to citizens, claiming “reasons of a moral nature” when in fact they were simply unable to pay. Items from Mussolini from this late period in his life, after his arrest and rescue, are incredibly scarce; compounded by the important recipient, Rodolfo Graziani, the only Marshal that remained loyal to him, this letter is an extraordinary piece. Pre-certified PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.