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ITALY: End of a Line?

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All day and most of the night, the Christian Democratic Party Congress tried to decide for or against continuation of Italy’s 85-year-old monarchy. Finally, at 3 a.m., the puffy-eyed delegates of Italy’s strongest party voted 3-to-1 against. Though heavily Catholic, they thus defied the present royalist policy of the Vatican (which had itself once opposed the scions of Savoy when their drive for Italy’s political unification jeopardized Papal power).

With the Socialists and Communists already on record for a republic, the Savoyards had little chance of saving their throne in the plebiscite next June. Italians had always snickered at little (5 ft. 3 in.) Vittorio Emanuele, cursed him for abetting Mussolini’s war. They liked towering (6 ft.) Queen Elena well enough; but they could never quite forget that she was a foreigner from Montenegro (once famed for its brisk export trade in marriageable princesses). Playboy Crown Prince Umberto, though abler than his parents, would probably have to join Europe’s swelling ranks of unemployed royalty. His son, the ten-year-old Prince of Naples, was the dynasty’s last feeble hope. He was oblivious of such adult troubles, having just got over a nasty case of chickenpox.

Extreme Greetings

The unmarked pauper’s grave in Milan’s Maggiore Cemetery lay open. Benito Mussolini’s body had been stolen. Beside the gutted trench was a letter. “The Duce is among us again,” it read. “The time will come when the Duce in his coffin, kissed by our sun, will parade through the streets of Italy, and all the roses of the world and all the tears of our women will not be enough to give extreme greetings to this great son.”

The body snatchers signed themselves “Democratic Fascist Party,” a blackshirt lunatic fringe. But when rumor spread that the Democratic Fascists would ecstatically hoist Mussolini’s remains on the Piazza Venezia’s cenotaph, in view of Fascism’s most glorious balcony, the police put on extra guards to repel a repulsive resurrection.

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