Fourth Unsuccessful Try
May 29, 1931: Michele Schirru is executed. He was born in 1899 in Sardinia, the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily) which remains an autonomous region of Italy. He was raised in Pozzomaggiore, in the northwest part of the island. He was able to attend school through the sixth grade at which time he was hired by a blacksmith as an apprentice. His father left for the US and settled in New York City. Michele was admitted to the Maritime School of La Spezia. He was forced to quit school after an illness. He served in World War I with fourteen months of active service. After the war, he returned to Pozzomaggiaore.
During 1919-1920, the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) participated in a series of occupations of factories. The workers took over the control of the factories making them “recovered” and self-managed them. This allowed them to continue to earn a living rather than staging a strike or incurring a lock out. Schirru was disappointed at the abandonment of this practice and felt betrayed by the PSI. He wrote a manifesto regarding his disillusionment of both the Socialist Party and the General Confederation of Labour leaders. He decided to leave Italy and first moved to France. In November 1920, he came to the US and became a naturalized citizen in 1926. He worked in New York City as a vendor on Arthur Avenue.
Benito Mussolini was leader of the National Fascist Party and ruled as Prime Minister from 1922 until 1943. He ruled legally until 1925 and then abandoned the fiction of a democracy. He set up a legal dictatorship with himself as leader and known as Il Duce. He was one of the key people in the creation of fascism. His rule and ideology were directly opposed to the socialist and anarchist views of Schirru. Many people did not agree with Mussolini. Violet Gibson was the first to try to assassinate the leader. In 1926, the Irish daughter of Lord Ashbourne attempted to get rid of Mussolini and after her failure, she was deported.
About six months after the first attempt, in October of 1926, a 15-year-old in Bologna tried to shoot Mussolini. Anteo Zamboni was captured immediately and lynched on the spot. Anarchist Gino Lucetti tried to assassinate the leader while in Rome. He, too, failed. Schirru was the next person to try. He was captured and executed on this date. After Zamboni’s failed attempt, other political parties were outlawed, making the state officially one-party – something it had been in practice since 1925. Mussolini and his mistress were captured on April 27, 1945 as they tried to escape to Spain via Switzerland. They, along with most of the members of their 15-man train which were made up of mostly ministers and officials of the Italian Social Republic, were summarily shot on April 28. The next day, their corpses were loaded into a van and taken to Milan.
When the workers, submitting to the cowardly betrayal of the Socialist Party and General Confederation of Labour leadership, returned the factories to their legal owners, I was one of those who felt disgusted and humiliated at the missed opportunity and for the precious energies that had been squandered in vain. So I decided to expatriate, feeling that there was nothing more to be done in Italy. – Michele Schirru
War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon peoples who have courage to face it. – Benito Mussolini
If surviving assassination attempts were an Olympic event, I would win the gold medal. – Fidel Castro
In times of anarchy, one may seem a despot in order to be a savior. – Honore Mirabeau
Also on this day: The Top of the World – In 1953, Mount Everest was conquered.
Running the World – In 1954, the Bilderberg Group held their first conference.
Empress of Ireland – In 1914, nearly a thousand people died when the ship sank.
I’m Dreaming – In 1942, Bing Crosby recorded a song.
Jenny Lind – In 1852, the singer left the US.