Ciano, Galeazzo 1903–1944

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Ciano, Galeazzo 1903–1944

PERSONAL: Born March 18, 1903, in Livorno, Tuscany, Italy; executed January 11, 1944; married Edda Mussolini (daughter of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini), 1930. Education: Attended University of Rome.

CAREER: Politician and diplomat. Worked as a journalist; Italy, diplomat, 1925–30, chief of press bureau, 1933, undersecretary of state for press and propaganda, 1934, member of Fascist Supreme Council, minister of foreign affairs, 1936–44; named ambassador to Holy See. Military service: Commander of bomber squadron during 1935–36 war against Ethiopia.

WRITINGS:

Ciano Diaries, 1939–1943: The Complete, Unabridged Diaries of Count Galeazzo Ciano, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, 1936–43, edited by Hugh Gibson and Stanislao Pugliese, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1946, reprinted, Phoenix (London, England), 2002.

Ciano's Diplomatic Papers, edited by Malcolm Muggeridge, Oldham's Press (London, England), 1948.

Ciano's Hidden Diary 1937–1938, edited by Malcolm Muggeridge, Dutton (New York, NY), 1953.

SIDELIGHTS: Galeazzo Ciano was an Italian count who had a successful diplomatic career—particularly after marrying Edda Mussolini, the favorite daughter of dictator Benito Mussolini—but his career ultimately ended tragically.

At the age of eighteen, Ciano took part in the fascist march on Rome that resulted in the overthrow of the republic. He studied and worked briefly as a journalist before entering the diplomatic corps, through which he served in Argentina, Brazil, and later as a counsel general in Shanghai and Mussolini's minister to China. After marrying Edda, he rose rapidly, and it was assumed he would someday be Mussolini's successor. He was appointed chief of the press bureau, then undersecretary of state for press and propaganda, and then to the country's fascist Grand Council, the group that mandated policy. He was a pilot and led a bomber squadron from 1935–1936 in the war against Ethiopia. Upon his return, he was named minister of foreign affairs.

Ciano negotiated the Axis Agreement with Germany in 1939 but disagreed with Adolf Hitler's invasion of Poland without consulting Italy, as was required by agreement, and of France after Hitler unilaterally declared war. Ciano convinced Mussolini to remain uncommitted until the fall of France in May 1940. He and others urged their leader to seek a separate peace with the Allies even as the Axis experienced a series of defeats.

Mussolini dismissed his cabinet, including Ciano, sending his son-in-law to the Vatican as an ambassador, but Ciano and other fascists retained enough power to oust Mussolini during a meeting of the Grand Council in 1943. Ciano was quickly targeted by pro-Mussolini forces, and there are two accounts of how he came to his end. One is that he was captured in Northern Italy and brought back, tried for treason, and shot in the back of the head. Another version prescribes that he fled to Germany, where he was executed as a traitor by firing squad while tied to a chair.

Ciano kept a detailed journal that his wife smuggled to Switzerland after his execution, in spite of Nazi attempts to recover it. The first third of the diary was burned on Hitler's orders, and is only available because a German translator buried it in her garden. It was first published in 1946 as an English translation and has survived several reprintings, with a new edition published in 2002. The Italian version has never been available for comparison. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that Ciano describes the Nazi leadership, particularly Hitler and von Ribbentrop, "in clean, succinct prose." Malcolm Muggeridge also edited two volumes of Ciano's journal entries that were published in 1948 and 1953.

Denis Mack Smith reviewed the diary in the Times Literary Supplement, writing that since Ciano "met Mussolini daily and in private, this document is the single most informative commentary on the triumph and collapse of Italian Fascism." Smith noted that in this most recent version, Mussolini's "typically salty and coarse language" has been restored. "Another advantage is that a number of subsequently discovered additions to the earlier text have been included, many of them very important."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Ciano, Galeazzo, Ciano Diaries, 1939–1943: The Complete, Unabridged Diaries of Count Galeazzo Ciano, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, 1936–43, edited by Hugh Gibson and Stanislao G. Pugliese, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1946, reprinted, Phoenix (London, England), 2002.

Muggeridge, Malcolm, editor, Ciano's Diplomatic Papers, Oldham's Press (London, England), 1948.

Muggeridge, Malcolm, editor, Ciano's Hidden Diary 1937–1938, Dutton (New York, NY), 1953.

PERIODICALS

Journal of Military History, October, 1995, Brian R. Sullivan, "Fascist Italy's Military Involvement in the Spanish Civil War," pp. 697-727.

Publishers Weekly, January 14, 2002, review of Ciano Diaries, 1939–1943, p. 53.

Times Literary Supplement, August 2, 2002, Denis Mack Smith, review of Ciano Diaries, 1939–1943, pp. 10-11.

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Ciano, Galeazzo 1903–1944

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