Advertisement

Mussolini Diaries Seem to Be Genuine : History: Experts are impressed by volumes found in trunk. But past forgeries make discovery controversial.

Share via
TIMES STAFF WRITER

Personal diaries reputedly written by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini have appeared here, it was reported Sunday, and some experts said they seem to be genuine.

If so, according to scholars, the five volumes covering the years 1935-39 would be a find of major historical importance.

The Sunday Telegraph said it had uncovered the volumes 49 years after the death of Mussolini at the hands of Italian partisans at the end of World War II.

Advertisement

According to the newspaper, historians and document experts believe the diaries to be the work of Il Duce, the fascist leader who was Italian prime minister from 1922 to 1943. He was known to have kept a diary that disappeared in 1945.

In the notes, Mussolini says that he tried to act as a brake on the conquest-minded Adolf Hitler, whom he despised and feared. Mussolini calls Hitler’s famous book, “Mein Kampf,” “nonsense” and “unreadable.”

They also show that Mussolini was depressive, lonely and unable to trust anyone around him.

The diaries appear to be written with an eye on future generations and seek to make him a more intelligent and sympathetic figure than he was viewed at the time.

But the surfacing of the purported diaries is sure to become controversial: In 1983, the Sunday Times paid $3.5 million for the “Hitler Diaries,” which turned out to be forgeries.

And in 1957, another set of Mussolini diaries came to light, but they were later judged to be the work of a mother and daughter, Rosa and Amalia Panvini Rosati, who were convicted of forging 29 Mussolini notebooks.

Advertisement

Eight years later, the Sunday Times paid $150,000 to an Italian businessman for diaries that were later declared another forgery by the Panvini team.

Among the experts the Sunday Telegraph consulted were Dennis Mack Smith, an authority on fascism and a biographer of Mussolini, who said: “The manuscript looks absolutely genuine, its handwriting perfect, as is style, content and context. I feel it is a document of real historical importance that must be published.”

Prof. Brian Sullivan of the Institute of National Strategic Studies in Washington said: “If these are forgeries, they are a masterly fraud.”

The diaries are in the care of Anthony Havelock-Allan, a retired film producer who is acting as the agent for an Italian businessman, who says he found the diaries in a trunk in the house of his father, who was an Italian partisan.

A sample entry published in the Sunday Telegraph:

March 4, 1939: “Hitler wants war, fears nothing and is certain of victory. He does not want to lose the great occasion which history offers him. . . . Can I convince to change course toward my projects. No. It is one of the many things which I am unable to do.”

Advertisement