Piazzale Loreto

The square where, on 10th August 1944, fifteen partisans were killed on the order of the Germans and where, on 29th April 1945, the corpses of Benito Mussolini and his acolytes were hung.

In Piazzale Loreto, on the 10th August 1944, at dawn, fifteen political prisoners detained without trial and without any specific sentence, were taken from the prison of San Vittore, with no human nor religious comfort, and killed on German order by a fascist platoon belonging to the Legione Muti. The control of the area was assigned to the Aeronautica repubblicana and to thirty members of the Brigata nera «Aldo Resega».

The execution was violent and disordered. Someone tried in vain to escape. Only Eraldo Soncini managed to escape, but was wounded on his calf and chased to a basement in via Palestrina 9 by two fascist militants of the brigade “Resega” who killed him. Today, a commemorative plate reminds everyone about the episode. His body was brought back to the square with a truck.

The bodies would remain exposed for the rest of the day.
The reason behind the choice of those fifteen man is unclear. They had different ages, political allegiances and professions, but they were certainly among the masterminds who organized the strikes of March 1944, with some of them being leading members of re-emerging political parties. Their names were: Antonio Bravin, Giulio Casiraghi, Renzo Del Riccio, Andrea Esposito, Domenico Fiorani, Umberto Fogagnolo, Tullio Galimberti, Vittorio Gasparini, Emidio Mastrodomenico, Angelo Poletti, Salvatore Principato, Andrea Ragni, Eraldo Soncini, Libero Temolo, Vitale Vertemati.
The execution was presented by the Germans as a form of retaliation for two explosives that destroyed a German truck passing by Milan on 8th August in viale Abruzzi 77. That explosion, however, did not kill any German: it killed six Italian bystanders instead.

A granite commemorative plate at the corner with via Andrea Doria date 1960, made by the sculptor Giannino Castiglioni, replaced the old memorial stone in yellow marble dated 10th August 1945 that was placed a little further on down Corso Buenos Aires, where the shooting took place.

Two days before the Liberation, rumors circulated in the city that Milan’s people “spontaneously replaced the name Piazzale Loreto with Piazzale Quindici Martiri” and in the afternoon of 28th April 1945, some of the relatives of those martyrs met in the square with the organizations of the Gruppi di Difesa della Donna and later with the partisan brigades lead by Cino Moscatelli.

On that occasion, Eraldo Soncini’s son, Franco, and Marcella Chiorri, widow of Salvatore Principato delivered a speech.
The process of construction of our memory and Milan’s redemption of the nazi-fascist oppression had officially begun when, around 3:40am on 29th April, a lorry arriving from Como unloaded the corpses of Benito Mussolini, Claretta Petacci, sixteen ministers and leading member of the Repubblica Sociale Italiana shot in Dongo.

Soon, the news spread in town and a wild crowd gathered in the square. By 11am, they forced the armed forces and the firemen to hang the corpses of at least seven of the most representative members of fascism on the roof of a gas station at the corner with Corso Buenos Aires. The mob was dispersed with hydrants.

At noon, Achille Starace, former general of the Partito Nazionale Fascista, who was arrested and put on a botched trial in a room of the Politecnico, was brought to the square and immediately shot.

The corpses were removed in the afternoon.



Massimo Castoldi