Date of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Sean Cocco

Second Advisor

Samuel Kassow


My thesis examines the Italian Foreign Minister, Galeazzo Ciano. Using his extensive diaries, which he kept from 1936 to 1942, as the basis of my research, I explore the political weaknesses and failures of fascist Italy that contributed to her collapse.

Mussolini maintained that Italy and Germany shared a common destiny united by the wrongdoings each suffered at the end of World War One. In reality, the Axis alliance was mired in competition and distrust. Although Ciano initially supported the partnership, after a series of events- Hitler’s dismissal of the 1938 Munich Pact, the signing of the Pact of Steel in May 1939, and Germany’s invasion of Poland in September 1939- Ciano recognized the dangers in uniting with Hitler and became increasingly anti-German. Despite his concerns, Ciano did not actively oppose Mussolini and his decision to partner with Nazi Germany. It was not until July 24, 1943, when Ciano partook in the Grand Council meeting and voted in favor of the Grandi Resolution, a decree that stripped Mussolini of military power, that Ciano took an active stand against the Duce. This event led to Ciano’s downfall. He was labeled a traitor and killed. In the moment right before his death, a photograph was taken of Ciano turning his head to face his executioners. In doing so, Ciano defied his label as traitor.

This essay traces Ciano’s political break from Mussolini in the years up to the war, and his eventual role in trying to remove Mussolini from power in order to save Italy’s disastrous position in the war. My thesis ends with Ciano’s execution, and explores how the photograph became a metonymy for Italy and the fascist regime at this time, and has helped shape Ciano’s legacy in the years after his death.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in History.