§835 Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia, dismissal and death (1934-1945): IX-95.

IX-95 (§835):

The new incident shall conduct the army
Near Apamea till close to the coast,
Bringing relief of Milanese elite,
The Duke deprived of his eyes iron of a cage in Milan.

(Le nouveau faict conduyra l'exercite,
Proche apamé jusques aupres du rivage,
Tendant secour de Milanoise eslite,
Duc yeulx privé à Milan fer de caige.)

NOTES: The theme will be found in the comments: « The French duc literally is the English “duke” and easily becomes the Italian duce (“leader”) if imaginative semantics are brought into play.» (Boswell, 1941, p.274-275); « A mob of rebellious soldiers aided by civilians captured and lynched Mussolini and his paramour at Milan in April 1945.» (Roberts, 1969, p.301).

The new incident shall conduct the army Near Apamea till close to the coast
: These verses seem to express the invasion of Ethiopia by the Fascists’ army in 1935. Before the operation, Italian grand troops [the army], equipment, ammunitions and supplies had been transported by sea from Italy to Italian East Africa (Somaliland and Eritrea) to invade Ethiopia [till close to the coast] via the Suez Canal [near Apamea in Syria] and the Red Sea [the coast].

Exercite: « s.m., armée (an army).» (Godefroy).

Apamé: = Apamea in Syria; « 
Ἀπάμεια [Apameia], Apamée, vv. de Syrie, de Parthie et de Bithynie (Apamea, cities of Syria, of Parthia [in Iran] and of Bithynia [in Turkey]).» (Pillon). Of these three, Syrian Apamea, being the nearest to the Suez Canal, is the most fitting to the context of the quatrain.

Le nouveau faict: = The new incident: « Abyssinia (Ethiopia). Italian colonial expansion in Eritrea led in 1895 to a full-scale war since the Abyssinians considered Eritrea to be their natural littoral. The Abyssinians, under Emperor Menelek (reigned 1889-1913), decisively defeated the Italians at Adowa (March 1st, 1896) and were thus the one independent people in Africa after the era of imperial partition. The country remained backward until the accession of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1930, when a programme of reform was undertaken. Friction with the Italians on the Eritrean and Somali frontiers increased with the advent of Mussolini’s forward policy and his obvious desire to ‘avenge Adowa’. Although a treaty of friendship was signed between Italy and Abyssinia in 1928 frontier incidents continued, culminating in a serious clash at the oasis of Walwal (December 5th, 1934) in which 100 Ethiopians and 30 Italian colonial troops were killed [the new incident]. The dispute was referred to the League of Nations but the Italians were determined to secure a military success and invaded Abyssinia, without a declaration of war, on October 3rd, 1935. Despite a declaration by the League branding Italy as an aggressor and imposing limited sanctions, the Italians captured Addis Ababa on May 5th, 1936, with the help of air power, mechanized equipment and poison gas. King Victor Emmanuel of Italy was thereupon proclaimed Emperor while Haile Selassie went into exile. Five years later Ethiopian levies helped the British reconquer the country and expel the Italians and Haile Selassie returned to his throne (May 5th, 1941).» (Palmer, p.2-3).

The new incident shall conduct the army Near Apamea till close to the coast
: « In January, 1934 Italy began her military preparations against Abyssinia; this work went on through the whole of the year. In October an attack was made against the Italian consulate at Gondar; the Italians had become increasingly unpopular in Ethiopia. On December 5th some Italians were murdered at Ual-Ual in Abyssinia and the justification for the war was found. On January 7th, 1935, France signed a treaty with Italy recognising her right to occupy Abyssinia. This treaty sealed the fate of the Njegus and his country; it also put France in a difficult position when her traditional ally, Great Britain, objected so strongly to the Italian plans. In the same month the first troops were sent off to Ethiopia. General De Bono took over the governorship of Italian East Africa. During the year Italy sent half a million men, fifty thousand pack-horses and mules, ten thousand motor-cars and an immense amount of armaments to East Africa. In April the General Command was formed. It sounds almost tragi-comic to remember that as late as May 25th, 1935, Abyssinia concluded an agreement with Egypt about the building of locks on Lake Tana. War began ‘officially’ on October 2nd.» (Campanelli, 1939, p.117-118).

« Why didn’t Britain attempt to hinder Italy’s 1935 invasion of Abyssinia by preventing the Italian fleet from using the Suez Canal? - Answered by Roger Moorhouse, author of Berlin at War. April 11, 2011 at 11:08 am: With the benefit of hindsight, it seems quite sensible to suggest that the British could have hindered the Italian invasion of Abyssinia by blocking a passage through the Suez Canal. The Italians were, after all, entirely dependent on the canal for access to east Africa and the Royal Navy was more than able to undertake such an operation. However, from the perspective of 1935, there were a number of factors that conspired to stay Britain’s hand. Firstly, and most importantly, Britain was extremely wary of alienating Mussolini, who was still seen as an important counterweight to the greater threat posed by Hitler’s Germany, and indeed had only recently been brought into the ‘Stresa Front’ with Britain and France, which sought to contain Hitler. Moreover, the public mood in Britain was still largely pacifist in 1935. The principle of collective security had not yet been shown to have failed, and consequently there was a widespread desire to defer to the League of Nations in dealing with Mussolini’s aggression. Sanctions did, of course, follow, but these were largely ineffectual. There was also the issue of logistics. Given that Italy had two other colonies in east Africa – Eritrea and Somaliland – and that much of the build up of troops and materiel began well before the invasion itself, it would have been very difficult for the British to second-guess Italian intentions, let alone act in such a precipitate and aggressive manner. The Italian invasion of Abyssinia would carry profound strategic consequences: undermining the ideals of collective security and ultimately propelling Mussolini into an ever-closer relationship with Hitler. Yet, Britain had little desire to hinder Italy’s actions by closing the Suez Canal. In the face of the more serious and immediate threat posed by Hitler, few were willing to alienate Mussolini by frustrating his ambitions in far-off east Africa.» (Historyextra, April 11, 2011).

Milanese elite: « On December 1st, 1912, Benito Mussolini became managing editor of Avanti ! Just before he left Forli for his new office, he lost his father. Alessandro Mussolini was only fifty-seven at the time of his death. Mussolini paid tribute to him in his autobiography just as he did to his mother. “The Romagna,” he writes, “a spirited district with traditions of struggle for freedom against foreign oppressions, knew my father’s merit. He wrestled year in and year out with endless difficulties, and he had lost the small family patrimony by helping friends who had gone beyond their depth in the political struggle.” His father’s death marked the end of the unity of the Mussolini family. Benito “plunged forward into big politics” when he settled in Milan... » (Campanelli, id., p.52); « The death of his father freed him from all ties with his native province. In December the young agitator was entrusted with the editorship of the Avanti ! the official organ of the [Socialist] Party, and in France, Georges Sorel commented on him with the now well-known words: ‘Your Mussolini is no ordinary Socialist. Believe me, one day perhaps you will see him at the head of a sacred battalion, saluting with his sword the Italian flag. He is an Italian of the fifteenth century, a condottiero [leader, commander]. We do not yet know, but he is the only man of energy capable of repairing the weaknesses of the Government.’ The new editor of the Avanti ! was not yet thirty years of age when he came to live in the great industrial city of Milan with its masses of working men.» (Pini, 1939, p.62); « Mussolini is a leader. Hitler defined him as “one of those solitary men who are not protagonists” in history, but who make history themselves.» (Pini, id., p.190).

Bringing relief of Milanese elite
: « By this time [15 September 1943], German intelligence had discovered Mussolini’s whereabouts. After holding him first on the island of Ponza and then on La Maddalena, Marshal Badoglio had him moved secretly to a ski resort north of Rome in the Apennines, known as Gran Sasso. Hitler, horrified by this humiliation of his ally [Milanese elite], ordered a rescue attempt [Bringing relief]. On 12 September, Hauptsturmführer Otto Skorzeny, with a force of Waffen-SS special troops in eight gliders, crash-landed on the mountain. The Carabinieri guarding him did not resist. Mussolini embraced Skorzeny, saying that he knew his friend Adolf Hitler would not abandon him. He was flown out and brought to the Wolfsschanze [or Wolf’s Lair, Führer headquarters near Rastenburg].» (Beevor, 2012, p.503-504).

Duc yeulx privé (Duke eyes deprived): = Duc privé [des] yeulx (The Duke deprived of his eyes), the preposition “de (of)” being omitted for the prophetic embroilment of the quatrain.

Yeulx (Eyes): « ŒIL (Eye), plur. YEUX. – Fam. Avoir, tenir qqn à l’œil: sous une surveillance qui ne se relâche pas (Familiar usage. To have, to hold someone with the eye: to have, to hold... under the unrelaxed surveillance). – Avoir l’œil à tout: veiller à tout (To have the eye on all: to watch for everything).» (Petit Robert). Sometimes in the Prophecies of Nostradamus, “eye” is a metaphor for another thing, for example, for a female spouse of a man (I-6, §661), for the capital of a country (III-92, §809), for a watch on sea (IV-15, §254), for a King (VII-11, §154) and the Sun in the sky (X-70, §897). Here, it is a metaphor for ‘an administration of state, a reigning power, a governmental authority’.

The Duke deprived of his eyes: « Privé du pouvoir, le Duce sera exécuté et son corps transporté à Milan... (Deprived of the power, the Duce shall be executed and his body transported to Milan...) » (Luni, 1998, p.377); Mussolini loses twice [eyes] his administration of state, first that of the Kingdom of Italy in July 1943 and secondly that of the Republic of Salo in April 1945: « JULY 25 [1943] Home Front: ItalyMUSSOLINI RESIGNS and is arrested on the orders of King Victor Emmanuel(Argyle, 1980, p.136); « 25 April [1945]. In Milan, a meeting of Mussolini with the leaders of the Resistance. Mussolini settles himself on 17 April 1945 in Milan where are assembled the most important fascist forces and where he thinks himself to have the greatest liberty of maneuver: either to negotiate with CLNAI (the Committee of Liberation of Upper Italy) or to attempt to refuge in Valteline or in Switzerland. A Milanese industrialist, Cella, member of CLNAI, anxious to avoid battles in the city, proposes to the fascists and resistants an assembly at the house of the archbishop, Cardinal Schuster. The meeting takes place on 25 April. It assembles Mussolini, Graziani, several responsible persons of the Republic of Salo and, face to face, three leaders of CLNAI, General Cadorna, Lombardi and Marazzo. these latter persons demand an unconditional surrender. The Duce wants to reflect and withdraws. He seems resolved to agitate in front of the Resistance the menace which the German army constitutes. But the latter decides to surrender. So Mussolini quits Milan and orients himself toward Como.» (Kaspi, 1980, p.501); « 28 April [1945]. After the failure of his attempt of negotiation on 25 April 1945 in Milan, Mussolini, Clara Petacci and 15 leaders of the Republic of Salo join a German column which climbs up toward Valteline. On 27 April, the group is arrested by the partisans; these authorize the Germans to pursue their way, if they deliver the fascists who are with them. The officer commanding the column agrees to it. Before letting them depart, the resistants go thoroughly into the vehicles and discover Mussolini who tries to hide himself under the uniform of a German soldier. Thereafter, the destiny of Mussolini and his companions is sealed. In fact, the article 5 of the judicial code enacted by the Committee of Liberation stipulates that all the leaders of the fallen regime and all the fascists taken with arms are condemned to death. Moreover, the resistants do not want that the former master of the country should fall into the hands of the Allies: the punishment of the Duce concerns only the Italians. On 28 April, after Mussolini and Clara Petacci had passed the night at the village of Dongo [on the west bank of Lake Como, 75 km north of Milan], a communist officer, Colonel Valerio, by his true name Walter Audisio, makes the prisoners delivered to him and, with his own hands, executes Mussolini [The Duke deprived of his eyes] and his mistress. Then, he makes the other 15 fascist leaders fired, among them are 5 ministers of the government of Salo.» (Kaspi, id., p.505).

The expression: « 
The Duke deprived of his eyes » does not imply that physically and really Mussolini had been deprived of his eyes: « ... Claretta’s face was not that of a doll. Men were struck by its beauty beneath the dirt and the smears of blood. Her eyes, which were open when sha was first tied up, had closed slowly. She looked gentle and at peace. She seemed even to be smiling. Mussolini’s tortured features expressed no such contentment. Some men thought they saw in the line of his swollen mouth and in the sightless, staring eyes a look of hopeless despair, but most of them could see no more than the ghastly travesty of a mudsplashed face.» (Hibbert, 1965, p.371-372).

à Milan fer de caige (in Milan iron of a cage): = fer de caige à Milan (iron of a cage in Milan), the phrase “à Milan (in Milan)” being more fitting to the noun “fer de caige (iron of a cage) than to “Duc yeulx privé (Duke eyes deprived)” because of the concerned historical facts: « On 29 April [1945], the corpses are transferred to Milan [in Milan] and exposed at Loreto Place, where, on 14 August 1944, the Nazis had fired 15 hostages. The crowd, unchained, hang them by the legs from the facade of a garage [iron of a cage].» (Kaspi, id., p.505). « The bodies of Mussolini and Claretta were put in the back of the car, which then drove away in the rain to the main road at Azzano. Here the removal van was waiting to take them on to Milan, and they were thrown into it on top of the other corpses. In the early morning of 29 April 1945 the removal van, having passed through several American road-blocks, stopped infront of a half-built garage in Piazzale Loreto. It was a Sunday, The corpses were tipped out and lay in a tumbled confusion until dawn, when a passer-by arranged them in some sort of order. Mussolini was laid out a little way apart from the others with' his head and shoulders on Claretta’s breasts. By nine o’clock a large crowd had gathered and the people in it were shouting and jumping up and down to get a closer view. ‘Who is it you want to see?’ an immense partisan, his bare arms covered with blood, called out to the screaming people. ‘Pavolini’, a man called back. Then another voice shouted ‘Bombacci’, and others ‘Mussolini’, ‘Petacci’, ‘Buffarini-Guidi’. The partisan lifted each up in turn, gripping them under the armpits, holding them high above his head. ‘Higher!’ the crowd shouted. ‘Higher! Higher! We can’t see.’ ‘String them up!’ a loud voice called authoritatively. Ropes were found and tied round the corpses’ ankles. Mussolini was pulled up first, the soles of his split boots pointing upwards towards the overwhelming girders of the garage roof [iron of a cage], his head about six feet from the ground. His face was the colour of putty and splashed with red stains, and his mouth was open still. The crowd cheered wildly, and those in the front row spat at him and threw what filth they could find. Claretta Petacci was drawn up next...» (Hibbert, 1965, p.369-371).
© Koji Nihei Daijyo, 2019. All rights reserved.


Koji Nihei Daijyo

Author:Koji Nihei Daijyo
We have covered 143 quatrains (§588-§730) concerning the World Events in the 19th century after Napoleonic ages [1821-1900] in the Prophecies of Nostradamus, and 218 in the 20th [1901-2000] (§731-§948).

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