Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
Teaser Image

Ciano, Galeazzo (Conte di Cortellazo) (1903–1944)

Italian diplomat and foreign minister under Benito Mussolini. Born at Livorno (Leghorn), Italy, on 18 March 1903, Galeazzo Ciano was the son of World War I naval hero Admiral Costanzo Ciano. Dabbling in theatrical criticism and journalism and earning a law degree by 1925, he was propelled by his father (by then a prominent Fascist) into the foreign service of Italy's new regime. Posted to South America and then Asia, the young socialite found diplomatic life and its connections most agreeable, particularly when his 1929 posting to the Holy See returned him to Rome, where he met and married (in April 1930) Edda Mussolini, Il Duce's daughter.

In June 1933, Ciano was the delegate to the World Monetary and Economic Conference in London, and by June 1935, he was made minister for press and propaganda, a position he left two months later to lead a bomber squadron in the Ethiopian War. Less than a month after Ciano's return to Italy, on 9 June 1936, Mussolini appointed him foreign minister, a move that made both men targets of disapproval from near and far. Loyal Fascists decried the elevation of an opportunistic nepotist, whereas the diplomatic corps in Italy and beyond expected only the worst from a ministry formed in Ciano's dillentantish image.

Ciano's foreign ministry undertook a mix of standard Fascist foreign policy initiatives (such as Italy's withdrawal from the League of Nations, Balkan incursions, and military intervention in the Spanish Civil War) with proposals for regional alliances that sought to curb Germany's hegemony by linking Italy with, variously, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Yugoslavia. Ciano's diaries reveal his antipathy for Germany and detail his September 1939 forging of a "nonbelligerency" policy designed to forestall Italy's entry into the war.

With the Italian declaration of war on 10 June 1940, Ciano resumed bomber pilot duty over Greece, repatriating in April 1941 to find his minister's portfolio reduced to mere courier status. Eventually, he was fired in a February 1943 cabinet shift, and after participating in the Fascist Grand Council's no-confidence vote on Mussolini's rule on 25 July 1943, he unsuccessfully sought asylum in Spain. Cynically (or guilelessly) arranging his family's passage to Germany instead that August, Ciano, not surprisingly, was made a prisoner of Il Duce's new Italian Social Republic after the September 1943 armistice. Receiving no mercy from Mussolini despite Edda Ciano's pleas, he was tried and condemned on a charge of treason and was executed by a firing squad at Verona on 11 January 1944.

Gordon E. Hogg


Further Reading
Ciano, Galeazzo. Diario, 1937–1943. Milan, Italy: Rizzoli, 1980.; Moseley, Ray. Mussolini's Shadow: The Double Life of Count Galeazzo Ciano. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999.
 

©2011 ABC-CLIO. All rights reserved.

  About the Author/Editor
  Introduction
  Essays
  A
  B
  C
  D
  E
  F
  G
  H
  I
  J
  K
  L
  M
  N
  O
  P
  Q
  R
  S
  T
  U
  V
  W
  X
  Y
  Z
  Documents Prior to 1938
  1939 Documents
  1940 Documents
  1941 Documents
  1942 Documents
  1943 Documents
  1944 Documents
  1945 Documents
  Images
ABC-cLIO Footer