Grandi, Dino

(1895–1988)
   A lawyer from Imola, Dino Grandi was simultaneously intelligent, violent, and an eager social climber. He was a powerful provincial action-squad leader in Emilia-Romagna who was elected to Parliament in May 1921. After Benito Mussolini took power, Grandi became undersecretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, from September 1929, foreign minister. He remained at that post for three years at which time Mussolini resumed direction of foreign affairs, sweetening Grandi’s dismissal by making him ambassador to the United Kingdom where he became known for his gentlemanly love of golf, his belligerent posturing at the London Naval Conference (1930), and his reassurances to the British government in 1935 concerning Italian intentions in Ethiopia. In his eagerness to feed the Duce’s vanity, Grandi exaggerated his reports of British admiration for Mussolini and consistently told the Italian dictator what he most wanted to hear. Mussolini repaid him by failing to keep him apprised either about initiatives in Ethiopia or, eventually, in Spain. As a result, Grandi was often ill-informed, forcing him to fabricate quite transparently. His standing in British circles declined steadily. He returned to Italy in 1939.
   Grandi supported Mussolini’s decision to enter the war in June 1940. Subsequently, after the disasters in Greece, North Africa, and Russia were capped by the Anglo-American invasion of Sicily, the demoralization of the Italian army was complete. It was clear that changes were urgently needed. On 24–25 July 1943, Mussolini opened the first wartime meeting of the Fascist Grand Councilwith a rambling speech in which it became clear that he had no policy objectives. Grandi led the revolt of those who believed that Mussolini’s powers had to be curbed, even though to this day it is not clear that they realized that they were about to provoke the Duce’s downfall, by proposing that the king should resume his role as supreme military commander. Mussolini allowed Grandi’s motion to come to a vote; the Grandi motion carried handily, 19 in favor, seven opposed, and one abstention. The meeting ended at 3:00 A.M. after nearly 10 hours of argument. Mussolini was arrested later the same day. Grandi escaped to Portugal in August 1943 and was sentenced to death in absentia by the Republic of Saloat Verona in January 1944. He lived in Portugal and Brazil until the 1960s, then returned to Italy under a presidential amnesty. He died in Bologna.
   See also Quadrumvirate.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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