Now the War Is Over (Mussolini's Dead)
DESCRIPTION: The text: "Now the war is over, Mussolini's dead, He wants to go to heaven with a crown upon his head, The Lord says no, he's got to stay below, All dressed up and no where to go."
EARLIEST DATE: 1955 (on Lomax collection)
KEYWORDS: death war humorous political religious gods
1945 - Death of Mussolini
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland)
REFERENCES (1 citation):
ST DTwarovr (Full)
Scottish children, "Now the War is Over" (on Lomax43, LomaxCD1743)
NOTES [281 words]: Well, it's a narrative, and it was collected from folk tradition, so what more do you want? Pity we don't have a keyword for rope-jumping songs. - PJS
Mussolini was deposed as Duce of Italy in 1943 (following the Allied invasion, in a staged coup which induced him to resign), but was "liberated" by German commandos led by Otto Skorzeny. He then set up a puppet republic in the north of Italy -- but the key word is "puppet"; he was purely and simply a German tool. (And there is reason to think he didn't like it much.)
In April, 1945, as the German resistance crumbled, the former il Duce was caught by Italian partisans, "tried," and executed. It's rather unfair that this song picks on him, rather than Hitler, who died just weeks later; Mussolini brooked no opposition, but he didn't build any concentration camps, either.
The explanation may lie in the composition of the British army: There were probably more Scots, proportionally, in Italy than on any other front. The North African army was disproportionately composed of Commonwealth forces, while the "British" force in Normandy eventually consisted of one Canadian and one British army. The British army in Italy had probably the highest proportion of home-grown units, including Scots.
Murray Shoolbraid notes that this is an update of a World War I rhyme in which the Kaiser is the intended victim:
When the war is over and the Kaiser's deid
He's no gaun tae Heaven wi' the eagle on 'is heid,
For the Lord says No! He'll have tae go below,
For he's all dressed up and nowhere tae go.
That version probably didn't endure as well, for the simple reason that the Kaiser survived World War I; he didn't die until 1941. - RBW
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