Biography of Gian Galeazzo Ciano (1903-1944)

Italian diplomat and politician. He/She was born in Livorno on March 18, 1903 and died in Verona on 11 January 1944. He/She held diplomatic positions in several countries.

Biographical synthesis

Few years after marriage with Edda, daughter of Benito Mussolini (1930), he/she was appointed Secretary (and later Minister) of press and Propaganda. He/She participated as a volunteer in the war of Ethiopia (1935-1936) and, at the end of this, went to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He/She held this post for the next seven years. From there, he/she promoted a policy of rapprochement to Germany, settling the Roma-berlin axis in November 1936. However, when at the end of 1937, he/she warned that the growing nazi power could harm the Italian influence in the Balkans it objected to a too narrow Alliance, even though he/she himself signed the Pact of steel (May 1939).

For the same reason he/she delayed everything he/she could the entrance of Italy in the second world war, but when he/she did he/she was the main promoter of the surprise attack to Greece. The military failure in this country subordinated Italian German action line, while Ciano could avoid it. Having ceased as Foreign Minister, after serious defeats the axis of 1942 and 1943, he/she opted to support the dismissal of Mussolini in July this year. Refugee in Germany, he/she was delivered to the new fascist regime of the Italian Social Republic, which tried and condemned to death for treason. The intercession of his wife to his father-in-law and negotiating with the Germans (their freedom by their compromising daily) could not save him.

Diplomat and Minister of press and Propaganda

He was the son of Constanzo Ciano, count of Cortelazzo, hero of the first world war, journalist and owner of the newspaper Il Telegrafo, Livorno, and Carolina Pini. The family moved first to Venice and then to Genoa, where Galeazzo finished his secondary studies. In 1921, to the elected father as Deputy (the following year would be named Undersecretary to make Benito Mussolini to power), the Ciano settled in Rome. During the years he/she performed right at the University of Rome he/she collaborated in some newspapers, including the fascist L'Impero (since 1924). His articles dealt mainly theatrical criticism, and not policy. He/She graduated in 1925. Without vocation for advocacy, by influence of his father arose some oppositions to the diplomatic corps, which was approved.

He was sent as Consul to Rio de Janeiro and then to Buenos Aires. In 1927 it was destined to Beijing as Secretary of legation, where he/she remained until 1929, when he/she returned to Italy and served as Deputy of the Italian Embassy to the Holy See, newly created after the Concordat signed that same year. On April 24, 1930 he/she married with Edda Mussolini, the Italian dictator's eldest daughter. Ciano, who like his father was more conservative than fascist while both were members of the party, found the opportunity to make a very rapid political career in this marriage. In late may he/she went back to China, this time to Shanghai and as consul-general. Just a year later was transferred again to Beijing as an Envoy Plenipotentiary. In 1933 he/she returned to Italy, and he/she was immediately appointed to be part of the Italian delegation who should participate in the London Conference (on economic matters).

On August 1, 1933 he/she shook his links with the fascist regime to be appointed head of the Cabinet of press of Mussolini and Undersecretary of State for press and Propaganda. Soon he/she had under his control all the media, whose effectiveness as a means of propaganda with political objectives had been put clear by Joseph Goebbels in nazi Germany. In May 1935 when his office was transformed into Ministry, he/she remained in his direction. He/She was just thirty-two years old and this was its entry into the Government; In addition, it became part of the Grand Council of fascism. Already by then, it was one of the contributors personal of Mussolini.

At the beginning of the war in Ethiopia in August 1935, the interim Government of his Ministry was in the hands of your assistant Dino Alfieri, while he/she personally took part in the fighting. Moved to Asmara (the capital of the Italian rule in Eritrea) obtained the command of the 15th squadron of bombers. After a brief stay in Rome at the end of the year to be operated, it returned to Eritrea in February 1936, shortly before the Italian victory. In may he/she had already returned to Italy, awarded with two silver medals of the value (other fascist leaders obtained similar Awards).

Minister of Foreign Affairs

The war began to make a filoaleman turn to his Ministry in order to change all the Italian foreign policy and make it favorable to Germany. This task was facilitated by his appointment as Foreign Minister on June 9, 1936. Immediately after its takeover of the charge applied openly that policy to the detriment of the customary friendship with France and England. This new partnership was reinforced with the intervention in support of the band rebelled in the Spanish civil war (from July 1936) and the granting of permission for the expansion of nazi influence in Austria.

Between 21 and 23 October 1936 visited Germany, interviewing with Konstantin von Neurath, the German Foreign Minister, and then with the own Führer, Adolf Hitler. October 22 signed with Germany and Japan the Anti-Komintern Pact, at the time that coordinated with the German military aid sent to Spain. Shortly after achieving German recognition of the Italian Empire announced the creation of the Roma-berlin axis (November 1).

Ciano and its diplomats insisted on respecting the areas of influence of both countries. They suggested the Mediterranean for Italy and the Baltic Sea and the North of Europe to Germany. This country would be unwilling to such distribution, especially in regard to Eastern European, who according to the Italian plan remained uncertain situation. In this region Italy maintained some influence at the moment. He/She signed at the end of September an economic agreement with Yugoslavia (confirmed and expanded on 25 March 1937), then adding the celebration on 11 and 12 November in Vienna, a conference between Italy, Austria and Hungary to approximate to the three countries. These agreements, on the other hand, sought the isolation of Greece, an ally of England. With this country, the relations were changing, with phases of zoom in and out. Finally, Ciano and Mussolini bowed by the distance. This was followed, in compensation, the strengthening of ties with the Germans. September 25 Ciano accompanied Mussolini on his trip to Germany.

Ciano and the rise of the nazi Germany

Interestingly, Ciano, voluble, began at this time to show signs of apprehension with respect to italo-alemana, despite being its main driving force NATO. In his diary was raised if that Alliance should not be seen but a diplomatic strategy to put further pressure on democracies. At the beginning of 1938 was already clear the intention of Hitler's annexation of Austria (anschluss), which Ciano did not object, because he/she did not want the Alliance between this country and Czechoslovakia (nor a possible restoration of the Habsburgs). In addition, it would thus have hands-free to promote a new agreement with Hungary and Yugoslavia. When the annexation took place, Ciano saw it as positive for European stability. But on the other hand, the possible extension of the German influence in the Balkans, worried by what Mussolini proposed the occupation of Albania. I saw still possible to rely on the Western powers, and even had with England an agreement signed on February 20, following the resignation of Foreign Minister Anthony Eden (the main promoter of the anti-italiana policy).

When Germany wanted to incorporate also the Sudetenland (part of Czechoslovakia) and created a serious crisis in Europe, Italy is presented as mediator. Although it was considered that the performance of Mussolini and Ciano at the Munich Conference had saved the peace, the fact is that they had allowed the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. At the end of year, Ciano sought an agreement with France, similar to the one signed with England, which failed by the marked anti-Frenchwoman attitude of the Italian Government. On 11 and 12 January 1939, to smooth relations with that country, he/she participated in a meeting between Mussolini and the British Prime Minister Arthur Neville Chamberlain.

On 24 January, after a meeting between cyan and Milan Stojadinovic, Yugoslav Prime Minister, this was deposed, which Italy lost an ally and was prejudicial to its strategy in the Balkans. In April, becoming effective the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Germans, Ciano attempted to Italy to do the same with Albania, after convincing to Mussolini. He/She sent Tirana a Treaty imposed on the country by the Italian protectorate; not responding King Zog I, presented an ultimatum soon transformed into military intervention. In reaction, France and England strengthened its guarantees to Greece and Poland. Italy, for its part, strengthened relations with Germany, signing the Pact of steel on May 22. This was decision of Mussolini, Ciano did not see it with good eyes since Italians were to be closely linked to its ally, the almost obliged to intervene in a war of any kind affecting Germany. Ciano, at a subsequent meeting the German Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, warned that the opening of a conflict was next, especially after the Pact of non-aggression between Hitler and the Soviet Union of Joseph Stalin. Thus, Mussolini pressured so it does not secundase the German policy. In August this year received the Collar of the Annunciation from the hands of King Víctor Manuel III.

The war and the Italian subordination to Germany

To be invaded Poland from September 1, 1939, beginning of the second world war, Italy, which was not militarily prepared, was declared "non-belligerent": an ally of Germany, but non-combatant. Ciano took some steps of mediation and sought to temper relations with English and French; He/She proposed including the creation of a body of neutral balcanico-danubianos States, that would be led by Italy. But "not belligerence" Italian was provisional, while at this moment the ascendancy of Ciano about Mussolini was very large, with many of the new members of the Government related to it.

Finally, in March 1940, it was decided the Italian entry into the war after two separate meetings with Ribbentrop and Hitler. Ciano, without abandoning its anti-Germanic suspicion, had convinced of German invincibility. He/She tried to guide the Italian strategy in parallel to the German way, towards the Balkans. He/She accepted the peace conditions imposed on France by Hitler and then prepared the Italian attack to Greece. Easily persuaded Mussolini of the need of the company and in October began hostilities with that country. To the chagrin of Ciano, the Greek army presented great resistance and put on serious difficulties to the Italian forces pressing from Albania. Germany had to intervene, putting an end to the desire of Ciano carry out a parallel war. Thus, in April 1941, had to accept the German plans on the Balkans (formally beneficial for Italy): annexation of Slovenia to Germany, formation of a Croatian State under Italian influence (as well as Montenegro) and extension of the Albanian border to the detriment of Serbia and Greece.

Thereafter, Italian politics was going to be subordinate to the German, even though it was on a step higher than other allies of the Germans such as Hungary, Bulgaria or the own Vichy France. In the first half of 1941, Ciano participated in talks of Mussolini with Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, who had aimed at achieving the Spanish intervention in the conflict, which did not succeed. On June 15 he/she was informed by Ribbentrop the next German attack on the Soviet Union. He/She had no part in the taking of position Italian at this fact, absent from his Ministry for health reasons. In 1942, Ciano had little diplomatic activity, partly by the subordination to the German guidelines, partly because of the intensification of attention to strictly military. The first major defeats of the axis forces moved you to utter some criticisms against the Germans and the own Mussolini, while in private.

Ciano and the fall of Mussolini. "Newspapers"

Perhaps because of these ceased on 5 February 1943 as Foreign Minister, to play the Ambassador post in the Vatican. He/She abandoned his political clout, but it could now have Western diplomatic relationship. After the Anglo-American landing in Sicily, he/she adhered to the plans of some fascist leaders return to the King the capacity for action. In the mind of Ciano and other chiefs such as Dino Grandi and Giuseppe Bottai was replace the Duce as new rulers. The dismissal of Mussolini by 19 votes in favour, including Ciano voted at the session of the Grand Council of fascism of July 24, 1943. However, his succession plans stacked not, because the King had decided to not only dispense with Mussolini, but fascism, and was named head of Government the general Pietro Badoglio.

Ciano, seeing all lost, tried to obtain a passport to Spain and seek political asylum there. Not to get it accepted aid offered by the German secret service, which moved him with his family at a villa near Oberallmannshausen, in Germany at the end of August. To be created the Fascist Italian Social Republic in the territories of the Central and northern part of the country (which were still under German control), Ciano was considered traitor by his vote against Mussolini. While relations with his father-in-law had improved thanks to the intercession of Edda, he/she was handed over by the Germans on 19 October, led Munich to Verona and imprisoned. On October 27 was created a special court to try him and the other leaders who had opposed Mussolini. The trial was held in arbitrary manner between 8 and 10 January 1944. In the course of the same his wife tried to save him requesting his father grace and negotiating with the Germans their freedom by the delivery of the compromising diaries of her husband (written while he/she was Foreign Minister). No agreement was not reached and Mussolini did not intervene, so Ciano, like other defendants, was sentenced to death. The morning of January 11, the day after the ruling, was shot dead while the other hierarchs in the Fort of San Verona.Edda Protocol, which on Jan. 9 had taken refuge with their children in Switzerland, took with him the Ciano diaries. These consisted of endorsements, occasional since his appointment as Foreign Minister, and more regular since August 1937 (some notes from 1936 to 1937 were probably destroyed by the Germans). They reflected his impressions, detailed a good memory, about the international relations of the time. The newspapers were published partially by his wife at the end of the war, first to United States in 1946 (only the part corresponding to the period 1939-1943) and shortly after, in the same year, in Italy (two volumes, one from 1939 to 1940 and one from 1941 to 1943). In 1948 it would edit what was still missing, from 1937 to 1938. In 1980 published the first critical Edition, in Italian.


BRISSAUD, TO. La tragédie de Vérone; Et Ciano Grandi against Mussolini, 1943-1944. (Paris, Perrin: 1971).

CIANO, E. M. The mia vita. (Milan, Mondadori: 2001).

CIANO, G. daily. Edition of Fabio Congost. (Barcelona, books of our time: 1952).

Military Chronicle and Política of the Segunda Mundial Guerra. Vol. 8. (Madrid, SARPE: 1978).

DE FELICE, R. diary 1937-1943. (Milan: 1980).

FREDIANI, G. Provocazioni offprint di Ciano. (Rome, Bonacci: 1990).

GARCIA TOLSA, J. Three famous processes: Carlos I of England, Marshal Ney, count Ciano. (Barcelona, Mateu: 1959).

GUERRI, G.B. Galeazzo Ciano: a vita, 1903-1944. (Milan, Bompiani: 1979).

MOSELEY, R. Count Ciano. The shadow of Mussolini. (Madrid, Temas de Hoy: 2001).

Links on the Internet ; Page with information about Edda Ciano Mussolini, wife of Galeazzo Ciano (in Italian). ; Page with extensive information about the life and the foreign policy of Ciano (in Italian).