Mussolini 'diaries' may solve war riddle

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ROME -- Alessandra Mussolini, the granddaughter of Italy's late dictator, has said newly found diaries, allegedly kept by her grandfather before the second world war, show that he took Italy into the conflict only with great reluctance.

A controversial Italian senator and bibliophile, Marcello Dell'Utri, told the newspaper Corriere della Sera that the books were with a lawyer at Bellinzona, in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. He said he examined them last summer and found five day-to-a-page Red Cross diaries covering the years from 1935 to 1939...

Valerio Castronovo, a professor of contemporary history at the University of Turin, was cautious. "Lots of [Mussolini diaries] have surfaced in the past 20 years and none has been found to be genuine."

But the British historian Denis Mack Smith said yesterday he thought the diaries might be from the same collection as one he examined 20-30 years ago. "I had no reason to doubt their authenticity," he said. "But they were just boring ... the sort of things you or I might write."

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