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The Man who Didn’t Change History

by Enrico Caria

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The "man who didn't change history" was a university professor: Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli, esteemed Italian scholar of Roman art and a founding father of modern archaeology. A figure that the Fascist regime could be proud of, in the 1930s, if it weren't for the fact that the professor was firmly anti-Fascist. Things came to a head over Hitler's famous journey to Italy in 1938, when Bandinelli was courteously invited to accompany Mussolini and the Führer, serving as tour guide and interpreter at the museums and archaeological sites. Now the dilemma arose: don the uniform and salute the two detested dictators, or compromise a lifetime of study, his career and even his personal safety? When the invitation turned into a peremptory order that Bandinelli couldn't refuse, he no longer had a choice. But once his arm had been twisted, the professor realized that no one was searching him or breathing down his neck, leaving him completely free to plan and carry out his guided tours. Which would bring him face to face with the two villains for four whole days. History was offering Bandinelli an amazing opportunity: he could stop them if he wanted. Stop the madness. Kill them. Despite being a most peaceful, quiet academic sort, our professor not only seriously considered the proposition, he actually started planning it in some detail. As he himself minutely recorded in a notebook that was found some years later, and published under the title Hitler e Mussolini 1938. Il viaggio del Führer in Italia.

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