The anti-Nazi gangster: ‘Bugsy’ Siegel and the plot to assassinate Göring | History Today

Originally posted on History Today.

Göring and Mussolini in September 1937. bpk-images

Göring and Mussolini in September 1937.

In the 1991 film Bugsy, Warren Beatty portrayed Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel as a man with an obsession, not only to build a fabulous resort casino in Las Vegas, but also to murder the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. In one scene a swaggering Siegel tells his paramour, Virginia Hill, that he must do so because ‘the whole world is being destroyed by Hitler and Mussolini’. In a later exchange with his life-long friend, Meyer Lansky, Siegel explains, with stunning hubris: ‘Mussolini and Hitler have to be stopped. They’re trying to knock off every Jew on earth. If I don’t do something about it, who will?’ Siegel is frustrated when, later in the film, the Italian people have eliminated their dictator and deprived him of the opportunity.

The juxtaposition of Siegel plotting the deaths of the leaders of the Axis powers, while also imagining and constructing the Flamingo Hotel would, in reality, have been impossible, since his involvement with the hotel project did not begin until 1946 when both dictators were already dead. Nonetheless, Bugsy offered a variation on this oft-told tale about Siegel going to Italy with the Countess Dorothy di Frasso, seeking to persuade Mussolini to purchase a new explosive, the development of which Siegel and di Frasso were financing. According to the seemingly improbable narrative, Siegel and di Frasso encountered Hermann Göring and Joseph Goebbels at di Frasso’s spectacular Roman home, Villa Madama. Hating Nazis and their treatment of Jews and angered that Mussolini had removed him and di Frasso from the villa so the German leaders could stay there, Siegel wanted to kill them both. Di Frasso, however, persuaded him not to do anything so rash, fearing the repercussions for her husband, the Count Carlo Dentice di Frasso. Remarkably, there is a good deal of evidence in support of much of this seemingly…

via The anti-Nazi gangster: ‘Bugsy’ Siegel and the plot to assassinate Göring | History Today.