Special Report

The Most Famous Failed Assassinations

11. Benito Mussolini, prime minister of Italy
> Date: 1926
> Location: 3 attempts in Bologna, and Rome
> Method of attack: Gun, bomb
> Attacker: Anteo Zamboni, Gino Lucetti, Violet Gibson

Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini was attacked three times in 1926 in the cities of Rome and Bologna. On April 7, Irishwoman Violet Gibson shot the dictator in the nose before a mob grabbed her. She was eventually sent to England and died in an asylum there. Anarchist Gino Lucetti threw a bomb that caromed off the windshield of Mussolini’s car while it was driving through Rome on Sept. 11 and it exploded several feet away. He was caught and placed in prison where he died in 1943. Anteo Zamboni, a 15-year-old boy, shot and missed Mussolini in Bologna on Oct. 31 and was lynched by a mob.

Source: Central Press / Getty Images

12. Franklin Roosevelt, president-elect of the United States
> Date: Feb.15, 1933
> Location: Miami, Florida
> Method of attack: Gun
> Attacker: Giuseppe Zangara

Franklin Roosevelt was nearly killed before he became president. Less than a month before he was inaugurated, FDR had just made a speech from the back of his car at a hotel in Miami when Italian immigrant Giuseppe Zangara fired six shots that hit five people. No shots hit Roosevelt. However, Anton Cermak, mayor of Chicago who was traveling with FDR, would eventually die from his wounds. Zangara, who hated capitalism, was tried for attempted murder and sentenced to 80 years in prison. When Cermak succumbed to his wounds, Zangara was retried and sentenced to death and was electrocuted on March 20, 1933.

13. Adolf Hitler, leader of Nazi Germany
> Date: July 20, 1944
> Location: Rastenburg, East Prussia
> Method of attack: Bomb
> Attacker: Claus von Stauffenberg

There were many attempts on Hitler’s life, but the 1944 plot was the most famous. By late July 1944, some German Army officers were convinced that the war was all but lost and feared utter ruin for Germany if Hitler remained in power. They concocted a scheme to kill Hitler, unseat the German High Command, and negotiate peace with the Allies. Claus von Stauffenberg, a wounded war hero, was entrusted to place a briefcase containing a bomb underneath a desk where Hitler was reviewing war plans. Von Stauffenberg left the room and the briefcase was moved away from Hitler before the bomb exploded. He was wounded but not seriously. The plot fell apart. Retribution was swift and brutal. The conspirators were rounded up and executed or they committed suicide. The war in Europe would drag on for 10 more months.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

14. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, shah of Iran
> Date: Feb. 4, 1949
> Location: Tehran, Iran
> Method of attack: Gun
> Attacker: Opposition party member

Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the last shah of Iran, was the object of multiple assassination attempts. The first attempt on his life occurred in 1949 when he was attacked by a man thought to be a member of the opposition communist party while attending a ceremony to mark the founding of Tehran University. The shah was hit in the cheek and survived. The assailant was killed on the spot. Sixteen years later, a soldier attacked the shah’s palace and was shot dead by palace guards, two of whom were killed. The shah’s tumultuous and often brutal reign would come to an end in 1979 with the Islamic Revolution.

Source: Keystone / Getty Images

15. Harry Truman, president of the United States
> Date: Nov. 1, 1950
> Location: Washington, D.C.
> Method of attack: Gun
> Attacker: Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola

While the White House was being renovated in 1950, President Harry Truman and his family relocated to nearby Blair House. And that was the scene of an attack by Puerto Rican nationalists Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola on Nov. 1, even though Truman was an advocate for greater Puerto Rican self-rule. The assailants exchanged gunfire with the guards at the entrance, killing one before Torresola was killed. Collazo was wounded and apprehended and sentenced to death but Truman commuted the sentence to life in prison. He died in 1994.

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