The honorary doctorate awarded by Swiss university to former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini will not be revoked, although it is a “serious mistake”, said a commission dealing with the case.
The University of Lausanne (UNIL) honored the fascist leader in 1937 for “conceiving and implementing a social organization in his homeland … that will leave a deep mark on history.”
The university has been repeatedly asked to withdraw the controversial award of the holder, who was an ally of Adolf Hitler during World War II.
An expert group tasked with investigating the case concluded that the decision to award a doctorate “was a serious mistake on the part of the academic and political authorities” at the time.
“This title represents the legitimacy of a criminal regime and its ideology,” the report said on Friday.
The expert group did not recommend revoking the title, saying it would give the false impression that the initial decision to award a doctorate could be “corrected today”.
The university said withdrawing the award could lead critics to say it wants to erase the past.
“Instead of denying or deleting this episode, which is part of its history, university officials want it to serve as a permanent warning,” the statement said.
Mussolini, who lived in Switzerland from 1902 to 1904, was executed by guerrillas in April 1945.