The Legacy of the Italian Resistance (Italian and Italian American Studies)


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Consent and repres- sion could co-exist, ebb and flow, according to changing circumstances and exigencies. Inevitably, historians of everyday life have to contend with a scarce and incomplete source base in answering the questions they pose.


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Even extant sources present problems and limitations. Furthermore, we must acknowledge our dependence on predominantly written source material to gain access to everyday actions and practices that were often spoken and performed. Even the most voluminous archival repositories may leave some aspects of their dealings obscured sometimes intentionally. Although the partial nature of everyday life sources can present dif- ficulties, there are nevertheless ways in which historians can work around or mitigate gaps, recover fragments, and interpret documentary silences.

One must therefore be careful to view them less as unmedi- ated accounts of events and attitudes, and more as subjective, historically contingent expressions of how people made meaning of their lives. Although such documents fore- ground moments in which individuals came into contact with the state, they also often provide filtered access to their words and writings.

This is the case, for example, with confino and other police records which often reproduce verbatim the speech acts as well as physical actions and writ- ings of individual Italians, through witness statements, intercepted tele- phone conversations and letters, records of graffiti, and other forms of physical and written evidence. Conclusion In our view, Alltagsgeschichte presents an important new direction in the study of Italian Fascism and a way forward—even an escape hatch—from entrenched, dichotomous, and politically charged debates.

They are organized in a loose chronological order but frequently transcend narrow periodization.

In the concluding chapter, Geoff Eley offers reflections on the historiography of everyday life, the Italo-German comparison, and the significance of Italian Fascism within the larger context of twentieth-century European totalitarianism. Notes 1. See Benito Mussolini, Opera omnia, vol. For a comprehensive survey of debates over the interpretation of the Fascist regime, see R.

The politics of everyday life in fascist Italy | Italian and Italian …

Renzo De Felice, Mussolini il duce. Gli anni del consenso —, vol. Michael Ledeen Rome: Laterza, La Resistenza nel dibattito politico italiano dal a oggi Rome: Laterza, Giorgio Agamben, What Is an Apparatus? And Other Essays, trans. Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms, xii. Fitzpatrick, Everyday Stalinism, 40— Belinda J. Jacques Revel, ed. Rudolf Dekker Hilversum: Verloren, , 7. An important example of recent work on Fascist Italy grounded in ego-documents is Duggan, Fascist Voices, which draws heavily on the collections of the Archivio Diaristico Nazionale in Pieve Santo Stefano.

Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms, xiii—xxvi. Brian DeGrazia On 6 March , brothers Galileo and Silvio Lodovico Grinzato, among the most important agrarians in Correzzola—a small town in the province of Padua, in the northeastern part of the Po Valley—were killed under uncertain circumstances while traveling down a country road. The local Fasci di combattimento Fascist associations mobilized immediately and carried out attacks against Socialist groups and day laborer associations in the region.

Whether the Grinzato brothers were actually registered as Fascists is unconfirmed, even if they were undoubtedly among the prin- ciple organizers of anti-Socialist action in the region.

The Legacy of the Italian Resistance: Philip Cooke

Based on eyewitness testimony, the carabinieri arrested brothers Cesare, Giuseppe, Adolfo, and Angelo Perin for the double homicide. In July , a year after the events, the Perin brothers were released because of lack of evidence. Slowly and carefully, the squadristi surrounded the Perin family home. At about three in the morning, they started shoot- ing at the house, yelling to the people inside to open the door.

Terrified, the members of the Perin family refused. To drive them out, then, the Fascists lit a wooden pigsty next to the home on fire and tried to break down the door. Once outside, they were lined up against a wall, threatened by ten or so Fascists armed with rifles.

The squadristi then lined up like a firing squad and prepared to shoot. In the hours that followed, the carabinieri found at least 30 cartridges for combat rifles and revolv- ers. Coming back from the funeral of one of their fallen companions, the squadristi might have thought of avenging the killing—a full year earlier—of Galileo and Lodovico Grinzato, pouncing on the Perin brothers shortly after they had been released by the court.

In fact, other factors soon became evident that indicated extensive planning: the Fascists had been preparing their weapons for some time, and—even more incriminating—the truck used for the mission had been procured in advance with the help of a few directors of the Fascio of Padua, first among them the ex-general Francesco Bertolini. For precisely this reason, however, it is indicative of some of the typical features of squad- rista violence.

Brutal episodes of this kind did not necessarily involve hardened crimi- nals. In the vast majority of cases, acts like these were carried out by young men who sincerely believed that violence was just a means to reinstate order and patriotic values, but who also never missed a chance to sing and carouse with their squadra companions.

In this chapter, I will ana- lyze the causes and effects of squadrista violence, especially at the level of individuals and of primary groups, like families, friends, and local com- munities. But neither is it possible to reduce Fascism to a phenomenon of hooligans and degenerates. If, from this moment onward, Fascism succeeded in embodying one of the largest and most aggressive political forces within a broader patriotic and anti-Socialist revival, the motivations that drove many young people to join the action squads were varied. Despite its political values and aims, Fascism, and especially squadrismo, also proved attractive because it was able to provide an organizational framework within which to experiment with violence and to express deep-seated sentiments and expectations prevalent among large segments of the society.

These traits proved par- ticularly strong for the young men who constituted the better part of the action squads. Varying by region, the average age for squadristi ranged from 20 to 25 years old. Among those who comprised the squadre, however, only about 50 percent had actually fought in the Great War, and among the veterans, many were members of elite corps like the Arditi assault troops or specialized branches like the Alpine Corps or the light infantry units bersaglieri.

As Umberto Fabbri, secretary of the National Fascist Party in Rome, acknowledged, only these elite corps allowed for individual valor and courage to be put to the test. Many could not wait to emulate the deeds of the Arditi, who became outright role models. The use of pistols and other firearms, for example, was transformed into a kind of game, especially for the younger ones who had never had a similar experience in the trenches of World War I. Within the squadra, a gun was an instrument of self-aggrandizement and prestige.

In a letter to the secretary of the Fasci di combatti- mento Umberto Pasella, Panicali forbade the officer from sending propa- ganda materials to his son. While they could not initially agree on a course of action, Mario Piazzesi and his father found themselves side by side during the March on Rome.

After the March on Rome, the leadership assigned Mariotti to the role of agent provocateur. This type of squadrista was also an impor- tant pawn in the imposition of Fascist order by means of intimidation and violence. In the politi- cal climate of postwar Italy, individuals who in a traditional context would have been marginalized came to the fore, both within the microcosm of the squadre and in the macrocosm of politics: they became role models in no uncertain terms. Participating in acts of collective criminality and violence helped cement bonds of camaraderie within the squadre, creating masculine subcultures of militant radicalism that were tested every day in clashes with so-called subversives.

On another occasion, Piazzesi recalled, a girl reacted coolly upon learning of his participation in the squadre and especially the fact that he carried and used a pistol. This also made squadrismo lively and joyful, in sharp contrast to delegitimized parliamentary institutions and the traditional political class. At the end of the day, no language possessed a greater persuasive force than the language of violence. It is serious, finishes things quickly … [and is] terribly efficient because it prevents the discussion from ever being reopened.

And those who are stronger are always right. You will go to sleep and in the meantime I, fool that I am, will win the game. Simple, no? Clear and straightforward. Respect for public officials, laws, and traditional political rules, along with privileging discussion and mediation over con- flict, had all become wasteful and ultimately old-fashioned principles, to be overcome by the overwhelming use of political violence.

Squadrista violence also assumed a clear performative significance. The forcefulness of the violent act, its visibility and its concreteness, and its long-lasting effects all resulted in a political message sent not only to the people directly involved but to a much broader audience. This performa- tive quality rendered violence an everyday experience, constantly present even when it was not concretely put into action.

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Whoever fell victim to murder or to injury, or heard them recounted, understood immediately whom they were dealing with: utterly determined young men, lacking any scruples, and ready to go beyond any legal or moral limit just to assert themselves. Bound and naked, they would be brought out to an open field, beaten, whipped with rid- ing crops, clubbed, and water-boarded.

Sometimes the victims would be killed, but more commonly they were left tied to a tree unconscious. Attacking not just its own adversaries but ordinary people as well, Fascism aimed at hegemonic control in the political arena and sought to establish violence as a legitimate instrument of political action. The paroxysmal postwar atmosphere also provided an excuse to exploit political conflicts for distinctly private ends. Between and , taking advantage of wartime conditions, he resorted to using non-unionized day laborers on his land.

Starting in , however, the Socialist associations mandated that only unionized day laborers be hired, and with a 20 percent increase in pay. This declaration by the Socialist leagues became the pretext for the founding of the local Fascio di combat- timento and its squadre.

The Legacy of the Italian Resistance (Italian and Italian American Studies) The Legacy of the Italian Resistance (Italian and Italian American Studies)
The Legacy of the Italian Resistance (Italian and Italian American Studies) The Legacy of the Italian Resistance (Italian and Italian American Studies)
The Legacy of the Italian Resistance (Italian and Italian American Studies) The Legacy of the Italian Resistance (Italian and Italian American Studies)
The Legacy of the Italian Resistance (Italian and Italian American Studies) The Legacy of the Italian Resistance (Italian and Italian American Studies)
The Legacy of the Italian Resistance (Italian and Italian American Studies) The Legacy of the Italian Resistance (Italian and Italian American Studies)
The Legacy of the Italian Resistance (Italian and Italian American Studies) The Legacy of the Italian Resistance (Italian and Italian American Studies)

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