Italian Life Under Fascism

Opposition to Fascism

L'Itinerario di Leone Ginzburg. A cura di Nicola Tranfaglia. Prefazione di Norberto Bobbio. Turin: Bollati Boringhieri, 1996.

Nicola Tranfaglia. Carlo Rosselli, dall'Interventismo a Giustizia e Libertà. Bari: Laterza, 1968.

Antonio Gramsci. Lettere dal Carcere. Turin: Einaudi, 1947.

Commemorating four men martyred for their oppostion to the Fascist regime.

Political prisoner in the 1930s for his activities as a member of Giustizia e Libertà, a founder in 1942 of the party of democratic opposition (the Partito d'Azione), editor in Rome of the clandestine newspaper L'Italia Libera, Leone Ginzburg succumbed on 5 February 1944 from the severe tortures he received in the German section of the Roman prison, Regina Coeli; he was just thirty-five. He was the husband of the writer Natalia Ginzburg.

The brothers Nello and Carlo Rosselli, also in their thirties, were murdered on the French Riviera on 10 June 1937 by the Cagoulards, French Fascists acting at the behest of the Mussolini regime. Nello, distinguished historian and talented artist, was visiting Carlo, who was convalescing from wounds he had received in Spain fighting with the Italian wing of the International Brigade he had helped to organize. The episode inspired Alberto Moravia's novel The Conformist and the subsequent homonymous Bertolucci film.

Antonio Gramsci, secretary of the Communist Party and member of Parliament, was arrested on 8 November 1926 and accused of conspiring against the State, fomenting civil war, spreading subversive propaganda, and inciting class struggle. Sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment, his health declined rapidly in prison. Released after a decade of confinement, he died a few days later on 27 April 1937. The letters published here, written primarily to members of his family, have become literary classics.

On loan from a private collection.

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Nicola Tranfaglia. Carlo Rosselli, dall'Interventismo a Giustizia e Libertà. Bari: Laterza, 1968.

Non Mollare. Florence, 23 May 1925.

No. 13 of the circular "Do Not Yield," produced in Florence by a circle of intellectuals led by the young historian Nello Rosselli and one of the most forceful of the early clandestine anti-Fascist publications. It demanded much of its readers: "Chi riceve il bolletino è moralmente impegnato a farlo circolare" [Whoever receives this document is morally obligated to circulate it]. The Fascists tried to destroy all issues. A dozen years later Nello Rosselli and his brother Carlo, recovering in France from wounds he had received fighting in Spain in the International Brigade, were assassinated by French Fascists acting on Mussolini's orders. The story is the basis of the novel The Conformist by Alberto Moravia, cousin of the Rosselli brothers.

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Non Mollare. Florence, 23 May 1925.

Francesco Fausto Nitti. Escape: The Personal Narrative of a Political Prisoner who was Rescued from Lipari, the Fascist "Devil's Island." New York and London: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1930. Signed by the author.

Many political prisoners of the Fascist regime were sentenced to "internal exile," and sent to small remote islands or primitive villages where they were assigned crude housing and allowed to circulate during the day but required to return to their quarters for curfew. Many were joined in internal exile by their wives and children. Anti-Fascists Carlo Rosselli, Emilio Lussu, and the author, F. F. Nitti, escaped by powerful high-speed motorboat from the island of Lipari in July 1929. They headed for France, where Roselli, scion of a wealthy Florentine Jewish family, founded and supported from his own pocket the movement of resistance to Fascism known as Giustizia e Libertà. Later, on Italian soil, Giustizia e Libertà became the democratically oriented Partito d'Azione and gave its name to numerous partisan bands fighting Germans and Fascists in northern Italy from 1943 until war's end.

Despite threats of reprisals from Fascist sources, G.P. Putnam's Sons went ahead with the publication of Nitti's narrative.

On loan from a private collection.

Gaetano Salvemini. La Terreur Fasciste 1922-1926. Paris: Gallimard, 1930.

Gaetano Salvemini and Giorgio Della Piana. What to Do with Italy. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1943.

The distinguished medievalist Salvemini was one of the earliest, staunchest, and most vocal opponents of the Fascist regime. Sicilian by birth, successively professor of history at the universities of Messina, Pisa, and Florence, Salvemini, along with his former students, the brothers Carlo and Nello Rosselli, helped found in 1925 the clandestine anti-Fascist newssheet Non Mollare, for which he was arrested. After his release, Salvemini slipped out of the country, joined Carlo Rosselli in Paris, and was active with him in the anti-Fascist movement, Giustizia e Libertà. Salvemini emigrated to the United States in 1934 and until his return to Italy in 1948 was a lecturer in history at Harvard. Throughout his exile until war's end he never ceased proselytizing for the cause of a democratic Italy. His books on this subject available in English include Italian Fascism, Under the Axe of Fascism, The Fascist Dictatorship in Italy, Carlo and Nello Rosselli, and a collaborative work written with Giorgio Della Piana, professor of church history at Harvard. This last is dedicated to Italy's most distinguished anti-Fascist exile in the United States, Arturo Toscanini.

On loan from a private collection.

Il 420. Florence, 19 January 1930.

Il 420 was one of the most important and virulent satirical journals of the Fascist period in Italy. Special targets of the issue shown here are the anti-Fascist exiles on French soil, who are portrayed as terrorists. Carlo Rosselli and his companions had escaped to France and established their movement of resistance just a few months before.

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Il 420. Florence, 19 January 1930.

Che è Oggi il Popolo Italiano? Niente. Che Cosa Deve Essere? Tutto. Edito a Cura del Partito Comunista Italiano. [Padua, 5 December 1936, according to manuscript annotations.]

"Today what are the Italian people? Nothing. What should they be? Everything." An attack by the clandestine Italian Communist party against the recently promulgated constitution of the Fascist regime. Marginalia note specific, and particularly objectionable, articles of the new constitution concerning such issues as freedom of religion and pensions.

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Che è Oggi il Popolo Italiano? Niente. Che Cosa Deve Essere? Tutto. Edito a Cura del Partito Comunista Italiano. [Padua, 5 December 1936, according to manuscript annotations.]

Dall'Originale di una Circolare Segreta Inviata ai Propagandisti del Partito Comunista.

This undated pamphlet, an alleged excerpt from an official Communist Party document, appears instead to be an anti-Communist piece of Fascist propaganda. It urges calumny against the clergy and holds up the Christian family as one of the great obstacles standing in the way of progress.

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"Dall'Originale di una Circolare Segreta Inviata ai Propagandisti del Partito Comunista."

Chi Siamo. Che Cosa Vogliamo. Discorso tenuto da Palmiro Togliatti . . . alla Pergola di Firenze. 3 October 1944.

Carbon copy of the text of a speech delivered at Florence shortly after the city's liberation but with the war still underway in the North. Togliatti, head of the Communist Party in Italy, asks for aid to the resistance fighters, many of whom were organized in Communist units. No other copies are noted in the reference literature.

Il Partigiano. Rome, 30 October [1944].

Although the capital had been liberated on 6 June, the war still raged in northern Italy, and Mussolini's Fascist Republic was solidly ensconced at Salò. There was still much to report about the war.

Partito Comunista Italiano. La Nostra Lotta. 15 January 1945.
____. L' Unita. 10 January 1945.

Carbon copies of typescripts issued in the last months of the war by the Communist Party working underground in northern Italy against Mussolini's Fascist Republic and its German allies. Among the demands are no reductions in pay for factory workers and more rations for a hungry population. The newssheet La Nostra Lotta also reports the latest news from the Soviet Union and the activities of the Italian Communist Party, the largest political group opposing Fascism.

Il Patriota. Vicenza, 29 July 1945.

This resistance newspaper, still being published a few months after war's end, recounts some of the last military encounters with Fascist Black Shirts.

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Il Patriota. Vicenza, 29 July 1945.

Antonio Caminati and Claudio Rosati. Il Caso Della Maggiora, Il Primo Condannato a Morte dal Tribunale Speciale Fascista. Pistoia: Tellini, 1980.

This work describes in great detail the trial and condemnation to death of a laborer accused and convicted of killing two Fascist officials. Della Maggiora was the first person condemned to death by the Special Tribunal, established to deal with grievous political crimes. He was executed on 18 October 1928.

Gardens and Ghettos. The Art of Jewish Life in Italy. Edited by Vivian B. Mann. Berkeley and Los Angeles: The University of California Press, 1989.

Catalog of an exhibition at the Jewish Museum, The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, September 1989 to February 1990. It includes a portrait of Leone Ginzburg in 1933 (then twenty-four) by his fellow Turinese friend and anti-Fascist conspirator, Carlo Levi. Levi, a distinguished artist, is better remembered today as a writer, especially for the account of his forced exile in a remote southern village, Cristo si è Fermato a Eboli [Christ stopped at Eboli]. On the facing page is a drawing by Corrado Cagli of the Rosselli brothers shortly after their assassination in 1937. Evidence from the scene indicates that the brothers put up fierce resistance to their knife-wielding French assailants.

Fondazione Rosselli. L'Opera Artistica di Nello Rosselli. Due Anni tra Storia, Politica e Pittura (1929-1930). Rome: 2As.r.l., 1992.

Catalog including Nello Roselli's portrait of his brother Carlo, one year his senior, and his own self-portrait.

On loan from a private collection.

Italian Life Under Fascism

ITALIAN LIFE UNDER FASCISM: Selections from the Fry Collection
Exhibition in the Department of Special Collections
Memorial Library
University of Wisconsin-Madison
July through September 1998