‘Cinquant’ anni di vita italiana’ (‘Fifty years of Italian life’ – ep.3: 1919-1924 crisis of democracy)
28 December 1958
(ID Teca: C23) This extract illustrates the power takeover by fascism, from the weak Facta government to the march on Rome and the settlement of the first Mussolini government. It’s part of an ‘editing’ documentary, taken from the ten-part series that is by far the first major historical reconstruction produced by the still young public television. As a result of three years of preparation and edited by the well-known Vaticanist and liberal essayist Silvio Negro, the series was broadcast on the (then only) National Channel from December 1958 (this extract aired precisely on Sunday 28th December), obtaining a huge success with the public.Read the transcript
Nascita e avvento del fascismo (Birth and advent of fascism)
Angelo Tasca, La Nuova Italia. Composed in the years of exile (Tasca was among the founders of the Italian Communist Party, from which he would be expelled for his anti-Stalin positions) it was originally released by the French publisher Gallimard in 1938, with the title "Naissance du fascisme". Angelo Tasca’s book can be considered the first written text not only to be a political testimony and criticism, but a reconstruction of the deep dynamics that had led to the genesis of the fascist movement in Italy and then to its rise to power.
La crisi dello Stato liberale in Italia (The crisis of the liberal state in Italy)
Gabriele De Rosa, Studium When this synthetic volume was released, De Rosa was already known as a scholar of the Catholic movement (his work on Catholic Action was published in two volumes by Laterza), but he was not yet considered his main work; ten years later he would publish his monumental history of the Popular Party. In “La crisi dello Stato liberale in Italia”, De Rosa brought together documentation and interpretations that he would later develop (in 1957, in a volume dedicated to the relations between Giolitti and fascism, and then in the history of the Popular Party published ten years later). The end of liberal Italy resulted from the sum of deep-rooted insufficiencies of the ruling class, cross-vetoes and the arrogance of experienced politicians, just like Giolitti, unable to understand the revolutionary situation in which they lived and the deep subversive charge of fascism.
Storia dell’Italia nel periodo fascista (History of Italy in the Fascist period)
Luigi Salvatorelli – Giovanni Mira, Einaudi. Profound reworking of the previous “Storia del Fascismo” (History of Fascism), also published by Einaudi in 1952, the “Storia dell’Italia nel periodo fascista” (History of Italy in the Fascist period) has long represented the other classic reference for studies on the “Ventennio”. Salvatorelli and Mira, both veterans of the Great War, both active on the post-war public scene, also shared the multiple identity of witnesses, anti-fascist militants (with different times and roles) and trained researchers. In particular Salvatorelli, university professor but also columnist at La Stampa after 1919, recast many of his readings on the genesis of fascism in his work, in the belief that it was time to overcome a testimonial vision of the regime and to offer a reconstruction on the historiographic level.
Nitti, D’Annunzio e la questione adriatica 1919-1920 (Nitti, D'Annunzio and the Adriatic question 1919-1920)
Paolo Alatri, Feltrinelli. Although not directly linked to a bibliography of fascism, this monograph by Paolo Alatri remains, many years later, fundamental to understand the difficult transition from war to peace in post-1918 Italy, and the clot of dissatisfaction, frustration and nationalist hysteria in which fascism germinated and became popular. The First critical study to reconstruct the issue of Rijeka and the role of the far right in weakening the foundations of the liberal state’s consensus by exploiting the fame of a patriotic icon like D'Annunzio, Alatri’s volume is distinguished by very acute and still agreeable judgments on the inability and psychological limitations of the ruling class of the time.
Culture and politics
The trial against Prince Junio Valerio Borghese, commander of the Decima MAS, the elite body of the Republic of Salò, begins before the Special Court of Assizes of Rome, accused of collaboration and fierce episodes of anti-Partigian violence. Sentenced to life imprisonment, thanks to the extenuating circumstances the sentence is commuted to 12 years of imprisonment, then reduced to three with the application of amnesty, and finally released under the amnesty Togliatti. Appointed honorary president of the Italian Social Movement in 1970, Borghese was the protagonist of an attempt to overthrow the democratic order and establish an authoritarian regime in Italy.
The President of the Italian Republic, Luigi Einaudi, signed the decrees of pardon (countersigned by the Minister of Defence Randolfo Pacciardi) for four German officers and non-commissioned officers sentenced in Rome in October 1948, responsible for the indiscriminate shooting of 29 Italian prisoners. The four criminals of the "Group of Rhodes" regain their freedom and are repatriated in great secrecy, without the Italian public being made aware of it. A few days later, the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Konrad Adenauer, met in Rome the Prime Minister, Alcide De Gasperi, as a first step in cordial Italian-German relations.
In application of the XII transitional and final disposition of the Constitution, the Scelba Law is approved (645/1952) which provides for criminal penalties for anyone attempting to reorganise the dissolved fascist party and for all associations or movements or groups of people pursuing anti-democratic aims. The crime of apology of fascism also applies to anyone who glorifies, threatens or uses violence as a method of political struggle, advocating the suppression of the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution or denigrating democracy, its institutions and the values of the Resistance, or carrying out racist propaganda.
During an election rally held in Arcinazzo, in Ciociaria, the Undersecretary to the Prime Minister, Giulio Andreotti, invites on stage Rodolfo Graziani (former Marshal of Italy and former Minister of Defense of the RSI) which praises the anti-communism and the Atlanticism of the Christian Democrat government: "If Italy were to find itself involved, albeit for defensive purposes, in a threatening world conflict, we MSI fighters would not make a question of conscientious objection, a new form of desertion, nor would we pose any ideological prejudice. The soldiers who follow me are ready to give their work and to rush in defense of the homeland in danger".
Film critic Renzo Renzi (a former infantry officer in ' 42-' 43) and screenwriter Guido Aristarco, were arrested and prosecuted by the Military Court of Milan on charges of "insulting the armed forces" for having published the story of a film entitled "The S'Agapò Army", which tells of the criminal behavior of Italian troops during the Greek campaign against the civilian population (in particular to have used violence against Greek women). The writer Curzio Malaparte defends the right to freedom of the press for the two accused but criticizes "the right to pass off the mass of Italian soldiers as a bunch of scoundrels, devoid of any moral sensitivity" who "vented their base instincts against a helpless and starving population".
Luigi Oggioni, former Attorney General of the Republic of Salò was appointed first President of the Court of Cassation. In 1966 the President of the Republic Giuseppe Saragat would appoint him judge of the Constitutional Court. The same fate had befallen Gaetano Azzariti, former president of the Court for the defense of the race, appointed in 1955 as constitutional judge by the will of the President of the Republic Giovanni Gronchi.