Franco Manni

 

25th April 1945

the end of WWII in Italy and the inception of a long-lasting national lie

 

Since I was a child (I am 60 years old) I have heard and preached that "the partisans have liberated Italy from Nazi-Fascism" and that APRIL 25th is the date that recalls this Liberation... and that the partisans were either all or most of the Italians... at least "in their hearts and minds".

I have heard this refrain and I still hear it everywhere today: from television to politics, from the press to the school to the "speeches of the people". But close to me, in my own home against this poisonous falsity, I had the antidote of my father (who had been a fascist republican fighter in the war and remained a consistent fascist until his death in 1995) who often told me that instead the fascists were we Italians allied with the Nazis and that those who defeated the Italians (fascists) and their German allies (Nazis) had been "the Anglo-Americans".

John Keegan, in his book The Military History of the Second World War, defines the European Resistance as a boring mosquito on the neck of the Third Reich. Of the 300 divisions of the Third Reich only ten were assigned by Hitler for the "internal front", and these 10 divisions were mainly located in the following theatres: Central Yugoslavia and Western Russia, and - but subordinately - in some areas of Albania, Greece and Vichy France. Keegan does not speak of the use of these 10 divisions in Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary... as he does not speak of Italy!

The Kingdom of Italy was an ally of Hitler until 8 September 1943... but after that it was occupied by German troops who did not trust the moral and military forces of the neo-fascists of the Republic of Salò. The King of this Kingdom of Italy even declared war on Hitler, and in Italy after September 8th there was an anti-Nazi-Fascist resistance. What is meant by "Resistance"? Keegan rightly calls it "guerrilla and sabotage": that is, he excludes the definition of "resistance" other activities, such as, for example, that of "concerned and silent thought hostile to Nazi-fascism, a thought that is consumed (or declared to be consumed, given the uncontrollability of the assumption) within the hermetically sealed brain lobes of an individual who looks well enough to express in public externally such highly moral thoughts".

How many were the "guerrillas and saboteurs" (those who were called "bandits" by the fascist Germans and Italians , and, after the end of the war, by the allegedly ‘anti-fascist’ Italians were called "partisans") in Nazi-fascist Italy (the central-northern Italy of the Republic of Salò from 8 September 1943 to 25 April 1945, given that in the south was occupied by the Anglo-Americans)?

To this important ("important" given the crucial political, intellectual and moral role of the propaganda of the "Italy liberated from Nazi-Fascism by the Italians themselves, mostly partisans" of which I said at the beginning and which has lasted until today for 74 years!) historical question, by historians of profession there are no uniform answers or clear to interpret.

First of all, it should be remembered that no "partisan" (i.e. "guerrilla") existed before September 8, 1943: while in Russia, Yugoslavia and Vichy the Resistance had already existed since 1941, in Italy even after the reversal of the fate of the War in the crucial 1942 (from then on until the end the Axis always fell back before the Allies), and even after the Anglo-American invasion of southern Italy in June 1943 and the fall of the fascist government and the arrest of Mussolini in July 1943, there was no "partisan"! No partisans means 0 (zero) partisans!

After September 8, the figures of the armed fighters of the Italian Resistance are as follows: 9,000 in the winter of 1943-44, 12,000 in the spring of 1944, 50,000 the "summer partisans" of August 1944, 20,000-25,000 in the winter of 1944-45, 100,000 after the breakthrough of the Allied Gothic Line and the spread of the Allied Army in the Po Valley in the days of the "insurrection", that is, the days around April 25, 1945. The Republic of Salò had a population that varied (according to the progressive retreat of the front) from 36 million to 30 million inhabitants. Here is that the percentage of Partisans on the Italians of the Nazi-Fascist State of Salò was at first a partisan out of 3,600 people, at the end and at its best when the Anglo-Americans within two or three days would enter all the cities of Northern Italy, were a partisan out of 300 people!

But I wanted to do a direct experiment in historical research I asked (being on the subject of the history program of the second quarter of the fifth year of Italian high school) three class groups of mine, over the past few years, to ask parents and living grandparents this very important fact of family tradition: if among the male ancestors of the age of fighting during 1943-44 (namely, the two male grandparents and the 4 male great-grandparents) there was some "partisan", that is "guerrilla" anti-Nazi fascist. It was (summing up the three class groups) 53 students with six male ascendants of the right age each, for a total of 378 male ascendants.
Here is the result of my research: out of 378 men living in the heart of the territory of the Republic of Salò (the province of Brescia) in those twenty months of the "Resistance" NOT EVEN ONLY ONE HAD BEEN A “PARTISAN” ("guerrilla, saboteur" anti-nazifascist)!

Were there Partisans in Italy? Yes, there have been, and a minority of them have been heroes and martyrs, think for example of the Brescian Teresio Olivelli! Have they given a testimony of Courage for the values of Freedom and Justice? Yes, they have - to varying degrees according to personal cases - given it!

The important point for us Italians, however, is this: the partisans (the anti-fascist guerrillas and saboteurs) have been very few! Italy has not been freed from Nazi-fascism by the Italians, allegedly in the majority "partisans"! The fascist allies of the Nazis did not come from Mars, because the fascists were us, we Italians! And we Italians, the vast majority of whom were fascists of a more or less lukewarm or heated faith or opportunists of various kinds, were defeated and conquered by the Anglo-American Army, first commanded by the English General Alexander and then by the American General Clark.
Why for 74 years and today as then in Italy continues this serious and destructive confusion between two things that are completely different from each other, and that is: 1) honor the few martyrs heroes of the Resistance and 2) claim that the Italians were (and are) a people of heroic partisans anti-fascist guerrillas?

This long lasting lie, poured into the minds of all the Italian for several generations has prevented the Italians form self-criticism, unlike the Germans, and this is the reason why fascism has come back to Italy . It has come back because the Italians never acknowledge their real history and deeds.

 

 

Franco Manni indice degli scritti

 

 

Maurilio Lovatti home page

Maurilio Lovatti main list of online papers