A Civil War: A History of the Italian Resistance

A Civil War: A History of the Italian Resistance

Claudio Pavone, David Broder

Language: English

Pages: 768

ISBN: 1781687773

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A Civil War is a history of the wartime Italian Resistance, recounted by a historian who, as a young man, took part in the struggle against Mussolini’s fascist Republic. Since its publication in Italy, Claudio Pavone’s masterwork has become indispensable to anyone seeking to understand this period and its continuing importance for the nation’s identity.

Pavone casts a sober eye on his protagonists’ ethical and ideological motivations. He uncovers a multilayered conflict, in which class antagonisms, patriotism and political ideals all played a part. A clear understanding of this complexity allows him to explain many details of the post-war transition, as well as the legacy of the Resistance for modern Italy. In addition to being a monumental work of scholarship, A Civil War is a folk history, capturing events, personalities and attitudes that were on the verge of slipping entirely out of recollection to the detriment of Italy’s understanding of itself and its past.

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Turin CLN declared: We regard the projected increase of pay of thirty lire to the soldiers and relative salaries to the officers as politically mistaken. This is a people’s war fought on a volunteer basis and animated by a lofty patriotic spirit. If it must be introduced, the soldo should not exceed five lire, that is, the small change necessary for small personal expenses.76 But a year later a Garibaldi chief, Achille, who had reported that his men refused to accept differentiated pay

the large patria, Italy, and the motivations necessary to inspire men to take up arms could not always be transferred onto the plane of the great ideals of political and human redemption. Roberto Battaglia speaks of ‘regional interests that had weakened the guerrilla movement’ in Umbria; but for the Apuan and Garfagnana zone, he recognises the importance both of regional recruitment, which meant that almost every family had a young man among the partisans, and the wide and complementary presence

class, or whoever presumed to speak in its name, stepping aside like this, not only from the war but, initially at least, from the conflict between Fascism and anti-Fascism as well. One need only think of the refusal either to adhere or sabotage, and many of the first uncertain reactions to the March on Rome. It would be incorrect therefore to blame all the attesismo di sinistra (left-wing waiting game) on bordighismo or Trotskyism. During the Resistance, however, such attitudes could only take

Gorrieri, La Repubblica di Montefiorino, p. 451. The condemned man could also take solace in religion. 9 N.d., unsigned, in MRB, Raccolta Adversi. The leaflet was printed on the eve of the rice-workers’ 12 June 1944 strike (see L. Arbizzani, ‘Manifesti, opuscoli, fogli volanti’, in L. Bergonzini, La Resistenza a Bologna. Testimonianze e documenti, Istituto per la storia di Bologna, vol. IV, Bologna, 1975, p. 187). See also the first issue (n.d.) of La Mondariso. Organo delle mondine bolognesi.

nazionale, 20 October 1943, article entitled ‘La gioventù italiana’; and L’Azione. Organo del Movimento cristiano sociale, 20 November 1943, article entitled ‘Non c’ è tradimento’. The latter, actually, rather than describing an event that really occurred, illustrates the ideal behaviour of a Christian. 72 In his last letter to his mother Tone Tomšic, Triestine by birth, leader of the Slovene Communist party, ordered to be shot in Lubyana 21 May 1942 by the Italian military tribunal, writes that

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