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Social Conflict in Post-Liberation Rome

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This chapter is focused on the social situation in Rome in the post-Liberation period, with the disarming of the partisans and the formation of Ivanoe Bonomi’s Allied-backed ‘government of national unity’. It highlights the tensions between the National Liberation Committee (CLN) parties in government, the state machine inherited from Fascism and the armed bands continuing to operate on the Roman city periphery. This allows us to see how a new Republic built itself on the pacification of social unrest.

Undoubtedly many of those who claim to have fought in the ranks of Partisans have not done so. But hundreds of others have endured terrible suffering and faced the gravest risks, and now find themselves unemployed and almost helpless in the various towns of this region. It is true that they have been offered manual labour which many of them refused as they considered it beneath their dignity. … Undoubtedly these patriots are discontented, and this discontent may be a source of real trouble in the future. It will be remembered that the bands of Fascists and Communists, who caused so much disturbance after the last war, were demobilised soldiers who were unable to find employment.

UK War Office on central Italy, 13 October 1944 (National Archives (henceforth NA)/War Office (henceforth WO)/204/6346/‘Report on conditions in Central Italy (north of Rome)’, 13.10.1944)

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-76489-0_9
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  1. 1.

    The police report 27.3.1944, in Archivio Centrale dello Stato (henceforth ACS)/DGPS/AGR/442/3490, reports that 60 women were involved.

  2. 2.

    A militant of both the GAP and Bandiera Rossa, killed at the Fosse Ardeatine.

  3. 3.

    Reported by Pubblica Sicurezza to have been the widow of Fernando Norma, an Actionist militant also killed at the caves.

  4. 4.


  5. 5.

    ‘Political situation in Rome’, NA/WO204/12612/1–10.10.1944.

  6. 6.

    For example, ‘Verso il partito unico del proletariato’. Bandiera Rossa, 15.10.1943.

  7. 7.

    Andreotti, Giulio. 2007. Concerto a sei voci. Roma 1944–1945. I primi governi dell’Italia liberata. Milan: Boroli, p. 17.

  8. 8.

    Priest Libero Raganella speaks of convincing MCd’I militant Renato Gentilezza of the pointlessness of individual revenge against a Fascist whom the cleric had given refuge after 4 June. Raganella, Libero. 2000, Senza sapere di che parte stanno, Rome: Bulzoni, p. 311: ‘We did not risk so much to set up a people’s tribunal and condemn a single Fascist in the whole neighbourhood. If you are not able to bring all the fascists in the neighbourhood before a people’s tribunal, it is better not to set it up for just one’. ‘Azione militare’ (in Museo Storico della Liberazione, fondo Silverio Corvisieri, henceforth MSdL/FSC, 91), a set of instructions to MCd’I bands for the moment of Liberation, advocates taking Fascists prisoner and placing them before such tribunals, rather than killing them. MCd’I dossiers in MSdL/FSC however report that they handed German and Fascist prisoners directly to the Allies.

  9. 9.

    NA/WO204/6353/‘Routine Report for the Week ending March 9 1945’.

  10. 10.

    Cited in NA/WO/204/6353/‘Routine Report for the Week ending March 15 1945’.

  11. 11.

    NA/WO/204/6353/‘Routine Report for the Week ending March 9 1945’.

  12. 12.


  13. 13.

    NA/WO/204/6353/‘Routine Report for the Week ending April 5 1945’.

  14. 14.

    Cited in Canosa, Romano and Pietro Federico. 1974. La magistratura in Italia dal 1945 ad oggi, Bologna: il Mulino, p. 138.

  15. 15.

    Harris, Charles. 1957. Allied Administration of Italy. London: HM Stationery Office. The AMG also offered former partisans some employment opportunities, by the official historian’s account largely low-paid and menial.

  16. 16.

    ‘Subversive Movements’, 8.12.1944, ACS/ACC/245A/50/SD/280.

  17. 17.


  18. 18.

    Ibid.; this was later confirmed in ACS/ACS/248/51, ‘Extract from Routine Report, 5 Feb. to 11 Feb. 1945’. Other partisan veterans’ associations were also formed, before merging into ANPI at its founding congress in Rome at the end of 1947. It then became a charitable association which also acts as a political pressure group, promoting Resistance memory and values in public life.

  19. 19.

    Di Loreto, Pietro. 1991. Togliatti e la ‘doppiezza’. Il PCI tra democrazia e insurrezione 1944–1949. Bologna: il Mulino, p. 70.

  20. 20.

    ACS, PS 1944–1946, b. 24 (Relazioni dei prefetti, Roma, ‘Relazione mensile sulla situazione politico-economica e sull’ordine pubblico’), May 1945, Rome, cited in ibid.

  21. 21.

    Harris, Allied Administration of Italy.

  22. 22.

    See the 3 December 1944 letter from carabinieri chief Taddeo Orlando to the Interior Minister in ACS/MI/Gabinetto/Partiti Politici/181/3212. He reports that the MCd’I ‘extended to its members subsidies and benefits, perhaps with means—according to what is said—deriving from political reprisals against ex-fascists’.

  23. 23.

    ACS/ACC/B245A/S50/Extract from file No. 636/3/23/281–9.

  24. 24.


  25. 25.


  26. 26.

    NA/WO/FO371/43874/R10258/‘Harold Caccia (ACC) to Mr Dixon’, 21.6.1944. 28.

  27. 27.

    See Sects. 8.5 and 10.1.

  28. 28.

    ‘Subversive Movements’, 8.12.1944, ACS/ACC/245A/50/SD/280.

  29. 29.

    NA/WO/204/12612/‘Political situation in Rome’, August 1945; WO/204/6346/‘Report on conditions in Central Italy (north of Rome)’, 13.10.1944.

  30. 30.

    ACS/Comando Generale dell’Arma dei CCRR/Ufficio Servizio Situazione e Collegamenti/ 3779/2441/3.12.1944.

  31. 31.

    ‘Extremist Political Parties and Movements’, 9.2.1945, ACS/ACC/248A/51, SD/150; ACS/ACC/B245A/S50/149.20, 17.2.1945, ‘The “Gobbo” and Salvarezza Affair’.

  32. 32.


  33. 33.

    A seeming reference to the Gracchus brothers, Roman popular tribunes of the second century BC, or else (adopting his own name from these predecessors) the great socialist of the French Revolution, Gracchus Babeuf.

  34. 34.

    ACS/DGPS/AGR/I 441/2956, DGPS to Commissione Alleata di Controllo—Sottocommissione per la Pubblica Sicurezza, 4.9.1944, ‘Attività di alcuni movimenti politici’.

  35. 35.


  36. 36.

    NA/WO/204/6284 lists this among the papers authorised by PWB.

  37. 37.

    Recchioni, Massimo and Giovanni Parrella. 2015. Il Gobbo del Quarticciolo: e la sua banda nella Resistenza. Milan: Milieu Edizioni; Corvisieri, Silverio. 1999. Il re, Togliatti e il gobbo: 1944: la prima trama eversiva. Rome: Odradek reconstruct this history in detail.

  38. 38.

    ACS/ACC/B245A/S50/149.20, 17.2.1945, ‘The “Gobbo” and Salvarezza Affair’.

  39. 39.

    ACS/Comando Generale dell’Arma dei CCRR/Ufficio Servizio Situazione e Collegamenti, to MinInt Gabinetto 142/3, 25.1.1945, signed Taddeo Orlando.

  40. 40.

    Corvisieri , Il re, Togliatti e il gobbo, elaborates a detailed analysis of this kind. This is, however, an essentially speculative narrative, of a conspiracy to restore Badoglio to power that was not in fact fulfilled.

  41. 41.

    See Sandro, Saggioro. 2010. Né con Truman, né con Stalin: storia del Partito communista internazionalista, 1942–1952, Paderno Dugnano: Colibri.

  42. 42.


  43. 43.

    ‘L’insidia del partigianismo’. Prometeo, 1.11.1943.

  44. 44.

    See reports in Fondazione Gramsci, Fondo Agostino Novella (henceforth FGAN)/63/135–6.

  45. 45.

    Enrico Borin and around 20 of his comrades formed an ‘Association of Sympathisers with Communism’. His Qual è il mio partito? was written in December 1943 but published only in abridged form in 1945. It presented a sensibility similar to that of Scintilla, praising the theories of Marx, Lenin and Stalin while connecting these latter to a maximalist perspective as well as an attempt to counterpose Christian values to the Church as an organisation.

  46. 46.

    ‘Dal rapporto del compagno Novella’, 24.3.1945, FGAN/87/311–318. The Brindisi section leadership of the MCd’I, expellees from the PCI, were arrested at the beginning of June 1945 after a report on their weapons stocks. Sbardella accused the local PCI federation of having been the source of the report (‘Una protesta del Mov. Comunista d’Italia’. Il Partigiano, 18.6.1945). Both Novella’s approach and police reports suggest a certain sharing of information. Note in particular ACS/DGPS/AGR/Sez I/441/04884 (Capo della Polizia a Gabinetto Min Int, 14.6.45), describing the PCI’s effort to infiltrate its own members into the MCd’I.

  47. 47.

    See Attilio Vagnoni’s reminiscences in Galli, Quirino (ed.). 1984. Storia della Federazione di Viterbo, Gli anni del dopoguerra, Testimonianze e documenti. Viterbo: PCI..

  48. 48.

    For example, FGFM/275/56.

  49. 49.

    ‘A testa alta’. Bandiera Rossa, I/1, 1.2.45.

  50. 50.

    Cited in Perrotta, Alfonso. 2016. L’umano divenire. Cronache paolane del novecento e la Bandiera rossa dell’avvocato De Luca. Rome, p. 294.

  51. 51.

    Reported in ACS/DGPS/AGR/SezI/441/03562, Capo della Polizia to Gabinetto del Consiglio dei Ministri, 16.3.1946.

  52. 52.

    ACS/Gabinetto/Archivio Generale/Fascicoli Permanenti, Partiti politici/Poce to Parri, 25.7.1945.

  53. 53.

    Including Francesco Cretara’s L’ABC del Proletario, the Turin group’s Repubblica Socialcomunista d’Italia and Antonino Poce’s Pianificazione della ricostruzione e dell’economia.

  54. 54.

    ‘Sulla soglia dell’inverno’. L’Idea Comunista, 13.9.1946.

  55. 55.

    ‘Leninismo sospetto’. L’Idea Comunista, 20.1.1946.

  56. 56.


  57. 57.

    ‘I due Stalin’. L’Idea Comunista, 27.1.1946.

  58. 58.

    Unione di Repubbliche Sovietiche Mondiali; an idiosyncratic rewriting of the name of the USSR, replacing the plural adjective ‘Socialist’ with the plural of ‘Worldwide’.

  59. 59.

    It had already earlier referred to the PCI as governed by ‘Browderist’ positions in ‘La differenza: Partito e Movimento’. Disposizioni Rivoluzionarie. 27.7.1944.

  60. 60.

    This did not, however, mean any kind of turn away from democratic politics. See Chap. 10. Note also the Troilo affair at the end of November 1947, discussed in Cooke, Philip. 2011. The Legacy of the Italian Resistance, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. A partisan appointed prefect was removed from office, unlike many former Fascists. Local leader Giancarlo Pajetta organised a brief occupation of the prefecture by partisans: informing Togliatti of his move by telephone, Togliatti is said to have sarcastically replied ‘and what do you intend to do with it?’ The occupation was soon lifted.

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Broder, D. (2021). Social Conflict in Post-Liberation Rome. In: The Rebirth of Italian Communism, 1943–44. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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