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Via Rasella: the truth and the liar August 7, 2007

Posted by dorigo in news, politics.

Good news today. The supreme court of Cassazione in Italy has ruled that the press campaign labeling “terrorists” the GAP partisans who organized the bombing of Via Rasella in nazi-occupied Rome in 1944, launched by the national newspaper “Il Giornale”, was a striking example of manipulation of historic truth for political means. The newspaper is owned by Paolo Berlusconi (brother of Silvio, formerly premier of Italy in 1994 and 2001-2006), and was directed by Vittorio Feltri (see pic on the right), a journalist who never hid his sympathy for the extreme right.

In 1944 GAP partisans in Rome attacked with a bomb a german base in Via Rasella in Rome. 31 nazi soldiers and two civilians died in the attack. 21 hours after the attack the germans collected 335 civilians and killed them one by one in arguably the most barbarian acts committed by german troops in Italy during World War II. The victims were shot and thrown in the Fosse Ardeatine, a place that is today a monument of remembrance of the horrors of war. Some of the perpetrators of the act are still alive, and the wound has not healed yet in the hearts of those who lost a relative in the slaying.

In 1996, Vittorio Feltri launched a press campaign from the newspaper “Il Giornale” which he then directed, against the partisans who participated in the bombing. The attempt at rewriting history in a way more favourable to fascists is not the first one in Italy, and indeed many others have succeeded and were part of the general assault of right-wingers to the general feeling of sympathy and gratitude of italian people toward those who fought the nazi occupants during the last years of WWII. The logic of calling “terrorists” the partisans who fought the nazis in Rome is clear: terrorists were the partisans, and criminals were also the nazis (a fact unfortunately hard to deny) so everybody erred, and nobody is responsible. Not the Pope, who did nothing to stop the slaying of civilians. Not those who sympathised with the nazis. Not the fascists.

Good try, one might say – although it will cost Berlusconi some 45 thousand euros -peanuts for him. The Court of Cassazione ruled that the act in Via Rasella was a legitimate act of war, and not a terrorist attack. On the contrary, the indiscriminate killing of 335 civilians in the Fosse Ardeatine remains as one of the most repulsive acts ever happened in Italy during WWII, along with Marzabotto and other killings.

The supreme court ruling stems from facts: the attack against germans was a “legitimate act of war against a stranger army occupying the country, and directed at a military target”. Not “old unarmed soldiers”, as “Il Giornale” had stated, but “militiamen totally able, between 26 and 43 years of age, and endowed with bombs and pistols”. And it is not true -as the newspaper strongly argued- that the civilian victims were seven, but two, as is now proven beyond doubt. There’s more: after the attack, germans did not post notices inviting the partisans to surrender to avoid an act of retaliation. The court notes that the killing in Fosse Ardeatine started 21 hours after the attack in Via Rasella, and that the nazis had actually attempted to hide the attack to the public, as was customary back then (forefront journalism has not improved that much in 60 years, however).

Now what ? Nothing much. Il Giornale will continue spreading falsity, Vittorio Feltri will go on with his job (he is now directing Libero, another newspaper), and many will insist in their attempt of changing history in the perception of those who learn it in glossy magazines. But one fact has been straightened out – a bomb attack can be considered a legitimate act of war. How’s that for a message, president George W. Bush ? How about the “terrorists” in Iraq ? Terrorists, or insurgents ? Who is really the terrorist there, Mr. president ?

One last note. 335 men and boys were killed at the Fosse Ardeatine in retaliation for 33 deaths in Via Rasella, as ordered by commander Kappler. The 10:1 ratio seems to be at odds by five: the mistery, one of the most grievious in the whole affair, was solved by the testimony of Hass, a german soldier back then, during the process to Erik Priebke (see picture), who directed the executions. Let me quote from Robert Katz’s history:

When the list-keeper himself exercised his defendant’s right to remain silent, that answer required nothing less than the “resurrection” of another accomplice to the crime. Former SS Major Karl Hass, Kappler’s intelligence chief, had long been listed dead by the German government, but Priebke in one of his many garrulous moments in the presence of journalists boasted of a 1978 trip to Rome, to revisit the past and having “dined in the company of Major Hass”. Swift action by Chief Military Prosecutor Antonino Intelisano traced Hass to his place of retirement near Milan. Although the 85-year-old ex-spy was already in flight, Intelisano found him Switzerland and convinced him to return to Rome as his star witness.
In direct testimony, the following exchange took place:

INTELISANO: It was discovered that the number of people killed was more than intended, five extra. Can you explain that to us?
HASS: [At the Ardeatine,] Priebke was there with the copy of the list. He got the people down [off the trucks] and canceled out their names. At a certain point, one of the prisoners was not on Priebke’s list. At the end, in fact, there were five extra men. That was when Kappler said, “What do I do with these five? They’ve seen it all” …
The superannuated mystery of the so-called “counting error” was suddenly gone, discharged in a simple rhetorical question; so horrible in content yet almost elegant in form. What do I do with these five… First there was one man, or perhaps a boy, then there were two and so on. One by one, the came down from the trucks, their name not on the list, made to wait, watching and listening to the gunshots in the caves, seeing “it all”; waiting until dark for all 330 to die so that the list-keeper could count how many unlisted he had and Kappler could contemplate their fate under a nighttime sky.


1. changcho - August 7, 2007

Priebke was captured in Bariloche, Argentina and was sent to Italy during the ’90’s. I trust he is still imprisoned there because of the Fosse Ardeatine incident?

The supreme court of Cassazione has the correct interpretation of “terrorism” and “legitimate acts of war”.

“But one fact has been straightened out – a bomb attack can be considered a legitimate act of war. How’s that for a message, president George W. Bush ? How about the “terrorists” in Iraq ? Terrorists, or insurgents ? Who is really the terrorist there, Mr. president ?”

Well said, Tomaso.

2. dorigo - August 7, 2007

Hi changcho,

unfortunately, due to his very old age and to his very good lawyers, Priebke was able to get at-home imprisonment some time ago, claiming health problems which were incompatible with the detention in jail. He even asked to work at a lawyers’ office during daytime, and was granted it! However the benefit raised short of a revolt, and he was forced to return to home detention. I hope he dies quickly.


3. Dorigo's friend - August 8, 2007


Why most of italian physicits are communist and atheist like you?

Who was Piperno, now associate at Univeristy of Calabria?

Why other European countries solved the question of BR long ago and Italy not yet?

Do you think that communism is a solution to mankind problems?

Feltri is a liar, Furio Colombo what? Do L’Unita’ and il Manifesto say the thruth? I know from History that communism and liars go always well together. Why don’t you trust the first but rather the second between Feltri and Colombo?


4. jeff - August 8, 2007

Ciao Rob. Good questions

5. dorigo - August 8, 2007

Hi my friend,

to your first question my answer is: physicists tend to be democrats rather than reactionaries because between mind and matter they tend to choose the first.

To your second question, why should I care about Piperno ?

BR = red brigades ? Mainly an italian phenomenon, what are you referring to when you talk about Europe ?

I know no solution to mankind problems. Do you ? Maybe you like the solution that George W Bush is putting forward ?

Feltri is a certified liar. Colombo has not, to my knowledge, been sentenced as such by a court of law. You pick the newspaper you want, I’ll do the same, and leave me alone. A friend ? Maybe – I do have reactionaries as friends, but you look rather inquisitive and not very friendly.


6. Dorigo's friend - August 8, 2007

Hi Dorigo,

Communists are not democrates. There is a small logical mistake in your sentence or just a Freudian lapsus?

Because Piperno is a physicist and a clear example of what was going on in physics departments in those years.

BR are “Birgate Rosse” in Italy, Rote Arme Fraction in France and something else in Germany. In France and Germany there is no other sign of activity since they were defeated. In Italy these guys are still there killing good people.

Bush is just representing one of the politicians of Western democracies. He could be acting in wrong way but americans are still free to change this (Obama, Clinton,…). Communism does not permit this. Why in Italy does one have to choose between either fascism or communism as a solution without improving the democracy?

I have friends of any kind of political faith. It is always interesting to get an information exchange. In Italy this sometime meant and still means death. This is insane. In any case, I just would like know your position after a post like this (and other I have read). I am a reader of your blog and I have appreciated your physics. Political views not yet….


7. dorigo - August 8, 2007


it was you, not me, who said physicists in Italy are communists. I say most are democrats, and I sort of gave my own explanation for that. If you cook up some other statement, it’s up to you to find a syllogism to justify it – don’t ask me to subscribe to it and explain it.

What are “those years” ?

You say “why in italy does one have to choose…” Again, how can I explain some false statement. In italy there are two democratic coalitions. One does not have to choose between fascism or communism. Perhaps you were referring to the history of WWII: then I have to say, I would like truth to remain truth and not be changed by imaginative journalists. In WWII the fascists were allied with nazi germany, period. Communists were among the partisans (but not all partisans were communists). Nobody has to choose anything, but please let’s not forget history, or brutality and war will have an easier way to return.

I am not a communist. I support the center-left coalition led by Romano Prodi. I think Berlusconi is a felon who used his monopoly to acquire power, and power to defend his monopoly. People like Vittorio Feltri or the dozens more working for a biased information in the other magazines and tv channels are just puppets paid to spread lies and subculture. Do you want to discuss facts or mediaset fiction ?


8. jeff - August 8, 2007

yes Rob
historically communists are not democratic. Why are almost all italian “intellectuals” ex-communists? The question you asked deserves a more serious answer than the one Tommaso proposes.

My contribution here is to propose that part of a correct answer should start off saying that the reason italian “intellectuals” were/are communists is not because they are democrats, but because they were/are/claim-to-be anti-fascist. That, Tomaso, would be historically accurate! Democratic? No way Jose’!

You, Rob, and I know there was/is another between fascism and communism, namely western type democracy, but that was in the eyes of nostalgic fascists and the communists was quite dispisable.
Indeed Italy was and to this day still is quite POLARIZED: if you are anti-communist then you are a fascist; if you are anti-fascist then you are a communist. Its really all very stupid! I wish some historian would really study this period. But he better be a non-italian historian. Italian academic historians, especially those that write about what happend in Italy under Mussolini, during and then AFTER World War 2 are so biased that it sucks.

9. jeff - August 8, 2007

Regards Feltri, I too think he is a jerk, quite unreliable and quite obviously biased, too! But a correct understanding of the responsibilities of the Via Rasella attack is long time overdue! But, like I wrote in my previous post, the italian environment is too polarized with myths and lies and I fear that it will take a non-italian historian to do the definitve job or a very long time.

10. dorigo - August 8, 2007


thank you for your contribution. I agree, the question of why “intellectuals” are mostly left wingers in Italy is not a stupid one, but I think it was asked in a peculiar way by Rob and I do not think it deserved a detailed answer.

I also agree that a history of italian movements and politics of the 20th century will be better written by some knowledgeable, unbiased foreigner. Unfortunately, though, political bias is not a purely italian virus. It takes time and luck to find an Avi Shlaim or a Benny Morris, who after tens of years of Israeli historians who served the regime, had the strength to rewrite palestine’s history in a less biased manner.

About via Rasella, have you checked the links in the post ? I think enough has been written on that issue.


11. jeff - August 9, 2007

The irony of all of this is that the Preibke case was and is based on the fact that 5 people too many were killed. Regards the “remaining” 330, Priebke was following orders and hence was never considered responsible. Are those 330 victims, victims of war too? What does your conscience tell you? Then what does your rationality tell you? Then back to your conscience. Any difference? Convergence or an undending instability?

12. dorigo - August 9, 2007


Al Capone was framed due to administrative misdemeanor. More recently, Saddam Hussein was found guilty and executed for definitely not the cruelest act of the many he collected during his career as a tyrant. If Priebke can be found guilty more easily by accusing him of 5 too many killings, rather than for the other 330, is a non-issue. He was a war criminal. He could have disobeyed the order. Mass executions are always a crime, and defending oneself behind the fact they were given an order is ridiculous. My conscience and my rationality have never played the same tune so much.


13. tulpoeid - August 9, 2007

Dorigo’s friend, I wonder in which way americans (in your example) are free to change their government’s policies. Only two parties both right to extreme right, centre and left parties _allowed_ to exist but practically extinguished both in financial and propaganda terms, lowest strata too close to poverty to be politically independent.
Devil’s greatest trick was persuading people he doesn’t exist.

(Oh, and by the way, in contrast to you I personally wonder why there are physicists who are _not_ atheists.)

14. jeff - August 9, 2007

I disagree with your examples. We are on the verge of diverging.

If you really do feel that mass executions are always a crime, and I am sure you always resentfully tell anyone you suspect of being a nazi or fascist revisionist, then spend more time pointing it out the leninists, trotskyists, stalinists, maoists that freely and proudly walk the scene in Italy. Some of are historians, some are artists, some are physicists, some unfortunately are polititians (unfortunately as their existence is due to a significant number of voters). Anyone that has toyed with the idea of violent social revolutions (all the above) has used to various degree mass executions. They defend themselves using notions of “new man”, “new social order”, “extirpation of cancers” etc. etc. To “follow orders” is ust but one of the many ways of defending the undefendeable.

15. Dorigo's friend - August 9, 2007


“Those years” were 1968-1977 that one still has in some way on the shoulders.


Obama or Clinton on the left wing will not follow the same politics of Bush. Dorigo criticized Bush and this was the proper answer. Communism does not change anything.

About the question of atheism I should say as Bohr that here we have a deep truth as we are unable to prove or disprove God’s existence. For a physicist this is already a significant problem.


I share your point of view.


16. dorigo - August 9, 2007


do you sincerely think I make distinguos between a mass murderer and another ? I really cannot believe you do, but rather that your vis polemica has pushed you that way – I think you can get back on track easily.

If a person is a supporter of ideas that have in a way or another brought to mass murders, he is not automatically a criminal. I hope you agree, otherwise we would all be criminals. Let’s be careful with the definition of a mass murderer: Hitler and Stalin, sure, and Pol Pot, of course, Milosevic, Pinochet. The list is very long, and includes also others some of us, in the western civilized wars, count as war heros.
So let’s keep the helm straight and let’s distinguish a convicted mass murderer such as Erik Priebke from people who toy with dangerous ideas, and things are suddenly more clear. As a class, the people you hinted at are not criminals, even if they have ideas you do not share, ideas you can trace back to violent crimes in the past. Otherwise, there is no end.


17. changcho - August 9, 2007

With respect to (American) politics, I think there is a deep misunderstanding shown here. The american political landscape is divided into two right wings: the Democratic Party (right-wing, light), and the Republican Party (right wing), as tulpoeid pointed out. The parameter space for changing things is very narrow here. Interchange Bush with Obama/Clinton and overall US foreign policy will hardly change

In Italy, on the other hand, things seems quite polarized. It is not an anomaly, as dorigo’s “friend” seems to imply, but it is likely a product of 20th century Italian history.

And, of course Priebke is a war criminal, as well as those infamous characters Tomaso mentioned.


18. jeff - August 9, 2007

Dear changcho, by saying that the situation in Italy “is likely a by-product of 20th centurt italian history” is so obvious that it is completely useless. Sorry for being frank. I think that individuals should always accept their responsibilities even when there were immense pressures on them to go one way instead of another. This is pertinent to this thread as how else could you hope to punish anyone for his “crimes” if he could effectively defend himself saying that he is a by-product of history, of society, of his family, whatever.

Tommaso. The list is long and I do too think that recriminations should stop somewhere. But gibe good reasons for deciding how to stop and where. Is there a notion of absolute evil? I do think there is. I certainly hope so for if there isn’t then how does one decide what is legitimate and what isn’t. If there aren’t any absolutes then all, ANY, lists of crimes would be equivalent. As I feel there are absolutes then I feel that all lists of crimes are not equivalent. If you do believe that all lists are equivalent then the decision to stop the recrimination game can only happen out of shear exhaution. But if one says there are absolute criteria for deciding what is more evil and what is less, always keeping in mind that all actions are human, then in some cases, not all, the recrimination game just doesn’t occur. Some guys really were on the wrong side. Period

19. changcho - August 10, 2007

jeff – sometimes it helps to explicitly state things that may be seemingly “obvious”. The point is that every country has its political peculiarities. In your previous posts you seemed to be implying that Italy does not follow “western type democracy”, which is not accurate. It is just that in Italy, the span of political discussion is much wider than, say, in the US. This is not a problem, on the contrary…

With respect war criminals “defending” themselves. Priebke or whomever can say anything he may like to “defend himself saying that he is a by-product of history, of society, of his family, whatever” That may be an *explanation* of his actions, but it is not a defense of his actions, which are crimes against humanity. I think that should be as clear as distilled water…


20. jeff - August 10, 2007

Hi changcho
I never wrote or wanted to imply that Italy is not a western type of democracy. Indeed I here do say explicitly that Italy IS a western type of democracy INSPITE of the not so distant past political inclinations of many italians, both right and left. A positive note? Shucks, I guess I still am an optimist! (I am blushing)

What used to worry me, and now only disgusts me, is that if you go to italian universities and high schools you see writings and posters on the walls that are almost exactly the same as they were 10, 20 30, 40, 50 years ago. The ever-green polarization with only fascists and communists is still keeping Italy from developing into a serious nation.

21. changcho - August 10, 2007

Dear Jeff:

“The ever-green polarization with only fascists and communists is still keeping Italy from developing into a serious nation”

Well, that seems a bit subjective; Italy is a serious nation, IMHO.


22. serafino - August 10, 2007

“The supreme court ruling stems from facts: the attack against germans was a “legitimate act of war against a stranger army occupying the country, and directed at a military target”. ”

Look, there is a big problem here. Not a ‘stranger’ army. They were 33 soldiers, all born around Bozen-Bolzano, then Italian people (at that time, and also now)!

23. jeff - August 10, 2007

I hope you are right in thinking that Italy is a serious nation. I’ve been living here for some time and am a bit spent. I am getting old and maybe just turning sour.


24. dorigo - August 11, 2007


I fail to see what your argument should mean. I want to avoid generalizing, but the temptation is there. Because those who, like you, argue hopelessly and aimlessly, trying to concentrate on irrelevant details and playing with words (stranger army, italian-born soldiers), are the same who tried to liken the GAP partisans to terrorists – exactly what the newspaper and Feltri were found guilty of doing (“diffamazione” is the fault they were found guilty of).

So, most of those killed were german SS soldiers born in Bozen. Does it mean it was a less or more meaningful war action ? Does it mean the retaliation was less or more justified ? Does it mean Priebke is not a war criminal ? Does it mean the act was a despicable terrorist act and not a war action against an occupying army ?


25. Andrea Giammanco - August 12, 2007

jeff said: “Indeed Italy was and to this day still is quite POLARIZED: if you are anti-communist then you are a fascist; if you are anti-fascist then you are a communist.”

This is true but this doesn’t answer the serious question why italian intellectuals were, in very large majority, adherents to the communist party.
First of all, this is not an italian peculiarity, being shared with France and, to a lesser extent, to other western european countries.
But in Italy there was, indeed, one specificity: the largest communist party in the West. It had the critical mass to become the reference party for any left-wing opposition to the ruling party (Democrazia Cristiana, or DC): if you ask the people who actually voted for the PCI (the italian communist party) you will find out that almost nobody really wanted a communist regime to take over, and almost everybody simply voted PCI because it was what in another western-european country would have been labeled Social Democratic party. (Actually, there was a SocialDemocratic party, but it was a very small one, and a Socialist party which was between 5% and 15% of the votes, but both were strongly allied to the DC and were not felt anymore as left-wing parties.)
To make things more complicated (or simplified): from 1946 to 1992 the italian republic was a famous “blocked democracy”, for reasons that I’ve seen attributed mostly to its frontier status. It’s now considered a historical fact that Democrazia Cristiana received heavy fundings by USA, and PCI of course by Soviet Union. In the 90’s a plot was disclosed about the “Stay Behind” (“Gladio” in Italy) strategies for handling the eventual occurrence of the PCI winning the general elections: a golpe would have occurred, backed by CIA (and it is debated whether Soviet Union would have intervened: probably not, in accordance with the Yalta pact).
In this kind of situation, it is no surprise that DC and PCI never really fought for power (this is one of the few true things in Berlusconi’s propaganda: the communist opposition to the system was a fake opposition), but just for secondary issues in the sharing of the power itself. Nobody wanted a new civil war.
The scandals in 1992-1994 that wiped out Democrazia Cristiana and its allies were different from the past only in the fact that the press was not silenced and the judges were not blackmailed. This was possible because the collapse of Soviet Union changed everything also in local politics: there was no communist menace, so one was not obliged anymore to accept corrupted politicians only because they were “defenders of the western democracy”. Neither the center- and right-wing italian voters, nor the backers in Washington.


26. serafino - August 12, 2007

I understand your points. Let me say I understand all those points since long time. I do not speak of Priebke and the retaliation (both horrible things). I’m speaking about Bencivegna. Why did he (and others, but not Pertini) decide to fire italian SS soldiers and not the german headquarter in via Veneto (Excelsior hotel)? The reason seems to be that those italian SS soldiers were the major threat against partisans. Unfortunately the SS polizei regiment ‘Bozen’ was a serious threat indeed (many horrible specific retaliations after via Rasella, not just the Fosse Ardeatine). Are similar ‘acts of war’ happening in Iraq these days? I think so.

27. dorigo - August 12, 2007

Hi Andrea,

thank you for your concise but correct reconstruction of the reason why Italy has had its troubles becoming a “normal country”.

Indeed, I agree about the point you make, which I would like to stress, that the vast majority of those who voted for PCI (and those who were elected) were a million miles away from thinking about a soviet-style system in Italy. These “communists” have had little of communist indeed. I myself had a chance to vote for PCI – and then its mutations – a few times. I voted it because it was the most reasonable alternative to giving a vote to a corrupt government, who had stayed in charge for too long and was really rotten to the root.

But yes, I also voted PCI because I subscribe to many of the ideas behind the party’s coherent action in Italy: a fight for better conditions for the working class, less exploitation in the workplace, a social system implying a strong redistribution of wealth through health care and a high quality schooling and university system, access to cheap housing. The right to a happy life for the “proletariato”.

Am I a communist ? Perhaps. I still think those ideas are valid, and I still think they are important to bring forward in the political system we have, without the need of changing the system. Of course, the polarization was not endogenous in Italy, but – as you correctly note – due to the interests of USA and USSR and their control of power in Italy.


28. dorigo - August 12, 2007

Hi Serafino,

if I read you correctly (do I?), you blame the partisans for hitting an easy target. “Heroes ? They bombed a squad of white collars, the sissies!”. I loathe that line of reasoning because it purposely neglects to recognize the enormous difficulty of organizing a resistence to the occupying forces, at the constant risk of one’s own life and that of one’s relatives.

War is fought with the means one has. War is not a clean game of risiko on a velvet table. It is a dirty, horrendous business, which brings out the animals in all its actors. Could the GAP find a better target ? Perhaps. Does it mean they were not justified in doing their utmost to counter the nazists ? I hope you can answer that yourself.


29. serafino - August 13, 2007

I can agree here and there, about what you writes. Let me say that one of those sudtiroler SS had the same name (Stecher) of my (sudtiroler) mother, and not by chance. Let me say that a couple of people, in my family, played an active (also military) role, as partisans. From both wings (the sudtiroler, obviously, and the partisan) I’ve got the idea that the ‘act of war’ of via Rasella wasn’t a good ‘move’.

30. Ardeatine Massacre: Bombers were soldiers, not terrorists « Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub . - August 13, 2007

[…] Massacre: Bombers were soldiers, not terrorists Our Italian physicist friend, Dorigo, at A Quantum Diaries Survivor reports that an Italian court ruled against a newspaper that started a campaign to deny the history of the […]

31. jeff - August 13, 2007

Ciao Giammanco and Tommaso.

To say that those that voted PCI really weren’t communists is quite funny. Maybe that is the way you felt Tommaso. I immediately say that I know many people that are proud to have been communists and some still are! They absolutely did NOT vote PCI because they did not want to vote for others. They did not vote for the PCI because they wanted to “fight for better conditions for the working class, less exploitation in the workplace, a social system implying a strong redistribution of wealth through health care and a high quality schooling and university system, access to cheap housing. The right to a happy life for the “proletariato”. They voted PCI because they believed in Communism, wanted a new social order and despised western type demoracies!


p.s. Don’t believe everything you read on Wikipedia.

32. dorigo - August 13, 2007


I think it is a matter of using words one way or another. I felt a communist for a long time, without wanting a new social order. Was I wrong ? I think I wasn’t, because what I meant by being a communist was supporting the parties that wanted to change things democratically in Italy. I was proud of what I voted for then as I am now.

About people who “absolutely did NOT vote PCI because they did not want to vote for others”: recall that in 1983 34% of voters chose PCI, after Berlinguer died. Before then, the party was at or above 30%. Do you really think 12 million people in Italy were for a soviet style system ? Come on. Much of the strength acquired in the seventies by the left parties in Italy came from loathe of DC and PSI. PCI, as Andrea correctly mentioned, never made a politics of confrontation. They accepted the system, even a bit too much – something that even Berlusconi can now criticize. Why should their voters be considered blood-handed revolutionaries ?


33. jeff - August 13, 2007

Well maybe we should break the long historic period into smaller ones. In other words the history of the PCI is a complicated one and many myths still have to be broken down and hidden truths revealed.

Certainly the communist of the early 80s were of a different breed compared to the earlier generations. Were they really blood-handed? No because the communist oceanic blood sheds occurred elsewhere in the world. In Italy they were simply anti-fascist. Most were provincial enough, thank God, to go on with their lives in peace and only paid lip service the crap of world communism under soviet auspices. All 12 million wanted soviet style communism in 1983? Of course not! (Else I would really be digusted by human nature). But amoung those 12 million there were not a few that really did dispise western democracy. They were quite dispicable. And some of them were so-called intellectuals! Dispicable to the second degree!

As I said the history of the PCI is a complicated one and many myths still have to be broken down and hidden truths revealed. But the communists and ex-communists will never, in my eyes write a credible and complete history. Communists have have a great ability to absolve themselves. If foul play and even blood-shed occurred, then it must have been a historic necessity. They are like creationists. They choose and manipulate the evidence to suit their vision of History. It will take a truely neutral historian to contextualize and analyse the PCI and what is left of it.

34. bruno - August 14, 2007

Why should trust Corte of Cassazione when judges are more interested on doing politics than jurisprudence.

If the ruling would have been otherwise the remains of what was PCI would rise up in arms.

35. dorigo - August 14, 2007

Bruno, I understand your logic – historic truth is not always the one written by the law. However, you are wrong about the political bias of the court of cassazione. Not a place dominated by leftists.

In any case, we should trust the ruling because it is based on the analysis of facts, which is something alien to the logic of Il Giornale, known for its biased propaganda (Jeff be arbiter here). Facts that have been known for 60 years now. The massacre of the Ardeatine is too relevant a piece of italian history to rewrite it at will.


36. Fred - August 14, 2007

That is good news. Trying to distort the understanding of an event over 50 years later is the epitome of arrogance. The 335 civilians did not deserve their fate. I can’t say the same for the nazi soldiers who occupied Rome at the time. People don’t want to be suppressed, no matter who the conqueror. The Third Reich was pure evil. The Soviets, Imperial Japan, Communist China, and the Allied Forces used this as leverage to pursue their opportunities and weaken their opponents’ positions. Italy and the weaker powers of the world couldn’t avoid the storm. As for the human experiment with communism, Marx’ and Lenin’s movement was a great disservice to civilization as it promised all and delivered nothing but darkness disguised as a sacred shroud for the masses. This led to Stalin’s acts of incredible disdain for humanity and his unsurpassed vileness which only encouraged Mao to further his insecurities. The subsequent followers have been doomed ever since. Idealism is one thing, realization is another. But now global terrorism is the new evil and that’s the ball of wax favored and used by our leaders. It certainly has the political parties of the U.S. acting in fear while trying to tuck us in bed with our national blanket. For the time being, the freedom we enjoy on the internet is one of the few effective weapons available to combat the corporate ownership and manipulation of recorded history and current events.

37. jeff - August 14, 2007

Bravo Fred.
But I fear you do not grasp the dark side of human nature for it seems, when writing about communism, that there was a tragic gap between idealiztion and realization. The infamous Sartre tried to pull that off. His propaganda survives to this day. Hope you aren’t infected too. After not being able to continue to deny the existence of gulags, Sartre ended up saying that “things went wrong”. Instead the truth of the matter is that human life wasn’t really worth much to them and if the price to start a new social order was to make heads roll, then so be it. Many heads? The more the better! Anyway I don’t want to quibble with you. I truely liked the vigor of your contribution. Refreshing.

38. Fred - August 15, 2007


Now this is too funny for the both of us. I am a living contradiction in terms of my philosophical points of view and I actually stalemate myself at times. It’s very difficult to be an advocate for any political front. That’s why sports, music, the arts, science and literature are my true friends. (lol – how do you take the politics out of those fields?) As military dependents, my friends and I silently rooted for the peace movement while we watched fresh ‘cargo’ from Vietnam being unloaded and lined up on the tarmac almost every single day for 3 years at Andrews Air Force Base, 1966-69. Thousands. Nobody ever said anything about it, but as 10-12 year old kids, we knew what the score was. All involved in the conflict were responsible for the results. But my greatest concern will always be of the fascist and right wing movements of civilization. And yes, you can throw the current russian and chinese governments as well as our current administration into this group also. They have always been proud of their goals and achievements. To righteously beat people into submission and forge humanity into a rigid structure is the ultimate crime. Agreed, ‘both sides’ have espoused this mentality. We are a victim of our own selfishness and survival instincts so we readily distort any ideology that we gravitate towards. Communism will never be a viable option because it cannot be logically nor logistically enacted. The most populated country in the world is a living and breathing capitalist machine. There is no communism in the world. We have solely been using this term for 150 years to control people. It was and still is very convenient. As far as not filling in the gap between idealization and realization, it would have went on forever. And here’s what’s funny: the infamous Sartre and Picasso were two of my great inspirations to passionately engage with life and the actual conditions in which we find ourselves. I will always love Jean-Paul despite his belief that sociopolitical solutions can be the proper means to an end if sanctioned by rational people. Among many of his miscalculations was the believe that revolutions could be bloodless if directed properly by collective bargaining combined with economic, judicial and social parity. He had blind faith in people that proposed the rise of the working class (but aren’t we all workers?). But mostly he had the courage to take on the French government’s re-pursuit of aggressive action internationally and domestically following its own liberation. He was the lone figure of hope for millions of european youths that were disillusioned and suffocated by the misnomered post-war world. He stood by them when most of the ‘free world’ institutions received financial compensation and considerations to actively support and passively watch the western and eastern powers once again use the world as a convenient battlefield. We are mostly cowards. He was anything but in his twilight years. Most of all, though, thank you for always being provocative and questioning.

p.s. While watching a number political rallies in Napoli from ’72-’74, the one thing that the speakers from all the competing factions (PCI, PSI, etal.) enjoyed were the cheers they received when the U.S.A. was invoked basically as the Evil Empire. This usually culminated the rallies and the crowd would disperse with great fanfare and energy. I’ll never forget the loud speakers blaring through the streets of Bagnoli; Abbasso Nixon! Vota Communista!

39. jeff - August 15, 2007

Hi Fred
you do have a mild infection….. Joking! Ciao and hope to hear from you soon.

40. dorigo - August 16, 2007

Hi Fred, Jeff,

not to revive a dying thread, but rather apologizing for not following it enough, I want to make one point.

Jeff, when you use XXth century bloodsheds to accuse of dishumanity many who still have in their bones some remnants of communist ideology, you maybe do not realize -or acknowledge- that your targets usually accept that criticism, trying to explain that the ideas of communism are not directly the cause of the massacres, and that they too are horrified by the gulags, by pol pot’s cleansing the slate, by USSR imperialism.

Once that discussion is over, though, I never hear a similar criticism by the anti-communist spontaneously arising toward the imperialism of western countries, which caused and is causing huge amounts of suffering to this day throughout the world, but cannot be criticized because hey, they won the war (hiroshima, nagasaki), have kept a world order (corea, vietnam, support to tyrants such as pinochet, franco,…) and are exporting democracy (Iraq, afghanistan, somalia).

I mean to say: the game of casting stones is useless among civil people who genuinely are democratic and against violence, because nobody is going to stand when it’s over. Let’s just not forget history and most of all, let’s try to avoid people from rewriting it anew.


41. jeff - August 16, 2007

Ciao Tommaso
sorry you wish to close this closing thread THIS WAY. It is so typical a response that I find it is very depressing.

I am NOT forgetting history. It seems you ignore it or are white washing it in a anti-historic attempt to put all tragedies on the same footing. You are also selling out too quickly the word “democratic”. By giving it away you are doing us all great disservice.

Regards you lip service to accepting criticisisms of communism and then proposing similar critiscism to the West (the U.S. of A.). I firmly believe we should all be claiming, with no qualifiers (“BUT…”, “However…”,…), that one of the two horrendous tragedies of the 20th century was COMMUNISM. Not on the same philosohpical level as NAZI/Fascism as Fred and I too believe? OK. But I find it contradictory to insist on pointing out the differences in the tragedies and horrors of communism with nazi/fascism on the one hand and then deny differences between those of the West and in particular of the U.S.of A. This is either intellectual dishonesty or an error of logic.

If you say that there is no anti-communist criticism of the west and of the U.S. is not only FLASE, but it is offensive and intellectually DISHONEST. No… now that I think about it, as I know you personally, I think it is just a stupid mistake. I think you should stop and take back what you said. I truely hope others in this dying thread will point it out too.

I am not saying the West and the U.S.of A. in particular is above severe critiscism. The U.S.A. has made terrible, inhumane and disgusting mistakes of dropping one too many bombs (Nagasaki), of putting up with Pinochet’s buchery. They certainly screwed up in Vietnam an now in Iraq and the toll in human lives is outrageuosly high. ALL of the these, and many more, were AND are CRITICIZED by AUTHENTIC ANTI-COMMUNISTS and ANTI-FASCISTS/NAZIS. In particular in the U.S.A. there is has a huge anti-war movement that is CREDIBLE and authentically DEMOCRATIC. Many are busy studying history of these tragedies. Some of the best and honest historians that are telling the tragedies of the WW2 and the cold war are TRUELY DEMOCRATIC. Some of the best journalists that made social history in telling with bravery and intellecual honesty the tragedies of war in general and the mistakes and true nature of the U.S interventions are AUTHENTICALLY DEMOCRATIC. For me it is a matter of credebility. Some, too many, individuals that are so anti-war here in Italy are not credible at all. Its that outrageously simple.

42. dorigo - August 16, 2007

See, Jeff, I am quite glad I did make the mistakes you highlight. Because only by stimulating your response did I get one. I did not say there is no criticism, I only say that those who blame communism act as if it is the only evil in the world.

We can argue whether Nagasaki was one too many or two too many, but the way you put that, and the other things of which the west is responsible (not just the USA), gives me rest. Because I know you have quite different ideas from mine, and the fact that you still are willing to strongly criticize those events makes me willing to concede on my side that yes, communism gave the power to a few deranged minds to perpetrate horrendous crimes. Stalin and Pol Pot are in the hall of fame with only a few more people in the XX century. I agree, communism is a failed attempt at a better world, who went really wrong. Yes, if you count dead heads, probably nazists come first, communists seconds, and curtis le may and his comrades come close thirds.

See, you give it for granted that there are things the US and their allies did that can be considered crimes against humanity. I do too, but I very seldom see it admitted from the people who attack ex-communists. Once I hear it from your side, I am much relieved. We can then start more constructive discussions.


43. Andrea Giammanco - August 18, 2007

> p.s. Don’t believe everything you read on Wikipedia.

Well, by the way, wikipedia was not *my* source of knowledge about those facts, since I was reading italian newspapers at the time when the president of the italian republic admitted that he had always known about Gladio and other old statesmen leaked other informations. But I felt the urge of providing the foreigner readers with a rather complete although synthetic source, as wikipedia is, in order to not be dismissed as a fan of conspiration theories, because I realize that some dark pieces of national history sound very much so 😉

44. Dorigo's friend - August 18, 2007


You are a communist. I had no doubts about. You are not much different from all other people thinking that we can trade freedom for poor ideas proved to be wrong.

You are not reasoning like a physicist and like you a lot of people of your very disgraced country.


45. dorigo - August 19, 2007


just one thing – not “my” disgraced country, but ours. You are italian as well. Your IP address, your poor english, and your twisted knowledge of italian lore betray that.


46. ExecutedToday.com » 1944: Ardeatine Massacre - March 24, 2008

[…] political suspect. So hastily was it done, the killers miscounted the harvest — as one later explained in a deposition: Q. It was discovered that the number of people killed was more than intended, five extra. Can you […]

47. Anniversary of the Ardeatine Massacre « Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub - March 24, 2008

[…] A Quantum Diaries Survivor wrote last year about the settling of a journalism controversy over the events.  I wrote more.  This year a blog tightly focused on executions — ExecutedToday.com –  marks the actual anniversary. […]

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