A Civil War: A History of the Italian Resistance
Claudio Pavone, David Broder
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.
noted, the ‘actionist’ tradition has always been the least reluctant to speak in terms of civil war).27 In effect, only a victorious revolution has the force to have no fears about inscribing the sufferings caused by civil war into its history. Even a defeated revolution can claim to have been the protagonist of a civil war when it does not intend to hide its revolutionary character. Marx’s The Civil War in France is proof of this. The prevalence of the formula ‘war, or movement, of national
been so free as under the German occupation’ – pinpoint this core of Resistance experience: a choice all the more authentic the more one was compelled by events to choose, and the stakes could be summed up in the formula ‘rather death than …’. Out of this grew, writes Sartre, ‘in shadow and in blood … the strongest of Republics … without institutions, without an army, without police’.9 Some years later, a text as dry as a library catalogue would reach a conclusion that endorses Sartre’s eloquent
presently. But mention can be made even now of one of the first Forlì mountain bands, where the class spirit did not so much evolve in a patriotic direction as violently generate manifestations of social hate, thereby giving rise to a particularly strong link between class war and civil war and leaving the patriotic war in the background. The behaviour of this band has been described as follows in a Communist-inspired book: The principal objectives are carabinieri, Fascists and spies, while the
sense of the term. In both cases the hasty observation of an American woman journalist that, faced with cold and hunger, it was not possible to be political was belied.4 That journalist did not take account of how ragged and mobile in that situation the boundaries were between being political and being other things, whatever the intentions and declarations of the protagonists. The Catholic Communists of Rome, while urging that ‘parish committees’ be set up ‘to organise a mass mobilisation –
Alpini second lieutenant wounded at the battle of Nikolaevka. 47 Deakin, The Brutal Friendship, p. 206. 48 These were the incitements that came from the loudspeakers on the other bank of the Don. See A. Carracciolo, Teresio Olivelli, Bescia: La Scuola Editrice, 1947, p. 82. 49 See in this regard Aldo Garosci’s observations in the introduction to La guerra dei poveri. 50 Revelli, La guerra dei poveri, p. 141. On 5 October 1943, the date of this annotation, Revelli had not yet established