ITALIAN-SPEAKING ANARCHISTS DEPORTED TO GERMANY DURING WWII by Franco Bertolucci (from ‘A Rivista Anarchica’, Milan, No 415, April 2017). Translated by Paul Sharkey

Bodies of a Brunhausen KZ Außenkommando, most of them Italian.

1. Carlo ALVISI: Barber, born Bologna on 5 May 1918. In October 1936, he set off to defend the Spanish Republic, enlisting in the Italian Section of the CNT-FAI’s “Ascaso” Column and fought on the Huesca front. In late January 1937, he returned to Luxembourg and was arrested there by the Germans in July 1941 and put in a concentration camp near Berlin. On 20 April 1942, he was released and made his way back to Luxembourg where he worked in a foundry. Rearrested, he was handed over to the Italian police and convicted for failure to do his military service. After 8 September 1943, he was freed, but during the Nazi occupation of Italy he was deported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Freed at the end of the war, he went back to living in Luxembourg. After 18 January 1971, he adopted the name PIANELLI, having been acknowledged by his father, Ambrosio PIANELLI. Date of death unknown.

Dachau, 24 May 1933: first prisoners doing forced labour.

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Anarchy and Violence by Errico Malatesta

Stills from ‘Love and Anarchy‘ by Lisa Wertmüller

From their first manifestations Anarchists have [been] nearly unanimous as to the necessity of recourse to physical force in order to transform existing society; and while the other self-styled revolutionary parties have gone floundering into the parliamentary slough, the anarchist idea has in some sort identified itself with that of armed insurrection and violent revolution.

But, perhaps, there has been no sufficient explanation as to the kind and the degree of violence to be employed; and here as in many other questions very dissimilar ideas and sentiments lurk under our common name.

As a fact, the numerous outrages which have lately been perpetrated by Anarchists and in the name of Anarchy, have brought to the light of day profound differences which had formerly been ignored or scarcely foreseen.

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MALATESTA — A Life by Luigi Fabbri. eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

A biographical hommage to Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta (1853-1932) by his lifelong friend and fellow anarchist Luigi Fabbri (1877-1935). Errico Malatesta is, undoubtedly, one of the ” giants ” of the 19th century revolutionary movement— an agitator, man of action and a thought-provoking writer. Malatesta was active in the international anarchist movement both as activist and propagandist for nearly sixty years. As a glance through the archives of the anarchist press of the time will show, he was one of the movement’s most respected members, as well as one of its most controversial. He was active in many parts of the world, as well as the editor of a number of Italian anarchist journals, including the daily Umanità Nova. Half his life was spent in exile and the respect he was accorded by governments is insanely evidenced by the fact that he spent more than ten years in prison, mainly awaiting trial. Juries, by contrast, showed a different respect by almost always acquitting him, recognising that the only galantuomo, that the only honest man, was the one facing them in the prisoners’ cage!

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fabbrismallBourgeois Influences on Anarchism was written in 1914 by Italian anarchist communist Luigi Fabbri (1877-1935), around the time the opening shots of WWI were being fired. In it he addresses problems he sees as resulting from the stereotyping of anarchism both in bourgeois literature and the media, and the negative effect this was having on popular culture, and on the actual anarchist movement.

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“The minds of men, especially of the young, thirsting for the mysterious and extraordinary, allow themselves to be easily dragged by the passion for the new toward that which, when coolly examined in the calm which follows initial enthusiasm, is absolutely and definitively repudiated. This fever for new things, this audacious spirit, this zeal for the extraordinary has brought to the anarchist ranks the most exaggeratedly impressionable types, and at the same time, the most empty headed and frivolous types, persons who are not repelled by the absurd, but who, on the contrary, engage in it. They are attracted to projects and ideas precisely because they are absurd, and so anarchism comes to be known precisely for the illogical character and ridiculousness which ignorance and bourgeois calumny have attributed to anarchist doctrines.”

The first English translation of Fabbri’s classic dissection of problems which still plague anarchism today, such as the identification of anarchism in the capitalist press with disorganization, chaos, and terrorism, and the consequent embracement of such things by some “anarchists.”

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RED YEARS, BLACK YEARS Anarchist Resistance to Fascism in Italy from Revista Anarchica (Translated by Alan Hunter) eBook £1.50/€1.50 (see eBookshelf)

RedYearssmallRED YEARS, BLACK YEARS. Anarchist Resistance to Fascism in Italy.

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It is a sad fact that so little historical material is available today dealing with the role of the various resistance groups throughout Europe. There are many reasons for this, ranging from the obvious; secrecy equals survival, to the more surprising and depressing fact, fascism was not defeated in 1945. Those who really fought the fascists, as opposed to those who only claim they did, still have to be careful even now. It was only in 1983 that the notorious butcher of Lyon, Klaus Barbie, was brought to trial. Between 1945 and his capture he was at various times working for the CIA, the Catholic Church, Latin American drug barons and Bolivian death squads. Likewise Paul Touvien, head of the Milice (fascist paramilitary) in Lyon, was only captured in 1989. He was protected for almost 50 years by a huge network of extreme right-wing followers, many in the highest positions in the land. If the fascists have such connections then it is quite understandable why those who have fought them do not wish to discuss these matters too openly.

Italian Fascism from Stuart Christie on Vimeo.

In these pages we have recorded some episodes in the Italian anarchist resistance to fascism, particularly in the struggle against blackshirt gangs in the 1920s, and the armed resistance to the Nazis between 1943 and 1945. A few episodes only: We have many more accounts from comrades all over Italy than are given here. To present them all would make a much larger and more fragmented work than this.

We have not attempted to write the definitive history of the Italian anarchists in these struggles. That history, which has yet to be produced, would involve a more systematic search for documents and publications, and the collection of more eyewitness accounts from those involved in the fight. What we have tried to do is to break down the wall of silence which has surrounded the anarchists’ part in the fight against fascism, a fight which the Italian parliamentary parties now claim to have organised and led. — Revista Anarchica

Gli anarchici nella resistenza from Stuart Christie on Vimeo.