Thursday, September 18, 2008


Within months of returning to power, the right-wing Italian government is becoming increasingly explicit in its political pronouncements. Prominent members of the ruling coalition led by Silvio Berlusconi have recently launched a concerted campaign for the rehabilitation of fascism.

It was Berlusconi who fired the first shot shortly after assuming office as prime minister. On April 25, Italy’s national holiday marking the country’s liberation from fascism, Berlusconi declared that, while it was appropriate to acknowledge the anti-fascist resistance (Resistenza), it was also necessary to understand the motives of the “Ragazzi di Salò.”

Berlusconi was referring to those Italian soldiers who defended Benito Mussolini’s “Republic of Salò.” This so-called “Italian social republic” established by the Italian fascists existed from 1943 to 1945 under the military protection of Germany’s Nazi regime in northern Italy.

Similar comments had been made during the spring election campaign by the entrepreneur and senator Giuseppe Ciarrapico, a close friend of Berlusconi. “The Italian social republic never sent anybody to the concentration camps; the Germans were to blame,” Ciarrapico declared.

Now, the country’s defence secretary Ignazio La Russa has also expressed his admiration for the Italian fascists. Provocatively using the occasion of a ceremony commemorating the Rome resistance fighters of September 1943, La Russa evoked the memory of those fascists who sided with Mussolini after the official surrender of Rome.


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