• Village’s Tribute Reignites a Debate About Italy’s Fascist Past

    This village in the rolling hills east of Rome is known for its fresh air, olive oil and wine — and its residual appreciation of Benito Mussolini, whose image adorns some wine bottles on prominent display in local bars.

    This month, the town’s fascist sympathies became the subject of intense debate when its mayor unveiled a publicly financed memorial to one of its most controversial former citizens: Rodolfo Graziani, a general under Mussolini who was accused of war crimes at the end of World War II and earned the title of “the Butcher” in two campaigns during Italy’s colonization of North Africa in the 1920s and ’30s.

    The monument, in a style reminiscent of fascist architecture, sits on the town’s highest hill, with the Italian flag flying from the top and inscriptions reading “Honor” and “Homeland.” Inside sits an austere marble bust of General Graziani, surrounded by original copies of the front pages of the newspapers from the day of his death in 1955, a plaque from a street once dedicated to him here and a list of his deeds and honors.

    The dedication elicited harsh criticism from left-wing politicians and commentators in the pages of some Italian newspapers, and has raised deeper questions about whether Italy, which began the war on the side of the Axis powers and ended it with the Allies, has ever fully come to terms with its wartime past.

    In an interview, Ettore Viri, the mayor of Affile, brushed off the criticism. “The head is a donation of a citizen,” he said, glancing proudly at the bust, before quickly acknowledging that he was the citizen. “Actually, I had it in my living room,” he said, adding that he had given large donations of his own money to maintain Mussolini’s grave in northern Italy.

    Yet the mayor’s political opponents are aghast at the town’s honoring General Graziani — and using $160,000 in public money to do so. In a statement released the day before the dedication ceremony, Esterino Montino, a regional leader of the Democratic Party, said, referring to the Nazi leader Hermann Goering: “It’s as if some little village in some German province built a monument to Goering. The fact that such a scandal is planned in a small village outside of Rome does not downgrade the episode to provincial folklore.”

    By and large, however, the memorial appears to have won acceptance in this mostly conservative town of 1,600. More than 100 people attended the dedication, some of them holding flags of far-right extremist groups and wearing black shirts in a nod to Mussolini’s Blackshirt squads, according to several people who attended.

    For some, General Graziani’s crimes from World War II pale in comparison to what he did in Africa earlier, killing hundreds of thousands of people — sometimes with chemical weapons — and wiping out entire communities, especially in Eritrea.

    In the 1930s, General Graziani commanded some of the Italian troops who invaded Ethiopia under the reported slogan “ ‘Il Duce’ will have Ethiopia, with or without the Ethiopians.” He later became the viceroy of Ethiopia, where he earned his second title as butcher — the first came in Libya — for a particularly brutal campaign in reprisal for an attempt on his life.

    After the fall of Mussolini’s government in 1943, General Graziani remained loyal to him and became the minister of war of the Italian Social Republic, a rump government led by Mussolini in the parts of Italy not controlled by the Allies. General Graziani was never prosecuted for any war crimes in Africa, but in 1948 the United Nations War Crimes Commission said there were plausible charges against him and other Italians.

    In 1948, an Italian court in Rome sentenced General Graziani to 19 years in prison for collaborating with the Nazis, but he received a suspended sentence that was later commuted.

    But it was the African campaigns, which went entirely unpunished, that critics say are the greatest stain on his record, and the strongest argument against a memorial. “A monument to somebody who committed crimes against humanity in his fierce repression using gas against young Ethiopians is serious and unacceptable, regardless of where it happens,” Mr. Montino, the left-wing lawmaker, wrote.

    Here in Affile, many regard General Graziani more as a local boy who made good than the perpetrator of some of the most heinous massacres in Mussolini’s bloody colonization campaigns.

    “To me it’s a recognition of our fellow citizen who was the youngest colonel of the Italian Army,” said Alberto Viri, a 65-year-old retiree who lives in Milan but was vacationing on a recent afternoon in his native Affile. “He defended the homeland until the end, as he was loyal to our first allies, the Germans, even after Sept. 8,” Mr. Viri added, referring to the armistice when Italy shifted from the Axis to the Allies.

    Some are more upset by the financing than by the monument itself. “I am not a fascist,” said Aldo Graziani, 72, a retiree (no relation) who joined in the conversation in a local bar. “I am not bothered by the monument to Graziani, per se. I am rather bothered by the fact that they should have built it with their own money, not with public money.”

    Mr. Viri, the retiree, has childhood memories of General Graziani riding around the village on his white horse with a white dog to get the paper at the Viri family’s news kiosk. He remembers how soldiers attending the general’s funeral in 1955 distributed food to hungry local children.

    Some scholars say that Italy’s failure to bring fascist officials to justice has caused a “selective memory” of the fascist era, where visions of the past fall along contemporary political lines.

    “Antifascist culture has remained the privilege of the left, some liberals and Christian Democrats,” said Luca Alessandrini, the director of the Parri Institute in Bologna, referring to the centrist Catholic party that dominated in the postwar era. “The big weakness of Italian history is that these forces have failed to produce an historical judgment on fascism,” he added.

    Much the same is true of the colonial era. Compared with Britain and France, Italy developed colonial aspirations rather late in the game, invading Libya in 1911 and Ethiopia, for the second time, in 1935. (The first Ethiopian invasion, in 1895, failed.) Even today, few Italians are particularly aware of the colonial episodes, which have not been central to national debate.

    “Italy was so poor and destroyed after World War II that nobody really worried about the colonies, and the loss thereof, let alone people’s education on this,” said the historian Giorgio Rochat.

    In Affile, many deny that General Graziani was a fascist tyrant, arguing that he just obeyed his superiors’ orders. But some are outraged by the monument.

    “This has always been a center-right village,” said Donatella Meschini, 52, a teacher who served on the City Council from 2003 to 2008 under the only center-left mayor in Affile in 50 years. “But after this memorial, what can we expect? That they call us up on Saturday to do gymnastics in the main square like the fascist youth used to do?”

    “April 25 has just never arrived here,” Ms. Meschini added, referring to the day of the Allied liberation of Italy in 1945.


    #Affile #mémoire #fascisme #histoire #Italie #Mussolini #Benito_Mussolini #Rodolfo_Graziani #Graziani #mémorial #colonisation #passé_colonial #Italie_coloniale #colonisation #monument #patria #onore #Ettore_Viri


    ajouté à la métaliste sur la #colonialisme_italien :

    ping @cede @olivier_aubert

    • Flash mob dell’ANPI ad Affile, Pagliarulo: «Il monumento al boia Rodolfo Graziani è un’ ignominia!»

      In occasione dell’84esimo anniversario della strage di Debra Libanos (Etiopia) ordita dal criminale di guerra Rodolfo Graziani. L’intervento del Presidente nazionale ANPI Gianfranco Pagliarulo

      Oggi 28 maggio alle 18 si è svolto ad Affile (Roma) un flash mob promosso dall’ANPI - con la presenza del Presidente nazionale Gianfranco Pagliarulo e del Presidente dell’ANPI provinciale di Roma Fabrizio De Sanctis - in occasione dell’84esimo anniversario della strage di Debra Libanos (Etiopia).

      Dal 21 al 29 maggio 1937 nel monastero di Debra Libanos furono trucidati monaci, diaconi, pellegrini ortodossi, più di 2.000, per opera degli uomini del generale Pietro Maletti, dietro ordine di Rodolfo Graziani, viceré d’Etiopia. Ad Affile è situato un monumento dedicato proprio a Graziani.

      In un passaggio del suo intervento così si è espresso Pagliarulo: «Siamo qui per denunciare una grande ignominia: un monumento intitolato non al soldato affilano più rappresentativo, come incautamente affermato, ma all’uomo delle carneficine, delle impiccagioni, dei gas letali. Perché questo fu Rodolfo Graziani. E le due parole sulla pietra del monumento, Patria e Onore, suonano come il più grande oltraggio alla Patria e all’Onore. Onore è parola che significa dignità morale e sociale. Quale onore in un uomo che sottomette un altro popolo in un’orgia di sangue? Patria. La nostra patria è l’Italia. La parola Italia è nominata nella Costituzione due sole volte: L’Italia è una repubblica fondata sul lavoro, L’Italia ripudia la guerra. Tutto il contrario di un Paese fondato sul razzismo imperiale. Perché, vedete, le stragi di Graziani furono certo l’operato di un criminale di guerra, e non fu certo l’unico. Ma furono anche stragi dello Stato fascista, di una macchina di violenza e di costrizione verso l’altro».

      Era presenta anche una delegazione dell’Associazione della Comunità etiopica di Roma.

      #résistance #flash_mob

    • Nicola Zingaretti: no al monumento per ricordare un criminale di guerra fascista, stragista del colonialismo. #25aprile

      Caro Presidente Nicola Zingaretti,

      mi chiamo Igiaba Scego, sono una scrittrice, figlia di somali e nata in Italia. Sono una della cosiddetta seconda generazione. Una donna che si sente orgogliosamente somala, italiana, romana e mogadisciana.

      Le scrivo perchè l’11 Agosto 2012 ad Affile, un piccolo comune in provincia di Roma, è stato inaugurato un “sacrario” militare al gerarca fascista Rodolfo Graziani. Il monumento è stato costruito con un finanziamento di 130mila euro erogati della Regione Lazio ed originariamente diretti ad un fondo per il completamento del parco di Radimonte.

      Rodolfo Graziani, come sa, fu tra i più feroci gerarchi che il fascismo abbia mai avuto. Si macchiò di crimini di guerra inenarrabili in Cirenaica ed Etiopia; basta ricordare la strage di diaconi di Debra Libanos e l’uso indiscriminato durante la guerra coloniale del ’36 di gas proibiti dalle convenzioni internazionali.

      Dopo la fine del secondo conflitto mondiale, l’imperatore d’Etiopia Hailè Selassié, chiese a gran voce che Rodolfo Graziani fosse inserito nella lista dei criminali di guerra. La Commissione delle Nazioni Unite per i crimini di guerra lo collocò naturalmente al primo posto.

      Il monumento a Rodolfo Graziani è quindi un paradosso tragico, una macchia per la nostra democrazia, un’offesa per la nostra Costituzione nata dalla lotta antifascista.

      In questi ultimi giorni, i neoparlamentari Kyenge, Ghizzoni e Beni hanno depositato un’interpellanza affinché il Governo si pronunci sulla questione di Affile.

      Io in qualche modo legandomi alla loro iniziativa chiedo a lei, Presidente Zingaretti un impegno concreto contro questo monumento della vergogna. Non solo parole, ma fatti (demolizione e/o riconversione del monumento) che possano far risplendere un sole di democrazia in questa Italia che si sta avviando a celebrare il 68° anniversario del 25 Aprile.

      Mio nonno è stato interprete di Rodolfo Graziani negli anni ’30. Ha dovuto tradurre quei crimini e io da nipote non ho mai vissuto bene questa eredità. Mio nonno era suddito coloniale, subalterno, costretto a tradurre, suo malgrado, l’orrore. Oggi nel 2013 io, sua nipote, ho un altro destino per fortuna. Per me e per tutt* le chiedo un impegno serio su questa questione cruciale di democrazia.


      Dear President Nicola Zingaretti,

      My name is Igiaba Scego, I am a writer, born in Italy, daughter of Somali people.

      I am one of the so-called «second generation». A woman who proudly feel herself both Somali, Italian, Roman.

      I am writing to you because on the 11th of August 2012, in Affile, a small town in the province of Rome, it was inaugurated a monument in honour of the fascist Rodolfo Graziani. The monument was built with a loan of 130 thousand euro from the Lazio region, a fund originally intended to finance the Radimonte park.

      Rodolfo Graziani, as you know, was one of the most ferocious commander that fascism has ever had. He was found guilty of war crimes in Cyrenaica and Ethiopia; the massacre of deacons in Debra Libanos and the use of prohibited gas during the colonial war of ’36 are just two of those massacres that can be mentioned.

      After the end of World War II, the emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, firmly asked for Rodolfo Graziani to be included in the list of war criminals. The Commission of the United Nations War Crimes placed him at the first place in that list.

      The monument to Rodolfo Graziani is therefore a tragic paradox, a stain on our democracy, an insult to our constitution born from the struggle against fascism.

      In the recent days, the neoparlamentari Kyenge, Ghizzoni and Beni filed an interpellation to address this problem to the Government.

      I am somehow trying to be with them, by asking to you, Mr President Zingaretti, a real commitment against this monument of shame. I am not only asking for words but for a real commitment (demolition and / or conversion of the monument) that can let the sun of democracy to shine again in Italy, approaching the 68th anniversary of the April 25.

      My grandfather had to translate Graziani’s crimes, he was a colonial victim, and had to translate the horror, against his will. Today in 2013, his niece, has another destiny. For me and for all I am asking to you a serious commitment on this crucial issue of democracy.