The Two Italies
They, however, did not hold direct government, for which Himmler declared that he did not have the necessary police forces, and they installed Mussolini, freed by them from detention. He transformed the PNF into a republican fascist party, and set up a government on 23 September. On the 28th he assumed the function of provisional head of state awaiting a constituent (deliberated, but never called): the government offices were set up in northern Italy, and he himself settled in Salò on Lake Garda: this is how he was born ” the republic of Salò “, which officially assumed the name of” Italian social republic “.
Special courts were established for the punishment of the “traitor” fascists, and in general for the repression of the enemies of the new regime. One of these, in Verona, sentenced to death (January 10, 1944) those who had voted on the Grandi agenda, and the sentence was carried out on those who could have been arrested (among them, Ciano and De Bono). A new fascist army was also created, under the command of Graziani. But the reluctant and fugitives were very many, and the whole military command remained in the hands of the Germans (Kesselring), who also announced the enlistment of Italians in the “Great German Army”. Politically, CSR took advanced attitudes. The guilds were not reconstituted, while a general confederation of labor, technology and arts was established. A decree for the socialization of businesses was issued (February 12, 1944). The social orientation remained ephemeral, given the need for collaboration of the industrialists and the workers’ aversion.
In Brindisi, where Badoglio had gone with the king, he continued to be the head of the government, reduced at first almost to his sole person. However, it declared war (13 October) on Germany – Badoglio had to last some effort to convince the king to take this step – and was simultaneously recognized by the Allies as a “co-belligerent”, not without having first signed the “long armistice” in Malta (September 29), which gave the Allies full control over Italy and the Italian government. On November 16, 1943 Badoglio, not having obtained the competition of politicians, formed a second ministry with only undersecretaries. In Naples and Bari, the six anti-fascist parties (see above) now organized themselves openly. They agreed to deny the king and Badoglio political collaboration. The same parties resumed clandestine action in Fascist Italy; and in Rome, they formed a National Liberation Committee which on October 16 asked for the right of institutional self-determination for the Italian people at the end of the war, and in the meantime the formation of a provisional government with full powers, made up of anti-fascist parties. This second point, however, was understood differently by the various parties within the CLN, interpreting it by some (shareholders, socialists and, less resolutely, communists) in the sense of a quiescence of the monarchy, while the others instead accepting a persistent function of this, pending popular decisions. A similar resolution (and subject to the same differences of interpretation) took the Congress of Bari (January 28-29, 1944) of the anti-fascist parties, also asking for the abdication of the king. Most uncompromising of all, the Republican Party, also in the process of reconstitution, denied any collaboration with the monarchy, and stayed out of the CLN.
King Vittorio Emanuele resisted, although the request for abdication came, insistently, from men like Croce and Sforza (who returned to Italy in October 1943). His position was improved by the intervention of the leader of the Italian Communists, P. Togliatti, who came at the end of March from Russia to Italy after the USSR (March 13), with a separate initiative from its Western allies, recognized the Badoglio government. Togliatti argued that, in view of the war, the anti-fascist parties should participate in the government, without prejudice. Finally the king, under allied pressure, accepted the expedient imagined by the liberal E. De Nicola and on 12 April announced his “irrevocable” decision to retire to private life, entrusting Prince Umberto with the lieutenancy of the kingdom: the transfer of power would take place in Rome, immediately after the release of this. On 21 April Badoglio established a new ministry in Salerno with the participation of the six parties. Croce and Sforza were ministers without portfolios.
The war operations (see the War Operations paragraph below) to expel the Germans from Italy had begun with the Allied landings in Reggio Calabria on 4 September and in Salerno on 8 September. Modest units of the Italian regular army took part in these actions; the Allies did not give the means to arm more. Behind the German lines the struggle of the partisans was organized, who harassed communications and held mountainous areas, engaging considerable enemy forces. They also acted in the cities, or in the immediate vicinity, with attacks and coups of hand, workers’ movements (strikes in Upper Italy of 1 March 1944 and January 1945). The Nazi-Fascists employed multiple reprisals, and the repression took on ferocious forms (see resistance, in this App.). The attack with bombs against a German unit in Rome, in via Rasella, in March 1944 was famous: it cost the lives of 32 Germans, and 335 Italians were shot in retaliation at the Fosse Ardeatine. On 4 June 1944 the Allies liberated Rome. Advancing further north, Florence was liberated in August: therefore there was an arrest on the so-called Gothic Line. Now, behind this, the partisan action assumed the maximum intensity: the forces of resistance were provided partly by political parties, partly by non-partisan formations. They were headed by a triumvirate made up of F. Parri (shareholder), L. Longo (communist), R. Cadorna (general of the army). The clandestine political action was headed by the CL N AI (Liberation Committee of Upper Italy),
On 5 June 1944 the king had carried out the transmission of powers to the lieutenant prince Umberto, who took office at the Quirinale. On the basis of the requests of the CLN, he assigned the task of forming a new government with executive and legislative powers to Bonomi, head of the Committee: he constituted it with elements taken from the six parties, and he too settled in Rome. At the same time, the lieutenant made a commitment to institutional self-determination at the end of the war and in the meantime the ministers’ oath formula was changed, eliminating their loyalty to the king. The opposition, at first, of Churchill, who wanted to keep Badoglio at least as a minister, did not follow. The administrative reconstruction proceeded slowly and confused, as three different authorities interfered with each other: ministerial officials, Local CLNs and Allies, who controlled the former and the latter. The local CLNs came to take the place of the municipal and provincial councils, the central CLN of the parliament. It was understood that the trust – or rather the “investiture”, it was said – of this was necessary for the government. But the CLN in turn had difficulties in functioning, because it was made up of six different parties, which by convention were attributed equal weight, although their consistency was very different in the country. Of these, the Socialists and Communists were bound by a pact of “unity of action”, which dates back to the days of the exile. The Action Party approached them, though divided between a socialist tendency (Lussu) and a liberal-democratic one (La Malfa). Contrasts and manipulations on the institutional question were accentuated; the Communist Party, after an initial period of uncertainty, he associated himself with socialists and shareholders in the republican setting. President Bonomi was taken into suspicion by the left as leaning to the right and to the monarchy; at the beginning of December 1944 there was a crisis, which however ended with a second Bonomi ministry, but without shareholders and socialists. Overall, Bonomi’s year of government laid the foundation for administrative and economic reconstruction.
In April 1945 there was the victorious general offensive of the Allies on the Gothic Line; and on April 25 the general offensive broke out in northern Italy. On the 28th Mussolini, who fell into the hands of the partisans, was shot. On the 29th the German command in Italy signed the surrender at its discretion, dating from 2 May; on 7 May the capitulation in Germany was signed, in force since 8. The war in Europe was over.
In upper Italy the CLN held power for a few days: there were numerous executions of fascists, not without that, as usual, even private haters had their part in these summary executions. Power was then assumed by the Allies, who nevertheless left a certain consultative and administrative function to the CLN. At the end of 1945 all the Italian territory (except the provinces on the north-eastern border) was returned to the national government.