A short biography of Italian anarchist militant Gino Bibbi, who used his engineering skills to develop weaponry to fight the fascists in the Spanish Civil War.
Gino Bibbi, born in February 1899, came from a family of ‘good standing’ from the village of Avenza near Carrara, with a father who owned a large joiners’ works.
From early youth he gravitated towards the anarchist movement. Heavily involved with anti-fascist activity, he distributed leaflets from his motorbike. He was pulled off his bike and beaten. His bike and his father’s sawmill was put to the torch.
Whilst an engineering student at Milan, he was involved in supplying his cousin Gino Lucetti, also from Avenza, with a bomb which he used to carry out an unsuccessful attentat on "Il Duce", Mussolini, on 11 September.
After various spells of confinement by the fascists, the first beginning in 1923, he managed to escape to France and then moved to Spain in 1931. He worked closely with the CNT and FAI. He began to take flying lessons to prepare for an aerial attack on Mussolini!
He was also involved with a group within the FAI that planned to free imprisoned anarchist Errico Malatesta. It was hoped to make the escape in a high speed motor launch. Gino worked on the motor for this. Unfortunately, as a result of infiltration, word reached the Italian police and Malatesta was transferred to Rome. This transferal may have brought his death in 1932 closer.
Gradually he was joined by other Italian comrades fleeing from Italy, including many Carrarans, among them his sister Maria, as well as Camillo Berneri and Barbieri, both murdered by the Stalinists in May 1937.
During the Civil War, he was assigned many missions behind Francoist lines, procuring arms, carrying out sabotage and flying reconnaissance flights. He liaised with anarchist Garcia Oliver, who was part of the government, in the organisation of weapons for the fight with the Francoists. He used his engineering knowledge to design a powerful engine for a guided missile (see photograph or it in use, above). First tests reached an operational range of 20 kilometres. The Durruti Column used the first missile to bombard the Francoist lines.
The anarchist columns, in particular the Iron Column, began to carry out expropriations of jewelry shops in Valencia in order to put together a war chest to buy arms and raw materials.
Gino’s task was to buy these arms. In January 1937, whilst engaged in these operations he was dogged by the secret police of the Italian Stalinist Togliatti, who later ordered Berneri’s and Barbieri’s deaths. He was imprisoned in Valencia with other anarchists like Umberto Tommasini and Fontana. He was accused of money laundering. He developed a burning hatred for the Communist Party. Garcia Oliver managed to have him released from jail.
With the Republican collapse, he fled over the French border and was interned in the concentration camp at Gurs. With the outbreak of World War II, he managed to escape and went into hiding, doing underground work. He later moved back to Italy and was involved with partisan units. He was one of the anarchist partisans that freed Carrara from the fascists.
His relations with the organised movement ended when he moved to South America in the post war period. He returned to Carrara in the ‘50s. He was at the head of a group which called for electoralist tactics within the Italian Anarchist Federation, which was firmly rejected by the majority. He distanced himself from the organised movement and began calling himself an individualist anarchist in the’60s.
He died at the age of 100 on 8th August 1999. He was cremated with a red and black scarf tied round his neck. His ashes were interred in the “anarchist corner” of the graveyard in Carrara.