Fabbri, Luce, 1908-2000

Luce Fabbri

A biography of, Luce Fabbri, an Italian anarchist who joined her father in exile in Uruguay and played a key part in both country's movements until her death.

Luce Fabbri, the daughter of the outstanding Italian anarchist Luigi Fabbri, was a militant of great calibre herself. Born in Rome on 2nd July 1908, she was brought up in a free and culturally stimulating environment. The family home was often visited by Errico Malatesta, one of the great figures of Italian anarchism, who she regarded as an uncle, and by many other militants. She also established a friendship with the Bolognese, Aldo Venturini, who in his anarchist youth collaborated with her father and who became the compiler and commentator of the works of Saverio Merlino. Whilst still in her youth she had articles published in the review Pensiero e Volonta (1924-26) edited by her father and Malatesta.

In 1926 with the definitive triumph of fascism, Luigi Fabbri had to leave Italy, leaving behind her brother Vero (he was conscripted during World War II and sent to the Russian front and, on his return, risked being deported to Germany. Participating in the resistance, he joined the Communist Party. At the end of the war he returned to the anarchist movement, moving to Montevideo in 1946 where he was a militant in the Anarchist Federation of Uruguay (FAU) in the group founded by his sister. He died in 1991.

Luce stayed alone in Bologna to finish her university studies. At the end of 1928 she gained her laureate at the Faculty of Letters of Bologna University with a thesis on the French anarchist Elisee Reclus which remained unpublished (except for excerpts in Latin American journals). Months later she secretly crossed the Swiss border with the help of the Swiss-Italian anarchist railway worker, Giuseppe Peretti, on a false passport. She joined her parents in Paris in June 1929.

Luigi Fabbri was forced to secretly leave for Belgium, and from there to Uruguay, followed by his family.

The first years in Montevideo were difficult because of problems of finance and adjustment. However, the solidarity received from many anarchists there softened the blow. Luce earned money for the Fabbris by giving lessons in Italian and Greek. She established a friendship with the Argentinean anarchist Diego Abad de Santillan, with whom she collaborated on various editorial initiatives. She also befriended Simon Radowitsky, the Russian Jewish Argentinean anarchist who had just been released after many years from the hellish prison of Ushuaia and had had to take refuge in Uruguay.

She began to write for the review Studi Sociali, set up by her father in 1930. The first eight numbers were published in Buenos Aires as a supplement to the anarchist daily La Protesta.

The Uriburu coup in September 1930 led to the death, torture, and imprisonment of many anarchists in Argentina. Many fled over the border to Montevideo. One of these was the Friulan anarchist and bricklayer Ermacora Cressati, who was to marry Luce in 1933.

In March 1933 an International Antimilitarist Congress took place in Montevideo, organised by a Communist front organisation. It was attended by Luigi Fabbri and by Luce, who was delegated by an Argentinean anarchist group. Forty-five anarchists left the Congress before its conclusion because of the final draft statement already decided on by the Communists. Many other delegates left the hall at the same time in disgust. The result was the quitting of the South American Communist Parties and a reinforcement of the libertarian groups.

Luce wrote her first book, Camisas Negras, a study of fascism, in 1935. With the death of her father in that year, she vowed to carry on with producing the review Studi Sociali. During the Spanish Civil War and Revolution of 1936-1939 she was involved in support for the Spanish anarchists. Under the pseudonym Luz de Alba she published a volume on the Spanish revolution. During World War II she published the magazine Rivoluzione Libertaria which reached five issues and which was secretly distributed in fascist Italy, as well as contributing to the Italian section of the trilingual Socialismo y Libertad, produced in Montevideo. In successive years she produced several more books as well as providing introductions to others on anarchist subjects, in Spanish as well as Italian. She also contributed to the anarchist magazine Volonta, edited in Naples.

In the 1960s she began to produce volumes on Italian literature and poetry.

From 1973-1985 Uruguay suffered a vicious dictatorship. Whilst other anarchists were tortured and murdered, she managed to avoid severe persecution, although she had to withdraw from political activity for the period. To avoid confiscation of her valuable anarchist archives she had them sent to the Institute of Social History in Amsterdam.

With the end of the dictatorship she returned to political activity, helping set up the Grupo de Estudio y Accion Libertaria, which from 1986 produced the magazine Geal, and which then became Opcion Libertaria from the third edition.

In 1993 she undertook her last voyage to Europe, participating in a conference in Barcelona- her contribution ‘A Utopia for the 21st century’ appearing in A Rivista Anarchica of Milan. She took the opportunity to visit the land of her birth on this visit.

Her last literary efforts were assigned to producing a biography of her father. Her final works in 1998 were two volumes of her collected writings. She continued to be active, starting to prepare a work on the phenomenon of autodidacticism within the workers movement which terminated with her death. She continued to be mentally alert until the end, mastering surfing the Internet in her final years.

By Nick Heath, edited by libcom