Failla, Alfonso, 1906-1986

Alfonso Failla.

A short biography of inspirer of the Siracusa uprising, fighter in the resistance and a key figure in the rebuilding of the Italian anarchist movement after World War II, Alfonso Failla.

Alfonso Failla was born in Siracusa, Sicily on 30th July 1906. He was drawn to the anarchist movement and was heavily involved in the activity of the movement.

He took part in the armed resistance to the fascist squads there in 1925. Gun in hand, he and other anarchists fought the invasion of thousand of armed fascists, who before embarking for the war in Libya, were to be used against the workers movement. Heavy losses were inflicted on the fascists and the local population with the dockworkers at their head rose in insurrection. The regime had to divert embarkation of troops to Libya to the port of Naples for a long time after the uprising.

He was interned in 1930 at and not freed (except for a short period under police surveillance at Siracusa in 1939) until 1943. During the 30s he was one of the supporters of a re-organisation of the anarchist movement among the prisoners.

He was transferred to Ventotene, on the orders of the fascist Prefect of Siracusa on 11 June 1940 where he got to know Gino Lucetti. Whilst other anti-fascist factions were released in July 1943 with the fall of Mussolini and the installation of the regime of Marshal Badoglio, anarchists were not.

Many were transferred to a camp in Renicci d’Anghiari in Arezzo. Conditions there were atrocious, with mock executions and brutality. The resistance of the anarchist prisoners was spirited, and Alfonso, who had already been wounded by a bayonet thrust by a carabinieri (policeman), led a revolt and a mass break out.

He then joined the resistance, being active principally in Tuscany, Liguria and Lombardy. He helped free hundreds of Italian prisoners being marched off to the German death camps. He resumed his anarchist activities. In 1945 he helped organise the Federazione Comunista Libertaria dell’Alta Italia (Libertarian Communist Federation of Upper Italy) and was among the delegates at the founding conference of the anarchist federation the FAI in Carrara in 1945.

He was one of the editors of the anarchist weekly Umanita Nova in Rome. He was also very active in the anarcho-syndicalist USI, and attended its national conference in 1967 at Carrara, as delegate of The USI of that locality. He delivered the opening speech of the Congress to a large audience and was to be delegated to attend Congresses of the IWA throughout the 70s. As an anti-militarist he helped found, with Carlo Cassola, the Lega per il Disarmo Unilaterale dell'Italia (League for Unilateral Disarmament of Italy).

He was one of the delegates at the Congress organised by the International of Anarchist Federations, which was disrupted by the spontaneists, with Daniel Cohn-Bendit at their head. He attended hundreds of other conferences and debates and served on many committees, the last of which was at Pisa with the police murder of Franco Serantini.

He had to cut down on activity in June 1972 because of health reasons. He died in Carrara in January 1986.