Berneri, Giliana, 1919-1998


A short history of the second daughter of Italian anarchist Camillo Berneri who was very active in the Parisian anarchist movement.

Submitted by Ed on March 2, 2007

Giliana Berneri a.k.a Giliane Berneri
Born Florence, Italy 1919. Died Paris, France 1998

Giliana Berneri (known under her gallicised first name as Giliane in France) was the second daughter of Camillo Berneri and Giovanna Caleffi and was born in Florence on the 5th October 1919. Giliana studied medicine in Paris and specialised in paediatrics and psychoanalysis.

She appears to have been active in the 1930s in the Fédération Anarchiste de langue française (FAF).

She received French nationality on 17th October 1947. She was heavily involved in the French anarchist movement like her partner Jean Senninger aka Serge Ninn (later one of the joint founders with Georges Fontenis of the OPB). They had married in 1945. She was a dynamic militant of the Sacco et Vanzetti group of the Fédération Anarchiste in the Latin Quarter. She lived at 240 rue Saint-Jacques (Paris 5è), and their home figured on the surveillance list set up by the French police. Much later she was a member of the groupe Kronstadt, expelled in 1954 from the Fédération Communiste Libertairie (FCL). She was one of the principal joint authors with Louis Blanchard (according to Fontenis) of the Memorandum of the Groupe Kronstadt denouncing the manouevres of the OPB. She participated in many initiatives and conferences with many intellectuals, like Albert Camus, and contributed articles to the anarchist paper Le Libertaire. Like her sister, Marie Louise, she popularised the theories of Wilhelm Reich within the libertarian press.

She participated in various campaigns, like the long and complicated liberation of the Italian anarchist Ernesto Bonomini from a concentration camp near Toulouse and his exile to the USA.

Gravely disillusioned by the turn of events within the FCL she left the anarchist movement in the 50s. With the death of her mother in 1962 she donated all the documents and books of her father and mother to the anarchist Aurelio Chessa.

She died on the 19th July 1998.

The son of Giliane and Senninger, Franck Senninger, (born 1955) also became a doctor, specialising in endocrinology and dietology. He is also the author of several novels, the first one, Le secret de Brocéliande (Paris, éditions des Écrivains, 1999), appearing under the pseudonym of F. Berneri Croce. His sister Hélène (born 1950), is also a doctor, specialising, like her mother, in paediatrics.