Pinelli, Giuseppe “Pino”, 1928-1969

Giuseppe Pinelli
Giuseppe Pinelli

A short biography of Giuseppe Pinelli, anarchist railway worker who was murdered by police in the Strategy of Tension. He was immortalised in Dario Fo's play Accidental Death of an Anarchist.

Submitted by Steven. on November 9, 2006

Giuseppe Pinelli, nicknamed Pino
Born 21 October 1928 – Milan, Italy, died 15 December 1969 – Milan, Italy

Giuseppe Pinelli was born 21st October 1928 in the working class neighbourhood of Porta Ticinese in Milan. He worked from a young age as an errand boy, and then later as a warehouse worker. In 1944-45 as a teenager he operated as a courier for an anarchist partisan group operating in the Milan area. Despite having to work at an early age he managed to educate himself by reading hundreds of books.

Mario Mantovani had set up the paper Il Libertario, organ of the Federazione Comunista Libertaria Lombarde in 1945 in Milan and managed to gather together some of the surviving old comrades. Il Libertario appeared at first as a weekly and then as a bimonthly up to 1961. Giuseppe was one of a handful of young people who gravitated towards the grouping.

In 1954 Giuseppe got employment on the railways as a fitter. The following year he married Licia Rognini, who he had met on an Esperanto evening course.

The 1960s saw the steady growth of the Milanese anarchist movement, which accelerated after 1968. This was in no small way due to Giuseppe who organised young anarchists in the Gioventu Libertaria (Libertarian Youth) in 1963. Two years later he was one of those who founded the Sacco and Vanzetti Circle who found themselves a local centre which remained open for the next decade. In 1968 with the end of that circle he founded the Ponte della Ghisolfa Circle (named after the nearby bridge) on 1st May. The group organised a series of conferences and student meetings and assemblies. The circle and Pino were also involved in some of the first initiatives around the base union CUB. Pino also worked for the reconstruction of the anarcho-syndicalist union USI.

He organised the library of the circle making sure the hundreds of books were all bound in black, classified and arranged. On Sundays the circle’s centre welcomed the older comrades, some aged 90 and some even older!

On 25th April 1969 fascists initiated a series of bomb attacks as part of the Strategy of Tension which involved the manipulation of the Italian secret services working together with the American CIA. Some Milanese anarchists were arrested for this as part of a scheme to discredit the revolutionary movement. One of them, Braschi, was invited by the police commissioner Calabresi to jump from the window of the police station. Pino organised support for the imprisoned anarchists (who were finally acquitted in June 1971). He brought food parcels, clothing and books to the prison gates. At the same time he began to organise the Crocenera Anarchica (Anarchist Black Cross) as a prisoner support and counterinformation network.

Pino had attracted the attention of the police and in the aftermath of the December 1969 bombings (see Pietro Valpreda) he was arrested and taken to the central police station to be interrogated by Calabresi and his henchmen. On the evening of 15th December he "fell" from the fourth floor of the police station.

The state murder of Pinelli set off a wave of protest. One thousand people attended his funeral. Later Dario Fo wrote his play Accidental Death of An Anarchist about Pinelli’s murder and the framing of Valpreda.

Calabresi was himself mysteriously gunned down in the street a few years later. Sometime later, Licia, worried about the attention given to her husband’s grave, arranged to have his body reburied in the “anarchist” corner of the cemetery in Carrara, where he lies alongside Goliardo Fiaschi and Gino Lucetti.

Nick Heath


just ice

11 years 11 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by just ice on July 1, 2012

Given that Pinelli co-founded the S and V Circle, one cannot help noting the similarity between his death and that of Andrea Salsedo, who likewise was passed through a window frame under disputed circumstances.


11 years 10 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by flaneur on August 25, 2012

Couldn't add the link to the intro but I uploaded Dario Fo's play here.


8 years 11 months ago

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Submitted by syndicalist on July 11, 2015

One of the first information campaigns I ever was involved in (after his death)