1945 represents the beginning of the period of the fastest growth of the Internationalist Communist Party (PCInt) and the “memorial” below, translated from our Italian site, gives an indication of its geographical extension.
Seventy Five Years Ago (1945-2020)
The Internationalist Communist Party (PCInt), founded in clandestinity in 1942-3, grew immediately in the provinces of Lombardy (around Milan) and Piedmont (around Turin) following a series of mass strikes which began as early as January of that year. By the middle of 1943 Italy was divided between the Allied occupied area from Rome southwards and the German occupied area in which Mussolini continued to preside over the puppet Republic of Saló. These strikes were therefore not only acts of extraordinary courage against a brutal and bankrupt regime but they also signalled that the twenty years of fear and intimidation which Fascism had imposed on the class struggle on behalf of Italian capitalism was at an end. By April 1945 the Germans were forced out of Italy by the advancing Allies and the Internationalist Communist Party could now operate more openly. 1945 thus represents the beginning of the period of its fastest growth and the “memorial” below, translated from our Italian site, gives an indication of its geographical extension.
This was not appreciated by the Stalinists in the Italian Communist Party (PCI) who were hell bent on helping in the restoration of Italian capitalism in alliance with other elements of the bourgeoisie. The same year saw the assassination of leading militants of the PCInt, Mario Acquaviva and Fausto Atti, on the orders of Togliatti. This will be the subject of our next article.
Remembering the Early Comrades of the Internationalist Communist Party
"Perhaps our historical experience is too strange, too special, to be generalised. War and resistance have only taught us about war and resistance themselves, and perhaps about ourselves too. They were certainly enough to make us realise that subjection to totalitarianism was the worst of evils, and to give us the irreducible decision to fight it wherever it is found. But for everything else, we are walking in darkness. No doubt we must walk and find our answers for ourselves, whenever we cannot do otherwise. Who will deny, however, that we must constantly confront these reasons with the experience of others and that in this respect we need guides and witnesses who we cannot challenge? … Yes, our comrades in this fight are those who are scoffed at because they are not powerful and because they seem to stand alone. But they are not alone. Only servitude is lonely, even then it drapes itself in a thousand voices to applaud its own power. What those few have maintained, on the other hand, is what we still live by today. If they hadn’t maintained it, we would have nothing to live by." (Albert Camus, from the preface to the book Moscow Under Lenin by Alfred Rosmer, 1953)
The Party's Activity Expands and Strengthens
With the end of the war the Party’s organisation gradually spread over the entire Italian peninsula and gave it the possibility of opening more sections, especially in Northern Italy. Political propaganda via the press took off, and its influence spread through rallies, conferences and demonstrations that had, in the squares and in cinemas and theatres of some cities, a considerable crowd of listeners. There were many meetings, with workers many of whom had already known the Communist Party of Italy (PCd’I) that was formed in Livorno in 1921 and with many young people attracted by the clear positions and politics of the Party. These meetings were frequent and the speeches and debates were closely followed by the participants. Only here and there did the Stalinists attempt to disrupt them, in some cases with attempted violence, but they were firmly dealt with by our comrades. We remember, among others and for its success, the rally on “The Constituent Assembly – a Counter-Revolutionary Body”, held by comrade Onorato Damen at the Puccini theatre in Milan on 30 May 1946, preceded by a large demonstration. We have put together below some information and news relating to the years 1945-48, taken mainly from the rich documentation in Battaglia Comunista. Through those, in addition to the memories passed down to us by old comrades concerning episodes and names of comrades present and active in those very first years of the Party's life, we have created a record of many of the leading militants whose work was both organisationally and politically fundamental. It was also useful to read some pages of two books which also drew on reports published in Battaglia Comunista of the time. They are: Né con Truman né con Stalin by Sandro Saggioro (Edizioni Colibrì, 2010) and Nascita e morte di un partito rivoluzionario by Dino Erba (All’Insegna del Gatto Rosso, 2012). Both make reference to the history of the Internationalist Communist Party for the period from 1942/43 to 1952.
Organisational Consolidation of the Party
At the end of 1945 there were 11 federations present in northern and central Italy: three in Piedmont, three in Lombardy, two in Emilia, one in Liguria, one in Tuscany, one in Lazio. At least six others were in formation and would open the following year. Throughout Italy there were 47 sections while another 25 were in formation. Below is a summary of the situation in the various regions, recalling the comrades working in those difficult years; not all of them are named here, since some remained anonymous or were forced to work in isolation in difficult geographical conditions and in precarious local situations.
In Milan there was one of the most representative groups of the Party, with the solid presence of Onorato Damen, Bruno Maffi, Luciano Stefanini (who returned to Italy from exile after 25 July 1945). We also remember the companions Luigi Rognoni and Vittorio Faggioni (lawyer), Giulio Benelli (Demetrio), D'Amico (worked in a delicatessen), Attilio Formenti and Gino Voltolina (womens’ hairdressers), Mario Santin and Libero Roncagli (workers at Motomeccanica), Quirini Pedrazzoli, Argenti, Leoni, Protti, Buffa, Poci, Mario Pannunzio, Sergio Adanti, Valentino Rosi Severino del Fabbro, Alfonso Tosi, Costante Merli, Ferruccio Sedini, Osvaldo Beltrami, Riccardo Giovannini (from San Fermo della Battaglia). In addition, the ever-present and active Francesca (Cecchina or Cecca) Grossi, the partner of Onorato Damen.
The main office was located in Milan in via Ceresio (Casa del Popolo Matteotti); other offices were located in different districts of the city (Città Studi, Porta Volta, Corvetto in via Pomposa, Sempione and Bicocca). Others opened in the province at Cinisello Balsamo, Monza, Cernusco, Pioltello, Meda, Carate Brianza, Codogno, Melzo, Casalpusterlengo, and Santo Stefano Lodigiano. Among the hundred or so comrades active in the various locations, we remember G. Sartorelli, Riboni, Bergamaschi, Carlo Masciadri (upholsterer), Cesare Pozzi (electrician), Giuseppe Alberici and Paolo Martino Pirovano (both workers).
The Italian Communist Party (PCI) reacted with anger, especially in Lombardy; according to its provincial secretary F. Scotti – at the 5th Congress of the Milanese Federation of the PCI, in October 1945 – he denounced the presence of internationalists in the Milanese area as "provocative", and the national-communist "comrades" were invited to speak out "to expose the provocateurs of unrest and violence". The complaints were made arm in arm with their Christian Democrat "friends" and with whom the PCI boasted more than a "good" relationship.
In the Varese area, Luigi Rodari distinguished himself in Laveno and gathered around him a group of young people. The Giovanni brothers, Carlo and Carolina Campeggi, Guido Lombi and Violetta Meriti all worked in Germignaga and Luino. Giovanni Campeggi (Gandi) had been a member of the Left in the provinces of Como and Varese, and a member of the PCd’I in 1921, then participated in 1928 in the establishment of the Left Fraction abroad. From 1936 to 1943 he had been a "guest" of the Fascist prisons.
The Section of Cassano Magnago, where Carlo Mazzucchelli was previously active in the Fraction in France, was mainly made up of many workers from the Maino cotton mill in Gallarate. More than a hundred were members of the Section, including Luigi Mazzucchelli (brother of Carlo), Paolo Galmarini and Dionigi Luoni (bricklayers), Silvio Bernasconi, Carlo and Natale Canziani, Luigi Risetti. We also remember other companions from places in the Olona Valley: Pietro Masnaghi (baker from Carate), Carlo Cassani and Primo Tiziano from Bolladello, and Angelo Monti from Legnano.
In Varese, where the Federation was based, were Guido Daverio (one time commander of the Arditi del Popolo), Nicola Filomeno, Giovanni Bernasconi di Gazzada and Ernesto Trondoli. The latter all joined the Party immediately after the end of the war. The internationalists stood out at the head of many strikes and struggles against unemployment in industrial centres of the Province.
In Como, after the Liberation, groups were formed in particular in Cadorago and Osnago. We remember Egidio Botta, worker at Fisac; Pasquale Bernabeo and Giustino Ceccuzzi in Lecco and Mandello Lario (Moto Guzzi).
Angelo Morganti, a survivor of Dachau, was in the section operating in Bergamo. The Federation of Cremona had one of its prestigious representatives in Rosolino Ferragni (lawyer). Communist militant since 1921, he held various positions in the PCd’I, especially in Milan where in 1926 he was arrested with Umberto Terracini and then sentenced to 16 years in prison.
In the areas around Cremona and Mantua, internationalists were able to count in particular on the activity of Giovanni Bottaioli (Butta) back from exile in France where he had been a member of the Left Fraction. Around him the brothers Giuliano and Giuseppe Bianchini, the brothers Armando and Massimo Parlato, Giampietro Zelioli, Remo Scandolara.
In Monferrato, thanks above all to the work of Mario Acquaviva, the internationalist presence was remarkable. With him stood the worker Francesco Costanzo (Cichin), from a young age in 1921 in the front line against Fascist violence; Secondo Comune (Gundin) and Giuseppe Marenda in Casale Monferrato where Section Secretary was Antonio Somaschini. And in the Province of Alessandria and Asti: Ritirato di Valmacca, Valenza, Portacomaro, Borgo San Martino, Castello D’Annone. Remarkable was the activity carried out, also with factory groups in the factories of Eternit of Casale and the Waj Assauto of Asti.
In Turin groups of workers in various departments of Fiat had followed the internationalists since the struggles of 1943, even before the establishment of the Turin Federation at the end of the war and for which was responsible Luigi Danielis, originally from Palmanova and active in the Left Fraction during his exile in France. By his side, Luigi Gilodi, returning from the Gusen concentration camp, and Giovanni Boero, both old militants. Among the many companions, we remember Vasco Rivolti, Viarengo, Muccini, Giancarlo Porrone, Anelio Rossi. In addition to the headquarters, other sections were opened in the districts of Turin and in the Province (Moncalieri, Rueglio, Perosa Argentina, Inverso Drusacco in Valchiusella). Also in the Canavese (Olivetti di Ivrea) and in the Biella area; finally in the provinces of Cuneo and Vercelli.
Guido Torricelli, a valiant figure in the fight against Fascism (August 1922) led the internationalist group in Parma, also being part of the Central Committee of the Party. Vittorio Adorni and many young people with him. Sections were opened in the city, in centres of the province, in Reggio Emilia (with comrades Costa and Cortese) and in Modena. We also remember the young Ottavio Tellini (Pluto) from Guastalla. Due to the support the internationalists received in the area, the PCI responded with slanders of all kinds, threats and attacks like those of the Fascist squadristi in the 1920s, as happened in Modena against three internationalist militants, workers of the Officine Reggiane.
In the Section of Forlì Romeo Neri, a veteran fighter was among the post-First Wold War labourers’ leagues, and Gastone Giuliani who came from the Resistance. Furthermore Turiddu Candoli (Alfredo), organiser of the armed struggle against the Fascist squads and one the members of the Fraction of the Communist Left in the first post-war period: the same for Balilla Monti, also a member of the Fraction and then with the group of comrades operating in Marseille and Toulon. The strike in September 1946 at the Eridania sugar factory in Forlì with the internationalists in the front row should also be remembered.
The old militant Enrico Pirini joined the internationalist group of Cervia, together with Turiddu Candoli; we also remember Paolo Silvani (or Silvagni) from Lugo di Ravenna. Internationalists were also present in Romagna localities such as Bagnacavallo, Russi, Lugo, Meldola, as well as Cesenatico, Cervia, Ferrara. Among the comrades operating in Trebbo di Reno were the two sons of Fausto Atti, Riccardo and Ovidio, who together with Alfonso and Mario Sarti created the local Internationalist Section; in Castiglion de’Pepoli many comrades gathered around Guido Gasperini, supporter of the Fraction during his exile. A Section had also arisen in Baragazza, in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. In Ravenna we remember Luigi Manoni; in Lugo di Ravenna, Paolo Silvagni.
Veneto and Friuli
Veterans of the French and Belgian exile in the region, comrades Vittorio Comunello (in Treviso) and Antonio Gabassi (Totò) in Palmanova, distinguished themselves for their activity; Riccardo Salvador from Piovene Rocchette joined them where the Lanerossi and Marzotto textile factories were located. We should not forget as well Giovanni Ferrero, a communist from Ovada.
In Friulì, offices opened in Palmanova, Pinzano sul Tagliamento, Valeriano and Costion di Muris around the Snia Viscosa factory. Other comrades in the areas mentioned: Vincenzo Serena and Amedeo Gattoni.
Needless to say, the PCI's reactions were violent, especially after the opening of internationalist sections in Piovene Rocchette and Cogollo del Cengio, in Vicenza and in Venice, where we remember Comrade Ferruccio De Vei. In the Marca Trevigiana, comrade V. Comunello was very active.
Sections were also opened in Santa Maria Maddalena (with comrade Villiam Desiderati and Luigi Tartari), and in Canaro and Lendinara.
Saverio Sustersich and Giovanni Sincovich (both in the PCd’I of 1921), Piero Bullo, Areturo Jakus were in the Trieste Section of the Party.
A Section with Riccardo Salvador, Piero Testolin, Menego Bertoldo, Nunzio Gerardin and Gigi was opened in Piove Rocchette in the province of Vicenza (where Filature Lanerossi was located). We also remember Antonio Gabassi (Totò) who returned to Palmanova after being a militant of the Fraction, and Vittorio Comunello who also returned to Treviso from the Fraction in Belgium.
The Federation of Genoa was led by Giulio Ferradini, from the PCd’I, with his sons Spartaco (shot by the Nazis in Genoa) and Iaris; Amerigo Zadra, Emilio Molinari, Giuseppe Parmeggiani with his son Otello, Anchise Poggi and Federico Gamba di Vado, Claudio Carlo and Giovanni Cena from Vado Ligure, as well as Francesco Tarditi. In addition to Genoa, sections were opened on the Riviera di Ponente in Vado, San Remo, Ventimiglia, Oneglia. For his commitment, comrade Romeo Ceglia should be remembered, and the work done in Savona which was the seat of the provincial Federation.
In particular at the Ansaldo of Sampierdarena and at the Ilva of Savona, as well as between the buildings of Ventimiglia and the unemployed of Sestri Levante, the presence of internationalists alarmed the PCI a lot, which in December 1946 issued a circular in which it "inquired" about the presence of
"Italian and foreign elements who, boasting recommendations from communist parties and organizations from other countries, try to make contact with our sections or cells. These elements, which are part of or attempt to organize groups that take the most disparate names such "Internationalists", "Leninist Communists", "Red Flag", "Pure Communists", etc., are in essence only disruptors and provocateurs who play the game of reaction." (from The Mensheviks of Italy in Battaglia Comunista, December 1946)
The Internationalist Federation in Florence had as secretary Aldo Lecci (Tullio), a highly prestigious worker and companion, a valiant fighter against the Fascist squads he was forced to leave Italy. He became a leading figure in the Left Fraction. With him, in Florence, the Carrarese Bruno Bibbi, who had also emigrated to Marseille and who was among the promoters of the Fraction abroad.
Located in the San Frediano district, the Federation was active in various locations in the province, including San Polo in Chianti where Maria Antonietta Faloni (Mariuccia), the partner of Luciano Stefanini, lived. Both were implicated in the murder of the Marquis Lapo Viviani. Other comrades: Loris Ballerini and Pietro Croce, Ubaldo Cavini, Enzo Armini, Cipriano Manni, Giuliano Bianchini, Totò Natangelo (from Naples).
When, between June and July 1944, Mario Acquaviva managed to reach Piombino, a first group of internationalists was formed; Raffaele Galardi, the young Giulio Scarpa and his brother Albo Arnaldi, Virgilio Berretti (head of the Portoferraio Section), Francesco Bolano and Fernando Tonghini both from Portoferraio were part of the group present on the Island of Elba. Other comrades, who were very active in those hard years were: Giuseppe Daddi of Piombino and Otello Anacoreti responsible for the local Section. Giovanni Bottaioli’s speech to a rally in Piombino on 3 June 1947 as well as that of Aldo Lecci in Portoferraio on 21 December 1947 had great success.
In Rome, from December 1945 to March 1946, there was the editorial staff of Battaglia Comunista; comrade Otello Terzani, Antonino Poce, Cipriano Manni, Alfonso Covone, Romolo Pace, Libero Spaccesi were active members of the Section. A section was also opened in Genzano, in the Castelli Romani area; we remember comrades Dante Lolletti and Adriano Del Prete. Another group of internationalists, with Lamberto Piccirilli, had formed in Antrodoco in the province of Rieti.
The Federation of Naples was formed in the summer of 1945, together with that of Salerno; later Sections were opened in Torre Annunziata, Bagnoli and Castellamare di Stabia. In Torre Annunziata, among a large group of comrades, we remember Salvatore Ierardi and Luigi Balzano, Ferdinando Pagano, Gennaro Fabbrocino, Brigante, Morrone, Pio Morbino. Other sections opened in Cosenza and Reggio Calabria.
Sections of the Party were opened in Taranto and Lecce (with comrades Vittorio Maradei and Battaglini) and in the agricultural centres of Manduria, Modugno, Sava, Canosa, Galatina and Gravina di Puglia where comrade Salvatore Di Matti was located. Other names of valiant companions in Puglia: Giacinto Muto, Massari, Russo, Lisi, Attilio Morelli, Carichino.
The internationalists were present in the Franco Tosi shipyards in Taranto (Falck group); the Internationalist Federation was the object of defamatory accusations and slanders by the Stalinist Secchia who in his youth as an "extremist" together with Dozza, had received firm opposition from the Communist Left comrades to his "proposal" to secretly use the funds of the Communist Youth Federation to finance the Committee of Intesa (see Battaglia Comunista, n.30, December 1946 and n.1, January 1947).
The Federation of Catanzaro had a valiant exponent in Francesco Maruca, a communist militant since 1921. The monthly L’Internazionale Comunista was published and a Section was also inaugurated in Reggio Calabria, later home to the Federation at the home of Comrade Pasquale Porchi. There were numerous clashes, not always verbal, with what remained of the monarchists and Fascists. Worthy of note is the activity of Comrade Scuticchio, who operated in the localities of Vibo Valentia and Pizzo Calabro.
In Cosenza, the Section was established with the very valuable contribution of Fortunato La Camera, who with Vincenzo Ferraro had been a prominent communist figure since 1921. With them was also Gregorio Maurizio Minnicelli. Sections opened in San Giovanni in Fiore, Pizzo Calabro, Spezzano Grande, Diamante and Casole Bruzio.
In Messina, a party headquarters was created by Comrade Carmelo Antonio Chillemi. Another section was opened in Porto Empedocle, in the province of Agrigento.
To all these comrades, and to those who contributed to raising the banner of revolutionary and internationalist communism, our undying memory and a moving greeting with a closed fist.