Zanella, Giuditta Maria (1885-1962)

Giuditta and Ilario
Giuditta and Ilario

A short biography of Giuditta Zanella, Italian anarchist who fought with the Durruti Column

Submitted by Battlescarred on March 14, 2017

Giuditta Zanella was born on 26th April 1885 to Liberale Zanella and Letizia Zanella (nee Carrieri) at Barzola, in the province of Varese, Lombardy in Italy. She became active in the Socialist Party, but with her sisters Elena, Lina and Margarita, moved over to anarchism. She was active in the industrial city of Turin and was the partner of another active anarchist, the bricklayer Ilario Margarita. She earned a living there as a textile worker. She was arrested in 1915 for the important propaganda that she carried out among Turinese women workers according to her police dossier, which also noted that she was in contact with the Swiss anarchist paper Le Reveil/Il Risveglio and that she “often spoke at public rallies, but is not able to give lectures… she has always been involved in subversive demonstrations, and was arrested several times for her rebellious nature." Giuditta also contributed articles to the Galleanist paper Cronaca Sovversiva.

She took part in the anti-military uprising of 1917 and in the movement or factory occupations in Turin.

At the end of the 1920s she moved with Ilario to first Cuba and then the USA, and then to France and Belgium before moving to Barcelona at the beginning of the 1930s where they lived with Francisco Ferrer, the grandson of the famous libertarian teacher of the same name who had been executed in the moat of Montjuich prison in 1909.

Under surveillance from the Italian secret police, Giuditta and Ilario were arrested by the Spanish authorities in July 1932 and expelled to France on 20th September of the same year for holding “clandestine anarchist meetings”. After a short stay in Toulouse they then secretly returned to Barcelona.

They took part in the street fighting of July 1936. Giuditta then joined the Durruti Column, whilst Ilario joined the Ortiz Column.She served for several months on the Saragossa front and was one of three survivors of her company. She then returned to the rear.

During the May Days of 1937 she witnessed the murder by Stalinists of her dear friend Francisco Ferrer, gunned down in the street. She herself was wounded in the arm.

She wrote about the murder of Ferrer under the alias of “Yudith” for the Italian anarchist expatriate paper Guerra di Classe (based in Barcelona) on 19th July 1937.

With the fall of the Republic she crossed the border to France. Italian authorities noted on 15th September 1939 that she was living at Saint Clement in the Corrèze).

After the end of World War Two she returned to Italy and renewed her activity in the Turinese anarchist movement alongside Ilario. She died in Turin on 5th September 1962. Ilario outlived her and died in 1974.

Nick Heath