9 July 1943 Allies land in Sicily flying Mafia colours. Germans retreat to a defensive line across the peninsula north of Naples.
25 July 1943 Following talks between Hitler and Mussolini at Feltre, Fascist Grand Council invite King Victor Emmanuel to assume supreme command. Mussolini is arrested.
28 July 1943 Fascist Party dissolved.
12 Sept 1943 Otto Skorzeny frees Mussolini who assumes leadership of the Repubblica Sociale Italiana (Salo Republic).
4 June 1944 Allies occupy Rome. Command of US Office of Strategic Services (OSS—the forerunner of the CIA) passes to Colonel Clifton T. Carter, an admirer of Marshal Pietro Badoglio, former Italian Army Chief of Staff who had led the assault on defenceless Ethiopia. Carter’s executive officer is Major James H. Angleton, an expatriate businessman who owns a subsidiary of the National Cash Register Company in Milan. Carter sends his executive officer’s son, James Jesus Angleton, who had studied in Italy prior to the war and had close right-wing and neofascist connections, to Rome to head the special operations section of the OSS. From the moment he arrives in Rome Angleton re-establishes close contact with fascist and right wing organisations and clandestine anti-communist movements from whose ranks he recruits his special operations personnel.
Angleton becomes the key American figure controlling all right wing and neo-fascist political and paramilitary groups in Italy in the postwar period. As in Germany, US secret service involvement with and commitment to the far right during this period facilitates the rebirth of neofascism and the extreme right as the dominant force within Italian politics. One of the numerous terrorist and fascist networks controlled by Angleton is the Fasci d’Azione Revoluzionaria (FAR) whose activities include attacks on liberated radio stations and pirate broadcasts of fascist anthems and pro-Mussolini speeches. An important figure in FAR is Pino Romualdi, ex vicesecretary of the Salo Republic's fascist Republican Party, who claims to be the illegitimate son and heir of Mussolini and later to become one of the main organisers of the MSI. In report no. 86500/3 to the National Security Council prepared by Angleton himself, all the clandestine anticommunist organisations are listed and the author confirms that certain of these are financed by the US secret services. Angleton places great stress on the importance of the Armata Italiana di Liberazione (AIL) led by Colonel Musco and General Sorice, a former Minister of War in the government of Marshall Badoglio.
In report no. 86500/7747 another secret agent, Frank Gigliotti, reports that AIL have “… 50 generals in the process of organising for a coup d’etat. They are anticommunists to a man and ready for anything.”
8 December 1944 British and American military sign a secret accord in Rome which proposes Allied financial aid and arms shipments to the anti communist partisans of the CNLAI (Committee for National Liberation of Upper Italy) in return for an agreement to obey all Allied directives to concentrate on safeguarding northern industrial plants from the Germans and to stage a rapid disarmament after liberation. The main British figure in the negotiations with the anticommunist partisans during this period is the mysterious John McCaffery1 of the Special Intelligence Service (MI6) who operated under the cover of “assistant press attache at the British Legation in Berne. Both McCaffery and Edge Leslie of MI6, also based in Berne, worked closely with Allen Dulles of the OSS (CIA) in spite of official Whitehall opposition to the latter’s close and questionable involvement with “the self-seeking conspiracy of a cabal of disenchanted Prussian generals.”
27 December 1944 Journalist Guglielmo Giannini founds L’Uomo Qualunque (The Common Man), an extreme right wing populist paper directed at the reactionary middle classes, fascist sympathisers, monarchists and Salo republicans.
21 March 1945 Report from the “Confidential Affairs” section of the Interior Ministry of the Salo Republic to Mussolini concerning the establishment of espionage and operational centres: "To this end, the political section of the National Republican Guard has set up a special organism which is already functional and whose potential will be increased. For the moment, that section comprises a ranking officer of the political service, 16 couriers/observers, 18 liaison agents within the borders of the RSI, and some 43 liaison agents in occupied Italy. Each of these persons is living under an assumed identity such that they arouse no suspicion.”
The second part of the document provides evidence of close links between the Italian fascists and the Roman Catholic Church. The same document advises OVRA agents (Mussolini's secret police) to infiltrate the Communist Party and the National Liberation Committee and gives assurance that some of their people “are already working at penetrating these in suitable fashion.”
25 April 1945 Admiral Ellery Stone, US Proconsul in occupied Italy, instructs James Angleton to rescue Prince Valerio Borghese from the possibility of arrest by the Resistance Committees which had sentenced him. to death for war crimes. Stone is a close friend of the Borghese family and “The Black Prince” as he was known was considered a wartime hero for the exploits of his frogmen and miniature submarines against allied shipping.
29 April 1945 James Jesus Angleton, together with Captain Carlo Resio of Italian Naval Intelligence, collect Prince Borghese from his hiding place in a Milan apartment block, dress him in the uniform of a US officer and escort him to Rome.
8 August 1945 Alcide de Gasperi becomes Italian Prime Minister following Christian Democrat successes at National Assembly elections and a popular referendum. (With the exception of De Gasperi and a small minority who were involved with the Resistance, the bulk of the membership of the DC is either fascist or fascist sympathisers.)
1 September 1945 Admiral Biancheri signs secret ministerial note urging the military command to recognise “extenuating circumstances” following the collapse of the Salo Republic: “To all the military of the Salo Republic who had given proof of anti-Salo behaviour and that they are to be retained in the service and employed for anti-communist propaganda and propaganda in favour of the monarchy.” Another circular from police and military commands invites subordinates not to employ in the special services and forces of public order those servicemen and agents who have their origin in the partisans and the Resistance.
20 September 1945 US President Harry S. Truman issues an executive order disbanding the Office of Strategic Services, saying he wants no part of a peacetime Gestapo. The Strategic Services Unit and Office of Policy Co-ordination are set up to preside over the dissolution of the OSS: Philip Horton remained in France, Richard Helms in Germany, Alfred Ulmer in Austria, Albert Seitz in the Balkans, James Kellis in China — and James Angleton in Italy.
18 June 1946 Proclamation of Italian Republic. Togliatti, Communist Minister of Justice, proclaims a general amnesty for all political offenders with the exception of those found guilty of “particularly heinous outrages.” Most of those responsible for the most brutal outrages are set free. By the end of 1946, as in Germany, most senior fascist politicians and military security figures are returned to positions of power as a result of pressure brought to bear by the Allies, who see them as the only organised and trustworthy bulwark against bolshevism.
26 December 1946 Arturo Michelini, a former vice-chairman of the fascist federation of Rome, calls a meeting at his Rome apartment to lay the foundations for the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI).
March 1948 Report from the US National Security Council on the run up to the Italian legislative elections in April confirms the US promise: “…to he]p out the clandestine anticommunist movements with financial and military assistance.” This assistance was detailed in a memo signed by Colonel J. Willems entitled: “The Importance of Recognising the Revolutionary Anti-Communist Forces.” It stresses the strategic and political significance of Italy and the fact that its internal security is: “…an essential factor in the struggle against the Comintern. Italy is the gateway to the centre and east of Europe; she also affords control of the Balkans, the Adriatic and the Ionian Sea.” It further specified that: “…the Italian army afford no serious guarantee against Tito’s armies […] or against the well-organised and well-armed communist fifth column in Western Europe and in Italy herself. This weakness makes it necessary that all forces anti-communist in sentiment should be taken into consideration.” (Document No. 740454).
CIA involved in operation to prevent communist victory in Italian elections.
10 February 1948 Following overwhelming victory of right wing in the elections there is a rapid acceleration in the process of purging socialist and pro-Resistance elements in the administration. Document dated 10 February from US Embassy in Rome to State Department in Washington explains formation of a new police corps specialising in anti-communist activities. This special service under Interior Minister Mario Scelba with US advisers is recruited largely from OVRA veterans. New special police corps is inspired by success of a similar venture in France:
“…To combat the threat of communism. France has organised small but efficient police cells outside the normal police structures, but under the supervision of the Surete National. These cells are equipped with finance and exceptional resources and their personnel, while limited in numbers, are trained to perfection for tasks of this nature. Italy is similarly engaged in setting up secret anticommunist police groups along these lines, under the aegis of the Interior Minister, and relying upon leaders of the old fascist secret police to provide the basic personnel at structural and organisational levels.”
Journalist Antonio Gambino reported an interview with Scelba in which he stated that from early 1948 he had established an infrastructure capable of tackling any communist uprising. He explained how the entire country had been divided up into territorial units: in charge of each of these he had appointed “an energetic figure enjoying his complete confidence.”
July 1948 Between July 1948 and the end of 1953, the anti-anarchist and communist repression cost 62 lives (48 of them members of the CP), 3126 injured and 92,169 arrests (73,870 of them party members). Many of these were people sentenced after the liberation for acts of resistance which were represented as ordinary crimes. One of these was the anarchist Pedrini Belgrado who was tried summarily in the early post-war months for anti-fascist activities and was still in prison over 30 years later.
With the assistance of US secret service agents Peter M. Berti, Daniel Lee McCarthy, Dr. Arthur Gilbert Trudeau — under James Angleton — the MSI begins a massive programme of expansion. By the end of 1948 the MSI claims to have 1874 branches throughout Italy and control 34 weekly magazines. It also establishes cover organisations such as Giovanni Italia, the National Federation of Republican ex-servicemen (FNCR), and the notorious terrorist recruiting ground the Fronte Universitario di Azione Nazionale (FUAN). It also launches its national daily paper Il Secolo d’Italia under the editorship of Franz Turchi.
4 April 1949 Italy signs North Atlantic Treaty.
July 1951 Premier de Gasperi authorises the formation of a “civil defence corps” to assist police and carabinieri. Enrico Mattei, chairman of Italian oil company AGIP and president of the association of Catholic partisans addresses their annual congress on the role of the “white guards” whose duties include: “keeping under observation any groups advocating disobedience, an embryonic form of sabotage… to combat the progressive poisoning of minds and prevent the weaker members of society from being influenced by hostile propaganda… to prevent the appointment of Communists to positions of authority… to thwart criminal solidarity…”
10 March 1954 MSI holds 4th National Congress which leads to a series of splits and schisms. Defectors include General Ivrea and journalist Pino Rauti.
1956 Ordine Nuevo Study Centre established in Rome. Founders include Pino Rauti, Clemente Graziani, Paulo Andriani and Rutilio Sermonti.
Ordine Nuevo develops out of the clandestine experiences of activists in the post-war period in organisations such as FAR and the Legione Nera. Pino Rauti and his associates represent the hard line elements within the MSI and are committed to a return to the basic tenets of Mussolini’s Salo Republic:
(1) Repudiation of populist side to fascism in accordance with the theses of Nazi philosopher Julius Evola.
(2) The creation of a united Europe as a response to US and Soviet imperialism and as a response to, on the one hand, petty conservative 1930s-type nationalism and, on the other hand, to the MSI's pro-NATO and pro-American line.
(3) Adoption of a hard and unequivocal stand on capitalism, the Church, the monarchy and the bourgeoisie.
October 1956 Hungarian students and workers demand unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops, dissolution of secret police.
Soviet tanks intervene following bloody clashes with workers, students and Hungarian troops. Around 200,000 people flee Hungary, including many ultra-reactionary and neo-fascist elements.
13 May 1958 Outbreak of European settlers’ insurrection in Algiers leads to collapse of French Fourth Republic and De Gaulle's return to power. Rise to prominence of ultra right wing Roman Catholic organisation, Cite Catholique, particularly strong among the officers of the “fifth Bureau of the General Staff” (Psychological Warfare).
21 January 1960 Barricades Week. European settlers, with passive complicity of French Army units, raise barricades in Algiers and defy the government for one week.
1960 Barricades Trial. Nineteen settler activists are indicted for an attempt on the security of the state during Barricades Week; sixteen go on trial before a military court in Paris; three, including the "father" of the OAS, Pierre Lagaillarde escape to Spain.
1960 Fascist and anti-semitic slogans are painted on walls of Jewish buildings, Socialist party offices in Milan and Turin, etc. Police raid Milan HQ of the New European Order arresting 20 members. Police also raid the offices of the “Revolutionary Action Group.” Among the five arrested is leader Stefano Delle Chiaie.
The thaw in international politics and the easing of the cold war from the midfifties onward had taken much of the steam out of neo-fascist activism, but this policy of reformism in the opening months of 1960 which led to the opening of the "centre-left" caused alarm and concern among all the more reactionary elements of Italian conservatism.
In the Christian Democrat Party, the right wing and the “Scelbian” centre at once tried to avert this danger. The right wing Vatican hierarchies, led by prelates like the Cardinal Archbishop of Genoa, Monsignor Siri, aided and abetted this alarmist campaign and openly sided with the adversaries of the "centre-left trend”. The Confederazione Generale dell lndustria Italiana, mainly through the Assolombardo (association of Lombard industrialists), manoeuvred to intimidate the majority party by using men like Pella and Togni, who were the mouthpieces of the most retrograde sectors of Italian finance. . . . [Nevertheless] in the brief space of a few months it became clear that [premier] Tambroni intended to tackle the problems of pressure from the workers (which had become more urgent owing to the disparity between profits and wages, between the cost of living and the purchasing power of money) by resorting to methods dating from the days of the Scelba government. The police and carabinieri proceeded to deal with the strikes in a brutal way undoubtedly inspired by instructions from above; the government’s economic measures seemed to be merely safeguarding the speculation that was rife throughout the country; an atmosphere of blackmail and sinister intrigue pervades the top levels of political life, and rumours were current that the Premier himself had ordered the police to check up on all members of parliament and on his own colleagues in the government.
From the very beginning the cabinet was torn by dissensions in the ranks of the DC (Christian Democrats) and these brought about its fall on the eve of 25 April. Negotiations were then resumed with a view to forming a centre-left government with Fanfani as Prime Minister, but a week later there was another dispute and Tambroni's name was again put forward. At the beginning of May his second cabinet was launched, thanks to the support of the MSI. Two months later the situation which had already been tense, became explosive.
The Prime Minister, hailed in certain Vatican circles as the "wise and strong man," showed arrogant authoritarian tendencies, while the “nostalgics,” emboldened by their unaccustomed success, which had brought them to power, demanded that the government should adopt a "policy of force" in dealing with agitation among workers and "restore order." The MSI leaders thought that the time had come to convene a party conference and announced that, with the consent of the government, it would be held in Genoa, under the chairmanship of Carlo Emanuele Basile, a former Fascist prefect of the city whose name had figured in the list of war criminals. The provocative nature of this announcement was obvious.
1961 Stefano Delle Chiaie achieves notoriety when he is arrested and charged with removing the flag of the Resistance from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Rome.
- 1 John McCaffery died in February 1981. Before his death he made out an affidavit stating that he had plotted with Michele Sindona in an attempt to overthrow the Italian government. McCaffery was not the only MI6 agent involved in the web of conspiracies under examination in the present work. Edward Phillip Scicluna, an MI6 officer of Maltese extraction, was present during at least two secret planning meetings of the group of conspirators centred around ex-partisan leader Edgardo Sogno on 30 May and 27 September 1970. Scicluna, a colleague of McCaffery, had been Sogno's case officer during the war and after the Liberation was one of the officers in charge of the trade union section of the Allied military administration. Sogno, Scicluna and McCaffery had kept in contact after the war and Scicluna, at least, was party to various anti-trade union provocations in Italy. Coincidentally, Manlio Brosio, the secretary general of NATO, resigned from his post in June 1971 to take up the leadership of the right wing of the Liberal Party with Edgardo Sogno. Both men received substantial financial support from Italian industrialists such as Fiat, Assolombardo etc. Sogno’s plot was eventually uncovered in August 1974 when a warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of involvement in a planned coup d’etat.