Calendars: when the truth bothers (to the ANPI)


I must admit that I was surprised by the fact that, despite the critical international situation of the moment, with the generalized crisis in the Middle East (from Pakistani Baluchistan, to northern Iraq, to ​​southern Lebanon, to Gaza, to Bab el Mandeb), with the worsening of NATO/Russia tensions (and the imminent launch of the mega exercise Steadfast Defender), with the worsening of the China-Taiwan crisis (after the recent elections), with the worrying prospect of a second Trump presidency, and I could go on and on... I repeat, that in this worrying international situation, some national press organs have deemed to give a lot of space to a controversy, in the writer's opinion, sterile and artificial.

I am referring to the accusations against the Army made by the president of the ANPI (National Association of Italian Partisans) Senator Gianfranco Pagliarulo in relation to the 2024 Calendar. Calendar whose withdrawal Pagliarulo has asked for: it would seem to be the typical example of an inconsolable orphan mentality of the Soviets: “you are authorized to express your opinion only if it coincides with mine!”

Apart from this, anyone who has taken the trouble to dedicate a few minutes to verifying the facts will probably have thought that President Pagliarulo (former senator of the Republic, with over fifty years of political militancy within the PCI, PRC, PdCI, SD and PD, before arriving at the national presidency of the ANPI in 2020) may have been the victim of an "involuntary" oversight.

In writing "the facts" I am referring both to the contents of the new "Satanic Verses" to be burned, this time the work of the Army General Staff and not Salman Rushdie, and to the context that our local Ayatollahs pretend to ignore.

Starting with the “contents”: contrary to what was denounced by Senator Pagliarulo, the Calendar aims to remember all those soldiers, of every rank and category (both conscripts and career), who after having fought with honor and heroism from 1940 to 1943 in the situation of chaos generated after September 8th, they decided, without hesitation, to fight for the liberation of Italy, in line with their oath. War 1940-43 whose political-strategic objectives were certainly questionable, but which, remember, had been declared by what were, at the time, the legitimate national authorities. Can the indisputable political faults of the fascist "regime" in having declared a war that was contrary to national interests be attributed to those soldiers (career and conscripts) who, although perhaps not sharing its objectives, nevertheless fought it with honor?

Coming to more recent times, the Italian participation in the US-led coalition of the willing for the stabilization of Iraq after 2003 can be considered politically wrong, but this certainly would not mean attributing the political blame to those Italian soldiers who did the their duty to the extreme sacrifice and that, I believe, they should be honored for this even by those who were politically against that operation.

Returning to the calendar, it is clear to anyone who browses through it without prejudice that the calendar was intended to highlight exclusively the commitment and value of the military in war of liberation, highlighting how those who had fought heroically in 1940-43 often continued often fought heroically in 1943-45 in war of liberation and in resistance.

Therefore, there is no equating of the Army of the Southern Kingdom or the Resistance with the RSI, as someone (out of ignorance or more probably out of bad faith) has declared!!! Rather, the calendar message seems clear to me: for the Italian Soldiers (and some who had fought heroically previously were deliberately chosen) after 8 September there was only one path to honor and the homeland: the fight against the invading German, in the ranks of the Resistance or of the Regular Armed Forces of the "Kingdom of the South" co-belligerent with the Allies! And therefore precisely against the Nazi occupier and against the RSI.

Regarding the “context": I can imagine that the opportunity is tempting for an experienced politician to attack Senator Isabella Rauti (in relation to her "family history", which is also totally different from that of the soldiers mentioned in the calendar), who as Undersecretary of State for Defense with delegation for the Army he attended (as inevitable given the assignment) the official presentation of the calendar last November 28th.

Furthermore, it is certainly useful to set the record straight: The Army's 2024 calendar is part of a trilogy commemorating the Army's contribution to the Liberation in the years 1943-45 to be published on the eightieth anniversary of those events. The first calendar of the trilogy was 2023 (calendar with the beautiful title "the high forehead”, which recalled the heroic defense of Rome in September 1943 and the reconstitution of the army up to the “cobelligerence” with the Anglo-Americans and the battle of Montelungo). In 2025 there will be, I presume, the third on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the liberation.

Anyone with a minimum of publishing practice will be able to imagine that the theme of the trilogy must have been conceived no later than the very first months of 2022. Trilogy started and conceived well before the victory of the center-right in the elections. I am not in the know of the "secret things" of the Army Palace, but I can assume that the initiative came from the current head of SME, General Pietro Serino (in office since 2021), who has always been very attentive to the issue of the Army's role in war of liberation. Both the minister and the undersecretaries have little to do with it, in fact this was an editorial choice only of the Army and not of the other 3 Armed Forces (Navy, Air Force and Carabinieri) and this should demonstrate that it was not a political "cue" (by Undersecretary Rauti or by others) and the ANPI presidency certainly knows this too.

However, with all good will, I really don't think it can be treated as an oversight, due to tiredness, to an error on the part of the collaborators or secretaries. The political objective of looking for any excuse (even if it's bizarre, since people don't delve into it) to attack an executive they don't like seems clear to me. Politically legitimate, for any political exponent, which Senator Pagliarulo evidently continues to be even if he no longer sits in Parliament. Much less legitimate, however, even for a political figure, is to attempt to tarnish the Military Institution, which belongs to the Nation and not to the parties, for their own partisan squabbles.

Let it be clear that, contrary to what many people think, the ANPI is not the only association that represents the fighters of the Resistance or of War of Liberation1. Resistance and war of liberation which constituted a founding moment of our Republic. Founding moment made possible by the contribution of thought and blood of all the political forces represented in the National Liberation Committee and, also, by the regular Armed Forces of the Kingdom of Italy.

Unfortunately, the ANPI recently can give the impression of wanting to appropriate a spiritual heritage that should belong to all the Italian people and to which many men and women have contributed who probably did not recognize themselves in the political positions of the ANPI today. Political battles that have little to do with the Resistance (think also of ANPI positions taken against the constitutional referendum promoted by Renzi at the time, or against military support for Ukraine or of some which may appear more or less covertly to favor of Hamas)

The Resistance was an important and complex thing. Did the communists do it? Of course, but not only the communistsi: also Catholics, liberals, socialists, shareholders, soldiers and priests, aristocrats, bourgeois, peasants and workers. It was done by the partisans in the occupied territories, by the military internees who refused to enlist in the RSI in the concentration camps and by the soldiers of the armed forces fighting in the "Kingdom of the South". All the women and men who refused to collaborate with the German occupier and his RSI allies did it.

No one has the right to claim to represent all those different realities. Less than others are those who want to use the blood of those men and women for today's political battles that many of the "real" partisans would probably not agree with.

I believe it is important to think that the Resistance was not just the struggle between those who had a vision of Italy subservient to the Nazi totalitarian plan (a plan rejected by history even then) and those who had a vision of Italy subservient to the equally totalitarian Soviet plan, which would have been rejected by history as unsuccessful and dictatorial only a few decades later! We must, however, remember that in the ranks of the Resistance there were many others: there were republican socialists, Catholics, churchmen and many, many soldiers, especially career soldiers, who fought for the homeland, for a free and non-free Italy. subservient to liberticidal ideologies. An Italy that would then have the possibility of entering free and democratic Europe and the Atlantic community with its head held high. Among the many, the soldiers listed in the calendar also belonged to this last category.

In fact, it should not bother us, unless we try today to impose a "biased" reading of the Resistance, to recognize that many soldiers also played a fundamental role in the birth of the resistance movement2 and that many key figures of the partisan movement were career officers (think of Colonel Montezemolo in Rome or General Perotti in Turin). The communist Luigi Longo wrote it at his time3:“There were soldiers fleeing towards the mountain led by their officers. They fled out of a desire for rebellion, but with a sense of discipline and organization. And they fled, taking their weapons with them."

But Luigi Longo was a true partisan.

Antonio Li Gobbi*

*Both the Author's father (Alberto) and his paternal uncle (Aldo) were decorated with the Gold Medal for military valor for their activities as partisans (the uncle, who died under torture by the Gestapo, was decorated in memory of )

2 Of the Gold Medals awarded for partisan activity, 229, almost all in memory, were awarded to men with the stars.

3 Deputy Commander of the Freedom Volunteer Corps during the Resistance and future Secretary of the Italian Communist Party.