Fascist becomes Sunderland football manager


Paolo Di Canio makes fascist salute

From CBC in Canada:

Paolo Di Canio signs deal to become Sunderland manager

Contract to replace fired Martin O’Neill is for 2.5 years

The Associated Press

Posted: Mar 31, 2013 5:34 PM ET

Last Updated: Mar 31, 2013 6:48 PM ET

Sunderland took a gamble by hiring Paolo Di Canio as its new manager on Sunday, empowering the inexperienced and outspoken Italian with the tough task of ensuring the relegation-threatened team retains its Premier League status.

The appointment came a day after Martin O’Neill was fired following a poor run of results and sparked immediate controversy, with former British politician David Miliband resigning from his positions as vice chairman and non-executive director of the club because of Di Canio’s openly fascist leanings.

Di Canio had a colorful playing career in the top divisions of Italy, England and Celtic, marked by sublime goals and headline-grabbing antics — notably when he pushed a referee to the ground after being sent off while playing for Sheffield Wednesday in 1996.

Then there was the straight-arm salute — adopted by the Italian Fascist regime in the early 20th century — that he performed in front of the fans of his Lazio team in 2005, earning him a ban, a fine and condemnation by FIFA.

“I am a fascist, not a racist,” Di Canio said at the time, and he has praised Mussolini in his autobiography, calling the former Italian leader as “basically a very principled, ethical individual” who was “deeply misunderstood.”

Di Canio has limited managerial experience, with his only previous job ending at third-tier English club Swindon last month after a turbulent 1 1/2 years in charge. It is a big call by Sunderland owner Ellis Short at this stage of the season. …

[David] Miliband, who contested the leadership in 2010 of the Labour party in Britain, stood down within minutes of the 44-year-old Di Canio’s appointment.

“I wish Sunderland AFC all success in the future,” Miliband wrote on his website. “It is a great institution that does a huge amount for the North East and I wish the team very well over the next vital seven games. However, in the light of the new manager’s past political statements, I think it right to step down.”

So David Miliband, rightly so, does not want to work now with a self-styled fascist. I wish he would have thought like that earlier, when he was still British Foreign Secretary and sent people to dictatorship’s dungeons to be tortured.

Dictator Mussolini’s secret bunker discovered


From Smart News blog:

March 25, 2013 2:15 pm

Italian Dictator Mussolini’s Secret Bunker Unearthed

Mussolini and Hitler in Munich in 1940

Mussolini and Hitler in Munich in 1940. Photo: National Archives

From 1922 to 1943, when Allied troops took Sicily nearing the end of World War II and his power began to wane, Benito Mussolini ruled Italy as its fascist dictator. As Italy suffered defeats throughout the war and as the Allied forces pushed ever closer, Mussolini became increasingly paranoid, says The Telegraph, fearing that the Royal Air Force, “was planning to launch an audacious raid on his headquarters in an attempt to kill him and knock Italy out of the war.”

His fears were well founded – the RAF had indeed drawn up a plan to launch a bombing raid on the palazzo, as well as his private residence in Rome, Villa Torlonia, using the 617 Squadron of Dambusters fame.

In response to the encroaching forces, Mussolini set about constructing a series of fortified bunkers. One such bunker, buried beneath Mussolini’s headquarters in Rome, was discovered recently during maintenance. The bunker will soon be opened to the public.

The bunker was discovered three years ago when engineers carrying out structural work on the foundations of Palazzo Venezia noticed a small wooden trap door.

It opened out to a narrow flight of brick stairs which in turn led to the bunker, divided into nine rooms by thick concrete walls.

The structure was so deep that it had exposed some Roman remains, which are still visible today.

This is not the first of Mussolini’s bunkers discovered, says Yahoo! News, but rather the twelfth. The building it is buried beneath, the Palazzo Venezie, “currently houses a national museum and has been a historically significant structure for centuries, having been used by high ranking members of the Roman Catholic Church and other important figures over the years.”

The bunker was first discovered in 2011, says La Stampa, “but has only been revealed now.”

Mussolini’s MP granddaughter causes outrage after being caught signing pictures of the dictator: here.

Arguably Rossellini’s masterpiece, Rome Open City is a poignant reflection upon the atrocity of the fascist regime in Italy during WWII: here.

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Berlusconi praises dictator Mussolini


This video is called Berlusconi defends Mussolini’s alliance with Hitler.

By Marianne Arens:

Former Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi praises Mussolini

8 February 2013

Italy’s former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, used the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, to praise the fascist “Duce” Benito Mussolini. Mussolini had “done a great deal of good”, notwithstanding the racial laws that were “his worst mistake”, Berlusconi said.

Italian responsibility for the Shoah was “not comparable to that of Germany”, Berlusconi continued. It had been “difficult” for Mussolini, who acted under pressure from Hitler. Italians had merely tolerated Nazi racial policy and were “not really aware of it at the beginning”, he said.

Italy’s political leaders immediately sought to play down the significance of Berlusconi’s statements, describing the provocations of the 76-year-old multi-billionaire as a “minor offense”.

Mario Monti, the outgoing prime minister, remarked tersely that Berlusconi had used an “unfortunate phrase on the wrong day and in the wrong place”. Just prior to his comments, the Ansa news agency reported that Monti did not rule out collaboration with Berlusconi’s party, PdL (People of Freedom), following parliamentary elections on February 24, on condition that Berlusconi did not take up a leading post in the new administration.

The Christian Democrat Pierferdinando Casini (UDC) declared that Berlusconi had “spoken nonsense”. Politicians aligned with the country’s so-called “left” also made just brief comments on the incident and were quick to move on.

Pier Luigi Bersani, the leader of the Democrats and leading candidate for the post of prime minister, complained that Berlusconi had made the “Day of Remembrance” a “day of election campaign maneuver”. The regional president of Puglia, Nichi Vendola (Left, Ecology and Freedom, SEL), described Berlusconi as a “falsifier, who would be advised to keep silent”.

Berlusconi expressed his comments on fascism during the official inauguration ceremony of a Holocaust memorial on “Platform 21” of the Milan Central Station. The memorial has been erected around the hidden railway tunnel originally used by the fascists to conduct deportations.

From 1943 to 1945, thousands of Italian Jews were deported from this point to extermination camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen, and the Italian camps of Bolzano and Fossoli. A total of around 8,600 Jews were deported from Italy to the death camps.

Contrary to Berlusconi’s remarks, anti-Semitism was not merely imposed on Italian fascism externally by Hitler and Nazi Germany—the persecution of the Jews was entirely in line with Italian fascism and Mussolini’s own racist ideology. Jews were socially isolated and dispossessed; they were banned from attending state schools in Italy, heading a business, carrying out an official function, and could not marry Italians.

In order to create a new “Roman Empire” around the Mediterranean Sea the Italian fascists occupied North Africa and parts of Yugoslavia, classifying Africans, Slavs and Jews as “subhuman” and discriminating against them. The defense of a “pure Italian race” was used, especially in Abyssinia and Libya, to justify massacres and genocide.

As historian Carlo Moos demonstrates, racial laws against the Jews were first introduced in Italy in 1938 in accordance with the racial policies of the Third Reich. At the same time they corresponded to “a long-existing, general-fascist racial concept” (Moos, Carlo: Late Italian Fascism and the Jews, 2008).

Berlusconi, who is facing a series of criminal charges for business and sex crimes, is deliberately turning towards the extreme right in his election campaign.

One of his candidates for the Senate is Mussolini’s granddaughter, Alessandra Mussolini. Berlusconi’s party, the PdL, has not only allied itself with its long-time former partner, the racist Northern League, but also with ultra-right-wing parties such as the neo-fascist La Destra, led by Francesco Storace. The ranks of La Destra include Giuliana De Medici, stepdaughter of the fascist leader and founder of the neo-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI), Giorgio Almirante (1914-1988).

Berlusconi has continually relied on the fascists in the course of his political career. In 1994 he drew the MSI into government for the first time since the overthrow of the fascist dictatorship. The MSI at that time openly professed its adherence to Mussolini. The party later changed its name to National Alliance (NA) and joined Berlusconi’s supporters to form the PdL. Former MSI leader Gianfranco Fini is currently backing the electoral list headed by Mario Monti.

Following Berlusconi’s resignation in November 2011 as head of government, his PdL party fully backed the austerity measures of the Monti government for a year in parliament. Berlusconi is now trying to divert increasing social anger into right-wing channels. While all other parties, including alleged “leftist” organizations, advocate the continuation of Monti’s austerity measures and support for the European Union, Berlusconi is conducting a populist nationalist campaign, blaming the European Union and the German government for the social decline of Italy. …

In this context Berlusconi’s allegation that Mussolini had done “much good” assumes menacing dimensions. Mussolini smashed the organized labor movement, destroyed its social gains and democratic rights, and went on to conduct brutal colonial wars in Libya and Abyssinia. …

Across Europe bourgeois politicians are forming alliances with racist, ultra-nationalist and fascist parties. Such parties have been playing an important role for some time in political life in Hungary, Greece, France and Austria. Against a background of increasing social tensions they are needed by the ruling class as a battering ram against the working class.

Berlusconi praises Hitler-Mussolini axis at Holocaust event


This video is called Berlusconi defends Mussolini for backing Hitler.

From Associated Press:

Silvio Berlusconi praises dictator Mussolini for ‘having done good’

Sunday 27 January 2013

Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi praised Benito Mussolini for “having done good” despite the Fascist dictator’s anti-Jewish laws, immediately sparking expressions of outrage as Europe today held Holocaust remembrances.

Berlusconi also defended Mussolini for allying himself with Hitler, saying his likely reasoning was that it would be better to be on the winning side.

The media mogul, whose conservative forces are polling second in voter surveys ahead of next month’s election, spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a ceremony in Milan to commemorate the Holocaust.

In 1938, before the outbreak of the Second World War, Mussolini’s regime passed the so-called “racial laws,” barring Jews from Italy’s universities and many professions, among other bans.

When Germany’s Nazi regime occupied Italy during the war, thousands from the tiny Italian Jewish community were deported to death camps.

“It is difficult now to put oneself in the shoes of who was making decisions back then,” Berlusconi said of Mussolini’s support for Hitler.

“Certainly the government then, fearing that German power would turn into a general victory, preferred to be allied with Hitler’s Germany rather than oppose it.”

Berlusconi added that “within this alliance came the imposition of the fight against, and extermination of, the Jews. Thus, the racial laws are the worst fault of Mussolini, who, in so many other aspects, did good.”

More than 7,000 Jews were deported under Mussolini’s regime, and nearly 6,000 of them were killed.

Reactions of outrage, along with a demand that Berlusconi be prosecuted for promoting Fascism, quickly followed his words.

Berlusconi’s praise of Mussolini constitutes “an insult to the democratic conscience of Italy,” said Rosy Bindi, a centre-left leader.

“Only Berlusconi’s political cynicism, combined with the worst historic revisionism, could separate the shame of the racist laws from the Fascist dictatorship.”

Italian laws enacted following the country’s disastrous experience in the war forbid the encouragement of Fascism.

A candidate for local elections, Gianfranco Mascia, pledged that he and his supporters will present a formal complaint tomorrow to Italian prosecutors, seeking to have Berlusconi prosecuted.

Advocating aggressive nationalism, Mussolini used brutish force and populist appeal evoking ancient Rome’s glories to achieve and keep his dictatorial grip on power, starting in the early 1920s and lasting well into the Second World War.

His Fascist “blackshirt” loyalists cracked down on dissidents, through beatings and jailings.

He encouraged big families to propagate the Italian population, established a sprawling state economy and erected monumental buildings and statues to evoke ancient Rome.

Mussolini sought to impose order on a generally individualistic-minded people, and Italians sometimes note trains ran on time during Fascism.

With dreams of an empire, he sent Italian troops on missions to attack or occupy foreign lands, including Ethiopia and Albania.

Eventually, Italian military failures in Africa and in Greece fostered rebellion among Fascist officials, and in 1943 he was placed under arrest by orders of the Italian king. His end came at the vengeful hands of partisan fighters who shot him and his mistress, and left their bodies to hang in a Milan square in April 1945.

Berlusconi’s former government allies have included political heirs to neo-fascist movements admiring Mussolini.

In 2010, he told world leaders at a Paris conference that he had been reading Mussolini’s journals, and years earlier Berlusconi had claimed that Mussolini “never killed anyone.”

Berlusconi is running in the February 24-25 Parliamentary elections and has repeatedly changed his mind on whether he is seeking a fourth term as premier.

Monti is also running, but polls put him far behind front-runner Pier Luigi Bersani, a centre-left leader who supported Monti’s austerity measures to save Italy from the Eurozone debt crisis.

Polls show about one-third of eligible voters are undecided.

Italian anti-Mussolini fighter interviewed


This video is an Italian interview with Luigi Fiori.

From British weekly Socialist Worker:

The ‘Devil’ who helped drive Nazis out of Italy

Italian partisan Luigi Fiori spoke to Tom Behan about his role in resisting fascism in Italy

For somebody who was born just after the First World War, Luigi Fiori is an amazingly busy person.

When I phoned his landline he was on his mobile making the final arrangements to speak at an anti-fascist meeting.

Luigi, a former Italian partisan who resisted both Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime and German Nazis, is coming to the Marxism festival in central London this week to speak on the fight against fascism, then and now.

He is a worried man, concerned about the votes for the fascists in the European elections and the presence of fascists within the Italian government.

Members of Silvio Berlusconi’s right wing government have their political roots in the fascist period.

As Luigi says, “They just pretend to be democrats. Take Gianfranco Fini, the speaker of the parliament and the former leader of the National Alliance party.

“He’s been to the Wailing Wall in Israel and paid homage to the victims of Italy’s racial laws.

“He’s a fascist but he’s not stupid. He’s not a rabid dog. His ilk are just waiting for the right moment.

“Once Berlusconi falls – and he’s wobbling a bit at the moment – Fini and his gang will make a bid for power.”

Fiori is also worried because he experienced fascism as a schoolboy.

Mussolini’s National Fascist Party took power in Italy in 1922 and imposed a one party state that ruled with an iron fist.

Luigi said, “We knew nothing about what was happening outside of Italy. We were totally isolated.

Repression

“Society was totalitarian and you couldn’t speak a word out of turn.

“When other people of my age say, ‘I used to say’ I respond with comments like, ‘What do you mean? You couldn’t say anything.’

“Fascism was normality. Due to the level of repression, the anti-fascists – we didn’t know who they were – didn’t dare talk to us because we were just kids.

“They would have risked too much by revealing their identities to us.”

Even the taking of exams was an excuse for indoctrination.

If you weren’t wearing the fascist uniform then you weren’t allowed to take your place in the examination hall.

Soon after leaving school Fiori was called up to serve in the Italian army in the Second World War.

When the fascist regime collapsed in 1943, Luigi – along with tens of thousands of others – refused to serve in the puppet army set up by the Nazis and a severely weakened Mussolini.

Luigi and his comrades went up into the mountains to become partisans – armed anti-fascist resistance fighters.

Guerilla

Over the next 18 months they fought – and won – a bitter guerrilla war against fascists and German Nazis.

As opposed to a conventional army, the resistance movement had no hierarchy of ranks.

Commanders were elected and their powers could be immediately revoked.

Fiori led a unit in the Appenine mountains.

For security reasons he was only known by a codeword: “Commander Friar Devil”.

He never tires of telling young people that his generation faced terrible problems – and overcame them.

“When I speak at meetings I’m always saying to people: ‘Look kids, don’t give up.’

“Many are the times the Nazis assembled between 10,000 and 12,000 men to attack us, and they really knocked the hell out of us.

“But ten days later we were back on our feet again, and had already organised another brigade.”

Fiori is keen to learn about the situation in Britain, and agrees that parties such as the fascist British National Party (BNP) need to be confronted on the streets.

He says, “We need to be careful though as normally they have the police on their side.

“However, we’re far stronger denouncing what they’re doing – shouting loud and clear that what they’re doing is dangerous.

“We’ve been far too tolerant for far too long – these people shouldn’t be allowed to go around waving swastikas.

“Our strength lies in our commitment and our numbers.”

Only days before the G8 summit opens, a new security law directed primarily against illegal immigrants comes into force in Italy: here.

Films against Mussolini’s, French, colonialism


This video is the trailer of the over 2 hour long film Lion of the Desert, about the Libyans fighting Mussolini’s fascist colonialist troops, commanded by Field Marshal Rodolfo Graziani, after the First World War.

The trailer of the film The Battle of Algiers, about Algerians fighting French colonialists, is here, below.

Hat tip: Lenin’s Tomb blog.

Italian occupation of Libya


This video is the trailer of the film Lion of the desert; about the colonial occupation by fascist Italy of Libya in the 1920s-1930s.

Libya today: here.