Origins of fascism in Britain

A 1919 newspaper cutting of the Union of Italian ex-soldiers, London Section

By Alfeo Bernabei:

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The first seed of fascism planted outside Italy was in London

Through their leadership of the Italian diaspora and a newspaper, a small group of embittered war veterans laid the foundations of fascism in Britain 100 years ago this month, writes ALFIO BERNABEI

ON November 4 1919, a group of London-based Italian world war veterans set up an association called Unione Reduci Militari Italiani — Sezione di Londra — (URMI). The name stood for Union of Italian ex-soldiers, London Section.

This association claimed to represent hundreds of Italian immigrants in Britain who had been called to serve with the Italian army when Italy entered the war in 1915. When the war ended, they were free to return and resume their occupations.

The leaders of the newly born URMI association in London stated: “We intend to solemnly declare before everyone that our sacrifice [in the war] has made us conscious not only of our duty but also of our rights” and elected themselves as the driving moral force in the Italian community in Britain, which was then made up of approximately 20,000 migrants.

The first president of URMI was Giacomo Luigi Novelli, a London-based travel agent who described himself as “one who prefers action to words”. Among its most prominent members was Antonio Cippico, a lecturer at University College London. Another member was Achille Bettini, who later was to describe himself as a fascist “of the first hour.”

Given that the Fascio di combattimento, or Fascio of combat, had been set up in March 1919 at a meeting in Milan presided over by Benito Mussolini, it seems fair to describe the London association set up a mere eight months later as born in its shadow — the first seed of fascism planted outside Italian territory.

Eight months later, on June 5 1920, URMI launched a four-page weekly newspaper in Italian called La Cronaca. It had an address in Little Howland Street, central London, with ex-Captain Giovanni Savani as editor, later described among the founders of the London Fascio.

The first editorial of La Cronaca was unsigned — URMI claimed to be free of ties from political parties, yet one of the first articles was signed “ARDITO”, “the bold one,” a definition that by that time was acquiring strong associations with the fascist movement and the Blackshirts.

It was at the end of December 1920 that La Cronaca described fascism as a largely justifiable “insurrection of men and sticks against red violence.” Three months later it splashed across the front page a title that proclaimed “L’ora del Fascismo” (the hour of fascism).

Formally, the “Fascio Italiano di Combattimento a Londra” (The Italian fighting fascio in London) was established on June 12 1921.

On December 17 of the same year, the first notice appeared in La Cronaca headed Partito Nazionale Fascista, Sezione di Londra (Italian National Fascist Party, London Section) and on January 7 1922, the newspaper announced the first general assembly of the London branch of the party.

It wasn’t long before the Italian fascists found sympathisers among some British admirers of Mussolini. The seed that had been planted in 1919 was taking root.

Alfeo Bernabei is an Italian journalist and historian.

Ötzi the Iceman and prehistoric plants

This 2017 video is called Ötzi The Iceman. Film documentary.

From PLOS:

Alongside Ötzi the Iceman: A bounty of ancient mosses and liverworts

Frozen flora holds clues to the ancient Alps ecosystem and to the Iceman’s final journey

October 30, 2019

Buried alongside the famous Ötzi the Iceman are at least 75 species of bryophytes — mosses and liverworts — which hold clues to Ötzi’s surroundings, according to a study released October 30, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by James Dickson of the University of Glasgow, UK and colleagues at the University of Innsbruck.

Ötzi the Iceman is a remarkable 5,300-year-old human specimen found frozen in ice approximately 3,200 meters above sea level in the Italian Alps. He was frozen alongside his clothing and gear as well as an abundant assemblage of plants and fungi. In this study, Dickson and colleagues aimed to identify the mosses and liverworts preserved alongside the Iceman.

Today, 23 bryophyte species live the area near where Ötzi was found, but inside the ice, the researchers identified thousands of preserved bryophyte fragments representing at least 75 species. It is the only site of such high altitude with bryophytes preserved over thousands of years. Notably, the assemblage includes a variety of mosses ranging from low-elevation to high-elevation species, as well as 10 species of liverworts, which are very rarely preserved in archaeological sites. Only 30% of the identified bryophytes appear to have been local species, with the rest having been transported to the spot in Ötzi’s gut or clothing or by large mammalian herbivores whose droppings ended up frozen alongside the Iceman.

From these remains, the researchers infer that the bryophyte community in the Alps around 5,000 years ago was generally similar to that of today. Furthermore, the non-local species help to confirm the path Ötzi took to his final resting place. Several of the identified moss species thrive today in the lower Schnalstal valley, suggesting that Ötzi traveled along the valley during his ascent. This conclusion is corroborated by previous pollen research, which also pinpointed Schnalstal as the Iceman’s likely route of ascent.

Dickson adds, “Most members of the public are unlikely to be knowledgeable about bryophytes (mosses and liverworts). However, no fewer than 75 species of these important investigative clues were found when the Iceman (aka Ötzi) was removed from the ice. They were recovered as mostly small scraps from the ice around him, from his clothes and gear, and even from his alimentary tract. Those findings prompted the questions: Where did the fragments come from? How precisely did they get there? How do they help our understanding of the Iceman?”

Italian poacher kills father, Dick Cheney style

This 2016 video from the USA says about itself:

This Day In History: Dick Cheney shoots his hunting buddy

Dick Cheney accidently shot his buddy while on a hunting trip on Feb. 11, 2006. CBSN’s Vladimir Duthiers and Kristine Johnson have more.

United States President George W Bush’s Vice President Dick Cheney shot a fellow hunter as he did not know the difference between that hunter and a quail.

In 2014, an Italian hunter shot Austrian professional cyclist Christiane Koschier, as he did not know the difference between her and a hare.

It seems that for some people, having a hunting gun in their hands makes their eyesight worse than extremely bad.

Hunter kills Frenchwoman in her own garden: here.

From the BBC today:

Italian son shoots father dead during boar hunt

Italian police have charged a man with culpable homicide after he shot and killed his father during a boar hunt.

Media reports say the pair were moving through thick bushes near the town of Postiglione in the southern province of Salerno when the shooting occurred.

The 34-year-old opened fire when he saw a shadow and rustling foliage. He immediately raised the alarm when he realised what had happened.

Doctors could do nothing to save 55-year-old Martino Gaudioso.

Both men were in a national park area where hunting is prohibited, reports said. Police have seized their rifles.

On Sunday the president of the Italian League for the Defence of Animals and the Environment said Italy had become the “Wild West”.

“It is a real national emergency,” Michela Vittoria Brambilla told reporters.

Last October, Sergio Costa, Italy’s environment minister, called for a national ban on Sunday hunting after an 18-year-old was shot and killed close to the French border.

By the end of that month, two more men – a 56-year-old and a 20-year-old – had also died in similar circumstances.

“Nowhere is safe” in the area of the French Alps where a Welsh chef was killed by a hunter’s stray bullet, a friend of the victim has said. Marc Sutton, 34, was killed while riding his mountain bike in woods near Montriond, close to the Swiss border: here.

Dutch woman Nelleke Polderman almost killed by hunter’s bullet: here.

Nazi massacre at Fivizzano, Italy, 1944-2019

This 2015 video about Italy, in Italian with English subtitles, says about itself:

A documentary about the nazi massacre on Montesole (Marzabotto), which was committed during the second world war.

By Johannes Stern in Germany:

German President Steinmeier and the Nazi massacre at Fivizzano

29 August 2019

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Social Democrats, SPD) participated alongside Italian head of state Sergio Mattarella last Sunday in the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Fivizzano massacres.

Between the beginning of May and mid September 1944, the Fivizzano district in northern Italy with its six villages, Sassalbo, Mommio, San Terenzo, Bardine di San Terenzo, Vinca and Tenerano, was the scene of a number of massacres, during which members of the Waffen-SS, Wehrmacht, and air force slaughtered some 400 residents, including pregnant women and children.

The atrocities committed in Vinca between 24 and 27 August, 1944, which cost the lives of more than 160 people, were carried out by the 16th Armoured Reconnaissance Division of the Waffen-SS and units of the Italian fascist Black Brigades. In the name of “combatting banditry and partisans”, the military units killed everyone they came across on their way to Vinca. In the village itself, the troops literally exterminated the residents with handguns, bayonets, and flamethrowers.

The killings in Fivizzano were part of a larger series of massacres by the Nazis across northern Italy. Just a few weeks after the destruction of Vinca, the 16th Armoured Division of the Waffen-SS under the command of Sturmbannführer Walter Reder murdered 1,836 residents, above all elderly men, women and children, in the Apennine community of Marzabotto near Bologna. Further massacres with more than 100 victims took place in Sant’Anna di Stazzema and Civitella, where Steinmeier delivered a speech five years ago.

This 2012 Italian video is about the Civitella massacre.

At the time, we remarked that there is hardly anything more repulsive “than representatives of the German ruling class recalling their past crimes even as they are in the process of preparing the next catastrophe.” In his speech in Vinca, Steinmeier stated that it was “an incredibly difficult journey for me as a German and as German President to come here and speak to you.” He added that he “cannot comprehend the hatred that drove the Germans here in Fivizzano 75 years ago.”

The reality is that there is a clear explanation for the horrific crimes perpetrated by the Nazi regime, the Wehrmacht, and the Waffen-SS in Italy and many other countries. In the final analysis, they arose out of the striving of the ruling class to subordinate Europe and the world to its leadership and satiate German imperialism’s appetite for markets and raw materials. In order to put Germany on the path of war after the mass slaughter of the First World War and suppress all opposition, the ruling elite brought Adolf Hitler to power in 1933 and established the Nazi terror regime.

Steinmeier cannot and does not want to speak about this issue, because the ruling class is in the process of returning to an aggressive and imperialist foreign policy, and rehabilitating its fascist traditions.

In this, Steinmeier is playing a key role. Addressing the Munich Security Conference five years ago as foreign minister, Steinmeier—together with his predecessor as president, Joachim Gauck, and Defence Minister Ursula Von der Leyen—demanded, “Germany must be ready to engage in foreign and security policy earlier, more decisively and more substantially.” He railed against a “culture of restraint”. and declared, “Germany is too big just to comment on world politics from the sidelines.”

Only a few weeks later, Steinmeier aligned with fascist forces in Ukraine to put this programme into practice with a coup sponsored by Berlin in Kiev. He welcomed to the German embassy in Kiev Oleh Tyahnybok, the leader of the fascist Svoboda Party, who until then had maintained ties with the German neo-Nazi NPD. Tyahnybok is notorious for his anti-Semitic tirades, during which he rages against “Jewish swine and other vermin”. His heroes include Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych, who participated in massacres that claimed the lives of thousands of Jews and Poles.

Since then, the ruling class in Germany has begun openly drawing upon its fascist traditions. With the Alternative for Germany (AfD), they are building up a right-wing extremist party, whose leader, former Christian Democratic Union (CDU) politician Alexander Gauland, has glorified the Wehrmacht and described the Nazi regime as “bird poop in over a thousand years of successful German history.”

The grand coalition of the CDU and SPD not only made the AfD the official opposition party in parliament, but is also implementing its policies with the full support of all of the established parties. This is shown above all in the mass deportations of refugees, the toleration and encouragement of right-wing extremist terrorist networks in the police, army, and intelligence services, and the whitewashing of German imperialist crimes at the universities.

Significantly, the federal government recently backed right-wing extremist Professor Jörg Baberowski in an official statement. The Humboldt University professor has trivialised the Nazi regime (“Hitler was not vicious”), and advocated the use of methods like those employed by the Wehrmacht and SS in Fivizzano to combat terrorism. “If one is not willing to take hostages, burn villages, hang people and spread fear and terror, as the terrorists do, if one is not prepared to do such things, then one can never win such a conflict and it is better to keep out altogether,” stated Baberowski during a panel discussion entitled “Germany: an interventionist power?” at the German Historical Museum in October 2014.

Steinmeier’s appearance in Vinca, which was featured prominently in the media, was aimed at concealing the extremely concerning and dangerous implications of the return of German and European militarism and fascism. “Our united Europe [is] founded on a promise, never again unrestrained nationalism, never again war on our continent, never again racism, agitation and violence”, he claimed. “We have to remember this at a time when the poison of nationalism is once again seeping into Europe.”

Coming from the mouth of the German head of state, these statements sound like a cruel joke!

The reality is that the ruling class is actively spreading the poison of nationalism across the continent. It employs racism, agitation, and violence to divide the working class and enforce its policies of militarism, the strengthening of the repressive state apparatus at home and abroad, and social spending cuts in the face of mounting opposition among the population. Right-wing extremist parties are currently part of the government in nine EU member states. Leading European politicians, like French President Emmanuel Macron and outgoing Italian Foreign Minister Matteo Salvini, praise the fascists Philippe Petain and Benito Mussolini.

As in the 20th century, there is only one way today to prevent the rise of the far-right and a relapse into capitalist barbarism and war: the independent mobilisation of the working class on the basis of a socialist programme.