Fascist Memorial Sparks Outrage In Italy

Many Italians are feeling a sense of uneasiness after a small town just south of Rome used public funds to erect a memorial to a Fascist military leader. The village of Affile built the monument, including a mausoleum and a memorial park, in honor of Field Marshall Rodolfo Graziani, who was one of the main military personalities under the direction of Benito Mussolini in the early part of the 20th century.

The monument cost around $157,000 and has seriously upset members of the Democratic Party in Italy, who feel that the monument applauds a man who was charged with crimes against humanity for his campaigns in the 1920s and 1930s, International Business Times notes. Known as “The Butcher of Fezzan” for executing a high number of Libyans in concentration camps during WWII, he was imprisoned for 19 years for war crimes but was released after serving only two of those years. He died seven years later in 1955, the BBC reports.

Many newspaper reports note that the mayor of the small town is a crypto-fascist, although the Fascist Party itself has been officially outlawed for many decades now. Certain small pockets of Fascist followers still exist throughout the country and apparently this mayor has come out in full colors to embrace his identity.

The mayor, Ercole Viri, announced that he hoped the memorial would serve as a famous spot for pilgrims to stop at, likening the new park to the burial place of Mussolini, called Predappio. His comments sparked a political debate between the right-wing council and left-wing opponents. The Telegraph quotes left-center councillor Esterino Montino in the debate, “Is it possible to allow, to permit or simply tolerate, that in 2012, a park and memorial is dedicated to the Fascist general and minister Rodolfo Graziani?”

Montino also commented that some council members had been guilty of denying the Holocaust in recent years. During a time of severe fiscal issues in the Mediterranean, many distressed and unemployed people have staged protests in the country regarding severe fiscal restrictions. Several people committed suicide in the wake of financial difficulties this past spring. Many people have criticized the use of public funds for such a project when so many are desperate for help.

Graziani was not only responsible for the development of concentration camps in nothern Africa but also for further empowering the Mussolini regime within Italy by enforcing strict draft codes on the male population in the 1940s, and threatening to shoot citizens. There seems to be a sense of voluntary forgetfulness about his military past by those who support the memorial.

Francesco Lollabrigida, an ally of the mayor, defended the monument stating, “There has been too much controversy and chat in the last few days. From the locals there is nothing but affection for Rodolfo Graziani and he has always been looked on with respect. He was a decorated soldier in the Italian army.” We have to ask, how did he get so many decorations?

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Photo Credit: Kounosu


Rin S.
Rin S5 years ago

Absolutely disgusting. A complete waste of money for a statue glorying a corrupt murderer. Maybe there is corruption within the city's government.

Valentina R.
Valentina R5 years ago

Good grief. Wasting our money so blatantly. I am starting to hate my own country because of people like this.

Magdalen B.
Magdalen B5 years ago

Fantastic that in these dire days somebody has lots of money to waste! Oh no it wasn't his money, was it?

Leonard Tremmel
Leonard T5 years ago

Cont'd. - Gehlen's agenda was the Odessa, getting looted treasures and SS criminals out of Germany, and to that end he provided doctored intelligence with the intention of promoting war between the west and the Soviets. Some of the worst of the Nazi elite attached themselves to Gehlen's group and were never prosecuted, such as extermination squad commander, Franz Six. In 1954, Gehlen's organization was renamed the BND, West German Intelligence.

Gladio, the subversion of democratic elections, and the various coups which followed weren't accidents due to anti-communist paranoia, but pro fascist ideology in the US political elites.

Leonard Tremmel
Leonard T5 years ago

@Elaine M.

In my view that's too pat. Paranoia was certainly actively cultivated in the public to provide a rationale, but the perpetrators of these policies were not paranoid. They knew what they were doing. After WWII US security institutions and the state department were dominated by people who'd been Nazi sympathizers, the Dulles Brothers, the Harriman Brothers, Prescott Bush, James Jesus Angleton, etc. One Supreme Court Justice, Arthur Goldberg, went so far as to openly state that the Dulles Brothers were traitors. How do traitors end up heading key foreign policy positions in a government, which has vanquished their allies. An outcry against an American Gestapo resulted in the OSS being dismantled, but when the CIA was formed a couple years later its model was Nazi Intelligence. In fact, in December 1945 representatives of the wartime intelligence services flew Gen. Reinhard Gehlen, head of Nazi Intelligence for the Eastern Sector, to Washington and negotiated a treaty with him to provide the US with information on Soviet activities. The agreement, known as The Treaty of Fort Hunt, makes a rather remarkable concession to what was a high level member of a defeated enemy, to whit, that it was acknowledged that Gehlen had his own agenda, and where his aims conflicted with US goals it was understood he would follow his own course. Gehlen's agenda was the Odessa, getting looted treasures and SS criminals out of Germany, and to that end he provided doctored intelligence wi

Elaine McAuliffe
Elaine McAuliffe5 years ago

Sadly, there was such a paranoia about communism in those days, similar to the paranoia about Muslims today, that our government sanctioned such actions everywhere they could. The result was terrible conflict and entire nations left with the knowledge they had been betrayed by a former ally.

Viviana Rendell
Viviana Garcia5 years ago

Unfortunately even the worst criminals have many who praise them.

Leonard Tremmel
Leonard T5 years ago

There's a disturbing legacy of the blackshirts in Italy, which has never completely gone away. It didn't help matters that the after the war the CIA subverted elections in Italy because the partisans, who were primarily communists, were going to win. The CIA set up Operation Gladio, as an anti-communist rear guard throughout western Europe, and funneled money to the same people who'd fought with Mussolini and Hitler only a few years earlier. Gladio is not known much in the US, but the Italians know all about it since their former President, Francisco Cossiga, exposed the Italian chapter, including his part in its formation, and high profile court hearings followed.

In the '70s, members of Gladio carried out false flag violence, which was blamed on leftist guerillas, and used as a pretext for a clamp down on civil liberties. Then of course, there's the poor example of the Vatican, who canonized Franco's pal, the Spanish fascist priest and founder of Opus Dei, Josemaría Escrivá. Someone has already mentioned the modern blackshirts, The Northern League, and their alliance with Berlusconi. It seems that just as in the US, the fascist right is heavily embedded with the political, financial and, ahem, spiritual elite, but not representative of the population as a whole.

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L5 years ago

It seems hatred is on the raise not only in America but other places as well.

Lesley Palma
Lesley Palma5 years ago

I was surprised during one annual visit to my husband's family in Rome, when the subject of Mussolini was raised in general discussion, to hear a different view from what I had been taught. My first reaction at the time, was what most people have expressed here. My view of him was negative. Mamma left me in no doubt that many, many Italians adored and respected him. She did become very angry with me - unusually.