Skip to main content

Full text of "Italy Today"

See other formats

UNivrnnn v or tr mah ai AurtiiN ittm inn 


1117 3001Dtvllllt) 

2nd Sme* Nu. 3 



Friends of Italian Freedom 







Outwitting the Fascists 



HARCH, 193 1 



Friends of Italian Freedom 

Edited by Mrs. V. M. CRAWFORD 

Second Scries, No. 3 Price 6d. 

Subicriptlon for l % numbers 6/- post free to any address. 

The author of the following narrative served as an of&cer 
throughout the whole of the war on the Austrian front in the 
famous Sassari Brigade. He was wounded twice and earned 
four decorations for acts of valour; later he was elected to the 
Chamber of Deputies both in 1921 and in 1924, 

His narrative appeared in the Atlantic Monthly^ June and 
July, 1930, and is reprinted here by the courtesy of the Editor 
of the American periodical. 



Part I 


On the afternoon of October 31, 1926, an attempt was made 
in Bologna against the life of iMussolini. A few hours later, 
throughout the whole of Italy, the Fascists started to sack the 
headquarters of anti -Fascist newspapers and associations and 
the private dwellings of opponents of the regime. 

That day I was at Cagliarij ni the island of Sardinia. In 
the morning I had pleaded before the jury the cause of a young 
man accused of murder at the Court of Assizes, and my client 
was acquitted. I^eforc returning to the mountain village where 


he lived, he came to my house to thank me, accompanied by 
all his relations, who had come to Cagliari for the trial. On 
leaving, the eldest of them, an eighty-year-old patriarch, who 
was wearing the costume of the Sardinian mountaineers— coat 
of black wool, white linen trousers, and tight black gaiters- 
invoked, in Biblical phrases that I cannot recall without, 
emotion, the blessing of Heaven upon me, the saviour of his 
innocent son. The clock of a neighbouring church struck 
half-past nine- 

I had scarcely stepped out of my house when one of my 
friends appeared, breathless, to warn me that the Fascists were 
sounding their summons to battle. I locked my ofiice and 
went out to see what was happening. 

In the street another friend informed me that the news of 
an attempt against Mussolini had reached the Fascists and the 

" I have been able secretly to obtain a copy of the telegram. 
The boy who hred at Mussolini at Bologna was lynched on the 
spot by the Fascists. Heie they have been summoned for 
immediate reprisals. Your house and your life are in danger. 
Leave the town and hide yourself in some safe place." 

While he spoke, from all sides could be heard the bugles 
summoning the Fascists together in the different quarters of 
the city. 

I returned home, and sent the servant away. My mother^ 
fortunately, was at our country house, and I had only myself 
to think of. I went downstairs again, and met in the street 
other friends who had hurried to warn me that the Fascists 
were gathering at their headquarters, that motors were to be 
used as rapid means of transport, and that shouts of " Death 
to Lussu ! " were already to be heard. 

I went to dine at a restaurant a few yards from my house. 
As I was eating, news reached me by degrees : the theatres, 
the cinemas, all public resorts had been closed ; armed Fascist 
gangs were going about the streets; a punitive expedition 
against me was being organised at the Fascist headquarters; 
the leaders were exhorting the rank and file with inflammatory 
speeches ; I was the appointed victim ; in half an hour the work 
was to begin. 

The waiter who attended me had served under me during 
the war. He had subsequently become a Fascist, but he could 
not forget his loyalty to his former oflicer. He was very much 
embarrassed that evening, and hardly dared to speak to me. 
Though he tried once or twice, I did not encourage him. 
Finally he said : " Signor Capitano, I know what orders have 
been given. I beg of you not to return home; leave here at 
once. It will only be a matter of a few days. Then every- 
thing will be normal once more." 

" Do you think," 1 asked him, " that I am right or wrong ? " 

''You are right," he replied, reddening, and mechanically 
standing at attention in the military manner. 

" Then why should I beat a retreat? " 

My question embarrassed him still more. He did not reply. 
As I went away I said to him : " Why did you turn Fascist ? " 

"Things are so difficult. They made me many promises, 
. . - Who can live in opposition to the Fasci ? " 

" I hve well enough," I retorted, and left him. But I had 
not told the truth. I could not honestly say that I lived well. 

In a moment I was at home again. I occupied an apart- 
ment on the first floor, of which five windows faced the square. 
Next to me, on the same floor, lived an associate judge of the 
Court of Appeal, Cavalier Tanchis. I went to his door and 
rang the bell, wishing to appeal to his conscience as a judge in 
order that, whatever happened, he should bear witness to the 
violence used against me. Although he was at home, he made 
no sign of life; he was terrorised. In the upper floors of the 
building everything was silent. The occupants had hastened 
to seek refuge elsewhere. 

The square, which was the most central one in the city, was 
deserted; houses, shops, all were closed. From afar came the 
strains of the Fascist songs. 

Then I prepared to defend myself. I had a sporting rifle 
and two army revolvers — munitions enough. Two war 
trophies in the form of weighted clubs, taken from the 
Austrians, hung upon the wall. 

The memory of many others who, during the last six years, 
had had their houses sacked, their famihes dispersed, flashed 
into my mind ; of those who had been killed, unarmed, in their 
homes, under the eyes of their helpless wives and children, I 
remembered, and seemed to see before me, poor Piiati, my 
comrade in the war, in which he was w^ounded, and subsequently 
my colleague in Parhament; he had been murdered in his bed 
beside his wife. And I was conscious of immense and tragic 
compassion for my country. 

Two young friends ran up the stairs and announced to 
me that a large column of Fascists were marching toward my 
house and demanding to lynch me. When I told them that I 
did not intend to escape, they offered to help in my defence 
I had to force them to leave. 

Hardly had the heavy door giving on to the street closed 
behind them when I heard my nam.e threateningly shouted 
from the advancing column. 

" Now for it," I said aloud. " One must set an example." 

I half-closed the shutters and put out the light. I could 
thus see without being seen, and observe what was happening 
in the square, which was brifliantly lit. 


In the street to the right of my house was the printing press 
of the Christian-Democratic newspaper, the Corriere di 
Sardegna. The Fascists invaded and sacked it. 

Then it was the turn of the neighbouring- office of the lawyer 
Raffaele Angius. 

Angius came of humble family. His parents had suffered 
the most heroic privations to maintain him at his studies* He 
had gone through the whole of the war, and had greatly dis- 
tinguished himself. As a lawyer he had laboriously built tip 
for himself an excellent reputation, and his family owed their 
present ease to his w^ork. 

Furniture, books, legal documents, all were thrown into the 
street and burned. In a few minutes the Fascists destroyed, 
that evening, the w^ork of a lifetime. 

During the following days the lawyer's clients, in despair, 
went to demand their scattered documents, ^ Angius left 
Cagliari, and died a year later at Milan, leaving his aged 
parents in poverty. He was scarcely thirty-five years old. 

These two preliminary feats having been successfully carried 
out, the column turned toward my house. 

'* Down wath Lussu ! Death to Lussa ! *' 


The column was commanded by the lawyer Giovanni Cao, 
Count di San Marco, a member of Parliament, and leader of 
the local Fascists. He had been a fellow student of mine at 
the University, and my companion during the whole of the war ; 
afterward he had been a member of my own politicar party, 
and as a lawyer had worked in my office : he had been among 
my most affectionate friends up to the time of the March on 
Rome. After the March on Rome, however, being unable to 
resist both threats and flattery, he became a Fascist. I had to 
request him to leave my office, since my position as an adversary 
of Fascism made it impossible for us to continue to work 
together. He never spoke to me again. Nevertheless, I was 
surprised, that evening, to see him personally conducting the 
attack upon me. 

I recognised others among the aggressors. One, a certain 
Baldussi, had become famous on account of other " punitive 
expeditions." He w^as known to me personally, for I had been 
his lawyer once when he w^as indicted as the author of a some- 
what sensational theft. He appeared among the most eager 
against his former defender. 

I was no less astonished at the presence of another, a man 
named Fois, from Cagliari. An organiser among the maritime 
workers, a syndicalist-anarchist, and violently anti-Fascist, he 


had been many times attacked and arrested by the Fascists. 
\yhen the Fascists occupied the headquarters of his organisa- 
tion, he found it impossible to earn his living. He wanted to 
emigrate to France, and I gave him introductions to friends 
there, that he might find help and work. Before leaving he 
had come to my house to see me, and had talked with me at 
length of his difficuUies and of his family, which consisted of 
a wife and three children, named Liberia, Spartaco, and Libero 
(Liberty, Spartacus, and Free). In despair at not finding 
work m France, he had returned to Cagliari and had joined the 
Fascio toward the end of September, thus being able to take 
over again the direction of his former organisation, now become 
a Fascist one. He excused himself to his former comrades by 
adducing the necessity of supporting his children, but he let 
It be understood that his syndicalist-anarchist faith remained 

I still wonder why he too, that evening, w^as demanding my 
lynching. I know that he has since changed the names of his 
children. It is not wholly improbable that in the future, when 
times have changed, he will rechristen them with their original 

' Probably I should have been able to identify other old 
acquaintances of the same kind had I had time to do so. But 
the street door had been broken in, and the staircase was filled 
with a shouting crowed up to the door of my apartment. 

I had made arrangements for defence m the belief that the 
door would immediately give way. Instead, it held. Warned 
by me that I was waiting, armed, within, the Fascists, after 
their first efforts to break it down, thought perhaps that there 
was no necessity for any excess of zeal 

The column in the square thereupon divided into three 
One part remained to support those who had invaded the stair- 
case; a second began to scale the five balconies facing the 
square; and the third went to the back of the building and 
endeavoured to enter my apartment from a courtyard. 

I had not foreseen such mihtary strategy, and found myself 
in much embarrassment as to how to defend myself from three 
separate and simultaneous attacks. I was forced to go rapidly 
from one side to the other in order to be in time to confront the 
first to make a breach. I confess that I have found myself in 
more pleasant situations in the course of my life. 

The yells in the square were demoniacal; the crowd was 
furiously mcitmg those who were making the aasauh: upon the 

One balcony was reached. I fired at the first to appear, 
and the unfortunate man fell backw^ards into the square below 

Terror mvaded the crowd. In a ilash the square was 
deserted ; not a soul remained on the staircase. Several times 
Count Cao attempted to reorganise the column and to lead it 

again to the attack, but in vam. My house was as though 

Half an hour later the police turned up, followed by the 
Carabineers in large numbers. They stood guard over my 
house. Finally the Chief of Police appeared, together with 
many commissioners and the Colonel of the Carabineers. 

When my house had been surrounded and the whole square 
occupied in a mihtary manner, the Fascists slowly reappeared^ 
at first silently, by ones and twos, then yelling and shoutings 
in a crowd. They had recovered their courage. The police 
did not interfere with them. 

There came a blow at my door. 

"Open, Onorevole ! '* It was the voice of the Chief of 
Police. " On my honour, on my family, on my children, I 
swear that I am here to defend you." 

The rest all echoed in chorus : " Yes^ we are all here to 
defend you ! " 

I explained to the Chief of Police, through the door, that 
I found myself in the unfortunate position of not being able 
to trust his word. 

"If you wish to enter, do so. But I warn you that the 
light is out, and that my revolver is loaded. Enter only with 
your hands up, ' ' 

" Impossible ! A chief of police cannot enter with his hands 
up! " The poor man groaned and sighed. 

" Very well, then, send a commissioner.*' And I suggested 
the name of one of those with him whose voice I had recog- 

"An excellent idea," said the Chief of Police. " Signer 
Commissario, you go." 

I opened the door and let the victim in; then shut it once 
more and turned on the light. The Commissario was holding 
his hands up, pale and upset. I put down my revolver and 
told him not to be afraid. 

He explained to me that they were come to arrest me. They 
really did intend to protect me from the Fascists; as a proof he 
adduced the large number of Carabineers that surrounded my 
house. He convinced me of his sincerity. Shortly after, I 
opened the door to the Chief of Police also. 

This gentleman, somewhat embarrassed, communicated to 
me the order for my arrest. I opened the Penal Code, and read 
to him the part concerning legitimate defence and a state of 
necessity. I told him that it was the duty of the authorities to 
imprison the attackers, not the attacked; the violent invaders 
of a private dwelling, not the citizen exercising a right 
sanctioned by the law. But the Chief of Police explained to 
me that he had a painful, a very painful, duty to fulfil — that of 
arresting me. At the same time he anxiously observed that I 
should do well to remove myself from the lighted window^ 

light m front of which I was standing; some evilly disposed 
person might have a shot at me from the square, and the shot 
— though this he did not actually put into words — might make 
a mistake betw^een myself and him. 

Seeing that the penal law was no use, I appealed to consti- 
tutional law. I was a member of Parliament. Parliamentary 
immunity from arrest was laid down in the Statute, an 
immunity w^hich members enjoyed while Parliament was in 
session. All in vain. The Chief of Police nad a painful, a 
very painful, duty to perform. 

I was handcuffed and conducted to prison by a squad of 

The following day, acts of violence were continued m the 
city. All supporters of the opposition were arrested; Fascists 
sacked and destroyed their homes. 

My house alone remained unscathed, protected by .numerous 
cordons of Carabineers and even soldiers. This astonished me 
not a little. However, I understood the privileged treatment 
accorded me when I was reminded that my furniture and 
belongings were insured against damage committed for 
political reasons. The Insurance Society had lost no time in 
setting in motion all the authorities in order to avoid the looting 
of my home and the paying of the premium. 

Those arrested remained only a few^ days in prison. On 
their liberation, the Chief of Police explained to them that he 
had deprived them of their freedom because their lives were in 
danger owing to excessive excitement on the part of the 
Fascists, and prison was the safest shelter for them. As a 
matter of fact, one of them, Dr. Sanna, had found a perfectly 
safe refuge for himself in the house of his mother-in-law, in a 
village one hundred and fifty miles from Cagliari^ amid a 
devoted population that would have defended him from all 
aggression. The police considered this asylum insufficiently 
secure. They sent Carabineers and soldiers to arrest him, and 
brought him laden with chains to Caghari. His father, years 
before, had been Under Secretary of vState to the Ministry of 
Justice in a Democratic Cabinet, and this was a hereditary 
blemish to the discredit of the son. 

The Government ordered that the funeral of the Fascist 
whom I had killed should be an imposing affair. All public 
employees, the pupils of the state schools, the Fascist Militia 
and members of all the provincial Fasci, representatives of the 
navy and the array, the entire magistrature, the Prefect, and 
the general commanding the Sardinian Army Division were ail 
present. The dead man was compared, in the official speeches, 
to the martyrs of the Risorgimento. The population kept 
away from the ceremon}^ 

The dead man*s family received the pension accorded to 

soldiers killed in war. At present a legion of Fascist Van- 
guards bears his name. 

On the occasion of the opening of the juridical year, the 
Attorney-General for the province stigmatised, with inspired 
eloquence, " the detestable crime committed by a politician 
against a young man full of love for his country," and invoked 
exemplary justice on his behalf. 

Count Cao di San Marco, the leader of the punitive expedi- 
tion against me, was shortly afterward nominated Under 
Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, as a reward for his good 
intentions in organising the enterprise, if not for its success. 


Throughout the first night that I spent in prison, and for 
many succeeding nights, the Fascists passed to and fro outside 
singing insulting songs about me. They had certainly regained 
their self-confidence. 

In the cell next that which I occupied there was an 
old acquaintance of mine. A few^ months previously 
he had killed his young wife and had entrusted to 
me his defence, but he insisted on basing this on the 
plea that his wife had been unfaithful to him, which 
was untrue. He was a pathological case, in whose unbalanced 
brain jealousy has become a fixed idea, leading him to 
crime. _ Unable to endorse his line of defence, I refused to 
take his case up, but he bore me no malice. It was he who, 
having been some time in prison and being acquainted with the 
habits of the place, informed the other prisoners of my arrival, 
by means of the mysterious systems which exist in prisons. 
The member of Parliament for Cagliari in prison ! The 
prisoners were proud to be in such company. I had been the 
defender of many others among them — that is to say, for them 
I was the most outstanding personality in their world. What 
an undreamed-of surprise, to see one's own defending counsel 
ending in prison himself! Modesty apart, it was quite an 
historical event for the prisons of Cagliari. 

The following morning, when I was taken to the open air 
for half an hour's exercise, I found my name w^ritten upon the 
walls together with good wishes toward me. One of these 
inscriptions read : " Long live Lussu ! *' It was signed : " The 

f " TViiQ rn 

This proof of 

Amalgamated Society of Safe-Blowers ! 
popularity was most flattering to my vanity 

When I was once more in my cell, notes wrapped around 
pebbles were thrown with great skill through the bars of the 
window opening. They all said more or less the same thing : 
" Courage. If you have need of anything, we ate here. Burn 
this at once," 


The evening of November i the examining judge and the 
public prosecutor came to interrogate me. There were many 
expressions of grief at my situation. Both affirmed that it 
was a matter merely of formalities indispensable at this stage; 
the whole city had been a witness of the assault committed 
against me; my action had been legitimate ; my liberation would 
be a question of a few days. Handshakes and renewed 

I nominated as my defender a lawyer named Marcello, a 
personal friend of mine, and a teacher at the University. The 
following day, the second of November, Marcello was arrested. 
It was not a safe time for lawyers. 

To avoid further trouble for Professor Marcello j I entrusted 
my defence instead to a young friend of mine named Calabresi, 
who was getting his training in my oflice. At the moment he 
was in Rome, and I therefore believed him safe from local 
ill-feeling and reprisals. I was mistaken. On his return 
journey to Cagliari, my friend heard in time that the Fascists 
were awaiting him at the station, and in order to avoid arrest 
he turned back. His house in Cagliari was sacked. He had 
to remain for a long time in hiding, now in Rome and now in 

My cell, w^hich w'as on the ground floor and measured three 
metres by two, was very cold, and badly lit by a small barred 
window which gave on a courtyard. A table, a chair, a fold- 
ing bed fixed to the wall, a straw mattress, and one or two 
other objects completed its equipment. When the door was 
opened, a strong draught was formed between it and the 
window, which during the winter was like an icy douche, 

I was in the army during the whole of the war, and in the 
trenches I had ample opportunity for increasing my entomolo- 
gical knowledge. Nevertheless, a good many varieties of the 
insect race were as yet unknown to me. Those who do not 
specialise in natural science never come in contact with them. 
But they flourish in Italian prisons, and, although the Penal 
Code makes no reference to them, they constitute a very real 
augmentation to the prisoner's sufferings. 

The prison rules allow those who are awaiting trial to 
obtain better cells upon payment. I applied for one, and my 
request was immediately attended to and complied with. On 
the door of my cell a placard was fixed bearing the words : 
" Paying Room " ; but the cell remained the same. In 
deference to truth, however, I must admit that when my cell 
was thus promoted to the dignity of a paying one a woollen 
mattress, a washstand, a jug of water, and a tumbler were 
added to it. 

Living for a year under these conditions, I fell a victom to 
bronchitis and pleurisy, although I had been in the best of 
health at the time of my imprisonment. 


My case gave the local bench a g:reat deal to do. Under 
Italian legal procedure, the inquiry into the facts of the case 
is made by an examining judge assisted by the public pro- 
secutor. When the inquiry is finished, the Attorney-Generai 
for the province presents his conclusions — that is, proposes that 
the accused should be recognised as innocent or sent to public 
trial. A commission of three judges, called the Accusing 
Section, examines ali the evidence and the proposal of the 
Attorney-General, and pronounces whether the accused is 
innocent or whether he is to stand trial by jury. In the latter 
case, the commission also formulates the charge to which the 
accused must reply. After this first sentence is passed, the 
public trial by jury takes place. 

The inquiry into my case lasted till April, 1927 — that is, 
five months— as though it were not a question of a public 
incident all the details of which could have been ascertained in 
a few hours ! Meanwhile I remained in prison. 

When the inquiry was concluded, the Attorney-General 
requested the commission to impeach me on a charge of inten- 
tional manslaughter, a crime punishable under the Italian Penal 
Code by from eighteen to twenty years* imprisonment. He 
deposed that I had acted with brutal malice, having " under 
the stress of ambition, and on seeing my hopes of pohtical 
power shattered, basely committed murder.*' 

The indignation of all honest people in Sardinia was 
tremendous. The father of the man I had killed refused to 
appear at the trial, and sent a message to me in prison to say 
that he grieved not only at having lost a son in a criminal 
enterprise, but also to see that in the name of his family a great 
injustice was being committed against me. 

In May, 192;, the three judges of the Accusing Section 
pronounced sentence of acquittal for legitimate defence. 

Before the sentence had been registered at the Chancery, 
and thus made effective, the Chief Justice in the province inter- 
vened to obtain its modification. One of the three judges 
refused to make any concession. The Chief Justice therefore, 
avaihng himself of a right accorded to him by law, himself 
took the place of this judge in the Accusing Section, and 
deposed that the sentence must be altered and that I must stand 
my trial according to the request of the Attorney-General. Tlae 
other two judges resisted. After a fortnight of conflict, the 
two judges finally consented to modify the sentence, and 
decreed that I should be tried for " excess of defence/* but 
they refused to alter the definition of the crime. " Excess of 
defence '' constitutes attenuating circumstance and diminishes 
the penalty by two-thirds. 



The Attorney-General was still dissatisfied. He appealed 
to the Court of Cassation, demanding that my sentence should 
be revoked and that I should appear before the Court of Assizes 
on a charge of intentional manslaughter The Court of 
Cassation could not countenance such a flagrant act of injustice. 
It confined itself to annulling the sentence, and decreed that 
the case should come up again before the Court of Caglian 
itself, to be re-examined by other judges. 

This persecution levelled at me was so outrageous that it is 
said an influential personage in the Fascist Militia, General 
Zirano, in speaking about it to the Duce, expressed the opinion 
that the scandal was too greats and damaging to Fascism itself. 

I am told that the Duce replied that I should be judged by 
impartial judges outside Sardinia, at Chieti in Abruzzo, and 
the General was dismissed from his post. 

Had I been brought to trial at the Court of Assizes of Chieti, 
I should certainly have been sentenced to the maximum penalty. 
The Fascist Government tries all the most scandalous cases at 
Chieti. The Fascists who murdered the member of Parliament 
Signor Matteotti in June, 1924, were condemned to the 
minimum penalty by the jurors of Chieti in March, 1926. The 
Fascists who, during the night of October 3, 1925, in Florence, 
shot and killed the lawyer Ernesto Consolo under the eyes of 
his wife and children, and the ex-member of Parliament Pilade 
Pilati, surprising him in bed beside his wife, were acquitted by 
the jurors of Chieti in May, 1926. 

My three new^ judges at Caglian put up a really heroic 
resistance to the pressure brought to bear upon them by the 
Chief Justice. They acquitted me for legitimate defence, drew 
up the sentence, and had it immediately registered at the 
Chancery before the Chief Justice had time to intervene as 
he had done the first time. ' 

This example of courage I record in honour of the Italian 
bench, while so many judges, especiallv in its higher ranks, and 
beginning with the President of the Supreme Court, have 
entirely submitted to the will of the political power. 


As a result of my acquittal, I ought immediately to have 
been set at liberty. The order was, in fact, communicated to 
me in due course, but at the same time the prison authorities 
were ordered by the Prefect to keep me where I was, for political 
reasons which would be communicated to me at an opportune 

During these days I was suffering from a chronic high fever, 
and irritation of the bronchial tubes and the pleura obliged me 
to remain m bed, I was transferred from my cell to the 
infirmary, under increased supervision, for they were afraid 
that I should attempt to escape. They telephoned from the 
Prefecture even at night to make certain that I was still there. 

After ten days I received a half sheet of typewritten paper, 
from which I learned that the Provincial Internment Commis- 
sion had sentenced me to mternment for five years, as a person 
" flai^l'ero^is to the regime, a confirmed adversary, and one 
harmful to public peace." The Commission was careful to 
point out m a footnote that this decision had been taken by a 
unanmious vote^this unanimity being naturally of especial 
satisfaction to me ! 

I never had the pleasure of seeing my latest judges ; I was 
never called to defend myself. They inflicted the maximum 
penalty upon me, and informed me of the fact by means of 
that half sheet of typewritten paper. That was all. The 
efficiency of the Fascist regime was undeniable. 

There is such a commission in every province, which con- 
demns the opponents of the dictatorship to the confine that 

is, mternment. Each commission is composed of five members - 
an attorney^general, an officer of the Carabineers, an officer of 
the Fascist Militia, the chief of police of the Province, and the 
prefect, \yho presides. The pohtical adversary is arrested, 
sent to prison, and kept there until the commission has decided 
his destmy^that is, until a piece of paper reaches him with 
the communication that he is to be set at hberty or sent to the 

The provincial Internment commissions were originally set up 
on November 6, 1926, and I had been in prison since the end of 
October. Since the day on which the new law had come into 
force, I could not have committed any new misdemeanour, and 
was sentenced for activities which had taken place before the 
new law had been thought of. Not even a single day was 
allowed me m which to prove that I was not dangerous to the 

A police commissioner, who declared that he was sent by 
the Prefect himself, came to see me and toid me with extreme 
courtesy that, in consideration of my state of health, I was to 
be^ allowed the exceptional privilege of choosing the place in 
v^hich I wished to pass my five years of internment, provided 
that it was outside Sardinia. He spoke sincerely, and in 
perfect good faith. I realised it when, on leaving, he held out 
his hand and I did not give him mine; he was embarrassed, 
and reddened at the unexpected affront. 

My medical certificates stated that sea air would be harmful 
to my health. Nevertheless, on the afternoon of November 



16, 192;, the director of the prison informed me that I was to 
spend my five years of mternment upon the island of Lipari, 
in the midst of sea air. 

I was in bed with fever. The prison doctor declared it 
impossible to move me, and the prison regulations direct that 
if the doctor considers it harmful to a patient to move him, his 
removal must be postponed. During the whole evening, con- 
versation on the telephone between the Prefecture and the prison 
authorities was continuous. The doctor w^as repeatedly pressed 
to change his opinion and not oppose my departure ; the political 
authorities assumed the responsibility of any possible complica- 
tions or consequences. One cannot deny that they had a 
certain courage. The doctor would not change his mind, how- 
ever. Italy is full of these humble and unknown heroes who 
put their duty before all else. 

At night another doctor came to see me, sent specially by 
the Prefect. _ He carefully examined my tongue four times, 
and treated with contempt the sister of charity who suggested 
an egg beaten up with Marsala for me. The following day, at 
twelve o'clock, I received the order to get up from my bed and 
to leave. 

A closed motor awaited me m the prison yard. *' The Chief 
of Pohce," said a pohce commissioner, " has ordered that you 
should go to the port by car, and not in the prison van." 

I was moved by such kindness, and took my place between 
the Carabineers. The city was in a state of siege; I saw nothing 
during the drive of half a mile except Carabineers, police, and 
armed Fascist Militia. When w^e arrived at the port, the 
marshal of Carabineers, to whom the prison authorities' had 
consigned my money and papers, paid for the motor at my 
expense. My gratitude for the kindness of the Chief of Police 
became somewhat modified. 

The port was deserted and all traffic was suspended. 
Sentinels and patrols w-ere everywhere to be seen. As I went 
down toward a police boat, there sailed swiftly in before the 
breeze a fishing boat, which passed in front of mc at a distance 
of a few yards. A young and sun-bronzed fisherman recognised 
me and understood what was happening. Springing upright 
upon the prow, he cried : " Viva Lussu ! Long live Sardinia ! " 
It was my island's farewell to me. 

y The patrols on the quay threw themselves upon the boat as 
it landed ; I had barely time to see the fisherman surrounded by 
the armed throng and disappear. 

Political prisoners travel as though they were common 
criminals. Handcuffed, without water to drink, foodless, thev 
are conveyed in *' cell carriages " by trains that stop every 
evening at a station to allow^ the prisoners to be given food and 



to sleep in the " transit prisons/' or else they are crowded in 
the hold of a steamer, beside the cattle. 

In my state of health such a journey was literally impos- 
sible. They would have had to convey me on a stretcher. So 
I^ was permitted to travel second class, paying for my own 
ticket and for those of the Carabineers accompanying me. 


The journey from Cagliari to Trapani takes eighteen hours. 
The steamer was small, but the sea calm, and after a year in 
prison to find myself in the open air, on the sea, gave me a 
sense of exultation. Exultation and fever never left me. 

From Trapani the same steamer took me to Palermo. The 
morning of November i8 we passed by the island of Ustica, 
where the worst and most incorrigible of the common criminals 
are interned. Among them there were at that time a large 
number of political prisoners. A few months before, one of 
them, Spartaco Stagrietti, had been killed by a common 
criminal, w^hom he had found in the act of stealing. General 
Bencivenga, who was General Cadorna's secretary during the 
war, and later, in ig25, was my colleague in the Chamber of 
Deputies and president of the Italian Press Association, was 
there until a few months ago ; he is now on the island of Ponza. 

We arrived at Palermo on the evening of the eighteenth. 
A police commissioner with his men awaited us, and he snouted 
with a voice which rivalled a megaphone : " Where is the 
arrested deputy ? Where is the arrested deputy? *' 

The people on the quay stopped. The spectacle of an 
arrested member of Parliament was not one to be seen every 

"Where is he? '' "Which is he? " "What has he 
done ? " "Is he the one from the bank ? " " He^l have put 
the money in some safe place/' " What bank? " " What 
money ? " " Who is he, then ? *' 

" Political police ! " shouted the commissioner. 
The crowd became mute, 

" We understand," said a voice, lost in the throng. 

I made my way through the respectful crowd. As the 
steamer, by reason of the rough weather encountered during 
the last hours of the journey, had arrived very late, the Cara- 
bineers conducted me straight to the railway station. I was 
thus spared the torment, of which all the interned speak with 
horror, of remaining for a certain time in the prison of 
Palermo, which is the most frightful of all the prisons in Italy. 

I travelled by train from Palermo to Milazzo, where I 
arrived late at night. The prison was at some distance, and I 
should have had to reach it on foot; but I had a high fever^ 



and obtained permission from the Carabineers to pass the night 
in one of the rooms at the station. 

Some rail way men were clearing up the room, which had just 
been used for a Dopolavoro (a kind of night school) ceremony. 
There had been a small party and a lecture. When I entered, 
the men were grumbling at having had to pay five lire a head 
for two bottles of syrup and a worthless lecture. All wore the 
Fascist badge, and gave the Carabineers the Roman salute. 

I did not speak until one of them asked me who I was. 
When they knew my name, they gathered round me, prepared 
me a sofa with cushions to lie on, and offered me hot coffee. 
Then came confidences. Mussolini should disguise himself as 
a political prisoner in order to learn what his railway employees 
think of him personally and of his r6gime. 

The next morning, with as much circumspection as if they 
were handing me a bomb, they oifered me a small bunch of 

I boarded the ship for Lipari. With me was being con- 
ducted a woman who had with her a baby two years old. She 
was worn out with suffering, but the baby was fat and rosy. 
The woman told me her story. 

" I am the wife of Sergio di Modugno. He fled to France, 
because the Fascists never left him alone. He wanted me and 
the child to join him, and he went over and over again to the 
Italian consulate in Paris to ask for our passport. They put 
him off from one week to another; they kept him for hours at 
a time waiting for an answer, and then told him to return 
another day. This went on for six months, and finally he lost 
his head. He fired at the consul and killed him. I knew 
nothing of it. How should I know what my husband was 
doing in Paris ? They arrested me with my child and are 
sending me to Lipari for five years. For a month I have been 
sent from one prison to another. Do you know anything of 

my husband?" . , , ^ ^ ^j. 

She continued to tell me of all that she had endured. Of 
what use to speak of it here ? 

At last we came to the ^olian Islands. There ^yas Lipari, 
the queen of the archipelago. From a distance it is enchant- 
ingly beautiful. To the east, Stromboli, with its smoking 
volcano, stands out against Calabria, like a sentinel. To the 
south-west the little island of Vulcano guards tffe way to 

Milazzo. . , , n-u 

Lipari appeared much larger than the other islands. The 
sun was shining upon a long line of mountains behind the little 
city by the sea, 

I landed, handcuffed with a double chain. 

"This is a place to get out of as soon as possible/' I 
thought as I stepped ashore. 

It was my first thought. Other considerations came later. 


Part II 


When I landed on Lipari, the director of the colony did not 
address a single word to me, but stood with bent head, as 
though ashamed of my situation and his office. _ My handcuffs 
were removed and I was given a booklet containing^ the regula- 
tions in force. The Carabineers who had accompanied me from 
Cagliari to Lipari appeared glad that their mission was accom- 
plished ; they had treated me with much kindness. 

The director took charge of my money, leaving me three 
hundred lire. When this was gone I could draw the rest, little 
by little, giving each time an account of how it had been spent. 

On leaving the director's office, I found friends who had 
been awaiting my arrival. Just as in prison, everything is 
known at the internment camp; news travels by mysterious 
ways and spreads swiftly. There were waiting to greet me with 
open arms a group of exiled members of Parliament; Beltra- 
mini, deputy for Como ; Morea, deputy for Fabriano; Basso, 
deputy for Venice; Volpi, deputy for Rome; Picelli, deputy 
for Parma ; Repossi, deputy for Milan ; Rabezzana, deputy for 
Turin; Grossi, deputy from the Romagna, Benotti, deputy for 
Genoa. These were difficult times for members of ParHament ! 
The lawyer Domizio Torrigiani, Grand Master of the Free- 
masons, also took part in the reception. For Freemasonry, 
too, the times were none too easy. 

We quickly exchanged accounts of our different careers. It 
was pointed out to me at once that I was closely followed by 
plain-clothes men. This exceptional measure was applied^ only 
to Torrigiani and myself. Mussolini was afraid that inter- 
national Freemasonry would abduct Torrigiani from Lipari ; he 
was ignorant of the fact that Freemasonry is not a maritime 
power. No armoured lodge ever came to carry Torrigiani 
away from the Mediterranean. The discovery that I too was 
being treated as a person of international importance flattered 
me not a little. 

To be constantly shadowed seems a matter of little moment. 
It is, however, extremely irritating and painful. One's nerves 
have to be pretty sound to prevent one from becoming neuras- 
thenic. To leave one's house, and to be followed ; to approach 
a friend, and to be followed ; to speak, and to be overheard ; 
to stop, and know that the other too has stopped; to enter a 
caf^, a shop, a house, and always see the same tace at the door; 
not to be able to smile, not to be able to shake hands with a 



passer-by, without^ your shadow taking note of it— all this 
becomes an oppression, a burden. 

How many times, day and night, when m my own room i 
believed myself free at last of patrols and watchers, have I 
found myself face to face with my " shadow/' who had made 
his way in to make sure of my presence indoors ! r • j 

The surveillance was so vexatious that many of my friends 
advised me to complain. But where could one lodge a protest ? 
The agents were carrying out superior orders, and were only 
doing their duty. The orders came from Rome; I should have 
had to appeal to the Duce, in his capacity as Minister of the 
interior. I have always thought no spectacle more humiliat- 
ing than that of impotence protesting. I refused to complain, 
and comforted myself with the thought that one fine day they; 
would come to find me and I should not be there. 

Accompanied always by my escort, I explored my new 
dominion, and made the acquaintance of all the others interned 
there. The zone beyond which we were not allowed to go was 
confined to about one square mile, . , 

There were over five hundred people interned on Lipan, of 
whom about four hundred were political prisoners from all parts 
of Italy and belonging to all parties. ,. ^ , 

Among the hundred or so who were not political prisoners 
many figured as members of that party to which the authorities 
of their province thought well to ascribe them. A number of 
workmen from the Lazio and the Romagna, arrested for 
hostility toward Fascism but not belonging to any party, were 
officially assigned half to the communist party and half to the 
anarchist. Twenty citizens of Monterotondo (near Rome) were 
deported to Lipari for having attended the funeral of a work* 
man well known as a socialist. Among them were two women 
—one the mother of five children, the other of three. They 
had never concerned themselves with politics, and had attended 
the funeral simply because they were relatives of the dead man. 
The police designated them all as the " Monterotondo com- 
munist group," and sent them to Lipari. A man who has set 
up a small shop for selling flowers, fruit, and fowls on the 
island was sent there because the police sergeant of his town 
passed him off as a communist, though the man himself has no 
idea what communism means. But the sergeant was his wife's 
lover. So the man says, and so say all his acquaintances, 
and everyone believes it. 

Then, too, the brother of the boy Zamboni, who was lynched 
at Bologna for having made an attempt on Mussolini's 
life, had never been concerned in politics. He was doing his 
military service at Milan at the time of the attempt, but he was 
tried by the Special Tribunal for the Defence of the State, 
together with his father and his aunt. The latter were sentenced 
to thirty years' imprisonment because twenty years previously 



they had been active in the anarchist movement. The brother 
was acquitted, there being no evidence against him, but he was 
sent to Lipari for hve years. His only fault was that of 
belonging to his family. What is most dreadful is that there 
is a general conviction in Italy that young Zamboni was inno- 
cent and that the attempt against the Duce was simulated. 

Others in Lipari had been sent there, like Zamboni, by the 
Special tribunal. This exceptional court, formed not of 
regular judges but of oihcers of the Fascist Militia, almost 
always sentences to prison, as a matter of course. If, how- 
ever, the accused person is acquitted, it is a regular thing for 
him to be sent to the , islands. The mere fact of having 
appeared before the Special Tribunal makes him a danger to 
the r^ime. 

A group of young men — lawyers, teachers, and engineers — 
were denounced to the Special Tribunal for having endeavoured 
to form a secret society with the aim of reviving parliamentary 
institutions in Italy. The Tribunal intended to condemn them 
all, with or without proofs of their guilt, but several senators 
and ex-ministers were implicated in the affair and to avoid too 
glaring a scandal the Tribunal acquitted them, and the police 
sent them to the internment camp. 

The others on Lipari were common criminals — dishonest 
doctors and midwives, usurers, and the like, ^ Besides them 
there was a small band of dissident Fascists — individuals who, 
having been too unruly or loquacious, had been removed by the 
political authorities in their districts for fear of their upsetting 
discipline. They committed the crime of revealing party 
secrets, and paid for the indiscretion by internment. Some of 
them had Deen sent to the internment camp as agents provoca- 
teurs and spies. The political prisoners despised and avoided 

In ig28, the news spread in Italy that one of these dissident 
J:*ascistSj Amerigo Dumini, had been put to death in prison. 
He was the leader of the gang that murdered Matteotti, but 
got off at his trial with only a few months more of imprison- 
ment still to be served. Once free, he had the ill-fated idea 
of making allusions to the Duce's complicity in the crime, and 
was condemned to prison for fourteen months for disparaging 
the Prime Minister. Having served this new sentence, he was 
given a concession of land in Somaliland by the Government, 
on condition that he should make no further appearance in 
Italy. Not finding the life of a farmer in Africa to his taste, 
he returned to Italy and was arrested at Naples on landing, 
since when no more has been heard of him. A man who came 
to Lipari from the island of Tremiti, nowever^ assured us that 
Dumini was by no means dead, but interned on that island, 
guarded night and day by police agents. 

The mail of the interned is always opened, censored, and 


often confiscated. In this matter the police are implacable. 

The friends who correspond with the political prisoners have 
their names added to the Hsts of political suspects, and have 
no further peace. I therefore never wrote to anyone except 
my mother, or friends who, being already interned or 
imprisoned on other islands, had nothing to lose. To send 
letters except through the police is to incur the risk of imprison- 
ment up to six months. 

The five hundred people interned on Lipari are guarded 
by four hundred officers and men of the Fascist' Militia, the 
Carabineers, the police, and the naval guards. In so small a 
space, the guards are thus to be seen on every hand. On the 
confines of the area reserved to the interned are stationary and 
flying patrols. The Fascist Militia is on guard day and night 
on the ramparts of the Castle, which is an old citadel contain- 
ing the prisons, the Militia barracks, and rooms for the interned. 
A motor boat equipped with a gun, mitrailleuse^ and wireless, 
three racing motor boats, and six oil-driven ships control the 
sea, and in the Castle there is wireless communication with the 
naval bases of Messina, Palermo and Trapani, 

The political prisoners are the real colony at Lipari, 
Brought together by the same fate, they lead the same life. 
The Government offers them free lodging together in large 
rooms in the Castle, but even the poorest undergo every priva- 
tion to be able to live in a little room of their own, however 
squalid. It is permitted to rent apartments in the town, pro- 
vided they are within the special zone. The Government 
allows each interned person ten lire a day, and the large 
majority have to procure food, lodging, clothes, light and 
water with this sum. Water is brought to the island in summer 
by tank ships. Very few of the interned can avail themselves 
of private means or financial help from relatives, and very few 
can find work in the place — only one or two mechanics, shoe- 
makers, tailors and masons. About a hundred have been 
permitted to have their wives and children with them ; in such 
cases the whole family lives as best it can on the ten lire a day. 

The interned are not allowed to receive monetary assistance 
except from their own families ; anyone helping them without 
being a member of the family commits a pohtical crime and 
may be tried as a " subversive " and opponent to the regime. 
The Republican Baldazzi of Rome was condemned to five 
years' imprisonment for having sent a sum of money to the 
sister of Lucetti, who, in September, 1926, made an attempt 
against Mussolini* s life. 

The interned therefore have to help one another as best 
they can, and secretly. It is a life of wretched poverty, 
endured with dignity. Certain of the poorest families apply 
to the Ministry of the Interior to ask either for work or for 
monetary help. Now and then a subsidy of a few hundred 

lire is allowed them, and when this happens the newspapers 
announce the fact under the title* " The Duce's Generosity/' 


The crowd of £tve hundred menj unable to work* found 
relief in walking, talking, and reading. 

Torrigiani, who suffered from incipient blindness and had 
to read as httle as possible, became the king of the streets j and 
was known as " the talker," By walking up and down the 
same street of five hundred yards in lengthy I am certain he 
did not cover less than twenty-five miles a day. Around him 
there was always a confused crowd, moving in all directions. 

The regulations state that " it is forbidden to talk of 
politics/' on penalty of imprisonment up to six months. And 
what else should political prisoners talk of ? Of everything. 
Even of politics, provided the terminology is appropriate. 
When they speak of politics they have recourse" to every 
metaphor to be found in treatises of rhetoric. It is quite pos- 
sible to talk of Fascism for hours on end, for instance, without 
ever mentioning it by name. If you are a novice, you require 
some enlightenment; but after a little practice you will have 
learned the art. 

I believed at first that my friends were discussing the 
growing of shellfish ; instead they were referring to the 
Monarchy. For the King a terminology hardly flattering is 
reserved, and for the Duce (to speak disrespectfully of whom 
is to incur imprisonment up to three years) an infinitely richer 
and more highly coloured nomenclature is used. By means of 
this veiled language the most dangerous subjects can be 
touched on. 

All the same, if the police should come and stand within a 
yard of you, you would do well to talk of something else. 

All branches of human knowledge had a place in our dis- 
cussions, Torrigiani, who had specialised in philosophy, 
would range from the Smnma of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the 
expression of the mediaeval spirit, to the pragmatism of William 
James, a product of modern industrial mechanism. With 
Torrigiani these two subjects provided material enough for a 
millennium of history and twenty miles of road. 

The most scrupulous of the police agents intervened one 
day and inquired, in the name of the law, who Signor James 
was, and where he lived. It was explained that he was a most 
respectable person, who did not concern himself with politics, 
and that not one of us knew whether he was alive or dead. 
The policeman made a note of the fact and referred the matter 
to his siiperiors to make inquiries, 


When Torrigiani obtained permission to be transferred, 
still under special surveillance, to a clinic near Viterbo, on 
account of his increasingly bad eye trouble, peripatetic 
philosophy lost many of its disciples on Lipari. 

According to their different vocations, the interned have 
divided themselves into groups, among the most important 
being the historians, the literati, and the spiritualists, each 
group with its own leader and its own adventures. 

To the historians only a few centuries are allowed as field 
for research. The interned had collected together, at their 
own expense, a small but well-selected library, but one fine day 
an inspection ordered from Rome discovered in it many things 
dangerous to the regime. Hundreds of volumes wxre con- 
fiscated : all the volumes on the French Revolution and the 
Russian Revolution ; all those that contained the word " revo- 
lution " in their titles; all the Russian literature, including 
Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Chekhov ; all freethinking writers, 
among them Voltaire, Mazzini, and even Anatole France, 
Bernard Shaw was religiously respected, but it was a bad 
moment for his admirers. The historical group was not a 
little disconcerted by this incident, and recovered from the 
crisis by turning, almost en masse, to arch^ological studies. 

Nearly all of the spiritualist group ended in prison, because 
they were surprised m "doubtful attitude " around a table, 
This was ex=[>ressly forbidden by the regulations. It is di£&- 
cult to explain wnat a " doubtful attitude " is, according to 
the regulations, but it incurs six months of imprisonment. In 
this particular case, however, the spiritualisus were able to 
demonstrate the legahty of their attitude and got off with three 
days in the prisons of the Castle. 

The group of literati is made up of the men quietest in 
character, but it had the most violent discussions. It pro- 
duces many poets who comment in verse upon the incidents, 
both sad and gay, of the colony. As always happens with 
art, the contemporaries have little appreciation for works of 
genius, and only posterity will render justice to the misunder- 
stood masterpieces. 

In the evening, when the bugles of the Castle sounded the 
retreat, each man would shut himself into his own dwelling, 
and in solitude think over the day that he had passed. Very 
unalluring was the prospect then of five years of such a petty 

On the whole, I cannot say that the Militia made the sur- 
veillance worse by actual provocation, but small vexations were 
not lacking. There was one serious case. A certain Del 
Moro w^as constantly being made the victim of the jibes of the 
Militia; wherever he went, he was stopped and insulted, One 
day he lost patience and struck the captain of the Militia in 
public, knocking him down, whereupon he was arrested and 


horribly knocked about. We learned a few month later that 
he died in a madhouse in Sicily, although he was a man per- 
fectly normal mentally and of exceptional physical fitness. 
His family was not informed of his death, and wrote to us 
for information concerning- him. 

After this incident the demeanour of the Fascists became 
less arrogant, but not a week passed without someone being 
arrested upon some futile excuse or other. When a motive was 
lacking, one was invented. 

Christmas of 1927 was approaching, and the colony was 
preparing to celebrate it; Christmas trees and presents for the 
children were ready. Suddenly a warship arrived one night. 
There was general astonishment at this unusual occurrence. 
Two hundred Carabineers, Fascist Militia, officers, and police 
commissioners landed, together with the public prosecutor of 
the Special Tribunal. Two hundred and fifty of tne interned 
were arrested during the night and taken to the Castle and 
the next day the town appeared in a state of siege. The 
arrested men were all interrogated during the following day, 
and late at night two hundred of them were set at liberty. 
Only then was the mystery explained. A " plot " against the 
safety of the State had been miraculously frustrated : four 
hundred pohtical prisoners, closely guarded on an island, had 
endangered the security of the State 1 

The fifty most under suspicion were taken on board the 
man-o'-war next day. Squads of them, handcuffed and 
chained together^ were marched through the town, and the rest 
of the interned were forbidden to see them off or to approach 
the quay. But the atmosphere was electric ; all defied the order 
and thronged toward the wharf, and the cordon of armed 
police was powerless to prevent them. It was the first collective 
revolt against superior orders on the island. 

When the fifty arrested men boarded the boats which were 
to carry them to the warship, one of them, raising his hat with 
his fettered hands, cried with a loud voice : " Long live 
liberty! " A great chorus echoed his cry, from the boats, 
from the quay, from the houses,^ from the street. Silence 
followed this unexpected acclamation. The cordons of armed 
men raised their rifles, and the sinister metallic sound of the 
clicking of triggers was heard. Pale, and with an unsteady 
voice, a police officer ordered : " Back with you, in the name of 
the law ! *' Everyone remained motionless and silent. 

A tragedy seemed imminent. Only the half -suppressed 
weeping of some women and children broke the stillness. But 
the officer did not give the order to fire. The ship left with 
our friends, and the crowd slowly dispersed. 

After a year the Special Tribunal closed the case against 
these fifty men by acquitting them alL Two spies had brought 
accusations against them in the hope of reward, but the impos- 


ture was too flagrant. After their year in prison, the fifty 
took up once more their life of internment. 

Following upon these arrests, the co-operative eating 
houses which the interned had organised for the sake of 
economy were suppressed, together wuth the classes at which 
they took turns teaching various subjects, and the small sports 
clubs. Life became harder. 

Two men, above all others, I came to know, admire, and 
love during my internment: Carlo Rosselli and Ferruccio 

Carlo Rosselli comes of a family of patriots; Giuseppe 
Mazzini died in the house of his grandparents at Pisa in 1872. 
At thirty years of age, Rosselli is a veteran of anti-Fascism. 
His house in Florence was sacked by the Fascists in July, ig25, 
and a few months later he was assaulted, unarmed, at Genoa, 
while on his way to lecture at his school In the spring of 
1926, when the opposition newspapers were everywhere being 
suppressed and their editors and their staffs imprisoned, 
Rosselli had the audacity to found an anti-Fascist weekly. In 
order to devote all his time to this he resigned his post as 
teacher of political economy at the School of Economics at 
Genoa. During the night of October 31, 1926, reprisals took 
place in Milan, as at Cagliari and other towns in Italy, and 
Rosselli 's house in Milan sheltered several of the men who 
were being sought by the Fascists. His paper was suppressed 
in November, 1926, together with all the other opposition 

Eapers that had resisted up to that time. In December, 1926, 
e organised the escape from Italy of Filippo Turati, the leader 
of the Reformist (right-wing) Socialist Party. 

Ferruccio Parri was a young teacher of history in the 
secondary schools before the war, during which he was 
wounded twice and received four decorations for valour on the 
field of battle. He ended with the rank of staff major, having 
begun the campaign as a second lieutenant. He then joined 
the staff of the great Milanese daily, the Corner e delta Sera, 
where he remained till the Fascists succeeded in getting rid of 
the editor, Senator Albertini. Then Parri, who had no other 
means or income, resigned. He was not a socialist : in England 
he would have been a follower of Mr. Baldwin: but he was 
indignant at the treatment meted out to the socialists, and he 
co-operated with RosselH in organising the fiight of Turati, 

The two "accomplices*' were arrested for this "crime.*' 
At the trial, w^hich took place at Savona in Spetember, 1927, 
instead of defending themselves they took up the attitude of 
accusers. They reasserted their right to save from the fury 
of the Fascists their seventy-year-old friend, who had dedi- 
cated his life to the service of his country. In the most 
dramatic moments it seemed as though Rosselli himself had 
become the president of the Tribunal which had to try him. 



Pam declared that after ^^•llat he had seen m the last few years 
he had a desire to tear off all the 'i^l-^^'^J^^^^^^^ IZ^ 

Th^ accused were condemned to ten months' .mpnsonment, 

followed bv five years of internment. , ^_™.„ 

To find myself with these two men on Lipan was compen^ 

satiln enough'^in n.y eyes for all -^y .rytTllkd^^^^ 
the personification of generosity, unselfishness, and danng. 


^ mixed little with the others who were interned on Lipari- 
I inteS to escape, and from the first day I had to regu ate 
my life with this end m view. No one ^^.^^f ^t^^^,;^^ J.^^ 
had ever succeeded m escaping, and what was difficult tor 
the others was more than ever difficult for me, subjected as I 

^^"^ A^vS^'ift^T^^^^^^ I picked out two spots on the 
coa^ wifhin the zone reserved for us. Approach to the sea 
v^^l mtercepted by steep cliffs. No one ever attempted to break 
his i^^ck bv descending those precipices; and even if one had 
reached the sea, what could one have done ? , It was "npossible 
tn^et axvav because these two points were visible to the guards 
.11 ^.lonrtbe coast In consequence, the police wisely kept no 
senttSf B these places, but confined themselves to watching 
he access to them': Therefore I concluded, once reached, it 
was from here alone that escape could be attempted. 

I went to Hve m a house a few hundred yards from both 
Doints Should it be necessary to give up the idea of one, the 
K would still remain, I could esca^ ^^n-*^^r.''.nd 
way of the neighbouring roof s m four different ^^^^ctions^^and 
There was also I high terrace giving on to he sea. This choice 
<;ubseauentlv proved to ha^^e been an excellent one. 

f Stomped myself to leaving the house only twice a day 
^a noon f^r exactly half an hour, and m the afternoon at 
five in the winter, and seven m the summer, for exactly one 
hour If thT weather was bad, as. it often was m winter, I did 
nor^o out. I kept strictly to this schedule for a year and a 
Sa f and no one ever saw me outside my house at any other 
Sme My friends used to say that the ^habitants ofLipari 
sLT their watches by my outings, as the people of Konigsberg 
Sd by the walks of Immanuel Kant. I thus obtained two 
results first I was regarded as a man who for no reasonin the 
wSdwourd change his life of study and has habit of sticking 
To a certain schedule; secondly, my guards came to thmk of 
r^e as a poor invalid who was afraid above all things of taking 



On my walks I always went the same way, along the prin- 
cipal and longest street of the town and on along the beach 
crowded with boats. The police considered this spot best 
adapted for an escape, and therefore made it an object of 
especial vigilance. Their suspicions were further aroused by 
my long pauses here, and they trebled the gniards. But the 
place I had chosen for an attempt was in precisely the opposite 

Two weeks after my arrival I had already settled upon a 
plan of escape with two friends. It was to take place on 
Christmas night; I thought that at that time the surveillance 
would be less strict. As one of these friends of mine is now 
in Italy, I cannot divulge the details of our plan, which would 
have been relatively easy, swift, and audacious; but it fell 
through, owing to two unforeseen events. One of the friends, 
who was indispensable to the undertaking, was arrested for the 
" plot "of the two hundred and fifty, of which I have already 
spoken, and I had a return oi my pleurisy ; on Christmas night 
my temperature was over a hundred degrees. News of my 
death reached the Fascists of my city, and they made great 

My illness prevented my flight for the moment, but it made 
it more easy for the future. Everyone was now convinced that 
I was a physical wreck, and I alone knew what reserves of 
strength I could count on. The watch upon me slackened. 
While I was forced to remain in bed, the police used to come 
to see how my malady was prospering, to be sure ; but on the 
other hand my bedroom was the undisturbed scene of new plans 
of escape. Many times the doctor found me with a map of 
the Mediterranean in my hand, only to attribute my obsession 
for the sea to my longing for my own island home. Many 
times I fell asleep upon the lines which I had traced between 
Lipari, Milazzo, and the Straits of Messina. 

When my illness was at its worst, in January, 1928, Carlo 
Rosselli w^as brought to Lipari. The first time that we were 
alone together we discovered that we had the same idea — to 
escape. We took two others into our confidence — Francesco 
I' austo Nitti and another whom I will call Caio. 

Nitti is a Southern Italian, and a nephew of the former 
Prime Minister. In Decenlber, 1926, he was condemned to 
five years' internment on suspicion of having wished to form 
a secret anti-Fascist society; but his chief fault was that of 
bearing, without apparent embarrassment, the name of one of 
the men most hated by Mussolini. He belongs to the Italian 
Methodish Church, of which his father is one of the leaders. 

Of Caio I will only say that he was to have been one of my 
companions in the escape which had already failed. 

We undertook, on our honour, not to reveal our intentions 


to a living soul; in these matters confLdences are the worst of 
dangers. For an Italian to be silent is, as a rule, somewhat 
difficult. But we kept our word. No one had the slightest- 
suspicion of our intentions. 

We thought of taking Parri into our enterprise. Who more 
worthy than he ? But he had with him his wife and child, he 
was always unwell, his parents were old, and other family 
circumstances forced him to remain in Italy. He could not 
take part m the attempt. We held a small council of war and 
decided to tell him nothing. 

In the spring of 1928, Professor Salvemmi succeeded m 
getting in touch with us from abroad. For Salvemmi, Musso- 
lini reserves a hatred without quarter, and the professor, it 
must be said in justification of the Duce, certainly does his 
best to deserve it. To the hst of all his other "crimes 
against the regime he thus added that of concerning himself 
with us, and in helping us he was able to rely on three of his 
trusted friends, one of whom acted admirably as chief of staff 
in the enterprise. 

Given this external help, we abandoned all our former plans. 
The one intended for the previous Christmas was no longer 
possible; the others presented various difficulties of a compli- 
cated kind. We directed all our efforts towards the realisation 
of the scheme our friends from afar were proposing. 

Our plan was very simple: to throw ourselves into the sea 
at one of the two points I have designated, which were not 
watched, and to get picked up by a boat coming from the open 

The sun, disappearing at sunset behind the heights which 
dominate the city and the port to the west, left the latter in 
deep shadow, and from land nothing could be seen of what was 
happening a few hundred yards away on the sea. The two 
points I have mentioned were precisely within this area of 
shadow. We ascertained this by making innumerable obser- 
vations, and checking them carefully one with another. 

The zone remained in darkness only when, in the place of 
the sun, there was no moon to light it. It followed that the 
only time suitable for the undertaking would be the w^eek after 
full moon, in which the moon did not rise from the sea until 
after sunset. 

But after sunset we were obliged to retire mto our houses, 
at seven o'clock from November to February, at eight in March, 
April, September, and October, and at nine from May to 
August. Half an hour later began the visits of inspection^ 
that is, the rounds made from house to house in order to ascer- 
tain that everybody was indoors. To be seen in the streets 
after that hour was to be sent straight off to the Castle. The 
only time di ring the whole twenty -four hours that w^as suitable 



for the escape, therefore, was the half -hour betw^een the dis- 
appearance of the sun behind the hills and the visit of inspec- 
tion. The boat that w^as to take us off would, have to arrive 
in the port of Lipari from the open sea neither before nor after 
that half-hour. Should it arrive before, it would be seen; if 
it arrived after, it would be too late for an opportune escape. 

There was also the danger of the motor ooats on guard, 
whose ways w^e studied carefully and reported to our friends. 
The boat which was to come and take us off must have a sp>eed 
of at least tw^enty miles an hour ; the motor boats which might 
follow us would attain at the most eighteen miles. Only if 
we had half an hour's advantage could we become unreachable 
and a difficult target for the machine gun, but we could count 
on this half -hour even if our escape were discovered immedi- 
ately, for a certain interval of orders, counter-orders, and 
disorder was inevitable between the discovery and the pursuit. 

The friends w^ho came to fetch us would carry arms and 
munitions with them; if we W'Cre attacked, we should defend 
ourselves. Chance or luck would in any case have to play its 

The plan was perfect; and, in fact, it succeeded. But it 
succeeded a year later. The first attempts failed. 


In March, 1928, I resumed my daily walks at fixed times, 
but they were shorter, as I was convalescing from my illness. 
In public I always appeared muffled up to the ears, but at home 
I accustomed myself by means of cold douches to the long 
immersion in the sea which was to be an indispensable part of 
the new plan of escape. We hoped to get aw^ay in June. 

In May four prisoners escaped from the Castle, hoping to 
take ship for Calabria. But their confederates failed them, 
and the fugitives remained on the island hiding in the country. 
The whole garrison was in arms ; motor boats and sailing boats 
searched the seas ; flying squads beat up the island in every 
direction. After a day, two of the fugitives were recaptured, 
and shortly afterwards the other two; the four unfortunate 
men paid for their temerity with imprisonment. After this 
the nocturnal visits became more frequent, and the surveillance 
on the island more intense. 

As soon as the police heard of the escape, the detectives 
rushed into my house; I was held urider great suspicion. But 
my undeviating walks lulled their misgivings. 

During June, July, August, September, and October, our 
plans fell through. Each time, on the appointed day, some 
diabolic obstacle intervened. All our plans had to be remade, 


and a new and favourable phase of the moon awaited. My 
terrace became an observatory, and I learned to know ail the 
constellations. How slowly pass the phases of the moon ! 

One night Nitti and Caio carried out a reconnaissance in 
the neighbourhood of the first of the two points which we had 
selected for our departure. They only just avoided being 
discovered. We were afraid that the suspicions of the police 
had been aroused, so we changed our plans and chose the other 

In September another prisoner attempted to escape. He 
secured a canoe, hoping to reach Sicily, a distance of thirty 
miles. A very strong swimmer, he relied largely on his powers 
of resistance, even if the canoe should fail him ; but he had not 
taken into account the currents of the Straits of Milazzo and 
Messina. After a few hundred yards the canoe capsized, and 
the current forced him to return to the island. The alarm had 
already been given ; it was impossible for him to return to the 
colony, and he disappeared into the bush. They searched in 
vain for a month. One night he plunged into the sea, and 
reached a German steamship laden with pumice stone. Climb- 
ing up by the cham of the bow anchor, crushing his chest in 
the ascent, he reached cover; but the captain did not dare to 
harbour him, and handed him over to the Fascists. He was 
condenined to three years' imprisonment in addition to the five 
years' internment. 

The surveillance became closer than ever. 
Our nerves were on edge, for on November 17 another attempt 
was to be made. We were due to meet our rescuers at 6.30 
p.m., and by different routes we all reached our rendezvous. 
Owing to my change of attire, I slipped through my guards 
without being recognised, and the others were not suspected. 
We threw ourselves into the water and swam a hundred and 
fifty yards. The water was icy and the sea rough ; the weather 
was as bad as it could be. We stayed in the water for over 
half an hour with only our heads above the surface, diving 
whenever a suspicious sound made us fear discovery. I never 
as a rule take spirits, but I was obliged to swallow brandy to 
resist the cold. We waited for half an hour. 

Our rescuers did not come. What a disappointment ! We 
returned in silence, profoundly discouraged. The bugles from 
the Castle nad already sounded, and a few minutes later the 
control watch passed our house. In spite of our misfortune we 
could still consider ourselves lucky, for neither detectives nor 
prisoners knew anything about the attempt. We passed a 
despairing night, however ; a whole year of waiting had ended 
miserably in failure. 

The following morning we took every precaution to hide 
or account for the bruises and cuts we had received on the rocks. 


Rosseiii had a black eye and looked like a defeated boxer; 
Nitti had a bruised hand ; I had grazed my face, and had a cut 
on my left hand which took two months to heal. But I was 
none the worse for my icy dip. 

Two days later, as had been arranged, we made another 
attempt, but we had little hope. Nevertheless we tried. Nitti 
and Caio went into the water, but Rosseiii and I waited on the 
shore for the prearranged signal, for it was both useless and 
dangerous for us to expose outselves when the chances of 
success were so small. This time, too, our luck was out. 

If we had exercised more discrimination we should have 
realised that during those ill-starred days a storm such as had 
not been experienced for many years was raging in the Mediter- 
ranean. The violence of the sea was too much for a small 
boat. To those who were prepared during those days to risk 
life and liberty for us we shall remain eternally grateful, even 
though fortune did not smile upon their efforts. 

I'he fair-weather season had passed, and the \vinter winds 
had taken possession of the Straits We were obliged to give 
up all hope of escape for months. The usual surveillance went 
on, the usual schedule, the usual miserable life, 

Caio finished his sentence that winter and returned to Italy. 
He volunteered to pass the frontier secretly, to organise another 
attempt, and to come himself to fetch us. No one knew as 
well as he our anxiety, the difficulty of the undertaking, and 
the geography of the place. He made this offer, so fraught 
with risk, very simply. He and the pilot of the motor boat 
are the real heroes of our enterprise. 

When Caio returned home he was put in prison twice as a 
suspect, the suspicion being based upon his previous intern- 
ment, which in turn had been the result of earlier suspicions. 
He did not wait to be arrested a third time, but passed the 

To get secretly across the Italian frontier to-day is as 
difficult an undertaking as to get unseen into the strong room 
of a bank. Those found violating the law of expatriation are 
condemned to anything up to six years' imprisonment, if they 
escape being shot in the act by the Black Shirts who guard the 

We arranged to make our next attempt in June, 1929, and 
beguiled the time in making other plans in case this one also 

On the appointed evening — no longer four, but three in 
number — we retraced our steps of November, 192S. We 
entered the water, swam out, waited vainly. Complete failure. 

"It is written in the book of Fate," said Nitti, dripping 
wet, ■' that we shall die on this island or in prison. It is a 
brilliant career j why should we change it? I protest against 



this absurd obsession to die free, I shall not take another 
step. I refuse to become mad.** 

We learned afterwards that the motor boat had broken 
down en route. We had arranged with Caio to make a renewed 
attempt on July 27. 

On the morning of the 27th, Rosselli came round to our 

house. Nitti was there. Rosselli related a dream he had had. 

" I do not remember where I was " 

'' In prison/' interrupted Nitti, gloomily. 
" Suddenly a lion with a mane leaped out of a shell." 
"Africa! " I cried, joyfully. "That means Africa! " 
" The mane was an extremely fine one. Suddenly, while 

I stood cleaning my nails with the broadsword of a Marshal 

of France " 

" It was really a Marshal of France? *' 

" Yes, without doubt a Marshal of France." 

" Excellent! From Africa to France, Second step.*' 

" While I was cleaning my nails/' he went on, " I found 

myself playing roulette.** 

"Roulette! ** I interrupted again. " Paris— third step." 
It is all very well to smile, but, given desperate straits, even 

a dream will reawaken hope. 

I took my two walks as usual; I saw my guards and the 
little world of the prisoners. Rosselli waj profuse in his salu* 
tations of the authorities. Nitti was gloomier than ever. 

At sunset Rosselli and Nitti walked across the central 
square discussing philosophic problems like good, law-abid- 
ing prisoners ; then they separated. Once back in my rooms, 
I disguised myself in a second : and the detectives who ordin- 
arily knew me a mile off, did not recognise me again this 
time. We arrived late at our rendezvousj for both Rosselli 
and I had found the patrols blocking our way. Rosselli had 
risked arrest. 

The sea was exceedingly calm when we plunged in. There 
was nothing but darkness and silence. Then, suddenly, 
scarcely perceptible at first, there came across the water the 
throb of an engine j and a motor boat drew near. The signal 
given was ours and Caio was in the bow, but we did not 
exchange a single word. One after the other, by means of a 
rope ladder, we climbed on board. Describing a narrow circle, 
we shot away, leaving behind us a white, shining path on a 
sea as smooth as oil. 

With doused lights the motor boat passed rapidly through 
a fleet of fishing vessels. We changed our dripping clothes 
for others which our friends had provided ; dressed as sailors, 
we took up our duties on board. As the motor boat slid 


forward, Nitti passed up petrol tins to Rosselli, who kept the 
tank filled; I pierced the empty tins with a knife and threw 
them into the water. These were our instructions. The 
pierced tins filled at once and sank, leaving no trace to assist 

Soon the moon rose. For many hours there was still a 
possibility of being overtaken. But little by httle, as the 
engine drank up the petrol, the lightened craft increased her 
speed, and after a time all chance of pursuit was left behind. 

There remained only the danger of being intercepted from 
one of the naval bases along our route, warned by wireless of 
our escape. From dawn until 8 a.m. we lived in constant fear 
of this; glasses were passed from hand to hand, and the 
horizon scanned. Only the dark, silhouette of a ship appeared 
afar off; we altered our course and disappeared from its view. 

Finally, blurred by mists, the longed-for land was sighted. 
Danger, anxiety, and suffering were forgotten in the joy of 
victory. The tiny band of prisoners threw discipline and dis- 
cretion to the winds and gave themselves up to unbridled 
rejoicing over their hard-won freedom. 

ITALY TO-DAY for 1929 

Twelve Numbers, 7d# each, post free. 



Printed by Utopia Press, l/rn.. 
U, Worship Htjreel, EX%2 ajid 
Publiahfid by H k w u k B s o H sl 
(if*, Charing Cross, Hoad, W.C.2. 

i.—The *• Corporative 5tate " In FascUt Italy* If.— 

Economic Italy In 1938. Ill Fascist Electoral 

Methods, IV.— Is Fascism ati Economic Success? 
v.— The Lateran Treaty. VL—The Fascist ''Special 
Tribunal/' VII.— Political Prisoners and Police Sur- 
veillance. Vlll.—The Italian Liberals and the Lateran 
Treaties. IX.—An American Enquiry* X,— (I), Intern- 
ment Under Fascist Rule; (11). The Rosselli Case and 
the Method of Taking Hostages. XI.— Fascist Rule 
in South Tyrol. XII — -Three Views of Fascism. 

ITALY TO-DAY for 1930 

Twelve Numbers, 3d, each, post free. 

ITALY TO-DAY for 1931 

January — 

THE LATEST PLOT. By Gaetano Salvemini. 

February — 
FASCISM : YEAR VIII By Percy Winner, 

LONDON : HENDERSONS, 66 Charmg Cross Rd.