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Response to Matteo Millan: Mapping Squadrist Violence

  • RUTH BEN-GHIAT (a1)
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1 Ebner Michael, Ordinary Violence in Mussolini's Italy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011); Bosworth Richard, ‘Everyday Mussolinianism: Friends, Family, Locality, and Violence in Fascist Italy’, Contemporary European History, 14, 1 (2005), 2343; Finchelstein Federico, Transatlantic Fascism: Ideology, Violence, and the Sacred in Italy and Argentina, 1919–1945 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010); Albanese Giulia, ‘Reconsidering the March on Rome’, European History Quarterly 42, 3 (2012), 403–21.

2 Bidussa David, Il mito del bravo italiano (Milan: Il Saggiatore, 1993); Focardi Filippo, Il cattivo tedesco e il bravo italiano: La rimozione delle colpe della Seconda guerra mondiale (Rome: Laterza, 2013).

3 Arendt Hannah, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Jovanovich, 1973), 257–8. Michaelis Meir, ‘Anmerkungen zum italienischen Totalitarismusbegriff: Zur Kritik des Thesen Hannah Arendts und Renzo de Felices’, Quellen und Forschungen aus italienischen Archiven und Bibliotheken 62 (1982), 270302.

4 See Ben-Ghiat Ruth, ‘A Lesser Evil? Italian Fascism in/and the Totalitarian Equation’, in Dubieland HelmutMotzkin Gabriel, eds, The Lesser Evil: Moral Approaches to Genocide Practices, eds (New York: Routledge, 2004), 137–53; Bosworth Richard, The Italian Dictatorship: Problems and Perspectives in the Interpretation of Mussolini and Fascism (London: Arnold, 1998), 69–70 on the tradition of British superiority. A. J. P. Taylor was the most prominent exponent of the Mussolini-as-lackey theme, in The Origins of the Second World War (New York: Fawcett Premier, 1961) and in the movie he narrated, Mussolini, Men of our Time (1998), which proclaims that Italian Fascism was ‘all a sham’; Zapponi Niccolo, Il fascismo nella caricature (Bari: Laterza, 1981) for cartoons in the international press. For critical reviews of the state of historiography before this latest wave of studies, Corner Paul, ‘Italian Fascism: Whatever Happened to Dictatorship?’, Journal of Modern History 74, 2 (June 2002), 325–51; and Bosworth Richard, The Italian Dictatorship: Problems and Perspectives in the Interpretation of Mussolini and Fascism (London: Arnold, 1998); Collotti Enzo, ed., Fascismo e antifascismo: Rimozioni, revisioni, negazioni ed. Enzo Collotti (Rome: Laterza, 2000).

5 On anti-Fascist and Fascist uses of the term “totalitarian” in 1920s Italy, see Petersen Jens, ‘Die Entstehung des Totalitarismusbegriffs in Italien’, in Funke Manfred, ed., Totalitarismus (Dusseldorf: Droste, 1978), 105–28; Gleason Abbott, Totalitarianism: The Inner History of the Cold War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 1420.

6 The new attention to Fascist violence is also registered in the appearance of studies devoted to squadrism: Albanese Giulia, La marcia su Roma (Rome: Laterza, 2006); Franzinelli Mimmo, Squadristi: Protagonisti e tecniche della violenza fascista 1919–1922 (Milan: Mondadori, 2004); Reichardt Sven, Camicie nere, camicie brune: Milizie fascista in Italia e in Germania (Bologna: Mulino, 2009); and on squadrism as a template for Fascist masculinity, Capone Alfredo, ‘Corporealità maschile e modernità’, in Bellassai Sandro and Malatesta Maria, eds, Genere e mascolinità (Rome: Bulzoni, 2000), 195224. On the war as incubator of totalitarian violence, Ventrone Angelo, La seduzione totalitaria: Guerra, modernità, violenza politica (1914–1918), (Rome: Donzelli, 2003).

7 For the relationship of the PNF and the state, see Gentile Emilio, La via italiana al totalitarianismo: Il partito e lo Stato nel regime fascista (Rome: La Nuova Italia, 1995). Information on squadrists in the cultural and film bureaucracy, see Ben-Ghiat Ruth, Italian Fascism's Empire Cinema, forthcoming with Indiana University Press. Paul Baxa argues that the squadrist conquest mentality influenced Fascism's urban interventions in the streets and piazzas of Rome: Roads and Ruins: The Symbolic Landscape of Fascist Rome (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010). For Italians seeing the party as another state apparatus, Duggan Christopher, Fascist Voices: An Intimate History of Mussolini's Italy, (London: Bodley Head, 2012).

8 Ebner, Ordinary Violence; Reichardt, Camicie nere.

9 Quote from Franzinelli, Squadristi, 44. Memoirs that link Fascist squadrism with an antidisciplinarian body politics include Gallian Marcello, Comando di tappa (Rome: Cabala, 1934); Rosai Ottone, Dentro la guerra (Rome: Quaderni di Novissima, 1934), but see also Balbo Italo, Diario 1922 (Milan: Mondadori, 1932). For squadrism's attraction for youth, Wanrooj Bruno, ‘Una generazione di guerra e di rivoluzione: I giovani e il fascism degli origini’, Storia e problemi contemporanei 24 (2001), 109127; Ben-Ghiat Ruth, Fascist Modernities: Italy 1922–1945 (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2001), 107–22.

10 Mattioli Aram, Experimentierfeld der Gewalt: Der Abessinienkrieg und seine internationale Bedeutung 1935–1941 (Zurich: Orell Füssli, 2005); Kúnzi Giulia Brogini, Italien und der Abessinienkrieg 1935/36: Kolonialkrieg oder Totaler Krieg? (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2006); Mattioli Aram and Asserate Asfa-Wossen, eds, Der erste faschistische Vernichtungskrieg: Die Italienische Aggression gegen Athiopien 1935–1941 (Cologne: SH-Verlag, 2006). On the Militia in East Africa, Rochat Giorgio, ‘I volontari di Mussolini’, in Labanca Nicola, ed., Fare il soldato: Storie di reclutamento militare in Italia, (Bologna: Unicopli, 2007), esp. 125–26.

11 Il film dell’ardimento italiano (The Film of Italian Daring) trumpeted a publicity poster for Luciano Serra, pilota. The dagger used to stab the Ethiopian adversary was identical to the pugnale di marcia issued to Militiamen. On this film and the references to squadrism and violence that recur in empire films, Ben-Ghiat, Italian Fascism's Empire Cinema, chapter 3.

12 Stefani Giuletta, Colonia per maschi: Italiani in Africa Orientale: Una storia di genere (Verona: Ombre corte, 2007), 60–1.

13 Labanca Nicola, ‘War Crimes in the Italian Colonies’, Journal of Modern Italian Studies 9, 3 (2004), esp. 309; see also Burgwyn James, ‘General Roatta's War Against the Partisans in Yugoslavia: 1942’, and Lidia Santarelli, ‘Muted Violence: Italian War Crimes in Occupied Greece’, both in Journal of Modern Italian Studies 9, 3 (2004): 314–29 and 280–99 respectively.

14 An example is the episode reported by eye-witnesses that occurred on 23 July 1942 near Ljubljana, where during reprisal killings two female and ten male villagers were executed and their corpses placed on an open military lorry along with the carcass of a pig. A mixed group of Fascist militiamen and Army grenadiers sat on the corpses and sang Fascist songs as they drove the lorry through the streets of Ljubljana. The bodies and the pig were buried in a common grave, and the Italians sang ‘dirty songs’ as they arranged the male and female corpses in lewd positions. See UNWCC, PAG-3/2.0, reg. no 364/Y/It/11, Appendix 24, microfilm pages 1108–1109. On this Bourke Joanna, An Intimate Portrait of Killing: Face to Face Killing in Twentieth-Century Warfare (New York: Basic Books, 1999).

15 Ebner, Ordinary Violence, esp. 47; Focardi, Il cattivo tedesco e il bravo italiano.

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