Each year on April 25, Italians commemorate Italy’s 1945 liberation with yet another public holiday. Any sane person would think this ought to involve honoring those who did the liberating: the British, the Canadians, the Australians, the New Zealanders, the Indians, the Poles, and, of course, the Americans. It does not.
This April 25th, I visited the graves of the British and Commonwealth soldiers buried at the Allied War Cemetery in the provincial city of Forlì in the “red” area where I live. I go to the cemetery every now and again to remind myself of many things. As usual, there was not a soul there and only three people had signed the visitors’ book that day out of a grand total of 22 this year.
Meanwhile that morning, the toxic derivatives of the Partito Comunista Italiano had assembled en masse as usual in Piazza Saffi in front of the Town Hall which they have run since the end of the war to praise themselves and to tell everyone that only they and their values stand between freedom and dictatorship.
From the start, the Italian left hijacked Liberation Day and turned it into a eulogy to itself founded on two grotesque lies: that the Italian partisans played a pivotal role not only in Italy’s liberation but in restoring democracy. These same lies are taught in Italy’s schools and universities all year round to this day and are repeated ad nauseam in the press and on television.
Yet anyone who dares to question these shameless lies is shouted down as a fascist—even an Englishman such as me, whose country was brought to its knees to liberate these people, and who never knew his only uncle who was a navigator on an RAF Lancaster bomber shot down over Düsseldorf in 1944, missing and presumed dead.
The truth is this: American, British, and Commonwealth troops liberated Italy. Full stop. Yes, the partisans were mainly communists, but they were militarily irrelevant. The joke among the cognoscenti is that the only things they liberated were prosciutti (hams) and polli (chickens).
But thank God for that.
For a very simple reason: The partisans had fought not for Italy but for Stalin, not for democracy but for dictatorship, and not for freedom but for communism. They had the nerve to call themselves patrioti but were in fact internazionalisti hell-bent on the nation-state’s destruction. If the partisans had their way, Italy would have become a part of the Soviet Bloc run by Stalin’s chosen Italian, Palmiro Togliatti, who had returned in 1944 after 18 years of exile in Russia. Post-communist Italians are nowadays among those most keen on a United States of Europe and the doomed and dictatorial euro currency.
So whenever I see, as inevitably I do each April 25, the large piazza in front of the Town Hall festooned with the Italian flag I feel even angrier. The flags are attached to lampposts put up during the fascist era which still have the fascist emblem embossed on them. And that makes me angry as well because it reminds me of something else: One day the Italians were all fascists, the next they were all partisans.
Do not make the mistake of believing that other old left-wing lie that Benito Mussolini and fascism were imposed on the Italians. His admirers included Franklin Roosevelt, who invited him to America in 1933, and Winston Churchill, who that same year described him as “the Roman genius.” American ambassador to Rome in the early 1920s Richard Washburn Child later described him as “the greatest figure of his sphere and time.”
The world could not get enough of Mussolini until he teamed up with Hitler and the Nazis. This was not simply because fascism had stopped communism in Italy and elsewhere but because it had also come up with what seemed like a viable big-state economic alternative to communism able to tame capitalism’s unbridled cruelties: the “Third Way.”
How weird, then, that Bill Clinton and Tony Blair of all people should dust off that fascist phrase “Third Way” to define their public-private partnership solution to all our economic ills.
The American 5th Army and British 8th Army invaded mainland Italy from Sicily on September 3, 1943. The Americans came up the west side of the peninsula, the British the east. Five days later, Marshal Pietro Badoglio on behalf of King Vittorio Emanuele III, who had deposed Mussolini on July 25th 1943, signed an armistice. But the allies still had the Germans to deal with. And it took them nearly two years to get them out of Italy.
Roughly 60,000 non-Italian servicemen lost their lives in the Allied campaign to liberate Italy.
I met a Canadian veteran who was visiting for the 60th anniversary in 2005. He was amazed at all this left-wing glorification of the partisans. “Never once saw a partisan, not once,” he told me.
There are no accurate figures on the number of partisans who died fighting the Germans or the fascists. Estimates vary from as high as 45,000 to as few as 2,000. The high figure comes from the Turin-based National Resistance Institute, which admits the figure “has no documented basis” and includes 16,000 partisans who died in captivity in Germany.
To be fair, the Italian partisans were often heroic, but there were far too few of them to make any difference on the battlefield. They had no heavy weaponry and fought no significant battles.
But once the war was over and the Germans were gone, the partisans got into their stride. Between 1945 and 1947 they slaughtered about 35,000 Italian civilians deemed “fascist.” (This figure excludes the 15,000 Italians killed by Tito’s Yugoslavian communist partisans in northeastern Italy.) So the partisans killed more Italian civilians in peacetime than the Germans did in their reprisals (15,000), though less than the Allies did in their bombing raids (64,000).
One summer’s night years ago, around the time of 9/11 I guess, I needed a red rose in a hurry to give to the Italian girl, Carla, who is now my wife and the mother of my five children.
So I went into the cemetery and found a decent red rose bush next to one of the gravestones, and I plucked a beautiful rose from it. I then gave it to Carla. I told her where it had come from, and her eyes welled up with tears. I have always remembered the name on that gravestone and each time I visit the cemetery as I did on April 25th, I stop in front to say thank you.
Thank you, Private W. J. Blake of the Durham Light Infantry, killed in action on December 15th 1944, aged 21, “Sadly mourned by Mum, Dad and Jean.” You and those like you are the ones who liberated Italy and restored it to democracy. And I am sure of this: You are not angry, nor would your family be angry that a red rose from a bush whose roots mingle with your remains helped love flourish between a British man and an Italian woman. Thank you.
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