War, Massacre, and Recovery in Central Italy, 1943-1948

War, Massacre, and Recovery in Central Italy, 1943-1948

VICTORIA C. BELCO
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 592
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442698499
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  • Book Info
    War, Massacre, and Recovery in Central Italy, 1943-1948
    Book Description:

    War, Massacre, and Recovery in Central Italy, 1943-1948examines this transitional period in the province of Arezzo by detailing the daily experiences of civilians through the traumas of war and the difficulties of recovery.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9849-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction: From War to Peace
    (pp. 3-22)

    This is a story of everyday life during war and in its aftermath. The setting is the small place that is the Tuscan province of Arezzo between 1943 and 1948, within the larger place that is wartime and postwar Italy, within the still larger place that is society at war. It begins with the country at war and with civilians who soon found themselves in the war’s ruinous path. It ends with individuals, families, communities, and society recovering from the traumas of war, and with the process of rebuilding society well along on the course it would take for the...

  5. PART ONE: WAR AND MASSACRE

    • 1 Italy at War
      (pp. 25-56)

      War can strengthen states or break them, but what it does to the people in those states is more complicated.¹ At its start, war’s effects on the population may be as unpredictable as the final outcome for the state. As war continues, however, the more likely it is that it will lead to hardship, will disrupt and change the course of ordinary lives, and then end in individual and shared tragedy. A state’s collapse will add to its citizens’ (and to the nation’s) immediate wartime difficulties, while lives remain altered and war-caused suffering continues after one state has ceased to...

    • 2 Variations on a Massacre
      (pp. 57-79)

      After Italy’s September 8, 1943, armistice, the POW camp at Laterina again housed Allied prisoners of war, now under German control. Many of the prisoners this time around had been captured during the fighting at Anzio or escaping from other camps and they waited at Laterina for transit to Germany. Life in the camp was as bad as or worse than it had been under the Italians: the camp was overcrowded, without adequate latrines or washing facilities. The prisoners suffered from lice, lack of food, and all the ailments that resulted from such poor conditions.¹ During the summer of 1944,...

    • 3 Completing the Disintegration
      (pp. 80-102)

      Rumours of the July 4 massacres in Castelnuovo, Meleto, and Massa reached Bishop Giovanni Giorgis of Fiesole (in whose diocese the villages were located) through an ‘irregular communication’ from the Castelnuovo mine corporation the next day.¹ The news of tragedy was vague and impossible to investigate from that distance because all telephone and telegraph communication had been broken off. The bishop decided therefore to visit the commune of Cavriglia and see for himself what had happened. He asked one of his curates, Father Gino Ciabattini who was a native of Cavriglia and familiar with the region, to accompany him.²

      Father...

  6. PART TWO: LIFE IN THE AFTERMATH

    • 4 Life with the Allies
      (pp. 105-132)

      Although the front had not passed completely and German shelling continued, one of the first actions of the newly arrived provincial legal officer for the Allied Control Commission (ACC) of Arezzo was to visit the village of Civitella, on July 20, 1944 – only four days after the area had been liberated. Major Walter D. Stump had received orders from Eighth Army Headquarters to look into reported German atrocities in the province. Stump found Civitella to have been ‘almost completely destroyed by the Germans on June 29, 1944, the few remaining residents being chiefly women and children.’ He informed headquarters how...

    • 5 True Victims and the Truly Needy
      (pp. 133-160)

      The war in Italy struck Aretine villages Pieve Santo Stefano, Civitella, San Pancrazio, Castelnuovo, and Meleto, and people in those villages, particularly hard. As Arezzo’s prefect often emphasized during the postwar years, however – generally when asking the ministries of the interior and of postwar assistance for funds – no commune in the province had made it through the war unharmed. Every commune in the province of Arezzo, every town and village, every citizen had suffered. The province as a whole was left with ruined landscapes, houses and public buildings bombed, churches burned, fields mined, personal possessions and livestock stolen, thousands of...

    • 6 Restitution, Reparations, and Rewards
      (pp. 161-182)

      One victim was not content to petition for immediate relief in the form of a blanket, a pair of shoes, a meal for his children, or a small temporary financial subsidy. Pasquale Migliorini may or may not have been truly needy, but as a political victim of Fascism, he sought much more in the way of comprehensive restitution for his loss and reparation for his suffering. In 1921, Migliorini had been a clerk in the Anagraf and Civil State records office in the commune of Cavriglia. Forced from that post because he refused to enrol in the Fascist Party, he...

  7. PART THREE: THE RETURN TO CIVIL LIFE

    • 7 Restoring the Community
      (pp. 185-213)

      The Aretines (like the rest of Italians) lived through the war and its aftermath not only as individuals, but also as members of their communities, and as part of a larger nation victimized by war; that is, the experience of war was both unique and common. At the end of December 1945, Arezzo’s prefect reported to the Ministry of the Interior that, among the citizens of the province, an ‘individual and collective sense of loss’ flowed from their ‘shared suffering,’ and from which the people found it ‘hard to recover.’

      [The population] suffers from the sorrows and the grave sacrifices...

    • 8 Rebuilding the Commune
      (pp. 214-239)

      Arezzo’sQuestoreand ACC Provincial Commissioner Quin Smith – whose daily work in somewhat different ways included maintaining public order, monitoring the province’s political situation, and keeping their thumbs on the pulse of the citizenry’s mood – both repeatedly commented on the population’s mistrust of the state and the popular conviction that the ‘authorities,’ whether in Rome or the provincial capital, were not capable of solving Italy’s postwar problems.¹ In July 1945, theQuestorereported to the prefect: ‘The public mood is quite depressed, mostly about three matters: the high cost of living, the problem of housing, [and] unemployment. The population is...

    • 9 Private Property, Public Good, and the Housing Crisis
      (pp. 240-265)

      Property suffered a thorough upheaval during the war, not only in Arezzo, but nearly everywhere in Italy where bombs had fallen, where refugees and evacuees sheltered, where the front passed and the Allies occupied. The damage, ruin, or occupation of so much property heightened the sense of proprietorship as the exigencies of war challenged traditional notions of property and the rights to its possession and use. Within just a few years, even with a continuing housing crisis, and as sharecroppers struggled to increase their share of ownership, ideas about property settled down almost where they had been before the war....

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
    • 10 Mezzadria Struggle and Social Change: The ‘Haves’ and ‘Have-Nots’
      (pp. 266-291)

      In November 1944, the ACC provincial public safety officer (PPSO) for the Montevarchi district of Arezzo discovered what he described as ‘subversive manifestos’ circulating ‘somewhat freely’ in the Valdarno zone of the province.¹ Their author was the old, local anarchist, Attilio Sassi, and what Sassi sought to ‘subvert’ was the centuries-old contract between land proprietors and sharecroppers that governed the central and northern Italianmezzadria– or sharecropping – system of land cultivation. The ‘subversion’ called for was extremely modest, as will be seen; it certainly did not call for the ‘nihilism’ which Provincial Commissioner Quin Smith considered an inherent part of...

    • 11 Unemployment
      (pp. 292-322)

      When the first post-front sindaco of Cavriglia listed the three most immediate and fundamental problems his commune faced, he named them as: feeding (or provisioning), unemployment, and aid to ‘needy victims.’¹ No one in the commune, in Arezzo, or in Italy would have excluded unemployment from a list of the most serious postwar problems. Unemployment meant families without money to buy food, without money to replace possessions stolen by the Germans or destroyed during the passage of the front, and without money to repair or rebuild their homes. But unemployment comprised more than lack of a necessary income during an...

  8. PART FOUR: THE POSTWAR FUTURE

    • 12 Pure Politics
      (pp. 325-354)

      The prefect and theQuestoreusually commenced their monthly reports to higher state officials with a section on the province’s ‘Political Situation.’ In a place that, by other evidence, teemed with political activity and with other activity that brought in party politics somehow (note for example the party flags flying over the celebratory lunch at the Bucine viaduct) (figures 11 and 12), the prefect andQuestorenoted that ‘the people’ and ‘the population’ took little interest in politics or in the activities of the various political parties.¹ Early on, both men tied this indifference to the suffering and hardships Aretine...

    • 13 Honouring the Dead
      (pp. 355-379)

      Allied Control Commission (ACC) censors in Arezzo intercepted a letter dated January 4, 1945, sent from the Christian Democrat Party’s provincial headquarters in Arezzo city, written by a party representative to the Carletti family in the town of Monte San Savino. The letter triggered the censor’s interest because it mentioned ‘political party activity’ – something the Allied occupiers always remained alert to suppress. The activity described, or its objective more precisely, was of an unusual ‘political’ nature, however. It did not speak of party organization or future elections, mobilizing sharecroppers, miners’ strikes, ofraccomandazionifor party adherents for housing or jobs,...

  9. Conclusion: After War and Massacre
    (pp. 380-386)

    On an otherwise ‘beautiful morning for the grape harvest’ in late September 1944, Father Polvani considered how the suffering of so many families all around him moved him to tears. In particular, the previous Monday he had met a group of women – widows seeking food and assistance – walking the eight kilometres from Castelnuovo dei Sabbioni to the communal seat of Cavriglia. ‘How can they go on,’ he asked himself.¹ The priest was not wondering how the widows could walk so far over ruined roads through the post-battlefront rubble, but how they could go on with life, how they would carry...

  10. List of Abbreviations and Documentation
    (pp. 387-390)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 391-512)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 513-538)
  13. Index
    (pp. 539-574)