Wednesday, June 10, 2020

WWII - When Everyone was Antifa - Hitler and Muscolini Saw them as terrorists - the world saw them as brave heroes

Since I was a kid (- and remember - that was the 1950s and early 60s - not all that long after WWII) I was fascinated by The Resistance movements to fascist rule and the guts it took - and so many died.

The first big antifa resisters were the anti-Franco forces in the Spanish Civil War.

Homage to Catalonia is George Orwell's personal account of his experiences and observations fighting for the Republican army during the Spanish Civil War. The war was one of the shaping events on his political outlook and a significant part of what led him to write, in 1946, "Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for Democratic Socialism, as I understand it."... Wikipedia
Yes, Virginia, Orwell whose work attacking Stalinism - not socialism - has been misrepresented by right wing anti-communists - was a social democrat and antifa.

And the other major antifa resistance movements were in France and in the territories Hitler conquered and yes, they were often led by communist resisters.


While many films were made about The Resistance (France mostly), I hadn't heard very much about the resistance in Italy.
In a time of rising threats of fascism, the memory loss of the early antifas is a political loss.
A NYT article pointed out to how many are dying in Italy due to the virus.


The recent incarnations of Antifa that Trump and the right rail about as an attempt to turn the left into a threat is not even much of an organization but it is dedicated to a willingness to do open battle wherever fascism rears its head but I don't support some of the actions to shut down free speech - that's my libertarianism showing and why I find some of the restrictions some on the left believe in so annoying. But even that becomes fuzzy when we see distorted so-called free speech. Trump even tops himself by questioning the 75 year old Buffalo guy who was knocked down and bleeding as being antifa. You can't even mock Trump - he does it to himself every hour.

Read this piece from The Intercept: He Tweeted That He Was the Leader of Antifa. Then the FBI Asked Him to Be an Informant.
https://theintercept.com/2020/06/09/antifa-fbi-tweet/

Here are some links to NYT obits on resistance fighters.

May 19, 2020 - Cécile Rol-Tanguy, a heroine of the French Resistance who helped lead a popular uprising against the German occupation of Paris, died on ...

Manolis Glezos Dies at 97; Tore Down Nazi Flag Over Athens ...


Angelos Tzortzinis for The New York Times. Iliana Magra. By Iliana Magra. April 1, 2020. Manolis Glezos, a Greek resistance fighter who became a national hero after ... Prime Minister Kiriakos Mitsotakis of Greece announced the death, at the ...

Diet Eman, Who Risked Her Life to Rescue Dutch Jews, Dies ...


Sep 11, 2019 - It took 50 years for her to write of her exploits in the Dutch Resistance, ... Her sister's fiancé was killed on the first of five days of fighting.
Jan 25, 2019 - He told his story in a 2009 book, “Rather Die Fighting: A Memoir of World War ... He led Jewish resistance fighters against the Nazis in Poland.
Mar 17, 2020 - I wasn't ready to fight, so I thought I could be a nurse on the front lines, since I ... There, the members of the resistance movement interrogated me, as they were ... I set him down on a rock and he bled to death. ... Stasha Seaton told her story to Jake Nevins, The New York Times Magazine's editorial fellow.

Jan 4, 2019 - Loinger was met by another Resistance fighter, who helped the children slip through a barbed wire fence to enter Swiss territory. Once there, they ...
Oct 22, 2018 - The Norwegian resistance fighter commanded a daring World War II ... Joachim Ronneberg, Leader of Raid That Thwarted a Nazi Atomic Bomb, Dies at 99 ... on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” he told The New York Times in 2015.
May 8, 2020 - Mandela said his ideal of a democratic and free South Africa was, “if needs be, an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” When Judge Quartus de ...


Below is the NYT article on Italian deaths





  • ROME — For years, Gildo Negri visited schools to share his stories about blowing up bridges and cutting electrical wires to sabotage Nazis and fascists during World War II. In January, the 89-year-old made another visit, leaving his nursing home outside Milan to help students plant trees in honor of Italians deported to concentration camps.
    But at the end of February, as Europe’s first outbreak of the coronavirus spread through Mr. Negri’s nursing home, it infected him, too.
    Shut inside, he grew despondent about missing the usual parades and public speeches on Italy’s Liberation Day, grander this year to mark the 75th anniversary. But the virus canceled the April 25 commemorations. Mr. Negri died that night.

    “The memory is vanishing, and the coronavirus is accelerating this process,” said Rita Magnani, who worked with Mr. Negri, at the local chapter of the National Association of Italian Partisans. “We are losing the people who can tell us in first person what happened. And it’s a shame, because when we lose the historical memory we lose ourselves.”

    Image
    Credit...Paderno Dugnano/Anpi
    Time and its ravages have already cut down the lives and blurred the memories of a generation that saw close up the ideologies and crimes that turned Europe into a killing field.
    The virus, which is so lethal to the old, has hastened the departure of these last witnesses and forced the cancellation of anniversary commemorations that offered a final chance to tell their stories to large audiences. It has also created an opportunity for rising political forces who seek to recast the history of the last century in order to play a greater role in remaking the present one.
    Throughout Europe, radical right-wing parties with histories of Holocaust denial, Mussolini infatuation and fascist motifs have gained traction in recent years, moving from the fringes and into parliaments and even governing coalitions.
    The Alternative for Germany is looking to capitalize on the economic frustration the coronavirus crisis has triggered. In France, the hard-right National Rally had the country’s strongest showing in the last European Parliament elections. And in Italy, the birthplace of fascism, the descendants of post-fascist parties have grown popular as the stigma around Mussolini and strongman politics has faded.
    Italy is especially vulnerable to the loss of memory. It has endured a severe epidemic and has the oldest population in Europe. It is also a politically polarized place where areas of consensus in other countries are constantly relitigated, with recollections of Nazi and fascist atrocities countered with retorts of summary executions by Communist partisans.
    In the three-quarters of a century following Italy’s defeat and de facto civil war with Mussolini’s short-lived Nazi puppet state in the north, the people who lived through the war and fascism have offered a living testimony that shined through the muddle. That generation was to get a final close-up and megaphone on the 75th anniversary of the war’s end, in Italy and throughout Europe.


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    Credit...Gamma-Keystone, via Getty Images
    To mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp, Germany had spent more than a year booking flights and hotels and organizing wheelchairs and oxygen tanks for 72 survivors and 20 American soldiers who liberated the camps. For five days starting on April 29, they were to meet one another and tell their stories. The pandemic made that impossible.
    Instead, only four officials took part in the event.
    “Many survivors had been living for the day,” said Gabriele Hammermann, who runs the Dachau concentration camp memorial, and was one of the four participants. “In these times of change in which fewer and fewer survivors are able to come to the memorial site, it was of particular importance that the baton of remembrance be handed to the next generations.”
    On May 8, Victory in Europe day, the BBC broadcast parts of Winston Churchill’s speech 75 years before (“We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing”), and Prime Minister Boris Johnson lamented the lack of parades but said that fighting the virus “demands the same spirit of national endeavor” as the war effort did.
    In France, Geneviève Darrieussecq, the secretary of state to the Minister of the Armed Forces, said regional ceremonies were canceled “especially as former fighters and flag bearers are particularly exposed.”

    Some veterans’ groups have said they understood that memorials for the past needed to take a back seat to immediate health risks. Others found the absence devastating.
    In Russia, which lost tens of millions of soldiers during a war that forged its national identity, President Vladimir V. Putin had planned a major military parade for May 9, to be attended by President Emmanuel Macron of France and possibly other world leaders in Moscow. Instead he made phone calls of solidarity and rescheduled the event for June 24. “We will do this,” he said.


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    Credit...Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
    In the meantime, as the virus upsets all of modern life, it is also severing connections to the past.
    In Spain, José María Galante, 71, suffered during the regime of the dictator Francisco Franco and spent recent years trying to bring his torturer, Antonio González Pacheco, a police officer known as “Billy the Kid,” to justice. But in March, Mr. Galante died of the virus. Weeks later, the virus also killed Mr. González Pacheco, 73.
    “It’s a huge loss for all those who believed that Spain should not silence its past,” said Mr. Galante’s longtime partner, Justa Montero.
    When the virus killed Henry Kichka, a 94-year-old Belgian writer and Auschwitz survivor, on April 25, the Belgian politician Charles Picqué wrote that “a great witness of Shoah left us” and that it was “now up to the young generations to continue his battle against hate.”

    In Italy, it’s more than just the memory of the fascist era that risks being shut away, as the country debates what to do with its vulnerable elders.
    For months, officials have debated what policy to adopt for the country’s older at-risk population, including those who rebuilt the country after the war, fueled its boom and endured the domestic terrorism of the 1970s — itself an echo of the civil war. In a gerontocracy like Italy, proposals to encourage the elderly to stay inside would mean shutting away much of the political, academic, industrial and business elite.
    At the beginning of March, the leading health official in Lombardy asked people over 65 to stay home, a suggestion echoed by the national government in a decree.
    Grandfathers published open letters to their grandchildren, urging them not to stash away the protagonists of the 1940s as “useless burdens.” A former president of the country’s highest court noted that the Constitution assures freedom of movement to all citizens. (“I know 80- year-olds who are in great shape,” he wrote.)


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    Credit...Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times
    “Who can make a society without models taken from the past?” said Lia Levi, 88, an Italian writer, who is Jewish and suffered under Italy’s racial laws as a child. She said that many of the partisans who fought the fascists never wrote a word or became political, but simply lived their lives and told their children and grandchildren what they saw.
    “I can tell you when I was kicked out of school, and that I couldn’t understand why, that humanizes historical facts,” she said, adding, “We see each other.”

    Unlike Germany, which has forced itself to look unflinchingly at its crimes, Italy has often looked away.



    Post-fascist parties sprouted after the war, and their direct political descendants are still vibrant, and growing. Nationalism is back in vogue, with leaders purposely echoing Mussolini, whom many here openly admire.
    In May, Giorgia Meloni, a rising star on the Italian right and the leader of the increasingly popular Brothers of Italy, the descendant of Italy’s post-fascist parties, paid tribute to a right-wing politician who once avidly supported Mussolini’s racial laws.
    The deaths from the virus of those who fought fascism have gotten less attention.
    Piera Pattani worked clandestinely as a trusted confidante and liaison for local resistance leaders around Milan during the war. She helped allies escape from fascist Italian guards and watched the German SS take her comrades away.
    Into her 90s, she remained healthy and lucid and willing to tell her stories in classrooms. She ended up in a nursing home. But in March she was infected with the virus. She died alone in the hospital at 93.
    “The virus did what fascism couldn’t,” said Primo Minelli, 72, the president of Legnano partisan association and her friend. “It has brought a lot of people away who could have stayed longer.”
    That mattered especially now, he said, because of a political climate that he found threatening. “Firsthand testimony is valued over indirect testimony,” he said. “There is already an attempt underway to remove the history of resistance. That effort will be sped up when the witnesses are gone.”

    The families of other partisans said they themselves only felt the full weight of that history now that the people who lived it had died.
    “You know how it is, when someone’s well, it seems like a fable, what they say about the past,” said Teresa Baroni, 86, who lost her husband, Savino, to the virus in March. “And then they are gone and it doesn’t seem like a fable anymore.”

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    Credit...Courtesy of Elena Baroni
    She said her husband, 94, hardly ever talked about his time escaping fascists and fighting with the Mazzini brigade in San Leo, on Italy’s eastern coast. He turned down invitations to speak in classrooms, embarrassed about his bad Italian, and spent his life farming with his wife.
    When he tested positive for the virus and ambulance workers prepared to take him to the hospital in March, his wife kept him at home, saying she had slept next to him for 66 years and wouldn’t stop now. He died beside her days later, she said, taking his stories with him.
    “Memory goes away when those directly involved go away, and we are all old,” said William Marconi, a partisan who fought Nazis in Tirano in northern Italy. “And this virus is killing the old.”
    Mr. Marconi, 95, still lives in Tirano, where he said his inability to walk has kept him at home and away from the threat of a virus that killed one of his former comrades, Gino Ricetti, on April 26.

    Mr. Marconi had written about his experiences, but had grown less than sanguine about the prospect of younger generations learning the lessons of the past.
    “I’m not convinced memory serves,” he said. “Even those who know history, they do it again and again and again.”

    1 comment:

    1. 'When fascism comes to America it will come as anti fascism' Quote wrongly attributed to Winston Churchill.

      Real quote by Socialist Party of America candidate Norman Thomas in 1936:

      'When fascism comes to America it will come under another name'

      ReplyDelete

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