At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Palmiro Togliatti – politician

Communist leader gunned down near Italian parliament


The Communist leader Palmiro  Togliatti, pictured in 1950
The Communist leader Palmiro
Togliatti, pictured in 1950
The leader of the Italian Communist Party, Palmiro Togliatti, was shot three times on this day in 1948 near Palazzo Montecitorio in Rome.

Togliatti was seriously wounded and for several days it was not certain that he would survive, causing a political crisis in Italy.

Three months before the shooting, Togliatti had led the Communists in the first democratic election in Italy after the Second World War, which would elect the first Republican parliament.  He lost to the Christian Democrats after a confrontational campaign in which the United States played a big part, viewing Togliatti as a Cold War enemy.

On July 14, Togliatti was shot three times near the Parliament building. It was described as an assassination attempt, the perpetrator of which was named as Antonio Pallante, an anti-Communist student with mental health problems. While the Communist leader’s life hung in the balance a general strike was called.

He eventually recovered and was able to continue as head of the party until his death in 1964.

Togliatti was born in Genoa in 1893. He was named Palmiro because he was born on a Palm Sunday.

Togliatti, pictured with the surgeon, Pietro Valdoni, who saved his life, recovers in hospital after the assassination attempt.
Togliatti, pictured with the surgeon, Pietro Valdoni, who saved
his life, recovers in hospital after the assassination attempt.
His father, Antonio, was an accountant and the family had to move frequently because of his job.  When his father died of cancer in 2011, the family struggled financially, but with the help of a scholarship, Togliatti was able to graduate in law from the University of Turin in 1917.

He served as a volunteer officer during the First World War but was wounded in action and sent home.

Togliatti became part of the group that gathered around Antonio Gramsci’s L’Ordine Nuovo newspaper in Turin. He was an admirer of the Russian Revolution and helped Gramsci refocus the newspaper to be a revolutionary voice. The newspaper supported the general strike of 1921 and began to be published daily.

A member of the Communist faction within the Italian Socialist Party, Togliatti was one of the founders of the Italian Communist Party in 1921.

The young Togliatti, pictured in about 1920
The young Togliatti, pictured in about 1920
In 1922, Fascist leader Benito Mussolini took advantage of the general strike and demanded that the Government should either give political power to the Fascist Party or face a coup. The Fascists demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Luigi Facta.

King Victor Emmanuel III had to choose between the Fascists and the anti-monarchist Socialists. He picked the Fascists and appointed Mussolini as Prime Minister.

Mussolini pushed a new electoral law through parliament and, coupled with his intimidation tactics, it resulted in a landslide victory for the Fascists in the 1924 election.

In 1924, international Communists began a process of Bolshevisation, which forced each party to conform to the discipline and orders of Moscow.  Mussolini banned the Italian Communist Party in 1926 and some officials, including Gramsci, were arrested and imprisoned, but Togliatti escaped arrest because he was in Moscow at the time.

In exile abroad in the 1920s and 1930s, Togliatti organised clandestine meetings. He stayed in the Soviet Union during the Second World War, broadcasting radio messages to Italy calling for resistance against the Nazis.

In 1944 Togliatti returned to Italy and joined in a government of national unity. He served as Deputy Prime Minister and then Justice Minister.

Togliatti with his partner, Nilde Iotti, at a Communist Party conference in Russia, which they visited many times
Togliatti with his partner, Nilde Iotti, at a Communist Party
conference in Russia, which they visited many times
The writer Carlo Lucarelli gives a vivid, fictional account of the day of the shooting in his novel Via delle oche, the final book in his De Luca trilogy.

Togliatti survived the shooting to see his party become the second largest party in Italy and the largest non-ruling Communist party in Europe. The party held many municipalities and was powerful in some areas at local and regional level.

Togliatti died as a result of a cerebral haemorrhage in 1964 while on holiday with his partner in the Black Sea resort of Yalta, which was then in the Soviet Union. His favourite pupil, Enrico Berlinguer, was elected as his successor.

The Russian city of Stavropol-on-Volga, where Togliatti had helped establish a car manufacturing plant in collaboration with Fiat, was renamed Tolyatti in his honour in 1964.

The Palazzo Madama is one of the features of what is known as 'royal' Turin
The Palazzo Madama is one of the features of what is
known as 'royal' Turin
Travel tip:

Turin, where Togliatti went to University and helped launch a Communist-sympathising newspaper, is the capital city of the region of Piedmont. It is an important business centre with architecture demonstrating its rich history, which is linked with the Savoy Kings of Italy. Piazza Castello, with the royal palace, royal library and Palazzo Madama, which used to house the Italian senate, is at the heart of ‘royal’ Turin.

The Palazzo Montecitorio was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini for the nephew of Pope Gregory XV
The Palazzo Montecitorio was designed by Gian Lorenzo
Bernini for the nephew of Pope Gregory XV
Travel tip

Palazzo Montecitorio in Rome, which is near the spot where Togliatti was shot and seriously wounded, is the seat of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Italian Parliament. The building was originally designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini for the nephew of Pope Gregory XV. The palace was chosen as the seat of the Chamber of Deputies in 1871 but the building proved inadequate for their needs. After extensive renovations had been carried out, the chamber returned to the palace in 1918.




No comments:

Post a Comment