15 April 2020

Giovanni Amendola - journalist and politician

Liberal writer died following attack by Mussolini’s thugs


Giovanni Amendola was a committed anti-Fascist who accused Mussolini of murdering a fellow politician
Giovanni Amendola was a committed anti-Fascist who
accused Mussolini of murdering a fellow politician
Giovanni Amendola, a dedicated opponent of Fascism, was born on this day in 1882 in Naples in southern Italy.

As a critic of the right wing extremists in Italy, Amendola had to suffer a series of attacks by hired thugs. He endured a particularly brutal beating in 1925 by 15 Blackshirts armed with clubs near Montecatini Terme in Tuscany and he later died as a result of his injuries, becoming one of the earliest victims of the Fascist regime.

Amendola had obtained a degree in philosophy and contributed to the newspapers, Il Leonardo and La Voce, expressing his philosophical and ideological views. He was given the chair of theoretical philosophy at the University of Pisa but, attracted by politics, he stood for parliament and was elected to the Chamber of Deputies three times to represent Salerno.

He began contributing to Il Resto di Carlino and Corriere della Sera, urging Italy’s entry into World War I in 1915. He then fought as a volunteer, reaching the rank of captain and winning a medal for valour.

Amendola supported the Italian Liberal movement but was completely against the ideology of prime minister Giovanni Giolitti. During the war he adopted a position of democratic irredentism and at the end of hostilities was nominated as a minister by prime minister Francesco Saverio Nitti.

Socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti was murdered on the orders of Fascist leader Benito Mussolini
Socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti was murdered
on the orders of Fascist leader Benito Mussolini
In 1924 Amendola refused to adhere to the ‘Listone Mussolini’ and attempted to become prime minister himself at the head of a liberal coalition. He was defeated in the election but continued his battle for democracy, writing for Il Mondo, a new daily newspaper, which he had founded together with other intellectuals.

Amendola is famous for publishing the Rossi Testimony in December 1924. The document directly implicated the prime minister, Mussolini, in the murder of Giacomo Matteotti, the leader of the Socialist PSU party as well as declaring that Mussolini was behind the reign of terror that had led up to the 1924 elections.

Amendola was one of the deputies who withdrew from the Chamber in protest against the result afterwards. In spite of the threats against his life that had been made during the election campaign, he declared the Fascist government to be unconstitutional.

He was resented by Mussolini for his prominent opposition and as a result suffered an horrific attack in July 1925. He managed to get out of the country and into the south of France but, still suffering from his severe injuries, he died in April 1926 in Cannes.

Amendola left a wife and four children. His eldest son, Giorgio Amendola, became an important political writer and politician.

The statue of Giovanni Amendola in front of Salerno's Palazzo di Giustizia
The statue of Giovanni Amendola in
front of Salerno's Palazzo di Giustizia
Travel tip:

Salerno, the city represented in parliament by Giovanni Amendola, is in Campania in southern Italy on the Gulf of Salerno on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It has a Greek and Roman heritage and was an important Lombard principality in the middle ages, when the first medical school in the world was founded there. King Victor Emmanuel III moved there in 1943, making it a provisional seat of Government for six months and it was the scene of Allied landings during the invasion of Italy in World War II.  There is a statue of Giovanni Amendola in front of the Palazzo di Giustizia in Salerno.

The Terme Tettuccio is one of the most famous of  Montecatini Terme's famed spas
The Terme Tettuccio is one of the most famous of
Montecatini Terme's famed spas
Travel tip:

Montecatini Terme in Tuscany, where Amendola suffered the attack that caused his death, is an elegant spa town in the province of Pistoia. Its heyday was in the early part of the 20th century, when restaurants, theatres, nightclubs and a casino were built there and many celebrities visited. The town welcomed the famous composers, Ruggero Leoncavallo, Giuseppe Verdi and Pietro Mascagni, and the tenor, Beniamino Gigli.

Also on this day:

1446: The death of architect Filippo Brunelleschi

1452: The birth of Renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci

1754: The death of Venetian mathematician Jacopo Riccati


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