A Pact with Vichy: Angelo Tasca from Italian Socialism to French Collaboration

A Pact with Vichy: Angelo Tasca from Italian Socialism to French Collaboration

A Pact with Vichy: Angelo Tasca from Italian Socialism to French Collaboration

A Pact with Vichy: Angelo Tasca from Italian Socialism to French Collaboration

Excerpt

Despite their certainties, despite my doubts
I always wanted this world ended.
Myself ended too. And it was that exactly
which estranged us. My hopes had no point for them.
My centralism seemed anarchy to them.

Franco Fortini, “Communism” (1958)
Translated by Angelo Quattrocchi and Lucien Rey

At the end of March 1944, Palmiro Togliatti returned to Italy from his Russian exile and announced to his comrades a radically new political strategy: the Italian Communist Party had to accept an alliance with any political group, on the left or on the right, interested in fighting against fascism for the liberation of Italy. The immediate consequence of Togliatti’s turn, known as the “Salerno turn,” was that for the rest of World War II the Italian communists lent their support to the government led by General Pietro Badoglio, whom King Victor Emanuel III had nominated as prime minister to replace Mussolini in 1943. The fact that General Badoglio had been a key figure in the fascist regime, governor of Libya, military leader in the colonial war against Ethiopia, and supreme chief of the Italian General Staff became, in Togliatti’s new strategy, temporarily irrelevant compared to the need to create a government of national unity capable of defeating the German invaders and their fascist allies. Togliatti’s move procured him a place among the founding fathers of the new Italian Republic, born out of the defeat of fascism. But another man who had, with surprising and sometimes unwise consistency, proposed the same strategy, first for Italy and then for France, had ruined his own reputation by doing so. This book tells the story of that man, Angelo Tasca.

Tasca, the son of a working-class family from southern Piedmont, rose early on to become a promising star of Italian radical socialism. However, in the course of the 1920s, he became convinced that fascism was a novel and exceptional enemy, one that required a radical new strategy from the leaders of the Italian socialist and communist movements. In particular, he . . .

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