1943
Gaetano Salvemini, foremost historian and anti-Fascist, publishes What to Do With Italy.


During the late 1920s and into the 1930s, as Fascism was on the ascendancy in Italy and elsewhere, an anti-Fascist movement began to emerge in the United States that included a number of intellectuals who had left Italy to carry on their mission. One of the most honored of these figures was Gaetano Salvemini (1873-1957) who was born in Molfetta, Italy, received a Catholic education then went to the University of Florence. He acquired a deserved reputation as a brilliant historian, professor and political activist. He also suffered personal tragedy as when in 1908 his wife and five children perished in the cataclysmic earthquake in Messina. In his writings and statements throughout the years, he remained a steadfast voice for social reform in southern Italy. Unrelenting in his books that attacked Fascism he emerged as an articulate and consistent critic of Benito Mussolini -a stance that was certain to render life in Italy difficult if not dangerous. In 1925 he left Italy to lecture in London and Paris until 1934 when he became a faculty member at Harvard University and an American citizen. He also continued his political activism, acknowledged as one of the most outstanding and respected leaders of the anti-Fascist movement in this country. The anti-Fascist movement encompassed the gamut of the political spectrum including people from the radical left like Carlo Tresca to the Sicilian priest Don Sturzo. During the inter war years the Fascist issue roiled Italian American communities that witnessed serious divisions, even violence between pro-Fascist and anti-Fascist elements. The observation was made that these disputes were in reality power struggles primarily between small numbers of political activists rather than reflecting the views of the masses of Italian Americans.

As committed as he was to anti-Fascism, Salvemini was not oblivious to the hardships of ordinary Italian immigrants; he argued that most of them were too preoccupied earning a living to take any interest in political matters. As war approached and suspicion against the Italian American population as subversive increased resulting in a ban on Italian language radio programs, Salvemini protested the hysterical and indiscriminate anti-Italian climate. In sum, Gaetano Salvemini had that rare combination of scholarship and the courage of his convictions. His other important works include: The Fascist Dictatorship in Italy (1928), Under the Axe of Fascism (1936), and Prelude to World War II (1953).






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