Palmiro Togliatti 1944

The Political Situation in Italy

Written: By Palmiro Togliatti, September 29, 1944;
Source: The Communist Vol. XXIII, no. 12; December, 1944;
Transcribed: David Adams, March 2022.

The following speech was delivered by Palmira Togliatti (Ercoli), leader of the Italian Communist Party, at a Convention held by the Communist Federation of Rome on September 29, 1944. The Federation has a membership of 35,000.

COMRADES of the Roman Federation!

I wish, first of all, to extend to your Convention the greetings of the Central Committee of our Party. I greet you as the representatives of the new Communist organization which we are creating together here in Rome and throughout liberated Italy, an organization which must become the fighting advance- guard of all the Italian people, of all Italy.

Meaning of a "New Party"

[Togliatti declares that the Federation in Rome has already made considerable progress toward the goal of creating a new party capable of guiding all the people in the fulfillment of the great tasks confronting Italy at present. He then explains what Italian Communists mean when they speak of a new party.]

A new party is, first of all, a working class, people's party, which no longer limits itself to criticism and propaganda, but intervenes in the life of the country through its own positive and constructive activity. Such activity, beginning in the factory and village branches, must be expanded by the Central Committee and the men whom we delegate to represent the working class in the Government. It is clear, therefore, that when we speak of a new party we mean, above all, a party which is capable of translating into its policies, its organization and its daily activity that profound change which has occurred in the position of the working class in relation to the problems of national life.

The working class, having aban- doned its past position of criticism and stimulus to the democratic and progressive forces, today intends itself to assume, side by side with other consistently democratic forces, the leading function in the struggle for the liberation of the country and for the reconstruction of a democratic regime.

The old property-owning classes and, in particular, the most reactionary elements within them, gave life to fascism, brought it and kept it in power for twenty years, made and approved the fascist war until the eve of defeat, and thus brought Italy to ruin.

Today, the salvation, the resurrection of Italy is not possible unless the working class intervenes in Italian political life as the new leading element of the whole nation; unless the great toiling masses of the country, closely bound in a united front, rally around the working class. This, comrades, is the. fundamental theoretical and historical position from which we derive the concept of a new party. This is the basis from which we must draw a series of conclusions regarding our political activity as well as the forms and methods to be used in our organization.

The Liberation Committee Movement

It is not an easy task to recon- struct Italy as a great, free, democratic and progressive nation. The difficulties which we are now meeting and will continue to meet after the war are essentially due to the fact that the downfall of fascism occurred in such a way that it did not permit the immediate and complete elimination of the elements responsible for fascism. These are now attempting to gather their forces and to reconstruct the back- bone of an anti-democratic, reactionary Italy, once again pregnant with fascism, just as it was before- the march on Rome.

For this very reason, difficult and confused political situations are sometimes created in our country, despite the will to work, to fight, and to be united which exists among the advance guard parties and the great masses of the people. The clear views, wisdom and political ability of the advance guard party of the 'working class are necessary to overcome such situations.

Elements of Dissatisfaction

Today, for example, there are some difficulties inherent in a certain dissatisfaction regarding the general political leadership of the country. (I am referring to this merely because we are united here at a Party Congress and because it is our duty to explain the country's situation to our militant members, and not for any other motive in particular). I am not speaking about the artificial dissatisfaction created a month ago by sources which we well know, through the launching of a stupid campaign which tried to undermine the government by protesting against the fact that it is composed only of. the representatives of parties belonging to the National Liberation Committees. There was also an order of the day issued by 17 or 18 parties that coveted the government; but no one became aware of it. For, a declaration signed by the representatives of the six parties now in the government sufficed completely to shatter that campaign.

Today, the Liberation Committee Movement, which we call the National Front, has the right to govern the country for national as well as international reasons.

If there are democratic and anti- fascist parties, with a serious foundation and tradition, who wish to adhere to the National Front, as for example, the Republican Party, we shall always support and vote in favor of such a step so that they may become a part of the Liberation Committees, and may contribute their ideas, their men, and their fighting spirit to this movement.

But we affirm that, at present, the parties adhering to the Liberation Committees represent the Italy which wants to redeem itself against the Germans, the Italy which wants to arise as a great democratic country, free, independent, progressive.

Proven Traitors Still in Armed Forces

Another element of dissatisfaction which has arisen among the masses, finding expression through confused and often violent and abrupt forces, is based on two fundamental motives, one economic, the other political, aggravated by a subsidiary motive which is national in character.

After the downfall of Fascism, the signing of the armistice, the declaration of war against Germany, the creation of the first government on a democratic basis, and then of the Government emanating directly from the Committees of National Liberation, the masses of honest Italians thought that they would finally be liberated from Fascism forever. Instead, this process of liberation is proceeding with a slowness that the masses do not understand. For example: the highest governmental bodies have undergone profound changes; but further down in the state apparatus, among the governmental institutions which have direct control over the population, such as the judicial bodies and the police force, we still find elements who were given their present positions under Fascism and are justly considered as exponents of fascism. Every good Italian is now saying that it is impossible to leave the old mayor, rebaptized with the name of syndic or prefectural commissioner, in the same position of authority which he enjoyed in the past and surrounded by those who, as exponents of Fascism and confidential assistants to landowners, donned a blackshirt uniform and tyrannized over the people. It is untenable that such elements are to be found in the courts, the prefectures, and the police force.

Until today, we have not been able to obtain the removal from the armed forces here in Rome of those elements in command of the execution squads which, following Nazi orders, fired upon our patriots. This is absolutely intolerable; it is a situation which tugs at the conscience of every good Italian crying for vengeance.

Yet this cleansing action which a sense of national dignity and honor bids us to undertake is necessary in order to save the country and also because a precise international pledge demands the cleansing of all the Fascists, of all those who collaborated with the Germans and carried out their orders.

The second element of dissatisfaction is embodied in the great economic hardships, in the difficulties relating to transportation, distribution of supplies and food, etc. The people do not have the feeling that the governmental organs are speedily taking all measures necessary to administer the little which is left in such a way to avoid famine and hunger.

The People Want to Fight

There is then a general factor, national in character, which contrib- utes to creating dissatisfaction. After the Nazis had been ousted; the great mass of Italian youth, of all the Italian people, wished to be armed in order to carry on the war to avenge all the evil perpetrated by the Nazis in Italy. They have remained profoundly disillusioned.

If we could tell the people: produce is lacking, the bread ration is scarce, there is no work, but the sacrifices which we are called upon to make permit our nation to fight to a greater extent for its liberation, we could more easily overcome the reasons for dissatisfaction which exist in the country. But this we cannot say for reasons which do not depend on us. ·Thus the dissatisfaction is exploited by provocateurs and is used to create disorder which. is then blamed on the advance-guard parties. Or it is pounced upon by reactionaries, ex-Fascists and Fascists who attempt to use it to their advantage and to create a situation analogous to that which existed in 1920, '21, '22, when Fascism, exploiting the difficulties of that period, began its march to power. That such conditions can lead to painful occurrences, such as the lynching of a Nazi collaborator in Rome, is understandable.

The People's Anger

I have stated that we are deeply pained and preoccupied by this episode. When some people told us, however, that "we should openly deplore it," we answered: We are disposed to deplore all violence; we do not want the creation of an atmosphere of violence and civil war, because we know that this would plunge our country into further ruin. We also deem it probable that some provocateurs mingled with the crowd which killed the ex-director of Regina Coeli, and threw the match which made the flame of popular hatred and wrath explode. We are well aware of all this and are ready to say it and repeat it at every opportunity.

But when we think of the 320 Italians, Romans, who were barbarously and infamously killed and abandoned like beasts in the Ardeatine Caves; when we know that in the crowd present at the Palace of Justice and the Lungotevere section there were the mothers, the parents of our murdered fellow-citizens and brothers, then we are not able to utter one single word in deploration. It is necessary to accept the people's wrath as a reality. It must not be provoked. Its explosion must be checked through rapid and energetic acts of justice.

The Reactionary Forces on the Offensive

The people are satisfied with the present government. They have faith in the government because they know that several men who have always led the fight against Fascism are participating in it. But the people sense that there is an extreme slowness which prevents the Government from acting with that fullness of movement essential to lead the country on the road to resurrection.

There are, of course, difficulties of an objective type. Whenever and wherever we have witnessed them, we Communists have gone among the people, in the factories, in the countryside, among our comrades, urging them to bear those difficulties which cannot be overcome as yet. This we will continue to do, conscious of our responsibility and our duty to maintain unity throughout the nation in order to oust the Germans and crush the Fascists. But we want the disappearance of negative elements, those not related to objective difficulties, that is, we want the strengthening of the national democratic Government.

Beneath all this, however, there is a profound political problem: In liberated Italy, we are witnessing the organization of an offensive by those reactionary forces which gave life to Fascism more than twenty years ago and are disposed to give life to a new Fascist movement in order to safeg•uard the interests of the property-owning classes.

What do they intend to do? What do they want, these elements who are the scum of a regime from which we want to liberate our country forever?

They want to break the bloc of democratic forces which is the mainstay of the present Government. They want, instead, two mutilated trunks; they wish to fling to one side the more advanced forces, the progressive forces, the forces of the working class and the toilers generally, that is, of the Communist and Socialist Parties; and to the opposite side, those which are rather bound to middle - bourgeois or bourgeois groups. To accomplish this operation which now dominates their spirit, they ask the following question:

What right do the Communists and Socialists have to participate in the Government?

And they answer:

They have no right to participate in the Government. Traditionally and by right, power belongs to the propery-owning classes, guardians of the sacred right of property, and, we add, guardians of those economic and political privileges for whose defense Fascism arose and brought us to ruin.

"To the pillory..."

There is, for example, a Signor Zanetti, who publishes in Rome a pro-Fascist type of a sheet in which he says, no more andno less, that the participation of the Communist Party in the Italian Government is admissible solely because the Soviet Union is. at present allied with Great Britain and the United States, and we are, supposedly, the Party which enjoys the protection of the Soviet Union. I believe that we must nail to the pillory the man who dared to write these words. We must nail him to the pillory not so much because of vyhat he uttered regarding our Party, which is strong enough to defend its political position in the country-but because he proves with these words that he has a cowardly, despicable, servile spirit. The soul of the man who wrote these lines is the soul of the old reactionary castes who domineered and misgoverned Italy for centuries. These castes maintained that they derived the right to exercise power from the fact that they had in their clutches the land and other material riches extorted from the people; and that they enjoyed the protection of some foreign power, of France, Spain, of the Austrians, of the invaders who held our country under their yoke for such a long time, curbing its political and civil development.

We denounce this servile, slave spirit which claims that a Party should have the right to participatein the Government of our country solely if it is under the protective wings of some great power. We want to eradicate it and destroy it forever.

Comrades, the Italian people have the right to govern themselves and to live without wearing servants' uniforms; and if the working masses give rise from their own bosom to a great, mass people's party such as our Communist Party is, and this Party presents its nomination for participation in the leadership of the country, there is no one who can deny it this right.

Our Martyrs Answer All Liars

These infamous maneuvers penetrate with more subtle arguments in other organs which are considered democratic and anti-Fascist. They tell us that we are not sincere when we declare that we are progressive democrats. We dismiss this charge with contempt. Those who dare to fling it against our Party are professional liars who are not able tothink of our country or its policies except in terms of insincerity. For, it is well known that our Party has ecome deeply rooted in every province through the heroism, activity, blood and sacrifice of its militant members, that its ranks are swelled by more than 200 thousand workers, that it conducts its political activi- ties among the people, who are thus always in a position to judge the conformity between our words and our deeds.

This is attested to by our 162 comrades who lost their lives in the Ardeatine Caves; it is attested to by the armed workers' movement which we developed under the Garibaldine flag. Sixty brigades, now fighting in Northern Italy, were organized by our Party. These brigades are part of the great army of volunteers for freedom organized by the National Liberation Committee. But we have the right to cite this figure when loose talk is circulated to the effect that we should be excluded from the Liberation Front and from the Government on the false pretext that we are not inclined to respect private property.

They further accuse us of organizing armed squads in liberated Italy which are to be used for some fathomless purpose. You are well aware that we do not organize such squads, On the contrary, we have given orders to the comrades in liberated Italy to surrender all weapons and to respect the harmony existing among the anti- Fascist parties, avoiding every incident which might be exploited by Fascist provocateurs aiming to enmesh the country in national discord.

Once in a while, the fact that some comrade of ours has exchanged blows with Catholic youths, or other similar occurrences, are also denounced. Each of these charges is the object of rigorous investigation. But we must state here that the only prominent political leader who has been attacked and wounded is a member of our party. You have already understood that I am referring to Comrade Li Causi.

[Li Causi, leader of the Communist Party in Sicily, was wounded during a conflict provoked by Sicilian Fascists who now call them- selves Separatists and specialize in disrupting anti-Fascist meetings.]

They tell us that we want to establish Communism, now, through a sudden political coup. We do not place this objective before the masses today. But we do instill in them the desire to wage war against the Nazis and to create a democratic and progressive regime. We know that all those who love liberty and democracy and wish to see the rebirth of the country can fight for this goal.

A Spirit of National Solidarity

Let us put the cards on the table. When we witness the glaring economic contrasts existing in our country, we have the right and the duty to denounce them, demanding that economic problems be faced and solved, within the sphere of our war effort, in a spirit of true and complete national solidarity. This signifies that it is necessary to remove speculators from circulation and prevent speculation so that the poor shall not become poorer still.

[Togliatti briefly describes the conditions of workers employed in the mercury mines of the Mount Amiata region. The miners earn 30 lire (30¢) a day; they are barefoot, their bread ration is insufficient; they are hungry and steeped in despair by the sight of their children who bear the marks of physical degeneration caused by suffering. Togliatti also refers to similar conditions existing in Sardinia. And this, while there are places in Rome where scandalously sumptuous banquets are the order of the day.]

This is not national solidarity. It is no way to organize the feeding of a country at war, impoverished by twenty years of Fascist corruption, and faced by the prospect of a terrible winter of famine and hunger. We ask that these glaring contrasts be forced to disappear. We demand this, not because we are motivated by a desire to create a Socialist regime, but because we want a regime based on national solidarity, which will guarantee to those who work the means to continue working without being struck by the insulting wealth and abundance enjoyed by the speculators. This is not a class problem; it is a national problem.

The same precept can be applied to the land question. This is also connected with the destruction of the remnants of the Fascist regime. The large land-owners, as a class, were among the creators and profiteers of Fascism. The Fascist regime distributed hundreds of millions among them. The integral solution of the land problem will be decided by the Constituent Assembly. But wherever the problem is particularly acute, where the masses must stand by, letting the land remain uncultivated while they know that next spring they will have no produce with which to feed themselves and the city populations, here the problem must be solved immediately through governmental initiative.

We are glad that the peasants in the Roman region have raised this question. This signifies that they begin to have a more profound consciousness of their rights and to understand what democratic Italy must be.

They tell us that by criticizing the Government we aim to create in Italy a Kerensky type of situation which will open the doors to some revolutionary adventure. We are part of the Government and we support it. But especially now, when there are no representative organs in which free, democratic criticism can develop itself, we have the right and the duty, even while participating in the government, to exercise a function of criticism and stimulus. If this criticism were lacking at a time when the reactionary, Fascist, and semi-Fascist groups exert pressure on the Government in order to lead it into a reactionary direction, we should not be rendering a service to our country, but solely to Fascism.

The Government is weakened, not by the man who diffuses a democratic spirit among the masses, discussing the problems on which depends the salvation of the country, but by him who contributes to leaving Fascist and semi - Fascist elements in the governmental apparatus; who leaves reactionary prefects in the provinces and is not capable of ousting from the armed forces the executioners of our patriots. Criticizing, stimulating, fighting for the correction of these errors, we carry out the only democratic policy which is just and necessary to maintain the strength and authority of the Government among the people,

Enemies of Italy

What does it intend to do, this offensive of the reactionary forces against us, against the Socialists, against all the sincerely democratic anti-Fascist forces, against the most advanced wing of the National Liberation Front? The reactionaries wish to change the political formula which is the basis for our country’s Government today, the formula of unity of all anti-Fascist parties, the formula of national unity. By launching these stupid, absurd accusations against us, by trying to create a situation which will lead to statements claiming that our Party must leave the Government, an attempt is made to push the country toward another formula, toward the formula of government by conservative forces against the opposition, the labor and progressive forces. The formula which the reactionaries long for is that of class against class: the property-owning class in control of the Government against the working class excluded from the Government. This is what the owners of L’Opinione [Opinion] openly preach. And there is an attempt gradually to infiltrate this idea in those circles which have not yet completely broken all ties with the conservative, reactionary, pro-Fascist forces in the country. Fully aware of our responsibility, we feel that it is our right to declare that those who preach such a formula, or push others in its direction, are not only the enemies of the workers and the people, but also the enemies of Italy. We accuse those who openly or secretly conduct this campaign, of wanting to plunge Italy into a catastrophe, which, added to that brought about by Fascism, would signify the definite ruin of the country.

As regards the Government, there is no possible alternative in Italy today to the Government of national unity which we wanted and which we support; the possibility of governing by excluding from the Government the most advanced forces of democracy, the Socialist and Communist Parties, the parties which represent the advance-guard of the people struggling for their liberty, does not exist.

And to the agents of this anti-national political line, who make the rounds here and there whispering: “Ah! the Communists, the Socialists are our ruin. Let us oust the Socialists and the Communists from power; then you will see what privileges we shall be accorded: the United States will send us dollars; England will give us countless miles of sand in Africa, on which we will once again be able to reconstruct a new and beautiful empire...”

To them we say: “You are enemies of Italy. Today, Italy can arise, or rather can initiate its work of resurrection, only if the national unity of all democratic and anti-Fascist forces is maintained and strengthened. The possibility of another Italian government does not exist. And if an attempt were made to create a government no longer based on national unity, but on the exclusion of the vital forces of the ‘working class and the people, the country would inevitably fall, step by step, into a state of disorder and chaos which would necessarily lead to the end of our unity and our independence.”

We Do Not Wish to Provoke a Governmental Crisis

We accuse those who speak of excluding the representatives of the working class from the Government, of being agents for the colonization of Italy. We accuse them of being slaves who, in order to safe-guard their privilege of living by exploiting the people, are ready to wear any servant's uniform and to sell the nation’s greatest possession: its freedom. Italy’s unity and independence will be saved and regained only if all those who have understood the profound significance and the causes of events in Italy during the past twenty years, seriously determine to do penance; only if they understand that they will commit a crime against the country by arraying themselves against the working class, and repelling popular demands and aspirations for liberty and justice, at the very moment in which the working class and the people are the backbone of resistance and struggle against the Germans.

We do not wish to provoke any governmental crisis. To those who claim that, once the North is freed, something will have to be changed, we answer that we do not know as yet if and what will have to be changed; but it is certain that the political formula which is the basis for government in our country today cannot be changed. The masses of the North, the workers of Turin, Milan, Genoa, the laborers in the Po Valley, will not ask the Communist Party or the Socialist Party to leave the Government. On the contrary, we are certain that they will ask us to participate more fully in the Government, to make our influence felt to a greater extent. They will ask us to succeed in achieving the aims of all the Italian people, namely, speedy liberation from all Fascist vestiges, and the initiation of the country’s reconstruction on the basis of true, effective, national solidarity, forever shattering the hateful privileges which were the real basis of the Fascist regime.

[Togliatti continues by saying that we appreciate the speeches of the man who is at the head of the Government, to whom we are giving all necessary support. But political difficulties and dissatisfaction can be more easily overcome if all elements in the National Liberation Movement will liquidate existing mistrust of the working class parties and will block every plan aiming to prevent these parties from participating in the leadership of the country, in the reconstruction and re- birth of Italy.]

A clear, political-economic program, a program of struggle against the reactionary forces, must correspond to the formula of national unity. There will be no more difficulties, no more dissatisfaction if the people know that the men and the parties in the Government are exerting all their energy to apply such a program. First of all, we want full waging of the war; secondly, we want the struggle for the destruction of Fascist vestiges to be conducted in the most rapid and effective manner. Cleansing must speedily reach the provinces, the prefects, the commissioners, the policemen, the agricultural apparatus —every single place still infested by Fascists who dare attempt the unleashing of a wave of reaction against our Party.

To carry out this program, the Government must lean on the Committees of Liberation. These must be strengthened through the adherence of the national parties which want to participate in the reconstruction of the country.

It is necessary to call to the leadership of the country the vital and healthy forces of the people who have earned the right to participate in it through their work and their heroism.

Together with the Socialist Party we have proposed that local administrative elections be held. We have Suggested this measure not for partisan motives, but in order to extricate the people from a situation in which the administration of every town and village is subject to change solely because a reactionary land-owner is a friend of the prefect, or because a certain administration does not suit a Police Marshal or this or that official, Every municipality needs stability and the Italian people are sufficiently intelligent to make good use of their electoral ballot. We intend to submit Party lists or coalition lists in the election, according to the situation.

As regards the economic field, we believe that it is necessary to solve the food problem by creating organs which can ensure supplies for the cities, especially during the winter, eliminating speculation and the black market as much as possible. To this end, we ask that the Price Control Administration assume partial control of the means of transportation and the markets, so that at least a portion of the produce may reach the population without its being forced to pay the toll now imposed by black market speculators. It is necessary to nominate a commissioner to handle the food problem on a nation-wide scale, and in addition a commissioner for every province and every municipality. The few resources which we have must be justly distributed, without those glaring contrasts which we are witnessing today. The other problems, such as the land question, must also be faced in a spirit of national solidarity.

Finally, completely united, we must face the reactionary forces and block their plans to infiltrate in the army and in other armed services destined for the defense of the country, elements or influences tending to transform them into organs which could tomorrow be used against the people for the restoration of a reactionary, Fascist regime.

This is the general outline of the program which we are suggesting to the bloc of democratic, anti-Fascist parties, to the Committees of Liberation and the Government. The Government will gain infinite strength when it will demonstrate to the people that it is seriously and sincerely working to carry out this program, overcoming all the obstacles in its path.

The realization of this program is closely related to the international situation which is serious and grave. On this score, we have no illusions.

The International Situation

[Here Togliatti alludes to Benedetto Croce’s recent speech.]

We have admired the idealism of this man, his candor, the naive faith with which he appeals to international public opinion, the affection for his own country which is revealed by his every word. But we who are accustomed to examine domestic and international political situations coldly and scientifically, must necessarily affirm that our country’s situation is profoundly different from that described by Senator Croce. We who are and have always been seriously democratic and anti-Fascist, and have always given proof of this, can truly say that we have come out of this war, not as the vanquished but, on the contrary, as the victors.

In the field of relations between State and State, however, it cannot be denied that until yesterday, Italy was neither anti-Fascist nor democratic and that even today it is anti- Fascist and democratic only to a certain degree. Italy, as a Fascist state which received every type of support for twenty years from the property-owning classes, has really been defeated and plunged into catastrophe. And the diffidence which exists against the Italy of the controlling, imperialist classes which had dreamed to create through aggression an empire of peoples serving an abject regime, has not been overcome. It will not be overcome until Italy will have proved that it has really become a democratic and anti-Fascist country, in which no one’s hand trembles when the question arises of condemning to death a vile agent of foreign imperialism; in which the popular masses fully participate in political life; in which the basis for Fascist tyranny has been destroyed.

The best thing we can do today is not to speak of international politics at all, since every word, even the most honest, will be inevitably interpreted in a sense widely differing from the intentions of the one who uttered it.

Today the problems of our foreign policy must be solved on the ground of our domestic policy. The problems of the resurrection of Italy as a power which deserves the respect of the entire world, must be solved on the ground of the struggle for the destruction of every Fascist vestige and for the creation of democracy, of a regime of liberty and progress.

Until we have given such proof, until we have demonstrated that we are united in this struggle, speeches will have little effect in changing the international situation.

Personally I maintain, and I do not hesitate to say it, that Senator Croce would perhaps have accomplished something much more useful to our domestic as well as foreign policies, if he had exercised and continued to exercise his influence on the conservative and reactionary members of his party, and on those elements which have not yet renounced the plan to reconstruct the old conservative and imperialist Italy which gave rise to Fascism. Senator Croce should use his influence on those who are full of resentment, mistrust and even hatred against the working class, people’s parties; on the elements who, initiating the publication of a daily newspaper in Naples a few days ago, wrote their first editorial without saying a single word against the enemies of the country, the Nazis and the Fascists, but called us, the working class, people’s parties, the enemies of the people.

I believe that if Senator Croce will use part of his indisputable authority to fight and destroy the low, sordidly materialistic spirit which impels these elements in his party to pursue a policy of national discord deriving its origin from a desperate defense of egotistic caste interests and privileges, he will fulfill a truly national task and will render a great service to Italy.

The Right to Fight; Less Allied Control

We can never forget that the Anglo-Saxon armies came to Italy, that they were the decisive elements in the liberation of our country. We therefore pledge that our Party will do its utmost to eliminate friction and all sources causing dissatisfaction and mistrust of the Allied authorities.

As regards the powers that are now fighting in Italy, it is better to leave aside all big questions which cannot be solved today. To better our country’s situation now, we must present two problems for consideration: the first is a request which we have discussed since the very beginning, launching the slogan: “Let us fight for our country.” We understand that the transportation of weapons is a difficult task, but without using one single ton of shipping, it is possible to allow our partisans to continue fighting against our enemies, once the provinces in which they fight are liberated.

The Disarming of the Partisans

The other day, I was speaking to the comrades of the heroic Arno Division, whose commander, Comrade Potente, lost his life in battle. These comrades had tears in their eyes when they described the disarming of their unit. [The Arno Division is the partisan unit chiefly responsible for the liberation of Florence.]

And I felt within me all the bitterness, all the sorrow of these Italians who had obtained weapons by wresting them from the Nazis and the Fascists at the risk of their own lives; who had fought for many months with these weapons, risking their lives every day, every hour; and who, today, have had to give up their weapons and have been invited to return to their homes, now, while Italy is not yet free. These men asked nothing but to face death once again for their country, using those same weapons and no others.

We understand their bitterness. It is a bitterness shared by all the Italian people. And when they told me that the day when they surrendered their weapons, there were certain not very well inspired elements who asked them to give up the red shirts and kerchiefs which they had worn while they fought for our freedom, I felt not only the profound bitterness caused by the disarming of the Partisan Division but also the offense to our people.

I would like to remind those responsible for such acts that they can find, not only in our literature, which I understand is a closed book to them, but also in other literatures an explanation of what the red shirt symbolizes to Italy, of what the red kerchief of the Garibaldinis has signified to Italy. Let them read the works of the great, liberal English historian, Trevelyan; let them read the immortal verses of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. There they will find, in their own language, words which will make them understand what the red color of the Garibaldine shirt has meant to Italy, to Europe and to the world, and they will perhaps be ashamed of what they have done.

We continue to ask that we be allowed to fight to a greater extent, and in particular, that our heroic partisans be given the possibility to be integrally admitted to the Italian Liberation Corps so that they may continue to fight until the end of the war and may act as a patriotic and popular stimulus within the army.

We maintain that the Government and the popular parties must also ask the Allies to reduce the control exercised by Allied organs to the indispensable minimum, to that degree necessary in a country which is the scene of military operations.

As far as general governmental activity is concerned, let greater liberty to govern be given to the democratic Italian Government which is composed of the representatives of all social classes and all parties.

At times, a measure which is wise and opportune today, is apt to lose its usefulness and scope after three months lost in discussion with the most varied Allied control organizations. Thus it creates disorder in- stead of creating order and discipline. The same is true of the State apparatus.

It is inadmissible that a democratic, national unity government should be unable to change the lowest functionary in a prefecture with- out passing through endless controls. It is untenable that, in speaking to the people, we should always be forced to say: “Yes, our Government wants to act, but .. .”, thus throwing the responsibility on an outside power.

During this last period, the Italian People have given great proof of political maturity; they have remained disciplined, understanding the necessity for avoiding situations which would harm military operations. Even today they are patiently awaiting the solution of problems whose urgency is understood by all.

A people which has behaved this way, which has created the Liberation Committee Movement embracing the representatives of all social classes which are collaborating in one government; a people which has given these proofs of maturity and discipline has the right to ask that its own Government have the power to govern by itself.

A Bloc of National Working-Class Forces Within the National Bloc

Unity of the democratic parties is necessary in order to achieve these goals. We are fighting to maintain this national unity. It is your obligation, your duty never to lose sight of the national unity character of our political line, while developing the basic work of our Party and closer ties with the people, and conducting the necessary activities in defense of the demands presented by industrial workers, peasants, and all other workers. We do not want the shattering of this national bloc on which we wish to build something solid, in Italy.

[Togliatti then refers to the agreements made with the Socialist Party in particular and of the Communists’ proposal for a special political agreement with the Christian-Democratic Party.]

We thus wish to create within the great national bloc, a solid bloc representing the forces of all workers: industrial workers, peasants, white collar employees, and progressive intellectuals. This bloc will be the best guarantee of victory against the reactionary forces. Crushing their attempts to resist and arise once again, it will ensure a solution of the most serious economic and political problems (the elections, the food problem, the land question, wage-increases, etc.) which will be favorable to the masses of the people.

We will, therefore, continue our work to achieve political collaboration with the Christian-Democratic Party. Such a step will be possible if this party will adopt a clear policy based on defense of the working masses which follow the Christian-Democratic Movement.

[Having clearly defined the Communist Party’s political line, Togliatti observes that the struggle for these policies gives the Party the character of a new party, which fights for the unity of the democratic anti-Fascist forces, and for the creation of favorable conditions in Italy leading to the establishment of a truly democratic and progressive regime. This political line must be spread in all the Party’s organizations to the very last branch, to the farthest village. It is therefore necessary to have a profound knowledge of the Party’s fundamental policies and to use the organization as an instrument which will permit it to mobilize all the people for the realization of this program.]

Such an extensive and difficult Policy cannot be fulfilled solely by the Party leaders but must be applied through the combined action of the leadership and the rank and file. The leadership must present all problems for consideration at the right moment, attempting to maintain unity with all the political forces of the country and to lead them in the struggle against the reactionary forces. The rank and file must organize the masses, stimulate them, and give ceaseless consideration to their problems, namely, the problems facing them in their everyday life and the question of organizing a democratic regime.

Fascism disrupted the working class and the masses of the people, while it left untouched the organizations of the controlling classes. The working class is therefore in a condition of inferiority because its organizations are only now beginning to be reestablished. This situation can be corrected if our Party succeeds, through its rank-and-file action, in making the organizations of the working masses arise once again. The working class will then feel stronger and will be able to defend its interests in a more effective way.

[Togliatti congratulates the delegates for their successful Congress, urging them to do their utmost so that the Party may rapidly progress and become that great mass and people’s party which Italy needs.]


Rome is not a conspicuously proletarian city. The proletarian nucleus is surrounded by a mass of small or middle bourgeois elements which were profoundly corrupted during Fascism. Extensive action is therefore necessary to give this mass a new, fighting, democratic spirit, class-consciousness, and above all a national spirit. The Party will thus be able to gain a solid and decisive base in Rome. Rome is still a city which looks on indifferently at the great process of renewal predominating throughout Italy. As a matter of fact, in the villages there is greater enthusiasm, greater fire, greater popular impetus toward the fulfillment of the tasks facing the Italian people. It is necessary to create an identical situation in Rome. We must be able to rally around us the entire population.

All the Party sections in Rome must become popular mass organizations enjoying the support of the workers, the unemployed, the women, of all the population. The people will then regard the Party sections as the nuclei of an organization which fights for their interests, for their redemption.

You must succeed in making Rome, the present and future capital of Italy, the city which not only leads the country in an administrative sense, but also a city which makes a bid for political leadership by being the center, the heart of a democratic, revolutionary life. From such a city would spring a strong call which would reach the entire country and gather the masses of the people together for the struggle which we must wage, which we must win against the reactionary forces, against Fascism, for the rebirth of Italy. I am convinced that you will give profound consideration to this problem. This conference has in itself provided clarification as to how it should be solved.

We invite you, in the name of the Central Committee, to work, after this Congress, ten times, a hundred times better than you have worked until now, so that Rome may be the great city, the heart of the democratic anti-Fascist progressive movement of all Italy.

I wish you speedy attainment of this goal.