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Memories and Silences Haunted by Fascism

Italian Colonialism MCMXXX-MCMLX

Daniela Baratieri

Fascist and colonial legacies have been determinant in shaping how Italian colonialism has been narrated in Italy till the late 1960s. This book deals with the complex problem of public memory and discursive amnesia.
The detailed research that underpins this book makes it no longer possible to claim that after 1945 there was an absolute and traumatic silence concerning Italy’s colonial occupation of North and East Africa. However, the abiding public use of this history confirms the existence of an extremely selective and codified memory of that past.
The author shows that colonial discourse persisted in historiography, newspapers, newsreels and film. Popular culture appears intertwined with political and economic interests and the power inscribed in elite and scientific knowledge. While readdressing the often mistaken historical time line that ignores that actual Italian colonial ties did not end with the fall of Fascism, but in 1960 with Somalia becoming independent, this book suggests that a new post Fascist Italian identity was the crucial issue in reappraisals of a national colonial past.


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2. The Myths of Italians Good People 189


Chapter 2 The Myths Of Italians Good People L’armata s’agapò (The Fallen in Love Brigade) In 1953 on the pages of Cinema Nuovo, the film critic Renzo Renzi published an idea for a film ‘L’armata s’agapò’,19 whose title was to use the nickname acquired by the Italian army in Greece. This cinematographic subject begins with the war in the Albanian mountains where only the involvement of the German army ensured the eventual defeat of the heroic resistance to aggression of a small people […] and we find ourselves victors, without having won. Greece, in a state of frightening hunger, gets ready to undergo the Fascist regime’s occupation.20 Notwithstanding the beginning, the proposed film, based on the author’s personal experience concentrates on the last period of occupation, when ‘from Pilos convoys departed for Africa. Often the torpedo-boat escort would come back after a few hours because the convoys were regularly sunk, at the time of El Alamein.’ This was intended to portray how Concerning the war enterprise, the high commands [including the pri- madonna Mussolini] were trying to keep an Imperial edifice together which had a concrete base only in the military prestige of the German allies and in their terrorist methods. Italian soldiers did not respond or understand the Empire… while the officers, incapable of overturning their judgement on the war, due to their Fascist education ‘watching the staged operetta’ ending up blaming the troops for not being up to Italy’s imperial 19 Renzo Renzi, ‘Proposte per film: L’armata...

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