Hundreds of anti-fascists march through Mussolini’s birthplace

PREDAPPIO, Italy (AP) — About 1,000 anti-fascists marked the anniversary of the 1944 liberation of Benito Mussolini’s birthplace on Friday, as scattered fascist nostalgia quietly marked the 100th anniversary of the March on Rome that carried the Italian dictator in power in a bloodless coup.

An organization representing supporters who fought to liberate Italy from fascism and Nazi occupiers during World War II organized the march down the main street of Predappio, where Mussolini was born…

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PREDAPPIO, Italy (AP) — About 1,000 anti-fascists marked the anniversary of the 1944 liberation of Benito Mussolini’s birthplace on Friday, as scattered fascist nostalgia quietly marked the 100th anniversary of the March on Rome that carried the Italian dictator in power in a bloodless coup.

An organization representing supporters who fought to liberate Italy from fascism and Nazi occupiers during World War II organized the march down the main street of Predappio, where Mussolini was born and buried. They were joined by trade unionists and leftist politicians.

“I owe it to my parents and everyone who gave us freedom, and I mean the supporters,” Daniela Vicchi, a supporter’s daughter, said during the march.

Italy’s unease with dealing with its fascist past has come under scrutiny, as the double anniversary this year coincided with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s first week in charge of Italy’s first government. post-war era led by a party with neo-fascist roots.

Meloni sought to distance his party from the Brothers of Italy from its more radical and nostalgic wing. At the same time, neo-fascist parties have been part of the Italian political landscape throughout the post-war period despite Mussolini’s disastrous colonial adventure in Africa and racial laws that persecuted Jews and sent thousands people died in the Holocaust.

As a sign of this difficult coexistence, the organizers of the anti-fascist march placed security in front of souvenir shops that sell souvenirs of Mussolini in his birthplace and burial place in Emilia-Romagna, which has become a place of pilgrimage for adherents of extreme right who see the dictator executed. in 1945 as a modernizing force in 20th century Italy.

The National Association of Partisans’ annual event marking Predappio’s liberation in World War II conveniently prevents nostalgic fascists from commemorating the March on Rome in the city that day. Their event is scheduled for Sunday, when thousands are expected to march from the city center to Mussolini’s crypt.

But that didn’t stop Mussolini admirers from visiting Predappio on Friday, about 50 of whom lined up to pay their respects at the late dictator’s grave.

“Without the vote of the fascists, Meloni would not be in government. I can say it loud and clear,” said Ferdinando Polegatto, who traveled all the way from Sequals to bring flowers to Mussolini’s grave.

Mussolini’s great-granddaughters, Orsola and Vittoria Mussolini, were also present on Friday to open an exhibition entitled “100 years of history between revolution and counter-revolution”. The promotional material indicates that the exhibition aims to tell the story of the Mussolini family “and above all of the man who left an indelible mark on Italian history”. Both women declined to comment.

A traditionalist Catholic priest, the Reverend Giulio Tam, celebrated a mass in Mussolini’s crypt and later lamented the liberal changes in Italian society that some citizens fear Meloni is undermining as prime minister.

“The main thing we have to consider 100 years after the March on Rome is what Benito Mussolini did and what happened after 1945.” says Tam. “What progress has been made? If we look at the laws that were approved after 1945, we see secularism, secularism, atheism, divorce, abortion, now they talk about giving equal value” to same-sex marriages.

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Colleen Barry contributed from Milan.

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