Foreign Affairs: 100 Years
A New Americanism
Why a Nation Needs a National Story
IN Italy, as elsewhere in Europe, the Resistance movement against the Nazis was composed of many different elements: workers and industrialists who purposely lowered their production; public officials who did not carry out German orders and gave secret help to active anti-German fighters; people who went into hiding rather than work for the Germans; peasants who refused to turn farm products over to the enemy and who sheltered escaped prisoners of war; and armed guerrillas and saboteurs. The Italian Resistance had one difference from similar movements in other European countries, however, in that it was to a large extent the continuation of an underground anti-Fascist struggle and not a new movement created simply as an answer to the German invasion. For twenty years Italian democrats and Communists had fought Fascism, tenaciously and painfully. The great majority of the population was indifferent, yet there was a considerable minority which consciously and positively refused to accept Mussolini's doctrines. Some ten thousand Italians went into political exile; several times as many were jailed or interned and possibly as many as a quarter of a million people in Italy participated at one time or another in the clandestine activities of democratic organizations and of the Communist Party. Veterans of this underground struggle supplied most of the leadership of the Italian Resistance.
In Italy, the armed branch of the Resistance was called the Partisans, or Patriots. Its activities should be known, not merely because the Patriots gave real assistance to the Allies, but because the special characteristics of the Italian Patriot movement offer clues to political developments in Italy. Most of the administrators in northern Italy today -- prefects, mayors and questori -- are former Patriots. Leadership in some of the important political parties is largely in the hands of veterans of the anti-Fascist movement who were active Patriots. Signor Parri, who succeeded Signor Bonomi as Prime Minister, was one of the leaders of the Patriots in northern Italy. General Cadorna, who was appointed Chief of Staff of the Italian armed forces soon after the liberation of Milan, is the former chief of all Patriot military formations. The Patriots helped the nation regain its self-confidence and self-respect, and in the new Italian state a man's activities as a Patriot overshadow at times his record as a Fascist or anti-Fascist.
The Resistance groups arose amid the general disintegration following the armistice. There were "badogliani" -- officials and others who had collaborated with Marshal Badoglio during the "forty-five days" after Mussolini's fall. A larger group included the thousands of anti-Fascists who had just begun to get organized around the Inter-Party Committees (known later as Comitati di Liberazione Nazionale, or CLNs). A third group was made up of the officers and men of the Italian armed forces who had attempted to fight the Germans. There were hosts of young people of every class who were afraid of being recruited for the German armed forces or for labor in Italy or Germany. Many people living in the towns left their homes and stayed with relatives or friends under assumed names. Many more left the towns altogether and went to the hill villages at a safe distance from the main German lines of communication.
The first armed bands were organized from this mass of displaced persons. Democrats, Socialists and Communists had started a workers' armed organization in Milan during the forty-five days; it mustered about 2,000 men when the armistice was announced. A large percentage of these men went to the mountains northeast of the city and formed one of the first groups of Patriots in northern Italy. A certain number of workers from industrial Turin, and the Socialist and Communist organizers who had been trying to set up trade unions, went to the valleys northwest of the city and organized a large Patriot band. When the Army disbanded, officers and men of the Alpine regiments sought their homes in the valleys; if an able officer (as in Val Gesso and in Val Camonica) or non-commissioned officer (as in Val Susa) took the initiative, these troops became the nucleus of Patriot "army," or badogliani bands. Several groups were formed by Allied prisoners of war who found themselves at large soon after September 8. Some of these men tried to reach the Allied lines, but the majority stayed with peasants and waited for the Allied troops. A few, mostly British officers, organized armed bands among the Italian refugees. And Jugoslav and Russian ex-prisoners were sometimes numerous and active enough, particularly in central Italy, to group themselves in bands.
Most of the Patriot bands, however, were organized by members of one of the Italian anti-Fascist parties. These had a double objective: to fight the enemy and to build up an organization which would make it possible for the parties to seize power when the Germans left. The most active organizers were the Democrats of the newly-formed Action Party and the Communists. They were experienced men moved by deep faith; and they were often able to find the money required to maintain armed groups.
In the towns, Patriots were less numerous than in the hills and mountains, but were, at first, better organized and had a more definite political character. Members and sympathizers of the Action Party and of the Communist Party at once organized themselves in military groups. In some of the larger towns, the Socialists also set up their own military organization. Smaller armed groups were formed by Liberals and by Christian Democrats. In some towns, Army and Navy officers tried to build up Patriot organizations linked to the Italian armed forces. Their groups though called "apolitical," had a definite political character, and they were successful only where they found a certain number of active anti-Germans among monarchists and conservatives. Clandestine armed groups were also formed in cities by smaller political parties. The Italian Republican Party (not to be confused with the Fascist Republican Party, organized after the armistice) had a few squads in Milan, Genoa, parts of Romagna and elsewhere. The Anarchists and Anarcho-Syndicalists organized themselves militarily in Leghorn and the Carrarese. The Democratic Labor Party formed bands in Rome. And in Rome also were squads connected with a number of dissident groups: Christian Democrats who called themselves Social Christians, Socialists who called themselves Revolutionary Socialists, monarchical groups, and so on. In parts of Venezia there were squads of Christian Socialists. Here and there a former Fascist organized a Patriot squad.
While the Patriots were coming into their own, the Resistance was getting organized. Most of the active anti-Fascist leaders in German-occupied territory were in Rome and Milan. In both cities a Committee of National Liberation had been formed, with the five important anti-Fascist tendencies represented on an equal basis: Christian Democrats, Liberals, Democrats (Action Party), Socialists and Communists. In Rome a sixth Party had been added, Labor Democrats, a somewhat Right-wing Socialist group.
Committees of National Liberation were soon organized in every regional capital, in most provincial capitals and in many other towns and villages. Not all had the same composition. Sometimes only three or four of the major anti-Fascist parties were represented; sometimes the committees included smaller organizations which had local political significance, such as Italian Republicans, Social Christians and Anarcho-Syndicalists. The Milan CLN came to exercise authority for all northern Italy; the Rome CLN was supposed to be directly in charge in central Italy and to be the highest authority in the CLN organization, both for German-occupied and Allied-occupied territory. The CLN organization was not synonymous with the Resistance, but as time went on its influence increased, and in German-occupied territory it came to be considered the representative of the Italian state.
Patriot formations were a main concern of the CLN. The number of Patriots who could be maintained in any given valley was limited: the peasants were usually willing to share what food they had, but not to the point of starving themselves. The need for funds, arms and food in many cases compelled the leaders of overt bands in the mountains to get in touch with the leaders of the Resistance in the towns and plains, and thus they were brought to accept, at least partly, the authority of the underground centralized organizations. Political bands came more and more to be known by the name which each party gave to its armed formations. The "Garibaldi" were the bands connected with the Communist Party; the "Rosselli" or Giustizia e Libertà (GL), were the bands connected with the Action Party; the "Matteotti" were the Socialist Party bands. Christian Democratic Party and Liberal Party bands were called "Popolo" and "Patria;" and there were various other names.
The basic unit in the overt Patriot organization was a detachment which was supposed to include about 50 men, divided into three or four squads. Three detachments made a battalion, and three battalions formed a brigade, with an average strength of about 450 men. Actually the strength of Patriot battalions varied from 250 to 600 men. Three brigades formed a division. In each detachment, battalion, brigade and division the main leaders were the commander and the political commissar. The underground Patriot organization in the cities and towns was similar to the overt one except that formations were usually smaller and the basic unit was not the detachment but the squad, usually called GAP (Gruppo di Azione Patriottica) or SAP (Squadra di Azione Proletaria).
During the winter of 1943-44, the political bands and the badogliani were sharply distinguished, but the cleavage decreased after April 1944, when Marshal Badoglio formed a new Cabinet which included representatives of the major anti-Fascist parties. In accepting Marshal Badoglio as Prime Minister, the Committee of National Liberation laid the foundations for coöperation among the various elements of the Patriot movement. Unity increased after Signor Bonomi replaced the Marshal as Prime Minister in June 1944.
A comparison of the effectiveness of Patriot groups in the south, the center and the north of Italy sheds light on the response of the people of these regions to the political and social problems with which Italy is faced today. No Patriot bands were organized in Sicily or in Sardinia during the Allied invasion, partly because of the speed of the Allied advance, but also because of the lack of political and social consciousness among the people. The same deficiency was to be found in most of southern Italy, with the exception of Naples and Abruzzi. There was a small spontaneous armed insurrection against the Germans in Naples, chiefly on the part of the very young of the lower classes. A few dozen Germans were killed and it is possible that the rioting which went on from September 28 to October 1, 1943, was one of the factors which induced the Nazis to abandon the city. But leadership was significantly lacking in Naples. There were potential leaders there, and they had enough authority to organize and direct the Resistance, but they chose to remain in hiding.
During the interval between the end of the Allied offensive in southern Italy and the beginning of the drive which liberated the rest of the peninsula in the summer of 1944, the Resistance and the Patriot movements of central Italy took shape and helped considerably to unsettle the Germans and to prevent the consolidation of the Fascist Social Republic. The direct influence of the Rome CLN extended over 15 provinces, with something less than 6,000,000 inhabitants, as far north as a line running approximately from the mouth of the Cecina River on the Tyrrhenian Sea south of Leghorn, to the Marecchia River, near Rimini, on the Adriatic. Political activities were centered in Rome, where the leaders of the main anti-Fascist parties and a number of their supporters lived clandestinely. The areas in central Italy where overt Patriotic groups were organized were rather limited. They included Monte Catria, the Monti Sibillini, the Gran Sasso and, in the early stage, the Maiella, all in the main range of the Apennines. East of the main range, there were smaller areas of concentration, such as Monte San Vicino. Small groups of Patriots could also be found in the sparsely inhabited sections of Lazio, northern Abruzzi and southern Tuscany (Le Cornate and Maremma).
Though there were a considerable number of refugees in the mountainous areas of central Italy Patriots were relatively few. Their numbers decreased during the winter and increased, to a certain extent, only when the Allied troops were approaching. Outside Rome, in this section of Italy, there were probably no more than 4,000 or 5,000 bona fide Patriots. In Rome, there were perhaps 8,000 Patriots, taking into consideration all the groups which had a military organization and which at least tried to engage in anti-German activities. No numerical estimate can be made of the size of the Resistance as a whole, save to say that it was many times larger than its armed branch. Probably only a minority of the members of the overt Patriot groups were motivated by a clear political or national consciousness. Many Patriots simply wished to avoid military or labor conscription. Others were attracted by the idea of adventurous living.
Relations between Patriots and other elements of the Resistance in this section of Italy were sometimes strained. For instance, in the area east of Spoleto the peasants who were sheltering a large number of escaped British and American prisoners of war were not always on good terms with the Patriots among whom the Jugoslav influence was strong. In Rome there was friction between Patriots and the large organization -- based mainly on the Italian Army -- which had been built up for intelligence purposes. There was rivalry between two central organizations, one set up by the CLN and the other by the Army, each of which tried to control the Patriot bands. More confusion was caused by the establishment in Rome of a political organization opposed to the CLN (the Left Front) and by the activities of Fascists and ex-Fascists who tried to build up their own Resistance and Patriot organizations.
Disunity among the Patriots in this section of central Italy tended to keep the movement small in numbers and comparatively ineffective. It should be borne in mind, however, that in this area the Resistance and Patriots had only a short period in which to organize, and that the region was too poor to support more than a relatively small number of fighters. Other branches of the Resistance proved the willingness of the people to make what contribution they could to the Allied cause. The intelligence organization in Rome, already mentioned, did useful work; and a large number of peasants and landowners, at considerable risk, sheltered and fed tens of thousands of Allied prisoners of war for nine months.
From August to November 1944, the Allied Fifth and Eighth Armies moved slowly north until they reached the line on which they stopped until April 1945. The area liberated during those four months included most of northern Tuscany and Romagna. The Patriot groups were more active here than further south, better organized and much more numerous. They operated all along the main range of the Apennines and also in the secondary mountainous regions: Alpe di Catenaia and Casentino, southeast and east of Florence; Pratomagno, Mugello and Monte Pisano a little further north. Some bands, although very small, led an independent existence. Others were grouped, making up as many as 2,000 Patriots.
The political character of the Patriots was more clearly defined here than elsewhere in central Italy. The chief formations among the overt groups were the Garibaldi (Communist Party) and the Rosselli (Action Party). The Garibaldi were the more numerous and better armed, and received more supplies from the Allies. Relations between the two groups were often strained. Among the clandestine Patriots of the towns there were not only Garibaldi and Rosselli GAPs and SAPs but also squads attached to the Christian Democratic Party and to the Liberal Party. The Italian Army did not have its own Resistance and Patriot organization here, as elsewhere in central Italy: only one band of about 400 Patriots northwest of Florence could be considered an "army" group. The authority of the CLN was unchallenged; and in spite of the usual friction among the five parties of the coalition, there was more unity and more Patriot activity. The Patriots suffered and inflicted many more casualties here than further South. Several thousand Patriots coöperated for short periods with the Allied troops, particularly with the Fifth Army.
It was in northern Italy that the Patriots really came into their own. More people in that region were politically conscious and experienced in underground organization; and, possibly, there were more people willing to risk their lives. A few days after the armistice, the first groups of overt Patriots appeared in the mountains of Piedmont and Lombardy, that is to say, towards the frontiers of France and Switzerland. A little later others took the field in the mountains of Emilia and Liguria and in the northeast, in the mountains of Venezia.
There were Patriot bands just a few miles behind the lines held by the Germans during the winter of 1944-1945. In the Alpi Apuane east of Spezia and in the mountainous sections of the provinces of Modena and Reggio were some of the best Patriot formations of northern Italy, mostly Garibaldi. They were generously supplied with arms and ammunition by the Allies and represented a serious threat to the Germans, who undertook several offensives to dislodge them. Patriots, many of them from Genoa, were heavily concentrated in the mountainous sections south of Piacenza and Pavia. Most of the Alpine valleys of Piedmont were the scene of heavy fighting against Germans and Fascists at one time or another. From Val Bormida to Val Locana one met "Autonomi" ("army" bands), Garibaldi and GL formations. Sometimes they coöperated, more often they ignored each other; they seldom transformed their friction into open clashes. Garibaldi were numerous in Valsesia, while in the Valdossola, further north, there were large Patriot formations connected with the Christian Democratic Party and smaller ones connected with the Socialist Party and the Action Party. In Lombardy, until the end of summer 1944, Patriots could be found in all the valleys east of Lake Como. Later on Patriot bands survived only in the most eastern valleys -- Val Camonica, Val Trompia, Upper Valtellina; mostly Green Flames (an "army" formation which later on accepted allegiance to the Christian Democratic Party) and GL, with smaller groups of Garibaldi, Matteotti and bands connected with the Liberal Party. Among the best known formations in Venezia were the Garibaldi and "Osoppo" (originally an "army" band) in the upper Tagliamento valley.
There were fewer Patriots in the towns of northern Italy than in the mountain areas. Turin had probably the largest percentage of Patriots relative to its population, and they were the best organized. Second came the industrial area of greater Genoa, with Bologna third. The Resistance movement in Milan, Venice and Trieste could rely on a certain number of Patriots, though the number in these cities was not large considering their size. Patriot groups were found in some smaller towns, although usually their activities were limited.
It is difficult to estimate how many Patriots there were in the area of Italy which was liberated in April and May 1945, for the number fluctuated greatly. There were times, for instance, when thousands of Patriots controlled the Valli di Lanzo, northwest of Turin. They disbanded as the result of a German-Fascist offensive and could not come together again. Further south in Piedmont, in the province of Cuneo, there were not less than 4,000 Patriots in October 1944, controlling possibly as much as one-third of the province. At the end of November only a few groups remained, numbering in all a couple of hundred. In the summer of 1944 there were another 4,000 Patriots in the upper provinces of Reggio and Modena. They were dispersed by the Germans and the Fascists, and only small groups were reorganized in later months. Of the sizable bands operating in the Grigna region, east of Lake Como, in the autumn of 1943, and in the Grappa, Pasubio and Asiago areas of western Venezia, practically none remained after savage mopping-up operations by Germans and Fascists.
The same fluctuations characterized the Patriot organizations of the towns. At the beginning of March 1945, the commander of the Patriot forces in Milan was asked how many men were in the various groups. He replied: "Six hundred if things are difficult, six thousand if things are not so difficult -- and of course sixty thousand if things are easy."
There were probably not more than 100,000 Patriots at any given moment in northern Italy, except in the summer of 1944, when there were perhaps 150,000 or more; these totals would include both overt bands in the hills and undercover groups in the towns and plains. But since relatively few people were Patriots during the entire period of 20 months, many more than 100,000 to 150,000 took part in the movement. In relationship to the population of northern Italy (from 18,000,000 to 20,000,000 people), there were perhaps three or four times as many Patriots in that region as in central Italy. They gave genuine help to Allied troops and offered a definite threat to the Germans and to their Fascist allies. The Patriot contribution is indicated by the unusually high casualty rate, estimated at more than 26,000 dead and about 45,000 wounded and missing. Patriot casualties must be added to the approximately 20,000 other members of the Resistance shot by the Germans and the Fascists from September 1943 to May 1945, and the more than 50,000 casualties suffered by the Italian regular forces in their fight against the Germans.
About two-fifths of the overt Patriots north of the Apennines were in the Communist Garibaldi organization; a little more than one-fourth were in the GL organization of the Action Party; about one-tenth were in the Socialist Party Matteotti groups. This does not mean, however, that out of ten Patriots four were Communists, two or three Democrats of the Action Party, one a Socialist and so on; leaders of the bands were usually party members, but the political views of the rank and file were vague.
The degree to which the different Italian political groups participated in the Patriot movement of northern Italy is not an index of the share taken by each party in the work of the Resistance as a whole. The Socialists made their greatest contribution through the clandestine trade unions. The Christian Democrats were extremely active in all forms of assistance work: supplying shelter, food and clothing for people in hiding, providing meeting places for various Resistance groups, and using the influence of secular and religious leaders to obtain better conditions for those who were arrested and to prevent the shooting of hostages and prisoners. The Liberals were especially active in maintaining a communication system which coördinated the work of the Resistance and the Patriots, and in infiltrating and weakening organizations from which Germans and Fascists hoped to receive support.
Though the Resistance was in one sense a continuation of the old anti-Fascist movement, it also had a strong nationalistic basis; and the majority of those who joined it for nationalistic reasons were former Fascists or Fascist sympathizers. This fact is important, because it foreshadows a cleavage among the members of the Resistance who are now politically active in the new Italian state. There is a far greater antipathy toward the ideas and achievements of Fascism among the old underground fighters than among those who turned anti-Fascist during the period of German occupation. And, of course, since liberation there is a political cleavage among the Democrats, Liberals, Socialists, Communists and Christian Democrats of the five anti-Fascist parties which had achieved unity in the Resistance period.
The anti-Fascists of northern Italy gained the leadership of the Resistance and of the Patriot organizations by their organizing ability and their undisputed moral authority. But this is no guarantee that they will exercise a similar influence on the Italian nation, or that they will remain the political leaders of the country. Now, as then, genuine anti-Fascism is only a minority movement among Italians. It can prevail only if the anti-Fascists coöperate. If the anti-Fascist parties fight one another, each will be compelled to seek strength by coming to terms with ex-Fascists. This severe penalty for disunity explains certain of the difficulties which the parties composing the present Government find in carrying out the reforms required by their own ideologies.
Party rivalries in so diversified a movement could not be avoided. Jealousies often delayed the needed appointment of commanders; in several cases non-party men were finally chosen to fill responsible posts. Friction between the representatives of the two largest Patriot organizations, the Garibaldi and the GL, was sometimes bitter. Signor Parri, known as Maurizio, was the leader of the GLs; Signor Longo (Italo) was the leader of the Garibaldi. The CLNAI (Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale Alta Italia or CLN of northern Italy) appointed General Cadorna of the Italian Army, Commander of the CVL (Corpo Volontari della Libertà, the military organization of the CLN) in order to maintain a balance between the two. There was little direct contact between Patriots of the various anti-Fascist parties in the city underground organizations, and the danger of friction was minimized. But it was ever present among the overt Patriot bands, and the fact that it was well controlled, on the whole, is the best evidence of the political maturity of northern Italians and of the moderating influence of the CLN.
More than four-fifths of all Patriots were in the Communist-oriented Garibaldi, the democratic-minded GL and the conservative army bands. Differences were sharp, and were sometimes expressed in open quarrels. There were cases of one band depriving another of its arms; the Patriots of Valdossola once forcibly prevented the Garibaldi of Valsesia from entering their area; the Autonomi decided to occupy Alba in Piedmont and failed to obtain the support of other groups, with resulting friction; once the Osoppo of eastern Venezia were attacked by the Germans and in vain asked for support from other groups. But, on the whole, political differences did not develop into open quarrels. The Patriot movement of northern Italy compares favorably with the Patriot movements of other countries, in coöperation among various groups and in determination and energy.
Relations with the Patriot movements of the neighboring countries were less satisfactory. On the western border, attacks by German and Fascist troops drove considerable numbers of Italian Patriots into French territory after the liberation of France. The French were still bitter about Mussolini's "stab in the back," and the authorities were mostly unfriendly.
On the eastern border, Italian Patriots came into contact with Slovene and Croat Patriots. They found that Tito's followers often acted as violent nationalists. In the provinces of Trieste, Gorizia, Pola and Fiume overt Italian Patriot organizations were not allowed. Italian Communists joined the Jugoslav Patriot movement, but the Italian Democrats, Liberals, Socialists, Christian Democrats or plain nationalists could not participate in the Partisan movement. In the city of Trieste an underground Italian Patriot organization carried on a precarious existence, hounded by Germans, Fascists and Slavs. In the Friuli, Tito's followers sought to control all the territory east of Udine and to infiltrate the upper Tagliamento valley. The result was a sharpening of nationalistic feeling among the Italians of the region.
In the Trentino and Upper Adige areas, bordering on Austria, the Italian Patriot movement remained comparatively weak as a result of the exceptionally strict German occupation. Austrian Patriots did not make an appearance until a few days before the surrender of the German troops, so there was no nationalistic conflict in this region.
The Patriot movement helped ease some old class and religious antagonisms in Italy. The Patriots needed money to subsidize the families of those who had been arrested or killed, to buy arms and ammunition from Fascists and Germans who were willing to sell them, and for innumerable other purposes. In Rome, funds were made available to the "army" Patriot organization. In Piedmont, the funds of the Fourth Italian Army (possibly as much as 200,000,000 lire) were turned over to the Patriot movement. In most areas Patriot leaders tried to obtain money from local wealthy people. The contributions were sometimes forced, but voluntary gifts were large: one morning in Turin, for example, three industrialists raised about 120,000,000 lire for the Patriot regional command. The large sums received from the industrialists of Biella were an important factor in the development of the Garibaldi formations in the Biellese and Valsesia. Most landowners in Emilia contributed to Patriot funds, to cite another instance.
The problems of handling great sums of cash were often solved through the coöperation of bank managers who were members of the Resistance. Two of the largest banks in the country and several small ones were used as channels for the clandestine distribution of funds to the Patriots. When direct contact was established between representatives of the Resistance and the Allied Mediterranean Command at the end of 1944, the latter offered to supply enough money to support the members of all Patriot groups connected with the CLN. The sum agreed upon was 160,000,000 lire monthly, a considerable increase over the subsidies given previously by Allied organizations. Payments were made largely through the banks and with the coöperation of some of the best-known bankers of the country.
This explains why few industrialists or bankers who had been closely connected with the Fascist régime were arrested by the Patriots during the interim period after liberation, when CLN was in control of various areas of northern Italy. Their immunity occasioned a good deal of surprise and comment at the time. But the fact is that the majority of bankers and industrialists, whatever their Fascist past, gave valid support to the Resistance. It was impossible for the Patriots to shoot, or even arrest, the very men who had helped them with money, food, arms and shelter, and who had intervened to save their lives when the Germans held them as hostages.
Common participation in the Resistance not only helped smooth class conflicts in northern Italy, temporarily at least, but also deeply changed the attitude of many Italians toward the clergy. Anti-clericalism was a marked feature of pre-Fascist Italy, and it was intensified among anti-Fascists when the clergy supported the Fascist régime during the first years of Mussolini's dictatorship. But shortly after the Concordat was signed, relations between the Catholic hierarchy and the Fascists showed signs of strain, and as years went by the strain became tension. If only in a subdued way, the Catholic hierarchy did uphold that dignity of the individual and respect for the human personality which the Fascist creed sought to destroy. And during the 20 months of German occupation in northern Italy, probably the majority of the clergy collaborated in one way or another with the Resistance. Many priests found their way into overt Patriot formations, which prided themselves in having a chaplain. Vestries, parish houses, religious schools, seminaries, monasteries and convents were used as meeting places by the Resistance. Probably every high-ranking member of the Catholic hierarchy intervened to save the lives of Patriots. The most rabid anti-Catholic among Italy's present leaders can hardly forget the help which he or his friends received from the clergy while playing the dangerous game of the Resistance.
Unfortunately, the possibilities of a better understanding and closer friendship between the Patriot forces and the Allies, which existed for a short time immediately after the liberation, were not realized. All during the war, Allied organizations had tried to make contact first with the anti-Fascist underground, later with the Resistance movement and the Patriots. Since shortly after the armistice a good deal of coöperation existed between the British and American military authorities on one hand and the Patriots on the other, about which little is yet known. The coöperation consisted chiefly in efforts to synchronize Patriot and Allied actions; in sending to Patriot formations -- usually by plane -- arms, ammunition, food, clothing and money. Contact was maintained through missions in which many Allied officers and enlisted men lost their lives. The Allies exerted little or no influence upon the structure and organization of the Patriot movement, partly because of an Allied desire not to "play politics" or to back any particular group. The material aid which they gave the Patriots, however, was helpful. The knowledge that the Allies were willing to send more aid, and the hope of receiving it, also undoubtedly strengthened the morale of the Patriots. They were proud of the contribution they were making to the common cause of freedom. They were praised many times by the Allied commander in Italy; indeed, at Florence and at Turin, for example, the Patriots had fought more like regular troops than guerrillas.
After liberation the Patriots expected a friendly welcome from the Allies and treatment based on equality between brothers in arms. But disillusionment followed fast. Allied officers in the field knew little about the Patriots and apparently received only vague instructions for dealing with them. They often received these ragged, armed men with contempt; the fact that many of the Patriots decorated themselves for the occasion with red ties and scarves shocked Allied personnel, who did not realize that red is used as a symbol of freedom in Italy by a variety of groups many of which could hardly be described as radical. There were exceptions to this general attitude, and as time went on Allied representatives showed more tact; but on the whole relations were not friendly.
After a period of some months most genuine Patriot groups ceased to exist. The average Patriot was hurt because he did not get the recognition to which he felt he was entitled. He found himself in a crowd of newcomers whom no one had ever seen or heard of during the period of German occupation and who were now bragging about non-existent exploits. Some parties tried to maintain cohesion among those of their followers who had been Patriots; as a result they were accused of threatening the security of the newly-established democratic régime. A movement which had been motivated by high ideals, and which had at times been heroic, tended to fade away in resentment and discontent. But it had won for Italy a sound claim to generous understanding by her erstwhile enemies, the Allies.