Mussolini and intellectuals in the Republic of Salò, 1943-1945 / by William M. Adams.
This dissertation examines relationships between various intellectual figures and the government of the Italian Social Republic during the German military occupation of northern and central Italy (July 1943 to April 1945). Historians have traditionally depicted this final twenty-month period as Fascism's most extreme phase, since several government ministers were close to the Nazi occupational authorities and because the Holocaust was extended to Italy. Other historians, however, have begun recently to point to the considerable tension within the ranks of the leadership in order show that the Salò Republic cannot be seen in such monolithic terms.My research addresses the role of intellectuals with longstanding personal relationships with Mussolini, most of them newspaper editors, who took the initiative in the press to redefine Fascism in highly individual terms, entirely contradicting the extremist images of Fascism promoted by the official Fascist leadership. This campaign in the press, known as the "politica dei ponti," was clandestinely controlled by Mussolini himself. My research aims to demonstrate that Mussolini's enlistment of intellectuals was analogous to his efforts to reorganize the Italian economy along socialistic lines, in that the ultimate goal of both endeavors was to gain a measure of political autonomy from his German-backed ministers in Salò. Winning popularity with the Italian working classes was the key to securing this autonomy, because whoever controlled labor controlled the only thing of value that Italy still had in the eyes of the occupying Germans. Thus Mussolini sought not only to socialize the economy, but also to put a more humane, even democratic face, onto the new republican Fascism.My research is based mostly on archival materials found in the Archivio Centrale dello Stato in Rome. I have also made use of newspaper sources scattered throughout libraries in Italy and at the Fondazione Micheletti in Brescia, as well as several biographies and autobiographies.
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