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Title: Italian anti-fascism and the Spanish Civil War
Author: Cogni, Manuele
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2014
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The Spanish civil war was widely seen by contemporaries as part of the international struggle against fascism, but for the Italian anti-fascist volunteers fighting in defence of the Spanish republic the war also represented the first stage in the liberation of Italy. Approximately 5,000 Italian anti-fascists volunteered to fight for the Republic during the course of Spanish Civil War (1936-39). While the Comintern played a major role in organising the foreign volunteers in Spain, each national group brought its own concerns and aspirations to Spain. For the Italian volunteers, most of whom were exiles (juorusciti), the war was seen a means of re-establishing a link with the Italian masses by reinforcing their claim to represent an alternative national identity. They saw themselves as the representatives of an alternative, virtuous Italy which was inspired by the "Risorgimento popolare" and a re-working of the Risorgimento myth. The Italian anti-fascist press and radio broadcasts depicted the volunteers as the heirs to the volontarismo of the 19th century and used the popular heroes of the Risorgimento - especially Giuseppe Garibaldi - as symbols of the nationalist and internationalist struggle. The myth of the republican-democratic traditions of the Risorgimento served as a unifying force and Garibaldinismo was used to create an amorphous political shell which could contain mutually exclusive political forces. Very little space in the historiography has been dedicated to the Italian anti-fascists in Spain. This gap is significant as a study of the motives for the Italian anti-fascist participation in the Spanish conflict, and what the conflict represented to the main anti-fascist parties, deepens our understanding of the meaning of anti-fascism in the latter half of the 1930s, and the elements which drew the diverse anti-fascist parties together.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available