From Dictatorship to Democracy? Giuseppe Bottai and the Legacy of Fascism in Italy, 1945-1960 Open Access

Evangelista, Rhiannon (2013)

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Bridging themes of regime change, dictatorial legacies, and memory in postwar Europe, this dissertation analyzes the transition from Fascism to democracy in Italy. I examine the ways in which prominent ex-Fascists, particularly Giuseppe Bottai, interacted with individuals in various sectors of society and participated in the debate over the memory of Fascism from 1945-1960. This analysis reveals that, in the first fifteen years after Mussolini's defeat, ex-Fascist elites and "a-Fascist" Italians - those who would not have self-identified as either Fascists or anti-Fascists - shared certain modes of thinking about the dictatorial past and democratic present, a sort of common mentality born from the twenty-year experience of Fascist rule. Moreover, Italians from various walks of life appealed to or did favors for ex-Fascists in the postwar period, despite the latters' distance from the locus of political power. Thus many ex-Fascists survived the upheaval of war and the transition to democracy with their networks of influence in the bureaucracy, various professions, the Vatican, and some political movements intact. Viewing the legacy of dictatorship in terms of mentality and interpersonal relationships brings to the foreground the ways in which regime change was lived out and negotiated on a daily basis. This study suggests that the social and cultural legacy of Fascism ran deep in late-1940s and 1950s Italy.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1. Fascism on Trial: Ex-Fascists, Anti-Fascists, and the Battle Over History in the Courtroom 20

2. (Re)Writing Fascism: Ex-Fascist Memoirs, the Popular Press, and the Construction of the

Dictatorial Past in Democratic Italy 74

3. Bottai's Vent'anni e un giorno: Deliberate Memory Selection in an Ex-Fascist Memoir 102

4. abc: A (Moderate) Fascist Critique of the Anti-Fascist Republic 154

5. Fascist Legacies: Ex-Fascists, Politics, and Social Power in Postwar Italy 192

Conclusion 231

Figures 241

Bibliography 242

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