New Nazis in jail, and an old Fascist on trial
MUSSO and companions get a stretch in Milan square. The fascist leader's imagined trial (as published in 1943) gets a hearing in London on November 18.
MY earlier posting about neo-Nazis planning rallies in Prague and the Yugoslav city of Novi Sad might have left the impression that they could get a clear run in the latter, where the Serb nationalist Right gained political control after the city was badly bombed during the NATO war of intervention.
Not so, as I'm glad to read in the November issue of Searchlight magazine.
The Nacionalni Stroj (National Front) , which earned its infamy two years ago with a violent attack on a Kristallnacht commemoration seminar at Novi Sad university, had planned a rally this year to commemorate Heinrich Himmler's birthday.
After protests from anti-fascists, as well as Roma and Jewish organisations, the authorities banned the march as "endangered public morals and public safety". Another far-Right group then said it would march in support of the NS.
But the partisan spirit is not dead in Novi Sad, centre of the traditionally mixed Vojvodina region (during World War II the Vojvodina even had an ethnic German unit fighting as part of the partisan resistance, alongside Serbs and Hungarians.). On October 7 some 5,000 people took part in an anti-fascist demonstration in Novi Sad, and clashed with the new Nazis.
After their march people went down to the banks of the Danube to place wreaths and light candles at the memorial to 1,000 Jews and Serbs who were butchered and dumped in the Danube in 1942 by Hungarian fascist occupation forces, allies of the Nazis.
Searchlight reports that sixty members of Nacionalni Stroj were arrested after a gang of them attacked the anti-Nazi marchers, and three have been sentenced to up to 25 days in jail. This is better news than that recently from Hungary, where right-wing opposition parties appear to be conniving at the establishment of a fascist militia, complete with the symbols of the wartime Arrow Cross.
Musso on trial in London
TALKING echoes of the past, here's one from 80 years ago.
"If I had been an Italian I am sure that I should have been whole-heartedly with you from the start to finish in your triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism. ..your movement has rendered a service to the whole world".
That was Winston Churchill speaking on January 20, 1927, on a visit to Mussolini's Rome. As we know he was not with Il Duce at the finish, on April 29, 1945, in Milan, when the fascist leader and his mistress were left dangling by their ankles, having been shot by Italian partisans.
But Churchill's memorable words had been repeated when his speech was read to the court in The Trial of Mussolini, a little book published by Victor Gollancz in London in 1943, but sub-titled "A Verbatim Report of the First Great Trial for War Criminals held in London sometime in 1944 or 1945.".
Written by "Cassius" -whom we now know was Michael Foot - this trial featured testimony to Mussolini's greatness from several well-known Englishmen, like Lord Rothermere, the press baron: "I am proud of the fact that the Daily Mail was the first newspaper in England and the world outside Italy to give the public a right estimate of the soundness and durability of his work".
Then there was that newspaper's correspondent G.Ward-Price, recalling how he had said: "Fascism has raised the Italian nation to a degree of order, prosperity and self-confidence equalled in no other European country". (of course this was in 1928, before Hitler took power and the Rothermere press turned its admiring glances to Nazi Germany).
Lord Mottistone explained that he had not opposed the Italian invasion of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) because "I wanted to dispel the ridiculous illusion that it was a nice thing to sympathise with the underdog". Then after the accused, the court heard from an Ethiopian, a Spaniard, and an Italian witness as to what Mussolini's fascism had done to their peoples.
Of course there was no trial of Mussolini. The politicians and press barons who had so admired him never faced the embarrassment of giving evidence. Nor, we may note, were Musso's generals ever brought to trial for the crimes they committed against people in Libya, Yugoslavia, Ethiopia, Spain or anywhere else. Restoring capitalist order in post-war Italy involved standing down the left-wing partisans, securing the factories, and keeping the ruling class -and remaining fascists -unscathed.
But The Trial of Mussolini , as imagined by Michael Foot, resumes in London on Sunday 18 November, when it will be presented as a stage reading at Theatro Technis, Camden Town.
7.30pm Theatro Technis, 26 Coverdale Road, London NW1 .
nearest station Camden Town. Info. tel: 020 7387 6617