Ferrara and more reasons to remember Giacomo Matteotti

  1. As all Ferrara residents know, there is a deep bond between Giacomo Matteotti and their city.

Giacomo Matteotti was elected to the Chamber for the first time in 1919 in the Rovigo-Ferrara constituency. He is the Secretary of the Chamber of Labor of Ferrara, which at the time had 70,000 members. It was in Ferrara that, on 14 January 1921, he suffered the first squad attack. The train that, in the middle of the night of 20 August 1924, transported Matteotti’s body to Fratta Polesine stopped at the Ferrara station and – as Riccardo Nencini says (I die for you, Mondadori, 2024, p. 144) – «while two women tie a bundle of wildflowers to the hearse, the old people remember». It is no coincidence, therefore, that the first and (still today) only film dedicated to The Matteotti crime it is due to a director from Ferrara, Florestano Vancini.

Here’s the thing: remember Giacomo Matteotti, on the occasion of one hundred years since his kidnapping and his barbaric political assassination, both carried out on 10 June 1924. One of those gongs of history whose sound is impossible to ignore.

  1. Preserving its memory is an authentic civic duty for a city like Ferrara, whose history of those years is guiltily linked to the fascist movement.

It is in the Ferrara area (and in Polesine) that Fascism becomes the armed wing of the landowners against the Chambers of Labor and the Leagues. It is here, under the leadership of Italo Balbo, Ras of Ferrara, that rural fascism generated the political militia that Mussolini – on 15 December 1921 – transformed into a party. It is in Ferrara that female squadrism was born, against the socialist Alda Costa. It is in Ferrara that Balbo implements the unprecedented strategy of laying siege to the city, to force the national government to negotiate with the occupying fascists: those violent Ferrara days of April 1922 will then be replicated in Bologna, Rovigo, Cremona, Ravenna. Balbo from Ferrara – as he is known – is among the quadrumvirs of the March on Rome.

Ferrara is also the city governed for twelve years by Renzo Ravenna, a Jewish mayor who was then a victim of the racial (i.e. racist) laws of 1938. The day after their entry into force, the University of Ferrara busily rid itself of some of its most illustrious teachers (the doctors Aldo Luisada, Cesare Tedeschi, Maria Zamorani; the jurists Vittorio Neppi and Angelo Piero Sereni), preferring to lull its rising stars (the anthropologist Mario Francesco Canella; the jurist Lea Meriggi) committed to giving a scientific basis to the doctrine of race. In Ferrara on 21 September 1941, the day of the Jewish New Year, the two synagogues in via Mazzini were desecrated by the squadristi led by the hierarch Asvero Gravelli: the following day, the most widespread local newspaper, The Padano Courier directed by Nello Quilici, defines the episode as “a somewhat lively inspection”. In Ferrara, on 19 October 1943, “the Shoah train stopped with 1023 Jews from Rome deported by the Nazis to the extermination of Auschwitz”, as stated on the plaque placed on the first platform of the city station.

Because of its history, therefore, Ferrara has some more reason to remember the figure of Giacomo Matteotti, who instead embodies the most intransigent rejection of Fascism. To partial and late compensation.

  1. All municipal administrations are burdened with the burden of collective mnemonic work, to be carried out through archives, toponymy, monuments and celebrations.

In this context, on the initiative of Senator Liliana Segre, the first signatory, and after a unanimous vote in both chambers, Parliament approved a law ad hoc (n. 92 of 2023). It aims to promote celebratory initiatives in «places more closely linked to the figure of Giacomo Matteotti, to be created on the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of his death, also in collaboration with local authorities» (art. 2, paragraph 1). Moreover. The law provides that these initiatives – sponsored by the Presidency of the Council and carried out with state funds – are “to be carried out as a priority” in some specific Municipalities, among which that of “Ferrara” is also included (art. 2, paragraph 1, lit. And).

Yet, from the minutes of the relevant Committee (published on March 12th on the website of the Presidency of the Council), I learn that the Administration of Ferrara is not among those that have presented a project connected to the celebrations of the centenary of Matteotti. Who decided this? What was the reason for this choice? It would be good to know. It would be necessary to say it.

In recent weeks as in those to come, initiatives dedicated to political action, parliamentary activity and the legal work of Giacomo Matteotti have taken place and will take place in the city. Meritoriously, institutes, university centres, public bodies and private associations have promoted it. They will serve to understand the figure, that is – literally – a take her with him, taking advantage of it. I wonder self And as the Administration of Ferrara also intends to remember Giacomo Matteotti on June 10th, one hundred years after his death. It would be good to know. It would be necessary to say it.

  1. In politics, there are things that should not be done. If they are done, they must be hidden. And if someone reveals them, they must be denied or ignored. This was the dynamics of the Matteotti crime. It risks repeating itself a hundred years later: caught in a pincer grip between the results of the local and European elections (8-9 June) and the first anniversary of Silvio Berlusconi’s death (12 June), his memory will be put on the back burner. In the silence of the public space, a whole other film will be broadcast.

I don’t want to believe it, but it is a possible outcome, in Ferrara even probable. Instead of cultivating the memory, the void in memory would thus be an invitation to forget. An upside down commemoration. Really, between remembrance and oblivion, has the Ferrara Administration chosen the second option? It would be good to know. It would be right to say it, explaining the reasons.

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