An Italian town has sparked controversy after dedicating a memorial to a wartime Fascist commander who was convicted of using poison gas. (The Telegraph, 15th Aug ’12)Leave a comment
September 13, 2012 by neverforgetcampaign
The Telegraph, 15th Aug ’12:
Field Marshall Rodolfo Graziani set up concentration camps where thousands died from illness or were executed Photo: ALAMY
Field Marshall Rodolfo Graziani was Minister for War under dictator Benito Mussolini and was convicted of crimes against humanity following gas attacks on enemy soldiers in Libya and Ethiopia, during colonial wars in the 1920s and 1930s.
The 130,000-euro (£100,000) memorial was paid for by taxpayers from regional funds and its unveiling in the town of Affile, south of Rome, has sparked a political outcry between the Right-wing council and Left-wing opponents.
The memorial includes a park that was built on waste ground and Affile’s mayor, Ercole Viri, said he hoped the sight would be as “famous and as popular as Predappio” – the burial place of Mussolini which has become a shrine for neo-Fascists.
But his comments were attacked by the centre left councillor Esterino Montino who said: “Is it possible to allow, to permit or simply tolerate, that in 2012, a park and memorial is dedicated to the Fascist general and minister Rodolfo Graziani?”
He went on to accuse certain members of the council of denying the Holocaust and he demanded that the Lazio regional governor step in to resolve the row.
Mr Montino also underlined Graziani’s war crimes which earned him a 19-year sentence in 1948 after he was convicted by an Italian military tribunal.
In 1928, when he was in charge of Italian forces in Libya, he was nicknamed the “butcher of Fezzan” after he set up concentration camps where thousands died from illness or were executed.
Seven years later when Italy invaded Ethiopia Graziani was again in charge and gave the order for his troops to use poison gas – despite having signed treaties banning its deployment.
But perhaps most crucially he was also made Mussolini’s new Minister for War after the armistice in 1943, when il Duce set up a puppet republic in Salo near Milan.
Graziani was in charge of organising anti partisan reprisals and he also drafted a decree which threatened any Italian who refused to accept a draft into the army with execution and many were shot as a result.
Francesco Lollabrigida, a political ally of the mayor and who also serves on the council, paid tribute to Graziani who is buried in a graveyard in the town and said: “There has been too much controversy and chat in the last few days.
“From the locals there is nothing but affection for Rodolfo Graziani and he has always been looked on with respect. He was a decorated soldier in the Italian army.”
However even the local paper Il Messaggero questioned the wisdom of spending much needed public funds, when the regional council had already been forced to make drastic cuts to services.