Written by Mahlet Mairegu
Did you know that the Italian mayor of Affile, Ercole Viri, has spent €127,000 of taxpayers’ money to build a mausoleum and memorial park dedicated to the Fascist war criminal Rodolfo Graziani?
Did you know that the mayor hopes the site will become as ‘famous and as popular as Predappio’ - the burial place of Italy’s fascist leader Benito Mussolini - and a pilgrimage site for neo-Fascists?
Did you know that the gathering of politicians and notables at the dedication of the memorial also included a representative from the Vatican?
If you are as outraged as we are that a member state of the EU considers it acceptable to celebrate the life of a war criminal and a Nazi collaborator, then please sign our petition.
We condemn unequivocally this atrocious use of public money to celebrate a war criminal and a Nazi collaborator.
We call upon the European Union and our own governments to use current European and international legislation to:
(1) Demand that the Italian government and the Mayor of Affile issue an apology for allowing the memory of Graziani’s victims to be desecrated in this way
(2) Demand that the Italian government and the Mayor of Affile remove all allusions to Graziani, both direct and indirect, from the memorial
(3) Demand that the Italian government and the Mayor of Affile dedicate the memorial to all those in Italy and around the world who gave their lives in the struggle against Fascism
(4) Demand that the Italian government and the Mayor of Affile install a specific memorial at the site, which commemorates those Africans who died resisting Italian occupation of their countries
Graziani was notorious as Benito Mussolini’s commander in colonial wars in Libya, Ethiopia and present day Eritrea where he carried out massacres and used chemical weapons against the local populations.
In the 1920s, Graziani was commander of the Italian forces in Libya where he became known as ‘the Butcher of Fezzan’. He was directly responsible for suppressing the Senussi uprisings and the construction of concentration and labour camps. He was also directly responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Libyans including Omar Mukhtar in eastern Libya.
From 1935 to 1936, Graziani implemented the invasion of Ethiopia before becoming viceroy of Italian East Africa and governor-general of Addis Ababa in 1937. In an attempt to consolidate Italian control over the country, Graziani’s occupying army murdered up to 30,000 civilians in just three days in February 1937. Eyewitness accounts tell of how Italian soldiers doused houses with gasoline and set them on fire. Some even posed on the corpses of their victims to have their photographs taken. In the same month, Graziani ordered the massacre of the monks and pilgrims at the ancient monastery of Debre Libanos. In May, he was responsible for the assassination of up to 3,000 Ethiopian intellectuals. For these actions, Graziani earned his second title: ‘the Butcher of Ethiopia’.
As Mussolini’s Minister of Defence in 1943, Graziani was also responsible for putting down dissent in the Nazis’ puppet state of Salò (Italian Socialist Republic). He drafted a decree, which threatened any Italian who refused to serve in the army with execution and many were killed as a result.
Both the League of Nations and the United Nations (UN) failed to carry out trials against Graziani – even though the charges and evidence against him were presented to the UN War Crimes Commission, which agreed that there was a self-evident case against eight Italians including Graziani.
In 1950, an Italian military tribunal condemned Graziani to 19 years for collaborating with the Nazis. He was never charged or prosecuted for specific war crimes and served only four months in prison. From the 1950s until his death, he was the head of the neo-Fascist Italian Social Movement Party. Unlike the Germans and Japanese, no Italian has ever been charged with specific war crimes.
To download a flyer about this campaign please click on the link below:
Photos in this post are courtesy of Abdul Kassim Photography, captured at a protest outside the Italian Ambassadors Residence in London on 31 August 2012.