Today is Italy’s Liberation Day, marking the day in 1945 when the Committee for National Liberation finally, after years of long hard resistance, overthrew the Italian Social Republic, Mussolini’s puppet state in the North of Italy, and brought and end to the decades long fascist rule in the peninsula, bringing to an end the war in Italy.
The youth wing of the Democratic Party, Labour’s sister party in Italy, has been tweeting extracts of the diaries and letters of an Italian partisan, Saro from Sicily, originally a journalist, who was shot by the fascists in 1944. At a time when the ideas that men like him died for are under threat, the ideas of political plurality, of society free from fear and coercion and, to a certain extent, of European unity and cooperation, I think it a good idea to share the poignant last words of this man to a wider audience.
Monday, 24th April 1944
Maria, my beloved,
I send you pages written in the moments in which I believed I would not survive. I write to you because now I am certain.
I have been arrested. They say I will be shot this evening or tomorrow morning.
Dear Maria, be strong and continue our work. Teach our son the principles of sacrifice and abnegation.
Teach him the values of equality and freedom.
Tell him to study, If ever we need people to rebuild this country, he must be ready.
The strongest youth is taken away by the war and those who remain usually has not been able to study enough to allow for a rebirth of all the nation.
I feel like I have done my duty. The only thing I regret is having made you come here without knowing what we would have done, guided only by hope.
In this moment I can’t say whether it was an error or an inevitable choice. You have been the best woman that I could’ve hoped to have by my side and if Salvatore has to stay with someone he is lucky it is you. Raise him like we have often discussed.
Take with you the memory of me and give it to him.
Remind him who I was. Remind him why I died but above all remind him that I chose this path.
Tell him that many of us died so that he, along with other young people, can one day lay the solid foundations of a society based on equality and based neither on assaults on liberty nor on fear, but rather on peace between men, not on war.
Resist and fight against anyone who causes damage to another person.
Universal happiness is not only possible, but necessary.
Forgive my jumbled words, but I am afraid and I fear every step that I hear passing by cell signals my final hour.
What sense is there in prolonging my agony?
I am calm. Be strong.
I hug you and kiss you, my Maria
Monday, 24 April 1944
I will not return home.
Take care of your mum and don’t giver her anymore displeasure.
You know why I have done all of this.
Remember your dad who made you suffer lots.
I regret loading you with this grief that you may never recover from.
Get your mother to recommend you books.
Read a lot and go to school.
Rebuild this country of ours that has fallen into disgrace.
May you all be happy.
Today I die for this.
Long live freedom!
Give your mum a flower.
PS. when that one [Mussolini] falls, come and tell my grave.
Wednesday, 25 April 1945
A year has passed since you died. We did not know this day would come, but with mum we decided that we would remember you today.
Dad, Italy is free.
The news was announced on the radio: the Germans have surrendered.
We received your letters along with the pages of your diary. In one of them you were asking yourself if your sacrifice would be worth it. It has been.
Maybe your name won’t be inscribed in history and maybe only a few will be remembered, but our struggle, the values for which we have fought, will be the foundation on which we will build the new Italy. I only hope my generation will be up to the task.
On my shoulders I feel the responsibility of the purpose of your life: you died so that men whose faces you had never seen could live, knowing that nothing is more true than freedom.
I don’t why I am writing this letter which you will never be able to read, but I like to the think that one day someone finding it will remember the simplicity of the that which has taken place.
That which some might call heroism has been the fruit of a popular movement who, seeing injustice, decided to move in the opposite direction. You, Dad, along with other men and women, along with young people and old, and sometimes even along with children, you have handed us freedom, not as a gift, but as a duty for the future.
Dear Dad, Mum and I, despite being wracked by loss are so proud of you and never once thought that your choices were not the right ones. The choices that certainly demanded sacrifices, but heroism is not something that comes to people like us.
We rebuild not only this country , but also this world martyred by war and injustice. The sun rises on a future that now is radiant. It won’t be easy, but I remain convinced that people are more or less good. The war has changed everyone in some way, but we will be able to take back our humanity and to rediscover those values that they have tried to take away from us.
Dad, understand with me that they haven’t succeeded. I will study lots and will strive to give full meaning to your sacrifice.
Italy is free, Dad. Italy is free thanks in part to you too.
Lots of love,