top of page

Fallen in 1938 in the Spanish war


From the book by Maria E. Menichetti Bianchi

"Alessandro Grelli - An anti-fascist who fell in the Spanish war (1936 - 39)"

Municipality of Umbertide - San Francesco Social Cultural Center

Nuova PRHOMOS Editions - April 1990












Thanks to the National Literary Prize "Umbertide 25 aprile", another precious piece has been added this year to the history of our city and our people. In fact, a historical research on Alessandro Grelli, a Umbertidese of humble origins and noble sentiments, a volunteer of the International Brigades, who fell on the Ebro front in September 1938, while fighting against the threat of fascism which, within two years, would shock the whole world with the Second World War.

We therefore believe, by publishing the research, that we are fulfilling a civic duty, which we perform with great pleasure and with legitimate pride, in order to draw greater attention to this writing which removes a name from a corner of the atrium of the town hall and finally gives it a face and a human dimension.

The careful work of Prof. Maria Ernesta Menichetti Bianchi offers the opportunity to see the life and political path of our heroic and unknown fellow citizen reconstructed in a passionate and intelligent research punctually marked by references to interesting archive documents.

While we take note, with great pleasure, of the positive evaluation given to this work by the Commission of the Award and of the equally authoritative judgment expressed by Prof. Luciana Brunelli of the Institute for the History of Umbria, we express our deepest appreciation and thanks to the Author. She has given back to the light of knowledge the civil and political figure of the peasant-shoemaker of Romeggio, whose supreme sacrifice had been relegated to the cold memory of a commemorative plaque.

Alessandro Grelli, on the other hand, deserves to be remembered with warmer signs for the teaching he gave us with his short life, but no less rich in ideals. He represents the revolt of the poor.

The revolt of emigrants for work reasons who, in contact with previously unknown realities, arrive through political convictions to the concept of freedom, for which they do not hesitate, if necessary, to sacrifice their own existence.

The names of the Heroes are kept in the memory of their homelands to be pointed out, especially to young people who, opening up to life, need sure points of reference, witnessed truths, which enhance the spirit and make them aware of the priceless gift that Grelli, and many others like him have given us by bringing freedom back to our country.

Freedom to love and to defend as the most expensive good that man can ever possess.


Umbertide, April 1990



Mayor of Umbertide



President of the Socio-Cultural Center





If it is true, as Broué and Témine write, that "the intervention of foreign troops in favor of the Spanish republic, the aid brought in from abroad was, in the final analysis, only the sum of a series of individual contributions" , then this work by Nini Menichetti on Alessandro Grelli represents a precious contribution to the knowledge and reflection on that extraordinary political, social and cultural phenomenon that was the international volunteering in support of the Spanish republicans.

The interest of local scholars had hitherto been mainly directed to the most well-known characters of Umbrian anti-fascism - Mario Angeloni, Armando Fedeli, Carlo Farini, Leonida Mastrodicasa -, men who had a prominent role in the Spanish civil war and who were subsequently protagonists ( Farini and Fedeli) of the Resistance and Umbrian political life. Turning attention to the "minor" figures of the voluntary sector - which were numerous, about 80 Umbrian militiamen -, the emphasis inevitably shifts from the political aspects of the civil war to the more specifically social ones, connected to the exile and emigration of the years twenty and thirty, to the life of emigrants abroad, especially in that triangle of land that goes from France to Belgium to Luxembourg.

Still recently, historical and literary studies have underlined the importance of the 1930s in European political and cultural history, and in particular the originality of the French experience, a crossroads for masses of men, a melting pot of ideas and hopes during the exciting period of the Popular Front government chaired by Léon Blum. Alessandro Grelli was one of those men, whose life refers, as a prelude to his departure as a volunteer, to the great events and great movements within which motivations, ideas and ideals matured that brought thousands of men to fight and die in Spain.

The patient and intelligent work of Nini Menichetti consists precisely in weaving with very thin threads the weft of a life apparently without history, marked almost only by the fact that it ended in September of '38 fighting on the Ebro in Spain. It was not an easy search, in the shortage of documents and testimonies, in the poverty and partisanship of official sources. Little or nothing is known about Alessandro, his relatives and the village hardly remember him, the files in his name at the Perugia Police Headquarters and at the Central Political Casellario are too poor in information, even the plaque in his memory is inaccurate.

And then, in this situation, the author opens a dialogue, begins to question men and materials - the brothers, the papers, the photographs, the former Garibaldians - and finds a path, or rather many paths that from the sharecropping life of the Umbertidese in the 1920s they lead it to Alexander's death in Spain. Thus the research takes place along various paths - from the State Archives of Perugia to that of La Spezia to that of Salamanca - and, through forays into the lives of others, Grelli's life is also filled with events and characters. Characters who were protagonists of his "sentimental upbringing" - the landowner Ramaccioni, Aldina, the Communist Bertieri - or who shared emigration and the myth of Spain with him.

The rich apparatus of notes to the text shows us the many directions in which the research has opened and the multiplicity of materials necessary to approach the story of Alexander. Even those who have not directly measured themselves with the difficulties of historical research on the Spanish war, will be able to appreciate the complexity of the work, deriving not only from the limits of the official sources but also from those particular historical circumstances that require listening to many materials, of many and different stories and memories.

Grelli's life unfolds along a path that belonged to many of those who went to fight in Spain: the passage from the peasant condition to the hard experience of emigration, which was both defeat and emancipation, certainly was awareness, encounter, communication. , discovery. It must have been all this if - according to official papers -, emigrated in '30 with "attitudes in favor of the regime", in 1937 he had become "a dangerous Communist subversive". In Saint Laurent du Var in the Maritime Alps, a privileged destination for Umbrian emigration, Alessandro, together with the various fellow villagers who converged there, lived the decisive years of his training before leaving for Spain. Among the Umbrian antifascists who volunteered, the largest group is made up of men originating from the Umbertide-Città di Castello area, peasants who became cobblers, carpenters, bricklayers or even laborers in the gardens of southern France. The police reports themselves, through the dense network of informers of the regime, give us ample documentation of the solidarity towards the Spanish republicans which soon matured in emigration groups and in anti-fascist circles abroad. In following the history of these and Grelli, the work of Nini Menichetti, while also making us reflect on the different languages and the different attitudes that transpire from the official sources, fully gives us the sense of the drama and of the ideals that moved the men who, between '36 and '38, they went to fight and die in Spain.



Institute for the History of Umbria
















The years of anti-fascism, before and after 1926, and beyond, and of the Resistance, before and after 1943, were objects of study in historical works of a general nature, and in local or regional works, the latter useful. to bring movements and ideas of the past closer to the reality of the present, since they give voice and face to characters, sometimes just mentioned in the first ones, whose memory could be lost in the historical consciousness of today and of the future.

We have traced the story of ALESSANDRO GRELLI, precisely to save him from this fate. A "red militiaman" - nice qualification on the Franco side! - born in Umbertide in 1907, died in 1938, fighting on the Ebro. One of those anti-fascists who had volunteered to defend the young Spanish republic, having identified in Francisco Franco's plan the primary objective of defeating it, and the implicit purpose of launching an attack on anti-fascism, not only in Spain in the late 1930s. , but in the broader sphere of European and international politics.

The difficulties encountered in our research are evident from the subtle web of news, documents, information, which we have been able to access, which we give, schematically, below:

a - what memory of Alessandro Grelli are preserved in his hometown, his family, historical texts, the local press;

b - what information we have drawn from other sources, some of which have been consulted to no avail;

c - what news did the ex-Garibaldini of Spain, still alive, give us.


a - The Municipality of Umbertide keeps in the Registry the certification relating to the birth, the military conscription and the presumed death certificate. But he did not register any repatriations from France, which there were.

He entitled - we do not know on what date - in a suburban district, a street after his name, whose toponymic plaque does not offer the reader either a date or a historical reference.

He posted, on behalf of some citizens residing abroad, - we do not know on what date - a plaque in the hall of the municipal residence, with the following dedication:


To Alessandro Grelli

fallen fighting for the freedom of the Spanish people


The Umbertidesi democrats residing in Nice - Anti-Franco War 1936-1937 (1)










The historical archive of Umbertide has a material, poured there from various and interesting parts, not cataloged.

Two of Alessandro's brothers live in Umbertide, one of whom is just two years younger, Angelo born in 1926. They do not keep correspondence from France or Spain, which also came, at least from France, as is documented (2). They do not keep the memory of a name of one of those who temporarily repatriated brought them news, or of who brought them the saddest news. Among their scant and meager memories there are, however, some details that illuminated one or two points in Alessandro's life, up to 1933, the year of their mother's death. From that date on, the brothers have learned unpublished news and unknown to them, which we have gathered from the consultation of the file on the Grelli of the Perugia Police Headquarters and of the CPC file that the Ministry of the Interior has been forming, as soon as the political police realized that Alessandro was carrying out anti-fascist activities, and from the research we carried out, according to the itinerary of his stay abroad.

Rometti Clotide's historical work (3) dates back to 1954, citing Grelli among the Umbrians who fell in the Spanish War. He mentions him as Achille Grelli, that is, the nickname he brought from home and town (4) and which appears in a single official document, long after his death.

Among the memoirs written by veterans from Spain, only the exhaustive work of the Garibaldian Giacomo Calandrone (5) mentions the name of Alessandro Grelli among those who died in the bloody days of the offensive on the Ebro, in a very numerous list.

The vintages of "The Claim", a large-format four-page weekly (6), founded by the socialists in 1902, in Città di Castello, suppressed by fascism in 1921, offered material for the reconstruction of the historical and political context of Upper Tiber Valley, where the birthplace of Grelli stands.


b - The fundamental and irreplaceable source for our research is constituted by the archives, of which we give a list, which respects the significance, from a historical point of view, of the documents coming from them:

- Central State Archives and State Archives of Perugia which preserve the first file of the Central Political Casellario on Alessandro Grelli and many of his friends and acquaintances (7), the second the file of the Perugia Police Headquarters;

- State Archives of La Spezia which preserves the documentation of an exile from Sarzana whom Grelli met in France and whose political activity carried out even before emigration in La Spezia (8);

- Current archives of the Provincial Directorate of the Treasury of Perugia, and of the Directorate General of the Treasury of Rome which have provided the complete dossier of the pension procedure authorized to Abramo Grelli for the death in combat of his son, which contains the exclusive documentation of the circumstances of the death of Alexander (9);

- Archive of the AICVAS which does not have relevant historical and documentary material, as occurs for the Archive of the Regional Institute of the Resistance of Bologna (10), in which the former Garibaldi Brotherhood of Spain has poured its material, when it merged into AICVAS;

- Archivo Historico Nacional, Seccion Guerra Civil, Salamanca wanted by Franco in the 40s, responds to the desire to document the participation of Spain in the defeat of the Republic with particular emphasis on high military ranks and exclusion of low military roles, and, obviously, neglecting the presence of those who were considered the "red killers". However, the material stored in Sect. of the Civil War is so large (n.5598 very consistent dossiers (carpetas)) and flanked by inventories that refer region by region to the places where the Francoist front was present and moved, that it would deserve a prolonged examination, not experienced by us, also a little discouraged by the assurances of the Archive staff, who have been helpful and generous with us, and whom we warmly thank here, in the people of Maria Pilar Raulì Lopez and Gregorio Redondo. They, while accompanying us in our research, told us "esto senor no tenemo nada" (11).

We quote, in alphabetical order, the sources consulted to no avail:

- ANPI, General Committee of Bologna (Archive); Current archives of the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Defense (12);

- École Frangaise, Rome;

- Mairie de Saint-Laurent du Var, Alpes Maritimes (France);


c - We had the opportunity to meet the ex-Garibaldini of Spain still alive (13) by participating in "Jornades internacionales por la Pau y la Libertat y la Democracia, 1938-1988", organized by the Catalan Coordinadora d'associations de ex combatentes de la Repubblica and which took place in Barcelona on 28, 29, 30 October 1988. We asked many present, who were almost seven hundred, - French, Spanish, Americans, Belgians, Irish, English, Jews of various nationalities, etc. - news from Grelli.

Nobody knew him, nobody remembers him. The Italian fighters on the Ebro do not remember him and neither does Ferrer Visentini who, in the form compiled by the former Garibaldini Brotherhood of Spain, is indicated as the one who "denounces" the death of Grelli, together with family members.

From the years following the end of the war to 1942, the Ossuary Tower of Zaragoza-Casa degli Italiani collects the remains of all those who died in Spain. By virtue of this homologation between anti-Francoists and Francoists, on which we do not allow, there are the names of the fallen of the International Brigades, including that of Alessandro Grelli, who here has his plate marked with a lowercase BI (14).










In the cemetery of Fuencarall, in Madrid, a large plaque, discovered only in 1986, commemorates the fallen anti-Francoists, with the following inscription: "Volunteers of the International Brigades, fallen as heroes, for the freedom of the Spanish people, the prosperity and well-being of 'Humanity".

In October 1988, on the aforementioned occasion, the "David y Goliat" monument to the memory of the fallen belonging to the BI ranks was discovered in Barcelona in the presence of the BI volunteers, gathered from all the countries. The monument was donated by the SCWHS. We wait for the municipality of Umbertide to complete the toponymy plaque headed to Grelli, specifying:

"Red militiaman, who fell as an anti-fascist on the Ebro front, September 1938",

as a reminder to remember a protagonist of a historical period and an idea not to be archived.



(1) The only date indicated on the tombstone is wrong. In fact, the anti-Franco war ended in 1939. The dates of the death of the fallen and the posting of the plaque are missing, certainly after 2 June 1948, given the presence of the coat of arms of the Italian Republic that frames the plaque.

(2) ASP, Inv. Quest. fasc. Grelli Alessandro. The CCRR of Città di Castello affirm this in 1938.

(3) ROMETTI CLOTIDE, Sixty years of Socialism in Upper Umbria and Italy, Città di Castello, Il Solco, 1954, p. 132.

(4) It was not the "battle name", but the nickname he bore from Romeggio, clearly remembered by his younger brother, Angelo, who still today speaks of his brother with the nickname "Achillino".

(5) CALANDRONE GIACOMO, Spain burns, Garibaldi Chronicles, 1st Edition, 1962. Consulted in the AICVAS library.

(6) BCC, "The Claim", 1906-1921.

(7) The CPC dossier of Grelli Alessandro in ACS is the one formed by Sect. I of the Ministry of the Interior Div. PS Affari Gen. Ris. The one kept in ASP is formed by the Perugia police headquarters. The ACS dossier is more

interesting, because it offers material that does not appear in the file of the Perugia Police Headquarters, relating to the date of Grelli's departure for Spain, and other details.

(8) ASLS, Leva Office Fund of the Municipality of Sarzana for the year 1892, Bertieri Giovanni Tomaso Nello registration number, 1912; ibid., Fondo Prefettura de La Spezia, Cabinet Series, envelope 7 file 16 "Report dated 17/6/1921 by the Official Deputy Commissioner of PS di Sarzana regarding the events that occurred on 12, 13 June 1921, on the occasion of the raid fascist of Sarzana, upon notification of 13 June by the Mayor and the Councilors Calderini and Bertieri.

(9) We thank the Provincial Directorate of the Treasury of Perugia and the Directorate General of the Treasury of Rome, and we are pleased to have arrived, just in time to consult very important documents, for the purposes of this biography, before the expiry of the current archives.

(10) IRB, sheet by Grelli Alessandro (Achille). It contains an inaccuracy relating to the paternity of Grelli (of Alberto, but of Abraham), and of his residence abroad (Nice, but St. Laurent du Var). Participation in the II Garibaldi Battalion is not completed by the indication of the Company. The death - according to the file - "is reported by Visentini and his family". We interviewed Ferrer Visentini - author of a beautiful memoir on the war in Spain - who does not remember meeting Alessandro Grelli. The family members were unable to "report" the death of their relative for two reasons: because they were unaware of the fate of Alexander, and because it was the former Garibaldi Brotherhood of Spain that gave them the news. We will talk later about the photographs that remain of Grelli, but we want to immediately realize that the photograph stored in the file we are talking about does not appear in the files, neither in ASP nor in ACS CPC. It is a mugshot, according to the rules dictated by the Circ. of the File Service, namely: a face photograph, a profile photograph and a three-quarter profile photograph. In fact, Grelli is portrayed here in this last pose, in a tie, in hair, and shows an age that must have slightly preceded his departure for Spain, which took place, as we will say, in 1936, when he was 29 years old.

(11) Ministerio de Cultura, Archivo Historico Nacional, Seccion «Guerra civil», 37001 Salamanca (E). We share the pessimism on Grelli, but not for a research on the presence of BI, supported by some titles, which were quickly glimpsed in Salamanca, such as: «Milicia POUM»; "Regiment Milicia popular"; "Prisioneros"; "Secret service"; "Milicia los Comuneros"; "Army rojo" ("el Campesino"), etc. Other archives can be consulted in Valencia, in Castellon and mainly the "Archivo Historico Militar" in Madrid, the material of which refers mainly to the personnel of the armed forces, police and carabinieri who remained framed in the republican area, for the purpose of recognition of their service.

(12) The current archives of the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of the Interior should have kept the minutes of the "Interministerial Commission for the formation and reconstitution of death and birth certificates

not drawn up or lost or destroyed by war ». It is this Commission that drew up the certificate of "presumed death" of Grelli, on 16 October 1957, deposited, according to the explicit declaration of the same Commission, in the aforementioned archives. All our research carried out through institutional and private channels was useless.

(13) We interviewed Fucile Domenico, who is the only Umbrian Garibaldian still alive, on the verge of turning ninety. He remembers nothing of Grelli and the years of the Spanish War. He enjoys repetitively telling an anecdote, which refers to the circumstances of his enlistment. The Rifle, a little by convincing, a little by challenging, was able to encourage about forty men, Italian and French, to leave volunteers. Therefore the departure was commented, alluding to the surname of the leader, "The rifles are leaving"!

(14) How aberrant this homologation was and still is, results from the thought of a visitor to the Torre Ossario in Zaragoza who "thanks the fallen for having given us forty years of happiness and peace, fighting Marxism".




Head of Alessandro Grelli's family was Abraham, born in Umbertide in 1878, where his parents had immigrated from Monte Tezio, married to Maria Ercolanelli, and died in 1957 (1).

They had raised a large family, Maria and Abraham, an ordinary circumstance among the settlers, who thought of working arms rather than mouths to feed: Alessandro born on 27/10/1907 was the second child, preceded by Fenenne (1906) and followed by Giovanni (1909) and by Angelo (1921) living; followed by Adolfo (1923) and Gina (1926). Carlo and Sabina were born and died respectively in 1914 and 1919, the years of the Spanish.











Abraham was a partial settler and went to work for the day, as a laborer, wherever he happened to be. He lived with his five brothers, who in turn, except one, had a wife and children, in the Parish of S. Giuliano di Umbertide, voc. Box no. 487, Frazione Romeggio, Villa Corradi, and subsequently, after the birth of Giovanni, he had moved to Villa Pantano, still in the same hamlet, where with the whole tribe, about thirty souls, he could enjoy a better income with a farm in thirty-five hectares, working and wooded altogether. These are not the data just mentioned, taken from the tax register, but learned from the brothers, Giovanni and Angelo, who gave us news, reported episodes and memories, which we will promptly report gradually.









The Marquis Liborio Marignoli was the owner of those lands assigned to his ancestors, three centuries earlier, by the Spanish rulers, for military merits.

Contact between the colonists and the marquis was neither direct nor frequent and everything was done by the farmer who demanded half of the harvest from the Grelli - wheat, maize, grapes, tobacco -. Furthermore, from the partial share of the settler, a percentage was removed for sowing, and for the fertilizer, estimated by Giovanni at around 30%, while the owner never punctually paid the money corresponding to half of the expenditure necessary for the threshing - wheat, corn, seeds - just as he never paid the money for verdigris and sulfur, in compensation for the manual labor that the settler took on.

The master kept the animals, paid us the taxes, and the land taxes were his responsibility. Still in the 10s of the century, however, there was still discussion on the payment of cures for the diseases of animals and the serious dispute had not been concluded.

According to Giovanni's estimate, the Romeggio farm produced 15 quintals of wheat per hectare, so he had 150 quintals left, enough for bread and cake, but the beans were necessary to supplement. The side dish - the pork belonged entirely to the owner - consisted of "cooked grass", cod, salty because it was cheaper, and herring. These foodstuffs, together with salt and sugar - oil was replaced by lard - were paid for in kind at the shop, mainly with eggs. In conclusion - Giovanni admits - we ate, but did not dress, evaluating the situation at the time with current parameters.

The houses, even when they were discreet, were very bad - we read in the local newspapers of the time (2) - a bedroom, including that of the spouses, even housed four people, who, after the short vigils in front of the fire, stretched out on straw straws of maize leaves, placed on four wooden boards or on metal nets.

In April 1911 the battle for the improvement of the Colonial Pacts, carried out by the League of Peasants, among which those of Lama had distinguished, still dealt with the "colonial accounts", which had been the banner of the historic strike of 1906 : that the accounts had to be cleared year by year; that "if the owner keeps part of the credit to secure the livestock" "the interest on the money withheld had to be paid to the farmer" (3).

Abraham was illiterate, but he sent all his children to school, even the girls, up to the third grade, in the schools set up in the rural hamlets and then in Umbertide - an hour away, from the farm - where they could obtain the elementary school certificate (4 ).

Alessandro, according to the personal data sheet (5), had done up to the third grade. However, the news provided by the Military District, that he had obtained the elementary license up to the 6th class, is reliable. In support of this, the testimony of his brother who says: "he was very good at school, he was a genius."

At home - Giovanni continues - we never got a hint of what was being said outside or written in the newspapers; as, for example, we insinuate - that still in 1911 people were forced to become aware of their rights and not to follow the priest "the eternal enemy of those who work and produce", "who condemns the struggle of the peasants" and " it organizes the colonial circles "" to maintain the political dominion of the masters "(6).

The Grellis had not listened to, and perhaps had not wanted to hear, these and other exhortations and had never been approached by the organizers of the Leagues and

Cooperatives. They lived their lives with precise points of reference: work, necessary to live, and, at some time of the year, to survive; the call to arms, under the feared control of the Arma Station stationed in the village, the relations between the sexes, necessary to increase hands in the fields, for housekeeping, and, perhaps, for a wise and kind female presence; and, first of all, the parish priest, the church, of which the Grelli women, vestals of the most rigorous Catholic observance, - as John says - were devoted faithful.

During his childhood, neither at home nor at school, he heard Alessandro talk about events and facts that will take weight in his adult life: some, such as the expulsion of Benito Mussolini, in 1914, from the Socialist Party, of which the local newspaper spoke. , they slip away because of his very tender age. But he was a little older when his father and his uncles Annibale and Natalino left for the war and he could have understood something about the dispute about the appropriateness of Italian intervention in the immense conflict, a dispute that, in reality, at home. Grelli, did not take place at all.

Having become a teenager, he had no better opportunity to become aware of the news that reached Romeggio faded, on the occasion, for example, of the elections of 1921, preceded by an electoral campaign in which fascist violence had also been active in Umbria (7), or of serious events that took place in the nearby Perugia, so serious as to bring fascism to power.













In 1924 he still did not have the right to vote, which he will never exercise, being that of 1924 the last electoral consultation authorized by the fascist dictatorship, which had it carried out under the surveillance of the MVSN soldiers, who presided over seats and favored fraud. For Alessandro, the days spent working in the fields and the winter evenings were endless.

He could not be happy or satisfied with this life, with that "gang", "comrade", "cheerful", "expansive", "always in good humor, very healthy, very intelligent" temperament described by Angelo. He loved friends - Giovanni insists - he liked girls, he loved to dress well, but ... at least he never had a few cents in his pocket!

Alessandro thought for himself to get out of this situation, giving proof of a transgressive will, this first time towards the owner, who, informed by the farmer, reluctantly saw Alessandro absent himself from the fields and go to the village to learn the trade of shoemaker in the shop of the "poor Giuliano", which he reached on foot in the suburb of Borgiacca on the outskirts of Umbertide.

This first gesture of independence, very important in itself because it made him change his social status, will be followed by others, in Grelli's private and public life, around which we will have the opportunity to speak at length, and from which Alessandro is characterized as a nonconformist, a curious man eager for experience, courageous, even reckless. It will turn out that this is not a psychological interpretation of the character, but an evaluation of the character and his temperament, as transpired by events and concrete facts.

The brothers tell us that, while working as a shoemaker, he had met Mr. Luigi Ramaccioni, owner of a large estate bordering that of the partial regime of the Grelli, older than twenty years, with whom he had formed a great friendship. Not an anti-fascist - Giovanni specifies - like those he will meet in France - we add - but a fascist, albeit a moderate one, neither relentless nor troubled.

In our opinion, the passage of the biographical notes drawn up by the CCRR of Città di Castello, based on direct information from the Umbertide Station (8), derives from this friendship, which does not hide from anyone: "he did not have a PNF card, but showed attitudes in favor of the regime ”, referring to his political conduct before his expatriation.

Without excluding the hypothesis, however fragile, that Alessandro simulated, it seems to us that the CCRR interpret a fact that refers to the late 1930s, with the experience and perspective of the year in which the biographical note was drafted, that is nine years later, expanding it enormously and coloring it with meanings suggested a posteriori.

But there are other reasons for not agreeing with the carabinieri on a "pro-fascist phase" in Grelli's life, even if, if it were proved to be authentic, it would not constitute a fact to be scandalized, considering the uncertainty and even the confusion of the times, the subordination of the lower classes to intellectuals, and the inadequacy of their means of orientation and critical tools.

The CCRR give the fact, which was certainly to their knowledge, a bureaucratic evaluation, without describing and circumscribing it: we try to highlight in Alessandro's frequentation with Mr. Ramaccioni not so much the political aspect, but the realization of a personal relationship, which came to the great advantage of Alessandro.

The relationship between the young ex-peasant shoemaker and the rich and educated adult owner was not equal in many respects, almost all of which can be understood. But Alessandro could be led to nod and perhaps agree to things he had never heard before, which fascinated him, on topics that opened up horizons that were unexpected compared to the air he breathed at home. If Ramaccioni, without making rowdy propaganda, but persuasively, as Giovanni assures us, had spoken to his young shoemaker friend, for example, about the economic program of fascism which presented captivating aspects on the worker and peasant side - we mention the reduction of working hours in factory and the tax on the capital of the "medieval barons" - could Alexander have guessed the demagogic implications? (9)

We would say no, at least in the days of Romeggio! Times in which Alexander absorbed information and news but had not yet made political ideas, as he did

say the RACs. Who, making assessments of this kind, which are not infrequent, thought they were rendering a service to the filed for which a pro-fascist past could constitute a positive precedent and lightened, indeed canceled, any responsibility of their investigative role, for the time in which they had had it under their control.

The period of Alessandro's military detention (10) then opens and he spends in Modena, in an environment that was perhaps not only dominated by the military bureaucracy. We say it was influenced by the passage in that military milieu of a Perugian who fell in Spain (11) and assuming that Grelli had already acquired some valid tool for looking around. We do not have any documents of the period and therefore we know nothing official, except that the Royal Quaestor of Perugia twice asked about the behavior of the infantryman Alessandro Grelli. We do not know if the Royal Quaestor had particular reasons for doing so and we believe that the failure to reply means that everything was regular, or simply a bureaucratic inefficiency. It appears, in fact, that Alexander regularly spent his months as a soldier, sixteen months, excluding the training period that preceded the "call to arms" (12).

A postcard-size photograph of Alessandro in uniform is preserved in his file. We offered it in photocopy to the brothers who, not knowing it, received it with emotion, crying and kissing it (13).

Alexander is portrayed in a soldier's uniform with the envelope on his head, in a "rest" position,

with the right arm resting on a perforated wooden shelf that supports a

vase of flowers, between the fingers of the hand the cigarette and the left arm on the side. It's the classic

photo to send to his girlfriend, to whom to ask for the complicity of being considered

not the freshman soldier, but a boy, indeed a man, easygoing, like

they say all the details, scarcely martial - the cigarette, the hand on the hip, the body

lithe, together with the flowers on the "good room" shelf -. The brothers reciprocate mine

gift with a photograph received from France and which appears in the bulletin of the RF (14).

Grelli is more years old, and a virile and determined expression, underlined by mature features

of the face. In hair, and the shirt open on the chest, in the casual French fashion, denotes

greater awareness, which is neither new nor in contradiction with the photography of

Modena. A little more mature, in a tie, Grelli appears in a third photograph, as

already mentioned (15).

The bureaucratic, hasty and distracted description that the

Regia Questura makes him at the moment of expatriation, in which the only particular apt

it is the "bass". In fact, the Grelli was just one and a half centimeters higher than the minimum required

to be "skilled enlisted".

On the period of Alexander's life that elapses between the military leave - early days of

September 1928 - and the date of expatriation, which is no earlier than the date of issue of the

passport - October 1930 - a span of just over two years - sheds light on the

testimony of John. Who says: «Before the official expatriation, Alessandro

went to France clandestinely, reaching the Ventimiglia border by train,

where he entrusted himself to expert people, indeed in charge of the need, who accompanied him, partly on foot and partly on mules along the paths and passes of the Maritime Alps, up to France. During this trip - continues Giovanni - he stopped in Florence in Via della Scala, at the Engineers Regiment, where I was a soldier ».

The memory of Giovanni is reflected in his military registration number which shows that he arrived in Florence on 28/4/1930 (16).

Therefore Alessandro's Florentine stage can be dated not before the end of April, but not after the end of October, the date of issue of the passport.

Why was Alexander going so adventurously to France? Giovanni knows: it was a love escape! Alexander - as his temperament requires - went to join his girlfriend, Aldina, who was expatriated to France with her whole family (17).

The motivation confided to his brother in Florence was verifiable in the real circumstance. Other reasons, in concurrence with the sentimental ones, had to be kept silent by him: he could not manifest his own, even generic desire to escape from the family; political motivations, unlikely at the moment, but not to be absolutely ruled out, it would have been better not to even talk in the air.

He did not stay in France for long, not only because his love story did not lead to marriage - Alexander died celibate - but because his fellow countrymen, political emigrants, may have advised him not to stay one more day abroad, without documents. , where he would run a hundredfold risks compared to those, already very serious, that expatriates in good standing with their passport ran.

And in fact, having completed his military service, in 1930 he obtained a passport valid for one year, and regularly expatriated "for work" for France.

At this point, two periods in Alexander's biography open, the one relating to his stay in France, until 1936, and the dramatically shorter one of his enlistment in the red militias of the «Garibaldi» Brigade, in the Laroche Group.

The one and the other period will be treated separately on the basis of the documentation obtained in the file in his name by the Regia Questura of Perugia and in the CPC file, of which the brothers do not even exist.

Before becoming Giovanni and Angelo's informants, we want to report what they replied to us on issues concerning their brother, but also general aspects common to many emigrants:

- what relations existed between the Grelli family and the Umbertide CCRR, considered as the first link in the chain of investigators;

- what memories do the Grellis retain from the French period of their brother's emigration, and subsequently from Spain.

The carabinieri of Umbertide, who depended directly on the Tenenza di Città di Castello, never showed up either to ask for news or to give it. The information could not have been obtained from the family, since - the carabinieri well knew - they were either liars, or reticent, unreliable and misleading, even in the face of a sincere "we know nothing".

As we shall see, "confidential" or "trustworthy" information was important and fundamental.

On the other hand, the carabinieri never said anything to the family. Yet they had learned some good things about him: "subversive anti-fascist", "communist to be arrested at the border", "red militiaman in the ranks of the army, in Spain", where there was a war, all the more serious and compromising, how much more unknown! But, did the Grellis ever know something that the CCRR did not know, and that not even the secret police would ever find out? At least in three cases: Alexander's first clandestine emigration; the trip of Abraham who had gone to visit his son in France, reporting excellent news about the Cordonnerie (18) the shoe shop he had opened, to the point that he urged his brothers to join him to collaborate with the four workers already hired; and, finally, the clandestine repatriation of Alexander due to the death of his mother (19), of a very short duration and of which we can establish the exact date (20).

The brothers gladly return to 1933, when Alessandro, clandestinely crossing the Maritime Alps, had come to greet his sick mother and had arrived in time to see her dead, an extreme sign of the deep family bond that united the Grellis among them, for which, even Today Alexander is remembered by them with a fraternal affection that has priority over the pride and pride of a brother "who died as a hero for freedom".

Since the death of their mother, the Grellis have not known anything about their brother: we anticipate them that there were political reasons that led Alessandro to silence, also belatedly discovered by the police.

The family - not a suspect, but an intuition - was convinced that Alexander was in France exclusively for work, and did not ask too many questions about his expired passport or about other details they learned superficially and almost indistinctly.

Grelli's life, not limited to his first period, which we have dealt with, but relative to his entire arc, together with the historical approach deserves an epic evocation. Instead we must conclude with the squalid episode of the "package" we learned in the conversation with the brothers.

Says Angelo, the younger brother: after the war in Spain - the chronological confirmation does not emerge - we received a postcard from the Post Office of the Umbertide station to collect a package from France. Father and John went there - therefore before 1957, the date of Abraham's death -. They were told that the package had already been collected. They did not protest, they did not investigate, and perhaps, Angelo concludes, they did wrong! Giovanni nods and comments: «There was certainly no money in that package! Why go and steal it? It was someone who agreed with the Railways ». From that "someone", neither an indiscretion nor an allusion is derived. We insinuate that perhaps there were those in town who wanted them badly, and that perhaps it was the fascists who eliminated that one concrete sign of the past of their political adversary.

John closes in a silence, from which we are able to understand a profound pain, resigned and powerless.



(1) MU, Registry Office, Abramo di Agostino and Bussotti Filomena was born in Umbertide on 6 / XII / 1878, married to Ercolanelli Maria in 1906 and widowed in 1933.

(2) BCC, «The Claim», cit., Year 1907.

(3) BCC, «The Claim», cit., Years 1906 and 1911.

(4) BCC, "The Vindication", cit., Year 1913. It had been a successful campaign of the Socialist Party which had fought since the early years of the century for elementary education, for an adequate preparation of the teachers and for the establishment of school sponsorships.

(5) MU, Matricular Role Register 62, Matric. 535, Alessandro Grelli. On 23/10/1926 there is the military visit: he is "skilled enlisted" he can read and write, 6th grade, "stature m. 57.50 ". Recalled to arms, arrived in Modena at the 36th Infantry Regiment on 30th - 4th - 1927, discharged by the same on 2/9/1928 - Ibid, Population Register, Grelli appears to have attended only up to the third grade.

(6) BCC, «The Claim», cit., Year 1911.

(7) BCC, «The Claim», cit., Year 1920.

(8) ASP, Inv. Quest., Fasc. Grelli Alessandro cit.

(9) BIANCHI ANTONIO, Social struggles and dictatorship, in historical Lunigiana and Versilia, (1919-1930), Florence, Leo S. Loschki, 1981.

(10) See no. 5.

(11) We refer to Mario Angeloni.

(12) See no. 5.

(13) ASP, Inv. Quest., Fasc. Grelli Alessandro. The photo was taken in Modena by Foto Insvardi Via S. Michele Modena -. It is therefore not the Grelli who supplied it to the CCRR, which perhaps managed to obtain it for other channels. The photo was very important for the registration in the BR.

(14) ACS, Grelli Alessandro, CPC. The report in the BR is not contained in ASP, Inv. Quest., Grelli Alessandro, cit.

(15) IRB, card by Alessandro Grelli, of which we mentioned in the Introduction.

(16) MU, Registry Office, Register of Matricular Role Giovanni Grelli Matric. 10290 Corps Engineers Regiment. Giovanni passed the visit at the end of 1928 and "called to arms" reached the Genius on 24/4/1930.

(17) Aldina's surname is uncertain and confused in Giovanni's memory. The records of the population of Umbertide from the 10th century have not given any confirmation following a search on the name «Aldina». It is clear that his family was not registered in the registry of Umbertide.

(18) ASP, Inv. Quest., Fasc. Grelli Alessandro. The CCRR speak about the footwear industry installed in St. Laurent, providing the Police Headquarters with the address “Cordonnerie de Puget. St. Laurent du Var ”and the brothers told us that business was going well for Alexander.

(19) MU, Population register 1933, Maria Ercolanelli died on 20/02/1933 in Umbertide.

(20) Alexander immediately returned to France, after the funeral and therefore on February 22 or 23 he was traveling again. We deduce it from a curious tale by Angelo: when he returned here for the death of his mother Achillino - it was

this, as we know, the nickname with which Alexander was usually called - he did not want to sleep the first evening under the same roof as the deceased, because he would be forced to sleep there for nine days. This is so as not to "disturb" the dead woman. Achillino-Alessandro slept in a neighbor's house and then left long before the nine days were up.

Il simbolo ritrovato - I La vita di Grelli fino all'espatrio



The file of the Perugia sul Grelli police headquarters contains five photographs (1) and forty-seven papers, from 1936 to 1951.

Do not think, however, that the Regia Questura of Perugia and the other police bodies have dealt with Grelli for fifteen consecutive years. There are only nine years (2) that date ordinary certificates, forms, bulletins and printed matter of the File Service, and the various correspondence, letters, confidential and highly confidential, registered in double envelopes, service tickets, telegraphic circulars, telespress, etc. Only three years refer to Grelli still alive (1936, 1937, 1938). The following years (1939, 1940, 1941, 1942) attest to the useless search by the police, the town of birth and the carabinieri, about the fate of Grelli, while the last year revolves around the suspicion of the disappearance of Grelli, who however it is not officially documented.

Grelli's dossier, already modest as a volume, is therefore chronologically reduced with respect to the emigration period (1930-1938), spent partly in France and partly in Spain, and is limited in content, as there is no living presence of the Grelli, what could it be, eg. a letter from him intercepted on departure or arrival. The dossier on Grelli, of which we give an analytical confirmation in the appendix (3), however, contains a precious indirect reference to a person whom he met in France, who, as we will say, illuminates his political story of Grelli.

A copy of the Grelli dossier can also be consulted at the Central Archives of the Central Political State Records Office, Ministry of the Interior Division I CPC Service. It offers more detailed documentation about Grelli's departure for Spain and other substantial details that will be very useful to us.

On the outer cover, in thin yellow-orange paper, common to all the files of the Perugia Police Headquarters, his name, surname and paternity stand out in calligraphy, and, in indelible ink, the wording "filed" stands out. Two essential notes follow: «Communist ex militiaman red», as a political qualification, and the indication of the inscription in BR, and in RF «for arrest», ordered by the Ministry of the Interior (4).

In the month of July 1936 two letters, which follow one another after a single day, arrive, one to the Ministry in Rome and PC to the Royal Prefect of Perugia, and the other to the Royal Quaestor of Perugia. The sender of the first letter is the Royal Prefect of La Spezia; who writes to the Quaestor is the UPI of the Command of the 102nd Legion MVSN, stationed in Perugia (5). The subject of the two letters is identical: Grelli is a "subversive and anti-fascist" who works with a very dangerous individual from Sarzana - the reference to the latter is exclusive to the letter that arrives from La Spezia - and with three other Umbrians, the whose names are communicated by both letters. The senders declare that they have received Grelli's report from a "trust source", that is, from the secret police.

Therefore, Grelli has been "discovered", and from this moment the formation of his dossier starts, and is "filed" in Cat. A / lett. 8 of the R. Questura of Perugia, which will keep the Public Security Division of the Ministry of the Interior informed step by step (6).

Both the Prefect of La Spezia and the UPI of the MVSN are recommended that the four reported to be denied the "repatriation" permit and that investigations be carried out for their identification.

From the first card, which is precisely the first letter mentioned above, to the last card, the dossier on Grelli becomes for us the testimony of the intertwining of investigations and searches of the police and his life as an emigrant, politically engaged; as a tacit challenge between the police and the anti-fascist, won, in the years preceding 1936, by Grelli. The sign is in this long news gap from about 1930 to 1936, a period in which he managed not to be discovered. The delay is not an exclusive detail of Grelli's biography: it was generally a few years before the police discovered anti-fascists abroad. But it also took a little luck and a lot of forethought to get away with spies, and Alessandro knew how to give himself the image of an individual on the margins of politics, fully occupied as was shown in the Cordennerie, from which perhaps he was making money for the cause as well. He was, in essence, a modest character, whose natural gifts, borrowed from his peasant origin, had been difficult to guess: to make it in spite of the master.

We will see, however, that there is a document that illustrates the period that remained obscure for the investigators (7).

Grelli's report is very serious and heavy, because it is circumstantial: he put up with a person in sight, emigrated for several years, a thoroughbred propagandist, well-known in his homeland and in France, head of a group that does "deleterious work" in against his compatriots, managing to win the fascists themselves against anti-fascism. Which, while wanting to "keep good Italians" - which means to remain fascist! - were influenced by the strength of his propaganda.

There were three Umbrians in the group, as we have already said, two of whom were fellow villagers, natives of San Giustino, inhabitants of St. Laurent du Var, a bricklayer and a carpenter, and both Communists 8. The third Umbrian reported, who a handwritten note in the letter from the UPI of the Militia declares that he had been suspended since 1930, deserves a separate discussion (9).

The immediate effect of the report was to be the obvious and somewhat obvious denial of the repatriation permit and mainly the initiation of the "identification" investigations. The commissioner, who does not know anything about it, consulted the CCRR of Città di Castello, who promptly transmit the information received from the Umbertide Arma Station. The content of the information is favorable to Grelli and the tone used by the informants is decidedly benevolent: Grelli has maintained good moral, political and civil conduct - note the exhaustive adjective of all, absolutely all, aspects of behavior; he has no criminal record and no ongoing pending with the carabinieri of Umbertide - in this matter it is always better to abound in the specification. However, as surprised by the anti-fascist report, they declare that Grelli, despite not being a member of the PNF, showed favorable sentiments. As for expatriation, he was regular "for work", with a passport issued by the commissioner himself. They attach the photograph and describe the features.

It is not infrequent to find muted tones in the information of the carabinieri, while other police bodies often look for a way to slander the filed, with an apparently banal detail, sometimes with a real slander. The behavior of the Carabinieri of Città di Castello seems to conceal the concern of being held responsible for not having recognized Grelli as an anti-fascist, as was later "reported" in France. For this reason they accentuate and underline the positive things they can say about him, which is perhaps partly authentic, but a little ostentatious (10).

We add that their benevolence results in other circumstances: they do not respond to the repeated requests of the commissioner who wants to know how Grelli behaved during his military service; they are careful not to fill in the finca prepared in the biographical form (1939) for the names of the officials or agents who had known him: yet, if they had known him! Finally, they close in silence when they are questioned (1949) by the commissioner on the advisability of revoking Grelli from the group of subversives of the province.

We approve of them, adding that ten years after their death it seems unlikely that the police station still knows nothing!

The information requested from the CCRR reaches Rome in the first days of January 1937 (1937).

From this date, the file does not indicate a document, a form, or a letter. This was not due to bewilderment (11).

At the beginning of the second half of the year a telegraphic circular arrives (1937) sent to the Royal Prefect of Perugia and to all the Prefects of the Kingdom, signed by Bocchini Fr. the Minister, with confidential news: Grelli enlisted in the Spanish red militias (12). The news is given in a spectacular way: the postal vehicle is not of ordinary administration; the secret police are present in the use of the conditional "would have enlisted"; the barrage of repressive measures against Grelli acquires drama in the long sequence: he is arrested "returning to the kingdom"; RF and BR be entered, with photograph; a reserved control of correspondence directed to family members is ordered "to ascertain remittances of money from red aid".

This is, therefore, the year in which the police report a relative success with an explosive news on Grelli's account - we will see that the chronology is not exact - and in which the repression is relentless with the means that are their own.

Ten letters and three modules, concentrated in just over a month - from 19 July to 14 August (1937) -. Seven times the commissioner is the sender and fulfills all the tasks entrusted by the minister. In less than a week he fills out the form for reporting a person to be searched, which should be accompanied by a photograph that the carabinieri sent him the year before.

But the Royal Quaestor is lost, so he must have recourse to the Scientific Cabinet of the Terni Police Headquarters for reproduction, which, this time, has a large number of them done, now uselessly (1937).

Inside the year there is even the ticket removed from the RF, where Grelli is described as a "dangerous communist", to be arrested. (1937).

The year 1938, on the other hand, consists of a single card (1938), coming from the Quaestor's Cabinet: "The Grelli fighter or suspected fighter in the ranks of the Red Army" was inserted in October 1938 in the Cat. A / 9 , which is the category of the red militiamen. In accordance with the date that the card bears, 1938, we have placed it in its natural place, while in the file it has a location on card 1, that is, after the last documents of the file (1951).

The silence of the investigators does not derive from their knowledge of what had happened and was happening in Spain, where Alexander had now fallen into the rage of the attack on the Ebro and for a few days he had missed the withdrawal of the Garibaldini - la despedida - episode painful, but not inglorious, also agreed with the consent of the republican government and the League of Nations. Rather, it must be linked to a crisis of consensus towards fascism. In fact, public opinion had come to acknowledge the warmongering and repressive aspect of the regime - War of Africa and racial laws - and the investigators themselves seem to suffer a decline in motivation in carrying out their tasks.

We have already detected some stretch marks and we continue to note that the certificate of the Criminal Record was requested only in 1939 (1939). Furthermore, the delay in acquiring such a document denounces the gap between the regime police and the ordinary judiciary. And it is surprising that the Questura starts all over again with the request for the birth certificate (1939) and the address abroad, when this documentation had been acquired three years earlier (1936). The drafting of the biographical card which took place belatedly (1939) brings the news of the "emigration from red Spain" and of the "confinement".

Emigration from Spain and confinement that do not find any confirmation in the history of Grelli, nor in archival documents.

In the years 1940, 1941, and the first quarter of 1942, the commissioner is busy searching for Grelli and continues to send updates to the Ministry of the Interior of Grelli's residence abroad, which he takes for granted, asserting "nothing to report". Only once (1939) does he confess that "there is no news"; some doubts assailed him in 1941. Realizing, during the review of the Political Record, that Grelli is no longer reported, he asked the CCRR of Città di Castello for information on moral conduct, but "especially political" held "before today". He still asks for his address and the carabinieri (1939) reply that they do not know, because no more correspondence arrives either to friends or relatives "from here", that is to say from Umbertide. In this same circumstance the carabinieri choose not to pronounce themselves - as already mentioned - on the advisability of the revocation of Grelli from the list of subversives of the province. Completely insignificant is the duplication of the biographical card in 1942 (1942) which, moreover, does not have a comma more than the first edition (1939), if not the updates referred to in the years 1940, 1941 and 1942.

We have reached the last two years of the dossier which refer to Grelli's death: in 1949 the Quaestor ordered the revocation of Grelli from the Bulletin of the Wanted "for ceased reasons", a ritual formula that foreshadows his death.

In 1951 a letter from the Ministry of the Interior, due to the interest of the Ministry of the Treasury, was sent to the Questore of Perugia to give circus news about Alessandro's death, considering that his father had asked for his son's war pension. The most concrete answer comes from the carabinieri who assert without hesitation that the death of Grelli, which took place in combat in Spain on 12 September 1938, is in the registry office of the Municipality of Umbertide.

But we have no declaration from the Municipality of Umbertide, which closes the history of Grelli with the Act of Presumed Death (13).

Scrolling through the names of the senders of the various documentation contained in the Grelli file, it appears that at the peripheral level the CCRR and the Police Headquarters operated in correspondence with the Ministries of the Interior and Foreign Affairs who had various representations abroad, the embassies and consulates of His Majesty the King of Italy, closely linked to the police bodies, typical of the regime, such as the UPIs of the MVSN and the apparatus that the PNF had given itself abroad. But it was concretely efficient and capable of a penetrating investigation only by the police organization, hidden under the formula "trust source" or confidential source, that is, the secret political police. From it came the decisive information on the account of the files, following which the aforementioned peripheral and ministerial investigators were only a bureaucratic role.

The analysis of Grelli's file leaves many problems unresolved: the chronological question relating to the dates indicated in the file, not the macroscopically incorrect ones because they go beyond death, but the date of his notification, which is certainly delayed compared to Grelli's political commitment , and the date of enrollment which is not - we have anticipated - that of the telegraphic circular of the Ministry of the Interior. Finally, there is the question of confinement and the emptiness of the circumstances of his death.

The file offers - we repeat - indirect documentation, but decisive for tracing Grelli's political itinerary, in the period 1930-1936, the years he spent in France before his departure for Spain.

From Grelli's meetings with prominent figures in the history of anti-fascist emigration, both in the political and ideological debate of anti-fascism, and in the concrete struggle against fascism, the precise outline of his political evolution emerges and it seems richer and more lively to us. general scenario of Umbrian political emigration.



(1) An original postcard size is the photograph in military uniform, produced on the cover, from which four card size copies were made.

(2) These are the years 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942; 1951. The term a quo coincides with the sixth year of Grelli's emigration, the ad quem with the thirteenth anniversary of his death.

(3) The Grelli file is fully analyzed, in Appendix I, according to the following items: year, type of document or correspondence, date, sender, recipient and subject, In the text we put the year to which the document refers in parentheses of Appendix I.

(4) ASP, Inv. Quest., Fasc. Grelli Alessandro, cit. Two entries appear on the cover: one that finds unique confirmation in the biographical card of Grelli 1939, reports that Grelli was "confined" to the date 12/6/1939. There

we will deal with this detail elsewhere: The other reports that it was registered in the 1942 Statistical Register. The note is in pencil followed by a question mark and is not reflected in the file, nor has it archival evidence. On the cover are also the «Revisions».

(5) ASP, Inv. Quest., Fasc. Grelli Alessandro, cit. Appendix II.

(6) The Cat. A / lett. 8 corresponded to "subversive and anti-fascist"; «Subversive dated back to the Circ. Internal Min. 5343, 1 June 1896, instituting the Filing Cabinet, "anti-fascist" had been added in the fascist era.

(7) This is what we will do in III. "Grelli in France".

(8) ASP, Inv. Quest., Fasc. Gattini Goffredo di Gerasimo and was Corsini Giuseppa. Gattini was born in S. Giustino 4/8/1892, carpenter worker, anti-fascist. Ibid. Tarducci Ottavio was a communist Giuseppe, born in S. Giustino on 8/9/1898.

(9) ACS, September Luigi Antonio CPC. The September was Giuseppe and it was Biondini Gelsomina, born in Todi on 16/9/1880 a shoemaker, a socialist who had been struck from the ranks of subversives there and 2/9/1930. September cannot be consulted in ASP because the files on the "Radiated" are not yet available and therefore we do not know the reason for the radiation. September is mentioned under different surnames: on the cover of the Grelli issue there is Settembrini Luigi and it is the only time that his paternity and maternity are not reported, data that are repeated and unchanged in other quotes. The place of birth is now indicated in Città di Castello, now in Todi. We found his birth certificate in the Todi registry office with the day, month and year that appear in his file in the Central State Archives. September has been living in Rome since 20/10/1930 where he had gone from France, from the Rome Population Register.

(10) We have already dealt with the alleged "pro-fascist" phase of Grelli.

(11) We exclude that it was a question of loss, because even among the papers in the CPC dossier on Grelli in ACS we found this void.

(12) The date of Grelli's departure for Spain is therefore attributed to the year 1937. We will examine in IV Grelli in Spain the documents offered by the file on Grelli preserved in ACS, which anticipate it by a year.

(13) MU, Death Certificate Register 1957, p. II, Series C. Sentence authorizing the transcription of the death certificate of Alessandro Grelli. The copy of the death certificate was provided to us by the Umbertide Registry Office, subject to authorization by the Court of Perugia, Attorney General.





If emigrants could feel almost at home at the first impact with an environment where, according to some testimonies (1), Italian was spoken more than French, as in St. Laurent du Var, in the Department of the Maritime Alps, an obligatory destination for Grelli for the well-known reasons of the heart, and fixed residence during his emigration (2), they could not rest assured among their compatriots, who were not all anti-fascists, many willing to denounce and inform, at the service of the secret political police, and some who had made or were making a fortune, "exploiting the fellow countryman."

"It was full, full of spies," which created an atmosphere of distrust, suspicion, fear of everything and everyone around the emigrants. They felt and were, followed, spied on even in private life and always alert to the risk of having an infiltrator among their everyday friends - the most unthinkable and least suspicious person - by whom they could be branded as "anti-fascists" and as such files. There is no story of an emigrant-anti-fascist that does not begin with a report by a spy, worthy of absolute credit. Consequently, police measures were taken, or the Special Court was put into action, whose laws had reinstated the death penalty, not only for attacks on the king or the leader, but only for belonging to a dissolved party (3 ).

If the spies understood that they had been identified, they ran away, but, not infrequently, they were trapped by our people, who knew how to transform themselves into "good policemen" (4), and to the infiltrators of the Avra they responded by dislocating "trusted, unknown" individuals, who did not attract attention, in the offices of the Dopolavoro, or in the sections of the PNF, places where they spoke of trade union problems and political issues to prepare the offensive strategy against the anti-fascists.

The ordinary judiciary, the one established by the liberal state, had not been suppressed, but deprived of authority: bodies structurally unrelated to the role of police carried out investigative tasks. The Royal Consulates of Italy abroad, solicited by the Ministry of the Interior, or by the Ministry on which they depended, were very efficient, diligent and, to be honest, even precise, compared to the Royal Police Headquarters and Royal Prefectures. The Consul of His Majesty the King of Italy had a direct line with the trustee of the foreign sections of the PNF - the Case d'Italia or Case degli Italiani - which offered a recreational activity - radio, cards and conversation - to program , quietly, political action plans. On the occasion of the registration, a map of the "registered or not" was drawn up, with big problems for the latter (5).

The UPIs of the MVSN, directly dependent on the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, had the means and men, belonging to bureaucratically autonomous roles. They were present in all situations, and spread the confidential news, which they received first.

The local administrative authorities, for example the Mairies, were hostile to them and were prejudiced against them, like the government police. Relations with the French democrats were not easy; but we have the documentation of an "anti-Italian" - that is to say anti-fascist - demonstration in which our compatriots are associated in large numbers with the French and the naturalized in an armed attack on the House of Italians in St. Laurent, to demonstrate against the policy of their government, on the occasion of the call to arms of the reservists: an intertwining of ideological, political and claim reasons in military roles (6).

They encountered no slight difficulties in looking for work, unless they resigned themselves to being peasants in the fields planted with vegetables and fruit in southern France, to harsh living conditions and wages, which Grelli was able to escape by putting to good use. his ability as a craftsman that benefited him, also as a social position. The salaried workers had to pay a tax of 25 francs, with which they obtained the "work card", indispensable for being hired; self-employed persons paid the "work card", 100 francs. Also this tax was an opportunity for the sections of the PNF abroad, in agreement with the French authorities, to implement discrimination and blackmail (7).

The period initially spent by Grelli, immediately after his expatriation, is illustrated by the conversation with his brothers: the clandestine flight from Umbertide, followed by regular emigration "for work", frequent and reciprocal visits, an opportunity to urge the brothers to move to working in the shoe factory until 1933, the year of his mother's death. From this date Grelli never returns home, and he doesn't let anyone know anything about himself, either by oral messages or by letter, as the carabinieri also attest. It seems that his life has undergone a turning point and is taking place in a context that pushes him to estrange himself from his family and from any relationship with Umbertide. Detail of which the brothers complain and do not agree.

Specific circumstances and precise reasons for justifying this behavior of Grelli can be seen in his meeting, already mentioned, with Giovanni Tomaso Nello, Bertieri who formed and directs a group for political propaganda. Grelli joins, together with other Umbrians - but they are not only Umbrians (8) - to be part of the group, he begins to military in the anti-fascist struggle with awareness and risk, which induce in him prudence, confidentiality, mainly towards the family who , in Umbertide, he could have undergone interrogations and searches. Grelli, who emigrated without political qualifications, became a communist at the Bertieri school who "worked" with his followers. The expression "work" used by the informant suggests the feverish propaganda activity, the meetings, the internal coordination, the new contacts and the constant displacements, as the surviving emigrants frequently report.

In meeting with Bertieri, Grelli found the opportunity to enter politics and the instrument of his ideological maturation. Which evolved, first of all, with the assimilation of the meaning of the various experiences made by Bertieri before 1923 and subsequently on all the occasions in which he was involved in concrete initiatives, which were framed in the context of the ideological debate.

Bertieri had been the witness and the protagonist of a central fact in the history of anti-fascism, which was the revolt of Sarzana in July 1921 against the aggression of the squads, the first and for a long time the only example of victory over fascism: "an event that became a sort of myth during the dark years of fascism, for the persecuted, for the exiles, for those who suffered in prison "(9).

Before 1921, Bertieri had been the animator and promoter of all the demonstrations and of every strike, in a strip of land such as Lunigiana with a concentration of workers in the La Spezia shipyards, and a peasant in the vineyards of the Ligurian "bands". Sarzanesi. He was an assiduous reader and speaker of the left-wing press, but he had never been a contributor to the editorial staff of any newspaper, as claimed by the carabinieri who knew him.

In the role of socialist councilor (10) of the municipal administration of Sarzana - a position he held from 1921 as a socialist, passed to communism after the Livorno Congress - he had proclaimed a state of siege in the municipal council in the face of squad aggression, and command of the proletarian defense committee of the Arditi del Popolo (11), which he himself organized, had determined the humiliating retreat of the fascists, at the end of a week of bloody clashes that had claimed many victims among the aggressors (12).

From the clash between the fascists, financed by the agrarians and the industrialists and the proletarian opposition that tried to raise the conditions of the people, organizing leagues, cooperatives, unions and committees, as had happened in Sarzana, Grelli understood the political significance of the Italian situation . And he discovered a confirmation of this in his life in Romeggio, personally and by the family itself (13).

After the events in Sarzana, to escape the arrest warrant, which had already hit some of his followers (14), Bertieri went into hiding and was eventually forced to emigrate illegally to France, reaching Marseille, where he did not stay long. . In fact, he continued his activity as a propagandist which led him to travel throughout France to hold meetings and rallies. The Socialist International chose him as the official speaker. We find him in this role in Marseille, in 1930, on the occasion of the great party of the proletariat of that time, which was May 1st (15).

Oratory skills - "he speaks well" and is a "discreet comitiante" - even investigators are recognized. We endorse them, as they are also supported by the level of university studies he has reached (16). However Bertieri never exhibited the qualification of "student" and declined, without any exception, that of "worker" or "mechanic" who leads him - it was convenient for him to say - to work now in one place and now in another. In the end, even the police realized that this was an "excuse" for the political activity of Bertieri who "wandered a little here and a little there" "appeared and disappeared", because he was busy "working" at the " service of Italian-Franco-Russian subversivism "(17).

On another occasion Bertieri amused himself by making fun of the police (18), confusing them for almost a year because of the nickname, Buccin or Bucin, with which he was also known in Sarzana and cheated them to the point that they were induced to provide personal data of a non-existent person.

The political debate abroad and in Italy was animated by all the democratic forces in the field - we mention, without being complete, liberalism, republicans, socialists, communists, popular people and all the various associations that branched off from them.

Differently articulated in terms of political content, they were aimed at forming an organism, as unitary as possible, to oppose fascism. We could give a historical account (19), but it seems significant to us to use the material contained in the CPC dossier on Bertieri, and to report on some initiatives and experiences of his group, which are the precise reflection of the ongoing debate, and in addition they open a glimpse into the political newspaper of our emigrants.

He had contacts with Luigi Campolonghi (20), also from Lunigiana, older in age and in exile. It was Campolonghi who introduced him to the anti-fascist concentration (21) without pushing him to join it. But it helped him from the organizational and ideological point of view to found a section of the LIDU in St. Laurent du Var (22).

Grelli had it at home, and he attended the weekly meetings in a local audience, called by Bertieri who had become its president. In front of a fairly large audience - by admission of the investigators themselves - Bertieri mainly gave political speeches "marked by anti-fascism" and oriented towards the social-communist currents, which would have given life to the French Popular Front. The headquarters held "conferences", that is, meetings with prominent figures - for example, Pacciardi, Campolonghi himself - who took stock of the situation and gave information on the work done by other sections. On the sidelines of the meetings, funds were raised by selling, for example, the folders of the «Loan of liberty», for L. 1000 each, with the fruit, to tell the truth, scarce, of L. 5000 francs. They organized the annual party of the Italian League of Human Rights, which took place on March 30 (23). As president of the LIDU of St. Laurent du Var Bertieri obtained a special "political refugee" card, a pass authorized by the League of Nations (24), well known to the investigators' controls.

It will have been very useful to him on the occasion of his expulsion from Luxembourg, an episode in Bertieri's life, of which we do not know the reasons or the circumstances.

But the political position naturaliter adhering to the "fervent gregarious of the French Popular Front", to the communist Bertieri, who had opened - it is important - a section of the communist party in St. Laurent (25) and consequently to his group was that of the FU, the Single Front, as the anti-fascist Single Front was identified in police jargon.

On January 24, 1934, XII ff, a meeting of the FU took place in Nice at the Cafè de la Gare, present, among the many emigrants, Bertieri, who is cited in second place in the list (26). An infiltrator tells us how that meeting took place in a report drawn up for the General Management PS Division of General and Reserved Affairs Division I of the Ministry of the Interior.

Much information relating to the composition, dissemination and organization of the FU, to the strategy of its political project, are true from the report of the infiltrator, as we will see below. However, aware that he is reporting burning, and perhaps alarming information, he takes care to minimize them - he considers them to be "of little importance and of little importance" - and evaluates the data and perspectives of the political work of the FU with skepticism and pessimism, such as those which are, at the base, tainted by the hegemony of the Communists. They want to "impart a too marked character to the movement" which is endemically - the infiltrator seems to think - on the verge of rupture. There are those who leave the FU (27), but must admit that there are also more definitive and concrete adhesions, the maximalists, for example (28). He informs us that the FU is widespread throughout France, in Paris, where the meetings are "repeated and numerous" in Cannes, Nice, Beausoleil and frequented by the LIDU, by republicans, by the maximalists, by the Mutual Society Brotherhood, by the reformists, by the socialists and, of course, the communists.

The presence in the meeting of January 1934 of exponents of the French Communist Party and for the past of a prestigious figure such as Henri Barbusse was at that time an indication of success (29).

The formation of the single body to oppose fascism according to the proposal of the maximalists, which is accepted, is to replace the enlarged single committee with many small neighborhood committees or sub-committees articulated on fragmented realities and situations, similar to communist cells.

The economic claims of emigrant workers were for the FU a fundamental premise for a unitary action against fascism, according to the tradition of socialism of the years of the II and III Congress of the International, which inspired the FU.

The problem at the moment was to defend the workforce and protect it against the French law on wages (30). Therefore - say the defendants - it is essential to have people infiltrate the sections of the Dopolavoro who collect the intentions and plans drawn up in this regard.

Lastly, small work is not neglected, such as sending propaganda letters, circulars with a political content, and, with great precision, invitations to meetings so that it should not happen that someone is absent, just because they have not received the notice of convocation (31). When the propaganda for the recruitment of volunteers to defend the Spanish republic exploded in the early months of 1936, Grelli decided to go and fight. He abandons the group to the most discreet extent, as we shall see, and seals the meeting with Bertieri with an act of great political significance.

A meeting in which the many differences and diversities between the two protagonists - age, education, political militancy, reason for expatriation, temperament and character - could have crushed the weak position of Grelli, who instead comes out strengthened in the bond of ideals and common intentions.

"Among the subversives it should be noted a tall individual, thin, blond hair, about fifty, worker, ardeasiac eyes, red complexion ...", a description of Bertieri written by the political police that convinces us and almost excites us. Let's compare him with the Grelli, whom we know by photography: short - for only one and a half centimeters "skilled at the draft" - rough, with no particular characteristics, other than those inconspicuous and captivating ones of his face of a genuine Umbrian peasant. Taciturn, he listens to Bertieri's tales and speeches with fluent speech, made incisive by the melodious Ligurian-Tuscan cadence.

The passionate strength and the ability to persuade are evident from the description of his temperament, drawn up by the Carabinieri of Sarzana: "ambitious" "overbearing", that is, with a will to be a boss, because he knew he could do it. The negative evaluations of "bad reputation" and "weak worker" are the result of the slanderous campaign that the fascists made to him after Sarzana and of the objective scarcity of the garages and bus services, of which he declared himself dependent.

Alessandro's brothers have neither known nor heard of an Umbertidese family, the Broccolicchi who, after a failed internal emigration to Gubbio, had expatriated in 1902 in France, father and mother, almost fifty, with nine children, all between fifteen and five years (32). But Alessandro certainly knew and frequented them, because the second and third Broccolicchi generations were known and active in southern France, precisely in the period in which Grelli was there. Proof of this is that among uncles and nephews, living in the 1920s and 1930s, three of them are registered. They are Antonio meant Alfonso, Vittorio and Maria: we give a brief account of the files in the inventory of the Perugia Police Headquarters relating to Alfonso and Vittorio (33).

The character we want to point out is Maria Broccolicchi, belonging to the third generation, daughter of Eugenio, listed as an anti-fascist - the "above-mentioned woman" specifies the PS official - because we understand the exceptional nature of the feminine anti-fascist (34).

Maria worked closely with a cousin, Gino, for whom the police headquarters did not formalize the file, perhaps because he was assimilated to the nationality of his father, naturalized since 1928.



(1) We refer to the late Mariano Fulmini and Probo Martinelli, and to Italo Nicoletto, Vincent Tonelli among the many surviving former Garibaldini. The most incisive passages of their testimonies appear in quotation marks in the text.

(2) The brothers of the Grelli refer only to the address of St. Laurent, like the carabinieri. Even the Consulate of Nice, in what can be defined, as we shall see, the last certain news on Grelli, before Spain, refers to the same town in the Department of the Maritime Alps.

(3) AA.W. Lessons of anti-fascism, Bari, Laterza, 1962, p. 138 and ss.

(4) One of our witnesses relates: "we managed to locate the home of a spy, we seized a letter from her, which contained very serious news: a communist had been murdered to avenge a fascist killed in Paris". Our witness gives the names of the protagonists of his story.

(5) ASP, Inv. Quest. fasc. Goffredo kittens. Gattini, during his interrogation in confinement, says he asked the trustee of the St. Laurent section of the PNF for the card and obtained it. Unable to pay the outstanding annuities, he ended up arousing the suspicions of the trustee, who threatened him.

telling him «I'll arrange it!». Gattini was terrified by the trustee and withdrew from frequenting the fascist section. Thus began - according to his version - his persecution as an anti-fascist.

(6) ACS, Bertieri Giovanni Tomaso Nello, CPC. Twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, the House of Italians, at least that of St. Laurent, remains open to fellow countrymen to listen to "the radio, play cards, chat". But no meeting - the note continues - has the character of a "ceremony" or is marked by a political meeting. On the occasion of the declaration of war by France and England on Nazi Germany - we are in 1939 - the French reservists were recalled to arms, which constituted a reason for resentment for them. Therefore, an anti-fascist demonstration was organized on their part with a nocturnal aggression against the House of Italians, wanting to hit the policy of the regime allied to Nazism.

(7) ASP, Inv. Quest., Fasc. Tarducci Ottavio. Tarducci, still in 1935, had not managed to obtain the "work card", even though he had even requested it from the Mairie of St. Laurent. Eventually he resorted to the local Casa degli Italiani and began to attend the section quietly and apparently convinced. of the PNF. Having obtained the employment card, Tarducci changes his behavior, begins to associate with extremist elements - as the investigators point out. For the humiliation suffered and the anger accumulated in the refusal of the Mairie he goes out in a sensational demonstration on the occasion of the feast of the patron saint of St. Laurent. In the midst of the festivities he sings the Internazionale - and it is immediately a choir. The Mayor invites him to stop and Tarducci responds with threats and insults and making him under with a clenched fist accuses him of not having wanted to help him for the "work card".

(8) ACS, Bertieri Giovanni Tomaso Nello, CPC cit. More numerous than the Umbrians were the Ligurians - Sarzanese, communists, anarchists, republicans, all registered, whose residence abroad, profession or occupation is unknown. They are natives one of Arcola (La Spezia), one of La Spezia, two of Sarzana, one of Lerici, and a name that does not respond to an individual born or known in Sarzana - notes the investigator - who, like us, underlines the common geographical origin of Bertieri's followers.

(9) Bianchi A., cit. Foreword by Giancarlo Pajetta.

(10) ACS, Bertieri Giovanni Tomaso Nello, CPC. The biographical card only recognizes his election as Municipal Councilor; instead he was councilor in the year of the Sarzana events. After Bertieri was already expatriated for reasons of personal security, the fascists in 1926 denounced him for embezzlement, according to their classic public administrator-thief equivalence. The Court of La Spezia sentenced him to one year of imprisonment, a fine of L. 300 and one year of interdiction from public office. The sentence never reached him in France. From other convictions - a 1919 offense and simple bankruptcy - he was acquitted respectively by prescription and by amnesty in 1924.

(11) Bianchi A., cit. It was a political formation in which anti-fascists from various sides had converged to face the violence of the squads. In the events of Sarzana they had had an important weight. Bertieri had set up a department in Sarzana with a contingent of 150 men, all workers and peasants. They had their own newspaper and, according to the work quoted by Bianchi, they also operated in Umbria. Of the fact, however, we do not find any reference in the newspaper The Claim, cit.

(12) We have read two versions of the events in Sarzana, one historical (see Bianchi A., cit.), And the other ASLS Fondo Prefettura della Spezia, Report 12 and 13 June 1921 by the Deputy Commissioner PS, from Sarzana, to be sent to the Sub-prefect of La Spezia, upon notification by the Mayor of Sarzana, and by the councilors Calderini and Bertieri.

The PS Commissioner presents them as "a fascist raid" in Sarzana, Bianchi as an attack by the terrorist squad against the Sarzanese population, with which the municipal administration of the city supported by the left-wing parties had sided. The first version presents the defeat of the fascists as a "retreat" to avoid police intervention; the historical testimony speaks of a vigorous response of the popular forces, peasants, workers and bourgeois, once in tune with the anti-fascist parties of Sarzana and all of Lunigiana.

(13) Not Grelli personally, nor his family, but the democratic movement of the Upper Tiber Valley circulated a sheet "Umbrian Communist Union Committee - Nov. 1924 Appeal" denouncing the responsibility of the capitalists for the continuous increase in life and for the decrease in wages, cf. Appendix III.

(14) Bianchi A., cit. We refer to Bocciardi Ugo, anarchist, blind, accused of murder, a character close to Bertieri in the Sarzana facts, who does not appear to be part of his group.

(15) ACS, Bertieri Giovanni Tomaso Nello, cited CPC.

(16) ASLS, Leverage Office Fund of 1892 - Municipality of Sarzana. Visit passed by Bertieri in 1922, that is, at the age of 22. He is a "student". In the biographical card of his CPC dossier it appears instead that he did "elementary courses" and that consequently his capacity as a propagandist due to lack of schooling must be considered scarce and not very effective.

(17) ACS, Bertieri Giovanni Tomaso Nello, CPC cit.

(18) ACS, Bertieri Giovanni Tomaso Nello, CPC cit. For at least a year, the correspondence relating to Bertieri is concerned with deciphering whether Bucin or Buccin was another Bertieri's person or not. The Municipality of Sarzana puts an end to the investigation. But the Royal Prefecture of La Spezia had mobilized, the Ministry which had issued a "circular for research" and the Division of the PP, of La Spezia had even provided the personal data of a non-existent Alfredo Bucino to whom the same activities were attributed that played the Bertieri. The whole investigation was complicated, in part, by the fact that Bertieri had managed to prevent the La Spezia police headquarters from coming into possession of a photograph of him.

(19) Alatri Paolo, Italian Anti-Fascism, Ed. Riuniti, 1973.

(20) Luigi Campolonghi had joined the anti-fascist Concentration, to which neither Justice and Freedom nor the Communists had joined.

(21) The anti-fascist concentration established in France in 1927 substantially refers to the Aventinian position and included dissenting elements of the Italian League of Human Rights. It crumbled around 1934.

(22) The LIDU is an association older than the anti-fascist Concentration and survived to it and still operating today in France and Algeria. It arose along the lines of the Ligue des Droits de l'homme whose origins date back to the Dreyfus affair.

(23) ASP, Inv. Quest., Fasc. Marian lightning.

(24) ACS, Bertieri Giovanni Tomaso Nello, CPC, cit.

(25) ACS, Bertieri Giovanni Tomaso Nello, CPC, cit. The news is reported with the indication «sec. socialist "and corrected in" sect. communist »in pencil. The confusion arises from the fact that in the biographical notes he is described as "socialist" as he was before his accession to the Communist Party after the Livorno Congress.

(26) ACS, Bertieri Giovanni Tomaso Nello, CPC, cit. Appendix IV.

(27) ACS, Bertieri Giovanni Tomaso Nello, CPC, cit. While the Socialist Party is increasingly in favor of rupture, in Beausoleil, the Maximalists have even fully joined the FU, and perhaps even the Communist Party.

(28) ACS, Bertieri Giovanni Tomaso Nello, CPC, cit. In addition to those present whose names are mentioned, our speaker refers to an unknown Communist who is the main "speaker".

(29) Henri Barbusse was certainly not known to Grelli for his literary work but he became so on the occasion of the war in Spain when Barbusse organized the volunteers with a battalion of the BI, with his name.

(30) In that precise historical context it was necessary to defend the Italian workforce abroad and protect it against the law on wages, which followed the Fascist law on the reduction of wages, aggravating it with quotas, i.e. reducing the amount of Italian workers that French employers could or had to hire.

(31) ACS, Bertieri Giovanni Tomaso Nello, CPC, cit. It had happened to the Republicans.

(32) MU, Registry. The emigrants of 1902 were called Celestino Broccolicchi and Stella Crispoltoni, born respectively in Umbertide and Città di Castello in 1852 and 1853. The children were all born in Umbertide, with the exception of two who were born in Gubbio. Once in France, they spent the first period occupied in cultivating the fields and with the large number of arms, all in the family, which they can employ, they draw good results, if, around the 1920s, Antonio intended Alfonso (born in 1874) the eldest son "is »Cultivate land« owned by him ». By decree of 1928 he became a French subject. Later he became the owner of a car service, like his brother Eugenio and also hired Bertieri Giovanni Tomaso Nello as a mechanic.

(33) ASP, Inv. Quest., Fasc. Broccolicchi Antonio, Broccolicchi Antonio, understood as socialist Alfonso di Celestino, born in Umbertide 22/3/1874 - papers 34, 1934-1944. Antonio had become a socialist in France, having been expatriated at eighteen. "He made pomp of his principles"; he is mentioned among the participants in a conference held by R. Pacciardi in Nice in 1934, an event of primary political importance, which led the political police to draw up a list of participants, to be considered suspects. His brother Antonio, ten years younger (see ASP Inv. Quest. Fasc. Broccolicchi Vittorio di Celestino, anti-fascist born in Gubbio on 25/4/1895, papers 16 + 2 photos 1939-1944) is infamous by the police with every sort of accusations (exploiter of prostitution and keeper of houses of ill repute) that would have made him merit judicial charges on the French side. Of which we have no documentation, just as his alleged expulsion from French territory in 1936 is not documented. From the file it does not appear that poor Vittorio ever left France.

(34) ASP, Inv. Quest., Fasc. Broccolicchi Maria, Maria Broccolicchi in Polidori, by Eugenio, antifascist, born in Gubbio 25/4/1895 - cards 16 + 2 photos 1939-1944 - Maria, daughter of Eugenio and wife of the red militiaman Polidori Francesco, di Domenico, is reported as "Very active anti-fascist propagandist and registered in the RF, with the specific purpose of subjecting her to a close interrogation on her political activity, and on that of her husband:" she is extensively questioned and reports on the merits ". According to her file, many important details of Maria's life had escaped the police: who had learned from her brothers-in-law in Città di Castello to use printed type and that she had emigrated with her son and her husband, persecuted for his ideas " anti-national and sympathy for subversive parties "in Nice where she was employed in the printing sector. To provide for her son and her husband, the latter unemployed, she had been helped by the "red aid" during the period in which Polidori had tried, twice, to go to fight or work in Spain.

II - III Il fascicolo della Questura e Grelli in Francia
0 - Copia.jpg


The context in which Alessandro Grelli spends the last two years of his life is the Spanish Civil War, whose complex origin, internal to the country in which it broke out, would seem indispensable to discuss and indicate, moreover, why it inevitably became a European and international affair. , as soon as the contenders - the republicans in government and the revolting Francoists - quickly asked for military aid, receiving generous and ambiguous responses, almost always of common origin and of opposite sign towards the two sides, driven by interests that they went beyond the ideology of merit itself.

It might seem indispensable to talk about the parallel civil war that took place, bloody and terrorist, behind the republican lines, between communists and anarchists, a sinister projection of Stalin's Bolshevism, and the massacre of a large number of Franco's political opponents, decimated by the platoon of execution ordered by him (1), a sinister prelude to the decline of the "liberal spirit" of Spain for long successive years.

We want to place that dramatic event in the circumscribed reality of the anti-fascists, especially the exiles, to grasp the signs of the political passion of the few who voluntarily exposed their life for the ideal: what they thought about it, how their willingness to participate was organized, how the war changed individual and group attitudes. Circumstances that border on the human drama, barely guessed, that even Grelli lived. - We will tell of his death in combat through mean news, but enough to put him in a solitary, heroic position with respect to the group to which he belongs.

The news of the Francoist military uprising of July 1936 spread rapidly throughout Europe, thanks to the radio stations, official or clandestine, especially the Catalan ones, which the technological renewal was making protagonists of mass information (2). The anti-fascists were "fascinated and magnetized" (3), and, having set aside the mulch reserves, they saw near the dream of a direct confrontation with fascism, established in their country: for freedom against tyranny. This is the interpretation that Carlo Rosselli promptly and clearly enunciated in a speech to Radio Barcellona, on November 13, 1936, addressing himself to "Compagni, Italian brothers": identity between Francoism and Mussolian fascism, identity of the struggle to defeat the one and the other. other (4).

In the memoirs of the veterans of the Spanish War (5), written a few years after its conclusion, there are rare references to the pacciardana reading. The Rossellian thesis prevails with class variants - anti-capitalist war - and nationalist variants - war of support for a people threatened from the outside - with a clear rejection of the democracy-communism opposition, of which Franco managed to persuade some Italian diplomats.

The reaction of the anti-fascists in Italy was prompt and worried following the speed with which the regime sent, as early as the end of July, to Morocco, contingents to reinforce the Francoists. They were not unaware that Mussolini's sympathies for Franco were joined by the long-standing links and affinities between the Savoy and Bourbon monarchies.

In the various Italian cities there were no demonstrations of solidarity, repressed even before they exploded, while the regime intensified the arrests, and the Special Court the sentences.

In France and Belgium and elsewhere in Europe, where anti-fascist Italians had emigrated, who in the years of exile had experienced the not only material importance of economic support, the first cure was the collection of funds for the Spanish people at war, and for the travel expenses of the volunteers (6).

Political propaganda in favor of republican Spain took the form of conferences, meetings, circulars, leaflets, person-to-person meetings, or with groups. The work of the recruiters, organized in the ways that we will analyze later, was so intense and effective as to push Mussolini's government to decree, just six months after the start of the war, their detention, from one to three years (7) . Similarly, in the same period, the French Chamber, following the governmental orientation of "non-intervention" alongside England, had voted a decree to prevent the departure of the French for Spain (8).

The long-standing anti-fascist organizations, the LIDU and the FU, found a unity of purpose they had never achieved in ideological discussion. Communists and Socialists, Liberal Party leaders and Republicans worked side by side in informing about the modalities of enlistment and travel.

In the area of the Maritime Alps circulated a flyer reproduced in mimeograph style, and therefore of wide circulation, edited by "Fronte Unico Italiano of the Department of Launching" (9), which Grelli may have had on hand and discussed with his companions.

On the merits we tend to believe that Grelli's decision was first of all temperamental, and, only in part, the result of a collective elaboration of the group. Within which the possibilities of influence were bypassed, and almost canceled, by the solicitations of the numerous committees, which had formed and were being formed, in favor of Spain, which feverishly multiplied the initiatives to organize recruitment and to inform about course of the war. Also in Ponte S. Luigi, on the border with Italy, a Section of the "Revolutionary Committee pro Spain" functioned, and in Nice a "Russian bureau" hired volunteers.




The Spanish government itself had opened its own representation in France to promote the republican cause, and was authorized to circulate its own recruiting agents.

The Consul of Spain in Marseille organized the transfer of volunteers to Barcelona, on Spanish ships, which departed twice a month, with a capacity of 450 militiamen at a time, and assured them of triumphal welcome upon arrival (10).

The UPI of the MVSN, stationed in Marseille, managed to obtain the lists of transported persons, relative to the last quarter of 1936, for a total of one thousand names.

It is obvious that the UPI sent the list to the Ministry of the Interior, which set in motion the bureaucratic process of identification, and subsequent phases, not different from that reserved for those registered. Grelli's name is not included in the lists, as we had hypothesized, knowing for sure that he had left Barcelona, but not taking into account that he had left, yes, from Barcelona, but with the Laroche group, which may have followed differently itinerary (11).

- Aggregated with a group, which officially denounced the reasons for enlisting, Grelli did not have to invoke the justification "for work" (12) similar to that of the emigrants of the 1920s and 1930s who, even in the context of the war in Spain , found its objective justification in the contraction of the available manpower (13), as had happened for the emigrants of the 1920s.

Nor did he head to sorting places where volunteers from France itself and from other places generally went (14). In these "bureaux" they could regularize the passport, if they were in possession of it, or were provided with special passes.

Nor did he have to face the adventurous departure of those who left isolated and individually, as often happened in many parts (15).

In this way those "non-party" volunteers crossed the border, statistically given the first place as a numerical participation (16), who ran many risks, even if the "Red Aid" had set up the "Red Help" service at the border. Red Guides "(17). In the land of Spain, the volunteers who arrived by sea were welcomed in the great infantry barracks of Pedralbes, those who arrived by land, crossing the Pyrenees, in Albacete (18). In these and other centers, Grelli also had to stop for training, that is, to follow a military training course, learn how to shoot, and other warfare techniques. At the end of the course he was enrolled in the official BI lists, with a registration number, which is the same as that of the "Carnet militar", the militiamen's identity card (19).

Training was often limited to only one week, or even less, depending on the contingent requests coming from the front. In any case, the militiaman was included in the Spanish army, with the same military rank he had achieved in the Italian army, and at the initial rank, if, as could happen, he had not done military service (20).

In gray-green, not with a soldier's uniform, but in overalls, the uniform of the worker, appropriate to a war, in which more than half of the fighters were made up of workers (21), on the head the bag with the star three-pointed, with his clenched fist raised at the height of the temple, in the Garibaldi salute, the militiaman appears portrayed in period photographs. In which, however, the black berets of the anarchists and the colonial helmets refer to the diversified political origins of the participants (22).

There are two documents referring to Grelli's departure for Spain (23): the telegraphic circular from the Ministry of the Interior (1937) to the Royal Prefect of Perugia and to all the prefects of the kingdom, dated July 1937; the telespresso of the Royal Consulate General of Nice (1937) to the Minister of the Interior, dated June 3, 1937.

The date of the first document is a few days after the date of the second, and does not suggest any particular observation other than that of detecting its coincidence.

Substantial differences, however, exist between them, regarding the origin and structure of the news itself: the minister writes from Rome, a peripheral place with respect to Nice, from where the Royal Consul writes who had the opportunity to check, albeit indirect evidence of what he says, close as it is to the place where the events took place.

The minister informs that Grelli "would have enrolled" uses the conditional, typical of the news of "trust source" - and does not specify any chronological reference; the consul writes that Grelli "left St. Laurent du Var in October 1936". The consul uses the mode of certainty for an event that happened under the eyes of all and that even the friends of Grelli, the companions of the group, may have confirmed, since, with this indication, they did not compromise either the friend or themselves. The motivation for the removal of Grelli is made explicit with the conditional and that is "he would have gone to Barcelona to fight in the international militias of the Laroche group".

In conclusion, the minister gives the news for investigative purposes, which does not require chronological details; the consul communicates a date from which Grelli had not been seen again in St. Laurent du Var.

Therefore, adding that some time passes from when a person moves away from a place until those of the place realize that he has moved away, we can establish the chronology of the departure of Grelli for Spain, in October 1936, which is in contrast with the date with which in the file of the Perugia Police Headquarters this important junction in Grelli's life is mentioned, as we have already observed.

When to the Laroche group, we further specify that, in our opinion, it is a political group and not a military one, for which a different appellation - column, battalion or other - would have been used. In fact, the military group - company or battalion or brigade - was not known upon departure, but assigned, after training, when the soldiers were about to leave for the front, or perhaps the front itself.

Grelli, dunqúe, was in Spain from the end of 1936 to September 1938. He spent about two years there, around which we have no documentation relating to the war fronts, in which he could have fought, nor to injuries, illnesses and hospital stays. , nor to probable licenses. Grelli was unable to leave us any news of him because he did not return to his homeland, as happened to the veteran militiamen, who during interrogations or at the border or at the police station, told the details of their Spanish experience. Many tell of moving from one front to another, many had been hospitalized for injuries or illnesses. There are those who can boast of having been fighting for twenty-two months, with only one interruption because they were hospitalized (24); there are those who, despite having returned to Spain twice, never reached the front for reasons beyond their control (25).

We will see how the documentation, albeit poor and uncertain, on his death can authorize us to present him in two different phases of the Spanish war: the battle of Madrid at the end of 1936 and the first months of 1937, and the great battle of the Ebro, started in the second fortnight of May 1938, bloodyly culminating precisely in the days in which Grelli lost his life.

The documents relating to the definition of the date, place, causes of Grelli's death and particular annexes relating to various circumstances, such as the fate, which moves us with pity, which touched his body, were not found in the archives, but in the current archives of the Ministry of the Treasury, War Pensions Office in the provincial and national headquarters. The Perugia office provided us with the pension application from Alessandro's father (26) which is confirmed by the documentation provided by the Rome office, with the complete documentation acquired to authorize Abramo Grelli's pension (27).







Two documents emerge from this documentation, of which we will speak extensively - Notoriety Act of the Consul General of Italy in Nice and the letter from the secretary of the former Garibaldi Fighting Brotherhood in Spain - ten years after the death of Alexander, but absolutely the richer in data and, relatively, closer to the event. Documents of undisputed historical validity, especially with respect to the Death Act, twenty years later (28), which has an exclusively bureaucratic value and does not offer any documentation on the cause of Grelli's death, since it was not possible to find the minutes of the Commission that he drafted it, as we have already complained.

As for the date of death, day, month and year, it coincides with the documents mentioned above, and in the Act of presumed death. But let's see what new elements the documents of the pension operation initiated by Abraham bring.

They come from various sources: the oldest is drawn up by the Consul General of Italy in Nice, who, acting as a notary, certifies Grelli's death on the basis of "four known and suitable witnesses"; the second is drawn up by the secretariat of the ex-Garibaldi fighting brotherhood in Spain, which certifies the death on the basis of «the results of the documents in its possession».

They coincide on the date - night 12-13 September 1938 - and on the cause of death - firearm, enemy machine gun -. But they differ on the toponym in which the event took place; "Arganda in the Ebro area" according to the witnesses summoned by the consul; "The Sierra Caballs on the Ebro" according to the data of the former Garibaldi Brotherhood fighting in Spain.

The geographical and chronological error of the first is evident: Arganda, a few kilometers from the capital, is one of the places where the long battle of Madrid took place, which took place in the last months of 1936, until April 1937, that is a year and a half and more before Alexander's death; Sierra Caballs is the place where the battle of the Ebro was taking place in the days when the Grelli fell, from May 1938 to September 1938.

The confusion in which the witnesses of the consul of Nice have incurred confirms the chronology indicated by us for the departure of Grelli for Spain, since the geographical error could document a possible participation in the battle of Madrid, in the first phase of his stay in Spain, which we have, in fact, placed in the last months of 1936. Therefore we define the data of Grelli's death, together with the details connected to them, as follows:

- date: night between 12 and 13 September 1938;

- place: front of the Ebro, Sierra Caballs;

- cause: died on the spot following wounds sustained in combat from enemy machine gun bursts, firearms;

- burial: the burial place is not known, because the body remained in enemy territory having prevented its recovery during the night;

- military situation: soldier, volunteer enlisted in the IV Company, II Battalion "Garibaldi".

The battle of the Ebro - July 26 - September 23, 1938 - stands out for its "terrible", compared to all previous military events, in a war that had lasted for two years.




Historians tell (29): never seen such a bloody battle and such quantity of artillery, tanks and aviation concentrated on the Ebro. The republican army had crossed the river by order of the government, which was looking for a military success, temporarily achieved, but immediately blocked by the influx of Francoist reinforcements, exceptional and impressive, which determined tragic consequences.

It was communicated several times that the "Garibaldi" brigade was in difficulty, in a compromised situation. But whenever the Fascists launched an attack, the Garibaldians emerged, as if by a miracle, from underground, from the semi-destroyed trenches, causing losses and suffering more serious ones, to the point that when the brigade was sent to reserve, only nine hundred fighters. The number of dead and wounded was so great that it could not be covered by the arrival of new volunteers, hindered, moreover, by the growing difficulties in crossing the borders, strictly controlled by the "commissions" set up by the non-intervention committee.

The veteran Garibaldi's soldiers (30) tell us: «the armament superiority of the Francoists was crazy. We did not have tanks, we did not have aviation, and the two machine guns supplied were not usable due to lack of bullets. The shotgun with thirty rounds in the barrel and the only two hand grenades we had, did not put us in a position to defend ourselves, under a deluge of cannon fire that came at us, exposed as we were open-faced, without a shrub or a bush that sheltered, on bare and stony ground.

We settle down on the ground, waiting for the blow to pass by. In a single day, twenty times, we withdrew from the heights of the sierra, and for as many times we regained them.

There was no longer a porter service, there was no drink, there was no food. We went to get it, when it was possible, in the warehouses, which were increasingly lacking. Because the rear, if they could still be called that, had only one task, that of collecting the dead and helping the wounded ... In the evening the group was reconstituted, which diminished day by day: in a single day, - the memory he is very much alive - we had fifty left from the two hundred we were ».

And, on the night of 12 to 13 September - we add - a "minus one" of those present was Alessandro Grelli. They saw him lifeless in the opposing field, where he had rashly pushed himself, without being able to escape the enemy fire, which also raged on the dead (31).

The tragic situation lasted until 23 September, when the order of the "despedida" arrived, the withdrawal of the BI, made necessary under the pressure of the United Nations Society, to slow down the influx of external aid to Franco, and perhaps also to put an end to the massacre of the fighters of the two fronts.

The anti-fascists, as the veterans testify, had not known anything in advance, but they realized that it would be absurd to continue this carnage.

More than fifty years after that event we have caught in the stories of some veterans of the BI - not only of Italian origin - some shadow, almost like a regret, an afterthought, the questioning of their voluntary participation, so dramatically closed by order of the "despedida", as to make one lose the reasons. But those few add that in the current situation the struggle for freedom still has to continue. The detachment from his Spanish comrades is defined as "painful" by some Garibaldians and only partially alleviated by the preparation of the spectacular parade for the Barcelona Diagonal, which took place at the end of October.

The veterans never saw any of the prisoners again, because they were all murdered by the fascists. For them, fate reserved internment in French concentration camps, determined by the complex and politically contradictory situation of relations between Spain and France. More than a hundred veterans managed to escape from Argèles or Vernet and among them some entered the resistance to the Vichy government; others entered to fight among the partisans in various countries of Northern Europe. Those of them who presented themselves, challenging fate, at the border of Ponte S. Luigi, were arrested and sent to police confinement, with destination, for the most part, Ventotene.

In the interrogation reports that they underwent, it is noted that they never wanted to denounce anyone responsible for their decision to voluntarily participate in the war in Spain, and sometimes proudly declare that they are convinced "that they have done their duty". The rare times that they indicate persons or circumstances, they do so in a generic way, so as not to offer investigators a possible trail of research, which is difficult, however, to follow four or five years later.

From confinement, Garibaldi's ex-combatants were freed in 1943 - 25 July 1943 - and in the following months they wanted to continue their political struggle by entering, as organizers, the partisan struggle.

The members of the primitive nucleus of Bertieri's group conclude their history of political emigrants with a common characteristic, albeit in the specificity of personal situations, which can be interpreted as the signal of the crisis that the phenomenon of political emigration was going through, in the imminence of the outbreak of World War II, about three years before the fall of fascism: they all saved their lives and lived for a long time in republican Italy, which they had also contributed to building, at home, and this due to circumstances not lucky or fortuitous, but for voluntary, carefully calibrated political choices and decisions.

September "disbarred" by repentance in 1930, he lived in Rome until 1950; Gattini lived in the country where he was born and escaped any sanction, because he had repeatedly and insistently denied the political faith he shared with Grelli and Bertieri and even their friendship, declaring that he hardly knew them, and that he was always been a fascist. Fascist and moreover persecuted by the trustee of the St. Laurent du Var beam, only because he had not been able to pay the arrears of the PNF card issued to him since 1934.

Bertieri, the hero of Sarzanese anti-fascism, wrote in 1940, in his own hand, a question to Mussolini "Your Excellency the Head of the Government of Rome", in which he asks to "be able to freely and definitively return to his homeland", committing himself to " no longer dealing with politics "and" devoting oneself to family and work ". He was not answered. He insists with a second request addressed to the Delegation for repatriation and assistance, managed by the Italian Armistice Commission with France. The application was rejected "due to the poor political record" of the applicant, who "was still poorly remembered in the fascist circle of Sarzana".

Bertieri does not give up and expatriates without authorization. On March 13, 1943, he was arrested at the Menton border and transferred to La Spezia, where the Court, by order of July 9, assigned him to police confinement for a period of three years in a small town near L'Aquila.

It is likely that the ordinance has suffered some delay until it reaches the historic date of September 8th. Which certainly changed the fate of Bertieri.

Finally, Tarducci presents a case in itself: we have not found the date of his death, not even in the country of his birth, nor the evolution of his political history. Let us suppose that by virtue of the years of emigration matured since 1926 he has naturalized and definitively integrated into French society.

To unearth the story of Alessandro Grelli from oblivion - we stated it in the Introduction - we carried out this research.

The silence of the living people of Umberto weighs on him who, despite having known him, remember him so vaguely that it seems they never knew him.

We therefore want to suggest a further path of research that we have carried out, without any result: given that among the "Umbertidesi residing in Nice" signatories of the plaque located in the atrium of the municipal residence of Umbertide and three of the texts summoned by the Consul General of Nice for the Act of Notoriety who are, in fact, two natives of Umbertide, and one of Città di Castello, there is some probable identity, which would mean that living people, or their descendants, who have known Alexander, are traced, we hope that the search for others will have better luck (32).



(1) Silvestri M., The decline of Western Europe, Turin, Einaudi, 1954, III, p. 399.

(2) Rosselli C., in «Justice and freedom», April 1937. They were called Radio Barcelona, Radio Valencia, Radio Madrid, Radio Toulouse. Others did not indicate their geographical origin in their denomination, such as Radio Verdad, a souped-up Spanish station that broadcast from Italian stations, renamed after the battle of Guadalajara in Radio Falsidad. Even in the silence of the ether - Rosselli observes - war was fought.

(3) Silvestri M., cit., P. 360.

(4) Rosselli C., Today in Spain, tomorrow in Italy, Turin, Einaudi, 1967. It is in one of the speeches contained in this pamphlet that was printed for the first time in Paris that Rosselli launches the appeal «Today here , tomorrow

in Italy ", which in the following January will become" Today in Spain, tomorrow in Italy ", as already noted.

(5) AA.W., The International Brigades, La Pietra, 1976, p. 83. The Czechoslovakian Communist Party, which was the most active force that rose to defend the Spanish anti-fascist fighters, also launched the slogan "In Madrid there is also a fight for Prague".

(6) There was an important mobilization of intellectuals. In this regard, we cannot escape the suggestion of the verses of Pablo Neruda, who participated intensely in the aid and solidarity campaign for the cause of republican Spain: "I remember, years ago, in Paris, / one evening I spoke to the crowd / I came to ask aid for republican Spain / for the people in their struggle ... »Canto Generale XXXIX - 1945 - P. Neruda - Poesie, Florence, Hoepli, 1962. In which, a few years later, the poet gathers the heroes of the anti-Francoist war to the heroes of Latin America, on a memorable occasion in Brazilian history.

(7) Silvestri M., cit., P. 271. The decree is published in the Official Gazette of 2/2/1937. Silvestri comments on this "... by punishing the recruiters, that is, the government itself."

(8) ASP, Inv. Quest., Fasc. Zangarelli Emilio. The native Zangarelli of Pietralunga, enlisted in the Death Battalion stationed in Santa Perpetua di Moguda should have received a letter "in the Barracks 19 July

of the Red Militias of Barcelona ”sent to him by his brother, intercepted and by the recipient never read. It is attached to his file and contains the news of the resolutions of the French Chamber. We add that Zangarelli, to justify and deny his participation in the war, claims that he went to Barcelona to visit it, since he worked in France in Perigueux, a town very close to the Spanish border.

(9) ACS, DGPS Ministry, Volunteers enlisted in the Spanish War for the Red Army, Envelopes 62, 63, 64, Years 1937, 1938. These are three very bulky envelopes that contain unnumbered papers, also referring to 1936. the leaflet described is contained therein.

(10) ACS, DGPS Ministry, cit. The ships were called "Villa de Madrid" and "Ciudad de Barcelona".

(11) ACS, Grelli Alessandro, CPC. The news of Grelli's enrollment in the Laroche group can only be read in the papers of the CPC dossier in ACS. In this regard, we report that we have not found any news regarding the Laroche group, neither from the live information of our former Garibaldi friends, nor in the various CPC files consulted, nor in general information works, nor in specific works or in French and Spanish encyclopedias and Italian. However, we can make some hypotheses. If Laroche stands for Laroque, it could be connected with Pierre Laroque, a figure who in the 1930s took an active interest in the trade union problems of emigrants, recognizing their important role in replacing the shortage of French manpower. By his name it may have been called a group of volunteers, as has happened for other characters. Laroche can refer to a locality in the Loire - La Roche La Meuliere - where a chemical products factory worked, where many emigrants worked. We learned the news of the Laroche la Meuliere factory from the file of the Terni anarchist Conti Ardito, who started from this locality, but does not refer to a group with that name (see ASP, Inv. Quest., Conti fasc. Ardito).

(12) ASP, Inv. Quest. fasc. by Baciotti Guido, Bernardini Vincenzo, Carnevali Settimio, Galli Guido, Giacometti Giuseppe, Zangarelli Emilio. They are all Umbrian militiamen, to whom we will refer for news about their transfer to Spain and the reasons for participating in the war.

(13) ASP, Inv. Quest. fasc. Galli Guido. Galli tells us that the newspaper "Esclaireur de Nice et du Sud-Ouest" hosted, at the end of 1936, an advertisement from the Spanish government with a request for drivers and mechanics. There were those who "knew" that "work" meant enlistment and started out as a convinced volunteer. But there were those who were surprised by the trick and tried to escape. As for Galli, he uses the advertisement in the French newspaper to try to deny his participation in the war, which was instead effective in the role of driver of the republican army.

(14) ACS, DGPS Ministry, cit. In Basel, Lugano and Zurich, those coming from Germany and all of Northern Europe were welcomed by special bureaux. In Genoa, volunteers from Southern and Northern Italy gathered at the famous "Bar della Borsa". Everyone passed through the Union Bridge, on the border with France, from where the last stage began.

(15) ASP, Inv. Quest. fasc. Lightning Mariano, cit. Lightning says that in many French cities, especially in the North, the Spanish People's Relief Committee took care of isolated departures: it paid, for example, the train ticket from Paris to Perpignan to Italian and other nationals volunteers, and he gave them L. 50 - it was not cheap - for what they might need during the trip. At the border they were awaited by a Spanish border committee, which was responsible for accompanying volunteers to Spain.

(16) AA.W., The International Brigades, cit., P. 180. He reports other data: about 5000 volunteers were Italian, of which 1822 were communists, 137 socialists, 124 anarchists, 55 militants of radical democratic parties. More than half of the volunteers were workers. The largest group of volunteers was the "non-party" group.

(17) ASP, Inv. Quest. fasc. Lightning Mariano, cit. Speaking of the strong flow from Toulon to Perpignan, Fulmini observes that the volunteers formed groups of even a hundred at a time, anarchist exiles.

and communists. Their departure - here is the interesting observation of Lightning, who was a character who was particularly attentive to things - was not hidden, on the contrary, in the days before the volunteers made farewell visits to friends, and in the local Chamber of Labor took place a farewell reception, of which Fulmini read the report in the local press. On the merits, the Consul of Italy complains that "the French local authorities ignore or pretend to ignore and every now and then they impose the" duty "to" stop "

some volunteers about to leave, to announce it to the newspapers, to document French neutrality, but these were isolated cases ». The Lightning captures the shrewd objectivity of the consular authority.

(18) AA.W., The International Brigades, cit. Albacete had been chosen by the Spanish government because it was far from the trajectory of military aviation. The BL was born in Albacete on October 14, 1936, after the arrival of the first five hundred volunteers, belonging to various nationalities, including Italians. In the same month, still in Albacete, the formation of the "Garibaldi" Battalion was decided, in which Italians from all the political components of the democratic movement converged.

(19) The "Carnet Militar", of which we are in possession of a photocopy, given to us by the former Garibaldino Gaspare Francioli, whom we would like to thank warmly, bears the serial number, the photograph, the political party of the holder, the date of his entry into Spain, and the issue of the «Carnet», the military rank, the illnesses contracted, any injuries and consequent hospitalization, leave, services on the various fronts, the description of the military uniform supplied and its replacements. Finally it indicates the "pay" in the various periods. On the last page of the "Carnet" a long stamped mention, signed by the Head of the administrative service of the BL, authorizes the soldier to participate in the "retreat" - in Italian in the stamp - and recognizes him the merit of having fought for independence of the Spanish Republic.

(20) Rosselli C., Today in Spain, tomorrow in Italy, cit. Rosselli does not have an exemplary memory of military training, he defines it as "summary": the rifle was delivered without cartridges, and then, "up there", at the front, the militiaman would have "the cartridges, the helmet, the bombs , shoes, socks, plates and spoons ». Instead, "up there" - Rosselli concludes - there will be nothing, or very little and "a column leaves as soon as a truck of rifles arrives".

(21) See no. 16.

(22) AA.W., The International Brigades, cit. From the frontispiece photo.

(23) See Appendix I, Telegraphic Circular (1937) and Telespresso (1937) Appendix V.

(24) This is the case of Garibaldino Mosca Giuseppe, a lieutenant, who rightly boasts of having been at the front for twenty-two months, for the same time that Grelli was in Spain, with the only interruption, however short, of a hospitalization due to illness in Benicasin, as we have seen from the lists of hospitalized patients also in Salamanca in AHNGC, where the Moscow whose nationality is not mentioned is, according to the spelling - moska josef - considered to come from the East.

(25) ASP, Inv. Quest., Fasc. Polidori Francesco. Polidori spent the first period of his volunteer work in a Spanish hospital and was sent on leave shortly after because he was suffering from a serious illness. In Nice, at his home, he recovered discreetly, to the point that he returned to Spain, where he was immediately the victim of an airplane bomb, which did not injure him but, due to the great blast, caused him a concussion, later to which he was definitively repatriated.

(26) The DL 19 March 1948, n. 249 with which "pensions and war checks are extended to Italian citizens, who, being part of anti-Francoist formations, have reported mutilations and disabilities as a result of their intervention in the Spanish Civil War, and to their families, in the event of death" is reported in its full text in Appendix VII. Abraham's pension application bears the date of January 2, 1949, with a delay, however granted, with respect to the terms of the Decree, due to the difficulties in finding the documents to be exhibited.

(27) DGT, The War Pensions Office, requested by us, provided us with certified photocopies of the documents acquired, at the time of the pension procedure started by Grelli Abramo, Alessandro's father as reported in the introduction. They are: 1) Notoriety deed of the Consul General of Nice dated 3 November 1948 (Appendix VI); 2) Letter from the Promoting Committee of the former Garibaldi Brotherhood of Spain, dated May 12, 1949. We give a detailed description of each of them, which will make the explanation in the text clearer. 1) The Deed of Notoriety on headed paper, free consular mark, is drawn up in Nice, at the headquarters of the Consulate General of Italy: the Consul acting as Notary, at the request of the Mayor of Umbertide, with sheet no. 7302 of 21 September 1948 - letter not found in the offices of the Municipality of Umbertide a Protocol - summons four witnesses "all known and suitable", who consulted separately and jointly certify, under oath that "Mr. Alessandro Grelli, known as Achille, of Abraham and Maria Ercolanellí, born in Umbertide on October 27, 1907, volunteer in BI, died in combat and as a result of gunshot wounds in nucnN From Spain - Ebro front, in the night from 12 to 13 September 1938 ". The ritual formula follows: "We Consul General requested have drawn up the present deed that comes with us and with the Chancellor signed by the appearing parties". Signatures follow. 2) Letter from the Promoting Committee of the Ex-Garibaldi Brotherhood of Spain "Somo hermanos de Espana y Italia", dated from Bologna 12/5/1949: the secretariat of the Committee addresses the letter on headed paper to the Grelli Family, Umbertide, with the subject " declaration of death of the Garibaldian Alessandro Grelli ». The Brotherhood speaks explicitly of "documents in its possession". The declaration prompted us to search the Archive of the «Brotherhood ...» which today, having become extinct, the «Brotherhood» is transferred to the IRB. Here we have read the card headed to Grelli, which is not free from inaccuracies, already highlighted, and is weak in reporting the "documents in his possession". In fact, the death of Grelli is "reported" by Ferrer Visentini, who today does not remember anything, and by his family, who, as we know, were the least informed. On the other hand, the news that emerges from the rest of the letter is interesting: «during the fighting that took place in the Sierra Caballs in the night from 12 to 13 September, hit by bursts of enemy machine guns, he died on the spot. Therefore, since the body remained in enemy territory, the burial place is ignored ”.

(28) Presidency of the Council, «Interministerial Commission for the formation and reconstitution of death or birth certificates not drawn up or lost or destroyed by war», in compliance with the Royal Decree Law of 18 October 1942, n. 1520 and Legislative Decree Lieutenancy April 5, 1946. The "Commission ..." on October 12, 1957 draws up the death certificate of Alessandro Grelli which, with the authorization of the Court of Perugia, is transcribed by the Municipality of Umbertide in the Registers of the Dead. We have already noted that the minutes of the "Commission ..." which drew up the act and which should contain the data validating the act itself has not been traced, despite careful and appropriate investigations.

(29) There are detailed accounts of the battle of the Ebro, both from a strategic point of view and from the angle of the political situation that determined the "Plan of the Ebro". Fundamental is the typed report that can be read in the Appendix to Hugh Thomas, History of the Spanish Civil War, Einaudi 1963. Of which Nicoletto Italo also speaks in Years of my life, Micheletti, 1980. Other works, already cited, are: AA.W ., The international brigades, translated from Spanish, which has the merit of a work written by historians of various nationalities, all those represented in the ranks of the BI. An extensive bibliography - historical works in various languages, anonymous or collective works, novels, newspapers, magazines etc. - updated to 1977 can be found in Brouè Pierre and Emile Temine, The Revolution and the War of Spain, Mondadori, 1980. As regards the archives, the work of Hugh Thomas offers a complete indication.

(30) The most exhaustive testimony was given to us by the Garibaldian of Spain Vincent Tonelli, today President of the Garibaldini of Toulouse, whom we warmly thank.

(31) Calandrone G., cit. The battle of the Ebro is narrated by the Garibaldino in dramatic pages, day by day, from August to 23 September. We were struck by the observation relating to the heights of the Sierra Caballs which, precisely in the days in which our Alexander met his death, seemed "immense skimmers, they were so pitted". We have pointed out the Calandrone among the few official texts that speak of Grelli. We add, in this context of our narration, that, in relation to the date of Grelli's death, Calandrone reports it on a day following the night of 12-13 September, moreover without specifying it and without reconstructing the circumstance of the night, which prevented the recovery of the his body.

(32) The names are Agabiti Luigi fu Felice, born in Umbertide, on 1st January 1898, industrialist, residing in Nice; Lucaccioni Angelo, was Achille, born in Umbertide on 18 October 1898, bricklayer residing in Nice; Bastianelli Angelo di Florio, born in Città di Castello on 1 June 1907, shoemaker, resident in Nice.

IV - Grelli in Spagna
bottom of page