Veneto History: From Facism to Liberation (1920-1945)

From the very first days of the Kingdom of Italy, there was a strong Catholic force in Veneto which, contrary to the directives of Pope Pius IX (Syllabus), encouraged Catholics to participate in social and political life.

In 1874 the first Catholic congress was held at Venice and from it was born Azione Cattolica.  At the end of the eighties Toniolo established the Unione Cattolica per 'gli studi sociali' at Padua which created a basis for a type of Catholic socialism.  Despite an economic recovery, this movement was quite successful above all in the country (Leghe bianche) where the conditions of the people were very miserable (pellagra, emigration, day-laborers, etc.).  This explains why Fascism was never very successful in Veneto and why from the start opposition groups (of Catholic and socialist origin) were created.

The region was somewhat spared during World War II, even if numerous cities were bombarded (Treviso, Verona, Vicenza, Padua), largely because German troops and supplies passed through the region.  With the fall of Fascism and the Nazi occupation of 1943, the people of Veneto began to resist, nourished as they were with liberal and anti-German traditions.  Partisan groups formed quickly most noted were those in the province of Belluno (then part of the Reich), around Cansiglio, Grappa, in the Altopiano of Asiago, in the Valleys of Agno and Chiampo, in the Lessini and on the plain.  The reaction of the Nazis and Fascists was terrible:  they burned down Caviola and other small centers (with several civilians being killed) and the great round-up on the Grappa led to the capturing and the hanging of 32 patriots along the avenues of Bassano.  Over 1,000 persons, both civilians and partisans, were killed, and 800 deported.

On April 25, 1945, at the signal of the general insurrection, all of the partisan groups carried out a full-scale attack against the retreating enemy, while the people rose up and freed the cities.  On the morning of April 28, the tricolour of Liberation waved from the flag poles of St. Mark’s Square.


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