Friday, January 20, 2012

Pietro Nenni

Pietro Sandro Nenni (1891 – 1980) was an Italian socialist politician, the national secretary of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) and lifetime Senator since 1970. He was a recipient of the Stalin Peace Prize in 1951. He was a central figure of the Italian left from the 1920s to the 1960s.
After his peasant parents died, he was placed in an orphanage by an aristocratic family. Every Sunday Nenni recited his catechism before the countess and if he did well received a silver coin. "Generous but humiliating", he recalled.

While the socialist Mussolini became a fascist, the republican Nenni joined the Socialist Party in 1921, at the moment of its split with the wing that would form the Communist Party (PCI).  In 1925 he was arrested for publishing a booklet on the Fascists' murder of Socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti.
Pietro Nenni and Randolfo Pacciardi in Madrid in September 1936

Nenni went on to fight with the International Brigades in Spain. He was the cofounder and political commissar of the Garibaldi Brigade. After the defeat of the Spanish Republic and the victory of Franco he returned to France. In 1943 he was arrested by the Germans and then imprisoned in Italy on the island of Ponza.
After being liberated in August 1943, he returned to Rome to lead the Italian Socialist Party which had been reunified as the Italian Socialist Party of Proletarian Unity. After the surrender of Italy with the Allied armed forces on September 8, 1943, he was one of the political officials of the National Liberation Committee - the underground political entity of Italian Partisans during the German occupation.
In 1956 Nenni broke with the PCI after the Soviet invasion of Hungary. He returned the Stalin Prize money ($25,000). Subsequently, he slowly led his party into supporting membership of the NATO and closer European integration, and sought cooperation with the leading party, the Christian Democrats.
He died in Rome on January 1, 1980. A daughter, Vittoria "Viva" Daubeuf, died in Auschwitz. She is memorialized in the writings of Charlotte Delbo.

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