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Concentrazione Antifascista Italiana

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Concentrazione Antifascista Italiana (CAI; "Italian Anti-Fascist Concentration") was an Italian coalition of Anti-Fascist groups which existed from 1927 to 1934.

Founded in Nérac, France, by expatriate Italians, the CAI was an alliance of non-communist anti-fascist forces (republican, socialist, nationalist) trying to promote and to coordinate expatriate actions to fight fascism in Italy, and published a propaganda paper, entitled La Libertà. The Partito Popolare Italiano (PPI) refused to take part in it, along with the Communist Party of Italy.

Many of the socialist elements of the CAI were subsumed into Giustizia e Libertà and later, the Partito d'Azione.

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  • ✪ The Arditi - Italian Special Forces of World War 1 I THE GREAT WAR Special


World War One buffs are familiar with German stormtroops, but many people are unaware that other nations developed their own shock troops, with legacies that last even to the present day. One good example of these is the Reparti D’assalto, the assault units of the Italian army, better known as the daring ones, the Arditi. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to a Great War special episode about the Italian Arditi in the First World War. The Arditi have their origin in “companies of death”, which were groups of volunteers who would perform the dangerous task of cutting or blasting enemy barbed wire defenses to pave the way for the main infantry assault. There is, however, a major difference between the companies of death and the Arditi. The former were a kind of combat engineers, who would clear the path for the attack while the latter were assault units in their own right. The Arditi were chosen from amongst the bravest of men; men willing to engage the enemy in hand-to-hand combat. The tactical deployment of the early Arditi was to advance behind the cover of friendly artillery fire and, as the barrage lifted, to jump into enemy trenches with daggers and hand grenades. The operational idea was for them to clear and hold a trench for at least 24 hours, until regular troops could relieve them. Now, the formation of the Arditi units in 1916 took place around the same time that German stormtroops were being formed, but German and Italian forces were not in contact with each other at that time in the field, or previously in the war, so there was no direct German stormtroop influence on the Arditi. In fact, Italian historian Angelo Pirocchi argues that the Arditi developed independently and had a wider scope of operations than their more famous German counterparts. They were, however, influenced by Austro-Hungarian Jagdkommando, which were spontaneously formed within regiments for trench raids. What the Arditi did have in common with German stormtroops was their expanded arsenal of weapon proficiencies like machine guns and flamethrowers. The Arditi not only deployed their own units within the army, but also had their own uniforms and emblems. Those that came from the Bersaglieri - light infantry - adopted the red flames on the open collar, those from the Alpini - the mountain troops - had green flames, and those from the regular infantry wore black flames. A big emblem was the skull with a dagger clenched in its teeth. The traditional symbol that no quarter could be asked nor given in combat. This was the symbol of the vicious hand-to-hand fighting and willingness to fight to the death of the Arditi. Never surrender. They were deployed as independent battalions with Roman numerals and initially the Arditi were all volunteers. But as the losses mounted, soldiers were increasingly assigned to Arditi units on the recommendation of their commanding officers. Many of them came from crack troops like the Bersaglieri and Alpini, units known for their stamina. They were trained in a special school behind the Isonzo River front, a school that recreated front line conditions, including the use of explosives. There were many fatalities among recruits. And also during battle, where the casualty rate among the Arditi was 25-30% per attack. Well, their motto was “O la vittoria, o tutti accoppiati”; either we win or we all die. Sometimes they did, in fact, all die. Like in April 1916 at Monte Osvaldo. The soldiers of the Arditi also had special privileges. They had housing away from the front lines and were paid three times what the regular troops received, and there was a system of bonuses for taking prisoners, 10 lire for a private, 20 for an NCO, and 50 for an officer, as well as one for capturing enemy weapons, 5 lire for a rifle, 50 for a machine gun, and 500 for a piece of artillery. These rewards were originally given to men who performed beyond the call of duty, but in 1918 they applied to anyone. But how were they in the field? At their high-water mark at the end of 1917 there were 27 battalion-sized Arditi units, but they didn’t have a significant impact on Italian battlefield performance on a strategic or even an operational level. For example, there were multiple Italian offensives on the Isonzo River between the summer of 1916 and the summer of 1917, and none resulted in a big breakthrough, despite the increasing size and deployment of the Arditi. This was in stark contrast to the German stormtroops in the Caporetto Offensive in the fall of 1917, who advanced over 100km and nearly knocked Italy out of the war. Arditi did, however, play a big role as a military and political force that bolstered the morale of the regular troops, but the only time they had a real noticeable effect on operations was during the Vittorio-Veneto Offensive in October 1918. Twelve Arditi units were formed into two assault divisions, and it was the largest concentration of Arditi during the war. They spearheaded the attack on the Austro-Hungarian forces and paved the way for Italian victory. That victory was somewhat tainted by the breakdown of discipline in the Austro-Hungarian army resulting from declarations of independence from many parts of the empire a few days after the offensive began which caused mass desertions. And postwar? Well, postwar isn’t really the purview of this channel, but the bravery and patriotism of the Arditi spoke to the Italian public imagination. The Italian nationalist poet Gabriele D’Annunzio was the first to really capitalize politically on the Arditi, inciting several of them to participate in his coup in 1919 in what is now Rijeka in Croatia, though his revolt was put down by the regular Italian army. I don’t know if that influenced the decision in 1920 to disband all the Arditi units, but that’s what happened. But their legacy lived on in the political street fighting leading up to the Second World War, and both fascists and antifascists adopted symbols of the Arditi. So you can see what they meant to the people of Italy as a symbol of bravery and Italian national pride. I am sure you all want to know more about shock troops from the Entente and we will talk about them in the next special in this mini series on what you could call special forces of World War 1. Thank you Ruud Bruijns


This page was last edited on 8 July 2019, at 08:53
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