My 25th of April – Italian Liberation Day

It has happened frequently to me, to celebrate this particular day not in my country. It’s like when a good friend calls you to share his happiness for a special moment in his life, and you are not there to hug him and to celebrate with him. It is a feeling of detachment and melancholy. And I think that is the same for all those who leave (or escape) from their country, seeking for a better future.

I love my country. No doubt about it.

But…and that is a capital letter, But… sometimes I just can’t understand Italian people. We don’t have a good memory and we have the bad habit to forget very often about our roots. The 25th of April is a good way to evoke the way we were, what we had the courage to do, and the meaning of democracy for us. It’s not just a day. It’s something more. It’s our Wille zur Macht, our new democratic dawn. And it’s not a worthless thing to remember (especially considering the last two decades of a value’s paucity in which we have lived… but that’s another story).

The Italian “Liberation Day”, the 25th of April, is a special day indeed. It is my favourite celebration day.

This date was officially established in 1949 and was chosen by convention because it was the day of liberation by the partisans of the cities of Milan and Turin, even if the war continued for a few more days, until the first week of May. In early 1945, the partisans who fought against the German occupation and the Salò’s Republic soldiers in northern Italy, were several tens of thousands of people, pretty well organized from the military point of view.

Many occupation soldiers, in May 1945, were in the south of the Po River Valley trying to resist to the American and British offensive end, which began on the 9th of April (near Bologna). The assaulting was an immediate success, both for the superiority of men and equipment of the attackers and for the general feeling of mistrust and inevitable defeat that hung between the German and Italian troops, despite the strong will of the Fascist and Nazi authorities to continue the war until the end.

British Army troops by the Po River in Italy, April 1945, liberation day, history -
British Army troops at the Po River, April 1945. Image source:

On April the 10th the Communist Party sent to all the local organizations, with which it was connected and linked, the “Directive n. 16“, in which it said that it was now time to “unleash the final attack“. On the 16th, the CLNAI (High Italian Committee of National Liberation, which included all the anti-fascist and resistance movements – communists, socialists, Christian Democrats and shareholders) issued similar statements of general insurrection. The partisans began a series of urban center attacks. Bologna, for example, was attacked by partisans on the 19th and finally freed with the help of the Allies, on the 21st.

On April the 24th, the Allies passed by the Po River and on the 25th the German and the Salò’s Republic soldiers, began to depart from Milan and Turin, where the population had rebelled with a general strike the day before (which was announced on the radio “Milan Free” by Sandro Pertini, the future president of the Republic, then partisan and member of the National Liberation Committee). The factories were occupied and the Corriere della Sera newspaper was used to print the front page announcing the victory.

On the evening of the 25th, Benito Mussolini left Milan and headed for Como (where he would be captured by partisans and killed two days after, on the 28th). The partisans continued to arrive in Milan in the days between the 25th and 28th, defeating the residual and limited resistance.

Benito Mussolini, italy, fascist, italian liberation day, -
Benito Mussolini. Image source:

They’re the facts beyond the date. The leaders of the Resistance were deeply idealistic and believed that the liberation offered the opportunity to bring about meaningful change in Italy, addressing the many social and political problems that predated fascism, instead of a simple return to “business as usual”. Maybe they were dreamers, and we still don’t appreciate the importance of what happened in those days, but for me the 25th of April is still an important day, a day of awareness. And I wish we could be as strong and courageous as we were in that time, remembering those feelings everyday.

That’s my 25th of April.



“What does today’s Resistance consist of? For this I plead with young people: defend our hard won positions! Defend the Republic and democracy! What I mean is today we need two qualities, my dear friends: honesty and courage. I appeal to young people: be honest first of all, politics must be done with clean hands! If there’s any scandal, if anyone plays politics for his own vile interest, he must be reported without hesitation!” Sandro Pertini.

Italy - HeadStuff.orgFeatured image source