The Verona Manifesto of the Salò Republic

The 18-point programme of the Fascist Republican Party, drafted by Benito Mussolini and Nicola Bombacci in November 1943 for use in the new Italian Social Republic

The story of the Italian Social Republic – more frequently referred to as the Salò Republic after the location of its seat of government – is fairly well-known, being the product of Mussolini’s dismissal from office, arrest, and eventual rescue by German commandos.  Formally established in northern Italy on September 23rd, 1943, the Salò Republic is commonly regarded as a puppet regime, and this cannot be denied – SS men were a constant presence around the Republic’s leaders, and SS General Karl Wolff remarked later in life: “I did not give him [Mussolini] orders… but in practice he could not decide anything against my will and my advice.” Yet despite this, or perhaps because of it, Mussolini still brimmed with inspiration. He had grown increasingly embittered towards the aristocracy and bourgeoisie as the War progressed; the misfortune of his dismissal by the King acted as a copestone to these feelings. He saw in the new regime an opportunity of returning fascism and Italy to its national-syndicalist roots, and expressed these sentiments in prodigious numbers of essays and articles, as well as in the ‘Verona Manifesto’ reproduced below. The Manifesto was the founding document of the new regime’s ruling Fascist Republican Party; co-drafted with Nicola Bombacci (who had been thrown out of the Italian Communist Party in 1927) the Manifesto is somewhat reminiscent of fascism’s earliest programmes, with its republicanism and heavy focus on workers’ issues. Although the Verona Manifesto contains promises of profit sharing, housing rights, and the extension of syndicalism into every sector of the economy, it (and the Salò Republic overall) is perhaps not as radical as its reputation suggests. Its advocacy of “the abolition of the internal capitalist system” is not accompanied by any substantial measures to that effect, and it explicitly leaves private property and private enterprise intact, although subject to state interference. Nonetheless, it is at the very least an interesting historical document, and one has to wonder how much more thoroughly Mussolini’s renewed radical tendencies might have been actualized without the interference of the requirements of the occupying German war machine.

The Verona Manifesto of the
Italian Social Republic
(November 14th, 1943)

In its first national report, the Fascist Republican Party:

Lifts its thoughts to those who have sacrificed their lives for republican Fascism on the battlefronts, in the piazzas of the cities and villages, in the limestone pits of Istria and Dalmatia, and who should be added to the ranks of the martyrs of our Revolution, and to the phalanx of all those men who have died for Italy. 

It regards continuation of the war alongside Germany and Japan until final victory, and the speedy reconstruction of our Armed Forces which will serve alongside the valorous soldiers of the Führer, as goals that tower above everything else in importance and urgency.

It takes note of the decrees instituting the Extraordinary Tribunals, whereby party members will carry out their unbending determination to administer exemplary justice; and, inspired by Mussolini’s stimulus and accomplishments, it enunciates the following programmatic directives for Party actions: 

WITH RESPECT TO DOMESTIC CONSTITUTIONAL MATTERS

1. A Constituent Assembly must be convened. As the sovereign power of popular origin, it shall declare an end to the Monarchy, solemnly condemn the traitorous and fugitive last King, proclaim the Social Republic, and appoint its Head.

2. The Constituent Assembly shall be composed of representatives of all the syndical associations and all the administrative districts, and it shall include representatives of the occupied provinces by means of delegations from all those evacuees and refugees who are in liberated territory. It shall likewise include representatives of the combatants and the prisoners of war by means of the repatriation of disabled personnel; representatives of Italians abroad; of the courts, of the universities, and of every other body or institution whose participation will contribute to making the Constituent Assembly a synthesis of all the worthy elements of the Nation. 

3. The Republican Constituent Assembly must ensure to citizens, soldiers, workers, and taxpayers the rights to check up on and make responsible criticism of the actions of the various public administrations. 

Every five years citizens shall be called upon to vote on the appointment of the Head of the Republic. 

No citizen who is arrested in flagrante or for preventive reasons may be held more than seven days without an order from the judiciary authority, and an order from the judiciary authority shall also be required for searches in domiciles. 

In the exercise of their duties the courts shall act with complete freedom. 

4. Both the negative electoral experience that Italy has already gone through and the partially negative experience of a method of nomination that proved to be too rigidly hierarchical make it necessary to find a solution that will reconcile opposing needs. A mixed system seems to be most advisable – for example, popular election of the representatives in the Chamber, and appointment of ministers by action of the Head of the Republic and the Government; and elections of the Fascio in the Party, save for ratification and appointment of the National Directory by action of the Duce.

5.  There must be only one organization that shall have the task of training people for political activity. 

The Party, which is an order of fighters and believers, must become an organism of absolute political purity, worthy of being the custodian of the Revolutionary Idea. 

Membership in the Party shall not be necessary for any employment or task. 

6. The religion of the Republic shall be the apostolic Roman Catholic one. Every other cult that does not violate the law shall be respected.

7. All those who belong to the Jewish race are foreigners. For the duration of the war they shall be regarded as being of enemy nationality. 

IN FOREIGN POLICY

8. The essential goal of the Republic’s foreign policy must be the unity, independence, and territorial integrity of the Fatherland within the maritime and Alpine boundaries that were laid out by nature, by the sacrifice of blood, and by history – boundaries which are threatened by the enemy through invasion and through the promises made by London to refugee governments. 

Another essential goal shall consist of demanding recognition of the need for living space that is indispensable for a population of 45 million in an area that is insufficient to feed them. 

Such a policy, moreover, shall be carried out through the establishment of a “European Community”, based on a federation of all those nations which accept the following principles:

(a) Elimination from our continent of the centuries-old British intrigues;

(b) Abolition of the internal capitalistic system, and struggle against the world plutocracies; 

(c) Development of the natural resources of Africa for the benefit of both European peoples and the natives, and with absolute respect for those people who – like the Egyptian Muslims in particular – are already organized in civic groupings. 

IN SOCIAL MATTERS

9. The Basis of the Social Republic and its primary object shall be manual, technical, and intellectual labor in all its manifestations. 

10. Private property, which is the fruit of labor and of individual savings and the integration of the human personality, shall be guaranteed by the State. 

11. In the national economy the State’s sphere of action shall embrace everything that because of its dimensions or functions lies outside the private sector and falls within the collective interest. 

Public utilities and, as a rule, munitions industries must be managed by the State through government-controlled agencies. 

 In every enterprise (industrial, private, state, or government-regulated) representatives of technicians and workers shall work closely together (and with full knowledge on the part of management) in the establishment of fair wages and in the equitable distribution of profits to provide reserve funds, rewards for capital investment, and profit sharing by the workers themselves. 

In certain enterprises this may take place by extending the prerogatives of existing factory shop-steward committees; in others, by replacing administrative committees with management committees composed of technicians and workers along with a representative of the State; and in still others, by means of para-syndical co-operatives. 

13. In agriculture, the proprietor’s right of private initiative shall be restricted whenever there is evidence of an absence of such initiative. 

The expropriation of uncultivated lands and of badly managed farms may lead either to subdivision of these lands among the day workers in such a way as to transform them into private farmers, or to the establishment of co-operative farms of a para-syndical or para-statal type, depending on the specific agricultural economic need. 

This is, in any case, already anticipated by existing legislation, and the Party and the syndical organizations are providing the necessary impetus for the implementation thereof. 

14. The right of private farmers, artisans, professional people, and artists to carry on productive work for their individual families and other groupings shall be fully recognized, save for their obligation to deliver to collection depots those quantities of produce that are set forth by law, and to be checked as to the accuracy of such deliveries. 

15. Since housing is not only a right of property but a right to property, the Party is inscribing in its program the creation of a National Agency for People’s Housing, which shall take over the existing Institute, broaden its activity to the utmost, and supervise the providing of housing to workers’ families in every category either by means of outright construction of new residences or by gradual renovation of existing ones. 

With respect thereto, the general principle is hereby affirmed that rental payments shall constitute legal title of acquisition as soon as the investor’s capital has been reimbursed in just measure. 

This agency shall requisition and distribute unused premises and shall undertake temporary construction as its first task in resolving the problems brought about by wartime destruction. 

16. The fact that a worker is enrolled by the authorities in an occupational syndicate shall not prevent his being transferred to another syndicate if he should have the requisite qualifications. The syndicates shall be combined in a single confederation that shall include all workers, technicians, and professional men but shall exclude those proprietors who are neither directors nor technicians. It shall be entitled the General Confederation of Labor, Technology, and the Arts. 

Employees of state industrial enterprises and of public utilities shall form occupational syndicates in the same manner as every other worker. All the imposing social security measures that have been put into effect by the Fascist Regime during the past twenty years shall remain in effect. The Charter of Labor provided the consecration of this program both in word and in spirit and shall be the point of departure for further progress.

17. With regard to one of our most urgent current problems, the Party believes that there must be no delay in instituting a program of fair wages for the workers, to be achieved through agreements that set up minimum national standards, and also through prompt local readjustments. This is even more urgent for low-income and medium-income employees of both state and private enterprises. In order for this measure to be effective and not turn out to be harmful in the final analysis for all concerned, it will be necessary that a portion of wages and salaries shall be paid in the form of commodities, to be distributed at officially established prices through co-operatives, factory commissaries, and an expanded “Provvida” agency. Any store found guilty of violations shall be requisitioned and placed under either para-statal or co-operative forms of management. 

Only in this way can there be stabilization of prices and monetary values, and purification of market operations. 

As for the black market, it is imperative that speculators – who are on the same moral level with traitors and defeatists – shall be brought within the jurisdiction of the Extraordinary Tribunals and made subject to the death penalty. 

18. By means of this preamble to the work of the Constituent Assembly, the Party is demonstrating that not only is it moving toward the people, it is staying with the people. The Italian people, for their part, must realize that there is only one way for them to safeguard the achievements of yesterday, today, and tomorrow – and that is by hurling back the enslaving invasion of the Anglo-American plutocracies, who have shown in a thousand clear ways that they intend to make even more difficult and miserable the lives of Italians. 

There is only one way to attain all of our social goals: Fight! Work! Win!

Document sourced from Charles F. Delzell’s Mediterranean Fascism, 1919-1945 (1970), Walker & Co.

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