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PostEva Peron in Italy, 1947; Left-Right Conflicts (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 03/19/17 9:31 am)
Commenting my post of 17 March, our esteemed moderator asked me about the voyage of Eva Perón to Italy and about scuffles in the Postwar period between the extreme Right and Left.
At the time of the visit of Eva Perón, summer 1947, I was 11 and I remember the event only slightly. That was also the year of the Diktat Peace Treaty, which is well printed in my mind. The trip, however, seemed to be a success. Many of us liked Argentina, as it was one of the very few nations that did not declare war on Italy while the first (repeat the first) Perón was somewhat reminiscent of Mussolini.
Evita returned to Italy ten years later, in a coffin. The generals were afraid of her corpse, so they sent her in secret to the Main Cemetery of Milano, where it remained until 1971. Funny, powerful bigshots are afraid of corpses. In Italy the corpse of Mussolini was given back to his family only 12 years after his death.
In the 1950s, after the horrible massacre of fascists after the end of WWII, which lasted a couple of years, things were not too bad.
By the way, to say "Extreme Right" is wrong. The adversaries gave this name to groups originally inspired by the Socializzazione and by nationalism. Things worsened after 1960, when Tambroni's government, supported by the MSI, resigned following great Leftist manifestations.
Things got worse and worse with the arrival of the Red Brigades, supported by the "democratic" intelligentsia. Twenty-one young Missini were killed, and many were beaten.
Anyway, at that time the MSI manifestations were seeing high attendance, but at gironi (conferences). First they involved courageous militants, than many policemen, than a huge mass of screaming communists who wanted to attack the militants, and finally the slothful public that wanted to listen but tried to give the impression that they were just passing by.
The life of the Missini was not easy. I will tell you of my first job interview, of which I am a little bit ashamed but perhaps I was just too smart for my own good.
Nine months after school I was still out of work. I was even refused a job as young deckboy, not a cadet, on a tiny old cement ship (built during the war when iron was not available). On a passenger ship of the Italian Line a deckboy disembarked because of illness, his relief was caught on his first day smuggling cigarettes and fired, so I was the only one available in two hours.
The Italian Line was a Christian Democratic fiefdom. I had a short interview, at the end of it the Port Captain asked which party I would vote for. My answer was: "For a party which will defend the Christian traditions of Italy." The poor guy assumed that I was referring to the Christian Democrat Party and I got the job.
Finally, I would not be too tough with Veterans Today, even if the publication sometimes seems bizarre. All my life I read or listened foreign sources, starting with Radio London in 1943 when I was seven and then, especially at sea, the BBC, Voice of America (various editions sometimes conflicting), Moscow, Prague, Tirana, Beijing, Madrid, Lisbon, Paris, etc., as I can understand English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
I certainly heard a lot of BS, but comparing the conflicting BS you can gather a fair idea of the facts. For instance yesterday VT reported an Israeli aerial attack in Syria with a probable downed jet. There was no mention of this in Italy.
After all, no historian has the truth but only a part of it. When facing a thousand facts he or she can relate only a few. The historian must make a choice, and as such, s/he is no longer truthful.
JE comments: When speaking of her 1947 trip, Argentine historians stress Evita's hostile reception in Italy. (She was received warmly in Francoist Spain.) Not that it's historically accurate, but the film Evita even shows Madonna's limo being pelted with eggs (in Rome I think).
I'd like to know more about the wartime shipbuilding in Italy. Were cement ships common?
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
03/21/17 12:15 PM)
In response to John E's question, concrete ships were built first in the US during WWI. Some 12 of them were constructed.
One of them, San Pasqual, was sold to Cuba in 1924 to be used in the Caribbean. After a grounding at Cayo Santa Maria, it was connected to the shore and became a jail during the Revolution and then a hotel.
During WWII, 23 new concrete ships were built, plus many barges and pontoons used in the Normandy landing and as breakwaters in the US; see
In Italy, just a few concrete ships were built at Lavagna (Liguria). The one on which I wanted to sail later broke and sunk, I was lucky not to join her.
JE comments: A concrete ship seems destined to break and sink. One of the most famous Great War cement hulks, the SS Atlantus, lies off the beach at Cape May, New Jersey. I'll have to check it out the next time I'm in Rehoboth Beach (Delaware), just across the bay.
I hope WAISers will join me in wishing success and a speedy recovery to Eugenio Battaglia as he undergoes surgery today. We're channeling good WAIS vibes your way, Eugenio!