Matteotti Murder

1924: 100 years later.

On June 10, 1924, the socialist deputy Giacomo Matteotti was assaulted, abducted, and then killed by a fascist squad.

In the weeks prior, he had become increasingly disliked by the fascist regime due to his exposés of the violence perpetrated by fascism and electoral fraud in the previous April’s elections. Matteotti’s body was found on August 16, 1924. His murder is considered one of the pivotal moments in the construction of the fascist dictatorship. A century after his assassination, we remember the figure of Giacomo Matteotti and that period so crucial to Italian history.

When Giacomo Matteotti was killed, he was the secretary of the Unitary Socialist Party, formed in October 1922 following a split from the Italian Socialist Party, and one of the leading figures of the opposition to the fascist government that was progressively transforming into a dictatorial regime.

As early as 1921, Matteotti had published a Socialist Inquiry into the deeds of the fascists in Italy, denouncing the repeated violence of the fascist action squads during the 1921 election campaign. In 1923, he wrote the text A Year of Fascist Domination – published in the early months of 1924 – in which he tallied and accused the persistence of fascist violence despite the seizure of power following the assignment to form a government that King Victor Emmanuel II had given to Benito Mussolini in the autumn of 1922.

A few weeks after the political elections of April 6, 1924, on May 30, Matteotti delivered a famous speech accusing fascism: “We challenge here and now the validity of the majority elections. […] According to us, the election is essentially invalid, and we add that it is invalid in all constituencies. […] For your own confirmation [of fascist parliamentarians], no Italian voter was free to decide with his will. […] There is an armed militia, composed of citizens of a single party, which has the declared task of supporting a specific government by force, even if it lacks consent.”

A few days later, Giacomo Matteotti was abducted and killed. Despite the outrage and some initiatives from the opposition, fascism persisted, and on January 3, 1925, Mussolini personally assumed political responsibility for the crime: “I declare here before this assembly and before the entire Italian people that I alone assume the political, moral, and historical responsibility for everything that has happened. If slightly distorted phrases are enough to hang a man, bring out the stake and bring out the rope! If Fascism has been nothing but castor oil and cudgel and not instead a proud passion of the best Italian youth, then the blame is mine! If Fascism has been an association of criminals, if all the violence has been the result of a specific historical, political, moral climate, then I bear the responsibility for this because I have created this historical, political, and moral climate through propaganda from intervention until today.”

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