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Memoria e Ricerca

“Sons of a bitch” Becoming “Fifteen-year-olds torn to pieces by spring”. The “boys of Salò” and Italian Politics

di Ilenia Rossini
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 49 (2015), p. 125

Immediately after the Second World War and the end of the Italian Civil War, Italy was interested by a phenomenon of “divided memories”. On the one hand there was the official public memory, which denied combatant qualification to soldiers who had fought in the army of the fascist Italian Social Republic (Repubblica sociale italiana, RSI) and condemned their experience; on the other hand there was the neo-fascist memory which inherited the political, cultural and ideological values of RSI soldiers and put all the efforts to legitimize them through their inclusion in public memory. Over the decades, this neo-fascist struggle over memory has had partial success: the negative image of the Italian Social Republic soldiers went weakening and the previously disparagingly labelled “repubblichini” became the subjects of moving and romantic songs, movies and fictions. Now called “ragazzi di Salò“ (“Salò boys”), they were integrated in the Italian collective memory and started to be represented as people who made choices in good faith to defend their homeland and honour. Although the attempts to legislatively equate the fascist and anti-fascist (partisans) fighters as combatants have not been successful, the new rhetoric about “Salò boys” has penetrated deeply into Italian collective memory. Key words: Italian Social Republic; RSI Military Formation; Italian Civil War; fascist legacy; memory politics; veterans.