... Very short history (fourth part)...

"of the Piedmont and its language"

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Notice to be read (in case you didn't)



Note
In this last part of our very short history, we only report some points in which the piedmontese facts assume different and particular characteristics with respect the ones of the facts in the remaining of Italy. Besides, since the facts going from the end of the war on have been lived by the writer (born few days before the fall of Mussolini on July 25th 1943), and therefore they are seen from the writer's point of view and his experience, they are not reported since the history has to be based on objective facts and documents that can be quietly evaluated only after a while, usually when situations and persons are changed (in the short time the history is always written by winners). Only in this way it is possibe to understand where there are falsities and forcings. Falsehoods sometimes last long time to be discovered, Usually this happens when situations are changed, and documents become available, which were unknown before (in the short time history is always written by the winner). New finds and new documents that can be found, can add or modfy information about what it was considered as for sure.
This is the why this part is so short. The probability of lack of precision and also errors is increasing. The recommendation about all the content of this site is always and even more valid.

From Unity to the end of XIX century
In the first tens of years after unity, the Piedmont, which starts from a position of advantage with respect the other italian regions (at least the income of the region is largely higher than the one of the other italian regions), has to face with a strong decay, due to the loss of all the government organizations (Ministeries and so on). To that, a strong anti-piedmontese hostility is added, all around Italy (we have already touched the point). (Massimo d'Azeglio, former piedmontese Prime Minister, wrtites that to Piedmontese the merit is due of having started the emancipation of Italy, and as a reward they (literally) "have come into the pocket of all italians" (they are hated by all italians).
The piedmontese agriculture continues to be made by a large number of small landowners, who are growing, while few large farms mainly produce rice, in the Vercelli zone. The piedmontese area is the most industrialized of Italy, and the main industry is the one of cotton. Silk and wool are always a resource of great importance. Texile in therefore the main industrial sector. At the second place there is the food industry, the first producin canned food, with also polishing of rice, and with a good production of vermouth and sparking wines. At the third place there is the metal and mechanical industry, working mainly for army and railways.
With the Unity, Piedmontese complain that regional interestrs are always neglected by roman government, and all the investments are directed to other places. Industrial development is hindered by the high coal price, and this continues to make it convenient the use of hidraulic energy, even if the power is not so much and this is not available everywhere. Only in 1871, with the opening of thew railway tunnel of Frejus, coal is available at a cheaper price. In the menwhile wood is still used as a fuel, producing not negligeable loss of the forrest patrimony. The government's liberal politcs produces some crises of firms, which ask for some protection actions. The piedmontese electorate starts to move toward the left party (which is quite moderate at this time).
Sectors in which the piedmontese industry operates are many, and in 1880 a great increase is noticed. At the same time the establishment of a compact worker's class starts to worry undertakers. Workers' organizations are particularly determined in the area of Biella (main center of wool industry), where the workers often remain also farmers, with a remarkable capacity of resisting in claims, which are supported with extreme decision.
At the end of the XIX century a big agricultural crisis takes place, due to the arrival of wheat from Noth America, rice from China, and meat fro Argentina. This crisis hits in particular large farms that start to leave workers unemployed. Small farms are not particularly damaged by this crisis (in particular the ones producing wine), while the rice-field workers found themselves without a contractual power, due to the arrival of workers from East Italy, available for working at whatever condition. Also the wine production, that was profitable, becomes excessive with a fall of prices. Of this situation productors of vermouth an sparklin wine (incredibly very appreciated in France) can take advantage. Also small landowners are now in trouble. Without statal investments, which take other ways, in this period the Piedmont loses its agricultural primate over the other regions of Italy.
More than in other parts of Italy, in Piedmont many forms of cooperation and mutual aid associations rise in this period, often suggested and supported by clergy of parishes. A thick net of Savings Banks and Rural Banks support small farms.
But crisis arrives also to the industrial sectors, with a chain of crashes which leaves without a work a lot of people. Poverty brings an increase of criminality in the cities. This situation is well described in the piedmontese literature of the period. This literature is not very known, since it it is written in Piedmontese (see Literature). The situation becomes worse when the Government tranfers from Turin to Milan the plants of military material and the ones of the railways. The metal mechanical industry survives thanks to the request of machinery for texile industry. Also the mechanization in this latter industry produces new unemployed people.
In this period emigration of Piedmontese abroad becomes important, but it is necessary to pay attention in reading statistics, which often do not distinguish the temporary emigration from the permanent one. Also in the past mountains inhabitants, during the wintwr, when the work is less, sent some component of the family to work in factories of Marseille (France), who came back on mountains in spring. In this period many workers go to France, or anyway in Europe, for a couple of years and then they come back to Piedmont. Others, instead, go to America and they will stay there. This temporary emigration toward France establishes strong relations between Piedmont and France and in many cases there are also marriages which establish a tight relationship. In piedmontese alpine valleys the French is spoken as it is Italian, and the usual languages are Piedmontese and Provenšal.
In the meanwhile a new resource becomes available, the electrical energy (Galileo Ferraris, who discovered the rotating magnetic field, was from Turin). The Piedmont has good water resources for hydroelectric uses. From this will bear avery important piedmontese industry.

Ortganization of workers in Piedmont
We can look at what we have already sayd about working conditions in this period (in the third part of this short history). In Piedmont a worker's movement rises very soon, but for a long time remains under a "paternalistic protection" of the middle classes, thanks to the fact that there are not large concentrations of workers, and also because the middle classes have a great power and are supported by police. Only the workers of the Biella district, whose many are also farmers or belong to a farmer's family, have a remarkable contractual capacity, coming from the possibility of sustaining a strike for a long time. Alreadi in 1864 workers of Biella have success in engaging a general extended strike that forces the undertakers to modify the inhuman working rules and obtains the first work collective contract in Italy. Also another strike reaches the targhet, in 1877, after a duration of three months and half. Mechanization of factories, and the consequent reduction of the workers in the sector, brings an unavoidable reduction of the contractual power of workers.
In general, all the strikes that take origin from corporate organizations, in this period are brutally repressed by police, but in spite of that, or maybe, just for that, the antagonism of the working class starts to grow. When the crisis effects are evident in metal mechanical compart, the workers' movement assumes political characters. The awareness rises of the need of investments in Piedmont. The workers organize in struggle committees, and together with piedmontese deputies start to ask the Government for investments. The Turin municipality supports the establishment of the Chamber of Work, while on the side of government the repression continue (in particula with rhe Crispi goverment).
The socialis movement is acquiring more and more importance, and also some intellectuals (like De Amicis, Lombroso) become supporters of the movement. in the elections of the year 1897 the Piedmont, first in Italy, sends to Rome two socialist deputies. In municipal elections of 1899 in Turin socialists have 17 elected members over 40, and Alessandria is the first Commune to elect a socialist town major.

From 1900 to the first world war
This is the period of the origin of the large industry in Piedmont. The FIAT is founded in Turin in the 1899, and it finds a thick net of metal mechanical factories where there is a good know-how in the field. At the beginning it is a small firm, that starts its expansion when John Agnelli manages to collect large capitals on share market, obtaining the control of the company. Firms of services are municipalized, including the electrical firm, and this assure electricity at a low cost, important for the industrial development.
In 1906 is founded in Turin the "PolitÚcnich", a technical University, that becomes soon the main technical University in Italy, able to provide highlu qualified engineers. The city is growing quickly, in particula due to immigration of people from countries. The new quarter of St. Paul is built for workers, then the city continue expanding in all the directions.
In the period of the Giolitti governments the Piedmont becomes again the first region of Italy for income. Other important industries are founded, like the Olivetti in Ivrea, the RIV in Villar Perosa, the Borsalino in Alessandria, the Paper factory Burgo in Verzuolo, and still in Turin the Lancia, the Nebiolo, the Venchi, the Talmone. Still piedmontede are the first football teams. Torino, Juventus, Pro Vercelli.
There are, instead, again problems in agriculture, where small farms have not means for renewing the productive techniques and efficiently fight against the grape mildew and vine-pest, that are seriously damaging vines. In this way exodus toward cities and emigration restart.

The trade-union struggles
The Mutual Aid associations, spreaded not only among workers, have still a good importance, but among workers a trade-union organization is growing, mare and more modern, supported by an incisive politicization of the working class. On the opposite front the undertakers form a League, which is the first in Italy, and it is a first prototype of the present Confindustria. The metal and mechanical workers in Turin are the most politicized part of the workers' movement, and are organized into two trade-unions: the FIOM having a moderate setting up, and another group, more revolutionary.
At the beginning of the century there is a series of strikes that, in 1907, obtain nearly everywhere in Piedmont, the working day of 10 working hours, the obligation of notice in case of dismissal, and the recognition of shop committees. A crisis in the industrial sector generates some withdrawal, but immediately after the claims are again strongly proposed. In the years 1912 and 1913 there are strikes lasting even some month. The major part of the owners is aligned on uncompromising positions, while Agnelli assumes a more moderate position, and this allows him to deal more easily with Government, which is moderate as well. The Prime Minister himself accuses the most intransigent owners of being a danger for public order. In this way new contracts are signed that introduce the working week if 57 hours.
With the introduction of universal suffrage (only for men) the socialist piedmontese representative body grows in Parliament, ant the socialist party itself moves more toward left positions, with the ingress of Gramsci, Togliatti, Terracini. In the factories new working methods are introduced for increasing production, worsening the working conditions for workers. The subsequent reaction is spoiled by the beginning of the war.

The first world war
In the period in which Italy remains neutral, manufacturers have the opportunity of increasing export toward the nations involved in the war. Immediately after many orders come from military apparatus. Manufacturers begin to be in favour of the intervention in the war. Beyond this group of persons, in Piedmont the interventionists are few and isolated, In fact the politics of Giolitti is still very appreciated in the region. As unique city in Italy, the piece of news of intervention in the war generates a general strike of remonstrance. The enlistment heavily hits countries and the related agricultural economy, while in the industrial cities workers and employees, engaged in war production, have not to do the military service, but they are militarized in the factories, and so they are under the war military laws. This cancels all the rights achieved with the preceeding struggles.
Many are the piedmontese soldiers dead in the war, due to the employment sometimes senseless, of Alpine troops. The province of Cuneo, at the end of the war, will be the one with more soldiers dead in the war (in percentage over the population) among all the italian provinces.
In 1917 news start to arrive about russian revolution, which are very incisive among workers. Troubles begin in which Revolution is clearly mentioned, and requests of ending the war , no matter at what conditions. In August of the same year, in Turin a sudden lack of bread happens, and this frees the discontent accumulated in the weanwhile. There is the most violent demonstration that have been in Italy in this period, with violent fights, barricades in the streets, pillages. It is a spontaneous demonstration, run out of the control of trade-unions and socialist party, which are not able to stop it. The riot is repressed by tanks and machine-guns, and at the end there are 41 dead persons. The police authorities take the occasion for eliminating the heads of the trade-unions and the socialist party. In Piedmont the supporters of the war are a small minority but they have a lot of arrogance. In Italy the interventionists take the occasion for launching the usual anti-piedmontese and anti-turinese campain.
At the end of the war the military production is over, and the industry suffers an unavoidable reduction. In Turin, FIAT dismisses 8000 workers, and other workers are dismissed in factories working for FIAT. In the mienwhile industrials have become very, very rich. In addition, many discharged soldiers are not able to find a work, and at last also the "spanish" epidemic arrives, that only in Turin produces 3000 dead persons.
Anyway, at the end of the war the city is very modernized, and the industry is improved and enlarged. The FIAT of Agnelli has assumed a predominant position, and it is very strong. The large unemployment produces a big enlargement of the socialist party in Piedmont.

The origin of Fascism
The after-war situation is heavy, and the spontaneous claims overtake both trade-unions and socialist party, while the opposition between owners and workers is becoming extremely hard. Industrials, indeed, don't want to abandon the war rules that allowed them a big enrichment, while on the other side, the russian revolution is a stimulation for overtaking also trade-unions and socialist party. The FIAT of Agnelli does not participate to this fight, since Agnelli understands that is a good opportunity to keep the firm as much as possible outside these questions.
The owners, in order to oppose and intimidate the workers, start to make use of "beater"gangs, that are rising on the side of the Fascist movement. Violences follow one another, and usually remain not punished. This fact increases the arrogance of the members of Fascist action squad. The Fascist movement, which in other regions is able to collect the after-war dissatisfaction, in Piedmont has not much following, limited to some war veteran (usually officer) of the great war but, collecting hooligan elements, becomes violent and arrogant. Violences are always started by Fascists, but certainly the answer of workers is not timid, and so there are dead persons on both sides (but many more workers). In 1922 all these action squad are included in the Fascist movement, and violences increase, reaching the top with the "March on Rome", and the catching of the power by Mussolini.
In general the Piedmont is hostile to the Fascism. While in Lombardy, at half 1922, the supporters of the Fascist party are more than 80'000, in Piedmont they are less than 15'000. After the seizure of the power, in Piedmont there is an inner fight in the Fascist party, and then the attempt of nomalizing the situation and gaining approval. A difficult situation for Fascists in Piedmont id the relatioship with thw industrial world, which does not want to align to the course that the Party tries to impose. Agnelli, in particular, has power enough to avoid discussing with local hierarchy and he can directly contact Rome, and from a dominant position. He even manages to make transfer in Somalia the quadrumvir De Vecchi. Agnelli is a co-owner of the city newspaper "La Sampa", whose directoris the catholic Frassati, and the paper, not aligned, is the most spreaded in the city. The Party tries to put a fascist at the direction of the paper, but when finally a fascist director arrives, he cannot work and on the first occasion he is dismissed by Agnelli, who in the meanwhile has obtained the full property of the newspaper, increasing his influence on the city. Among "strong powers" of the city and the Fascist party there is a sort of normalization after the crisis of 1929, with the measures taken by the government for reducing the large unemployment. An underground fight continues among piedmontese fascist leaders.

Economical development
The Fascism has eliminated the trade-union and socialist oppositions, and so owners have had way of introducing working methods of scientific exploitation, and among them the assembly-line that, to the detriment of working conditions, make immediately increase the richness of owners, no more opposed by workers' claims, due to the uselessness (or at least the impotence) of the fascist trade-union. (But Agnelli continues to claim the right of contracting with shop committees, up to these latter are completely eliminated).
In this period there is a strong immigration in Turin from other regions, and in particular from Veneto. In 1931 the city reaches 600'000 inhabitants, whose al least 150'000 come from outside.
What is continuing to have problems is the agriculture, always mane by many small farms. The mountain begins to depopulate. At any rate the Piedmont, immediately before the second world war, is again the italian region having the higher income, with a large 10% more than the second, which is Lombardy.

The Fascism in Piedmont
Fascism does not go too far in Piedmont, and the reports sent to Rome by fascist leaders speak clearly of an anti-fascist Piedmont, with industrials who does not accept the fascist directives, and a working class previously strongly determined, which now is nursing a strong hostility. With the interventions after the crisis of 1929, with investments supporting industry, and in social field, the hostility decreases, but is not substituted by consensus. There is a sort of accaptance without any persuasion, as it is writteh in the reports sent to Rome , where the Piedmont is described not exactly anti-fascist, but certainy not fascist.
Also this partial acceptance begins to decrease with the fascist colonial adventures and spanish war, and ruins completely with the anti-French campaign and the anti-Jewish campaign. The relationship between Piedmont and France has become very tight (ofter are relations among relatives), and Piedmontese do not see any manace of French. Piedmontese catholics damn openly the anti-Jewish attirudes and measures. In addition in Piedmont there are lots of suspects about the new German ally, who is not at all appreciated.
Since there are restrictions for people not card-carrying fascist (and sometimes not an easy life) the acronym on the card PNF (Partito Nazionale Fascista - Fascist Nationa Party), for a lot of persons the true meaning is (Per NecessitÓ Familiari - For Familiar Needs).

The war
Italy starts war on June 10th 1940. Two days later Turin is bombed, with dead and wound persons. The following campaign against France is is a disaster, with many soldiers dead, wounded and congealed (in spite of the beginning of summer). Piedmontese, who are immediately behind the front, do not accept this war against a nation that is felt as a sister nation. From a military point of view, the campaign is completely useless, senseless and inconclusive. The residual acceptance of the Fascism disappears, and in the region only verifew fascists remain (someone also in good faith).
Also for industrials the war is not a good business, this time there are not big military orders, and the risk of bombing is very high for plants. In addition the export is completely bolcked or, in few cases, extremely reduced. Indfeed the Piedmont, and in particular Turin, are the target of many, heavy bombings that, as a whole, bring 2500 dead persons in the city, and to a 40% of destroyed houses.
Day by day the hostility to the Fascism increases, and workers start again troubles and strikes, in spite of the violent repression, arrests and referrings to the special courts. In no other italian region the opposition to the Fascvism becomes so violent and manifest. The fall of fascist government on June 25th 1943 is welcome in Piedmont, accompaine by the sack of the seats of fascists organizations. Some fascist is thrashed some other is killed.

The partisan war - The Liberation
The armistice on September 8th 1943 brings in Piedmont the disbanded soldiers of the fourth armee who were in southern France, and very quickly parisan formations start to appear, in opposition to what is now the German occupation on the territory.. With the freeing of Mussolini, in northern Italy the fascist republic of Sal˛ rises, allied with Germany, and it starts to recruit its army of soldiers for the "black brigades". This enlistment has a very poort success in Piedmont.
Also in other regions there is the formation of partisan groups, but in Piedmont characteristics are different. First of all in Piedmont in few days these groups are already quite large, and they will be more than one half of all the italian partisans. As a second point, the groups have many components who are soldiers and officers, mainly coming from Alpine corps, any of them coming from the vallys in which they operate. In this way the organization is of immediately military style. Then, as a third point, in few days a very efficient organization (Comitato di Liberazione Alta Italia - CLNAI - National Liberation Committee High Italy) is in the position of co-ordinating all the partisan groups operating on the territory.Many young persons join the partisan groups on mountains instead of answering to the fascist enrolment, increasing the partisan forces. On the contrary of what happens in other regions, in Piedmont the fascict enrolment has no success, and for actions against partisans the Fascists and German have to employ also black brigades coming from Lombardy. To the fights in alpine valleys, where the partisans cut communications and keep engaged four german divisions, strikes correspond in the cities, that are as well dangerous, where some workers are killed and others are deported in Germany. Also the industrials start to take distance from Fascism and try to have contacts with the Resistence (partisans) and (probably) also with Allied. Workers and industrials co-operate in boycotting the planned transer of plants in Germany. Agnelli and Valletta re-establish the shop committees, recognizing them as the place of true interlocutors. In the fascist reports sent to Mussolini the Piedmont is described as strongly anti-fascist, with a situation no more under control.
In spite of the brutal retaliations against civilian population, and with understandable moments of doubt and fear, partisans can always rely on support of the population, at least passive, but often active. Thanks also to a certain militaristic and of the Risorgimento rhetoric, still tied to the Savoy House, the Piedmontese tend to considerate the partisans, who fight in Alpine uniform in their valleys as the only legitimate soldierd of their nation, while the fascist republic soldiers (republichin) are considered brutal and rude usurpers, and Germans brutal invaders. This is fundamentally true, since the King has demoted Mussolini, has signed an armistice, and has given order to soldiers of defending the Nation against any attack. This attack has come from Mussolini and Germans.
Partisans are now in the position of controlling quite large parts of the territoty also for a quite long time, and this worries very much the fascist leaders in Milan, who now are aware that partisans are able to interrupt all communications toward Piedmont. When the Allied land in southern France, the partisan actions on Alps give to Germans very big troubles.
As main blocks, in Piedmont operate the partisan brigades Garibaldi, having a communist orientation. Then the formations "Giustizia e LibertÓ" having a liberal idea. Then the so called "Autonomous Formations", with many components coming from the army, many officers, with a mix of catholic, monarchic inspiration, organized in a stiff military style, sometimes even a bit formal. In general the co-operation is good and well directed by the CLNAI, in spite of some accident, sometimes also serious.
When te war is going to end, Partisand organize the occupation of cities, and try to do the job before the arrival of Allied. This engages Germans and brings to the capture and disarmament of many German units, and is also useful for redeeming the national honour. The workers barricade themselves in the factories in order to avoid sabotages coming from Germans in retreat, while partisan units assure the surveillance of hydroelectric plants on mountains.
Then starts the attack toward cities. At this point piedmontese partisans are about 30'000. Since in Lombartdy partisans are only 9'000, the piedmontese formations of Ossola and Sesia valleys attack and free Milan.
At the end the piedmontese dead partisans are about 5'800.


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