LEGACY

History of Fascist movements and personalities.

THIS TIME THE WORLD – GLR99

99 Years ago one of the Great Champions to our Struggle, and indeed, one of the truly Great Americans, was born – Commander George Lincoln Rockwell.

Most everyone in our ranks have heard the Commander speak, for some it were his words that got them involved in our Cause in the first place, however not that many have familiarized themselves with his written works. We sought to rectify that, starting with ourselves, and the consequences should be familiar to regular NOOSE readers and those who follow the IM twitter. We’ve grown even more uncompromising and steadfast in our hardline loyalty to the principles of Fascism/National Socialism and seek to advance the eternal work of its Champions, like Commander Rockwell.

To our amazement, shock and righteous anger we discovered that nothing had changed since Rockwell’s time, that he had faced all the same tired, fraudulent, disingenuous and cowardly criticisms and whining that we’ve come face to face with ourselves. The conclusion was self-evident: we cannot afford to be gentle with the various right-wing sissies and frauds that pretend to be our allies in order to avoid getting what’s coming to them, all the while desperately holding us back from success into the quagmire of their own ineptitude. We must be resolute and destroy anything and anyone who so much as raises a finger in objection to our actions, least we insult and trample the memory of Commander Rockwell, who had suffered and persevered despite everything that was tossed at him, until he was finally killed by an idiot-puppet of our enemies.

To commemorate George Lincoln Rockwell’s memory, and to make sure that his life’s story and invaluable lessons for our Struggle become widely known and recognized, it is with great honor that we release an official IronMarch edition PDF of the Commander’s autobiography:

THIS TIME THE WORLD! [PDF LINK]

We urge everyone to read this book, regardless if you are American or not. It is a matter of principle and duty for any faithful Fascist and National-Socialist to read it, for in it one will find what true dedication to our Struggle looks like, and we dare you not to tear up, grow angry, and find boundless inspiration in the life of this great Man, who had dedicated himself, mind, body and soul, to the eternal cause of the Swastika Banner and to Total Aryan Victory worldwide!

On this day we salute the Commander and promise to fulfill his glorious charge: This Time – THE WORLD!

Your White Aryan brothers in England, Sweden, Nigeria, Iceland, America, South Africa, Italy, France, Denmark, Argentina – EVERYWHERE – hear you! We are COMING! MARCHING! FIGHTING! The Great Day of JUSTICE DRAWS NIGH!

THIS TIME the traitors will not be able to find any group of White Men anywhere who will listen to their lies and go and murder the Jews’ enemies for them. There will be no place to hide. ..no place to start their eternal game of friendly subversion of their unsuspecting hosts … no place to generate their infernal hates and fratricidal wars … no place to set up their anvil of capitalist exploitation and their hammer of Communist revolution and slaughter.

THIS TIME the traitors will have only one place left in which they can at last find respite from the insane hate- monster which has been eating out their diseased hearts for six thousand years! … And we shall provide that final solace. With deadly, incredible irony, fate is now repeating what happened in Germany — on a world — wide scale!

THIS TIME we shall not be softhearted and gentle like the Great Man who refused to use his tanks to slaughter the helpless British at Dunkirk because he believed even Churchill had some honor and loyalty to Britain and the White Race left.

THIS TIME we shall not be content with “minding our own business”here while the Jews stir up another, world war to wash us away in oceans of irreplaceable White blood!

THIS TIME we shall not permit traitors to “escape” so that they can move in and betray them as the German Communist Jews did to America. None shall pass or escape retribution, not one!

THIS TIME we shall not put our faith in anything or anybody but our-selves, and our unshakable will, impelled onward by an inscrutable des-tiny which has already demonstrated its determination to resurrect the good whenever it is crucified by evil, as it is now all over the wretched planet.

THIS TIME we shall not rest nor lower our arm until the very last human rat and red snake is beaten to death, no matter how they squirm and crawl from pole to pole or from mountain top to jungle swamp!

THE LAST TIME our leader showed the way to victory in one single area of the earth. “Today Germany!” he predicted “TOMORROW THE WORLD!!”

Now it is TOMORROW! Now is the time, White Men!

THIS TIME THE WORLD!!!

HEIL HITLER!!!

THE POLITICIAN WITH THE CROSS [P6]

national-salvation

On 22nd June operation Barbarossa begun, triggering all communist cells in occupied Yugoslavia that were mostly based in Serbia. Work and propaganda of Commissioner Government, police raids and speeches and lectures held by Dimitrije didn’t prevent communist revolt. In early July, communist bandits have begun taking actions against Commissioner Government and Germans in central and western parts of Serbia. They were so sudden and fatal that it caused the government to fall. Ljotić ordered that two of ZBOR members resign from such an incapable government, as he saw it do more damage than good and didn’t want any part in a governing body that was partially responsible for German retaliations.

Serbia was on verge of being under absolute German control. Many of the former participants of Commissioner Government would prefer that, but some, including Ljotić, found out that that wouldn’t be an option. Germans were now busy on Eastern Front and had no time or resources to establish peace and order in occupied Serbia. Under the threat that what was left of Serbia would be given to absolute rule of Bulgarians, Albanians, Ustashe and Hungarians, Serbian politicians were forced to find a man that would take the leading role. Dimitrije Ljotić was the first choice for the Germans of someone to occupy that lead position. He had proven himself capable as a politician, had good relation with the Germans in the interwar period and was generally a man who would be easy to work with. Ljotić denied the offer and instead named army general Milan Nedić for the role. He explained that Serbs needed someone with authority and respect among the common folk, someone without a background in any political party and Nedić was the right person for the job. Germans protested, saying that he was a German enemy as he commanded parts of Yugoslav army during the April War. Ljotić dismissed it saying:

“You declared war to us, you attacked us and Nedić, as former minister of war and commander of army group, had a duty to defend his fatherland. Besides, all of us did that, except for communists.”

This was true as many communists refused or even in some cases greeted German forces, honoring the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. Germans had to agree and on 27th of August, Ljotić invited Nedić to accept his new assignment. He was greeted in a presence of 80 representatives of different parties, science, economy and other fields. He demanded that Germans allow them to form an armed force to establish peace and order in the country. It was to be made up of 10 000 gendarme and reinforcement units of 30 000 men. It was also requested that all sick captives, invalids and individuals over 55 years be released from their captivity back to Serbia and for the end of persecution of Serbs in places occupied by Hungarians, Bulgarians and Ustashe. Special request was that the fight against communism be entirely a matter of Serbian people and its government and that in case of sabotage against Germans, innocents must be spared from occupant retaliations. The very next day Germans agreed and the government was formed on the 29th of August. Two ZBOR members took part in it as ministers of justice and economy.

It is safe to say Ljotić was responsible for this Government of National Salvation. In truth Nedić wasn’t really interested in politics, let alone a role of a nation’s leader. But because Ljotić put him on spot, thus facing reality of danger his people found themselves in, he took the responsibility for Serbia.

Fighting the communists was one of the main goals of new government and it begun badly. As city of Šabac was taken by joint communist – “chetnik” attack, Nedić sent the gendarme. Instead of combating them, almost the entire gendarme joined “chetniks” of Dragoljub Mihailović.  This was a total failure and embarrassment for the government. Germans were already planning to dismantle the government and leave Serbia to the mercy of their neighbors. On the 15th of September, Nedić called a session asking for the government to resign, but this catastrophe was prevented by a member of ZBOR and Minister Mihailo Olćan. He proposed that a special anti-communist armed force be formed from ZBOR members. He claimed that in 24 hours he can have up to 500 armed men ready to combat communists everywhere and that those first couple of hundred men will be a core that would later gather more volunteers. Ljotić accepted this idea and more than 200 men answered his call to volunteers. This elite armed force would be named Serbian Volunteer Corps, and their members simply as “Volunteers”.

This was the last chance for Serbs to establish peace and order in their crippled country .

Men of Serbian Volunteer Corps (SDK), members of ZBOR and „students“ of their great Teacher – Dimitrije Ljotić, went to their first combat operation on 17th September 1941. Before their departure to combat, Ljotić held a speech to them:

I feel sorry for your youth, because many of you will die. But more than that, I feel sorry that you have to kill. You were given weapons, but you must know it is powerful and blessed only in the hands of Heroes. Don’t riot with it and never use it as thugs or even worse as murderers. You are fighting to establish peace and order in your country and that your people do not suffer anymore. You must know your place: every morning that you wake up, you must tell yourselves that you are slaves to your fatherland.

Out-gunned, they entered a village of Dražanj that was in grip of communists. Very quickly they have beaten the Partisan unit and declared that the communists are not unbeatable as they claimed to be. This was the beginning of great cleansing in Serbia and civil war has officially begun. Where both German and previous gendarme failed, men of SDK prevailed. They were taught and trained to fight the communists. Many of them combated them on universities before the war. The communists in Serbia finally met their match, an elite armed force dedicated to eradicating Communism in their fatherland!

Village after village was cleansed of red pest: Dubona, Rudnik, Gornji Milanovac, Volunteers were claiming victory after victory. Battle at Varovnica was a major victory against communist partisans, where the Volunteers after 3 hour long combat liberated the place from communists, captured a large amount of ammo and machine guns and many prisoners among whom couple were foreigners and two of them Germans. This would show to the German occupant that the partisans are not made up of pure Serbian population and would have more understanding toward new Serbian leadership and SDK.

In very short time, during September and October of 1941, 12 SDK detachments were created and 4 000 men were armed to combat the reds. Their uniforms were the uniforms of royal Yugoslav army. On the right side of their chest, every volunteer carried a cross with St. George on it, shape inspired by Serbian “Takovo cross”. Around the image of the saint it was inscribed With faith in God, for King and Fatherland – Volunteers. A common Serbian motto. The Cross was always present on their flags which didn’t had Yugoslavian but Serbian colors. The new elite armed force also took St. George as their patron saint and as tradition requires, they commemorated it with Slava. Some special assault squadrons had skull and crossbones badge on their black collars of uniform, inspired by chetnik insignia.

The army was clerical; Svetosavlje was imbued in its men through the spiritual and moral teachings of Dimitrije Ljotić. Officially he had no power or command over the volunteers, but all of them looked up to him as true Christian teacher. The army even received its own priests who would keep the moral and spirit high among the men while simultaneously encouraging the Christian way of life. They were the God’s army, new crusaders that have taken on the new enemy. Serbia has finally joined in the great crusade against Bolshevism!

First victories of the volunteers sparked hope and encouraged other national armed groups such as chetniks of voivode Kosta Pećanac to engage into combat against the communists. Civilians and peasants found hope after getting rid of their Bolshevik oppressors.

But as these victories seemed to mark something big and good for the Serbian people, deep in the Serbian forests, general Draža Mihailović was about to meet with Josip Broz Tito, he will be signing a pact with the Devil himself.

Optimism of Ljotić and Serbs and a relief of Germans was about to be shaken again.

“The one thing that gives me strength to overcome all these troubles is a sense of duty and faith that our fate is still in our hands and that we can and must struggle to make things right! “

THE POLITICIAN WITH THE CROSS
[P1][P2] < [P3] < [P4] < [P5] < [Part 6]

LEGACY OF ME NE FREGO

menefrego

Guido Keller (February 6th, 1892 – November 9th, 1929) was an Italian pilot, revolutionary, adventurer, close friend and comrade of D’Annunzio and one of the early influences of Fascist aesthetics, and even a precursor to the psychedelics revolution of the 60s.

He was born in Milan to an ancient aristocratic Swiss family named Keller von Kellerer, which moved in the middle of the 18th century to Lombardia, Italy. After having finished primary school, his parents sent him to a Swiss boarding school, where he attended for two years before getting expelled for undisciplined behavior.

Sports enthusiast and pilot, he took a tea set with him on his plane and never wore his flight jacket – substituting it for a fancy suit with a long scarf that had a bow-tie on the end, plus a fez hat instead of a pilot’s helmet. In flight he’d sometimes steer the plane with a rope while reading a book. He was shot down several times and was heavily wounded in his leg, after one emergency landing he was taken prisoner and released by Italian forces after the Battle of Vittorio Veneto.

Keller organized the hijacking of the trucks that took 300 volunteers to Fiume for D’Annunzio’s adventure, a gift that Keller gave to D’Annunzio along with a huge bouquet of red roses.

In the established Regency of Carnaro, Keller was made the acting secretary and capo. In practice, this meant that he was in charge of getting weapons, supplies and materials – by any means necessary.

When Fiume ran short on supplies, Keller would personally fly on his plane to various villages, where he would outright steal anything he could get his hands on. These “corsair” activities were viewed favorably by D’Annunzio. One time, Keller even stole a big live pig that he put on board of his plane, however it was so fat that it broke through the fuselage. So, when Keller was landing, the pig became an impromptu part of the landing gear.

In Fiume, Keller, together with writer and yogi Giovanni Comisso, start the “Yoga – Union of Free Spirits Longing for Perfection” movement, with the swastika as its symbol, along with a 5 leaf rose. The movement had an esoteric foundation and saw as its goal to protect D’Annunzio from the moderate conservative elements that attempted to influence him, along with declaring ideals of free love and that thieves and prostitutes are preferable to them than boring and lawful bourgeois.

The movement attempted to theoretically explain the necessity of a “science of Love as a means for Transfiguration,” declaring that the true meaning of the word “philosophy” wasn’t “love of wisdom“, but “wisdom of love“. The movement described the Fiume adventure as a moment of spontaneity and non-seriousness in a businesslike and serious world, an ongoing holiday in a world that forgot how to celebrate, a world enslaved by dumb, pointless labor.

Yoga” regarded itself in opposition to spiritual movements founded on the unquestioning authority of a single man. According to them, even if that man were the greatest genius, by his nature, he’d be limited and intolerant, incapable of accepting differing views of things, whereas Keller declared that it was the dialectic capacity to embrace opposing positions that was the sure sign of the fullness of life. In contrast, the dictate of a single person created a devastating monotony, which was negation of life itself.

Keller also founded “The Desperates” (Disperati), a division of bodyguards for D’Annunzio, made up of a gang of guys who were rejected by the Fiume Command from participating in the service, due to their uncontrollable nature. Most of their time The Desperates spent swimming, exercising, singing and marching around town dressed in only shorts. They would gather in the evenings in some deserted area where they’d fool around, dividing up into two teams and having shoot outs with real weapons, live rounds and functional grenades, as such they had their fair share of injuries. Thereafter they’d walk around town singing, wearing flower necklaces.

Giovanni Comisso described them as “A small squad of eager, cynical, cruel young lads, wonderful in their daring: the color of rebellion and freedom, people who made it through the sieve of war, revolutionaries if not in their ideas, then in spirit. These guys were known as “soldiers of death”. No dirt stuck to them – these lads cursed by mediocrity and wise men of the world – who had shown the world the color of man in the epoch of the spirit’s twilight“.

Their slogan was “me ne frego”, which later was adopted by the Italian Fascists, with the first true Fascist “Disperata” appearing in Florence in June of 1921.

Disperata

Following D’Annunzio’s love for the theatrical, his comrades turned politics into an aesthetic expression. D’Annunzio wrote during the Fiume Adventure: “Arditi camp in the evening. Real fire. A speech, inspired faces – a race, born in fire. Chorus singing… Marching. Daggers glistening, held tightly in fists. Grandeur that is entirely Roman in spirit. The daggers point upwards. Slogans. Spirited pace of cohorts. Meat being fried over an open fire. The erupting flame burns the face – fever of courage. Rome is the goal.

His legionaries devised symbolic rituals which would later on be adopted by fascists. Legionary-insurgents adopted the Moroccan Fez as their head dress. Black shirts and skulls became the symbols of power over life and death. Their banners depicted the roman eagle with open wings. Geometrically strict marches symbolized through the anonymity of their participants a rejection of the bourgeois. Utilization of theatrical techniques into political activity helped cultivate a particular connection between the the Comandante of Fiume and the masses, utilizing the power of symbols and myths.

By the end of the Fiume Adventure Keller became friends with Marinetti and in time becomes a supporter of Futurism.

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Marinetti during D’Annunzio’s Fiume Adventure with Guido Keller on his left and Ferruccio Vecchi on his right, the trio helped influence early Fascist aesthetics.

Leaving the air force, Keller for a time finds himself in Turkey, where he unsuccessfully attempted to start a piloting school.

In 1923, he returned to the air force and worked in the Italian embassy in Berlin, becoming widely known in certain circles thanks to his nonconformism.

In 1925 he is sent as a military pilot to Libya, after requesting transfer to active duty.

Upon his return to Italy he is sent on a commerce mission to Latin America. He spent the winter in Venezuela, taking an expedition down the Orinoco river, crossing the Guyana and reaching the Caribbean sea. Returning to Italy once again, he develops projects for commercial ties which would be realized using hydroplanes. These would be able to land on rivers near Brazilian, Colombian and Venezuelan shores.

In 1928, he crashes his hydroplane, losing his comrade but surviving with no serious injuries.

On November 9th, 1929, Keller dies in a car crash with his two pilot friends. On D’Annunzio’s request, Keller was buried in the Vittoreale estate at lake Garda in Lombardy, where D’Annunzio himself would also be eventually buried.

Original article “Guido Keller
Source: “Tradition” [Традиция]
Translated by Alexander Slavros

THE POLITICIAN WITH THE CROSS [P5]

politiciancross5

Yugoslavia was in war. Majority of Croats and other minorities deserted the already demoralized royal army. The air force sacrificed itself in the skies over Serbia and those who betrayed Yugoslavia on 27th of March fled the country, taking the 17 year old king Peter II with them. They decided that their little adventure was over and didn’t want to share the fate with its own people. Dimitrije however, just like in second Balkan war and in First World War, voluntarily went to his command post in Bjeljina and called all his followers and members of ZBOR to do the same and for the movement to stop all its activities. The fatherland was to be defended! Unfortunately Yugoslavia fell in 11 days and the Axis have occupied it. Germans, Hungarians, Italians, Albanians under the protectorate of Italy and Bulgarians all took the parts they deemed historic or useful for their nation. But another state was created, as a capital punishment for the Serbs. On the lands of Bosnia, Herzegovina, Srem, Slavonia, Dalmatia and Croatia rose the Independent State of Croatia or commonly known as NDH. Ante Pavelić succeeded in creating Ustasha state.

After the ending of April War, Ljotić went to his home in Smederevo. Since the defeat of Yugoslavia, all governing bodies were shut down and new one was needed to take care of the occupied Serbia. German head of civil staff, Harald Turner, began establishing the contacts with Yugoslav politicians who were in occupied Serbia to form a civil governing body. Among those politicians was Dimitrije Ljotić. He and other prominent people and politicians, on Dimtirije’s demand, wrote a memo to the Turner, containing demands from their side for German command in order for this government to be formed. Among them were the respect of international law, to keep current civil and criminal laws, to allow Serbian Orthodox Church to continue its work and to allow government to provide any help if needed, to allow the name of king Peter II to be spoken in church services and to allow his portraits in households, to allow courts to pronounce the judgment in the name of the king Peter II and other. Turner accepted all of these, the Germans will respect the international law, the Church will continue its work, but the courts will not be allowed to deliver the verdicts in the name of the King. On 30th of April 1941 when the Commissioner government was formed, Ljotić refused to participate; instead he let two notable ZBOR members to take part. Turner was determent to have him in government, especially as minister of agriculture, but Ljotić refused, claiming he would be more of use among people. He knew that the communists would spread their propaganda against the Government and he was to spread truth among common folk about this. He was determent to teach the people and introduce to them this new situation in which they found themselves in.

His relations to Germans and occupation is best portrayed in his conversation with Karl Kraus, Chief of Gestapo Command group and SD for Serbia, and adviser to Harald Turner, where he demanded that Dimitrije go with him back to Belgrade:

Even if our people were defeated in war and even if with one international treaty, treaty of truce and capitulation it recognized its own defeat, according to the international law, the beaten and occupied don’t lose all their rights. Are German occupant authorities willing to respect the rights which Yugoslavs have under the provisions of international law?

Kraus said without a doubt that the Germans are determined to respect all international laws in the occupied country.

If it is like that, then the situation becomes serious for us, because now it’s not only about our will, but about our duty, yet I cannot go with you.

-You must!

-I’d have to only as your slave, which I might be. But as a man who has a conversation with the occupant on the basis of international law I don’t have to, because it’s not up to the occupant to decide. However, since the situation is serious I will have to consult with my friends.

Dimitrije was not an adventurer and he fully realized the situation that he and his people found themselves in. He treated the Germans as occupants, rarely, if it all, as friends. These were foreign soldiers fighting for foreign interests, but soon enough they would find the common language against the red pests.

The work of commissioner government was not good, since it was pressured by the Germans a lot. Both the administration and Ljotić sent memos to German officials to stop mass murders of Serbs in occupied parts held by Bulgarians, Ustashe and Hungarians. They would reply that nothing could be done. Germans pressured the administration to pass a law against the Jews, something that the administration refused to do. Similarly it also refused to sell Pančevački rit to the Germans. Ljotić also succeeded in releasing of 1200 Serbian prisoners from German prison in Panečvo, most of them nationalists. Government had no power over villages and small settlements, where people started organizing into militias to prepare for the rebellion. There were three different groups that began to organize; most notable was the militia around General Dragoljub Mihailović, whose actions began on 13th of May on mount Ravna Gora. One Chetnik movement was organized around Vojvoda Konstantin Pećanac, a more rational soldier than Dragoljub.

First big challenge the government faced was the huge explosion of ammunition in Smederevo fort. The government named Dimitrije commissioner for reconstruction of the city. Without a question Ljotić went to work, calling in all ZBOR members and other patriots to help in with reconstruction of the city and care for the people. Work force of 350 young men was formed, mostly out of locals and ZBOR members. This was to be a future core of Serbian anti-communist military. The man responsible for the explosion was arrested, a soviet agent named Mustafa Golubić. He was shot on 29th of July.

Fatal 22nd of June was drawing near and something far worse than Axis invasion was about to happen to the already crippled Serbian nation. The threat that both the deceased king and Ljotić though will come out and cause chaos.

“Without Kosovo, we are facing something much worse than [Battle of]Kosovo!”

THE POLITICIAN WITH THE CROSS
[P1] <[P2] < [P3] < [P4] < [Part 5] > [P6]

THE POLITICIAN WITH THE CROSS [P4]

Cover by Omniphi.tv
Cover by Omniphi.tv

Things weren’t looking good for Yugoslavia. On August 26th 1939, Dragiša Cvetković and Vladko Maček came to an agreement to resolve the Croat question. With this agreement, Banate of Croatia was formed – an autonomous province that became a prototype for the independent Croatian state. Only two days later, ZBOR released a statement saying that Vladko Maček could never accept Yugoslavia as his own country, nor could he accept the fact that Croats and Slovenes would lose their independence without Yugoslavia. Dimitrije tried to convince the government of how harmful this agreement could be, and when that failed, he decided to address Prince Paul. Paul refused to accept him. Because of that refusal, Ljotić sent him three open letters which were met with great interest from the public. In his letters he pointed out that Yugoslavia shouldn’t rely on France or Great Britain for protection, since they failed to protect both Finland and Poland. After the last rejection, Ljotić began an aggressive campaign against the prince. He stated :

Your majesty, you did more for bolshevization of Yugoslavia than Josef Vissarionovich Djugashvili Stalin!

Ljotić demanded that they put a stop to bolshevization of the country, with the experiment of Croatian autonomy and to immediately reform the military. His confrontation with Paul will have later consequences.

In October of 1940, Italy attacked Greece and Ljotić insisted that the country take a neutral stance. He informed and probably influenced army general Milan Nedić on this issue, and on November 1st he delivered a memo about the state of the Yugoslav military, with demands that the government take a policy of strong neutrality. A few days later, he was forced to resign as a minister and was put on watch. All of this ended with the decision of Prime Minister Dragiša Cvetković to ban ZBOR, on account of a clash between members of ZBOR and Communists in Belgrade University in October.

The Italian aviation bombed Bitol on the 5th of November and the country was close to being involved in war. Anglophile elements in Yugoslavia forced the Prince (who himself was an anglophile) to persecute and eliminate all pro-German elements. They did this out of fear that Ljotić could have strong ties with the Germans, and  be planning a coup with Milan Nedić to form nationalist government. These pro-German elements were of course ZBOR and Dimitrije Ljotić himself. During October and November, police arrested more than 160 members of ZBOR, many of them high profile members, beating and torturing them in prisons and camps. Yet the government wouldn’t dare arrest Dimitrije, fearing the public reaction. Instead they put him on the watch – he was constantly followed. Yet one day Dimitrije got away and hid in the women’s monastery in Srem. Soon the police all over the country were given orders to find him, but with no success. In December 1940, Ljotić sent a letter to the prince saying that he wanted this lawlessness to stop and asked to go to court to settle this. The government would never allow this, since accusing ZBOR and Ljotić would indirectly also be an accusation against Germany, a European power that Yugoslavia was now negotiating with to avoid war and join the Tripartite pact.

On 25th March in Vienna, Yugoslavia officially joined the Pact with honest German guarantees that no Axis military force will cross their borders, respecting their independence, and will not ask of Yugoslavia to participate in war. The Germans were even prepared to offer Salonika to Yugoslavia, which Yugoslav representatives refused. Ljotić viewed this as a last hope for preservation of Yugoslavia and avoidance of the war. Aware that there were many who opposed this pact he quickly spread the word of its importance, saying that if the Pact fails, Yugoslavia would cease to exist. His fears would come true on the 27th of March, when a group of officers with General Dušan Simović conducted a coup and brought down government of Dragiša Cvetković and Vladko Maček. The coup was orchestrated from London in attempt to change Yugoslavian foreign policy and abolishing the Pact.

The first days of the coup Ljotić and members of ZBOR thought this was a coup against Paul. Soon all arrested members of ZBOR were released and Ljotić was called upon to take part in the new government. Once he realized that the new government is changing the course of foreign policy, when he saw the Anglophile blight in the leadership of Yugoslavia, he refused to participate, realizing that Yugoslavia’s days were numbered.

After his refusal to take part in the treasonous government, Ljotić took his uniform and as a reserve lieutenant colonel  went to take command over the regiment that he was assigned to command in case of war. And so he waited for war.

You think that the state is less dangerous than a gun? From one gun, out of negligence, one, two or few more people can die. From poorly thought out state affairs – hundreds of thousands and millions of people can die.

THE POLITICIAN WITH THE CROSS
[P1] <[P2] < [P3] < [Part 4] > [P5] > [P6]

THE POLITICIAN WITH THE CROSS [P3]

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The same year that ZBOR was founded, new elections were announced for 5th May. The leadership of ZBOR decided it will partake in them and was expecting good results considering major discontent among people with the current state of the country. The action committee of the movement used the great authority of Dimitrije, his connections to Karađorđević dynasty, and his honest role in previous government as a minister for their election campaign. But this would not go well for them since the law favored the Yugoslav National Party, which had more resources and members to achieve victory. The elections ended in favor of the Yugoslav National Party, but with much controversy concerning vote theft and the strong-arming of people to prevent them from voting for ZBOR or United Opposition.

On the 24th June of the same year, Milan Stojadinović, now leader of new political party (Yugoslav Radical Union), took the position of Prime Minister. He was one of the people who opposed the 6th of January dictatorship and was regarded as an anti-monarchist, so it comes as no surprise that he and Ljotić couldn’t stand one another. Unfortunately for Dimitrije, Milan was now the one in power. Their animosity culminated on 23rd July 1937, when Stojadinović managed to pass the ratification of Concordat in the parliament. He pushed this in order to please Italy and get Yugoslavia closer to its Fascist ally, as Milan himself started copying Mussolini and the National Fascist Party. This came as a shock for the Yugoslav public, especially the Serbian Orthodox Church. Many political parties opposed this; among them was ZBOR with Dimitrije. As an honest Christian and a loyal Yugoslav, he didn’t want one faith to prevail over others and have special status in the country. This isn’t to say that he was following the interests of Serbian Orthodox Church; many members of ZBOR were Croats and Slovenes, and thus Catholic Christians. Many demonstrations took place, and one would stand out.

When Patriarch Varnava fell sick, news spread that he was poisoned because of his opposition of Concordant and the government. And thus the priesthood of the church held a procession on 19th July, days before the ratification. ZBOR took part in this procession and vocally supported it. The police first tried to ban it and when that failed during the procession, the gendarmerie used force to prevent the procession, which erupted with violence. The attack on the protesters was made on the order of Anton Korošec, a catholic priest and minister for the interior. Many bishops and civilians were harmed by armed gendarmerie officers, and  church banners were torn apart. To make it all worse for Milan and his government, the news of patriarch’s death the next day made the people more furious. This event came to be known as “The Bloody Procession”.

When he received this news, Ljotić gave a speech in his hometown of Smederevo. He condemned the usage of force against the priesthood and civilians, demanding that the government abandon their game with Concordant. The government didn’t pay any attention to the opposition and continued with the ratification.

Since the rise of Stojadinović, there was no doubt that Yugoslavia would become closer with the Axis powers. Although he proclaimed himself as being ideologically on the right, Milan didn’t agree with Ljotić on any key political questions. Since the first day of his reign, Stojadinović persecuted ZBOR and its members. In his brochure to Milan Stojadinović “A letter to the fascist apprentice”, Ljotić wrote:

“The work of ZBOR has indeed been hindered. In the months of June and July, of 212 rallies planned, only two were allowed, while the rest had been banned. Our papers have to be printed in secrecy. It will come as no surprise to us if Stojadinović fulfills his word and bans our movement all together.”

And Milan made clear his intention to ban Dimitrije’s movement, saying:

ZBOR is redundant. Even if you were to fulfill all lawful formalities your work will never be approved. ZBOR must be banned! Everyone else can remain, but ZBOR cannot, because what ZBOR wants is what I want anyway, so there is no place for ZBOR.”

Yet Ljotić always made it clear that ZBOR and Milan pursue entirely different goals. Milan constantly tried to support Fascism and National-Socialism but always for the wrong reasons. He only wanted to mimic great men in uniforms, he dreamed of large rallies where everyone would salute him as an ultimate leader. He failed to grasp the spirit of fascism, thinking it was just another international ideology like communism.

When in May he was preparing to visit Rome and Berlin to study the works of Il Duce and the Fuhrer, Ljotić commented saying:

We are not Fascists. Fascism isn’t our thought. Countless times we showed and proved this. Stojadinović is going to Rome to copy Fascism or to Berlin to copy Hitlerism, he is not adopting our own national thought, but a foreign one.”

Dimitrije always viewed Italian Fascism and German National-Socialsm as something characteristically for Italian or German folk and defended their governments when attacked by other parties in Yugoslavia. But when it came to Serbian and Yugoslavian people he always dismissed these ideas as foreign, and said that only ZBOR embodies the spirit of its people – the Yugoslav people.

The government of Milan Stojadinović and he himself personally accused Ljotić of being an agent of Hitler, spreading German propaganda and working in their interests – a populist move at that time. The government was disbanded in October and new elections were declared. At the wake of the political campaign, Milan ordered that ZBOR should be banned and Ljotić arrested. This happened, but only after the gendarmerie opened fire on a ZBOR rally, wounding many and killing one. Because of public pressure, Ljotić was released from prison, but this didn’t mean persecution of ZBOR and its members would stop. They were constantly interrupted on their rallies. United opposition offered Ljotić to join them, but he refused since no one shared his vision of the new Yugoslavia – no compromise. ZBOR and United Opposition lost, and Yugoslav Radical Union took most of the parliament seats and formed the government, though Milan Stojadinović was replaced by a new political figure: Dragiša Cvetković, a man who promised to solve the “Croatian question” and fix the nation’s foreign policy.

Dimitrije opposed this new government just like he did the former one. He saw no change coming for Yugoslavia. The partisans would continue to leech off the country and he couldn’t do anything about it.

The new government would be harder still on both the movement and its prominent leader. Unfortunately for the nation, Dimitrije Ljotić was among the few who saw the War slowly coming, aware that it will play differently than the last one. But no one would listen to him.

“We don’t go on elections to pick up mandates, but to gather all the right people in one circle, so that we can begin with purification and liberation from this unbearable state.”

THE POLITICIAN WITH THE CROSS
[P1] <[P2] < [Part 3] > [P4] > [P5] > [P6]

THE POLITICIAN WITH THE CROSS [P2]

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This is the second part of the series about the man named Dimitrije Ljotić, dealing with his early political life and creation of unprecedented nationalist movement ZBOR, whose spirit is slowly being revived by loyal men and women from the ruins in the rocky Balkan.

Dimitrije Ljotić was from a well known monarchist family, so his passionate views on monarchy don’t come as a surprise. In his adulthood he was very respected by the King Aleksandar I and had a friendly relationship with him. This relationship would benefit him some time later.

Prior to the King’s dictatorship, Ljotić’s political life revolved around People’s Radical Party, claiming it was „God’s will“ to join it, regardless of his view on the uselessness of political parties. Only after six years in the party, in 1926, did he become a dissident in both his and the eyes of the party. He failed to change the party and the party failed to change him. After parliamentary elections in 1927 he will end his political activity as a member of a political party.

On the 6th of January 1929, King Aleksandar disbanded the worthless parliament, banned the work of all political parties and declared a dictatorship, relaying on military and loyal monarchists, and Ljotić was among them. A strong advocate for centralised state and real monarchy, Ljotić greeted this as a good move on the King’s part and seen this as an opportunity to finally steer the nation on a different path.

After the 6th of January dictatorship many political parties and organisations were banned and their leaders and members expelled, arrested or killed. Many parties of liberal-democratic nature became afraid and demoralized, some arrest were made here and there but for the most part they stayed silent, while the more extreme groups had to be dealt with violence. Such was the case with communists, ustashe, albanian and „macedonian“ separatists. Around 400 communists were murdered between 1929 and 1932, mainly because communists have been preparing for an armed rebellion. Ustashe had the same plan that will, regardless of persecution of their leaders such as Ante Pavelić from Yugoslavia, actually happen in early September 1932, but it ultimately failed only after two days of action. All of this Ljotić, as well as many ordinary folk, met with approval, claiming that “we actually have a king!” Unfortunately, Dimitrije soon realized how things were not going the way they were supposed to. People who just yesterday used to be part of the decaying body of parliamentarism, today found themselves in positions of power as ministers and high officials. Failure of this dictatorship could be clearly seen in Ljotić’s classes. Namely he began teaching in universities about the failures and truths of French revolution, but the district inspector hearing of this forced the universities to end his lectures. One time he had to change the name of his lecture to just have it approved. Ljotić realized that the King didn’t prepare good authority for this new regime and there was a need for new ideas and people.

Valuing Dimitrije’s patriotism and his sympathies for the monarchy, the King appointed him for the position of Minister of Justice. Dimitrije made sure his ministry was well organized, with enough employees, everyone doing their jobs and there was no exploitation of their positions. In his eyes, he had one role: changing the system of government. In the same year, Ljotić presented the King with his version of a new constitution that the country needed. Main point of the draft was that the people should elect their representatives based on professions who would replace the parliament of political parties and become a direct line between the people and the King. The constitution meant to transform the country into an organic monarchy, rid of parasitic political parties. The constitution didn’t pass and Ljotić resigned from the ministry.

After this he returned to his lawyer office in Smederevo and soon enough begun working on a movement project called “Fatherland”. This was one of the movements that were tolerated during the dictatorship, along with Yugoslav Action, association of chetniks for freedom and honor of Fatherland and Slovene organization BOJ (Yugoslav Combat Organization). Many people will gather and form a group around Dimitrije Ljotić and the journals “Fatherland” and “Zbor”. All of these organizations and movements had two things in common: nationalism and loyalty to the King’s dictatorship.

Movement ZBOR formed right after the assassination of the King Aleksandar. Even before, people from different organizations talked about unifying into something new, but after the loss of the King there was a dire need of a unified and strong nationalist movement with new spirit. Yugoslav Action, BOJ and people gathered around Dimitrije Ljotić adopted and signed principles of new movement named “Yugoslav National Movement ZBOR”. One of the founders, Ratko Parežanin, explained that ZBOR stands for Združena Borbena Organizacija Rada (United Militant Labor Organization).

The movement was officially founded on the 6th of January 1935, a date that had a symbolic meaning for the movement, as it’s mission was to continue the deeds started on that day 6 years prior – to reform the country and the system. Main principles of the movement were integration of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes into a new Yugoslav community that is bound in blood and destiny and faith in God as the most important spiritual value of Yugoslav people, along with the preservation of traditional values, agrarianism, continuation of the state and maintaining the purity of Yugoslavian people.

Their appearance on the social and political scenes made a huge impression on the public. Dozens of independent newspaper that had no connection to ZBOR published this news on the front page and even some foreign media talked about the movement as a new organization led by nationalists that wants to set the country on a different path.

Days later some of the members of BOJ and Yugoslav Action decided to leave ZBOR for other, now legal parties, some of the founders of the movement left because they thought ZBOR should merge with stronger political elements, something that was contradictory to the very reason why ZBOR was even formed.

But that was a good thing and time became somewhat of a filter for members, because people in ZBOR had to be people of the same spirit and the same thought. ZBOR had to be a new force that will challenge the new order that came after the death of King Aleksandar, to expose it and bring it down.

ZBOR and it’s leader Dimitrije Ljotić had hard times ahead as people who were put down on the 6th of January back in 1929 had come back and in the next six years they will face real political struggle, but more on that in the next articles of this series.

And all of our work from then on was to realize that, which we’ve presented to him [the King] so many times, and which in the end he approved of – now that He is gone, those ideas live on in ZBOR as our goals, for the good of our Fatherland, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

THE POLITICIAN WITH THE CROSS
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THE POLITICIAN WITH THE CROSS [P1]

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Dimitrije Ljotić is an unfamiliar name outside of Serbia. Before you is the first article in a series dedicated to this man, his teachings and his work, all in chronological order beginning with his short, but comprehensive biography dealing with his background and early years. The Series will deal with his political life, his role as founder and teacher of a political movement and later armed forces in World War 2, his relation to specific people and specific events.

By the end of this series you’ll know why he was called the “Politician with the Cross“.

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Dimitrije Ljotić was born in 1891 in Belgrade. Most of his life he spent in his hometown of Smederevo. His oldest known ancestors Đorđe, known as Ljota and Toma Dimitrijević came from the village of Blac, now in Greek Macedonia, in first half of 18th century. First they settled in a village of Krnjevo, close to town of Smederevo. Around 1750’s these two brothers built a wooden church in Krnjevo and dedicated it to saint George, their patron saint. At the end of 18th century, they resettled to Smederevo. According to legend, in their house the leader of the First Serbian Uprising, Đorđe Petrović Karađorđe, received the keys of Smederevo fort from the Turks. The family of Ljotić stayed loyal to the Karađorđević dynasty till the end. Dimitrije’s father, Vladimir Ljotić, had to leave Serbia in 1868, because he was wanted as conspirator against Obrenović dynasty, a rival dynasty to Karađorđević. He returned only after the abdication of of king Milan Obrenović in 1889, when first radical government of Sava Grujić was formed. Already in 1890 he was appointed as Serbian consul in Salonika. Later, Vladimir Ljotić was the president of Smederevo municipality and member of parlament. Between 1904 and 1909 he was again a consul in Salonika. He died in 1912.

As stated before, Dimitrije Ljotić was born in 1891 in Belgrade. He finished grade school in Smederevo, where he enrolled in high school. Upon relocation of his family to Salonika, Dimitrije Ljotić, barely 16 years old, graduated from the Serbian high school of Salonika, approved by the ministry of foreign affairs. In his early youth, in part because of his parents’ influence and partly because of the books he read, Dimitrije became very religious. He was thinking of becoming a priest and dropping out of faculty of law, but because of his father’s disapproval he gave up on that idea. His understanding of Christianity partially matched that of Tolstoy, in context of total refusal to defy evil. He became a vegetarian, abstainer, devoted with his whole being to the purity of Christ. He was so devoted to this path that when recruitment for the Balkan war begun, he was determined to refuse giving the military oath. Luckily for him, the time for giving the oath never came as he was underage. However, in order to express his patriotism, Dimitrije Ljotić volunteered to the medical service. During Balkan wars he worked in quarantines and healed the people infected with typhus.

In autumn of 1913. he went to Paris, where he stayed until the break of World War 1. His trip to Paris was the idea of King Peter the Ist who wanted to prepare him for diplomatic service, and education in France was a thing of prestige. In Paris, his commitment to monarchism and his rightist spirit developed more and more. He often visited the meetings of French royalists, and on one of those meetings he said: “All the more we should be monarchists, because we have our own national dynasty!

On his return to Serbia on September 1st 1914, he received a call to the army. With it, as one of 1300 corporals, he survived the Albanian Golgotha and recovered from it on island of Corfu. During the pursuit of Germans and Bulgarians through Serbia, Dimitrije was wounded on Ovčije field. After all his combat experience, Dimitrije lost the sense of pacifism he had before. After the end of the war he was appointed commander of the railway station in Bakar (between Rijeka and Zadar). His observation of Croat peasants from Bakar and Serbs in military was interesting, seeing how in first days Croats were more for Yugoslavia than the Serbs were. That changed dramatically very quickly. For that drastic change in Bakar, Ljotić blamed the Jews who through usury begun to get rich, exploiting the hunger that was present in first days of new country.

On 16th of April 1920, a railwaymen strike broke out, orchestrated by the Communist party of Yugoslavia. Their intention was to on the one hand prevent the delivery of ammunition that was intended against (((Bela Kun)))’s Hungary, and on the other hand with prevention of demobilization to instigate riots in the military among reservists. Dimitrije broke the strike in Bakar in a single day, arresting 36 railwaymen, sending them all to the authorities. He was demobilized on June 17th 1920. In Bakar he found his future wife Ivka with whom he had three children.

After demobilization he returned to Smederevo where he opened his lawyer office after he graduated in Belgrade in 1921. He joined the People’s Radical Party and soon became president of it’s youth wing. From 1926 he was considered a dissident by some circles in the party because of his deep religious stances. As a party dissident, Dimitrije Ljotić ran for parlament in 1927. In these elections he won 5614 (19,7% of) votes and it wasn’t enough for him to win a seat, while in his hometown of Smederevo the Democratic party won. This was the last time he ran as a candidate of the regime’s party. In his later political life he would deal with criticism of Yugoslavian regime and it’s work and even form his own political movement.

Today he is most remembered for his role in warn-torn Serbia during the Second World War, trying to salvage anything he could from the mistakes of his predecessors.

THE POLITICIAN WITH THE CROSS
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THE FIUME ADVENTURE

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“It is not possible to root out desire, to fight passion is to sin against life.” -Gabriele d’Annunzio
Fiume is a city located on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. It is also the key port in the north of the Quarnaro Bay, which separates the Istra peninsula from the eastern coast of the Adriatic. Today this city bears the name Rijeka and belongs to Croatia, however in the first years after the First World War it was a topic of heated discussions. Before the war the city was part of the so called “Transleithania” – lands of the Hungarian crown which were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

After the end of the war, with the collapse of the Empire, the city fell in the hands of the Yugoslavian Committee. Then, when on November 4th, 1918 the Italian cruiser “Emanuele Filiberto” had entered the harbor, control over the city falls to the Italian National Council. France and England also send their forces to establish allied control.

The fate of the city became one of the most controversial topics during the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Both sides, Italy and and Yugoslavs were part of a heated debate as to whom the city belongs. Italians pointed to the fact that they were the majority population. Indeed, according to the official 1910 census 24,212 Italians, 15,687 Yugoslavs, 6,493 Hungarians and 3,383 other nationals lived in Fiume. Opponents objected that while there was indeed an Italian majority in the city, all surrounding territories were populated by Slavs. Both sides argued how the land was rightfully theirs, utilized various arguments of historic and economic nature, talked about “national interests” and called for justice. One of the issues was the secret 1915 London agreement which layed out the conditions for Italy to join the war. In it Italy made no claims for Fiume. However, nobody had expected the total collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Another important factor was the principle position of the US president Woodrow Wilson, who insisted on Fiume becoming part of the newly created Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Regardless, the situation was at a standstill. It even came down to the Italian delegation of Prime Minister Orlando leaving the Paris Peace Conference in protest, but returned after persuasion from the Allies.

A rather peculiar solution was proposed by the Italian poet and author Gabriele D’Annunzio. On September 12th, 1919 he led 40 vehicles with volunteers to Fiume. As the New York Times wrote, when the “army” of 2,300 people departed in a column from Ronchi, the commander of the Italian garrison in Fiume, general Pittaluga with a detachment of gunners at his back declared that he must fulfill his duty. However after the Poet replied, that if the general is going to shoot “his own brothers” then he’d have to shoot D’Annunzio first, Pittaluga exclaimed “Viva Fiume!” and joins D’Annunzio. Then when the militia entered the city some of the inhabitants and sailors joined them as well and the allied garrison was locked in the barracks. D’Annunzio proclaimed the city joining Italy, presenting the government with fait accompli. But the Italian government of Prime Minister Nitti had instead established a land and sea blockade of Fiume. Thus D’Annunzio became the absolute master of the city.

The Poet’s biography in of itself deserves a separate story, much needed to understand his action. We’ll restrict ourselves to a brief retelling of the most interesting moments. Being a big celebrity prone to shocking his audience D’Annunzio led a luxurious and lavish lifestyle in Italy: he had his own entourage, there was a great collection of statues and tapestries in his villa and, of course, the author never had a shortage of women. Naturally, Gabriele amassed exorbitant debts. To get rid of them the Poet agreed to do a tour with public lectures across Latin America, proposed by the Argentine millionaire Giovanni Del Guzzo, who in return would take care of D’Annunzio’s creditors. Agreeing, D’Annunzio fled from Del Guzzo to Paris, where his literary triumph continued. In France he lived it up with an even greater flare, having an entire harem in his home. When the war began, the famous writer, who was already over 50, finally sides with the irredentists, using his popularity as a means of pressuring the government. Even during the war D’Annunzio does not betray his lifestyle. Wile hundreds of thousands of soldiers die, the Poet, holding the opinion of his superiors to little regard, satisfies his own ego. He conducts risky raids, first on torpedo boats, and then after becoming an aviator, in between his flights continues to live in his luxurious palace. To his credit it is worth noting that he waged war successfully – in August of 1918 he made the first air raid on the capital of the enemy state of Vienna. The author meets the end of the war in the rank of lieutenant colonel, a lost eye as a result of an unsuccessful landing, and with a foreboding anticipation of “the stench of peaceful life“. The ideal candidate to lead the Fiume adventure.

Taking control of an entire city D’Annunzio has no plans of stopping. More and more Arditi flock under his wing and soon their numbers reach 11,000. After several planes deserted to Fiume the Italian government had to take out of commission its entire fleet to avoid this in the future. This army did not lack weapons, as the crew of gunship with artillery, 30 thousand rifles and ammo on board, all meant for Russian Admiral Kolchak, mutinied and changed course for the Poet’s domain. In November D’Annunzio with a force of a thousand volunteers on board of 4 destroyer ships arranges another sortie – to Zara (now Zadar), a local Italian commander joins him. Zadar was later taken by Italian regular army. The Poet has plans to take Split and invade Montenegro. A year after Zara the Poet expands his domain, taking over the islands in the Kvarner Gulf and several villages to the east of Fiume.

One of D’Annunzio’s first orders was the introduction of food cards. However as the city was under siege, surrounded by mountainous terrain with no place to grow food and no banks or factories working in the city, piracy becomes Fiume’s new major industry after its capture by the Poet. Some weeks after its takeover the Arditi seize a ship with provisions headed for Pola and steer it back home. Such instances repeat in the future. For instance in April 1920 with the help of motor boats a steamship with provisions is captured and after being unloaded let go. It should be remembered that the Poet payed his soldiers, and piracy was one of the ways of getting the funds. In the same month Fiume is gripped by a general strike caused by a decrease in rations. The Poet himself, however, lived in luxury. When he’s not busy renaming streets, hotels and restaurants, he works on creating new liquor, feasts at banquets and the piano is played in his house.

Not everything was as smooth for the rest of the city. After its capture D’Annunzio produces a proclamation declaring a martial law in Fiume and threatens the death penalty to all who oppose “Fiume’s Cause“. Then the poet holds elections for the city council under the watchful eye of the troops. The entire populace is called upon to fulfill their patriotic duty – vote. However to limit the participation of the slavic citizens on election day the bridge separating the suburb of Sussak where they were a majority was raised. Moreover only one political force was allowed to participate in the elections, Unione Nazionale, so if anyone wanted to vote differently they had to write in the candidate’s name by hand. As a result the Italian annexationists get 6,999 votes out of 7,150. But D’Annunzio has a hard relationship even with this loyal National Council. First the council protests the Poet, standing in support of the Italian government, then they change their mind, allowing his forces to stay in the city until its unification with Italy. This question was to be addressed in a plebiscite in late December. To ensure the desired outcome the Arditi take control of the ballot boxes, and the Poet declares that he will not leave the city, until he achieves his goal and annulled the results of the vote. There are differences in the army as well, particularly between the Carabinieri and the Arditi. In May 1920 when a squad of the former along with their commander attempted to leave the city they were met with Arditi machine gun fire on the border – this grew into an hour long confrontation until general Ceccherini had arrived to resolve the matter. In the end 12 people were killed and 50 wounded. The end of summer and beginning of autumn of 1920 marked another break between D’Annunzio and the council, resulting with the dismissal of the latter on the grounds of proclaiming Fiume’s independence and the adoption of the “Italian Regency of Carnaro” constitution. A provisional government was formed where, of course, none other but Gabriel D’Annunzio himself became the Prime Minister. In the end, after the Poet’s declarations the national council had to once again assemble and express a vote of confidence for the new government.

D’Annunzio’s opposition was very active. The dissatisfied with the high indemnity imposed by him on the business community in order to pay his troops, they organized around Riccardo Zanella, a former Fiume MP to the Hungarian parliament, who was championing the idea of an independent Fiume under Italian protectorate. Faced with D’Annunzio he was forced to leave the city and act from Trieste. During the mentioned plebiscite Zanella and his supporters spread leaflets and manifests calling to support the proposals of the Italian government, which was met with repressions, searches and arrests from the Arditi. Later the conspirators were hoping to bribe D’Annunzio’s soldiers to overthrow him, but their plan was uncovered. Socialists were also in opposition to the new regime. In their manifesto printed in the official party newspaper Avanti they called D’Annunzio a “mad despot” and blamed the Arditi for bringing hunger, imprisonment and torture.

While D’Annunzio’s men beat up political opponents in Trieste and kidnap generals that caused dissatisfaction, others, like general Ceccherini, having received the post of the Poet’s commander in chief, join him voluntarily. One of the author-aventurer’s comrades was another adventurer – captain Luigi Rizzo, war hero who had sunk the Hungarian super-dreadnought “St. Istvan” with a torpedo boat. The Poet appointed him admiral. An Italian “Patriot senator” Casagrande joins him as well, having abandoned for this his newly wed wife in Nice. The grateful Poet appointed him commander of aviation. Another public figure, the Belgian Leon Kohnitsky, assigned by the Poet to be the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, organized the “Anti-League of Nations“. The government was headed by Alceste De Ambris, a former member of the anarcho-syndicalist trade union in the Italian syndicalist union, who was expelled from it for supporting Italy joining the First World War, afterwards becoming one of the founders of the Fascist movement and co-author of the first fascist manifesto along with the father of Futurism Filippo Marinetti. All in all the city is visited by many guests. For instance during Fiume’s anniversary celebration an American delegation was present with senators and judges, among the guests of honor were the great tenor of the time Enriko Caruso, who became the star of the evening, and Giovanni Caproni, famous aircraft designer and veteran of Salvator Palladino’s Garibaldi movement.

After the city’s declaration of independence De Ambris along with D’Annunzio wrote the constitution of the “Italian Regency of Carnaro“. Let’s look at its unique aspects. It is most known for the special role it gives to music, which was declared a “social and religious institution”. Every village of the province had to have an acting choir and orchestra, subsidized by the state, and in Fiume itself a concert hall with at least 10 thousand seats was to be built. The education system also had to pay attention to music, with choir practice and by creating a number of art schools. Another institution of higher education was to be a University free of interference from the law. All in all the goal of education had to be the exaltation of Latin culture, Italian was declared the primary language of education, however it should be noted that in every commune primary education had to be conducted in the language of the majority residents.

In general, the constitution could be said to have been progressive for its time in regards to rights and freedoms. In addition to various guarantees for non-Italians (which looks fairly strange on the background goals of the Poet’s adventure), such civil rights were introduced as women’s suffrage and equality before the law of everyone regardless of race, sex, language and faith. There were rules about a referendum on popular initiative, recall of elected MPs by the voters and etc. The State guaranteed to all citizens, male and female, primary education in healthy schools with physical education classes in public schools under the open sky, minimal wage jobs, benefits and pensions. Property was regarded as a social function for which one needs to take responsibility. Convicted under the law or tax evaders were deprived of civil rights, since according to the constitution only those who strengthened the wealth and power of the state were regarded as full citizens. The port and railways were nationalized.

An important feature of the Fiume constitution was also that it was the first attempt to establish a corporate state in practice. Everyone depending on their occupation had to be a member of one of the ten corporations. Each corporation has its own number and represents in itself a particular class of society. The first – wage workers, peasants and small craftsmen; second – managers and technicians; third – financial officers; fourth – owners of enterprises; fifth – utility workers; sixth represented the intellectuals: teachers, students, people of art; seventh was comprised of people in liberal professions; eighth included workers in cooperatives; ninth – sailors. The most interesting was the tenth corporation which had no official name and consisted of “the mysterious forces of progress and adventure“, people of the future, a kind of elite. This system of corporations affected virtually all branches of power: they form one of the houses of parliament, elect certain ministerial posts, have courts dedicated to sort out labor disputes, representing all corporations except for the tenth, thus providing, according to the authors, the harmonious functioning of society.

Let’s take a closer look at the relation of powers which were to be established by the constitution. Their particular feature was a clear separation of functions. The Parliament consisted of two houses: Council of Senators and Council of “Provvisori“. The first were elected by universal secret ballot for a period of ten years under the quote of one senator per thousand inhabitants. The Senate were to meet once a year for a short session and pass laws and decrees regarding  the criminal and civil codes, police, defense, secondary education, art, relations between the communes and the state, appoint ministers of defense, interior and justice. The “Provvisori” was to consist of 60 delegates and proportionately represent all corporations (except the tenth) in more or less equal proportions, and just as the senate have well-defined powers within the scope of economic management, labor relations, appointment of Ministers of Economy and Labor. Once a year both houses were to sit together forming the Grand National Council called “Arengo del Carnaro” which handled foreign relations and financial policy, higher education and constitutional reforms. Joined meetings also were to appoint ministers of foreign affairs, finances, education, noting that the foreign affairs minister was also the Prime Minister. All seven ministers were elected for one year. Every seven years the “Arengo” assembles for a special session – to discuss constitutional reforms even though those could take place at any time if that were the desire of a third of the populace.

Communes would have considerable autonomy. They handled primary education, appointed communal judges and police, could collect taxes, enforce the laws and handle all affairs beyond the competence of local branches of the legislative, executive and judicial powers. Communes could also pass local laws approved by the province and enter into agreements with each other with approval of central government. The armed forces  were milita in nature and during peace time  there is no regular army but regular exercises were to take place. Everyone were obliged to serve: men in the armed forces while women in hospitals and factories.

However this whole system of checks and balances and the complex distribution of power loses all meaning if the national council decides to appoint the Commandant. This position was inspired by the dictators of the Roman republic. When the state is in danger one person is given all power: legislative, executive and military. “Arengo” defines the period for which a dictator is appointed, “whilst not forgetting that in the Roman republic dictatorship lasted for 6 months“. At the end of the dictatorial period the national council can leave the Commandant in office, appoint a different person as Commandant or even punish him. However until that point the dictator’s power was absolute.

While D’Annunzio was the ruler of Fiume the Great Powers did not stop arguing about the status of the city. In the end this question was left to be decided immediately by Italy and Yugoslavia, whose efforts lead to a compromise. Fiume was supposed to be come a free city under Italian protectorate. The Italian government sent the Poet’s forces an ultimatum, demanding they abandon the city and return to their units. In responce D’Annunzio declared war on Italy on December 1st, 1920. After heavy fighting, on December 29th the regular forces occupy the city and the Poet, first declaring his readiness to die, departed on an airplane. Thus ended the adventure which lasted for 15 months.

It is difficult to give a clear assessment of D’Annunzio’s regime based purely on its constitution without paying heed to the context in which it was signed. Being the real power in the city the Poet was not hesitant to prove that might makes right, repressing all opposition and annulling results of the plebiscites when they were not in his favor. To understand the ideology of the regime one must add another piece to the puzzle. D’Annunzio declared his mission to be saving Italy from the socialists. The Poet believed in the greatness of national spirit, which in his opinion communism kills. According to this view the Belgian Leon Kohnitsky, who became Secretary of Foreign Affairs, together with the Poet-adventurer, started organizing the “Anti-League of Nations” which was to include “all the oppressed peoples” and a conference was called which was attended by invited delegates from Egypt, India, Turkey, Ireland, Hungary and Persia. Critics sarcastically noted that this league could’ve been attended by surviving Young Turks, successful in eliminating the Greeks, Syrians, Armenians and Arabs; exiled Egyptian Pasha; some Brahmans with their love for the lower castes and “untouchables“; and the oppressed people of Montenegro would have been represented by the former King Nicholas and his thirty pro-german sons.

Could the socialists have declared D’Annunzio in their proclamation anything but a “mad despot“? He was much closer to the Fascists of that era. In fact this relationship was not kept secret. At the first Fascist congress in Milan in the spring of 1919, before the capture of Fiume by D’Annunzio, Benito Mussolini in his speech proclaimed “we cannot remain deaf to the struggle for Fiume.” After its takeover the Fascist leader states his solidarity with the Poet: “Fiume is the rebellion of the great proletarian woman (Italy) against the new holy alliance of the world plutocracy. Proletarian! Socialists are selling themselves to Nitti and the big banks!” The official newspaper of the Fascist movement, Popolo d’Italia prints the slogan “Fiume or death!

Regarding the constitution itself, the laws such as women’s suffrage are well in line with the Fascist demands of 1919, however they never went through with that, while the concept of the corporate state was not only adopted by the Fascists but realized into practice. It should be noted however, that the corporate harmony brought by Fascists with equal representation of both capitalist and working interests in practice worked against the latter. Class collaboration is the most that national-syndicalism of De Ambrisa could offer with the Poet’s blessing, while in Italy itself, unification with which they longed for so much, a revolution was brewing with demands for total worker’s control over the enterprises. The constitution, a kind of “fascism with a human face“, in practice could prove to be a useless scrap of paper at a mere whim of D’Annunzio. However the adventure came to an end before any conclusions could be made regarding its application in practice, and the Poet himself after his retirement was surrounded by great honor and luxury in the Fascist regime until his death.

Original article “Italian Regency of Carnaro: city-state ruled by the poet D’Annunzio
Source: “Tolkovatel” [Толкователь]
Translated by Alexander Slavros