From New International, Vol.12 No.3, March 1946, p.66.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
Nicola di Bartolomeo, National Secretary of the Partito Operaio Comunista (Workers Communist Party) Italian section of the Fourth International, died at Resina (Naples province) on January 10.
He was only 44 years old, but with a record of 25 years of struggle in the revolutionary movement. Only in the last two years was he able to appear under his own legal name. Before that in many countries he was known as FOSCO and then as ROLAND.
In France, in Belgium, in Holland, in England and in Spain, he participated in the struggle. During the Spanish civil war he fought in the Lenin Column and later in Barcelona, rifle in hand, he defended the workers’ rights on the barricades which rose in the famous May Days of 1937.
Jailed in France under the Vichy regime, he was handed over to Mussolini and returned to his native land after long exile – to a prison. It was in the prison-isolator of Tremiti that he and a group whom he had gathered around him wrote the first program of the new revolutionary party which they were to found.
That program, and much else that he wrote in the less than three years that remained to him, was necessarily preoccupied with the central importance of democratic demands as the crucial means to mobilize the masses for revolutionary struggle. These writings were directed against the ultra-lefting Bordigha and his followers. Comrade Di Bartolomeo emphasized that we must not repeat the error which the Communist International made even in its best days when it permitted the reformists to pose as the sole defenders of democracy.
He had the satisfaction, in the weeks preceding his death, of knowing that at last the party had won the right to a legal newspaper, three issues of which had appeared before his death. IV Internationale, as the paper is called, has enabled the party to turn toward the masses urging them to fight for the republic and a government of the Socialist and Communist parties in order to end the present political paralysis.
Despite the terrible conditions prevailing in southern Italy, he insisted on remaining there because of his close connection with the workers of Naples, although meanwhile the national center and the press had been moved to Rome in order to serve the industrial North. A pulmonary congestion, aggravated by the lack of proper food and medical treatment, killed him after a few days of intense suffering.
An indefatigable organizer, and with his vast international experience, his loss is a great blow at a time when the Italian section of the Fourth International has weathered its initial tasks of establishing itself and is growing rapidly.
Rome, January 25, 1946
On behalf of The New International and the Workers Party we can add: not only the Italian party but the whole world Trotskyist movement has suffered a great loss in the passing of Comrade Di Bartolomeo. One of the oldest remaining comrades who go back to the days of the Left Opposition, his great international experience gave him an especially authoritative voice in the Fourth International not only on European but also on world questions. To his bereaved widow, Rosa, his worthy companion in the revolutionary fight, we send our heartfelt condolences and pledge of comradeship.
Last updated on 1.10.2005