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Will Gorman

An Italian Noblewoman “Suffers” War

(November 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 46, 13 November 1944, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

We know pretty well what has been going on in Italy. Whole towns and cities are leveled to the ground by German shells and American cannon as both armies slowly and tortuously battle up the Italian boot. Economic life is almost at a standstill. Hunger and disease pervade every corner of Italy. Working class women are forced to walk the streets. Amgot has become AMG, then Allied Control Commission, then simply Allied Commission. All the masquerading cannot help its unpopularity, since the change of names does not mean any change of conditions for the better. Land hungry peasants seize the large estates. The Bonomi government, tottering in Rome, gathers enough strength to drive the peasants off at the point of a gun. Italian Partisans are thrown into jail if they keep their guns. If they give them away, they receive, in exchange a summary “thank you” or a certificate. Police shoot into crowds in Sicily, where the British are trying to get in with both feet. The Vatican, which blessed Franco’s rebellion in Spain, pleads, begs and warns against social revolution. The Minister of Transport can’t get gasoline for his own car but Italy declares war on Japan. Such are the mad and maddening results of Allied “liberation” – peace with reaction, war against the masses.

Pink Negligee, White-Coated Servant

But we were absolutely enlightened by a story in the New York Times, November 5, conclusively entitled Italian Countess Ignores the War. When the American soldiers arrived, Countess Lavinia Filo Delia Torre, “unperturbed as usual,” was “in her boudoir clad in a pink negligee.” Five thousand miles away, here in this country, old clothes are being collected for the almost, naked masses of Italy. Isn’t it a comforting thought that the Countess isn’t even short of – a pink negligee?

“A white-jacketed retainer brought us fine Italian red wine.” The Countess said: “I’ve simply ignored the war – despite some difficulties.” Such modesty! But she was no doubt a very experienced hostess. Indeed, “... in February there came two hundred troops of the Herman Goering Division. They brought three German dancing girls ...” This “elite” German division robbed and destroyed at every town. They shot many Italians, deported others. This is strenuous work, so for relaxation they went to the villa of the Countess who “ignored the war”!

Countess Has Her Privations, Too

But the Countess has her troubles. No water in the swimming pool, pieces of shrapnel in her tennis court. Most bothersome were the fifty peasants who had come to her estate for refuge during the terrific shelling of the countryside. “Grimy-faced children were dabbling their feet in her goldfish fountain.” (Whom are we supposed to feel sorry for, the goldfish or the Countess?) The Countess complained of the peasants: “I don’t think they want to move. They like it here.” The peasants are a little jealous of the Countess’ good luck. They’re obviously hungry and homeless, not having succeeded in “ignoring the war.”

“The Countess smiled and ordered more wine. She turned to Lieut-Col. Phelan: ‘Would you please tell all those people living in my cellars and barns that they!’ can go home now.’” And if you don’t catch on as yet – Lieut.-Col. Phelan had dropped in to help put her estate “in order.”

What a marvelous occupation for the American Army in Italy! The bloody battles at Cassino, Anzio, the Gothic Line! And now doing their best for secluded estates, guarding goldfish pools, pink negligees, white-jacketed servants, red vintage wine and the rare and precious Counts and Countesses!


The Italian workers and peasants will be free from economic misery, criminal injustice, the agonies of war only when they throw from their backs that pack of assorted idles and exploiters – the aristocracy, the capitalists, the old monarch Victor Emmanuel, the young one, Crown Prince Umberto, and those useless windbags who make up the theatrical Bonomi government.

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