The 1920s and 1930s in Mortale and elsewhere in Italy

At the height of the post World War 1 recession, there was much dissatisfaction in Italy as land previously promised to Italy did not materialise in the Paris Peace Conference and the economy was in decline with the collapse of tourism and high unemployment, caused mainly by the return of millions of soldiers.  The US placed heavy restrictions on immigration and the lira was now worth one fifth of its pre-war value. 

Benito Mussolini and his blackshirts became a powerful force and, from 1922 to 1929, slowly but gradually, he destroyed all effective opposition at home.  He placed loyal Fascists in key government positions, created the Voluntary Fascist Militia for National Security, and promoted the Grand Council of Fascism (the highest authority of the Fascist Party) into an organ of state.

In 1926, a law on association outlawed all political opposition, and a secret police force was established to arrest political opponents. In 1925-26, more than ten thousand anti-fascists were arrested, sentenced to death and exiled. To strengthen his control of the country, the workers' unions were dissolved and opposition newspapers were closed.  In 1928, a new law restricted parliamentary elections to candidates officially nominated by the Fascist Grand Council. In the 1929 elections, an all-Fascist Parliament was elected. In the same year, Mussolini, the Duce (the leader) was given power by the pro-Fascist parliament to govern by decrees. He issued a series of decrees which transferred to him complete legislative authority. The King had to accept Mussolini as the permanent Prime Minister of Italy. From this time onwards, all other ministers were appointed, and dismissed by and directed to work under Mussolini alone. From 1929 to I939, Mussolini completed the building-up of the totalitarian state.

In 1938, the Fascist Grand Council abolished the Parliament, and set up in its place an Assembly of Corporations which consisted of representatives from twenty-two industrial and professional corporations. In other words, the parliamentary system in Italy came to an end. In 1939, though Italy remained, in name, a monarchy, Mussolini, as the Duce of the Fascist Party, was the uncrowned King of Italy. He was always right and no one dared to oppose him.

I have very little concrete information about the Fortes during this period in history.  Of interest, however, is this school photograph taken in 1926 in Mortale.

© 2011 Paul Forte

Local traditions continued and the photo below shows Giuseppe Forte (son of Cristofaro) at La Soda dividing out the eggs collected at dawn on one Easter morning in the 1930s.  Gioacchino Forte is playing the accordion as the group sing La Mattinata.  Great Grandmother Maria Giuseppa (Maria Longa) is far right on the photo. 

It was during the 1920s and 1930s that the gap widened between those who had remained as peasant farmers in Mortale and those who had left to seek their fortune.  This was no more apparent than when the emigrants closed their shops in winter months and returned to spend the winter in the village.  The photos below are from this period and are taken at La Soda in Mortale.

Between October 1935 and May 1936, the second Italo-Abyssinian war was fought resulting in the Italian military occupation of Abyssinia (Ethiopia).  A new colony known as Italian East Africa was set up.  A number of men from the Casalattico region signed up and were stationed in Ethiopia for several years.  These included Olimpio Forte (Bexhill), who was there until early 1939. 

Mortale School 1926

Group Photo at La Soda in Mortale showing some locals with returning emigrants in 1930s

Giuseppe Forte divides the eggs on Easter Sunday
Click on arrow to play "La Mattinata"

Group Photo at La Soda in Mortale in 1930s.  Costantino Forte (of kidnap fame) is far left.

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