Cesare Maria De Vecchi
De Vecchi was born in Casale Monferrato on 14 November 1884. After graduating in jurisprudence he became a successful lawyer in Turin. His stance on the First World War was interventionist, and he himself took part in the final events of the conflict. On his return to Italy he gave his support to the National Fascist Party, in which he would consistently represent the monarchical and ‘moderate’ wing. He became president of the Turin war veterans and head of the local Fascist squadre. In 1921, he was elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies.
De Vecchi became Commander General of the Milizia (see Blackshirts), was one of the quadrumvirs who organised the March on Rome, and sought to persuade Antonio Salandra to enter into Benito Mussolini’s government. He himself became Undersecretary at the Treasury and then at the Finance Ministry. In December 1922 he inspired the squadre of Brandimarte to the 1922 Turin Massacre (Strage di Torino) and he become known as the most important of the Piedmontese squadristi.
From 1923 to 1928, De Vecchi was governor of Italian Somaliland, a role which took him away from the centre of the Italian political scene. He was made Count of Val Cismon (in memory of the battles fought by his arditi on Monte Grappa in 1918). He was appointed Senator by King Victor Emmanuel III. He became the first ambassador to the Vatican after the Concordat of 1929. Between 1935 and 1936 he was national Minister of Education: as such he promoted a historiography which identified the House of Savoy as the link between Imperial Rome and the Rome of Fascism, and also worked for the centralisation of the administration of the school system.
From 1936 to 1940, De Vecchi acted as governor of the Italian Aegean Islands promoting the official use of the Italian language. In the following year he was appointed to the Grand Council of Fascism and on 25 July 1943, he voted in favour of Dino Grandi’s order of the day which deposed Benito Mussolini of his role as Fascist Duce (leader). As a result, he was condemned to death in absentia during the Verona trial conducted under the auspices of the Italian Social Republic (Repubblica Sociale Italiana, or RSI), but he was able to escape to Argentina on a Paraguayan passport.
After returning to Italy in 1949, De Vecchi supported the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement (Movimento Sociale Italiano, or MSI) together with Rodolfo Graziani. However, he refused to accept any political or institutional office within the MSI.
Cesare Maria De Vecchi died in Rome in 1959.
- This article originated as a translation of its counterpart in the Italian Wikipedia as retrieved on 2007-03-18