Simon Petru Cristofini

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Symbol of the Phalange Africaine, commanded by Colonel Cristofini in Tunisia.

Simon Petru Cristofini (1903 - 1943) was a Corsican soldier who commanded the Phalange Africaine and was executed for alleged treason by the French authorities because of his support to Italian irredentism in Corsica during the Italian occupation of Corsica.

Biography[edit]

Colonel Simon Petru Cristofini (or Pietro Simone Cristofini) was born in Calenzana, Haute-Corse on 26 May 1903 and in 1939 became a Captain of the "3rd Algerian Fusiliers" regiment. He was initially a supporter of Marshal Philippe Pétain.

After the Allied occupation of French North Africa he commanded the Phalange Africaine.

Indeed the Allied forces landed in French Morocco and Algeria in November 1942. Immediately, German and Italian reinforcement troops land in French Tunisia. On November 14, the idea of an "African Phalange" was launched in Paris with the support of the 3rd Reich Ambassador Otto Abetz. In December, German authorities approve the plan and the related logistic. Soon 330 volunteers were recruited under the orders of Colonel Cristofini and instructed in the Bordj-Ceda camp, ending with the constitution of a 210 men Company, called "Franzosische Freiwilligen Legion" and incorporated into the 2nd Battalion, 754. PzG Rgt, 334. PzG Division, 5. Panzerarmee (von Arnim).[1]

In Tunisia he was wounded in one eye [2] and then, before returning to Corsica, he met Benito Mussolini in Rome. Colonel Cristofini was a supporter of the union of Corsica to Italy and defended irredentist ideals. He actively collaborated with Italian forces in Corsica during the first months of 1943. In the island he worked with Petru Giovacchini (the possible governor of Corsica if the Axis had won the war). Cristofini, as head of the Ajaccio troops, helped the Italian Army to repress Resistance opposition in Corsica before the Italian Armistice in September 1943.

He was put on trial for treason after the Allies retook Corsica, and sentenced to death. He tried to kill himself, and was executed while suffering from his wounds in November 1943.[3]

His wife, Marta Renucci, was sentenced in 1946 to 15 years of jail in Algiers for supporting irredentism and for collaborating with Italian fascism, but served only a reduced sentence.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Phalange Africaine
  2. ^ Cristofini was wounded by mistake with an antitank granade (in French)
  3. ^ Colonel Cristofini execution (in Italian)


See also[edit]