Leo Valiani

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Leo Valiani
Leo Weiczen
Leo Valiani dati XII legislatura.jpg
Personal details
Born(1909-02-09)February 9, 1909
Rijeka, Austria-Hungary
DiedSeptember 18, 1999(1999-09-18) (aged 90)
Milan, Italy
OccupationJournalist and historian

Leo Valiani (Leo Weiczen; 9 February 1909 – 18 September 1999) was an Italian historian, politician and journalist.

Early life[edit]

Valiani was born in Fiume (now Rijeka), on the Adriatic Sea (then in Hungarian part of Austria-Hungary, now in Croatia) to a Hungarian Jewish family.[1] His surname would be forcibly Italianized, from Weiczen to Valiani, by the regime in 1927.[2][3] In later childhood, Valiani lived in Trieste, and later, Italy.[4]

Career and activities[edit]

In 1930, Valiani was sentenced to five years in prison for anti-Fascist acts he had committed in the 1920s.[2] Valiani left for exile in France once he was released, before leaving for Spain where he fought during the Civil War on the side of the Republicans.[5] In 1939, after the defeat by Franco, he fled to France where he was detained as Communist in Camp Vernet together with Arthur Koestler (who wrote about it in his book Scum of the Earth), before later fleeing to Mexico.[1] Originally a communist, he started to question Stalin's policies and his treatment of Trotsky's followers during the Spanish Civil War. He broke with the party in 1939 after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

In 1943, the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) sent Valiani secretly behind enemy lines in Italy across the unstable front between the Allied and Axis forces to Rome. He moved northward to work with resistance leader, Ferruccio Parri and with Milan's anti-fascist Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale. Valiani represented resistance leaders at meetings in Switzerland with American intelligence officers of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), including Allen W. Dulles.[4]

He joined the social-democrat Action Party (Partito d'Azione) of Parri. As a leader of the resistance in the north, Valiani helped organise the final partisan uprising in April 1945, and put his signature to the document ordering the execution of the captured Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.[1][5]

He was elected to the Italian Constituent Assembly in 1946 for the Action Party. When that party faded away – the ideals of a capitalist system with a social democratic face trampled under the conflicting interests of the larger Communist and Christian Democrat parties – he took refuge in historical studies.[5] He adhered to the Italian Radical Party in 1956-1962 and, in the 1980s, to the Italian Republican Party.

Valiani considered journalism as his true career. He wrote for the news weekly L'Espresso for 35 years and collaborated with Il Mondo and the Corriere della Sera.[6] President Sandro Pertini named him senator for life in 1980.[3][6]


A white marble gravestone on the wall of a chapel, with only the name and dates of birth and death inscribed, a small photograph of the deceased and a bunch of red carnations
Valiani's grave at the Cimitero Monumentale in Milan, Italy, in 2015

He died in Milan in 1999 on September 18th, aged 90, and is buried at the city's Cimitero Monumentale, in the main chapel of the cemetery.[1][7]


  1. ^ a b c d Willan, Philip (1999-09-21). "Leo Valiani". the Guardian. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  2. ^ a b VARESI, VALERIO (2019-02-08). "Chi era Leo Valiani, il partigiano della libertà". la Repubblica (in Italian). Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  3. ^ a b Petacco, Arrigo (2005-12-15). A Tragedy Revealed: The Story of Italians from Istria, Dalmatia, and Venezia Giulia, 1943-1956. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-1-4426-5906-3.
  4. ^ a b Pace, Eric (1999-09-20). "Leo Valiani, Writer, 90, Wartime Foe Of Mussolini (Published 1999)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  5. ^ a b c Obituary: Leo Valiani, The Independent, 27 September 1999
  6. ^ a b "Leo Valiani". SFGATE. 1999-09-21. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  7. ^ "Leo Valiani". The Economist. 1999-09-30. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2020-11-20.

External links[edit]