Liberation Day (Italy)

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Liberation Day
2013-04-25 Porta san Paolo Roma.jpg
Anti-fascist demonstration for 25 April at Porta San Paolo in Rome in 2013
Official nameItalian: Anniversario della liberazione d'Italia
Also calledAnniversary of the Liberation,
Anniversary of the Resistance,
25 April
Observed by Italy
SignificanceCelebrates the liberation of Italy from Nazifascism
Date25 April
Next time25 April 2023 (2023-04-25)
First time25 April 1946
Related to

Liberation Day (Italian: Festa della liberazione), also known as the Anniversary of Italy's Liberation (Anniversario della Liberazione d'Italia), Anniversary of the Resistance (Anniversario della Resistenza), or simply 25 April (25 aprile) is a national holiday in Italy that commemorates the victory of the Italian resistance movement against Nazi Germany and the Italian Social Republic, puppet state of the Nazis and rump state of the fascists, in the Italian Civil War, a civil war fought in Italy during World War II. That is distinct from Republic Day (Festa della Repubblica), which takes place on 2 June.


Italian partisans in Milan during the Italian Civil War, April 1945
Turin, 6 May 1945. Parade for the liberation of the city

Although other European countries such as Norway, the Netherlands, and France also had partisan movements and collaborationist governments with Nazi Germany during World War II, armed confrontation between compatriots was most intense in Italy, making the Italian case unique.[1] In 1965, the definition of "civil war" was used for the first time by fascist politician and historian Giorgio Pisanò in his books,[2][3] while Claudio Pavone's book Una guerra civile. Saggio storico sulla moralità della Resistenza (A Civil War. Historical Essay On the Morality Of the Resistance), published in 1991, led the term "Italian Civil War" to become a widespread term used in Italian[4] and international[5][6] historiography.

The date was chosen by convention, as it was the day of the year 1945 when the National Liberation Committee of Upper Italy (CLNAI) - whose command was based in Milan and was chaired by Alfredo Pizzoni, Luigi Longo, Emilio Sereni, Sandro Pertini, and Leo Valiani (present among others the designated president Rodolfo Morandi, Giustino Arpesani, and Achille Marazza) - proclaimed a general insurrection in all the territories still occupied by the Nazi-fascists, indicating to all the partisan forces active in Northern Italy that were part of the Volunteer Corps of Freedom to attack the fascist and German garrisons by imposing the surrender, days before the arrival of the Allied troops; at the same time, the National Liberation Committee for Northern Italy personally issued legislative decrees,[7] assuming power "in the name of the Italian people and as a delegate of the Italian Government", establishing among other things the death sentence for all fascist hierarchs,[8] including Benito Mussolini, who would be shot and killed three days later. "Surrender or die!" was the rallying call of the partisans that day and those immediately following.

The end of the war on Italian territory, with the definitive surrender of the Nazi-Fascist forces to the Allied Army, took place on 2 May, as formally established by the representatives of the forces in the field during the so-called surrender of Caserta, signed on 29 April 1945: these dates also mark the definitive defeat of fascism. By 1 May, all of northern Italy was liberated, including Bologna (21 April), Genoa (23 April), Milan (25 April), Turin[9] and Venice (28 April). The liberation put an end to 23 years of fascist dictatorship and five years of war. The aftermath of World War II left Italy with an anger against the monarchy for its endorsement of the Fascist regime for those 23 years. These frustrations contributed to a revival of the Italian republican movement.[10] The liberation symbolically represents the beginning of the historical journey which led to the referendum of 2 June 1946, when Italians opted for the end of the monarchy and the creation of the Italian Republic, which was followed by the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic in 1948,[11] resulting from the work of a Constituent Assembly formed by the representatives of all the anti-fascist forces that contributed to the defeat of Nazi and Fascist forces during the Italian Civil War.[12]

Institution and celebrations[edit]

Anti-fascist demonstration for Liberation Day in Florence on 25 April 2009

The current date was chosen in 1946. On the proposal of the Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi, King Umberto II, then prince and lieutenant of the Kingdom of Italy, on 22 April 1946 issued the lieutenant legislative decree n. 185 "Disposizioni in materia di ricorrenze festive" ("Provisions on festive occasions").[13] The bill states that:[13]

In celebration of the total liberation of the Italian territory, 25 April 1946 is declared a national holiday[14]

— Lieutenant legislative decree n. 185/1946, art. 1

The anniversary was also celebrated in subsequent years, but only on 27 May 1949, article 2 of law n. 260 "Disposizioni in materia di ricorrenze festive" ("Provisions on festive occasions") made the anniversary a permanent, annual national holiday, together with the Italian national holiday of 2 June:[15]

The following days are considered public holidays, for the purposes of observing the full holiday schedule and the prohibition of performing certain legal acts, in addition to the day of the national holiday, the following days:
25 April, the anniversary of the liberation;[16]

— Law n. 260/1949, art. 2

Since then, public events in memory of the event, like marches and parades, have been organized annually in all Italian cities - especially in those decorated with military valor for the war of liberation. Among the events of the festival program there is the solemn homage, by the President of Italy and other important officers of the State, to the chapel of the Italian Unknown Soldier (Milite Ignoto), buried in the Altare della Patria in Rome, with the deposition of a laurel wreath in memory of the fallen and missing Italians in wars.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ De Felice, Renzo (1995). Rosso e Nero [Red and Black] (in Italian). Baldini & Castoldi. p. 22. ISBN 88-85987-95-8.
  2. ^ Storia della guerra civile in Italia
  3. ^ See the books from Italian historian Giorgio Pisanò Storia della guerra civile in Italia, 1943–1945, 3 voll., Milano, FPE, 1965 and the book L'Italia della guerra civile ("Italy of civil war"), published in 1983 by the Italian writer and journalist Indro Montanelli as the fifteen volume of the Storia d'Italia ("History of Italy") by the same author.
  4. ^ See as examples Renzo De Felice and Gianni Oliva.
  5. ^ See as examples the interview to French historian Pierre Milza on the Corriere della Sera of 14 July 2005 (in Italian) and the lessons of historian Thomas Schlemmer at the University of Munchen (in German).
  6. ^ Payne, Stanley G. (2011). Civil War in Europe, 1905-1949. Cambridge University Press. p. 202. ISBN 9781139499644.
  7. ^ There are three fundamental decrees that seal the legislative work, already active since 1944: All powers to CLNAI; Decree for the administration of justice; Of socialization.
  8. ^ "Fondazione ISEC - cronologia dell'insurrezione a Milano - 25 aprile" (in Italian). Retrieved 14 February 2022.
  9. ^ "Torino 1938|45 - la citta' della liberazione (Solo testo)".
  10. ^ "Italia", Dizionario enciclopedico italiano (in Italian), vol. VI, Treccani, 1970, p. 456
  11. ^ Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p. 1047 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  12. ^ Smyth, Howard McGaw Italy: From Fascism to the Republic (1943–1946) The Western Political Quarterly vol. 1 no. 3 (pp. 205–222), September 1948.JSTOR 442274
  13. ^ a b "DECRETO LEGISLATIVO LUOGOTENENZIALE 22 aprile 1946, n. 185" (in Italian). Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  14. ^ "Per celebrare la totale liberazione del territorio italiano, il 25 aprile 1946 è dichiarato festa nazionale"
  15. ^ "L. 27 maggio 1949, n. 260. "Disposizioni in materia di ricorrenze festive"" (PDF) (in Italian). Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  16. ^ "Sono considerati giorni festivi, agli effetti della osservanza del completo orario festivo e del divieto di compiere determinati atti giuridici, oltre al giorno della festa nazionale, i giorni seguenti:[...] il 25 aprile, anniversario della liberazione;[...]"
  17. ^ Tobia, Bruno (2011). L'Altare della Patria (in Italian). Il Mulino. p. 109. ISBN 978-88-15-23341-7.

External links[edit]