The Togliatti amnesty (Italian: Amnistia Togliatti) was an amnesty declared in Italy on 22 June 1946. Named after the then-Italian Minister of Justice, Italian Communist Party member Palmiro Togliatti, it pardoned and reduced sentences for Italian fascists and partisans alike. The amnesty covered common crimes as well as political ones committed during World War II. Fascists and their collaborators benefited more from the amnesty than the partisans.
The Italian Civil War, from 8 September 1943 to 2 May 1945, had ended with the German surrender. During this time, the Italian resistance movement had fought German occupation forces and their Fascist Italian Allies, the Italian Social Republic. During this time it is estimated that 22,000 Italian Civilians were killed through Axis war crimes in Italy and 30,000 Italian Partisans died in the fighting.
Apart from the crimes committed by Germany and the Italian Fascists, the Italian Partisans also committed acts that were considered crimes under Italian law. In particular, the partisans had massacred imprisoned fascist supporters and captured soldiers who were held as prisoners of war.
In June 1946, the Kingdom of Italy was abolished through an institutional referendum by a lesser margin than expected. To mark this event, a general amnesty was proposed and Palmiro Togliatti was tasked with drafting the documents. Togliatti was Italian Minister of Justice from 25 July 1945 to 1 July 1946 and part of the government of Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi.
After two earlier draft versions the amnesty was approved on 22 June 1946 by the constituent assembly. The amnesty was considered necessary for the rebuilding of the Italian nation after the war, and for the unity of the country. On a practical note, the Italian prison system suffered serious overcrowding, holding 80,000 inmates in early 1946, twice as many as a decade earlier. Of those, 12,000 were Fascists and Partisans.
The text of the amnesty was a compromise between the Italian Communist Party, the PCI, and the Christian Democratic party, the DC. The latter wished to pardon as many Fascists as possible while the former wanted them to remain imprisoned. In order to achieve their goal, the Christian Democrats had to compromise and allow the amnesty to include the Partisans as well.
The amnesty consisted of 16 clauses and a foreword by Togliatti. The cut-off date for the amnesty was the 31 July 1945, any crimes committed past these date were not pardoned.
In regards to Fascist crimes, the amnesty excluded high ranking officials, crimes committed for material gains or carried out with excessive cruelty. The latter caused some controversy as it did not include rape or sexual torture, which were still pardonable.
Paradoxically, the amnesty led to an increase in prosecution of Partisan crimes while Fascist crimes were treated more lenient. In practice, the Fascists and collaborators benefited far more from the Togliatti amnesty than imprisoned partisans did, who were treated as common criminals.
Subsequent, less publicised pardons and releases on parole between 1947 and 1953, further reduced sentences for political crimes during the war and, as argued by some, turned Italy's amnesty into an "amnesia".
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- (in Italian) Text of the Togliatti amnesty