Europe in the Throes of Change: A Perspective from the Italian Celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Defense of Rome


Clearly, Europe is in the throes of fundamental change.

Clusters of states such as the Northern European states are sorting out paths forward within an evolving European context, while Brexit and the crisis of integration of Europe along the lines set in the 1990s atrophies.

Clearly, a new nationalism has returned to Europe, but one which need not tear apart Europe, but certainly one which will not be embedded in the integration trajectory of the 1990s.

A key player in shaping the way ahead clearly is Italy and its new government which is sorting out its way ahead nationally and regionally. 

Italy was a key member of the European Coal and Steel Community which was at the orgin of the rebuilding of post war Europe.  Italy remains important for whatever the next phase of European development will look like and how it will unfold.

The recent Italian celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Defence of Rome provided some insight into current Italian government thinking about the way ahead.

A recent article (September 8, 2018) on the Italian Ministry of Defence website provided a look at the evolving perspective.

Today we renew our tribute to all our fellow Italians, in uniform or not, who, from 8 September 1943 to April 1945 fought for a new, free, democratic Italy. Some of them are here with us today, others gave their lives to defend our country: to them goes our sincere, heartfelt gratitude”. 

This morning Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta has paid tribute with these words to the Fallen of the 8th of September, 1943, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Defence of Rome. 

Celebrations started with the laying of a wreath at the Monument to the Fallen at Porta San Paolo by President Sergio Mattarella. The monument was built to honour the 87,000 military who died during the War of Liberation. The ceremony then continued at the Parco della Resistenza.

In her speech, Minister Trenta explained that those events, whose protagonists were both military and civilian, marked: “…the beginning of enfranchisement on the way toward becoming a new, different country, able to overcome all disagreements, be they political or ideological”. 

A process that Italy was able to implement also thanks to the cooperation of peoples who responded to our appeals for help against the German occupation: “Cooperation among peoples is an essential element for a country’s stability and independence”.

A fundamental principle also today, at this moment in history when Italy, Europe and the Mediterranean area are struggling with regional imbalances.

“I am referring to Libya and its severe crisis, as well as to the migrants’ crisis, whose protagonists are people who flee the conflicts being fought in their countries.

“What can help us solve these urgent problems is unity, teamwork. This approach must be implemented by Italy in the first place, and then by Europe: a faltering Europe, at this moment, which however could regain vigour and strength thanks to its being deeply rooted in history, and be again able to guide our steps toward a better future”. 

 “Italy is already working to tackle current emergencies- the Minister added- and it’s doing that, as always, by giving its peaceful support to strengthen and stabilize areas of crisis.  

“The Armed Forces, i.e. the heart of democracy and its defenders, carrying out their every-day work in the Homeland, at the service of the Italian citizens, and abroad, in international missions, to ensure stability and peace.

“Within those contexts they testify to those feelings of solidarity, humanity and generosity that characterize them. For this reason I feel that it is my duty to thank all the Italian servicemen and servicewomen.

“Their commitment, joined with the commitment of all the Italian citizens, can be the starting step on the way to peace and stability, a fundamental process to solve all national and international disputes, now as 75 years ago”. 

The ceremony was attended by the Deputy Speaker of the Senate, Senator Paola Taverna, Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Claudio Graziano, Rome Mayor, Virginia Raggi, Deputy President of the National Association of Veterans of the War of Liberation, Gen. Antonio Li Gobbi, representatives of Veterans and Armed Forces Associations and a big number of common citizens.  

On this occasion, the Heritage Superintendency of the Municipality of Rome has organized a photography exhibition, “Persone nella memoria. 75 anni dopo”, on the fallen for the Defence of Rome. .