50 Years Ago

Militant, Vol.59 no.18, 8 May 1995

May 5, 1945

In a mighty demonstration of power the masses of northern Italy last week rose in insurrection and wiped out the remnants of the Fascist regime in its last stronghold. With Partisan fighters as the shock troops, the workers seized control of the great industrial cities in the Lombardy plain. Mussolini and his Fascist aides met the end deserved by all hated tyrants. After a summary trial they were put to death by a firing squad.

From here on events followed a familiar pattern. The Committee of National Liberation, consisting of Stalinists, “Socialists” and Liberals, received the power which the insurgent masses had wrenched from the hands of the Fascists and Nazis—and promptly handed it over to the bankrupt Bonomi government which rules in Rome by the grace of Allied bayonets. Allied troops immediately rushed in to “restore order” in the liberated cities.

Milan—“Red Milan”—center of the great revolutionary working-class actions which preceded Mussolini's rise to power—was the white-hot focus of last week's stirring mass uprising. The transport workers gave the signal by going on strike. A general strike of all workers in Milan was then set for May 1, the traditional socialist holiday of the international working class. Observing the precarious conditions of the German military establishment and the fear and confusion which had seized their fascist enemies, the Milan workers advanced the date of the general strike to April 25.

With transportation and industry paralyzed, the workers moved into action. Enemy barracks were stormed, strategic buildings and public places occupied by the armed people. Everywhere the Fascist scum were routed.