Emilio Lussu

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Emilio Lussu (December 4, 1890 - March 5, 1975) was an Italian soldier, politician and a writer.



The soldier

Lussu was born in Armungia, province of Cagliari (Sardinia) and graduated with a degree in law in 1914. Lussu married Joyce Salvatori, a notable poet, and member of the noble family of the Marche.

Prior to the entry of Italy into World War I, Lussu joined the army and was involved in several skirmishes. As a complementary officer of the Brigata Sassari in 1916 (the famous Sassari infantry Brigade of the Italian Army), he was stationed in Asiago. He was in command of the defense of Verona against the Austrian Army. The defense was, at first, victorious but was soon followed by a counter attack (mainly on Monte Zebio and Castelgomberto) that lasted until July 1917. The trench warfare that Lussu observed would serve as an archetype for his later works.

Politics and exile

After the war Lussu, together with Camillo Bellieni, founded the Partito Sardo d'Azione (The Sardinian Action Party), that blended social-democratic ideas and Sardinian autonomy. The party took a formal position in 1921, opposing the increasing power of the Fascist movement. Lussu was elected to the Italian parliament in 1921 and, in 1924 was among the Aventine secessionists who withdrew from the Italian Parliament after the murder of Giacomo Matteotti.

Lussu's anti-Fascist position was, at the time, one of the most radical in Italy. Lussu was physically attacked and injured by unknown aggressors several times. In 1926, during one of these attacks (notably, the same day that Benito Mussolini suffered an attack in Bologna), Lussu shot one of the squadristi, in self-defense. He was arrested and tried; and was acquitted. However, he was re-tried by an administrative Fascist commission and sentenced to 5 years of confinement on the island of Lipari, near Sicily.

In 1929 Lussu escaped from his confinement and reached Paris. There, together with Gaetano Salvemini and Carlo Rosselli he formed Giustizia e Libertà (Justice and Freedom), an anti-Fascist movement that proposed revolutionary methods to upset the Italian Fascist Regime. While in exile came to be known as "Mister Mills".

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