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Operation Gladio, Italy

The history of the secret neo-fascist army in Italy set up ostensibly to resist Soviet invasion, but in reality to be used in the event of the working class growing too strong once again



Following the end of World War II, the Italian workers’ movement was rapidly gaining strength. In some towns the fascists had been kicked out by Resistance forces (as before the war, these were usually led by socialists and anarchists), and embryonic workers’ councils were governing. The Communist Party in particular won mass support for its involvement in this movement.

When Allied forces swept across the country, destroying this fledging power of ordinary people was next on the agenda after finishing Mussolini’s regime.

When the liberal Italian state was reconstructed, mechanisms were put in place to make sure that workers did not take power. In addition to the already-existing powerful secret society, P2 which was heavily involved in the anti-working class Strategy of Tension in the 1960s and 70s the covert and yet official organisation ‘Gladio’ (‘sword’ – its logo is pictured, above) was set up.


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