Achille Starace
Overview
 
Achille Starace was a prominent leader of Fascist Italy
Italian Fascism
Italian Fascism also known as Fascism with a capital "F" refers to the original fascist ideology in Italy. This ideology is associated with the National Fascist Party which under Benito Mussolini ruled the Kingdom of Italy from 1922 until 1943, the Republican Fascist Party which ruled the Italian...

 prior to and during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.
Starace was born in Gallipoli in southern Italy near Lecce
Lecce
Lecce is a historic city of 95,200 inhabitants in southern Italy, the capital of the province of Lecce, the second province in the region by population, as well as one of the most important cities of Puglia...

. He was son of a wine and oil merchant.

Achille Starace attended the Lecce
Lecce
Lecce is a historic city of 95,200 inhabitants in southern Italy, the capital of the province of Lecce, the second province in the region by population, as well as one of the most important cities of Puglia...

 Technical Institute as a young man and earned a degree in accounting. In 1909, he joined the Italian Royal Army (Regio Esercito ) and by 1912 had become a Second Lieutenant
Second Lieutenant
Second lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces.- United Kingdom and Commonwealth :The rank second lieutenant was introduced throughout the British Army in 1871 to replace the rank of ensign , although it had long been used in the Royal Artillery, Royal...

 (Sottotenente) of (Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
The Bersaglieri are a corps of the Italian Army originally created by General Alessandro La Marmora on 18 June 1836 to serve in the Piedmontese Army, later to become the Royal Italian Army...

).

Seeing action during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, Starace was highly decorated for his service, winning a Silver Medal of Military Valor
Silver Medal of Military Valor
The Silver Medal of Military Valor is an Italian medal for gallantry.Italian medals for valor were first instituted by Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia on May 21, 1793, with a gold medal, and, below it, a silver medal...

.
Encyclopedia
Achille Starace was a prominent leader of Fascist Italy
Italian Fascism
Italian Fascism also known as Fascism with a capital "F" refers to the original fascist ideology in Italy. This ideology is associated with the National Fascist Party which under Benito Mussolini ruled the Kingdom of Italy from 1922 until 1943, the Republican Fascist Party which ruled the Italian...

 prior to and during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

Early life and career

Starace was born in Gallipoli in southern Italy near Lecce
Lecce
Lecce is a historic city of 95,200 inhabitants in southern Italy, the capital of the province of Lecce, the second province in the region by population, as well as one of the most important cities of Puglia...

. He was son of a wine and oil merchant.

Achille Starace attended the Lecce
Lecce
Lecce is a historic city of 95,200 inhabitants in southern Italy, the capital of the province of Lecce, the second province in the region by population, as well as one of the most important cities of Puglia...

 Technical Institute as a young man and earned a degree in accounting. In 1909, he joined the Italian Royal Army (Regio Esercito ) and by 1912 had become a Second Lieutenant
Second Lieutenant
Second lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces.- United Kingdom and Commonwealth :The rank second lieutenant was introduced throughout the British Army in 1871 to replace the rank of ensign , although it had long been used in the Royal Artillery, Royal...

 (Sottotenente) of (Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
The Bersaglieri are a corps of the Italian Army originally created by General Alessandro La Marmora on 18 June 1836 to serve in the Piedmontese Army, later to become the Royal Italian Army...

).

Seeing action during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, Starace was highly decorated for his service, winning a Silver Medal of Military Valor
Silver Medal of Military Valor
The Silver Medal of Military Valor is an Italian medal for gallantry.Italian medals for valor were first instituted by Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia on May 21, 1793, with a gold medal, and, below it, a silver medal...

. After the war, he left the army and moved to Trento
Trento
Trento is an Italian city located in the Adige River valley in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. It is the capital of Trentino...

, where he first came into contact with the growing Fascist movement.

An ardent nationalist, Starace joined the Fascist movement in Trento in 1920 and quickly became its political secretary. In 1921, his efforts caught the attention of Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

, who put Starace in charge of the Fascist organization in Venezia Tridentina. In October 1921, Starace became Vice-Secretary of the National Fascist Party
National Fascist Party
The National Fascist Party was an Italian political party, created by Benito Mussolini as the political expression of fascism...

 (Partito Nazionale Fascista, or PNF). In 1922, Starace participated in the March on Rome
March on Rome
The March on Rome was a march by which Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's National Fascist Party came to power in the Kingdom of Italy...

 (Marcia su Roma), leading a squadron (squadristi) of Blackshirts
Blackshirts
The Blackshirts were Fascist paramilitary groups in Italy during the period immediately following World War I and until the end of World War II...

 (Camicie Nere, or CCNN, or Squadristi) in support of Mussolini.

Prominence

Later in 1922, Starace was appointed Party Inspector of Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 and made a member of the Executive Committee of the PNF. In 1923, after resigning as Vice-Secretary of the party, he was made commander of the National Security Volunteer Militia
Blackshirts
The Blackshirts were Fascist paramilitary groups in Italy during the period immediately following World War I and until the end of World War II...

 (Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale or MVSN) in Trieste
Trieste
Trieste is a city and seaport in northeastern Italy. It is situated towards the end of a narrow strip of land lying between the Adriatic Sea and Italy's border with Slovenia, which lies almost immediately south and east of the city...

. The MVSN was an all-volunteers militia created to organize former Blackshirts
Blackshirts
The Blackshirts were Fascist paramilitary groups in Italy during the period immediately following World War I and until the end of World War II...

.

In 1924, Starace was elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies
Italian Chamber of Deputies
The Italian Chamber of Deputies is the lower house of the Parliament of Italy. It has 630 seats, a plurality of which is controlled presently by liberal-conservative party People of Freedom. Twelve deputies represent Italian citizens outside of Italy. Deputies meet in the Palazzo Montecitorio. A...

 and made National Party Inspector. In 1926, Achille Starace once again became Vice-Secretary of the PNF, and, in 1928, he was appointed Secretary of the Milan branch of the party.

Party secretary

In 1931, his career reached its peak when he was made Party Secretary
Party secretary
In politics, a party secretary is a senior official within a political party with responsibility for the organizational and daily political work. In most parties, the party secretary is second in rank to the party leader ....

 of the PNF. He was appointed to the position primarily due to his unquestioning, fanatical loyalty to Mussolini. As secretary, Starace staged massive parades and marches, proposed Anti-Semitic racial segregation
Racial segregation
Racial segregation is the separation of humans into racial groups in daily life. It may apply to activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a public toilet, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home...

 measures, and greatly expanded Mussolini's cult of personality
Cult of personality
A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized and heroic public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. Cults of personality are usually associated with dictatorships...

.

Although Starace was successful in increasing party membership, he failed in the later years of his tenure as Secretary to reorganize the Italian Fascist Youth Organization (Opera Nazionale Balilla
Opera Nazionale Balilla
thumb|240px|A young balilla in [[Piazza Venezia]].Opera Nazionale Balilla was an Italian Fascist youth organization functioning, as an addition to school education, between 1926 and 1937 .It was named after Balilla, the moniker of Giovan Battista Perasso,...

) along the lines of the Hitler Youth
Hitler Youth
The Hitler Youth was a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party. It existed from 1922 to 1945. The HJ was the second oldest paramilitary Nazi group, founded one year after its adult counterpart, the Sturmabteilung...

 (Hitler-Jugend). He also failed to inspire a nationwide enthusiasm for Fascism on par with the popularity the Nazi Party enjoyed in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. Starace served as secretary for a total of eight years. This was longer than any other Secretary had served. But, by the mid-1930s, he had gained numerous enemies in the party hierarchy.

War hero

In 1935, Starace, a Colonel
Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

, took a leave of absence
Leave of absence
Leave of absence is a term used to describe a period of time that one is to be away from his/her primary job, while maintaining the status of employee...

 as PNF Party Secretary to participate in the Italian invasion of Ethiopia
Second Italo-Abyssinian War
The Second Italo–Abyssinian War was a colonial war that started in October 1935 and ended in May 1936. The war was fought between the armed forces of the Kingdom of Italy and the armed forces of the Ethiopian Empire...

 and fought on the northern front. In March 1936, after the Battle of Shire
Battle of Shire
The Battle of Shire was a battle fought on the northern front of what was known as the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. This battle consisted of attacks and counterattacks by Italian forces under Marshal of Italy Pietro Badoglio and Ethiopian forces under Ras Imru Haile Selassie...

, he was given command of a mixed group of Blackshirts and Bersaglieri being assembled in Asmara
Asmara
Asmara is the capital city and largest settlement in Eritrea, home to a population of around 579,000 people...

, Eritrea
Eritrea
Eritrea , officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea derives it's name from the Greek word Erethria, meaning 'red land'. The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast...

. Later that month, Starace and his truck transportable "mechanized column" prepared to advance over rough tracks to seize Gondar
Gondar
Gondar or Gonder is a city in Ethiopia, which was once the old imperial capital and capital of the historic Begemder Province. As a result, the old province of Begemder is sometimes referred to as Gondar...

, the capital of Begemder Province
Begemder
Begemder was a province in the northwestern part of Ethiopia. There are several proposed etymologies for this name...

. Prior to setting out, "the Panther Man" (L'uomo pantera) gave the following speech to his men:
The road building skills of Starace's men played an equally important role to their combat prowess. The following morning, April 1, Starace and the column entered Gondar in triumph and two days later reached Lake Tana
Lake Tana
Lake Tana is the source of the Blue Nile and is the largest lake in Ethiopia...

, securing the border region with British Sudan
Anglo-Egyptian Sudan
Anglo-Egyptian Sudan referred to the manner by which Sudan was administered between 1899 and 1956, when it was a condominium of Egypt and the United Kingdom.-Union with Egypt:...

. The East African Fast Column (Colonna Celere de Africa Orientale) had covered approximately 120 km in three days.

Return to party secretary

After Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

, Starace resumed his duties as Party Secretary. He continued to be controversial. For example, he decreed that all party flags must be made from an Italian-created textile fabric called "Lanital." Lanital was invented in 1935 and, according to Starace, it was "this product of Italian ingenuity." The basis of Lanital is casein
Casein
Casein is the name for a family of related phosphoprotein proteins . These proteins are commonly found in mammalian milk, making up 80% of the proteins in cow milk and between 60% and 65% of the proteins in human milk....

. Casein is the thick substance in sour, skimmed milk from which cottage cheese is made. In 1936, Dino Grandi
Dino Grandi
Dino Grandi , Conte di Mordano, was an Italian Fascist politician, minister of justice, minister of foreign affairs and president of parliament.- Early life :...

, the Italian Ambassador to Great Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, appeared in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 wearing a suit said to have been made from forty-eight pints of skimmed milk.

During the Munich Crisis in 1938, Starace was a vocal proponent of the French
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

 agreeing to turn over Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

 to Italy.

Dismissal

In October 1939, Starace was finally dismissed as Party Secretary in favor of the popular Ettore Muti
Ettore Muti
Ettore Muti was an Italian aviator and Fascist politician. He was Party Secretary of the National Fascist Party from October 1939 until shortly after the entry of Italy into World War II on June 10, 1940.-World War I and Fiume:Born in Ravenna, Romagna, Muti was banned from any school in the...

. He was made Chief of Staff
Chief of Staff
The title, chief of staff, identifies the leader of a complex organization, institution, or body of persons and it also may identify a Principal Staff Officer , who is the coordinator of the supporting staff or a primary aide to an important individual, such as a president.In general, a chief of...

 of the MVSN and he held this position until being dismissed for incompetence in May 1941. He was succeeded by Enzo Galbiati
Enzo Galbiati
Enzo Emilio Galbiati was an Italian soldier and fascist politician.-Biography:Born in Monza, Galbiati was a lieutenant in the Italian Army's elite Arditi during the First World War and was wounded in action in 1917. Whilst still in the army he joined the Monza fascio in 1919 and became the leader...

.

Imprisonment and death

In 1943, following the demise of Mussolini's regime, Starace was arrested by Pietro Badoglio
Pietro Badoglio
Pietro Badoglio, 1st Duke of Addis Abeba, 1st Marquess of Sabotino was an Italian soldier and politician...

's Royalist government. He was arrested despite the fact that his real power under Mussolini had ended two years earlier.

After unsuccessfully attempting to regain Mussolini's favor in the German-backed Italian Social Republic
Italian Social Republic
The Italian Social Republic was a puppet state of Nazi Germany led by the "Duce of the Nation" and "Minister of Foreign Affairs" Benito Mussolini and his Republican Fascist Party. The RSI exercised nominal sovereignty in northern Italy but was largely dependent on the Wehrmacht to maintain control...

 of Salò
Salò
Salò is a town and commune in the Province of Brescia in the region of Lombardy on the banks of Lake Garda. The city was the capital of Italian Social Republic from 1943 to 1945, with the ISR often being called the "Republic of Salò" .-History:Salò was founded in the Roman period as Pagus...

, Starace was again arrested. This time he was imprisoned in a concentration camp in Verona
Verona
Verona ; German Bern, Dietrichsbern or Welschbern) is a city in the Veneto, northern Italy, with approx. 265,000 inhabitants and one of the seven chef-lieus of the region. It is the second largest city municipality in the region and the third of North-Eastern Italy. The metropolitan area of Verona...

 and was arrested by his former colleagues on charges that he had weakened the party during his tenure as Party Secretary.

Starace was eventually released and moved to Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

. On 29 April 1945, during his morning jog, he was recognized and captured by anti-Fascist Italian partisans
Italian resistance movement
The Italian resistance is the umbrella term for the various partisan forces formed by pro-Allied Italians during World War II...

. After a summary trial, he was sentenced to death.

Starace was taken to the Piazzale Loreto
Piazzale Loreto
Piazzale Loreto is a major town square in Milan, Italy.The name Loreto is also used in a wider sense to refer to the district surrounding the square, which is part of the Zone 2 administrative division...

and shown the body of Mussolini, which he saluted just before he was shot. His body was subsequently strung up next to Mussolini's.

External links

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