Cesare Mori
Cesare Mori was a prefect
Prefect is a magisterial title of varying definition....

 (prefetto) before and during the Fascist
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...

 period in Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. He is known in Italy as the Iron Prefect (Prefetto di Ferro) because of his iron-fisted campaigns against the Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

 on 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,...

 in the second half of the 1920s.

Early years

Mori was born in Pavia
Pavia , the ancient Ticinum, is a town and comune of south-western Lombardy, northern Italy, 35 km south of Milan on the lower Ticino river near its confluence with the Po. It is the capital of the province of Pavia. It has a population of c. 71,000...

 and grew up in an orphananage and was only recognised by his natural parents in October 1879 at the age of seven. He studied at the Turin
Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River and surrounded by the Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is 909,193 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat...

 Military Academy. However, he married a girl, Angelina Salvi, who did not have the dowry stipulated by military regulations of the time, and had to resign. He joined the police, serving first in Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

, then Castelvetrano
Castelvetrano is a town and comune in the province of Trapani, Sicily, Italy. The archeological site of Selinunte is located within the territory of the comune. It was the birthplace of Giovanni Gentile, the key philosopher of the Fascist movement in Italy.The town is predominantly a farming town,...

 in the province of Trapani
Province of Trapani
Trapani is a province in the autonomous island region of Sicily in Italy. Its capital is the city of Trapani.It has an area of 2,460 km², and a total population of 425,121...

 (Sicily) – where he made his name capturing the bandit Paolo Grisalfi – before moving to Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

 in 1915 as vice-quaestor
A Quaestor was a type of public official in the "Cursus honorum" system who supervised financial affairs. In the Roman Republic a quaestor was an elected official whereas, with the autocratic government of the Roman Empire, quaestors were simply appointed....


At the end of the First World War, the situation of Sicilian criminality got worse when war veterans joined gangs of bandits. In 1919 Mori was sent back to Sicily as the head of special forces against brigandage
Brigandage refers to the life and practice of brigands: highway robbery and plunder, and a brigand is a person who usually lives in a gang and lives by pillage and robbery....

. In his roundups, Mori distinguished himself for his energetic and radical methods. At Caltabellotta
Caltabellotta is a comune in the Province of Agrigento in the Italian region Sicily, located about 60 km south of Palermo and about 45 km northwest of Agrigento.-History:...

 he arrested more than 300 people in one night. The press wrote of a "lethal blow to the Mafia", but Mori said to a member of his staff :

"These people haven't understood yet that brigands and the Mafia are two different things. We have hit the first, who are undoubtedly the most visible aspect of Sicilian criminality, but not the most dangerous one. The true lethal blow to the Mafia will be given when we are able to make roundups not only among Indian figs, but in prefectures, police headquarters, employers' mansions, and why not, some ministries"

In 1920, he returned to the mainland and served in Turin as quaestor
A Quaestor was a type of public official in the "Cursus honorum" system who supervised financial affairs. In the Roman Republic a quaestor was an elected official whereas, with the autocratic government of the Roman Empire, quaestors were simply appointed....

, followed by Rome and Bologna
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with spectacular history,...

. In 1921 he was prefect of Bologna, and was one of the few members of the forces of law and order to oppose the organised thuggery (squadrismo) of the Fascist movement. Mori was removed and sent to Bari
Bari is the capital city of the province of Bari and of the Apulia region, on the Adriatic Sea, in Italy. It is the second most important economic centre of mainland Southern Italy after Naples, and is well known as a port and university city, as well as the city of Saint Nicholas...

. He retired with his wife to Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

 in 1922, when the Fascist leader 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....

 took over the government after 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...


Appointed in Sicily

Due to his reputation as a man of action, he was recalled to active service in 1925 by the Minister of the Interior, Luigi Federzoni
Luigi Federzoni
Luigi Federzoni was a twentieth-century Italian nationalist and later Fascist politician....

. He was appointed prefect of Trapani
Trapani is a city and comune on the west coast of Sicily in Italy. It is the capital of the Province of Trapani. Founded by Elymians, the city is still an important fishing port and the main gateway to the nearby Egadi Islands.-History:...

, arriving there in June 1925. He stayed there until October 20, 1925, when Mussolini appointed him prefect of Palermo
Palermo is a city in Southern Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old...

, with special powers over the entire island of Sicily and the mission of eradicating the Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

 by any means possible. In the telegram, Mussolini wrote to Mori:

"Your Excellency has carte blanche
Full Powers
Full Powers is a term in international law and is the authority of a person to sign a treaty or convention on behalf of a sovereign state. Persons other than the head of state, head of government or foreign minister of the state must produce Full Powers in order to sign a treaty binding their...

, the authority of the State must absolutely, I repeat absolutely, be re-established in Sicily. If the laws still in force hinder you, this will be no problem, as we will draw up new laws."

Mussolini’s drive against the Mafia, the story goes, followed an official visit to Sicily in 1924 during which he felt insulted by the Mafioso Francesco Cuccia
Francesco Cuccia
Francesco Cuccia, also known as Don Ciccio, was a member of the Sicilian Mafia and one-time mayor of Piana dei Greci . He is best known as the Mafia boss who triggered Benito Mussolini’s war on the Mafia, after humiliating the Duce while visiting Piana dei Greci in 1924...

, who publicly proclaimed that Mussolini did not need a police escort because the mere presence of Cuccia would protect him. Mussolini felt humiliated and outraged. However, according to scholar Christopher Duggan, the reason was more political rather than personal: the Mafia threatened and undermined his power in Sicily, and a successful campaign would strengthen him as the new leader, legitimising and empowering his rule.

The fight against the Mafia

He took up his post in Palermo in November 1925 and remained in office until 1929. Within the first two months Mori arrested over five hundred men, a number that would only grow in the following years. In January 1926, he undertook what was probably his most famous action, the occupation of the village of Gangi, a stronghold of various criminal gangs. Using carabinieri
The Carabinieri is the national gendarmerie of Italy, policing both military and civilian populations, and is a branch of the armed forces.-Early history:...

 and police forces he ordered house-to-house searches, picking up bandits, small-time Mafia members and various suspects who were on the run. He did not hesitate laying siege to towns, using torture, and getting women and children as hostages to oblige suspects to give themselves up. These harsh methods earned him the nickname of "Iron Prefect".

Mori understood the basis of Mafia power. In order to defeat the phenomenon, it was necessary to "forge a direct bond between the population and the state, to annul the system of intermediation under which citizens could not approach the authorities except through middlemen..., receiving as a favour that which is due them as their right." Mori’s methods were sometimes similar to those of the Mafia. He did not just arrest the bandits, but sought to humiliate them as well. If he could exhibit a strong central authority to rival the mafia, the people would see that the Mafia was not their only option for protection.

Mori's inquiries brought evidence of collusion between the Mafia and influential members of the State apparatus and the Fascist party, and his position became more precarious. Some 11,000 arrests are attributed to Mori’s rule in Palermo. That led to massive amounts of paperwork in order to prepare for the trials, which may have been partially responsible for his dismissal.

Mussolini had already nominated Mori as a senator in 1928, and in June 1929 he was relieved of his duty. The Fascist propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 proudly announced that the Mafia had been defeated.

Final years

As a senator, Mori continued to follow Sicilian affairs closely, and made sure he was always well informed. However, he no longer had any influence and was essentially a marginal figure. He wrote his memoirs in 1932. He retired to Udine
Udine is a city and comune in northeastern Italy, in the middle of Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, between the Adriatic sea and the Alps , less than 40 km from the Slovenian border. Its population was 99,439 in 2009, and that of its urban area was 175,000.- History :Udine is the historical...

 in 1941 and died there one year later, a forgotten figure in a country by then in the throes of the Second World War.

Mori’s impact

At the time and since, the general perception was that Mori had smashed the Mafia. The Mafia turncoat Antonio Calderone said the crackdown of Mori had hit the Mafia hard. Some Mafiosi escaped and moved abroad (especially to the United States), such as Joseph Bonanno
Joseph Bonanno
Joseph Charles Bonanno, Sr. was a Sicilian-born American mafioso who became the boss of the Bonanno crime family. He was nicknamed "Joe Bananas," a name he despised.-Early life:...

. Other remained in Sicily and either turned their fellow Mafiosi (or low-level bandits) over to the police or simply went quiet seeking accommodation with Fascist authorities until the end of the Fascist regime in Italy.

With the invasion of Sicily in 1943 and the collapse of the Fascist regime, the Mafia restored itself, sometimes with the help or ignorance of the Allied Military Government of Occupied Territories (AMGOT). AMGOT needed the support of local elites in order to govern. Because of their local authority, their record of persecution under the Fascist regime, and their willingness to cooperate with the Allies, noted Mafiosi – such as Calogero Vizzini
Calogero Vizzini
Calogero Don Calò Vizzini was a historical Mafia boss of Villalba in the Province of Caltanissetta, Sicily. Vizzini was considered to be one of the most influential and legendary Mafia bosses of Sicily after World War II until his death in 1954...

 and Giuseppe Genco Russo
Giuseppe Genco Russo
Giuseppe Genco Russo was an Italian mafioso, the boss of Mussomeli in the Province of Caltanissetta, Sicily....

 – were appointed to head local administrations in many of the towns in western Sicily.

According to the post-war journalist Michele Pantaleone
Michele Pantaleone
Michele Pantaleone was a respected journalist and expert on the Sicilian Mafia and one of the first to shed light on the links between organized crime and political power....

: "By the beginning of the Second World War, the Mafia was restricted to a few isolated and scattered groups and could have been completely wiped out if the social problems of the island had been dealt with ... the Allied occupation and the subsequent slow restoration of democracy reinstated the Mafia with its full powers, put it once more on the way to becoming a political force, and returned to the Onorata Societa the weapons which Fascism had snatched from it."

In Leonardo Sciascia
Leonardo Sciascia
Leonardo Sciascia was an Italian writer, novelist, essayist, playwright and politician. Some of his works have been made into films, including Open Doors and Il giorno della civetta .- Biography :Sciascia was born in Racalmuto, Sicily...

's novel The Day of the Owl
The Day of the Owl
The Day of the Owl is a crime novel about the Mafia by Leonardo Sciascia, finished in 1960 and published in 1961.As the author wrote in his preface of the 1972 Italian edition, the novel was written at a time in which the existence of the Mafia itself was debated and denied...

("Il giorno della civetta"), published in 1961, the main character, a captain of the Carabinieri, recalls the great popularity of Cesare Mori's results among Sicilian common people, and the widespread nostalgia of Fascism among Sicilians at the time.

However some writers today have questioned the effectiveness and value of the methods used by Mori against the Mafia. While his methods were certainly effective, at least in the short term, Newark has written that they mainly targeted the small-time criminals of Sicily and left the big-timers, the real Mafia bosses, relatively unscathed, driving the Mafia underground, but not stamping it out. Judith Chubb says, “Fascism succeeded in stamping out the Mafia as a criminal organization by providing a more efficient substitute. It succeeded in monopolizing political power and the use of violence without, however, transforming the social and economic conditions in which the Mafia had flourished. It was thus no surprise that the Mafia re-emerged as soon as Fascism fell.”

In popular culture

Mori's campaign against the Mafia was the subject of a 1977 film, Il prefetto di ferro
Il prefetto di ferro
Il prefetto di ferro is a 1977 Italian film. It stars Claudia Cardinale....

, directed by Pasquale Squitieri, starring Giuliano Gemma
Giuliano Gemma
-Biography:Born in Rome, Gemma first worked as a stuntman, then was offered real acting parts by director Duccio Tessari, starting with the film Arrivano i titani . He also made an appearance in Luchino Visconti's Il Gattopardo as Garibaldi's General...

 and Claudia Cardinale
Claudia Cardinale
Claudia Cardinale is an Italian actress, and has appeared in some of the most prominent European films of the 1960s and 1970s. The majority of Cardinale's films have been either Italian or French...

, with music by Ennio Morricone
Ennio Morricone
Ennio Morricone, Grand Officer OMRI, , is an Italian composer and conductor, who wrote music to more than 500 motion pictures and television series, in a career lasting over 50 years. His scores have been included in over 20 award-winning films as well as several symphonic and choral pieces...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.