Giuseppe Di Vittorio
|General Secretary of CGIL|
3 June 1944 - 3 November 1957
|Member of the Chamber of Deputies|
25 June 1946 - 3 November 1957
11 June 1921 - 25 January 1924
|Born||11 August 1892|
|Died||3 November 1957 (aged 65)|
|Political party||PSI (1920-24)|
|Profession||Trade unionist, Politician|
Giuseppe Di Vittorio, also known under the pseudonym Nicoletti (August 11, 1892 - November 3, 1957), was an Italian syndicalist and communist politician. He was one of the most influential trade union leaders of the labour movement after World War I.
He was born at Cerignola, Apulia, into a family of poor agricultural day laborers. As an autodidact, Di Vittorio became active in the socialist movement in adolescence. At 15, he was a member of the Socialist Youth Circle in Cerignola, and in 1911, he moved to lead the Camera del Lavoro in Minervino Murge and then the one in Bari.
He was among the most influential union leaders in the history of the labour movement, leading the Confederazione Generale Italiana dei Lavoratori (CGIL) in its refounding after fascism and the powerful World Federation of Trade Unions (FSM) after World War II.
After his father's death, Di Vittorio was forced to leave school and work as a day laborer. He joined the May 1904 general strike during which five workers were killed by troops in Cerignola. Di Vittorio was strongly influenced by the growth of peasants' organizations and the spread of socialist ideas, giving rise to his participation in the local young socialist organization in Cerignola. He was radicalised by affiliating with the national Federazione Giovanile Socialista (Federation of Young Socialists), led by syndicalists in opposition to the official Socialist Party Youth Federation.
As a native of the Mezzogiorno, Di Vittorio became involved in the syndicalist plans for solving the region's acute problems in the manner illustrated by the Fasci Siciliani in final decade of the 19th century. A partisan of insurgence, Di Vittorio became a leader of an anarcho-syndicalist trade union, Unione Sindacale Italiana, after its formation in 1912. Unlike the majority of the group, which opposed militarism and Italy's entry into World War I), Di Vittorio, Alceste De Ambris and Filippo Corridoni advocated irredentism. He then fought in the conflict and was discharged after he had been gravely wounded.
In 1921, after the Italian Socialist Party's split at the Congress of Livorno, he joined the Communist Party of Italy (PCd'I). Di Vittorio joined the militant antifascist organization Arditi del Popolo, and he was then elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies on the PCI list in 1924. The new situation after the rise of fascism and the March on Rome made him an enemy of Benito Mussolini's regime. Sentenced to twelve years in prison by a fascist special tribunal in 1925, he managed to flee to France, where he refounded the dissolved Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro (CGIL) and led it into the Soviet-managed Profintern. Di Vittorio lived in the Soviet state from 1928 to 1930, representing Italy to the Red Peasant International. He then returned to Paris, where he entered the Politburo of the PCI.
He joined the Republican side fighting Francisco Franco's forces during the Spanish Civil War in 1936. He was Political Commissar of the XI International Brigade. After the fall of the Republic, he headed the board of a Paris-based antifascist newspaper. During World War II, after the Fall of France to Nazi Germany, Di Vittorio was arrested by Nazis, taken in custody by the Italian police and detained on Ventotene. In 1943, as the Fascist regime fell in most of Italy, he was set free by partisans, and he joined the Resistance in fighting against Mussolini's Italian Social Republic, in Northern Italy.
When war ended in 1945, he was elected secretary of the CGIL, which he had helped return to politics through a pact signed the previous year with Achille Grandi and Oreste Lizzardi in Rome. The pact recreated CGIL as a representative of all currents of trade unionism in Italy communist, socialist, Christian-democrats and anarcho-syndicalists. In 1948, the organisation split after a general strike, protesting the assassination attempt on PCI leader Palmiro Togliatti. The Christian Democrats left to form the Confederazione Italiana Sindacati Lavoratori. On March 5, 1950, the Social Democrats, who would join the Italian Democratic Socialist Party, left to form the Unione Italiana del Lavoro.
Di Vittorio led the CGIL, as a group favoured by the PCI and the Italian Socialist Party, until his death at Lecco, in 1957. He was also a longtime leader of the World Federation of Trade Unions. His strong charisma made him the most popular myth of the Italian workers. His funeral was attended by more than three million people coming to Rome from all over Italy.
He was followed in his position at the CGIL by Agostino Novella.
Media related to Giuseppe Di Vittorio at Wikimedia Commons