Carlo Rosselli (1899-1937)

Carlo Rosselli was born in Rome on 16th November 1899, to Giuseppe Emanuele ‘Joe’, a musician, and Amelia Pincherle, a theatre writer and anti-fascist activist, as well as paternal aunt of the well-known writer Alberto Moravia.

Belonging to one of the wealthiest Jewish families in Rome, while still a child he moved to Florence with his mother, following his parents’ divorce.

Despite his initial reluctance towards school, during the First World War he started, together with his brother Nello, the magazine Noi giovani, inspired by liberal and Mazzinian ideas.

This first experience as a journalist was an opportunity to let his main inclinations emerge: on the one hand, his keen interest in international affairs and, on the other, his solidarity with the lower classes, so far removed from his birth status, towards which he felt a sense of unease for a long time. It is no coincidence that his dissertation – prepared under the supervision of Gaetano Salvemini – also had trade unionism as its subject, between active commitment and civic consciousness.

At the time of Mussolini’s rise to power, Rosselli moved to Turin, where he approached liberal socialist circles, getting to know the likes of Giacomo Matteotti, Piero Gobetti, Ernesto Rossi and Piero Calamandrei, with whom he actively participated in the political debate, deepening and writing extensively on the themes of liberalism and the importance of political action.

Following the Matteotti murder (1924), which profoundly marked his life, he became a member of the leadership group of the Socialist Party of Italian Workers (PSLI) and, together with others, took care of the expatriation of some socialist leaders: in December 1926, he rescued Filippo Turati; a gesture that cost him arrest and five years of confinement in Lipari.

He managed, however, to escape and reach France, where, together with a group of other Italian expatriates, he formed the Giustizia e libertà (GL) movement in 1929, which brought together socialists, republicans and trade unionists.

From there, he moved to Spain, espousing the Republican cause and actively participating in the Civil War (1936-1939), leading a comradeship that took the name of Colonna Italiana. Wounded during a clash with anarchists, Rosselli left the command of the Colonnadecided to return to Paris in early 1937.

He was assassinated, together with his brother Nello, on 9 June 1937 in Bagnoles-de-l’Orne, Lower Normandy, in an ambush organised by the Italian services.

The funeral of the Rosselli brothers took place in Paris on 19 June of that same year, resulting in a large anti-fascist demonstration without class distinction.

You can consult the birth certificate on the Ancestors Portal: Archivio di Stato di Roma>Stato civile italiano>Roma> 1899

The original is kept at the State Archives in Rome.

For more on the figure of Carlo Rosselli, see the entry in the Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani edited by Mauro Moretti.

Archivio di Stato di Roma > Stato civile italiano > Roma > 1899
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