Giuseppe Bottai

Giuseppe Bottai

Giuseppe Bottai as Minister of Education, 1937
Minister of National Education
In office
15 November 1936  5 February 1943
Prime Minister Benito Mussolini
Preceded by Cesare Maria De Vecchi
Succeeded by Carlo Alberto Biggini
Governor of Addis Ababa
In office
5 May 1936  27 May 1936
Monarch Victor Emmanuel III
Preceded by Office created
Succeeded by Alfredo Siniscalchi
Governor of Rome
In office
23 January 1935  15 November 1936
Preceded by Francesco Boncompagni Ludovisi
Succeeded by Piero Colonna
Member of the Chamber of Fasci and Corporations
In office
20 April 1929  5 August 1943
Personal details
Born (1895-09-03)3 September 1895
Rome, Italy
Died 9 January 1959(1959-01-09) (aged 63)
Rome, Italy
Political party Italian Fasci of Combat
National Fascist Party
Alma mater Sapienza University of Rome
Profession Journalist, soldier
Religion Deism
Military service
Allegiance  Kingdom of Italy
 Free France
Service/branch  Royal Italian Army
French Foreign Legion
Years of service 1915–1917; 1935–1936; 1943–1948
Unit 1st Cavalry Regiment (France)

Giuseppe Bottai (3 September 1895 – 9 January 1959) was an Italian journalist, and member of the National Fascist Party of Benito Mussolini.


Early life

Born in Rome, Giuseppe was son of Luigi, a wine dealer with republican sympathies, and Elena Cortesia. He was gratuated at Liceo Torquato Tasso, and attended to the Sapienza University of Rome until the 1915, when Italy declared war to the Central Empires: in the same year he left his studies to enlist himself in the Italian Royal Army. Hurted in battle, he obtained a Medal of Military Valor after the WW1.[1]

In 1919, Bottai met Benito Mussolini during a Futurist meeting,[2] and contributed to establish the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento ("Italian Fasci of Combat"). In 1921, Bottai ended his studies at law faculty and became a freemason, member of the Gran Loggia d'Italia.[3] In the same time he also started a journalist career in the Il Popolo d'Italia, newspaper of the recently-founded National Fascist Party. During the March on Rome, Bottai was along with Ulisse Igliori and Gino Calza-Bini, the head of the Roman squadrismo, supporting Blackshirts' political violence.

Political career

Bottai in 1943, serving the French Foreign Legion

After 1921 election, Bottai was elected in the Chamber of Deputies for the National Blocs, but was removed for his young age. He returned to the Chamber in 1924, maintaining the office until 1943. In 1923, he became leader of the intransigent, national syndicalist and revolutionary faction of the Fascism. To support his ideas, Bottai founded Critica fascista ("Fascist Critic"), a cultural periodical, co-operating with other leftist fascists like Filippo De Pisis, Renato Guttuso and Mario Mafai.[4] Bottai worked to the Ministry of Corporations, introducing the Labour Charter and planning a "Corporative Academic Pole" in Pisa, from 1926 to 1932, when he was excluded by Mussolini from the Ministry.[5] In 1933, Bottai established and chaired the National Institute of the Social Security (Italian: Istituto nazionale della previdenza sociale, INPS). After, he was appointed Fascist Governor of Rome (1935–1936) but resigned to fight in the Second Italo-Ethiopian War with the rank of major. In 5 May 1936, Bottai and Pietro Badoglio entered in Addis Abeba, and Bottai was appointed as City Governor. After the war, Bottai returned in Rome to be Education Minister. During his ministry, Bottai proclaim a law (socalled "Bottai Law") on public and cultural heritage safeguard and natural beauties preservation.[6] He also co-worked with art critics Giulio Carlo Argan and Cesare Brandi to improve the Italian cultural life.

In late 1930s, Bottai became more radical and germanophile. In 1938 he express support to Radical Laws against the Italian Jews and in 1940 he founded Primato ("Record"), a magazine that supported Aryan race's supremacy and war interventionism. [7] Bottai thinked that the "Fascist Revolution" was incomplete, and only the return to the originary fascism, pseudo-socialist and anti-bourgeois, would have save the Europe. However, the Italian intervention in the WW2 resulted a disaster. The Campaign in the Eastern Front caused the death or dispersion of ca. 77,000 soldier, more 39,000 injureds. Bottai finally voted for the Mussolini's arrest proposed by Dino Grandi the 25 July 1943. Bottai voted for the arrest when the war's lost became evident and to remedy the Fascism's mistakes. In 1944, the Italian Social Republic condemned Bottai to death, during the Verona trial, but Bottai was hide in a Roman convent.[8]

WW2 and final years

In 1944, Bottai joined in to the French Foreign Legion, with the pseudodyn Andrea Battaglia. He fought in Provence during the Operation Dragoon and then in the Western Allied invasion of Germany. At the war's end, Bottai remained in France, and continued to serve in Foreign Legion until 1948, when he was discharged. For his role in WW2, he got an amnesty for his role in Fascism.

Returned in Italy in 1953, Bottai founded the periodical ABC (not to be confused with the same-name magazine) and Il Popolo di Roma, financed by ex-fascist Vittorio Cini, who supported centrist and conservative views. He died in Rome in 1959. At his funeral parteciped also Aldo Moro, like his father was a Bottai's friend and assistant during his career.[9]




  1. Sabino Cassese (1971). Bottai, Giuseppe - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani. Treccani.
  2. Maddalena, Carli (2010). "Un movimento artistico crea un partito politico : il futurismo italiano tra avanguardismo e normalizzazione". Memoria e ricerca.
  3. Michele Terzaghi (1950). Fascismo e massoneria. Arnaldo Forni Editore. p. 171.
  4. Berto Ricci (1984). Lo Scrittore Italiano. Ciarrapico.
  5. Paolo Passaniti (2007). Storia del diritto del lavoro. FrancoAngeli. p. 573-574.
  6. Vittorio Emiliani (2011). Tutela del paesaggio ed Unità nazionale. Alinea Editrice.
  7. Roberto Finzi (2008). La cultura italiana e le leggi antiebraiche del 1938. Carocci. p. 915.
  8. Enzo Forcella (1999). La resistenza in convento. Einaudi.
  9. Aldo Moro (2009). Lettere dalla prigionia. Einaudi.
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