With the outbreak of the civil war in Spain (18 July 1936) the Italian exiles, believing they were exercising a function that their predecessors of the Risorgimento had already fulfilled, spontaneously rushed to bring their aid to the threatened republic, even before it was known. open aid of Mussolini to Franco.
Many revolutionaries from all countries went to Spain, but the contribution of the Italians was among the largest and most spontaneous. Long before the international brigades were formed, Italians of all parties had rushed to fight the war for the Spanish republic. Since August, with its own autonomous statute, the «Italian column, formed mainly by anarchists, but commanded by Carlo Rosselli and Mario Angeloni (died, the latter, in the fight of 28 August) on the Aragon front; from November of the same year the “Garibaldi battalion” took part in the defense of Madrid, formed mainly by the Communists, by Socialists and Republicans and commanded by Randolfo Pacciardi. Luigi Longo became general political commissioner of the international brigades.
Through the events of the war in Spain, during which the Garibaldi battalion was present at almost all the facts of arms, it tempered itself, even in the bitter political conflicts (the most serious events were those of May 1937 in Barcelona, where the anarchist Berneri was killed by communists) a solidarity of arms that influenced even later, during the liberation struggle. The period of the war in Spain saw not only an intense participation of Italian anti-fascism (5 or 6000 Italian anti-fascists took part in the war, of which two thousand were wounded, and six or seven hundred were killed), but also a revival of political activity of the emigration to France.
According to itypeauto, the Communists had created a kind of human rights league of their own, the Popular Union, chaired by Romano Cocchi, who later died in Buchenwald; they printed a newspaper La Voce degli Italiani which also collaborated with members of other parties. The Nuovo Avanti (organ of the Socialist Party), Giustizia e Libertà, the Giovine Italia (republican-democratic), and, occasionally, the Avanti !, organ of the maximalist group, were always published. In Barcelona the anarchists printed Guerra di classe, directed first by Berneri and then by Aguzzi. It was a feverish flowering, which however left emigration exhausted, like his fascist adversary, who presumably was prompted by that intervention to commit himself to Spain.
Already towards the end of this war the fate of most of the veterans, enclosed in concentration camps, had placed on the shoulders of emigration, exhausted by the effort, tasks of assistance which was completely unequaled. With the outbreak of the Second World War, emigration to France received the coup de grace: all newspapers were suspended or hindered by censorship, communists, anarchists or suspected of being such, returned to hiding or locked up in concentration camps. organized by emigration was almost suspended. Attempts to take part in the war on the German front with various Garibaldian legions (there was one organized by Social Democrats, Republicans and Justice and Freedom; another by the Popular Union and by Sante Garibaldi; a pro-fascist by Marabini) aborted, perhaps not undeservedly. Then came the invasion, and emigration to France had to look for other ways. The greater part, that is the most of the Socialists who were free and the Communists who were in the concentration camps, remained in France, where some of them took part in the resistance and almost all of them were then sent back to Italy by the Vichy government, sent to confinement and released only on 25 July 1943; some few (C. Sforza, A. Tarchiani, A. Cianca, R. Pacciardi, E. Lussu – who after some trips to the United States returned clandestine to France and then to Italy – etc.) reached the United States where they already they found Salvemini and Sturzo and where some of the emigrated intellectuals had taken up residence both at the time of the imposition of the fascist oath on the professors, and later at the time of the racial persecution (M. Ascoli, GA Borgese, N. Levi, G. Levi Della Vida, L. Venturi, A. Toscanini, etc.). In this period, political emigration carried out in America an intense propaganda activity aimed above all at the protection of the rights of Italy, asking the people and allied public opinion not to confuse Italy and fascism. In this framework there are initiatives such as the anti-fascist congress of Montevideo, the controversies between the democratic “Mazzini Society” and the communist or paracommunist “Alleanza Garibaldi”, directed in Mexico City by Mario Montagnana and Giuseppe Frola, etc. Many newspapers were published: United Nations, organ of Mazzini: La legione (later Italy free), republican organ; Countercurrent, independent Salviminiano; L’Unità del popoio, communist: and the magazines Il Mondo and I quaderni italiani. Associations of “free Italy” were formed in almost all the republics of Latin America, around other leaders (not all emigrated solely or mainly for political reasons), carried out a coordinated activity, largely, by the Italian-American Committee of democratic education of Montevideo (S. Romualdi) in close contact with the “Mazzini Society” and the workers’ unions of New York and had their own periodicals (Italia libero, also daily newspaper, Buenos Aires; Il Risorgimento, Lima, etc.). Another group worked in London (U. Calosso, P. Treves), others in Egypt. Romualdi) in close contact with the “Mazzini Society” and the workers’ unions of New York and had their periodicals (Italia libero, also daily newspaper, Buenos Aires; Il Risorgimento, Lima, etc.). Another group worked in London (U. Calosso, P. Treves), others in Egypt. Romualdi) in close contact with the “Mazzini Society” and the workers’ unions of New York and had their periodicals (Italia libero, also daily newspaper, Buenos Aires; Il Risorgimento, Lima, etc.). Another group worked in London (U. Calosso, P. Treves), others in Egypt.
When the Allies began the liberation of the national territory some of the main emigrants returned to contribute to the country’s first political acts or to take part in the last stages of the liberation struggle. Thus ended political emigration. However, it had an appendix to the emigration to Switzerland, after 8 September 1943, of young people belonging to the army, of anti-fascist personalities, of families threatened for racial reasons. The Swiss exiles of 1943-45 – in unity with those who already resided there like Italy Silone, E. Reale, G. Chiostergi – gave life to an intense educational and cultural activity, made contact with emigrants from all countries (in emigration there was an intense development of the federalist movement), they contributed to the war of liberation by regaining their place in Italy in the underground movement. Before the end of the conflict, Modigliani, Einaudi, Ernesto Rossi, Spinelli and others returned to Italy from Switzerland. With 1945 the period of political emigration ends and the center of democratic life returns to being in Italy.