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  4. I should have said Via Rasella victims were Nazis says La Russa

I should have said Via Rasella victims were Nazis says La Russa

Senate Speaker apologizes to those who felt offended

(ANSA) - ROME, APR 1 - Senate Speaker Ignazio la Russa on Saturday acknowledged he was wrong to fail to describe the victims of a 1944 Partisan attack in Rome that sparked the Ardeatine Caves Massacre as Nazi soldiers.
    In condemning the Partisan attack in Via Rasella near the Trevi Fountain as "not the noblest of acts" by the Italian Resistance, La Russa had said the 33 northern Italian naturalised German SS paramilitary police were members of a harmless marching band, and not hardened Nazi soldiers.
    "I was wrong not to emphasise that the Germans killed in Via Rasella were Nazi soldiers, but I thought it was obvious and taken for granted as well as widely known," said La Russa, whose comments have spurred claims they were unworthy of his position as Italy's second highest official after President Sergio Mattarella.
    "I don't know then if it is actually wrong that the news, published several times and taken by me for good, that the South Tyrolean reservists framed in the German police were also part of the corps' military band".
    La Russa, a senior member of Premier Giorgia Meloni's conservative Brothers of Italy (FdI) party, added: "Without prejudice to those who have made specious and prejudiced comments in bad faith, I would like to apologise to those who, also on the basis of inaccurate reports, have found reasons to feel offended".
    The attack, the biggest anti-German partisan attack in western Europe, killed 33 soldiers and two civilians also died, including an 11-year-old boy, although it is not known whether this was due to the blast or the gunfire of the company in response.
    "Via Rasella was a page (in the history) of the resistance that was anything but noble," La Russa, a founder member of FdI party, told the Terraverso podcast of daily newspaper Libero.
    "Those who were killed were a music band made up of semi-pensioners, not SS Nazis.
    "They (the Partisans) were well aware of the risk of reprisals on Roman citizens, anti-Fascists and others".
    He was speaking after being asked about the furore stirred by Meloni saying the 335 Ardeatine massacre victims were killed because there were Italians, rather than because they were anti-fascists.
    He said this was a "trumped-up attack".
    Partisan Association ANPI said that La Russa's comments on the Via Rasella attack were "shameful".
    "La Russa's words are simply unworthy of the high office he holds and represent yet another very serious rift aimed at absolving fascism and delegitimising the Resistance," said ANPI President Gianfranco Pagliarulo.
    "The third battalion of the Polizeiregiment hit on Via Rasella as it marched armed to the teeth," said Pagliarulo, "was completing its training to go on to fight the Allies and the partisans, as actually happened.
    "The other two battalions of the Polizeiregiment had long been engaged in Istria and Veneto against the partisans," said the ANPI chief.
    Opposition parties were enraged too.
    "What La Russa said is not a gaffe," tweeted PD lawmaker Marco Furfaro.
    "It is the umpteenth attempt to rewrite history, with the despicable aim of putting the Partisan resistance and the Nazis and Fascists on the same level.
    "La Russa should remember that he is the Senate Speaker, not an Italian Social Movement (MSI) militant, or resign".
    PD leader Elly Schlein said La Russa's calling Via Rasella an ignoble attack is unacceptable and unworthy of his high office.
    "(They were) indecent words, unacceptable for the role he holds," said Schlein of La Russa, whose Senate office makes him the second highest public official in Italy after Mattarella.
    FdI's roots lie in the postwar neofascist Italian Social Movement (MSI) party, set up by Mussolini diehards, and whose tricolour flame features in the FdI logo.
    Meloni has repeatedly and unequivocally condemned Fascism and its "ignoble" racial laws against the Jews.
    She has resisted calls to scrub the Mussolini-linked flame from the logo as irrelevant and anti-historic.
    La Russa collects Fascist memorabilia including busts of Mussolini. (ANSA).
   

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