In the final volume of the Resistance Quartet, Moorehead (A Bold and Dangerous Family, 2017) continues her work exalting the women of World War II who saved their countries from fascism.
The author now turns to the Piedmont region of Northern Italy and the city of Turin, which was a hotbed of fascism but also the epicenter of the resistance. Moorehead relies heavily on the diaries of participant Ada Gobetti, who, along with Bianca Serra, Frida Malan, and Silvia Pons, formed a core group within the thousands of women who drove the resistance from 1943 to 1945. Under 20 years of Mussolini’s rule, women were expected to be submissive and produce children. “One of the key beliefs in Fascist ideology,” writes the author, “was that men and women were inherently different.” But being ignored as insignificant made them perfect couriers and concealers of messages, escapees, and arms. These women, who produced underground newspapers, led strikes, and transported escapees, were crucial to the resistance, and Moorehead clearly delineates their determination and heroism throughout the exciting narrative. After Mussolini’s fall, Italy secured an armistice with the Allies, but the Germans moved in to take over the country. Thus, a multifaceted war began, but was it civil war, a war of liberation, or a class war? With multiple governments and armies, it was chaotic. The Italian army had little leadership, and most of the soldiers abandoned their posts. With more than 100,000 disbanded soldiers, it fell to the women to help. In the Piedmont hills, a dozen separate groups eventually winnowed down to a six-party coalition while help from the Allies was difficult to find. Turin’s Liberation Day, April 26, 1945, was organized by the women of the resistance and featured a complete stoppage of factories, trams, courts, and shops. The partisan groups, men and women, quickly established government offices and handled expected reprisals. This is a highly satisfying conclusion to the author’s series.
Excellent, well-presented evidence of the incalculable strengths and abilities of women to create and run a country.