Nicolò Carandini

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Nicolò Carandini (born December 6, 1896 in Como , † March 15, 1972 in Rome ) was an Italian politician in the mid-20th century. He was best known as the Italian ambassador to Great Britain between 1944 and 1947. He was also briefly Minister in the first government of Ivanoe Bonomi (July to November 1944) and President of the airline Alitalia from 1948 to 1968.

First political activity

Carandini made his first political experience after the First World War when he was involved in democratic veterans' associations. However, it was not until his marriage to Elena Albertini , the daughter of Luigi Albertini , the long-time director of the daily Corriere della Sera , that Carandini got closer to the circles of liberal-democratic politicians who, during the time of fascism, oriented themselves towards the opposition scholars Benedetto Croce and Luigi Einaudi . In the 1930s he also had friendly contacts with the German ambassador in Rome , Ulrich von Hassell , who was increasingly to profile himself as an opponent of the Hitler regime and was executed in 1944 after Stauffenberg's failed assassination attempt on Hitler .

During the time of fascism, Carandini made a name for himself above all by building up the Torre in Pietra estate near Rome, which he made into a model agricultural operation in Italy until the Second World War . On numerous trips abroad, especially to Great Britain and the United States , he was able to make many contacts with the local political establishment , which would later be of great use to him in his role as ambassador.

In the anti-fascist resistance

The circles of the democratic opposition to Mussolini had been working increasingly on overturning plans since 1942, when the Italian armed forces were in dire straits on all fronts, and Carandini was also increasingly involved in these activities. However, he was reluctant to join the Partito d'Azione , which liberal, democratic and socialist opposition members founded underground in the summer of 1942, as his mentor Croce was skeptical of the initiative. In May 1943, Carandini then took the initiative in Rome to draft and distribute leaflets in which, under the name Movimento Liberale Italiano (Liberal Movement of Italy), a kind of program of a new liberalism, purified by the lessons of dictatorship and war, was to be propagated. When the fascist Grand Council actually overthrew Mussolini on July 25th, a core group of younger liberals around Carandini (including Leone Cattani , Mario Pannunzio , Franco Libonati , Giambattista Rizzo , Mario Ferrara and others) were ready to join a new Liberal Party To call life. This took place against initial resistance from Croce in August (an exact date of foundation is not known, but August 9th seems most likely).

After the occupation of northern Italy and Rome by the Germans on September 9th, Carandini was sent to the anti-fascist National Liberation Committee ( Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale , CLN) as the representative of the Liberals . With its chairman Ivanoe Bonomi he got into a dispute over the question of whether the CLN King Vittorio Emanuele III. Recognize or, as the left-wing parties, especially socialists ( PSIUP ) and actionists (Pd'A) demanded, continue the liberation struggle under the banner of the republic as a new form of government for post-war Italy. In contrast to the majority of his party friends, Carandini was a Republican, even though he shared Croce's view that the institutional question should be decided in a referendum after the end of the war.

During the months of the occupation of Rome, Carandini was at risk of arrest several times because of his underground activities and was only able to move around the city with caution. His estate Torre in Pietra was devastated by German soldiers in the spring of 1944. During this time there also happened the episode about the Carabiniere Salvo d'Acquisto , who saved some peasants from execution by allowing the Germans to shoot himself for them.

After the liberation of Rome on June 4, 1944, Carandini was de facto head of the Liberal Party, even if there was no elected or appointed chairman. In Naples , after joining the second government of Pietro Badoglio at the end of April , the southern Italian part of the PLI appointed Giovanni Cassandro as provisional secretary general and Croce himself as provisional president, which was confirmed at a congress from June 2-4. Through the union with the Roman liberals, however, this distribution of tasks became obsolete; After the formation of Bonomi's first government, in which Carandini also entered as minister instead of Croce as first representative of the PLI at the end of July, Manlio Brosio was appointed the first official secretary general. In northern Italy, on the other hand, the liberals were still involved in the resistance struggle against the Republic of Salò, albeit in a rather secondary role; Until the spring of 1945, the two parts of the PLI had next to no contact.

On September 3, 1944, Carandini gave a widely acclaimed speech in the Roman theater Brancaccio , which was understood as the presentation of a liberal program for the post-war period. Carandini placed the aspect of social justice at the center of his remarks and thus clearly distanced himself from the previous, purely market-oriented doctrines of classical liberalism, even if he did not deny the continuities of post-war Italy with the traditions of the liberal Risorgimento in the sense of Croce. However, Carandini sought an organic union of the PLI with the liberal-socialist Action Party (Pd'A), which Croce despised, and to close ranks with the socialists. This displeased many of his party friends. A short time later the post of first envoy of the new Italian government in London was to be filled and the choice fell on Carandini, who reacted quite surprised, but ultimately accepted reluctantly.

Ambassador to Great Britain

At the end of November 1944, Carandini took up his new post in London, where he initially encountered considerable hostility, as Great Britain viewed Italy as a defeated enemy to be punished, and not as an ally who had been guilty of partisan warfare since the armistice of September 1943 and involved some volunteer organizations in the Allied war effort. Carandini found first advocates mainly among Labor politicians, above all Ernest Bevin , while Prime Minister Winston Churchill refused to see him. Carandini tried to inform the Italian prisoners of war in England of the new political situation in Italy and to convince them to take part in the war against Germany and its allies through factory work for the allied forces. However, not all prisoners were ready for such a collaboration.

Through frequent visits to Rome, Carandini tried at the same time to continue his political engagement in his home country, believing that he could end his mission after a few months. However, he had to watch powerlessly as his party was infiltrated by conservative circles from the southern Italian landowners and his own friends from the underground phase turned to a policy of confrontation with the parties of the left. In March 1945, on behalf of Ugo La Malfas Carandini , it was not a representative of the PLI, but an envoy from the Pd'A, who explored the possible readiness to act as prime minister of a new government after the liberation of northern Italy. However, since this office was considered an outright "ejection seat" during that difficult phase, Carandini resigned from the start and no official request was made. In June, however, he welcomed the election of Ferruccio Parris from the Action Party as a compromise candidate for the divided CLN parties.

Accordingly, Carandini reacted negatively to the fact that it was his own party friends, above all General Secretary Leone Cattani and Mario Pannunzio , editor-in-chief of the party newspaper Risorgimento Liberale , who launched a campaign against Parri at the end of 1945 and provoked his overthrow in November. Carandini's objections, sent to the party management by letter from London, were either ignored or dismissed as the opinion of someone incompetent due to his physical absence from the scene. He had no choice but to submit to the actions of his party.

In 1946 Carandini was part of the Italian delegation to the peace negotiations in Paris and New York , but could not prevent Italy from being treated as a defeated nation. He gained special recognition as a negotiator in the Italian-Austrian talks on the South Tyrol Statute in the second half of the year. Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi , with whom Carandini was on friendly terms, wanted to bring him to his third government as foreign minister at the beginning of 1947, but the latter refused because he had meanwhile lost all support in his party. Significantly, in those days in January, many of the leading liberals personally intervened in Carandini's house to prevent him from taking such a step, as the coalition also included socialists and communists , against whom the PLI had been campaigning for months.

Also from a distance, Carandini had participated in the elections for the constituent national assembly on June 2, 1946, despite initial doubts. The only election campaign was his appearance on the III. The PLI party congress in Rome at the end of April, where he advocated a sector-limited planned economy and again came into violent contradiction to the representatives of classic free-market liberalism. After a moment's deliberation, he left his mandate to Renato Morelli from Naples, while he preferred to continue his mission in London. In July, he also resigned the vice-presidency he had assumed in April, in protest against his party's course. Croce had actually chosen him as his successor at the top of the liberals, but now the differences between the two men became more and more insurmountable, so that they no longer communicated with each other for months.

Return to Italy

Only in the autumn of 1947 did Carandini finally return from London. In Italy he was now hardly known to the public and his party practically ignored him, until Mario Ferrara recalled the merits of the ex-ambassador in an article in the Risorgimento Liberale. Since the PLI had meanwhile taken on the monarchical-conservative PDI , the party's political epicenter had slipped so far to the right that the former party leadership around Cattani and Pannunzio now saw themselves in a 'left' opposition. In the run-up to the fourth party congress at the end of 1947, Carandini was discovered again as a supposed leader of an internal left minority and rumors circulated that he should be elected as the new general secretary by a center-left majority. In fact, however, the right won the Congress majority and the office went to its leader Roberto Lucifero . Carandini tried for a few weeks to win the undecided sections of the party center on his side, but left the PLI in early January 1948 when these attempts had failed.

Carandini initially seemed to be toying with the idea of ​​founding his own party. However, he was not ready to create any meaningless splinter party, but rather wanted to achieve a unification of all secular, democratic and social reformist forces between the large party blocs of the communists and socialists on the one hand and the Christian democrats on the other, a third force , that of the social democrats Giuseppe Saragats to the republicans Ugo La Malfas and the scattered remnants of the dissolved action party to his left-liberal companions around Cattani and Panfilo Gentile . These had come together in the Rinascita Liberale cultural movement and pursued the idea of ​​developing it into a liberal rival party to the PLI. Only slowly did the various liberal dissidents get closer, the more they realized that neither a third force nor a new liberal party were realistic. The Third Force Congress in Milan just two weeks before the parliamentary elections on April 18 had made it clear that no anti-DC policies were to be expected from the Social Democrats and Republicans and that the liberal dissidents among the other potential "third-party forces" were not to be expected. were viewed rather suspiciously.

The dissident movement MLI

So on June 21, 1948, at the instigation of Carandini and Mario Ferrara, the ' Movimento Liberale Indipendente ' (MLI) was founded in Milan with a few hundred followers, mainly in northern Italy. But the conflicting interests among the members soon diverged again, especially after Lucifero's surprising overthrow at the top of the PLI in October. Many saw in the new moderate General Secretary Bruno Villabruna a guarantor of a renewal of content and a restoration of the old balance of forces in the PLI and returned to the party, while a core around Carandini maintained the movement with the aim of, at least a third force, possibly also with the participation of the PLI. Only if the party itself took such an initiative, according to Carandini, would a reunification with the MLI be considered.

In fact, the 5th PLI Congress passed such a resolution in July 1949, but no further steps were taken. Towards the end of the year, Carandini actively tried, accompanied by a press campaign by the weekly newspaper Il Mondo , which has been published by Pannunzio since February, to influence Saragat and La Malfa to leave the government together with the DC and to add a third party as a secular corrective to the all-powerful ruling party which the Liberals would then also join. In November, Saragat, in turn, invited Carandini and the MLI to initiate talks; but the subsequent split in the Social Democrats and the Republicans' loyalty to the government immediately destroyed all hope.

In January 1950, on the other hand, surprisingly for Carandini, the PLI left the government and henceforth defined its position as the 'constitutional opposition'. Villabruna tried to give this position a secular-centrist orientation, which, however, met with strong resistance from within its own ranks. Many liberals saw themselves as conservative opposition and in some cases they sought to get close to monarchists and occasionally even to neo-fascists with dubious loyalty to the constitution. Talks between Carandini and Villabruna about a merger of PLI and MLI failed not only because of this; If Carandini wanted a kind of 'original assembly' of all liberal forces in Italy with the aim of founding a new liberal framework organization with a federal structure, Villabruna aimed for the simple reintegration of the dissidents into the existing structures of the PLI. A subsequent initiative by Carandini to rally all democrats outside the PLI also failed miserably between March and May 1950.

Liberal reunification

It was not until the beginning of 1951, triggered by a newspaper article by Ferrara, that a new debate about liberal reunification began. The unification of the two social democratic parties in April provided the template for this. If Carandini thought the debate was inappropriate and premature, Villabruna, on the other hand, was now determined to undertake a major liberal renewal initiative - with or without the MLI. Based on the sometimes spectacular electoral successes of the PLI in the local elections in May / June and a public letter from various independent parliamentarians from the liberal environment around Aldo Bozzi in favor of a liberal association, the Secretary General was able to implement his initiative in specific negotiations with various liberal groups in July individual MLI renegades, especially Gentile, took part. Carandini reacted uncertainly at first, but finally managed to rally a larger group of independent liberals behind him at a meeting in Milan in September, which made his demand for a renewed determination of the PLI to a third party and his strict rejection of monarchism a condition participated in the unification process. Villabruna actually responded to the demands, having realized that Carandini, Cattani and Pannunzio's 'Il Mondo' would remain a continuous potential for protest outside the party and that his initiative would be unreliable without their integration.

In December 1951, Carandini and his remaining followers re-entered the PLI. Soon, however, the conflicts with the exponents of a new, economic right from northern Italy increased, which with the unification had flowed more strongly than ever into the party. At the party congress in January 1953, an economic program was passed that had been largely drawn up by Giovanni Malagodi and which turned out to be contrary to Carandini's social reformist approaches. Both ran for elections in Milan in June, but while Malagodi entered parliament triumphantly, Carandini only missed a mandate by a few votes. The other representatives of the liberal left also fell victim to the overall disappointing result of the PLI; Villabruna's policy of closely following the Social Democrats and the establishment of a center-left majority within the party had failed. At the end of the year there were public clashes among the party wings in the press, while Malagodi gained increasing influence in the party leadership. Nevertheless, Villabruna was re-confirmed as general secretary in December, but only because the candidacy of Malagodi had been proposed by the party authorities, but the latter wanted to be supported primarily by the party center.

After Malagodi finally succeeded Villabruna, who had switched to government in March 1954, Carandini and his small group of left-liberal opponents were completely sidelined and responded by forming autonomous group structures within the party. Up until the summer of 1955 there were violent exchanges in the press between the left opposition and the party leadership. Carandini and his family accused Malagodi of being paid by the employers ' association Confindustria and thus having sold the party to certain industrial interests. After his resignation as minister, Villabruna also agreed to this criticism and tried to revive the old bastions of his time as general secretary, but in vain. In December, the entire group around Carandini and Villabruna left the PLI and founded the Radical Party , which was also joined by representatives of the 'actionist' diaspora and individual social democrats.


  • Giovanni Ferrara:  Carandini, Nicolò. In: Alberto M. Ghisalberti (Ed.): Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (DBI). Volume 19:  Cappi-Cardona. Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, Rome 1976.
  • Blasberg Christian, The Liberal Left and the Fate of the Third Force in Italian Centrism, 1947–1951 . Frankfurt / M. 2008.
  • Longo Oddone (Eds.), Albertini, Carandini. Una pagina della storia d'Italia . Venice 2005.
  • Carandini Albertini Elena, Dal terrazzo. Diario 1943/44 . Milan 1997.
  • Riccardi Luca (ed.), Nicolò Carandini il liberale e la nuova Italia, 1943–1953 . Grassina Bagno a Ripoli 1993.
  • Carandini Albertini Elena, Passata la stagione .... Diari 1944–1947 . Firenze 1989.