The organization Propaganda Due ( P2 ) was originally an Italian Masonic lodge , which was misused in the 1970s to camouflage a secret political organization . Founded in Rome in 1887 as a Masonic counterpart to the Curia Congregation "Propaganda Fide" (in German "Spreading the Faith") under the name "Propaganda Massonica" ("Spreading Freemasonry"), it was founded, like Freemasonry in general, during the rule of fascism forbidden. In 1944 it was re-established as Propaganda Due as the second lodge of the Grande Oriente d'Italia . In 1972 the Grand Lodge Day of the Grande Oriente d'Italia decided the exclusion, but it did not really take effect until 1982. During the investigation of the activities of the P2, it became known in 1981 that Licio Gelli had played a key role in creating a conspiratorial network made up of leaders from the police, the military, business, politics, the mafia and the secret services . There was a serious suspicion that the secret society plans for a coup had developed and under "false flag" staged terrorist attacks in the 1970s was associated, which was later confirmed in judicial investigations. The P2 was dissolved and banned in 1982.
Foundation and history
Origins and re-establishment after the Second World War
The name P2 comes from the “Propaganda Massonica” lodge, a lodge founded in Turin in 1877 by members of the Piedmontese nobility (House of Savoy / Sardinia-Piedmont). However, under Mussolini, Freemasonry was banned in Italy from 1926 to 1945. When the Grande Oriente d'Italia was revived after the Second World War , it was decided to number the newly founded lodges. This is how Propaganda Due came about. Francesco Cossiga confirmed in 1993 that the P2 was an “American import”, “the answer to the fears of Atlantic circles” against a possible alliance between the dominant Democrazia Cristiana (DC) party, the socialist PSI and the Italian Communist Party (PCI ).
Anti-communism and plans for takeover
The rise of communism in Italy greatly worried the Freemasons, who had developed an increasingly anti-communist attitude after World War II. In 1965 the fascist Licio Gelli was initiated in a lodge of the Grande Oriente in Rome. In 1967, the then Grand Master made him responsible for Lodge P2, which was practically inactive at the time. In 1969 he was appointed secretary of the lodge. He recruited the members of the P2 from leaders of the economy, the military, politics, the Mafia and the intelligence services of Italy .
The P2 reached its peak in the 1970s. Gelli were said to have ties to the CIA , and according to CIA and Mossad agent Richard Brenneke , the United States government has supported Lodge P2 with up to $ 10 million a month.
The P2 was not only active in Italy, but also in several South American countries, especially Argentina ; other countries were Uruguay and Brazil . In 1977 the P2 took control of the Corriere della Sera , which was in financial difficulties. This was accompanied by a change in the newspaper's political orientation.
Exclusion from Freemasonry in 1974
When it turned out that the founding of the lodge was connected with the aim of a political conspiracy , the Italian Grand Lodge Day of the Grande Oriente d'Italia in December 1974 withdrew this “group of its own qualifications” with 400 out of 406 votes. In March 1975, Gelli accused the Grand Master of the Grande Oriente d'Italia of major financial irregularities. He only withdrew his allegations after the Grand Master agreed to issue a patent for a new P2 lodge in return. Propaganda Due thus became regular , membership was no longer secret and Gelli was now officially master of the chair of this lodge. In 1976 he applied for P2 to be "put to sleep" but not to be disbanded. In practice, this meant that he could secretly continue to operate the officially inactive lodge without the Grand Orient being aware of it and without his chair being endangered by an election. In 1978, the financial irregularities in which the Grand Master of the Grande Oriente d'Italia was involved ultimately led many other grand lodges to threaten to withdraw their recognition from the grand lodge, so that the grand master resigned before the end of his normal term of office. Gelli then funded an election campaign for the previous grandmaster, who was not re-elected.
Mafia connections, money laundering and the Vatican Bank
When various investigators investigated the collapse of the banks of the Freemason Michele Sindona and its connections to the Sicilian Cosa Nostra , the P2 began to move more and more into the public light. Sindona and Roberto Calvi , both Freemasons, had laundered illegal drug money from the Mafia through a complicated system in the 1970s through the Institute for Religious Works (Istituto per le Opere di Religione, IOR), commonly known as the Vatican Bank.
Conversely, various high-ranking members of the Cosa Nostra had joined Sicilian Masonic lodges at their request during this time.
Exposure in 1981 and resignation of the Prime Minister
In March 1981, investigators in Gelli's country house in Arezzo found a list of 962 members, almost all of whom came from the financial sector , politics and the military. The search in the house was triggered by an investigation into the Sindona case. Among them were the three acting heads of the Italian secret services, the incumbent Prime Minister Arnaldo Forlani and his head of cabinet, the entrepreneur and later Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the son of the last King of Italy Victor Emanuel of Savoy . Since the numbering starts with 1600, it is speculated that up to 1000 names have still not been revealed. The discovery caused one of the greatest scandals in Italian post-war history. In 1980 Licio Gelli gave an interview to the Corriere della Sera; while he was interviewed by Maurizio Costanzo, who was also a member of P2. In the interview, Gelli openly spoke out in favor of changing the Italian constitution based on the French model and introducing a presidential system. When asked what he always wanted to be, he replied: a puppeteer. In May 1981 the list of members found was made public. Prime Minister Forlani was forced to resign shortly afterwards under public pressure.
A little later Gelli was brought before a Masonic court of honor. Gelli allowed himself to be accepted by Gian Domenico Romagnosi in Rome in 1962 , violating the statutes of his grand lodge. It was now decided that the P2 as a lodge had already expired in 1974, since the reissue of the patent by the then grand master had been illegal without a vote. The decision only became final on September 4, 1982 after the secret organization was declared dissolved by the Italian parliament. The exact size and structure of P2 is still not fully understood. As a result of the P2 affair, the Grande Oriente d'Italia , which was recognized as regular by the United Grand Lodge of England in 1972 , in turn lost this recognition to the Gran Loggia Regolare d'Italia . In 1999 the Grande Oriente d'Italia received the recognition back; Currently, however, only the Gran Loggia Regolare d'Italia enjoys the recognition of the United Grand Lodge of England . Sindona died in 1986 at the high-security prison Voghera on a cyanide poisoning after he drank a cyanide mixed with espresso.
A parliamentary commission of inquiry chaired by MEP Tina Anselmi ( DC ) could not prove any direct legal offenses against the P2. In its final report, the commission of inquiry states that the secret society's goal was to infiltrate the government and thus reshape politics from the background, but not a direct takeover or even an open coup.
The Circuit Court of Bologna stated in a criminal case that the lodge P2 instigated criminals, armed and financed have to deal with agents of subversion and terrorism as part of a " strategy of tension to create" the conditions for a coup. Some of the alleged P2 members are said to have been directly or indirectly involved in the numerous assassinations, coup attempts or terrorist acts of the 1960s and 1970s.
By falsifying evidence, it was ensured that the crimes were attributed to left-wing terrorists. Several terrorist attacks, for example on Bologna Central Station on August 2, 1980 with 85 dead, were originally attributed to the Red Brigades terrorist group . But right-wing extremists have proven their authorship in legal proceedings. The attack could be attributed to members of the neo-fascist Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari , or NAR for short. Four of its members were convicted in 1988. In addition, it has been proven how Gelli and several secret service agents, including the secret service chief Pietro Musumeci (also a member of P2), hindered the subsequent police investigation and tried to bring the police on the wrong track.
Long-term consequences and today's significance
The Italian public prosecutor Libero Mancuso reported in 2005 on the effects of the events at that time on the further development of Italy according to Deutschlandfunk:
“The so-called“ strategy of tension ”was finally followed by the strategy of taking power with the help of the mass media. I'm not making that up, because that's what Licio Gelli's renewal program says, which was confiscated from him in the early 1980s. This program, a guide to the coup d'état, provides for the disappearance of the left-wing parties, the dissolution of the trade unions, the establishment of a private television system and, at the same time, the erosion of the state television RAI . All things that have either already been carried out or are still being carried out. "
According to Mancuso, Licio Gelli claimed that seven ministers from the first government of Silvio Berlusconi were members of his lodge in the past, as was Berlusconi himself. When he presented the program of his first party Forza Italia in 1996 , Gelli said with satisfaction that Berlusconi was " Almost all of the National Renewal Plan ”. Mancuso did not interpret the fact that the terrorist attacks had ceased after the Bologna attack as part of the strategy of tension as the disappearance of the Italian democracy problems:
"Maybe Italy is no longer in danger because everything has already turned out the way certain circles wanted it to be."
Members or people with contacts to P2
- The most prominent member was the media mogul and multiple Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi under membership number 1816 . Silvio Berlusconi has denied membership and was convicted of perjury after it was proven to him. Berlusconi has identified himself publicly on various occasions with goals that Gelli also had.
- Licio Gelli was arrested while fleeing in Switzerland, but was able to escape from Swiss custody and returned to his home country Italy after the statute of limitations on persecution.
- Roberto Calvi (nickname: Banker of God), murdered 1982
- Michele Sindona (banker), murdered in 1986
- Victor Emanuel of Savoy , last Crown Prince of the Italian Kingdom
- Carmine "Mino" Pecorelli , investigative journalist, murdered in 1979
Since 2008, high-level illegal structures have been monitored in Italy, which are linked to the former Propaganda Due. In this context, State Secretary for Economic Affairs Nicola Cosentino resigned from his post in 2010 . Piero Grasso , head of the National Anti-Mafia Public Prosecutor, said in the newspaper “La Repubblica”: “Today, corruption seems to serve to maintain a criminal network in which there is such a complicated exchange of consideration that it does not fit into our legal models fits. ”P3 was dissolved by the authorities in 2010.
The group founded after P3 was dissolved is called Propaganda quattro , or P4 for short. The members are accused of betrayal of the results of the investigation, extortion, favoritism and abuse of office.
- National Geographic Channel : NG Inside: The Freemasons . 2007, 50 minutes.
- The Silvio Berlusconi files. Documentation by Arte on Berlusconi and the P2, 2011, 53 minutes
- ORF : Italian Travel - Johann Wolfgang Goethe 1786 - Michael Schrott 1986. in the program section: “Bologna - rest gently. The mattress manufacturer Licio Gelli ”, (CD 2, Track 8). Originally broadcast in 1986 on Ö3 in the program Die Musicbox , in parts of 10 minutes per day. After the release as a CD box as a repeat on Ö1.
- Giuseppe D'Alema: The resilient rise of Lodge P2. With documents from the parliamentary commission and the full list of P2 members in facsimile. Edition X, Reinheim 1984, ISBN 3-921774-05-5 .
- Friederike Hausmann : Brief history of Italy from 1943 to today (= Wagenbach's pocket library 288). Updated and expanded new edition. Wagenbach, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-8031-2288-0 , pp. 118-123.
- Nick Tosches: Doing business with the Vatican. The Sindona affair. Wirtschaftsverlag Langen-Müller / Herbig, Munich 1987, ISBN 3-7844-7213-3 .
- P2: gli atti della Commissione parlamentare d'inchiesta Digital copies , full texts, PDFs of 119 volumes of parliamentary files in the portal Rete degli archivi per non dimenticare of the Sistema Archivistico Nazionale
- Final report of the parliamentary commission of inquiry
- Information in Italian, with additional documents.
- Alphonse Cerza: The Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction. Masonic Service Association, Virginia, 1967
- Luigi DiFonzo: St. Peter's Banker: Michele Sindona. New York: Franklin Watts, 1983
- H. Paul Jeffers: Les Dossiers noirs du Vatican. Saint-Victor-d'Épine: City Edition, 2010
- Paul L. Williams: Operation Gladio: The Unholy Alliance Between the Vatican, the CIA, and the Mafia. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 2015
- Regine Igel: Years of Terror. 2006.
- Kent Henderson (Ed.): Insights into Masonry. Lodge of Research No. 218 United Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of Victoria, Victoria (Australia) 1987, ISBN 0-7316-2645-1 , pp. 25-33.
- Alexander Stille : The judges. Death, the Mafia and the Italian Republic. Translation Karl-Heinz Silber. CH Beck, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-406-42303-5 .
- Pino Arlacchi : Mafia from within. The life of Don Antonino Calderone (= Fischer 12477). Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1995, ISBN 3-596-12477-8 .
- Philip Willan: Puppetmasters. The political Use of Terrorism in Italy. Constable, London 1991, ISBN 0-09-470590-9 , pp. 229-230.
- A Grand Master's Conspiracy. In: Time . June 8, 1981.
- Eugen Lennhoff, Oskar Posner, Dieter A. Binder: Internationales Freemaurerlexikon. 5th, revised and expanded new edition. Herbig, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-7766-2478-7 , pp. 430, 677.
- Eugen Lennhoff, Oskar Posner, Dieter A. Binder: Internationales Freemaurerlexikon. 5th, revised and expanded new edition. Herbig, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-7766-2478-7 , p. 430.
- Karl Hoffmann: 25 years ago: Bomb attack in Bologna train station. In: Deutschlandfunk. August 2, 2005, accessed July 20, 2008 .
- List of members ( Memento from March 25, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
- Andrea Bachstein: Italy: P3 - a secret box reaches for power. on: sueddeutsche.de July 19, 2010.
- Investigations are widespread. on: orf.at July 20, 2010.
- Marcello Bonventre: eavesdropping protocols published - Italian police are investigating alleged secret box. on: tagesschau.de from June 29, 2011 ( Memento from November 17, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
- National Geographic Channel: NG Inside: The Freemasons.
- CD box, partly audible online
- Italian travels - tape instead of writing instrument. ( Memento from September 7, 2007 in the Internet Archive )