Liberation Day (Italy)

Liberation Day (Italian: Festa della Liberazione [ˈfɛsta della liberatˈtsjoːne]), also known as the Anniversary of Italy's Liberation (Anniversario della liberazione d'Italia), Anniversary of the Resistance (Anniversario della Resistenza), or simply 25 April (25 aprile [ˌventiˈtʃiŋkwe aˈpriːle]), is a national holiday in Italy that commemorates the victory of the Italian resistance movement against Nazi Germany and the Italian Social Republic, puppet state of the Nazis and rump state of the fascists, culmination of the liberation of Italy from German occupation and of the Italian civil war in the latter phase of World War II. That is distinct from Republic Day (Festa della Repubblica), which takes place on 2 June and commemorates the 1946 Italian institutional referendum.

Liberation Day
Celebrations held for 25 April at Porta San Paolo in Rome, 2013
Official nameItalian: Anniversario della liberazione d'Italia
Also calledAnniversary of the Liberation,
Anniversary of the Resistance,
25 April
Observed by Italy
SignificanceCelebrates the liberation of Italy from Nazism and Fascism
Date25 April
Next time25 April 2025 (2025-04-25)
First time25 April 1946
Related to


Italian partisans in Milan in April 1945 during the liberation of Italy
Italian partisans parade in vehicles through the streets of Bologna after the liberation of the city (21 April 1945).

The end of war in Italy on 2 May, 1945, with the complete surrender of German forces to the Allied Army, as formally established during the so-called surrender of Caserta on 29 April 1945, marks the definitive defeat of Nazism and Fascism in Italy. By 1st May, all of northern Italy was liberated from occupation, including Bologna (21 April), Genoa (23 April), Milan (25 April), Turin[1] and Venice (28 April). The liberation put an end to two and a half years of German occupation, five years of war, and twenty-three years of fascist dictatorship. The aftermath of World War II left Italy bitter toward the monarchy for endorsing the Fascist regime for over 20-plus years. These frustrations contributed to a revival of the Italian republican movement.[2] The liberation symbolically represents the beginning of the historical journey which led to the referendum of 2 June 1946, when Italians opted for the end of the monarchy and the creation of the Italian Republic. This was followed by the adoption of the 1948 Constitution of the Republic,[3] created by the Constituent Assembly and representatives from the anti-fascist forces that defeated the Nazis and the Fascists during the liberation of Italy and the Italian civil war.[4]

Italian partisans in Piazza San Marco in Venice during the days of liberation.
Liberation parade in Turin on 6 May 1945.

Although other European countries such as Norway, the Netherlands, and France also had partisan movements and collaborationist governments with Nazi Germany during World War II, armed confrontation between compatriots was most intense in Italy, making the Italian case unique.[5]The use of the term "civil war" was frequent by fighters and during the war itself, for example in literary works by Beppe Fenoglio. In the post-war era the definition was generally avoided and used mainly by the right as by fascist politician and historian Giorgio Pisanò. Claudio Pavone's book Una guerra civile. Saggio storico sulla moralità della Resistenza (A Civil War. Historical Essay On the Morality Of the Resistance), published in 1991, led the term "Italian Civil War" to become a widespread term used in Italian[6] and international[7][8] historiography.

The date of April 25 was chosen by convention, as it was the day of the year 1945 when the National Liberation Committee of Upper Italy (CLNAI) - whose command was based in Milan and was chaired by Alfredo Pizzoni, Luigi Longo, Emilio Sereni, Sandro Pertini, and Leo Valiani (present among others the designated president Rodolfo Morandi, Giustino Arpesani, and Achille Marazza) - proclaimed a general insurrection in all the territories still occupied by the Nazi-fascists, indicating to all the partisan forces active in Northern Italy that were part of the Volunteer Corps of Freedom to attack the Nazist and Fascist garrisons by imposing the surrender, days before the arrival of the Allied troops; at the same time, the National Liberation Committee for Northern Italy personally issued legislative decrees,[9] assuming power "in the name of the Italian people and as a delegate of the Italian Government", establishing among other things the death sentence for all fascist hierarchs and other collaborationists of the Nazist occupiers,[10] including Benito Mussolini, who would be shot and killed three days later. "Surrender or die!" was the rallying call of the partisans that day and those immediately following.


Celebrations held for 25 April at Altare della Patria, 1946

The current date was chosen in 1946. On the proposal of the Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi, King Umberto II of Italy, then prince and lieutenant of the Kingdom of Italy, on 22 April 1946 issued the lieutenant legislative decree n. 185 "Disposizioni in materia di ricorrenze festive" ("Provisions on festive occasions").[11] The bill states that:[11]

In celebration of the total liberation of the Italian territory, 25 April 1946 is declared a national holiday[12]

— Lieutenant legislative decree n. 185/1946, art. 1

The anniversary was also celebrated in subsequent years, but only on 27 May 1949, article 2 of law n. 260 "Disposizioni in materia di ricorrenze festive" ("Provisions on festive occasions") made the anniversary a permanent, annual national holiday, together with the Italian national holiday of 2 June:[13]

The following days are considered public holidays for the purposes of observing the full holiday schedule and the prohibition of performing certain legal acts, in addition to the day of the national holiday, the following days:
25 April, the anniversary of the liberation;[14]

— Law n. 260/1949, art. 2


President of Italy Sergio Mattarella paying homage to the Italian Unknown Soldier at Altare della Patria in Rome on 25 April 2016
Anti-fascist demonstration for Liberation Day in Florence on 25 April 2009
Speech by Sandro Pertini in Milan on 25 April 1973

Public events in commemoration of the event, such as marches and parades, have been organized annually in various Italian cities, especially in those decorated with military valor for the war of liberation. Among the events of the festival program there is the solemn homage, by the President of Italy and other important officers of the State, to the chapel of the Italian Unknown Soldier (Milite Ignoto), buried in the Altare della Patria in Rome, with the deposition of a laurel wreath in memory of the fallen and missing Italians in wars.[15] On this day, the Italian flag and the European flag are displayed on all buildings that house public offices and institutions.[16]

In 1955, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary, prime minister Mario Scelba addressed a message to the nation via RAI.

If we remember the tragic events of the most recent history of Italy it is not to rekindle hatred or reopen wounds, cultivate division, but because the memory of the dead and the celebration of the sacrifices suffered would be in vain if we did not understand the most genuine meaning and the immanent value, if Italians did not have to profit from the teachings of their common experiences, and, among Italians, especially young people, to whom the future of the homeland serves.

— Mario Scelba, 25 April 1955[17]

In April of the same year, the neo-fascist political party Italian Social Movement carried out a campaign for the abolition of the celebrations of 25 April through the Secolo d'Italia, on the initiative of Franz Turchi. A celebration was also organized in Rome in memory of the fallen of the Italian Social Republic;[18] the Fascist salute and the Italian Social Movement songs caused clashes with some young communists who were present.[19]

In 1960, when confidence in the Tambroni government was being discussed in the Senate of the Republic with the parliamentary support of the Italian Social Movement, at the time of the Liberation celebrations the senators of the Italian Social Movement left the chamber, greeted upon their return by sarcastic comments (for example socialist Luigi Renato Sansone is quoted saying "Your thirst has disappeared, as usual").[20]

For the anniversary of 1973, Sandro Pertini held a speech in Piazza del Duomo, Milan,[21] after the violence of 12 April committed by militants of neo-fascist groups and the Italian Social Movement during a demonstration prohibited by the police headquarters, during which there was the murder of policeman Antonio Marino who was hit by a bomb thrown by some demonstrators.

So let's talk about those who would like to once again [...] kill freedom, about these wretched, sewer wastes, who are the neo-fascists

— Sandro Pertini, 25 April 1973[21]

See also



  1. ^ "Torino 1938|45 - la citta' della liberazione (Solo testo)".
  2. ^ "Italia", Dizionario enciclopedico italiano (in Italian), vol. VI, Treccani, 1970, p. 456
  3. ^ Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p. 1047 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  4. ^ Smyth, Howard McGaw Italy: From Fascism to the Republic (1943–1946) The Western Political Quarterly vol. 1 no. 3 (pp. 205–222), September 1948.JSTOR 442274
  5. ^ De Felice, Renzo (1995). Rosso e Nero [Red and Black] (in Italian). Baldini & Castoldi. p. 22. ISBN 88-85987-95-8.
  6. ^ See as examples Renzo De Felice and Gianni Oliva.
  7. ^ See as examples the interview to French historian Pierre Milza on the Corriere della Sera of 14 July 2005 (in Italian) and the lessons of historian Thomas Schlemmer at the University of Munchen (in German).
  8. ^ Payne, Stanley G. (2011). Civil War in Europe, 1905-1949. Cambridge University Press. p. 202. ISBN 9781139499644.
  9. ^ There are three fundamental decrees that seal the legislative work, already active since 1944: All powers to CLNAI; Decree for the administration of justice; Of socialization.
  10. ^ "Fondazione ISEC - cronologia dell'insurrezione a Milano - 25 aprile" (in Italian). Retrieved 14 February 2022.
  11. ^ a b "DECRETO LEGISLATIVO LUOGOTENENZIALE 22 aprile 1946, n. 185" (in Italian). Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  12. ^ "Per celebrare la totale liberazione del territorio italiano, il 25 aprile 1946 è dichiarato festa nazionale"
  13. ^ "L. 27 maggio 1949, n. 260. "Disposizioni in materia di ricorrenze festive"" (PDF) (in Italian). Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  14. ^ "Sono considerati giorni festivi, agli effetti della osservanza del completo orario festivo e del divieto di compiere determinati atti giuridici, oltre al giorno della festa nazionale, i giorni seguenti:[...] il 25 aprile, anniversario della liberazione;[...]"
  15. ^ Tobia, Bruno (2011). L'Altare della Patria (in Italian). Il Mulino. p. 109. ISBN 978-88-15-23341-7.
  16. ^ "Decreto del Presidente della Repubblica 7 aprile 2000, n. 121" (in Italian). Retrieved 25 April 2024.
  17. ^ "Serene parole di concordia nelle celebrazioni del 25 aprile" (in Italian). La Stampa. 26 April 1955. p. 1. Retrieved 24 April 2023.
  18. ^ "I riti a Roma per la pacificazione" (in Italian). Secolo d'Italia. 24 April 1955. p. 1. Retrieved 24 April 2023.
  19. ^ "Vivaci incidenti a Roma tra missini e comunisti" (in Italian). La Stampa. 26 April 1955. p. 1. Retrieved 24 April 2023.
  20. ^ "Una seduta movimentata da polemiche e clamori" (in Italian). La Stampa. 26 April 1960. p. 1. Retrieved 24 April 2023.
  21. ^ a b "Il 25 Aprile del Presidente partigiano nel 1973 al Duomo di Milano" (in Italian). RaiPlay. Retrieved 24 April 2023.