Pietro Nenni

Pietro Sandro Nenni (Italian pronunciation: [ˈpjeːtro ˈnɛnni]; 9 February 1891 – 1 January 1980) was an Italian socialist politician, the national secretary of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) and lifetime Senator since 1970. He was a recipient of the Stalin Peace Prize in 1951. He was a central figure of the Italian left from the 1920s to the 1960s.

Pietro Nenni
Pietro Nenni 1963.jpg
Deputy Prime Minister of Italy
In office
4 December 1963 – 24 June 1968
Prime MinisterAldo Moro
Preceded byAttilio Piccioni
Succeeded byFrancesco De Martino
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
12 December 1968 – 5 August 1969
Prime MinisterMariano Rumor
Preceded byGiuseppe Medici
Succeeded byAldo Moro
In office
18 October 1946 – 2 February 1947
Prime MinisterAlcide De Gasperi
Preceded byAlcide De Gasperi
Succeeded byCarlo Sforza
Secretary of the Italian Socialist Party
In office
16 May 1949 – 12 December 1963
Preceded byAlberto Jacometti
Succeeded byFrancesco De Martino
In office
22 August 1943 – 1 August 1945
Preceded byGiuseppe Romita
Succeeded bySandro Pertini
In office
18 April 1933 – 28 August 1939
Preceded byUgo Coccia
Succeeded byCommittee
 Senator for Life
In office
25 November 1970 – 1 January 1980
Appointed byGiuseppe Saragat
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
In office
8 May 1948 – 24 November 1970
ConstituencyRome (1948–1958)
Milan (1958–1970)
Personal details
Born9 February 1891
Faenza, Emilia, Italy
Died1 January 1980 (aged 88)
Rome, Italy
Political partyItalian Republican Party
Italian Socialist Party
Spouse(s)Carmen Emiliani[citation needed]
Federico[citation needed]

Early life and careerEdit

He was born in Faenza, in Emilia-Romagna. After his peasant parents died, he was placed in an orphanage by an aristocratic family. Every Sunday, he recited his catechism before the countess and if he did well, he received a silver coin. "Generous but humiliating", he recalled.[1]

He affiliated with the Italian Republican Party. In 1908, he became editor of a republican paper in Forlì. The socialist paper in the town was edited at the time by Benito Mussolini, later the Fascist dictator of Italy. In 1909 he entered polotical life by joining the Italian Republican party. Nenni was arrested in 1911 for his participation in a socialist protest against Italy's imperialistic war in Libya with Mussolini and was imprisoned for five months. [2]

First World WarEdit

When the First World War broke out, he advocated the intervention of Italy in the war. In 1915, he volunteered for the Isonzo front. After he was wounded and sent home, he became an editor of the republican paper Mattine d'Italia. He defended Italy's participation in the war but tried not to alienate his socialist friends. In the last years of the war Nenni served at the front again.[2]

When the war was over, he founded, together with some disillusioned revolutionary ex-servicemen, a group called "Fascio", which was soon dissolved and replaced by a real Fascist body.[2] While the socialist Mussolini became a fascist, the republican Nenni joined the Socialist Party in 1921 after its split with the wing that would form the Italian Communist Party (PCI).

In 1923, after the Fascist March on Rome, he became the editor of PSI's official organ, Avanti!, and engaged in antifascist activism. In 1925 he was arrested for publishing a booklet on the fascist murder of Socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti. When the Avanti offices were set aflame and the paper prohibited in 1926, he took refuge in France, where he became secretary of the PSI.

In exileEdit

In Paris, where he had worked as correspondent of the Avanti in 1921, he became acquainted with Léon Blum (socialist Prime Minister of France from 1936 to 1937), Marcel Cachin, Romain Rolland and Georges Sorel. Nenni went on to fight with the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. He was the cofounder and the political commissar of the Garibaldi Brigade. After the defeat of the Spanish Republic and the victory of General Francisco Franco he returned to France. In 1943, he was arrested by the Germans in Vichy France and then imprisoned in Italy on the island of Ponza.

His third daughter, Vittoria, was active in the French resistance. She was captured and deported to Auschwitz, where she died on 25 July 1943, aged 28.[3]

After being liberated in August 1943, he returned to Rome to lead the Italian Socialist Party, which had been reunified as the Italian Socialist Party of Proletarian Unity. After the surrender of Italy with the Allied armed forces on September 8, 1943, he was one of the political officials of the National Liberation Committee, the underground political entity of Italian Partisans during the German occupation.

Postwar politicsEdit

In 1944, he became the national secretary of the PSI again, favouring close ties between his party and the PCI. After the Liberation, he took up government responsibilities, becoming Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Constituent Assembly in the government of Ferruccio Parri and the first government of Alcide De Gasperi. He was Minister for the Constitution, and in October 1946 he became Minister for Foreign Affairs in the second De Gasperi government.

The close ties between the PSI and the PCI caused the Giuseppe Saragat-led anticommunist wing of the PSI to leave and form the Italian Socialist Workers' Party in 1947 (later merged into the Italian Democratic Socialist Party, PSDI).

Aldo Moro and Pietro Nenni at Quirinale in Rome

In 1956, Nenni broke with the PCI after Soviet Union's invasion of Hungary.[4] He returned the Stalin Prize money ($25,000).[1] Subsequently, he slowly led his party into supporting membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and closer European integration, and he sought co-operation with the leading party, the Christian Democrats.

Opening to centre-leftEdit

In the early 1960s he facilitated an "opening to the centre-left" enabling coalition governments between the PSI and the Christian Democrats and leading the socialists back into office for the first time since 1947.[5] He formed a centre-left coalition with Saragat, Aldo Moro and Ugo La Malfa, and favored a reunion with the PSDI. From 1963 to 1968 he was Deputy Prime Minister in the three successive governments led by Moro and in December 1968 he became Minister for Foreign Affairs in the first government of Mariano Rumor, but resigned in July 1969, when the centre-left alliance collapsed.

Although the reunification attempts between the socialists and Giuseppe Saragat's breakaway Social Democrats resulted in the formation of a joint list Unified PSI–PSDI, both parties fared poorly in the 1968 Italian general election. In 1969, a disillusioned Nenni virtually retired and Francesco De Martino took his place.[6] He resigned as head of the PSI and was made a senator for life in 1970 and in 1971 he ran unsuccessfully for President of Italy. He died in Rome on 1 January 1980. A daughter, Vittoria "Viva" Daubeuf, died in Auschwitz. She is memorialized in the writings of Charlotte Delbo.

He was an atheist.[7]

Electoral historyEdit

Election House Constituency Party Votes Result
1946 Constituent Assembly Rome–Viterbo–Latina–Frosinone PSIUP 24,961  Y Elected
1948 Chamber of Deputies Rome–Viterbo–Latina–Frosinone FDP 57,020  Y Elected
1953 Chamber of Deputies Rome–Viterbo–Latina–Frosinone PSI 53,435  Y Elected
1958 Chamber of Deputies Milan–Pavia PSI 30,138  Y Elected
1963 Chamber of Deputies Milan–Pavia PSI 38,458  Y Elected
1968 Chamber of Deputies Milan–Pavia PSI 53,483  Y Elected


  1. ^ a b Italy's New Partnership, Time Magazine, December 13, 1963
  2. ^ a b c Crisis of Italian Socialism, Europe Speaks, March 3, 1947
  3. ^ "Vittoria Nenni – Fondazione Pietro Nenni" (in Italian). Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  4. ^ Pietro & Paul, Time Magazine, April 23, 1965
  5. ^ "A Sinistra?", Time Magazine, January 12, 1962
  6. ^ Obituary Francesco De Martino, The Guardian, November 22, 2002
  7. ^ Giuseppe Tamburrano, Pietro Nenni: una vita per la democrazia e per il socialismo, Laicata, 2000, p. 366.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Palmiro Togliatti
Deputy Prime Minister of Italy
Preceded by
Alcide De Gasperi
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Carlo Sforza
Preceded by
Attilio Piccioni
Deputy Prime Minister of Italy
Title next held by
Francesco De Martino
Preceded by
Giuseppe Medici
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Aldo Moro
Party political offices
Preceded by
Ugo Coccia
Secretary of the Italian Socialist Party
Succeeded by
Sandro Pertini
Preceded by
Alberto Jacometti
Secretary of the Italian Socialist Party
Succeeded by
Francesco De Martino