On the 6th anniversary of the death (5 May) of a prestigious statesman, illustrious son of Ururi arbëreshe and descendant of Prince shqipëtar Tanùsh Thòpëja Recollection-interview by Mario Tanassi
ROME (November 2001) / Breaks the silence, after a quarter of a century, one of the great protagonists of the First Italian Republic. We meet Mario Tanassi in his beautiful Roman house in Parioli. Married to Mrs. Enrica Pappalardo (originally from Messina), an extraordinary woman full of verve. Three daughters and six beautiful grandchildren. He welcomes us with great cordiality and a touch of emotion due, perhaps, to our common ururesi origins. A graduate in Political Science, he participates in the Resistance in socialist formations. Militant of the PSIUP, he joined the splitting of Palazzo Barberini in January 1947 and joined PSLI (later PSDI). Secretary of the party in the 1950 and Secretary in the 1963, after the appointment of Giuseppe Saragat as Minister of Foreign Affairs, he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in the same year. Co-Secretary, together with Francesco De Martino of the Unified Italian Socialist Party born from the merger of PSI and PSDI (1966-1969), returns to the military in PSDI after the end of that experiment. Minister of Industry in the first Rumor Government (December 1968-August 1969), of Defense in the third Rumor Government (March-August 1970), of Defense in the Colombo Government (August 1970-February 1972), Vice President of the Council of Ministers in the second Government Andreotti (June 1972-July 1973), Minister of Defense in the fourth Rumor Government (July 1973-March 1974) and Minister of Finance in the fifth Rumor Government (March-November 1974), returns to occupy the party secretariat in January-June 1972 , then passes to the Presidency of the same, and again to the position of Secretary in the 1975-76. It disengages itself from the political arena, definitively, in March 1976.
Mr Tanassi, in the collective imagination your name has been associated for years with that of the founder of the Italian Social Democracy. When did you meet Saragat for the first time?
"It was in April 1946. I remember him framed in a doorway at the party building with the beret on his head and wearing a brown suit. I introduced myself, but I doubt he memorized my name or grasped the reasons I was at the party. I was then just back from Africa, after a ten-year absence ».
"Oh yeah! I, the son of a socialist lawyer who was mayor of Ururi in the early years of the last century and who later (for his political ideas) had several troubles with the fascist regime, had to emigrate to Eritrea on the eve of the outbreak of the Second World War. They had led me to the need to provide for the family, the victim of a collapse in which the economic causes mixed with the political ones, and a certain air of suspicion to which I was made a sign in my country for not keeping silent about my father's ideas. I had had to interrupt my studies and look for a job. I worked at the Eritrean 8th Automotive Center. The thing made an impression on Ururi: it was inconceivable that the scion of a Family (1) who had been the holder of one of the largest latifundiums in Molise was not only a socialist like his father, but had to earn a living. At the outbreak of war on African soil I did not avail myself of my status as a civil mobilized and asked to enlist. There was a small political calculation in my decision: I thought that at the end of the conflict, on whose outcome I had no doubts, the socialists did not have to repeat the painful experience of the First Postwar period towards the veterans. I was taken prisoner and fled, resumed work dedicating myself to the strangest activities (I organized a trucking company, the production and trade of vegetable butter), I got married, rediscovered a taste for politics. In the Eritrean CLN, born after the 25 July 1943 on the paradigm of the one active in Italy, I represented the PSIUP ».
Here, tell us about your first political experiences.
«It was just as a delegate of the socialists of the former Italian colony that I returned to my homeland to participate towards the half of the 1946 at the party congress in Florence. I reached it that the works had been completed for two days. "
Then came the 13 January 1947! What memories do you have of that memorable day?
«Obviously I took part in the splitting of the socialist party at Palazzo Barberini, I experienced the anxieties and torments of the" young Turkish "patrol of the Socialist Initiative, but I was not an orthodox saragactor. Indeed, I was among those who, in disagreement with the leader, after the 1948 elections, started the PSU, the movement inspired by Giuseppe Romita. When the party reunited, after the Turin congress of 1950, I found myself as Deputy Secretary of the PSDI, of which Saragat was the undisputed leader. Thus began the fundamental experience, the most exalting of my political militia, the one that allowed me for five years to be at the side of a man who, due to his moral stature, the depth of his doctrine, his vision of problems, had as protagonist the events of 'Italy".
Does it mean that your relations with Saragat went beyond those that could be configured between a teacher and a student?
"Yup. There was a long period in which our personalities complemented each other. He was the mind and I was the arm. I still remember the sufferings, the travails, the pains of the student committed to giving an organizational dimension to Saragat's political designs, to his invariably universal vision of problems, to his bold and sometimes witty sorties. The lack of aptitude, not to say aversion, of Saragat for bureaucratic problems (membership, proselytizing, organization of sections) was not a mystery. His was the constitutional incapacity of politicians with an intellectual background to let themselves be invested by this kind of necessity, there was always in him a sort of irritated astonishment in the face of practical requirements ".
December 1964: Giuseppe Saragat fifth President of the Italian Republic. Is it true that the votes of the PCI were decisive for that election?
"I remember that, in the aftermath of the painful and dramatic resignation of Antonio Segni, there was a thorny problem for the various leaders of the Socialist Left: to prevent at all costs that another Christian Democrat be installed in the Quirinale. So, as soon as the candidacy of the Head of Social Democracy came out, I immediately started to contact the political circles (excluding the missini) willing to give us a hand. The outcome was positive. To tell the truth, only the Communists had the impudence, initially, to put forward a blatant claim: if PSDI wanted their votes, it had to issue a sort of written receipt! Saragat, oddly in agreement with the diktat of Luigi Longo, suggested that I act in that sense. I nichei. I had the courage to oppose myself stubbornly ".
Honorable, however, the Dark Workshops in the 1966 received a burning bill of exchange. We refer to the grace that President Saragat granted to Francesco Moranino, a former communist partisan commander convicted in absentia (by an anti-fascist court!) For committing heinous crimes against both members of the Italian Social Republic and other non-communist partisans. What is your opinion?
March 1978: ambush of via Fani. In your opinion, was Aldo Moro only a victim of the Red Brigades or even of certain insane splinters of the Italian political world?
"My opinion is that the Apulian statesman was the victim of the only Marx-Leninist barbarism branded BR. On the morning of the 16 March of that year he was on his way to Parliament to give a boost to Giulio Andreotti's nascent Government "of abstentions", a team supported (for the first time) by the external support of the PCI of Enrico Berlinguer. Moro sincerely believed in the inevitability of the famous historical compromise. The BR, however, tried to suppress that attempt in the bud ".
The 28 October 2002 falls on the eightieth anniversary of the famous "March on Rome". By the way, Mr Tanassi, in our Ururi some elderly people remember that his father, the lawyer Vincenzo, in the 1921 tried in vain to obtain the registration to the Fasci of Campobasso. What's true?
"It is, as we say today, an urban legend. However, I wish to clarify once and for all. Things went well ...... ».
(1) - About the origins of the TANASSI family we can say that historical and military testimonies certify, since the first half of the XIV century, the presence of the House in Albania. The progenitor, TANÙSH THÒPËJA, was one of the most influential figures on the South Balkan political arena of the time. He enlarged his possessions as vassal of the King of Naples ROBERTO I: in the 1338 he was recognized by Pope Benedict XII as Lord of the Albanian region extending between the Mati and the Shkumbi with the title of Prince. The "masterpiece" of Tanùsh (in Italian Attanàsio, in Greek Athànatos = Immortal)? related to a very famous Royal European Dynasty. Such as? Impalmando a disturbing beauty of Cypriot named ELENA, natural daughter of the Neapolitan Sovereign Roberto I of Anjou (belonging, the latter, to the glorious and millenary French dynasty of ....... CAPETINGI!).
Two last, important and unpublished clarifications.
First / The arbëresh branch of the Tanassi, as can be seen from the Genealogical Tree we publish, "receives" descent and patronymic from Tanùsh (the Young), great-grandson of Tanùsh (the Elder) Thòpëja and of Elena of Anjou.
Second / A careful reading of our (though "skeletal") reconstruction of the Capetian Genealogy also reveals the very clear kinship of the progeny of the beautiful Helen of Anjou-Valois with the Princely Family of KASTRIOTA, through marriage (celebrated in 1445) of Mamiza (the youngest of the five sisters of the Albanian National Hero GIORGIO SKANDERBEG) with Prince Carlo Thòpëja, older brother of Tanùsh.
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