American/Italian Club

Frank Nechvatal

Our February meeting was called to order by President Bob Sciaretta at 6:00 p.m. on February 9 in the Horizon Room. There were two noteworthy items brought to the floor. A motion was made to change the membership rule Article VI section one in the club’s bylaws to remove the reference that applicants must have any Italian family heritage to applicants need only be interested in the Italian heritage/customs to become a member. A slate of candidates for office was read and they are President, Frank Nechvatal; Vice President, Elissa Romano; Secretary, Emily Hardy; Treasurer, Pat Patcelli. Additional nominations may be made before the vote is taken at the March meeting. At the March meeting we will have a pizza party and at our closing meeting of season in April we will have a baked potato buffet.

As we left off last month with our Italian history, it was noted that Benito Mussolini, after gaining power, wished to return Italy to the power that was once Rome. He proceeded to build up the Italian Navy until by 1940 it became the fourth largest naval country in the world. In his attempt to gain world power, Mussolini closely watched Germany under the Nazi control of Adolf Hitler. Through the early to mid-1930s, both regimes remained very suspicious of one another. In 1935 Mussolini decided to invade Ethiopia. This move caused Italy to be cut off from English and French ties. Germany was the only country to support Italy’s aggression. The League of Nations (forerunner to the United Nations) condemned Mussolini at which point Italy decide to drop its membership in the league. These actions only further forced Mussolini to join Hitler in international politics. This alliance paved the way for Hitler to invoke Anschluss or the annexation of Austria to Germany. In addition, Mussolini supported the German claim to the Sudetenland, a portion of Czechoslovakia and its annexation to Germany. Late in 1938, at the request of Hitler, Mussolini adopted anti-Semitic racial laws in Italy. After the Sudetenland annexation Italy occupied Albania to avoid becoming a second rate member of the Axis Powers. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland causing Britain and France to declare war against Germany. Italy remained out of WW II until France collapsed under Germany’s Blitzkrieg. So on June 10, 1940, Italy entered the War on the side of Germany and began an invasion of North Africa.

Next month – the War Years and the destruction of Fascism in Italy.