Longo, Luigi

(1900–1980)
   After serving as a soldier in World War I and studying engineering, Luigi Longo joined the Partito Socialista Italiano/Italian Socialist Party (PSI), where he worked on the party newspaper and took part in the Turin factory occupations of 1920. At the Livorno (Leghorn) Congress of the PSI in 1921, he supported the minority who wished the PSI to enter the Communist International on Lenin’s terms and who split away to form the Partito Comunista Italiano/Italian Communist Party (PCI). In 1922, Longo was one of the PCI’s delegates to the International’s Fourth Congress. Between 1923 and 1924, he was arrested twice but served less than a year in prison. In 1927, he escaped persecution by fleeing to France, where he lived until 1932, with the task of providing falsified documents to those who were to enter Italy to conduct antifascist activity. Between 1933 and 1935, he was sent to the USSR as a representative of the PCI. There, he became a member of the political committee of the Comintern.
   During the Spanish Civil War, Longo served in the Garibaldi Battalion and was the political commissar of the Second International Brigade, which had the distinction of inflicting a serious defeat on the Italian expeditionary force at Guadalajara. At the end of 1936, he became inspector general of the 50,000-man International Brigades and took part in the final defense of Madrid.
   In 1938, Longo was arrested in France and turned over to the Italian authorities, who imprisoned him for five years. Freed in September 1943, he directed the PCI’s partisan activity in Romeand was one of the leaders of the resistance against the Germans. For his efforts, he was awarded a Bronze Star by the U.S. government. Elected to the Constituent Assembly in 1946, he served in the first Parliament and was repeatedly reelected thereafter. For 10 years, beginning in 1956, he was joint editor (with Alessandro Natta) of the PCI’s main theoretical journal, Critica Marxista. A lifetime of party service led to his succeeding Palmiro Togliatti as party secretary in August 1964. During Longo’s tenure as leader, the PCI took its first tentative steps away from pro-Soviet orthodoxy by strongly criticizing the Russian suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968. Longo died in Rome in 1980.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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