Battisti, Cesare

(1875–1916)
   Martyr, socialist, and soldier, Cesare Battisti was born in Trento (then still part of Austria) in 1875. He studied at universities in both Austria and Italy, where he came into contact with the liberal socialist ideas of Gaetano Salvemini. In 1895, Battisti founded La Rivista popolare trentina (The Trentino Popular Review) to propagate socialist doctrines and the right of selfdetermination for Austria’s Italian-speaking minority. In 1904, his activities earned him a prison term in Innsbruck jail. During World War I, Battisti abandoned his lifelong pacifism. The war seemed to him to be a golden opportunity both to liberate the Trentino and to bring about the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which he believed would be a prelude to the creation of a European federation of democratic socialist states. Battisti enrolled in the Italian army and served bravely as a junior officer. He was captured by the Austrians in July 1916, tried as a traitor, and hanged at Trento. Filippo Turati eulogized him as “a socialist in principle and in action” in a speech to the Chamber of Deputies in December 1916. In Trento, his memory is revered—several of the city’s streets and squares are named after him and a monument consecrated to his name overlooks the city from a mountaintop.
   See also Regionalism.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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