Italian Propaganda for Franco
Repository: Fondazione Gramsci Emilia-Romagna, Bologna, Italy
Fond or Collection
Repository and Location
Fondazione Gramsci Emilia-Romagna, Bologna, Italy
Date Created: 1938-04-20
Extent: 1 item
Geographic Region: Zaragoza, Spain
The intervention by Fascist Italy in support of the Francoists included the creation, in January 1937, of its own Propaganda and Press Office (USP) as part of the Italian Mission in Spain.
The USP was organized into a secretariat and four sections. Its tasks were varied. It collected information from the enemy and countered it in broadcasts in Spanish and Catalan from its “Truth Radio” in Rome. The station received financial support from the wealthy, exiled Catalan businessman Francesc Cambó who had backed the rebels from the start of the conflict. It prepared news releases in Italian, in Spanish for Francoist radio stations, and in French for the foreign correspondents based in the rebel zone. It prepared a daily summary of articles in the international press for Franco’s headquarters. It distributed newsreels about Italian forces in Spain and life in Fascist Italy created by the official filmmaker Luce. It produced leaflets that were dropped from the air over Republican territory. And, between March 1937 and August 1938, it produced a newspaper for Italian troops in Spain. Initially published weekly with its title,The Legionnaire, in Spanish, it was later turned into a daily with the title in Italian. The front page of the April 20, 1938 issue is here. Published in Salamanca, then Valladolid, and finally in Zaragoza, the paper achieved a circulation of 25,000 copies.
The first director of the USP was the Fascist journalist, Guglielmo Danzi, a close friend of Galeazzo Ciano, Mussolini's son-in-law and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was dismissed in July 1937 and replaced temporarily by his number two Lamberti Sorrentino. The new permanent director, Carlo Bossi, had great experience of Spain, having served as Italy’s consul general in Barcelona.
The dominant tone of USP press and propaganda was one of exaltation of the Italian intervention, of Fascism, and of the Duce. Italian military successes were exaggerated. The reports of continual Italian victories would have convinced anyone for whom the USP was the sole source of information about the war in Spain that it was primarily a conflict between Italian and Spanish Republican troops. The reality was, of course, very different, and this approach provoked tensions with Francoist authorities.
At the end of the Civil War, the commander of the CTV, General Gambara, wanted the USP to continue to exist as a fascist propaganda platform in Franco's Spain, but this did not happen. The USP was abolished and some of its functions were subsumed in the duties of the press attaché in the Italian embassy in Madrid.