The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Skinhead International: Italy

The Skinhead presence in Italy, set on the historic stage of Fascism, combines the broad patterns of the world neo-Nazi Skinhead movement with the unique qualities of the Italian scene. The "Naziskins" -- as Skinheads are known locally -- represent the most violent grouping on Italy's far right.

The Interior Ministry has estimated hard-core neo-Nazi Skinhead membership in Italy at something over a thousand and youthful sympathizers or hangers-on at two or three thousand. Virtually all of the known Italian Skinheads participated in a national neo-fascist rally held in 1992 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Fascist "March on Rome" that catapulted Mussolini to power. They gathered in Rome's Piazza Venezia beneath the balcony from which Mussolini used to mesmerize crowds.

The various Italian Skinhead groups constitute a force that is able to exploit resentments prevalent among young people (i.e. the growing anger towards immigrants in Italian cities). And while anti-Semitism is not the chief theme of the Skins, it is undoubtedly present and potentially dangerous.

(Note: In Italy it is difficult -- and often impossible -- to distinguish between the works of actual Skinheads and those of their violent mimics. The Skins frequently mix with other rowdies -- for example, fanatical soccer hooligans who chant anti-Semitic slogans and display Nazi symbols in Italian stadiums. Such fans are not necssarily Skinheads, but many assume the Skinhead style.)

Violence and Bigotry

Skinheads in Italy have assaulted refined-looking students from middle-class homes, drug addicts, homosexuals and prostitutes. Their favorite victims are _extracomunitari_ -- immigrants -- from Third World or eastern European countries and the homeless. Persons sleeping in the streets have been set afire on several occasions, and Naziskins in Rome are known to have torched residences of foreigners.

A week of violence by Skins and their imitators: On August 23, 1993, in Riccione, an Adriatic beach resort, seven Skinheads shouting racist slogans beat up a 25-year-old woman from Cameroon. The same night in Sardinia, three youths, also spouting hatred, beat a Moroccan man. A few days earlier, youths attacked a Moroccan family in their house in Rome. That same week in Milan, a group of six teenagers described as coming from "good families," and calling themselves the Anti-Bum Squad, brutally assaulted a homeless man. "Milan has become unlivable," one of the youths was quoted as saying. "Seeing that no one has ever been concerned in cleaning things up, we are doing it ourselves."

Similar acts of violence against foreigners continue to take place periodically. In February 1994, five Skins beat and stabbed a Tunisian passenger on a bus; in June, four Skinheads attacked a Muslim religious leader in a small city. In both these incidents, the perpetrators received suspended sentences.


While there have been relatively few physical assaults by Skins against the persons of Jews as such, it is common to see anti-Semitic graffiti with swastikas on the walls of buildings, and Jewish cemeteries have been repeatedly vandalized in Naples, Livorno and other cities. A 20-year-old Palestinian medical student in Rome was beaten up because he had expressed opposition to the campaigns of anti-Jewish hate. In a pamphlet written for a Skinhead rally at San Giuliano Milanese the "Common Enemies" were defined as "blacks, Jews, dirty people," and, of course, extracounitari.

Police called in to quell Skinhead disturbances have themselves come under assault. On April 16, 1995, Skinheads clashed with police in Primavalle, a suburb of Rome. The date marked the twelfth anniversay of an arson attack on the home of a local far-right figure that resulted in the deaths of two of his children. Armed with clubs, Skins gathered at the site of the attack, fought with police and threw stones at cars parked in the area. Three Skinheads were charged with "resistance and aggression against a public official" and 15 others with participating in an unauthorized demonstration and carrying arms without permission. Five policemen required medical attention. That same evening, a group of 10 Skinheads clashed briefly with police in Frascati, also near Rome, before being forced to disperse.

The Mancino Law

In April 1993, the Italian government decreed an emergency measure (Decree No. 122) against "racial, ethnic and religious discrimination"; it was transformed into Law No. 205 two months later. Widely known as the Mancino Law after then-Interior Minister Nicola Mancino, whose signature it bears, the law permits the prosecution of individuals for "incitement to violence," for a broad range of hate crimes that includes the use of symbols of hate. Before the law's passage, prosecutors were limited to charging the perpetrators of hate crims with specific offenses such as attempted murder, arson or assault -- crimes for which convictions are difficult to secure. Hundreds of youths have been convicted under the new law.

More than 60 Italian Skinheads were recently brought to trial in Milan on a range of charges under the Mancino Law. The defendants stand accused, variously, of beating African immigrants and Jews, supporting Nazi ideology, fomenting racial violence, and setting fire to an Anarchist club. Also indicted were Maurizio Boccacci, 38, an organizer of Skinheads, and Dr. Sergio Gozzoli, 65, an outspoken anti-Semite and Holocaust-denier. After the opening session, the trial was scheduled to resume in January 1996.

Skinhead Organizations

Many Skinheads have been organized under the leadership of the Movimento Politico Occidentale (Political Movement of the West), founded by the aforementioned Maurizio Boccacci with headquarters on the Via Domodoscala in Rome and a base in Frascati. It has established ties with far-rightists in Germany, France and Britain. MPO Skins were attacked in November 1992 by young Roman Jews infuriated by the plastering of yellow starts on some 100 Jewish shops in the city. After being banned by the government, the MPO recently renamed itself _I Camerati_, a term used by Mussolini for Fascist party members. In December 1994, Boccacci and nine other extremists were arrested on charges of violence, resisting arrest, and wounding a policeman who was stabbed during clashes at a November soccer match in Brescia.

Skinheads have been particularly active in the Lazio region, with 300 to 500 supporters under the MPO; in Lombardy, with 300 members in Azione Skinhead (Skinhead Action); and in Venetia, with 150 to 300 in the Veneto Fronte Skinhead (Skinhead Front of Venetia). They are divided into groups of about 20 members each, some organized under a federation called Base Autonoma (Autonomous Base).

At the recent national party convention of the neo-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano (Italian Social Movement), a majority of the delegates voted to dissolve the MSI and merge into the more mainstream Alleanza Nazionale (National Alliance) in an attempt to achieve greater respectability. In addition, a strong statement against anti-Semitism was passed by the assembly. In response, the hard-line minority -- Skinheads among them -- has split off to re-establish the MSI on the fringe of the far-right political spectrum.

Ideology and Propaganda

Those providing the Skinhead gangs with their propaganda themes and materials include a significant bloc of Italy's veteran right-wing extremists, survivors of an older generation of post-World War II neo-Nazis and Fascists. One name mentioned by Interior Minister Mancino was that of Franco Freda, a publisher of neo-Nazi literature in Padova. Such types have shaped and manipulated the anger of young Skinheads by focusing their attention on well-known hate themes of long standing: (1) "Historical revisionism" -- the denial of Nazi genocide against the Jews; (2) hatred or fear of foreigners, based on myths of Aryan racial "purity"; (3) the demonization of Jews in the context of a sinister "plot" to run the world.

Such a conspiracy -- if not a Jewish one, then sometimes a plot of the bankers, the Masons, secret government controllers of various loyalties, etc. -- is a favorite bugaboo in Skinhead literature under the term _mondialismo_ ("globalism"), used to describe a dread planetary system under the control of assorted conspirators.

The style of these dire warnings is typically neo-Nazi. Azione Skinhead, the one nationally distributed Skinhead zine, reported on a recent Skinhead rally in Rome thus:

Hundreds of people, hundreds of heads united by a sole ideal, a sole source of pride; the race ... defending our rights, the rights of white Aryans, the rights of Italians. The only ones who can and must combat this planetary system are we.

The other zines that have circulated in the north are Le Fenice (The Phoenix) and Blitz Krieg.

Naziskin Bands

The Skinhead music scene in Italy is largely based in the northern sector of the country, with the largest concentration of groups in the Venetia region. Here, since 1988, Nazi Skin bands from Germany, France and England have held concerts. The first Skinhead music festival in the south was held in November 1992. Featuring the group Blood and Honour, the festival was watched over by guards in black uniforms with Nazi symbols.

The most popular Skinhead music tapes are those produced by Rock-O-Rama Records, a German firm, though other distributors are also active. Italian lyrics, sung by groups with names such as Peggior Amico (Worst Friend), Gesta Bellica (Martial Feats), Verdi Bianco Rosso (Green White Red: the colors of the Italian flag), Klasse Kriminale (Criminal Class), SS 20, and Powerskins are expressions, variously, of hate, violence and ultranationalism. One band has taken the name A.D.L. 122, short for "Anti-Decreto Legge 122," expressing opposition to the aforementioned government decree against racial, ethnic and religious discrimination.

Peggior Amico, from Vicenza, has been playing since the late eighties and is one of Italy's most well-known and most political racist Skinhead bands. They have played abroad and their records have been acclaimed in English and other foreign skinzines. Songs by SS 20 and Powerskins appear in a compilation tape of Skinhead bands around the globe called "White Pride World Wide." Skinhead music fan clubs carry wuch belligerant names as Bulldogs, Gioventu Nazista (Nazi Youth), and Brigata Tafferugli (Fight Brigade). Compact discs featuring old Nazi and Fascist songs are also notable favorites of the Skinheads. (Anti-Defamation League, 48-52)

Work Cited

Anti-Defamation League. The Skinhead International: A Worldwide Survey of Neo-Nazi Skinheads. New York: Anti-Defamation League, 1995. Anti-Defamation League, 823 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017.

Disclaimer: not all skinheads are neo-nazis or white supremacists. There are many skinheads who are non- or anti-racist, and who come from a variety of different religious and cultural backgrounds. Nizkor recognizes their achievements in anti-racism: they are part of the traditional, non-racist skinhead subculture and are not the perpetrators of the hate crimes discussed here.

Unless otherwise specified, the word "skinhead" within these pages refers only to neo-Nazi and white supremacist skinheads, the perpetrators of hate crimes and participants in racist organizations. We cannot edit the body of the text above, because it was not written by Nizkor, and to change the wording would be fraudulent. Please keep in mind that not all skinheads are racist.

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