Excerpt from 54 by Wu Ming, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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by Wu Ming

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  • Published:
    Jul 2006, 560 pages

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The Yugoslavian front, spring 1943

The Slovenian people have launched an inexorable struggle against the occupying forces. Many of your comrades have already fallen in that struggle. And you will go on falling day after day, night after night, for as long as you remain tools in the hands of our oppressors, and until Slovenia is liberated.

Your leaders will lead you to believe that the Slovenian people love you, that you are being attacked only by ‘tiny numbers of communists.’ This is an insolent lie. All Slovenes are in accord with the struggle against the occupying forces. Under the leadership of the Slovenian National Liberation Committee, our entire people has organised itself into a single invincible liberation front.


Your superiors are concealing from you the desperate situation into which Mussolini has hurled the ‘Italian Empire’ by selling it to Hitler. They are hiding from you the fact that Abyssinia, for which Mussolini spilled so much Italian blood, is no longer in Italian hands. They are hiding from you the impasse that Italian troops face in all of their African colonies. They are hiding from you the losses that Italian troops have suffered in the Balkans, and the fact thatwestern Serbia, Montenegro, most of Bosnia and Hercegovina, Lika, and parts of Dalmatia have already been liberated. They are hiding from you the terrible losses and torments inflicted upon Italian troops by the crushing weight of Russian weapons on the Russian front, and by the unbearable Russian winter. They are hiding from you the chaos that is breaking out in Italian cities as a result of the growing food shortages, the result of continuous bombing by the British Air Force, and the growing discontent of the Italian people with the policies of the warmonger Mussolini, who is plunging Italy into the abyss.


Understand what the Italian populace at home is coming to understand more and more, that Hitler is pushing you on all fronts: in Africa, in the Balkans, in France and in the USSR, so that you will be unable to form a resistance in your own country when he attacks ‘Allied’ Italy, just as he has attacked ‘Allied Yugoslavia’. Understand what any blind man must understand today, that Italy, as long as it gives allegiance to Germany, will suffer a terrible defeat at sea, on land and in the skies, at the hands of the united forces of Russia, Great Britain and all the freedom-loving peoples of the world.

Understand, Italian soldiers, that the only way out for you and for the whole of the Italian people is to turn your weapons against those who have brought both you and us nothing but misfortune, to turn them against Mussolini’s fascist gang! It is vain to claim that you too condemn the bestiality of Hitler and Mussolini, that you too wish to see the end of fascism and the end of the war. You must use your actions to demonstrate your love of freedom and peace, your hatred of the oppressors, both yours and ours. Otherwise what awaits you is ruin, both yours and theirs.


The Communist Party of Slovenia appeals to you:

Do not carry out your superiors’ orders, do not fire on the Slovenians, do not persecute the partisans, but surrender to them, do not stand in the way of our liberation struggle!

Attack and disarm the fascist militia, the agents of OVRA and all those who are forcing you to fight against the Slovenian people.

Destroy the Italian armed forces, destroy the stores of weapons and food unless you can give them to the partisans, destroy the means of transport of the Italian army, lorries, motorcycles, horses, roads, railways, etc.!

Do not let the Italian armies be posted to the Russian front, to die for the lunatic Hitler and his satellites! Demand to return to your homeland!

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Copyright © 2002 Giulio Einaudi editore s.p.a., Torino
Translation copyright © Shaun Whiteside 2005

The partial or total reproduction of this publication, in electronic form or otherwise, is consented to for noncommercial purposes, provided that the original copyright notice and this notice are included and the publisher and the source and this notice are included and the publisher and the source are clearly acknowledged. Any reproduction or use of all or a portion of this publication in exchange for financial consideration of any kind is prohibited without permission in writing from the publisher.

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