How I dream sometimes of a world all in harmony: each tendency based in its own initiative, without clashing with another; without humiliating themselves, in order to be stronger tomorrow, when we should all run toward the great battle of the revolution! But all of that is only a dream.”
Letter of Severino Di Giovanni to Hugo Treni, May 15th, 1930.
In our time, the essence of particular things often changes. The real is modified and transformed into a pantomime that matches the supposed march of progress. Modernity has altered many things, from the environment to human behavior, and even political ideologies. This age demands from citizens (dissident or not) that they oppose vehemently inhumane violence of any sort. The moral values defended by civilization as a whole have brainwashed everyone. This brainwashing drives us toward individual amnesia and collective ignorance.
Many political ideologies have been distorted in modern times, and little by little they have evolved from being original and almost defensible to trite and abhorrent. This applies particularly well to anarchist ideology. With time it has changed and transformed itself into something that it wasn’t at its origins.
For some time now, many anarchists have rejected the concept and practice of indiscriminate attack as defended by the eco-extremists. For modern anarchists, to speak of an act that seeks to strike a target without worrying about “innocent bystanders” is a sin against “liberated humanity” and a “self-managed” future. This would be an “irresponsible” act that is incompatible with “revolutionary morality.” It’s true that in an indiscriminate attack morality doesn’t enter the equation, nor does revolution or anything of the sort. The only important thing is to strike at the target.
Still, it confuses us how modern anarchists are scandalized by this practice, since these sorts of acts were what constituted anarchist praxis in the past and, a couple of centuries ago, made anarchists TRUE enemies of the government, the clergy, the bourgeoisie, and the army. To demonstrate this and develop this theme, we have compiled the following list of events that is the true history of actual anarchists rescued from various historical sources. In this effort, we hope to dig them up from individual amnesia and collective propaganda spread by this modern progressive society. Like nuns recoiling before anarchic demons spreading terror and violence in their time, modern anarchists (even so-called “nihilists”), will tar all of this as some sort of “Black Legend”:
-January 14th, 1858: The anarchist Felice Orsini and his comrade attack Napoleon III, utilizing three “Orsini bombs”. These were christened in honor of their infamous creator, and they were built using a ball of hard metal full of dynamite, with the outside containing small compartments filled with mercury fulminate. The explosive is triggered when the bomb hits a hard surface. In the case of the attack on Napoleon III, the first bomb was thrown and landed on the carriage’s chofer, the second on the animals that accompanied him, and the third on the window of the carriage. In this attack, eight people died and 142 were injured.
-February 17th, 1880: The nihilist Stepan Khalturin, a member of the Russian secret society, Narodnaya Volya, detonated a bomb in the Winter Palace in Russia: eight soldiers died and 45 bystanders were wounded.
-July 5th, 1880: A powerful explosive was detonated in a warehouse of the Ramba de Santa Monica, Spain. A young worker at the scene was blown apart when the explosive was indiscriminately left there.
May 4th, 1886: A meeting of anarchist organizations in Chicago against the repression of striking workers outside of the McCormick plant on May 1st was violently dispersed by police. In the melee, a homemade bomb was thrown at the police, killing one of them and wounding another. This attack was followed by a street battle where dozens were arrested, after which five protesters were condemned to death. The police raided the houses of those detained and found munitions, explosives, firearms, and hidden anarchist propaganda. Those condemned to death were thereafter known as the Chicago martyrs.
The traditional anarchist movement has canonized the Chicago anarchists as if they were “peaceful doves”, even though they were a real threat in their time, veritable atentatores.
January 18th, 1889: In Spain, a 70 year-old employee was killed when a bomb was placed on the staircase of the building where his boss lived.
-February 8th, 1892: In the so-called, “Jerez de la Frontera Rebellion” in Spain, more than 500 peasants attempted to take the city under the agitation of anarchists, resulting in the death of two residents and one peasant. The police undertook a campaign of repression against the anarchist movement of the time, arresting the anarchists who planned and carried out the rebellion. The anarchists were later executed.
The next day, on February 9th, on the eve of the executions, a bomb exploded in the Plaza Real in Barcelona. The bomb was abandoned in one of the flower pots in the garden near the place where the secret police usually gathered. Even though some historians say that the intended target was the police, the blast reached many innocent bystanders, including a junkman who was killed and a servant and her boyfriend whose legs were amputated, among others.
Anarchist vengeance for the execution of their comrades was fierce. The Italian anarchist, Paolo Schicchi, edited many newspapers exalting the violence, including Pensiero e Dinamite, in which he wrote after the attack:
“In order for the social revolution to triumph completely we have to destroy that race of thieves and murderers known as the bourgeoisie. Women, the elderly, children, all should be drowned in blood.”
Some anarchists were disturbed by the attack and rejected it vehemently, saying:
“We cannot believe that an anarchist detonated the bomb in the Plaza Real… [This was an act] characteristic of savages. We cannot attribute it to anyone but the enemies of the working class. That is what we stated in May. We have repeated it in public meetings and in all places, and we repeat it again here. Detonating bombs is cowardice. One can glory in heroism when one risks one’s life in a face-to-face confrontation for a generous idea. One can explain and even offer praise if one approves of what happened at Jerez. But one cannot diminish the severity of the evil of what one prepares in the shadows that is intended to inflict injury on someone you don’t know.” (i.e. indiscriminate attack)
-March 11th, 1892: Ravachol places a bomb in the house of Judge Bulot (an anti-anarchist) in France.
-March 27th, 1892: Ravachol detonates a bomb in the house of Prosecutor Benot. Even if these attacks did not result in any fatalities, they were still characteristic of an age of blood and dynamite which would strike out at bitter enemies (as well as anyone in the path) of the anarchists.
-March 30th, 1892: Ravachol is arrested in Lhérot Restaurant for the attack on the Véry Restaurant. The next day, during the trial, anonymous terrorists detonate a bomb in Lhérot Restaurant leaving many wounded.
It should be mentioned that Ravachol was considered a “common criminal” by the anarchists of his time, as his attacks were considered to be out of bounds for anarchist morality.
-November 7th, 1893: Santiago Salvador, a Spanish anarchist, threw an Orsini bomb into the audience of an opera at the Liceo Theater in Barcelona, Spain. Blood, corpses, and debris flew everywhere, resulting in 22 dead and 35 wounded.
-December 9th, 1893: Ravachol’s execution by guillotine drives many anarchists to adopt “propaganda of the deed” in revenge. The anarchist Auguste Vaillant threw a powerful bomb at the French Chamber of Deputies, wounding 50 people.
-February 12th, 1894: The individualist anarchist Émile Henry threw a bomb into the Café Terminus in Paris as revenge for the execution of Vaillant. One person was killed and 20 bourgeoisie were injured.
June 7th, 1896: An attack took place in the middle of the Corpus Christi procession in Barcelona, Spain. An anonymous terrorist threw an Orsini bomb which was originally directed at the authorities present, but instead landed in a group of bystanders watching the return of the procession in the street. The bomb exploded, leaving 12 dead and 70 wounded. The bombing caused great indignation, leading the anarchists to claim that they weren’t responsible. The authorities blamed them anyway and made four hundred arrests. Out of these only five were executed. This event has led to a decades-long controversy, with some arguing that the constant attacks in Spain by anarchists drove the authorities themselves to detonate the bomb so they could blame it on the anarchists, thus halting their activities. Others argue that the bomber was a French anarchist named Girault who fled after the massacre. Regardless, the Corpus Christi attack is either considered a historical lesson or a classic example of indiscriminate attack.
-May 31st, 1906: In Madrid, the anarchist Mateo Morral threw a bouquet of flowers toward the carriage of King Alfoso XIII and his wife Victoria Eugenia. Hidden in the bouquet was an Orsini bomb which hit the trolley car cable and was deflected onto the crowd where it exploded leaving 25 dead (15 of them soldiers) and 100 wounded. The king and queen were unhurt in the blast.
-June 4th 1914: An anarchist hideout and warehouse for explosives was destroyed in a large explosion on Lexington Avenue in New York City. Four anarchists and one bystander were blown to pieces in the explosion, with 20 bystanders lying wounded in the street. The police blamed the anarchists members of the IWW and of the Anarchist Red Cross for the blast.
July 22nd, 1916: A powerful explosion occurred during the Preparedness Day Parade in San Francisco, CA. The bomb was hidden in a suitcase, activated by a timer, and filled with dynamite and shrapnel. Ten died and forty were wounded in this attack. The police suspected the syndicalists or anarchist leaders from the Galleanist group. This latter group was given that name by the press after its leader Luigi Galleani, an Italian individualist anarchist living in the United States whose intention was to unleash chaos and terrorism in the country. He was the editor of the fierce Cronaca Sovversiva. An example of what Galleani wrote in the paper follows:
“The storm has come, and soon it will blast you away; it will blow you up and annihilate you in blood and fire… We will dynamite you!”
He wasn’t joking.
The anarchist Gustavo Rodriguez in his 2011 talk in Mexico entitled, “Anarchist Illegalism: Redundancy Matters!”, indicates the following regarding a couple of the attacks carried out by the Galleanists:
“We can tell many anecdotes about this group - we can spend all day talking about them. But there are particular ones that at least merit brief mention, such as the November 24th, 1917 attack on the Police Garrison in Milwaukee, where a powerful time bomb exploded that contained many kilos of blasting powder. The device had been constructed by Mario Buda who was the group’s expert in explosives. He utilized his expertise to help Luigi Galleani come up with an explosives manual that circulated among insurrectionary anarchists and was translated into English by Emma Goldman. And while the plan was found to be ingenious - since these garrisons were well-fortified due to the tremendous amount of anarchist activity at the time - the problem was to get the bomb past the security of the well-protected police station.They did this by placing the bomb first at the base of a church and then passing the information to someone who they suspected of being a police informant. The bomb squad showed up almost immediately and moved the bomb from the church to the police station, thinking that its detonator had failed. Minutes after confirming that the device was now in the garrison, they detonated it, killing nine policemen and one civilian. And with this act, they killed two birds with one stone, since they not only hit their target but also were able to confirm the identity of the snitch.
Another attack that should be mentioned was carried out by Nestor Dondoglio in Chicago in 1916. Dondoglio was a cook of Italian origin who was known as Jean Crones. When he found out that a large banquet was to be held in honor of the Catholic Archbishop of the city, Mundelein, with a large number of Catholic clergy in attendance, Dondoglio volunteered his services and stated that he would provide exquisite dishes for the occasion. He poisoned around 200 attendees by putting arsenic in their soup. None of the victims died since, in his enthusiasm to kill them all, he added so much poison that his victims vomited it out. The only death by poisoning occurred two days afterward when a Father O’Hara died, who was the parish priest of St. Matthew’s Church in Brooklyn, New York City, and previously the chaplain at the gallows of the Raymond St. Prison. Dondoglio then moved to the East Coast where he was hidden by one of his comrades until he died in 1932.”
-February 27th, 1919: Four Galleanists died when one of their bombs prematurely went off in a textile factory in Franklin, Massachusetts.
-April 29th, 1919: Galleanist anarchists send 30 package-bombs to notable figures in authority throughout the United States. One of the packages maimed a servant of Senator Thomas W. Hardwich of Georgia, who lost both hands, as well as the servant’s wife who was severely burned upon opening the package that had been left in front of the house.
-June 2nd, 1919: The Galleanist Carlo Valdinoci died trying to place a bomb in the house of the lawyer Mitchell Palmer. Two bystanders also died in the explosion. The lawyer’s house as well as surrounding houses were heavily damaged by the blast. A note was found on the scattered remains of the anarchist and the debris which read: “There will be a bloodbath; we will not retreat; someone will have to die; we will kill because it is necessary; there will be much destruction.”
-June 3rd, 1919: A night watchman died detonating a bomb abandoned by the Galleanists in a New York courthouse.
-September 16th, 1920: Mario Buda (an anarchist of Galleani’s crew) detonated the first car bomb (or rather a carriage bomb) in history. He left a deadly bomb consisting of 45 kilos of dynamite that detonated by timer in a carriage parked in front of Wall Street. The bomb destroyed the carriage, killing the horses, employees, messengers, bystanders, and everyone else in the vicinity of the blast. The bomb also destroyed the offices of Morgan Bank. 38 people died and 400 were injured in the formidable indiscriminate attack.
-March 23rd, 1921: A group of individualist anarchists threw a bomb inside the Diana Theater in Milan, Italy, with the intention of killing Commissioner Gasti and King Victor Emmanuel. The terrorist bomb left 20 dead and one hundred wounded, most of them ordinary citizens.
-November 29th, 1922: The individualist anarchists Renzo Novatore and Sante Pollastro were ambushed by three policeman near Genoa in Italy. In the melee. Novatore was killed by a bullet in the forehead while Sante fought ferociously, shooting two policeman and disarming the last one and letting him go free.
-May 16th, 1926: A bomb made out of two hollowed-out cannon balls filled with blasting powder exploded in front of the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The blast left a man-sized hole in the embassy wall which shocked authorities. The blast also destroyed the windows of surrounding houses and businesses. Although no one was injured, this act was one of many carried out by Severino Di Giovanni and his crew. These attacks evolved into being ever more deadly terrorist attacks.
-July 22nd, 1927: A powerful bomb exploded at night in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires. The target was the monument to Washington, but, even though it was a powerful explosion, damage to the monument was minimal. At the same time, another bomb exploded in the Ford Agency that destroyed the model car and all of the windows within a four block radius.
-December 24th, 1927: A powerful bomb exploded in broad daylight, destroying a branch of the National City Bank in the center of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The bomb was detonated by acids but exploded prematurely, killing two bank employees and leaving 23 others wounded. The same day, another bomb in a suitcase was found in the Bank of Boston; it did not explode, but it caused great terror in the populace and authorities.
Osvaldo Bayer in his book, “Severino Di Giovanni: Ideologue of Violence,” described the bomb in the following passage:
“The explosive device was the same as the one at National City Bank (which had been placed in a suitcase). This was an iron device about a meter and a half long with covers at each end sealed in cement. The inside was filled with gelignite, dynamite, and pieces of iron. On top of this was a glass tube divided in two containing in each part different acids (potassium chloride and sulfuric acid). The divider was made of cork or cardboard through which both liquids could seep. When they came into contact, they produced an explosion [more precisely, they produce a flame that ignites a charge that goes directly to the explosive].
While the suitcase was upright, the liquids stayed separated, but when it was laid on its side, the filtration process began and it was then a question of seconds.”
The explosive attacks on those days were against the economic interests of the United States in the Argentine capital. (The United States Embassy, the monument to Washington, the American Ford dealership, and the Yankee banks described above.) This was in support of an international campaign for the two jailed anarchists in the United States, Sacco and Vanzetti, who were accused of belonging to a group of terrorist-anarchists and of committing robberies and expropriations.
G. Rodriguez in the talk cited above describes the following concerning the relation between the two anarchists condemned to death and the terrorist illegalism of that time:
“The overwhelming actions of the [Galleanist] anarchists would lead to their becoming the most persecuted anarchist group pursued by the federal authorities of the United States. On the other hand, the ‘official’ history, even in its “radical” version in anarchist circles, would condemn their memory to forgetfulness while silencing their actions and ‘disappearing’ their texts and other theoretical engagements. The only exception was that of Sacco and Vanzetti whose story ‘legalist anarchists’ altered in order to canonize them as ‘martyrs’ of the movement. The same was done with the so-called, ‘Martyrs of Chicago.’ Once again, we see the same tricks to cover-up the real history. The legal argument of the defense used to try to prove their ‘innocence’ became the ‘official story’ of what actually happened. With the exception of the anarchist historian Paul Avirich, who devoted himself to developing a better picture of anarchist activity of the time and the work of Bonnano on this topic, the rest of the literature published about the Sacco and Vanzetti case firmly denied their participation in the expropriation for which they were condemned. These expropriations were carried out at regular intervals by the [Galleanist] group in which they were active. The funds that they acquired from these expropriations were used to fund the printing of anarchist literature as well as to fund attacks, calls for reprisals, and in order to support imprisoned comrades and the unemployed or in some cases their families.
After this attack, there emerged the first divisions between anarchists who sympathized with terrorist violence and those who defended “Franciscan violence” [as Di Giovanni called it (after the Catholic religious order founded by St. Francis of Assisi - translator’s note)]. This dispute was closely followed by anarchists of the time, especially by the editors of the anarchist newspaper, La Protesta. Bayer writes the following on this event in his aforementioned book:
“La Protesta referred to the classic example of ‘clean’ attacks like the one carried out by Wilckens (a German anarchist who assassinated Colonel Varela on January 17th, 1923) and Radowitzky (a Ukrainian anarchist who assassinated Colonel Falcon on November 14th, 1909). But those examples proved faulty upon closer examination. Those attacks were ‘clean’ and ‘pure’ because they went off without a hitch. What would have happened if Wilckens’ bomb had gone off on the street car and killed three workers and the agent selling the tickets? Or if the bullets from the gun wounded a woman in the eye who was just walking her kids to school, or worse, went through the back of the head of a girl out buying bread? In the case of Radowitsky, what if the bomb, instead of falling in Colonel Falcon’s carriage, fell on the sidewalk killing the driver and two old ladies walking to church? And what if Di Giovanni’s bomb had exploded on the desk of Consul Capanni, killing the butcher of Florence and Mussolini’s ambassador, and that’s it? Was the violence the difference?
“La Protesta established that Wilckens and Radowitzsky had taken their lives in their own hands. Did not Di Giovanni and Ramé do the same in building the bomb, entering the den of fascism, and trying to place it at the target? At any moment, it could have exploded and blown them to bits. There was some truth to that, yes, but not the whole truth. La Protesta’s reasoning was not entirely fair. Violence itself was the problem. Once one chooses that option, it is not possible to know for sure whether the actions will be clean or dirty. There are certainly differences. It is not the same to kill an executioner in his den than it is to indiscriminately throw a bomb in the marketplace or a cafe or in a train station full of people. But was the fascist consulate an innocent place? The victims of fascism didn’t go there. An attack on the consulate was clearer than the ones against banks in which, even if you factored in the hours when they would be empty, there was still more probability that innocent people might get killed, which did occur on occasion. The discussion was thus not whether the attack on the consulate in itself constituted an act of cowardice.”
On this topic of debate among anarchists, Rodriguez wrote:
“There was a polemic between those who, calling themselves anarchists, justified expropriation and the propaganda of the deed and included them in a large list of valid direct actions - the ones who believed that the ends justified the means - and those who, also considering themselves anarchists, condemned these former people as “amoral” and violent. The former which we are discussing here was labeled “illegalist anarchism.” We are trying here to distinguish between these two tendencies’ approaches to direct action and the way in which they conceived of themselves according to their own worldview. “
-May 7th, 1928: An infernal explosion shook the Italian Consulate in Buenos Aires. A man left a suitcase which contained a bomb on the stairs of the entrance. The attack left nine dead and 34 wounded. Seven of the dead were fascists, but the majority were bystanders, including four women and a girl. An hour afterward, a suitcase bomb was found abandoned in the pharmacy of fascist Almirante Brown. A child found the suitcase and without intending to deactivated the explosive by emptying one of the acids and generating a small flare. The frightened child screamed and ran out to warn everyone around. They too saw the bomb and ran away as well. The newspaper La Nación told the story in this manner:
“The top of the small tube was firmly sealed and, in opening it, its liquid contents spilled out near the suitcase but not on the suitcase itself. Thus, there was no contact with the contents inside. This was the reason that the bomb failed to go off, which would not have happened if the tube had come into contact with the explosive packet inside the suitcase. Instead, the acid fell on one of the corners of the suitcase, producing a flare. In the suitcase were 50 bars of gelinite, 32 five-inch nails, an iron bolt, two iron screws, and cotton. The bomb’s charge was formidable, of the same potency as the one at the consulate.”
After these attacks, it was clear that the intention of the terrorist-anarchists (Severino and company) was to attack their target, in this case the consulate and the pharmacy of a fascist, without worrying about wounding “innocent” people. The attack was condemned by the majority of anarchists of the time, who called it a “work of fascism”, denying that it was even the work of anarchists. With this, a schism emerged in anarchist circles as Di Giovanni would defend to his death the acts in which he was involved. The cowards of La Protesta positioned themselves in this matter:
“Anarchism is not terrorism. How is this the work of a conscious man, of a revolutionary, this act of cowardice that hurt innocent victims, which was not in line with the political motive that they set out to follow? It is moral cowardice that inspires these types of vengeance. It is these actions that lead us to put salt in the wound of the provocative terrorism that has made its appearance in the capital of the republic.”
La Protesta’s declarations even appeased the police, who started a manhunt for Di Giovanni and his crew. This is evident in the interview after the attack of Subcommissioner Garibotto (Head of the Social Order) by the socialist newspaper, La Vanguardia, on May 26th of that year:
“This attack was a scary thing, no? When I saw those arms and legs all over the place and those groans of agony, I went weak in the knees. This was so brutal that even the anarchists are indignant. We are very happy with La Protesta’s editorial. Have you seen it? It’s very good. And other anarchists have come to cooperate with us out of indignation for the act. They have promised to tell us everything they know. And it makes sense, since there’s much freedom here and if these things keep happening it can stir up a negative reaction by the government.”
Severino responded to such infamy from the anarchist newspaper, La Diana of Paris, under a pseudonym:
“It’s odd that the entire ‘revolutionary’ press attributes the attacks to fascism, while the anarchist (?) newspapers disapprove of them, repudiate them, deny and condemn. The docile friars of unionist anarchism denounce the ‘horrible tragedy’ as more characteristic of fascists and not of anarchists. They take their inspiration from from a sheepish Christianity and they gesticulate like Jesus Crucified when in reality they are so many Peters of Galilee (‘Truly I say unto you that before the cock crows thrice, Peter will deny me.’) And they betray thus. I have seen denial and condemnation on the lips of many terrified cowards. They spew sophistries like so many canons and vile Jesuits. Some of those killed in the attack: Virgilio Frangioni, fascist, and Fr. Zaninetti, director of the ‘Italia Gens,’ a den of spies; that’s enough to open up the tear ducts of crocodiles of all sorts. The anarcho-syndicalist newspapers fight among themselves to see who can be the most ignoble and vile. Thus, for example, we find the Committee for Political Prisoners, the anarcho-syndicalist La Protesta and the anarchist La Antorcha (which is always praising dynamite) have shed cowardly and vile tears. And they have even received praise from the police and the whole conservative press for their magnificent work of eunuchs. La Nación, La Razón and La Prensa have branded the current situation saying: ‘The latest attack against the Consulate has also been repudiated by the distinct tendencies of anarchism.’ Of course here they refer to the vile ones.”
Finally he writes a quote from the terrible Galleani:
“It is an act of supreme cowardice to repudiate an act of rebelling for which we have ourselves given the first seed.”
Another text was written by Severino under a different pseudonym making clear his indiscriminate non-humanist attitude:
“... the attack on the den of Avenida Quintana (The Italian Consulate) and against the eternal fathers of fascism who in the land of exile also try to found their death squads. In Argentina alone are dispersed thirty-six fascist sections. Are they innocent? In Milan as well, in the Diana Theater and in Giulio Cesare Plaza, those killed were also innocent. Innocent people who applaud the king and shore up his throne with their passivity. Those who took a day off from work to applaud the fascist aviator De Pinedo who, in the name of Il Duce and the ‘greatest fates of the Italian Throne’, mixes fascism with the ephemeral glory of his hydroplane.
That is the rotten and moth-eaten structure on which anti-fascism, in the name of all the conveniences, launches arrows and strikes against the iconoclast who, without permission and consensus, acts, breaks, and strikes.
For anarchism - for us - there is no other way other than that which we have taken with all of our fortunes, with all of the glory, heroism, and audacity. The path of the most unprejudiced [indiscriminate] action crushes with its powerful might the right to kill reserved to fascism. For ten years we have been the only ones who have had the audacity to attack this right of theirs. From today forward, we will expand this audacity one-hundredfold....”
-May 26th, 1928: Some weeks after the attack on the Italian Consulate, the Di Giovanni group placed a bomb that destroyed the entrance to the house of Colonel Cesar Afeltra in Argentina. The fascist officer was at home and was guarded by police. The police had left to go to a nearby bar when a terrorist took advantage of their absence to leave the bomb. Windows in a three-block radius were blown out from the blast (harming “defenseless citizens”). According to the press, the power of the bomb was such that it undermined the stability of the building.
-May 31st, 1928: The hiding place of the anarchist-terrorists was discovered by a boy who was chasing his escaped rabbit from her pen next door. The boy opened one of the doors to the small house on Lomas de Mirador and a small explosion scared him. The boy grabbed his rabbit and ran out to tell his relatives. When the police arrived, they were met with another small explosion upon opening the door. This was a storage place for the anarcho-terrorist bombs which had been rigged to explode if the police found it, and only the terrorists knew how to enter without triggering the bombs. By this they hoped to leave no evidence of the bombs and kill the police in the process. The humidity of the place, however, dampened the explosives and caused them to only let forth a small explosion instead of the intended deadly one. This turned out to be the storehouse of Severino and his crew. It should be pointed out that after this occurred, the Italian anarchist individualist Francesco Barbieri, who was the designated bomb-maker for the crew, decided to flee Argentina. He was an innocent-looking man and tremendously audacious in slipping past police. Barbieri was one of the most important anarchist “dinamiteros” in the country, as he had been in Spain, Geneva, Brazil, Italy, France, and other places.
-June 10th, 1928: A powerful explosion occurred in the house of Michele Brecero, a prominent fascist living in downtown Buenos Aires.
-June 11th, 1928: An explosion destroyed the house of Cavaliere R. De Micjelis, Italian Consul in Argentina.
-November 10th, 1928: A briefcase was found by a curious Bank of Boston employee near the Cathedral in Buenos Aires. The briefcase exploded immediately, killing the employee and leaving a police officer gravely wounded. Many windows of nearby businesses were also blown out. The press all pointed to Di Giovanni as the one responsible for the indiscriminate attack. The Catholic newspaper, El Pueblo, called Di Giovanni, “the evilest man who ever stepped foot on Argentine soil.”
-November 14th, 1928: An explosion characteristic of Di Giovanni’s crew occurred in the Palace of Justice of Rosario, Argentina. Other explosions shortly followed at the Bank of the Nation, at the Courthouse, and at the Santa Fe Railroad Bridge. The acts were added to the death of the bank employee from four days past.
-April 25th, 1929: An ex-collaborator of the newspaper, Culmine, named Giulio Montagna was shot to death by anarchist terrorists for revealing the location of Severino Di Giovanni to police.
-October 22nd, 1929: The hated Subcommissioner Juan Velar was attacked by two men who snuck up on him and shot him in the face. Velar lost an ear, his teeth were blown out, and he lost a large portion of his nose, but he was not killed. Velar said that Paulino Scarfó and Severino were responsible.
-October 25th, 1929: A group of anarchist terrorists shot the Spanish anarchist Emilio López Arango three times in the chest. López Arango was responsible for the anarchist paper La Protesta that had defamed the bandit anarchists; Arango had waged a campaign of slander against Severino’s attacks, slamming him as a “fascist agent” and defaming him before the mass anarchist workers’ movement of the time. Thus, he obtained his merited execution.
Among the many poisonous paragraphs from La Protesta was this one dated May 25th, 1928:
“We have already exposed the criteria by which we anarchists judge that anonymous irresponsible terrorism: it is odious, as its victims are random and it can never carry with it a heightened spirit and clear revolutionary consciousness.”
It is fascinating how those very same words are repeated in the mouths of those modern anarchists who condemn the indiscriminate attacks of the eco-extremists...
Before López Arango’s execution, he had received many warnings through comrades (which he ignored) such as the one that the Uruguayan anarchist-bandit Miguel Arcángel Rosigna had told him:
“Please stop this campaign, since Severino is capable of anything.”
After the murder, a group of Arango’s anarchist friends searched for Di Giovanni among the bakery workers without finding him. This was the most radical sector of anarchist workers. The bakers didn’t say anything, and at the same time the police warned Arango’s close friend, the Spanish anarchist Diego Abad de Santillán that:
“Very well, under our responsibility go ahead and arm yourself because Di Giovanni’s crew is going to kill you.”
-February 12th, 1930: The anarchist terrorist and member of Di Giovanni’s crew, Giuseppe Romano (Ramé), who had been arrested and sentenced to eight years in prison, was freed from the hospital to which he had been transported as a sick patient. He was sprung free by five armed bandits.
-January 12th, 1930: A bomb was detonated at the Italian Consulate in Córdoba, Argentina, leaving one agent wounded and causing much damage.
-January 20th 1931: Three powerful explosions occurred in three subway stations in Buenos Aires. The attacks left four dead and twenty injured, as well as leaving serious material damage.
-February 1st, 1931: Severino Di Giovanni was executed by firing squad. He killed one policeman and wounded another severely when over a dozen police went out to capture him. In the melee, one small girl was killed.
Di Giovanni died looking his killers squarely in the eyes and shouting like a wild animal with his last breath: ¡Evviva l’anarchia!
One of the witnesses, Roberto Arlt, described Severino’s execution:
“Five fifty-seven. Eager faces behind bars. Five fifty-eight. The lock clinks and the iron door is opened. Men run forward as if they were running to catch the trolley. Shadows making great leaps through illuminated hallways. The sound of rifle butts. More shadows gallop.
We’re all looking for Severino Di Giovanni so that we can see him die.
The space of the blue sky. Old cobblestone. A green meadow. A comfortable dining room chair in the middle of the meadow. Troops. Mausers. Lamps whose light punishes darkness. A rectangle. It’s like a ring. A ring of death. An official: ‘according to the dispositions… for the violation of statute… law number…’
An official lowers the glazed screen. In front of him is a head. A face that appears covered with red oil. There are eyes that are terrible and fixed, varnished with fever. A black circle of heads. It is Severino Di Giovanni. A prominent jaw. A forehead fleeing toward the temples just like a panther’s. Thin and extraordinarily red lips. Red forehead. Red cheeks. Chest covered by the blue flaps of the shirt. The lips look like polished wounds. They open slowly and the tongue, redder than a pimento, licks the lips, wetting them.
The body burns up with temperature. It savors death.
The official reads: ‘article number… State law of the site… The Supreme Court… seen.. To be passed to a superior tribunal… of war, the regiment, and sub-officials…’
Di Giovanni looks at the face of the official. He projects on his face the tremendous force of his gaze and a will that maintains calm.
‘Being proven to be necessary to the lieutenant… Rizzo Patrón, vocals… the lieutenants and colonels… give a copy… sheet number…’
Di Giovanni wets his lips with his tongue. He listens with attention, he seems to analyze the clauses of the contract whose stipulations are the most important. He moves his head in assent, faced with the terms with which the sentence has been formulated.
‘The Minister of War to be notified… may he be shot… signed, the secretary…’
-I would like to ask forgiveness from the lieutenant defender…
One voice:-No talking.
Take him away.
The condemned duck walks. His enchained feet with a metal bar on the wrists that tie his hands. He passes the edge of the old cobblestones. Some spectators laugh. From stupidity? From nervousness? Who knows?
The convict sits resting on the bench. He supports his back and turns out his chest. He looks up. Then he bends over, and it looks like his abandoned hands between his open knees. A man cares for the fire while water warms up for their yerba mate.
He stays that way for four seconds. The subordinate officer crosses his chest with a rope, so that when they shoot him, he won’t fall on the ground. Di Giovanni turns his head to the left and lets himself be tied.
The target is ready for the firing squad. The subordinate official wants to blindfold the condemned. The condemned shouts:
He looks firmly at his executioners. He emanates will. If he suffers or not, it’s in secret. He remains that way, still, proud. A difficulty emerges. A fear about ricocheting bullets leads to the regiment, perpendicular to the firing squad, to be ordered a few steps back. Di Giovanni remains erect, being supported by the chair. Above his head is the edge of a gray wall, the soldiers’ legs move. He sticks out his chest. Is it to receive the bullets?
The voice of the condemned bursts metallic, vibrant:
— Long live anarchy!
A sudden brilliance. The hard body has turned into a folded sheet of paper. The bullets shoot through the rope. The body falls head first and lands on the green grass with the hands touching the knees.
The burst of the coup de grace.
The bullets wrote the last word on the body of the condemned. The face remains calm. Pale. The eyes half open. The blacksmith hammers at the feet of the corpse. He takes off the handcuffs and the iron bar. A doctor observes. He confirms the death of the condemned. A man wearing a frock and dance shoes retires with his hat on his head.
It looks like he just came out of a cabaret. Another says a bad word.
I see four boys, pale and disfigured like the dead, biting their lips. They are Gauna from La Razón, Álvarez, from Última Hora, Enrique González Tuñón, from Crítica, and Gómez, from El Mundo. I am like a drunk. I think of those who laugh. I think that at the entrance of the Penitentiary there should be a sign saying:
-Forbidden to enter with dancing shoes.”
In summary, it should be mentioned that the events described above are the ones that we consider the most important at the time when they happened. As one can read above, we have not only described indiscriminate attacks of anarchist-terrorists, but also their abilities to commit formidable crimes, such as their storing bombs, using firearms, murder, raids, complicity, falsification of documents, counterfeiting money, agitation, theft, bombings, jailbreaks, and other important crimes. It is well-known by those who know this subject that the majority of the anarchists described above had their political aspirations front and center. These aspirations were inspired by humanism and its foundations, namely “freedom” and “human dignity.” Reading their letters and writings, as well as their communiqués taking responsibility for their “terrible” acts, one can notice a language strongly in favor of “the people”, “the proletariat,” the oppressed,” “the class struggle,” terms which at the time were favored by many anarchists who also advocated the use of violence. This is because the conditions in which they arose as individuals in that society compelled them to proclaim themselves thus. Nevertheless, their words were one thing, and their deeds something else. We remember their deeds as irrefutable proof of the fierceness of past anarchists. They were very different from the dominant paradigm of the modern anarchist, who has turned into a caricature by his acceptance of “alternative”, but still civilized, moral values.
The contingent of anarchists partial to extremist violence has been also completely erased and forgotten in the official and not-so-official story. There are few who recognize true anarchists such as Severino, Buda, Bonnot, Rosigna, and others who carried out attacks against their targets without concern for bystanders; for whom the ends justified the means.
Let everyone come to their own conclusions, I have reached mine…
“I say that the most important thing in your life is yourself. The family, the state, the party, and anarchy itself can all go to Hell.”