Gray, Laura

Italian Women Resistance

The Italian Resistance occured during WWII, when younger members of the country rose up together to rebel against their leader, Mussolini, and his followers. They were divided by different reasoning, such as religion and political desires, but all came together to accomplish their goal(4). Women took a large part in helping that goal be achieved.

Italy had given in to the Germans, winding up with a Fascist rule that few enjoyed; Mussolini regained power from the new Nazi regime, having been re-instated as the cruel ruler(3). Soon enough, disdain and disgruntled Italians banded, making use of guerrilla warfare to gain back their land. A majority of the anti-fascist troops, especially women, were around the age of 20, some even in their teens(1). Groups of resistance fighters successfully held attacks on various important cities around their nation, rapidly gaining back areas such as Milan and pushing back the ‘evil’ German forces that wanted to invade or had invaded their town. They gained assistance from the Allies, and gave assistance in return, and eventually liberated Italy from Mussolini, actually able to corner and kill him themselves(4).

At first, the men chose to discard female aid, making comments about women needing to stay in the home; eventually, they gave in(2). With the newly gained permission, around 35,000 women immediately sprung into action, proving themselves useful(4). Almost none were over the age of 30, and were quite able to keep up with their male counterparts(3).  Italian women were found to hold very important, authoritative positions, fighting alongside and even leading the Italian men in battles. Some held roles as spies, others as dispatchers, both gaining important information and spreading it wherever it needed to go(1). Some women even hid those on the run from the Nazi soldiers, making their homes into safe houses that only members of the resistance knew of(3). An effective network that could discover and circulate necessary knowledge and destroy the secrecy the Germans once had was gained thanks to the involvement of women in the action.

Women were not going to simply sit around while tens of thousands of husbands, brothers, and uncles were being killed – even if a fair amount of female fighters ended up dead themselves. They had a desire and a drive to fight for their country and their families, the maternal, protective instinct spurring them to reflect violence similar to what Germans had unleashed on innocent civilians. This gained women mcuh respect after the war, even landing some ex-fighters positions in the political sphere (2).