This section is dedicated to the provisions promulgated by the fascist regime with regard to the suppression of freedom of thought and expression, and of academic freedom, to the legislation promoting discrimination and persecution, as well as to the long process set in motion after the fall of fascism to offer reparation to those who had been victims of earlier measures. For each provision listed an active link is available to the text of the legislation. The period under consideration, divided into three sections in chronological order, runs from 1925 to 2000 to include Law no. 211 of 20 July 2000 which instituted the Day of Remembrance.
It was the so-called leggi fascistissime of 1925 which stigmatised and led to the removal of those deemed «incompatible» with the directives of the regime, to the point of forcing some intellectuals and academics to leave the country from the mid 1920s. With the Oath of Allegiance of 1931, the demand for unconditional adherence to fascism placed academic freedom, freedom of thought and religious freedom outside the law - freedoms which had, in practice, already been severely compromised in the early days of the regime by the reorganisation of the educational system. The Royal Decree no. 2102 of 30 September 1923 (Gazzetta Ufficiale (GU) n. 239, 11 ottobre 1923) abolished elected representatives; heads of secondary schools, university rettori and heads of faculties, directors of institutes and members of university senates would all be nominated from above. Directors and heads thus saw an increase in their powers of hierarchical control over employees. With regard to students, Mussolini ordered the prefects to:
make the students who protest understand that in perpetuating a deplorable custom that should not have survived the war and the fascist revolution, their protests are completely futile and may have serious consequences which would not exclude the closure of the universities for the whole academic year. I consider the Gentile reform as the most fascist of all those approved by my government. (Circular to the prefects of university cities, 6 December 1923, «Il Popolo d’Italia», 292, 7 December 1923).
Focusing particularly on schools, universities and the liberal professions, the first section lists the stages of the legislative process that characterised, from 1925 onwards, the intent to obliterate any kind of political opposition, and, from 1938, fascism’s anti-semitic shift. The second section records the legislative measures of an Italy divided in two: while in the north of the country, in the territories of the Italian Social Republic, the enactment of legislation promoting persecution was intensified, in the so-called Regno del Sud reparations legislation began to be put in place. The final section sets down the legislation which, with the establishment of the Republic, defined the process of reinstatement and reparation.
The enactment of these legislative measures did not, obviously enough, result in a corresponding consistency or homogeneity in their application. If the measures adopted in the fascist period were accompanied by a pervasive exercise of control and repression which reached heights of rare efficiency in the application of the racial legislation, particularly with regard to the universities, the results of the processes of reinstatement and restitution were on the contrary not so effective, rapid or widespread, and therefore need to be examined within their immediate contexts. As with the project as a whole, this section too is to be seen as work in progress.