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October 31, 1935

Under the sponsorship of the Political Association, Italian historian and fervent anti-Fascist Dr. Gaetano Salvemini, Lauro de Bosis Lecturer on the History of Italian Civilization at Harvard University, spoke in Avery Hall on “Italy after Thirteen Years of Dictatorship.” Active in Italian politics before his exile in 1925, Salvemini had debated heatedly with Vassar Professor of Italian Bruno Roselli about the policies and consequences of the Mussolini régime in 1926 before some 1,400 members of the Economics Club in New York City.

Addressing two questions: “What are the results of Italian Fascism?” and “Is Italian Fascism a Success?” Professor Salvemini declared since Mussolini came to power unemployment, monetary instability, the cost of living and the national debt had steadily increased, while wages had decreased. “The economic crisis in Italy,” he claimed, “is not due to the Wall Street crash. When the crash came in 1929, Italy had already been weakened by three years of crisis as a result of Mussolini’s economic policies.” About the Italian invasion of Ethiopia—launched days before his Vassar appearance—Salvemini told his audience “this war is the most senseless war that ever took place. From the economic point of view this war is lunacy.”

A visitor to Vassar in 1933, when he spoke on “Florence in the Time of Dante,” Professor Salvemini visited the college again in December 1942, speaking on “The Italian Population Problem.”

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