Tuesday, May 11, 2021

the last book I ever read (Iris Origo's A Chill in the Air: An Italian War Diary, 1939-1940, excerpt two)

from A Chill in the Air: An Italian War Diary, 1939-1940 (New York Review Books Classic by Iris Origo:


And now Albania. The news, foreshadowed in the English and French papers and wireless, came here (to the general public) as a bombshell: announced on the radio (just before the three-hour Good Friday services) at 10 a.m. The bulletin took the now familiar form of stating that the invasion was a measure necessary to “safeguard the peace” of the country invaded and to quell the “armed bands” patrolling it; it was further stated that there was “no resistance worthy of mention” except an attempt at resistance by ‘bands’ at Durazzo, and that the population is “cordial.” The manifestos dropped by planes told the Albanians that “any resistance would be immediately suppressed.” “Do not listen to the members for your government who have impoverished you and now want to lead you to shed your blood in vain. The Italian troops have come to establish order, justice and peace.” Here a party of “orthodox” (Fascist) Italians merely laughed at the pretext of “quelling the brigands” – (“How much do you supposed they were paid?”) – but were equally sceptical about the subsequent accounts of the invasion from Paris and London, which told of violent resistance from the Albanians and of the bombardment of Durazzo. The ultimate result of unceasing propaganda has now been to cancel out the effect of all news alike. One man said to me, “The radio has made fools of us all.” Late last night a further Italian bulletin stated that the accounts given in anti-Fascist countries of the Albanian operations “are so fantastic that it is not worth while to deny them – as they follow the same methods adoped during the Ethiopian war. It is now known and proved that the Fascist rĂ©gime uses one method only: always to tell the truth.”

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