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The private archives of Alcide De Gasperi are now open for consultation

Posted on 19 February 2014

The Historical Archives of the European Union is delighted and honoured to announce the opening for consultation of the Alcide De Gasperi papers. The fonds is composed of 146 boxes of archival files or 17 linear metres which offer an unprecedented perspective on Italian history in the first part of the 20th Century and the origins of the European Union.

Alcide de Gasperi

The De Gasperi fonds was originally located in the Roman home of his daughter, Ms Maria Romana De Gasperi. The contract of deposit was signed on the 7 November 2001 with the Historical Archives of the EU at the solemn ceremony organised to mark the occasion held at the European University Institute at Fiesole. The archival material was transferred to Florence in 2003.   Currently all the files catalogued in the inventory can be found in the HAEU except the series Correspondence which remains for the time being with the Alcide De Gasperi Foundation in Rome.

The historical papers of De Gasperi remained closed to researchers until now to permit the organisation of:

- The Alcide De Gasperi exhibition: Un europeo venuto dal futuro, (catalogue drawn up by M.R. De Gasperi and P.L. Ballini, edited by the Alcide De Gasperi Foundation and by Rubbettino from 2003 to 2011, 16 editions in Italian as well as an edition in English and in German);

- The publication of the review edition of the writings and speeches of De Gasperi (10 volumes published by the publishing house Il Mulino from 2006 to 2009);

- The publication of the three volumes, in 2009, of the scientific biography of Alcide De Gasperi edited by the Alcide De Gasperi Foundation and Rubbettino (includes authors Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re and Professors Paolo Pombeni, Alfredo Canavero, Giorgio Vecchio – I volume Dal Trentino all'esilio in patria (1881-1943) –, Francesco Malgeri – II volume Dal fascism alla democrazia (1943-1947) – e Pier Luigi Ballini – III volume Dalla costruzione della democrazia alla "nostra patria Europa" (1948-1954);

- The series of volumes “Quaderni degasperiani per la storia dell’Italia contemporanea” by Pier Luigi Ballini, of which 5 volumes were published between 2010 and 2012 and for the publication (currently being realised) of the papers of the statesman by the Alcide De Gasperi Foundation in Rome.

The structure of the fonds mirrors the life and career of De Gasperi with the constitution of series corresponding to the major partitions in which the material was originally sub-divided and which correspond in chronological order to the cultural, administrative and political commitments which made De Gasperi, the “Trentino” statesman, a major player on both the Italian and European stage.

The inventory was realised by Andrea Becherucci and Jean-Marie Palayret in 1999 during a period spent in the home of Ms. De Gasperi, before the contract of deposit was signed. 

The De Gasperi fonds, is now available for consultation in microformat (99 reels of microfilm). In the near future all documents will be available in digital format, too.

The Historical Archives of the EU is actively collaborating with the Alcide De Gasperi Foundation in Rome in the organisation of the exhibition, conferences and events concerning the figure and actions of President De Gasperi in 2014.

Alcide De Gasperi was born on the 3 April 1881 at Pieve Tesino, a town in the Trentino region, which at the time was an integral part of the Austria-Hungarian Empire. He was involved from the his university years in Vienna in Catholic associations and in the political life of the Trentino region. He began his political career in 1911 as member of the Austrian ‘Reichsrat’ in Vienna.

On the outbreak of the First World War, Alcide De Gasperi was given responsibility for the Refugee Committee which looked after the thousands of refugees from Trentino forced by the Viennese government to emigrate to the central parts of the empire to facilitate the movements to the Front.

After the reunification of Trentino into the Kingdom of Italy, after the end of the First World War, De Gasperi created the Trentino Popular Party in 1921. He was elected deputy to the Italian Parliament in Trentino in 1921 where he presided over the parliamentary group. During this period he excercised a role in the front line in national politics; in 1924 he was elected unanimously Secretary of the PPI. Active opponent of fascism, he was one of the the leaders of the “Aventino”. In 1926 he was dismissed as Parliamentarian along with all the anti-fascist deputies. Accused of conspiracy against the regime, he was arrested in 1927 and condemned to four years in prison.

From April 1931 to 1943 he worked in the Vatican library. At the end of the Second World War, De Gasperi stole the scene in Italian politics when he was appointed leader of the newly conceived Christian Democracy. When Italy’s fascist rule came to an end, he was appointed Foreign Minister in the second Bonomi government; from 1945 to 1953, he led uninterruptedly eight governments of the Italian Republic (he was also interim Foreign Minister for a brief period in 1946 and from 1951 to 1953).

De Gasperi supported the rationale for Italy’s adhesion to NATO and favoured the reinsertion with full rights of his country in concert with the democratic nations and alongside the Western powers. During his Presidencies, the Italian Republic overcame with success the challenges posed in the post-War reconstruction period, characterised by important social-economic reforms.

Alcide De Gasperi dedicated the final years of his political life to the construction of Europe. He facilitated the participation of Italy, with the backing of Carlo Sforza, in the European Coal and Steel Community and actively supported the plans for a European Defence Community (EDC). He was responsible for the insertion in the Treaty instituting the EDC, article 38 which envisaged the creation of an authentic European political community.

Between 1949 and 1953, Alcide De Gasperi, the French Prime Minister, Robert Schuman and the German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer shared the objective and the first important steps in the Construction of a European Community of six. Having the common base of universal Christianism, they had in common the desire “to constitute this community of reason and sentiment, of fraternity and justice and to instil in the unification of the Old Continent, the heroic spirit of liberty and sacrifice, which had always been at the root of decisions made in the crucial moments of history”.

In August 1953, De Gasperi resigned from the position of President of the Council of Ministers and in September 1953 he was appointed Political Secretary of the Christian Democrats. In May 1954, he was elected first President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the ECSC. He passed away at Sella di Borgo Valsugana on the 19 August 1954.

Consult the Alcide De Gasperi Fonds at the Archives


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