By Fatemeh Nakhlizadeh

The fake general and suppress a resistance

February 21, 2022 - 18:34

Indro Montanelli was an Italian journalist and historian awarded the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 1995.

Montanelli, who repeatedly got arrested by German forces for his anti-fascist activities, met the main character of his story in prison. In the book introduction, He wrote about his inspiration for writing this book and said: “I consider it my duty, as an eyewitness, to tell the story of how the young Bertone turned into Forte Bracho Della Rure”.

The book “General Della Rovere” is a combination of memories and stories, and one of its great features is its focus to grow the main idea. Despite its small size, it has a strong characterization with good details; also, the evolution of the main character is slow and believable, and there is no sign of rush in the story.

According to history, from 1939 to 1945, Mussolini's fascist phalanxes had allied with the Nazi army to suppress Italian liberalists by using every possible way, and the story is about one of these ways. 

When Bertone was young, he was a gambler who was chosen to be sent to prison to spy on the detainees as a fake general. It might be a good idea to take a brief look at the story.

In the very first chapters, when he was arrested by the national security forces, he tried to justify his betrayals and wrongdoings and said: “tell me how could I bring news about your sons, brothers, and husbands who were beaten so much that they vomited blood? Would you rather hear this kind of news? No, you would not. I did a lot of favor for you, and now that your husband has been shot, it’s like I was the one who shot him! Ladies and gentlemen, tell me! tell me what a deceiver I am to betray you!”. You can somehow see his character in these lines that help us not to be surprised by other events in the future. 

Although so many things happened to the young Bertone, the story begins when he decides to be sent to prison as a fake general in the armed forces of the Italian Socialist Republic, and what changes him from a gambler into a soldier of the Italian resistance movement.

If we want to describe this book in only a sentence, we may quote that German commander: “We Germans are judging this country with its real generals, but Italy should be judged with a fake but brave general”. 

In 1959, a movie was made from this book directed by a well-known Italian director, Roberto Rossellini who won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for this movie. If you watched it, you would realize how closely the story of the book and the movie are linked.

In movies when a scene ends, another one starts immediately, similarly when a paragraph ends and a new one begins in this book, the time and location shift too. In fact, the books’ chapters are not well-ordered, and if the reader doesn’t focus, he will get confused and need to read a paragraph several times.

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