Liberation Day in Italy is held every year on April 25 and marks the anniversary of the liberation of two of the last Italian cities still under Axis or Fascist control during World War II, Milan and Turin.
During World War II, there were various political groups and individuals who were in opposition to the Nazi and Fascist Regimes who had assumed control in Italy. These groups collectively made up the Italian Resistance or Resistenza Italiana. The Italian Resistance was a loose coalition with little formal structure, and many of its fighters were farmers in rural areas or displaced Italian troops. Some of the Resistance became more organized over time as the war churned on. Eventually, two ‘committees’ were forged by several political groups that were in opposition to the Fascist political group led by Benito Mussolini. These political groups included the Italian Communist Party and Italian Socialist Party, and other smaller parties as well. The first new underground opposition committee was called the Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale, or CLN. The second organized group was created for the northern regions of Italy, and it was named Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale Alta Italia (CLNAI).
Allied forces invaded and established a foothold in southern Italy in the fall of 1943. It wasn’t until the spring of 1944, however, that they were able to break through the fortified German and Italian defenses that had pinned them in the south over the winter. As the Allies advanced northward, the Italian resistance sometimes assisted them in battles. Many times they fought independently in areas where Allied troops had not yet advanced to.
In April of 1945, the CLN ordered an uprising against the occupying forces.1 Several cities were liberated on April 24, and Turin and Milan were liberated on April 25. World War II ended 13 days later on May 8, 1945. The first Liberation Day was made a holiday the following year when a decree was issued on April 22, 1946, stating that April 25, 1946 was going to be a national holiday. Today, Italians celebrate the holiday with parades in some areas, and public offices and businesses are closed.
1. View photographs of sharply contrasting geographic regions of Italy, including Tuscany, Campania, Lombardy and Veneto. Think of or discuss the different issues the Allied forces and Italian resistance would have encountered in each of the regions while fighting against the Nazi forces.
When is Liberation Day?
Liberation Day is not a floating holiday and always falls on April 25 of each year.