May 9, 1978, Italy is in shock. We just found the lifeless body of ’Aldo Moro in the trunk of a car in the middle of Rome. The leader of the Italian Christian Democracy, five times president of the council, had been kidnapped on March 16 by the Red Brigades, a far-left terrorist group. The Brigades said they would spare him if the Italian government agreed to release a number of its imprisoned members. Moro had the opportunity to write several letters urging the authorities to accept the demands of the terrorists, but his demands went unheeded, with the consequences we know.
An exemplary political itinerary
Originally from southern Italy, Aldo Moro was a professor of law at the University of Bari during the fascist era. After World War II, he got involved in politics and was elected Christian Democrat deputy in 1948. He was successively appointed Minister of Justice (1955-1957), Public Instruction (1957-1959) and Foreign Affairs (1970-1972); from 1959 to 1963 he was secretary of the Christian Democratic Party. Having become President of the Council in 1963, he organized the opening to the left by forming a coalition cabinet including Socialists; he returned to the presidency of the Council in 1964-1968 and in 1974-1976. In 1978, Moro began negotiations with the PCI to bring Communists into the government; this program ("historic compromise") thwarted the revolutionary plans of the Red Brigades, a leftist terrorist group, which assassinated him after having held him hostage for several weeks.
Why the assassination of Aldo Moro?
Why was Aldo Moro kidnapped and then murdered? The question is still debated today. The head of the Christian Democracy was in the 1970s one of the supporters of the "Historical Compromise", namely a political coalition open to the Communists of the PCI. An extremely controversial position on the right, as on the left, but also abroad and especially in the United States. Did the Red Brigades by the assassination of Moro mean to the Italian communist left that an alliance with bourgeois parties was unacceptable? Where have they been manipulated by foreign elements in order to discredit them in the eyes of public opinion? Either way, Aldo Moro, who was prepared to ignore ideological differences to ensure a better future for his country, paid dearly for his commitments.
- The Aldo Moro case, by Philippe Foro. Vendémiaire, 2013.
- Italy in the Years of Lead, by Marc Lazar. Otherwise, 2010.