Roberto Farinacci (Italian pronunciation: [roˈbɛrto fariˈnattʃi]; 16 October 1892 – 28 April 1945) was a leading Italian Fascist politician, and important member of the National Fascist Party (PNF) before and during World War II, and one of its ardent anti-Semitic proponents; Christopher Hibbert describes him as "slavishly pro-German".
Born in Isernia, Molise, he was raised in poverty and dropped out of school at a young age, moving to Cremona and beginning working on a railroad there in 1909. Around this time period, he became an irredentist socialist and, when World War I began, a major advocate of Italy’s participation in the war. After the war, Farinacci was an ardent supporter of Benito Mussolini and his Fascist movement. He subsequently established himself as the Ras (local leader, a title borrowed from the Ethiopian aristocracy) of the Fascists in Cremona, publishing the newspaper Cremona Nuova - later on Il Regime Fascista - and organizing Blackshirts combat squads in 1919. The Cremona squads were amongst the most brutal in Italy, and Farinacci effectively used them to terrorize the population into submission to Fascist rule. In 1922, Farinacci appointed himself mayor of Cremona.
Quickly rising as one of the most powerful members of the National Fascist Party, gathering around him a large number of supporters, Farinacci came to represent the most radical syndicalist faction of the party, one that thought Mussolini to be a too liberal leader (likewise, Mussolini believed Farinacci was too violent and irresponsible). Among fascists, Farinacci was known to be particularly anti-clerical, xenophobic, and anti-semitic. Nevertheless, Farinacci’s career continued to rise, and he played a considerable role in establishing Fascist dominance over Italy in 1922, during and after the March on Rome.
In 1925, Farinacci became the second most powerful man in the country when Mussolini appointed him secretary of the Party. He was then used by Mussolini to centralize the PNF. Mussolini used him to purge the party of thousands of its radical members. Mussolini then removed Farinacci and he disappeared from the limelight, and practiced law for much of the late 1920s and early 1930s. In a Time magazine in 1929, Farinacci was nicknamed the "castor oil man" of Fascism, based on his use of physically forcing opponents of Fascism to swallow castor oil which he called the "golden nectar of nausea". The effects of swallowing castor oil would cause the victims to suffer severe diarrhea followed by dehydration. The Time article also claims that as secretary of the Fascist party, Farinacci allowed the murderers of Italian Socialist Party deputy Giacomo Matteotti to be let free in 1926. In 1935 Farinacci fought in the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, as a member of the Voluntary Militia for National Security (MVSN) - the new official name of the Blackshirts, and eventually attained the rank of lieutenant general. He lost the right hand after fishing with a grenade.
In the same year, he joined the Grand Council of Fascism, thus returning to national prominence. In 1937, Farinacci participated in the Spanish Civil War, and in 1938 became a governmental minister and enforced the Anti-semitic racial segregation measures declared by Benito Mussolini.
In World War II
When World War II began, Farinacci sided with Germany: he frequently communicated with the Nazis, and became one of Mussolini’s advisors on Italy’s dealings with Germany. For his part, Farinacci urged Mussolini to enter Italy into the war as a member of the Axis. In 1941, Farinacci became Inspector of the Militia in Italian-occupied Albania.
In July 1943 he took part in the Grand Council of Fascism meeting which led to Mussolini’s downfall. While the majority of the council voted to force Mussolini out of the government, Farinacci didn't side against the Duce. After Mussolini's arrest, Farinacci fled to Germany in order to escape arrest.
The Nazi hierarchy considered putting Farinacci in charge of a German-backed Italian government in Northern Italy - the Italian Social Republic - but he was passed over in favor of Mussolini when the dictator was rescued by Otto Skorzeny in September (through the raid known as Unternehmen Eiche). Afterwards Farinacci went back to Cremona without taking active part in political life. However, he did continue to write politically oriented articles. He also funded the journal Crociata Italica, the main organ of a small group of clerical fascist priests led by Don Tullio Calcagno. He was executed at Vimercate by Italian partisans in 1945.
Farinacci was together with Giovanni Preziosi one of the most prominent Fascist voices of racial anti-semitism during the Mussolini regime.