«I swear fidelity to the King, to his Royal successors and to the Fascist regime, and I swear to respect the [National Fascist Party’s] Statute and the other laws of the State, and to fulfil my teacher’s and all academics’ duties with the aim of preparing industrious and righteous citizens, patriotic and devoted to the Fascist regime. I swear not to be or ever become a member of organizations or parties whose activities are incompatible with my official duties».
«Giuro di essere fedele al Re, ai suoi Reali successori e al Regime fascista, di osservare lealmente lo Statuto e le altre leggi dello Stato, di esercitare l’ufficio di insegnante ed adempiere tutti i doveri accademici col proposito di formare cittadini operosi, probi e devoti alla patria e al Regime fascista. Giuro che non appartengo né apparterrò ad associazioni o partiti la cui attività non si concilii con i doveri del mio ufficio» (English translation above is mine; original Italian text from prof. Paolo Valabrega’s (Politecnico di Torino) 2014 speech I dodici professori che non hanno giurato [The twelve professors who didn’t take the oath].
Even before the European University Association (EUA)‘s recent call on governments to refrain from interference in university autonomy (sparkled by new legislation proposed by the Hungarian government), I couldn’t help but thinking of the oath of allegiance requested to Italian university professors in 1931 when reading of some other startling interference of politics with academia: IOWA senator Mark Chelgren’s proposal that public universities «consider political party affiliation when hiring new faculty members», or Dutch parliament members Duisenberg and Straus, who – worried about the possible existence of a climate of «homogeneity, self-censorship and lack of diversity in the research community» – feel the need to reaffirm, somehow paradoxically being themselves politicians, that «free research may never be hindered by differences in moral or political opinions» (my translation from the original Dutch parliamentary document).
The 1931 oath of allegiance isn’t the worst of Mussolini regime’s many crimes, and as such is not widely known or discussed outside of Italy, with the notable exception of German historian Helmut Goetz’s book Der freie Geist und seine Widersacher: die Eidverweigerer an den italienischen Universitäten im Jahre 1931, available at the UvA Library, and reviewed in Annali di Italianistica in 1999. Given that only twelve out of some 1.200 university professors refused to swear in 1931 (being Errera, Levi della Vida, Luzatto and Volterra of Jewish descent, they would have been forced to quit anyway in 1938, when Mussolini promulgated the Racial laws to enforce anti semitic discrimination in Italy), their names definitely deserves to be mentioned here:
– Ernesto Buonaiuti (Religious studies, University of Rome)
– Mario Carrara (Legal Medicine, University of Turin)
– Gaetano De Sanctis (Greek and Roman history, University of Rome)
– Giorgio Errera (Chemistry, University of Pavia)
– Giorgio Levi della Vida (Arabic studies, University of Rome)
– Fabio Luzzatto (Law, Superior School of Agriculture Milan)
– Piero Martinetti (Philosophy, University of Milan)
– Bartolo Nigrisoli (Surgery, University of Bologna)
– Francesco Ruffini (Canon Law, University of Turin)
– Edoardo Ruffini Avondo (Law, University of Perugia)
– Lionello Venturi (Art history, University of Turin)
– Vito Volterra (Mathematics, University of Rome)