It's not possible to talk about Montelepre without associating it with the name of Salvatore Giuliano. His story, taking place in the period of 1943-1950 and was already a legend before he died. Thousand of episodes had qualified him as
" The man who takes from the rich to give it to the poor."
Salvatore Giuliano was born in Montelepre on the 16th of November 1922.
His father, his namesake was obliged to emigrate to the United States of America, in successive stages he was able to buy several pieces of land on the outskirts of the little town. In the end he returned to his own country to occupy himself with cultivation.
The young Salvatore, after primary school, he helped his father at his work. Really, he would have preferred the trade but he didn't escape his duty. On the contrary he found the time to keep on with his studies. He often went to the country's priest or to his ex-teacher when he finished work.
Commodities became more and more scarce, the government
provided a stack of wheat for facing the crisis. All farmers were made to
deprive themselves of the wheat harvest and to survive with "notorious
Hiding wheat was a crime, it was not good hiding it, in that they had not the possibility of milling because the mills were guarded. In this context the majority population was living to the limits of survival. In the hinterland's country some farmers were able to conceal a part of the wheat harvest and Salvatore Giuliano had built a small mill.
But the flour was never sufficient because he helped the poor and needy.
The eldest brother
provided wheat for Giuliano's family, but he was called to war too. It was
up to Salvatore Giuliano, just twenty years old, to provide the
necessities for his family.
He was inexperienced of the modus operandi. On the 2nd of September 1943, he ran into a patrol of two country wardens and two carabinieri. His prayers and explanations were of no use. He was accused of smuggling two sacks of wheat of about forty kilos each. They seized his mule and wheat. They wanted to arrest and take him to the "American garrison". He showed his documents and asked to be denounced but not to be arrested. He thought that the soldiers were convinced, when they saw four mules overloaded. They were in any case real smugglers.
The young Giuliano was left free and alone. He tried to flee but the soldiers fired six rounds at him. He was hit twice in his hip.
|The carabinieri Giuseppe Mancino was ordered to finish him off, if he was still alive. Giuliano, who heard this, leaped forward and wounded him seriously with a pistol which he had kept in his boot. The soldier died of his wounds the following day, while Giuliano regained his full health after a month struggling for his life. He then sought refuge in the hills around Montelepre.|
24th of December 1943, the authorities surrounded the country with 800
carabinieri to capture him. They weren't able to capture him and in
retaliation they arrested 125 people: among these there was his father. A
non-commissioned officer beat him to blood.
Salvatore Giuliano, saw all the scene from his hiding place. His anger became incontainable. He attacked the convoys that were waiting in the square. A carabinieri died and another was wounded seriously. They sought for him without exception, without mercy, but he was always able to make off. His exploits were known everywhere in Sicily.
In February 1944, he set 8 of Montelepre's inhabitants free that were prisoners in Monreale's prison. With them he formed the first guerrilla's group. On the 15th of May 1945 he was made a colonel and was in command of the Sicilians partisans brigades of west Sicily called the "Independent voluntary army of Sicily" (E.V.I.S.), From the end of 1945 he started the Sicilian war against Italy. He committed a succession of attacks to barracks, and he fought several battles in official form with uniformed soldiers and flags. (the most famous were the Monte D'oro - Calcerame and Monte Cuccio battles).
The activity of the E.V.I.S. and M.I.S. politicians, which all Montelepre, all neighbouring countries and a lot of Sicilians had joined, bent the will of the Italian government and the King of Italy Umberto II, who on the 15th of May 1946 approved the Sicilian statute which made the island a Confederate Nation of Italy. The Sicilian people saluted this conquest with enthusiasm and the popularity of Salvatore Giuliano touched the heights. He was considered "the symbol of Southern rebellion" and for his native generosity, he was considered "The Robin Hood of Sicily".
The referendum to chose between republic or monarchy, took place on the 2nd of June 1946. The Republic won. Umberto II was no longer the King of Italy. On the 22nd June 1946, Palmiro Togliatti, minister of grace and justice had got approved a decree about amnesty and indult to erase military, political and common crimes.
Almost all men, who had combated for the E.V.I.S. came back home. But the Marshall Giuseppe Calandra of Montelepre station denounced for common crimes all of Giuliano's followers. Of course, he couldn't arrest them because they went back up into the mountains. Before the elections, on the 20th April 1947 Salvatore Giuliano, who supported Antonio Varvaro, candidate of the M.I.S. democratic republican, stipulated concordances with Girolamo Li Causi, exponent of the P.C.I.
The latter would get the communist people who shared the independent idea to vote for Varvaro, while Giuliano would have supported the cost of the election campaign. He really did it.
But Li Causi didn't keep his promise. The candidate was not elected and this situation provoked Giuliano's resentment. He wanted to denounce Li Causi's lies in front of all during the celebrations on the 1st of May 1947 in Portella della Ginestra. The action plan foresaw shooting in the air to capture the orator and then to judge him. But he couldn't foresee that among his men someone was a policeman or a member of the Mafia. The inspector Messana was informed by his informer Salvatore Ferreri and so he told Li Causi not to go to Portella. Giuseppe Passatempo, in order to charge Giuliano, worked together, with members of the Mafia. They hid a few meters from the people and shot on the crowd, killing 11 persons and wounding 27.
It is evident that the crime was anomalous. In big contrast with the ideals of a man who had fought with and for his people.
This terrible crime of which he was not responsible, was attributed to him, not withstanding his protestations.
For almost half century the responsibility for the crime was put down to Giuliano and his followers. Recently, through analysis of the ballistics records, the eyewitness accounts, the necroscopic records, it has been discovered that the bullets that the 11 victims received were shot from below, with calibre 9 Thompson beretta pistols, that neither Giuliano nor his men had in their possession.
Before the elections of the 18th April 1948, Salvatore Giuliano was contacted by different politicians of differing persuasions. Giuliano's ideals would have led him to support the left wing parties.
But he decided to support the DC's members when the left parties, after Portella delle Ginestre, declared to want his death. The DC's members promised him an amnesty for his followers. There was a tight collaboration and in 1948 the DC got the absolute majority. But the politicians had their armchairs to which they aspired and, instead of keeping to their commitments, advised him to surrender or to emigrate.
In the second half of 1948 the new rulers made to invade Montelepre by tanks and to deport all able bodied men over 15 years old.(approximately 3 thousand). Among them all Salvatore Giuliano's friends and relations.
His reactions are intuitable at this point: he wrote to the press politicians and judges pointing out maltreatment and abuses of power committed. He attacked military trucks, columns, barracks and fought battles
The encounters, some violent, caused several deaths and wounded among the thousands of men that the government sent against him. Then, they realised that to defeat him it was necessary to get rid of the people near him. To obtain this the State came to terms with the Mafia.
In exchange for
impunity, in a little time some of Giuliano's more trustworthy men were captured
or killed. The State had recourse to Gaspare Pisciotta and Nunzio Badalamenti's
betrayal for liquidating him. Nunzio Badalamenti (arrested formally) murdered
him in his sleep at a farmhouse called "Villa Carolina" situated between Pioppo
and Monreale. In the morning of the 5th of July 1950, his body was carried to
Castelvetrano, where an armed conflict was simulated with the carabinieri, who
claimed the merit for having killed him.
Salvatore Giuliano was only 27 years old.
Tourists from all over the world, still today take flowers to his grave and go to visit the house where he was born. This house has been completely conserved.
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