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Luigi Longo portrayed on a 1981 USSR postage stamp.

Luigi Longo (15 March 1900 – 16 October 1980), also known as Gallo, was an Italian communist politician and secretary of the Italian Communist Party from 1964 to 1972.

Early life

Luigi Longo was born in Fubine Monferrato (province of Alessandria, Piedmont).

As a student at the Politecnico di Torino, he became active in the youth wing of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI), and engaged in political propaganda from a Marxist perspective. He was a regular visitor to the offices of Ordine Nuovo, the newspaper founded by Antonio Gramsci, and became acquainted with Gramsci and Palmiro Togliatti. In 1921, at the Livorno Congress of the PSI, he was one of the instigators of the split in the party, when supporters of Vladimir Lenin's Bolshevik line left to form the Italian Communist Party (PCI). He became a leading figure in the new PCI along with Togliatti, Gramsci and others.

Longo was a fervent anti-fascist, and, when Benito Mussolini established his Fascist regime in Italy in 1922, he emigrated to France where he became one of the principal leaders of the PCI. In the same year he was a member of a delegation to the Comintern Congress in Moscow, where he met Lenin. He would return to Moscow several times in the following years, and was to meet Joseph Stalin and other members of the Soviet Union leadership. In 1933 he became a member of the Comintern's political commission. In 1934 he signed a joint action agreement between the PCI and the PSI.

Spanish Civil War and Resistance

Longo took part in the Spanish Civil War as an inspector of the Republican troops in the International Brigades under the leadership of Randolfo Pacciardi, and took the nom de guerre Gallo. After the defeat of the Second Spanish Republic by Francisco Franco, he returned to France.

After the outbreak of World War II and the Nazi German invasion of France, the Vichy France collaborationist government was established under Philippe Pétain. Longo was arrested and detained in an internment camp at Vernet from 1939 to 1941. There he made the acquaintance of Leo Valiani, among others. In 1941 he was handed over to the Italian fascist authorities and interned at Ventotene. After the overthrow of Mussolini on 25 July 1943, Longo was released. After Mussolini regained control of Northern Italy (which he led as the Italian Social Republic), Longo took command of the Garibaldi Brigades, the communist forces in the Italian partisan resistance. He later became deputy commander of the Gruppo volontari per la liberta' ("Group of Volunteers for Freedom"), and a close collaborator of Ferruccio Parri; in April 1945 Longo was one of the leading figures of the uprising in northern Italy.

Post-war politics

After the war he was a member of the National Congress and in 1946 was elected to the Constituent Assembly. He was subsequently elected, and repeatedly re-elected, to the Italian Chamber of Deputies on the PCI list and was a member of the party leadership. In 1964, after the death of Palmiro Togliatti, he became secretary of the PCI, declaring that he was "a secretary, not a boss". In this role, he continued Togliatti's line, known as the "Italian road to Socialism", playing down the alliance between the Italian Communist Party and the Soviet Union. He reacted without hostility to the new left movements that sprung up in 1968 and, among the leaders of the PCI, was one of those most disposed to engage with the new activists, although he did not condone their excesses.

Longo was the first to realise the capabilities of Enrico Berlinguer and when in 1972, due to ill health, he resigned the position of party secretary, he supported the choice of Berlinguer as his successor. From that year until his death, he was honorary president of the PCI. In that capacity, he expressed his opposition to the "national solidarity" line the PCI was later to espouse.

In 1947 he published a book entitled A people in the Maquis.

Longo is cited in the bibliography on Pope Pius XII as one the originators of the black legend on the role of the sovereign pontiff during the Second World War.

Luigi Longo died in Rome in 1980.

Party political offices
Preceded by
Palmiro Togliatti
Secretary of the Italian Communist Party
1964–1972
Succeeded by
Enrico Berlinguer
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