Selected Articles

Devenir traîtres professionnels au cœur des réseaux résistants et de l’antifascisme en exil. Une histoire de faiblesse (“Professional Traitors at the Heart of the Resistance at Home and in Exile: A Story of Weakness”)

Cahiers d’Agora : revue en humanité, Issue 6, “Le traître en politique : profils, parcours et perception,” December 2021. 


Résumé — Cet article propose d’illustrer et d’interroger la notion de trahison en étudiant le cas de militants antinazis et antifascistes qui ont changé de camp et sont devenus des espions pour les régimes autoritaires. Les traîtres au sein de la Résistance sont la preuve de l’approche « proactive » fasciste et nazie dans l’application des plans de répression des deux régimes qui perçoivent en eux un moyen efficace pour infiltrer les réseaux d’opposants politiques. « Re- tourner » les résistants contre leurs camarades et leurs groupes politiques d’origine était une technique de (contre)espionnage très efficace pour démanteler les réseaux de Résistance. Les opérations répressives à l’encontre des traîtres ont contribué à remettre en cause la pureté et l’unité de la Résistance pendant de nombreuses années au lendemain de la Seconde Guerre mondiale et ont généré des traumatismes individuels et sociétaux. Des cas longuement débattus comme ceux de René Hardy et d’Ignazio Silone témoignent des traces durables que ces opérations répressives ont laissées dans la conscience publique.


Abstract — This article illustrates and interrogates the concept of treason by investigating the cases of anti-Nazi and anti-Fascist militants who switched sides and became spies for the authoritarian regimes. I argue that these traitors within the Resistance provide proof of the “proactive” repression of the Nazi and Fascist secret police, their method of identifying and tempting potential traitors in order to infiltrate networks of political opponents. “Turning” Resistance members against their comrades and political groups of origin was a highly effective (counter)espionage strategy, leading to the dismantling of numerous networks. Moreover, the participation of traitors in repressive operations cast doubt on the purity and unity of the Resistance for many years after the end of the Second World War, generating individual and societal traumas. Long-debated cases such as René Hardy’s and Ignazio Silone’s are symptomatic of the lasting traces that such operations left on the public conscience.


“Mussolini’s Four Would-be Assassins: Emergency Politics and the Consolidation of Fascist Power”

Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 27:1 (2022), published online on September 8, 2021.


Abstract — Between 4 November 1925 and 31 October 1926, Tito Zaniboni, Violet Gibson, Gino Lucetti, and Anteo Zamboni all tried and failed to kill Benito Mussolini. The significance of these attempts on Mussolini’s life and their relationship to the establishment of Fascism has gone overlooked as much scholarship focuses almost exclusively on the consequences of socialist deputy Giacomo Matteotti’s murder in June 1924. In this article, I analyse the impact that these assassination attempts had on Mussolini’s construction of the Fascist state. The article asks two main questions: What role did these assassins, and the state of emergency that their acts generated, play in the establishment of Fascist control? And how did they contribute to Mussolini’s cult status and his consecration as a ‘man of providence’? I argue that the failed assassination attempts were instrumental in allowing the Fascist regime to create a state of emergency and to capitalize on a fabricated demand for crisis management. These attempts fundamentally structured the conditions for the regime’s consolidation of power, including a vast expansion of laws that dismantled the liberal state and established the Fascist dictatorship.


Riassunto — Tra il 4 novembre 1925 e il 31 ottobre 1926, Tito Zaniboni, Violet Gibson, Gino Lucetti e Anteo Zamboni tentarono tutti di uccidere Benito Mussolini, ma fallirono. Il significato di questi attentati alla vita di Mussolini e il loro rapporto con la creazione del fascismo è stato trascurato poiché la maggior parte degli studiosi si concentra quasi esclusivamente sulle conseguenze dell’omicidio del deputato socialista Giacomo Matteotti nel giugno 1924. In questo articolo, l’autrice analizza l’impatto che questi tentativi di assassinio ebbero sulla costruzione dello Stato fascista da parte di Mussolini. L’articolo pone due quesiti principali: quale ruolo hanno svolto questi assassini e lo stato di emergenza generato dai loro atti nell’instaurazione del controllo fascista? E come hanno contribuito alla creazione del culto di Mussolini e alla sua consacrazione come ‘uomo della provvidenza’? L’autrice sostiene che i falliti tentativi di omicidio furono strumentali nel consentire al regime fascista di creare uno stato di emergenza e di sfruttare una richiesta inventata di gestione delle crisi. Questi attentati crearono le fondamenta per il consolidamento del potere del regime, inclusa una vasta espansione delle leggi che smantellarono lo stato liberale e stabilirono la dittatura fascista.



“Betraying Your Own: Jewish Spies and the Deportation of Jews during the Second World War”

S:I.M.O.N. Shoah: Intervention. Methods. Documentation, Vol 7 No 2 (2020): 50-65. 


Abstract — This article shows how the Fascist and the Nazi regimes orchestrated their repression proactively. They took advantage of Jewish informers who betrayed their own people, with traumatic consequences for their individual and their community’s sense of identity. No spies were needed to arrest Jewish people under normal circumstances, but spies were essential for finding Jews who had gone into hiding in large cities. This article, based on previous research, court trials of convicted spies, and other archival and documentary material, illustrates this system of repression with cases in Austria, Germany, and Italy.


“Herr Himmler’s Agents”

Hoover Digest 2019, No. 1: 176-189.


Abstract — In 1941, a former minister and his “Friends of Democracy” began telling everyone who would listen that Hitler was out to subjugate not only Europe but America as well. A document in the Hoover Archives shows how Leon M. Birkhead tried to ferret out Nazi sympathizers and spies, while sounding prescient warnings of atrocities to come.


“Three Layers of Ambiguity: Homosexual Spies and International Intrigue in Fascist Italy”

The Space Between: Literature and Culture 1914-1945. Volume 13, 2017 | “International Intrigue: Plotting Espionage as Cultural Artifact.”


Abstract — This article delves into the stories of two foreign queer spies in Fascist Italy, the Swiss Roberto Hodel and the German Gerhard Dobbert. The Fascist regime cultivated a dual relationship with homosexuals: it exploited them for their contacts, but persecuted them as “enemies of the new man” who undermined the Fascist understanding of morality. This article aims at illustrating this relationship, by focusing on these two cases and ultimately proving that the Fascist surveillance—like any other—is doomed to fail, because these double agents are “imperfect” tools. Spies live in a gray zone of blurred agencies and conflicting incentives. As in fiction, where characters play a deceitful role, the archival documents analyzed in this essay replicate that deception in three layers of ambiguity. Just as spy novels become open-ended trajectories of several stages of suspicion, these layers of ambiguity are multiplied in the spies’ surveillance reports, where the distrust of the foreign alien is combined with the rejection of homosexuality to designate an extremely ambiguous “other” that the Fascists both reject and exploit.