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Black Brigades (Italian language: Brigate Nere ) were one of the Fascist paramilitary groups operating in the Italian Social Republic (in northern Italy), during the final years of World War II, and after the signing of the Italian Armistice in 1943. They were officially led by Alessandro Pavolini, former Minister of Culture (MINCULPOP) of the fascist era during the last years of the Reign of Italy.


Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was arrested after the Italian Grand Council of Fascism (Gran Consiglio del Fascismo), with the support of King Vittorio Emanuele III, overthrew him and began negotiations with the Allies for Italy's withdrawal from the war. Mussolini was rescued by German paratroopers led by Otto Skorzeny. He was then installed by the Germans as the President of the Italian Social Republic (RSI). The RSI was to be an Italian regime which was to nominally administer the German-occupied northern Italy. As the Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale (MVSN, also known as "Blackshirts") was disbanded by the terms of the armistice, the Guardia Nazionale Repubblicana was formed on 24 November 1943. The "Guardia Nazionale Repubblicana" was formed out of local police, ex-army, and others still loyal to the fascist cause.

The Black Brigades were formed from members of the Fascist Republican Party. Formation of the Black Brigades was sanctioned by a Fascist Republican Party law dated 30 June 1944. The brigade members not only fought the Allies and the Italian partisans, but they also fought against political opponents and other Black Brigade members whose support of "the cause" was deemed less than exuberant. Many Black Brigade members were killed in this type of in-fighting.


The Black Brigades were not actually brigade-sized units. The Italian word brigata has a looser meaning as a synonym of "group" or "assembly". The Black Brigades were typically weak battalions or strong companies, each comprising 200 to 300 men. There were 41 territorial brigades. The territorial brigades were numbered 1 through 41. There were also seven "independent" and eight "mobile" brigades. The mobile brigades were numbered 1 through 7, plus the Second Arditi Brigade.

  • Piedmont Regional Inspectorate
    • I Brigata Nera "Ather Capelli" Turin
    • II Brigata Nera "Attilio Prato" Alessandria
    • III Brigata Nera "Emilio Picot" Aosta
    • IV Brigata Nera "Luigi VIale" Asti
    • V Brigata Nera "Carlo Lidonnici" Cuneo
    • VI Brigata Nera "Augusto Cristina" Novara
    • VII Brigata Nera "Bruno Ponzecchi" Vercelli
  • Lombardy Regional Inspectorate
    • VIII Brigata Nera "Aldo Resega" Milan
    • IX Brigata Nera "Giuseppe Cortesi" Bergamo
    • X Brigata Nera "Enrico Tognu" Brescia
    • XI Brigata Nera "Cesare Rodini" Como
    • XII Brigata Nera "Augusto Felisari" Cremona
    • XIII Brigata Nera "Marcello Turchetti" Mantua
    • XIV Brigata Nera "Alberto Alfieri" Pavia
    • XV Brigata Nera "Sergio Gatti" Sondrio
    • XVI Brigata Nera "Dante Gervasini" Varese
  • Veneto regional Inspectorate
    • XVII Brigata Nera "Bartolomeo Asara" Venice
    • XVIII Brigata Nera "Luigi Begon" Padua
    • XIX Brigata Nera "Romolo Gori" Rovigo
    • XX Brigata Nera "Francesco Cappellini" Treviso
    • XXI Brigata Nera "Stefano Rizzardi" Verona
    • XXII Brigata Nera "Antonio Faggion" Vicenza
  • Emilia Regional Inspectorate
    • XXIII Brigata Nera "Eugenio Facchini" Bologna
    • XXIV Brigata Nera "Igino Ghisellini" Ferrara
    • XXV Brigata Nera "Arturo Capanni" Forlì
    • XXVI Brigata Nera "Mirko Pistoni" Modena
    • XXVII Brigata Nera "Virginio Gavazzoli" Parma
    • XXVIII Brigata Nera "Pippo Astorri" Piacenza
    • XXIX Brigata Nera "Ettore Muti" Ravenna
    • XXX Brigata Nera "Umberto Rosi" Reggio Emilia
  • Liguria Regional Inspectorate
    • XXXI Brigata Nera "Generale Silvio Parodi" Genoa
    • XXXII Brigata Nera "Antonio Padoan" Imperia
    • XXXIII Brigata Nera "Tullio Bertoni" La Spezia
    • XXXIV Brigata Nera "Giovanni Briatore" Savona
  • Tuscany Black Brigades
    • XXXV Brigata Nera "Don Emilio Spinelli" Arezzo
    • XXXVI Brigata Nera "Benito Mussolini" Lucca
    • XXXVII Brigata Nera "Emilio Tanzi" Pisa
    • XXXVIII Brigata Nera "Ruy Blas Biagi" Pistoia
    • IXL Brigata Nera Siena
    • XL Brigata Nera "Vittorio Ricciarelli" Apuania
    • XLI Brigata Nera "Raffaele Manganiello" Florence
  • Mobile Black Brigades Grouping
    • I Brigata Nera Mobile "Vittorio Ricciarelli" Milan
    • II Brigata Nera Mobile "Danilo Mercuri" Padua
    • III Brigata Nera Mobile "Attilio Pappalardo" Bologna
    • IV Brigata Nera Mobile "Aldo Resega" Dronero-Cuneo
    • V Brigata Nera Mobile "Enrico Quagliata" Val Camonica
    • VI Brigata Nera Mobile "Dalmazia" Milan
    • VII Brigata Nera Mobile "Tevere" Milan
    • II Brigata Nera Mobile Arditi Milan
  • Autonomous Black Brigades
    • Brigata Nera Autonoma "Giovanni Gentile"
    • Brigata Nera Autonoma Operativa "Giuseppe Garibaldi"
    • Brigata Nera Autonoma Ministeriale
    • Brigata Nera Autonoma - Marche
    • Brigata Nera Autonoma - Gorizia
    • Brigata Nera Autonoma - Udine
    • Brigata Nera Autonoma "Tullio Cividino" - Trieste
  • Outremer Autonomous Black Brigades
    • Compagnia Complementare Fascisti - Rhodes


Members of Black Brigades were issued standard Italian army uniforms, and they tended to wear them with a black turtleneck sweater, which had replaced the original black shirt as the symbol of loyalty to Mussolini. They sometimes wore this uniform with a windproof jacket in solid or camouflage colors. Members of Black Brigades tended to wear the grey-green uniform pants. The badge or insignia of the Black Brigades was the jawless death's head, or one of assorted Italian versions. The majority of Black Brigade members wore Italian army ski caps or berets dyed black. Some photos show members also wearing black German-style caps. Some were Italian made, some were supplied by Germany.

See also


  • Le Forze Armate della RSI - Pier Paolo Battistelli, Andrea Molinari, p. 123
  • Le Forze Armate della RSI - Pier Paolo Battistelli, Andrea Molinari, p. 125
  • (Italian)
  • Mario Pellegrinetti. Giugno 1944 - I sabotaggi. La guerra civile in Garfagnana. URL consultato il 9-1-2008.

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