1. Describe the birth of the Mafia
The Mafia was born in the north-west area of Sicily, outside the city of Palermo. The Mafia is also known as “Cosa Nostra” meaning our business, and our thing. (notes) “The Mafia offered protection where the state could not.”(notes) As a growing organization, the Mafia was able to “embed itself in society and prosper-thanks to the collusion of more than one element of the state.” (notes)
The main thing the Mafia was able to offer to the people was “protection”, but the line between protection and extortion became thin. It offered protection to single, small or medium economical activities, like retail stores and small businesses, in a situation of economic struggle, where the state lacked an efficient law. (notes)
Often, the Mafia offered protection against itself. This created a “racket” type effect, in which it “voluntarily injected elements of uncertainty into market conditions and then extorted payments from protection under these same conditions.” (notes)
“Cupola”, was the term used for the group of senior Mafiosi, which helped create some overall control and establish the lines of demarcation and rules of conduct. (notes) Blood loyalties, passed from one generation to another, was the foundation for the fidelity within the Mafia.
Women, because they were known for gossiping, were traditionally excluded from the Mafia, and they thought that they could not be expected to put the needs of the organization before that of their own family. (notes)
2. Sicily in the 1860’s and the men involved in the 1866 revolt in Palermo (Miceli, the Marquis Rudini).
During the late 1860’s, “Sicily underwent a strong political effort to gain independency from the new Italian government.” (notes) Riots often broke out and were suppressed by the government with bloodsheds. (notes) In 1865, came the first news of the so called “Maffia”; how powerful the organization was also in local politics.
“In September 1866 a group of 300 people coming from the “Conca d’Oro” marched in the city of Palermo, alongside with a squad from Monreale.” (notes) It took about a week for the government to restore order. “All criminal records were burned, official buildings were ransacked, people robbed in their houses.” (notes) The Italian army used bombs and grenades against the civilians to stop the insurrections. (notes)
Turi Miceli, was a “Mafioso who lost his life during the riot, he was a 53 year old man who was a member of the Moreale crew.” (notes) He was a man of money and power, violence was his livelihood, and he was a middle-class villain involved in fruits and vegetable trades. (notes) Because orange and lemon plantations had cost so much money to set up and run, Miceli was able to profit off of the protection he guaranteed the farmers, and “squeeze gold from lemons”. (notes)
The Mafiosi were involved in many things including; the control of irrigation routes, offering protection of the plantations at night, kidnapping the farmers and stealing their crops. (notes) In the 1866 revolution, Miceli saw a chance to “clean” its past by burining police records. (notes)
Through the temporary victory against the Bourbons, despite Miceli’s criminal records, he was awarded the ranks of Colonel. (notes) When the Bourbons recovered the city of Palermo, Miceli quickly changed sides and was granted a pardon and given the ranks of a customs officer. (notes) A little while later, in 1860, Miceli changed sides again to help Garibaldi’s troops against the Bourbons; but this time, he couldn’t persuade the new authorities and was not so happy with the new situation he was amongst the organizers of the 1866 revolts. (notes)
Marquis Rudini, was the young Mayor of Palermo during the revolt and one of the richest landowners in Sicily. (notes) Rudini testified in front of the parliamentary commission that investigated the events of 1866. (notes) After this, his political career exploded and he became the Prime Minister of the Italian government in 1891. (notes)
During another hearing in front of the commission ten years later, “Rudini focused his attention on two types of “Maffia”; the good and likeable one, the “Benign Maffia” and the “Malign Maffia” that is a product of the first one.” (notes)
Breaking it down a little further during the same hearing, there seemed to be two types of “Malign Maffia”; the “Prison Maffia” and the “High Maffia”, although Rudini did not see any connection between the two groups. (notes)
3. Analyze the differences between the Mafia and the Camorra.
The Mafia is a very well organized group with family ties keeping loyalty and passing from generation to generation. The Camorra has no central form of control, making them more unpredictable, and had started in the jails of Naples and rapidly accumulated thousands of members. Since the Camorra isn’t based on family ties, it makes it easier for people to become a part of the organization. The Camorra is also the bigger employer, making them more popular in city areas than the Mafia. Women in the Mafia didn’t exist. Men did not trust them enough because they ‘gossiped’ and could not be trusted to keep a secret nor put the Mafia before their family. In the Camorra, the women have become as powerful as the men.
4. Mussolini and the “Iron Perfect”: describe the events and results of the “Mori Operation” and the findings of the 2007’ Palermo’s State Archives.
In 1925, Mussolini starts his attack against the Mafia with the help of a Northerner Perfect: Cesare Mori. (notes) The Iron Perfect’s first attack was on the hill top of Gangi in Palermo Province, with a vast procedure that included taking hostage of women and children and stealing. (notes) The assault brought about 450 arrests of Mafiosi.
During the month of May in 1927, Mussolini’s speech revealed to the world the Mori Operation. “The reason that the Mafia was so powerful in Sicily was because previous governments let it happen.” (notes)
This later caused thousand of suspected Mafiosi to be arrested in tens of Sicilian villages, murders and cattle rustling went down. (notes) “Italy finally had a leader who was able to destroy the country’s most powerful crime organizations.” (notes) Mussolini carried on these actions against the Mafia until 1929 when Mori was called back to Rome. (notes)
From 1927 to 1932, a continuous cycle of Mafia trials seemed to have had annihilated the Mafia. (notes) In 1932, Mori published a memorial, “The Last Struggle with the Mafia,” and according to him, the Mafia was only a “mental and spiritual affinity”. (notes)
“In 1932, for the fascist celebration of the tenth anniversary of the March on Rome, Mussolini freed hundreds of Mafiosi.” (notes) The operation turned out to be a failure, and in 2007, a “group of scholars unearthed a report long forgotten in the Palermo State Archive.” (notes)
The Mori Operation turned out to be the most complex lie of the fascist regime. (notes) The 1938 report written by the Carabinieri dated back to 1933, “these men picked up where Mori had left.” (notes) In Trapani, there were still disorders in the area where the Mafia reigned with its bosses. (notes)
“Dr. Allegra, a Mafioso and a radiographer, described the power and the influence of the Mafia in the 1930’s.” (notes) According to his testimony, the Mafia was controlling every sector of Sicilian life all the way up to the central government in Rome. (notes)
5. World War II: Sicily, the Allied forces, politics and the Mafia. Explain.
In August 1943 the allied forces arrived in Sicily, on September 8, Italy surrenders. (notes) Nick Gentile, a Sicilian born, moved to the USA, and in 1906, became a member of the Honored Society in Philadelphia. (notes) In 1937 Gentile was arrested and escaped back to Sicily. When the American troops arrived in Italy, he offered his services to them. (notes) He would form a temporary administration with the allied troops; this was a common occurrence with Mafiosi making friends with the American troops. (notes)
6. Salvatore Giuliano; who was this man and what can we learn from his actions? Please make specific observations using some of the events depicted in the movie.
Salvatore Giuliano was born on November 16, 1022, in Montelepre. His parents were peasants who had spent some of their earlier lives in the U.S. where they had earned the money to buy their farmland. (notes)
At the time of the allied Invasion of Sicily in July 1943, Giuliano was trading in olive oil. (notes) “The most immediate trouble caused by the Allied invasion was the breakdown of government structures and the legal distribution of food.” (notes) In the cities, up to 70% of the food was supplied through the black market, in which Giuliano was soon to partake in. (notes)
During September 1943, Giuliano was caught at a Carabinieri check point transporting two sacks of black market grain, once stopped, he shot and killed the men. (notes) On Christmas Eve 1943, the Carabinieri moved into Montelepre to capture Giuliano. (notes) Once arrested, Giuliano escaped, but angered by the dragnet, he shot and killed another officer. (notes)
Giuliano turned to banditry and later extortion and kidnapping of the wealthy because he was receiving no income any other way. “Thanks to Sicily’s omerta tradition, local peasants were reluctant to cooperate with law enforcement, and although Giuliano’s core band was never larger than 20 men, peasants would join him in the mountains temporarily for the excellent pay the bandit offered.” (notes) Giuliano’s group, from time to time, would attack the Carabinieri and police outposts and patrols. (notes)
In April 1945, Giuliano started to dabble in politics and issued a public declaration of his support for the Movement for the Independence of Sicily, MIS. (notes) They had a small armed contingent, the EVIS, which operated in the Catania Province in eastern Sicily. “The leaders of MIS and EVIS enlisted Giuliano, who after negotiating for substantial funding, accepted the rank of Colonel, and agreed to conduct an armed campaign in his zone.” (notes)
In addition to Giuliano’s regular band, he recruited 40-60 young men, provided them with uniforms, ranks, and weapons and trained them. (notes) Gaspare Pisciotta was among the recruits.
During the April 1947 Sicilian election, the MIS won 9% of the vote, and began a steady decline from which it never recovered. (notes) “The winner of the election with 30% of the vote was the Popular Bloc, Communists-Socialists.” (notes) Sicily’s conservatives and reactionaries were alarmed and looked to Guiliano for help.
“The target of the right-wing vested interest was a famous annual May Day celebration at the Portella della Ginestra.” (notes) Amongst the 4000 people who were celebrating, gunfire erupted, causing mass terror and killing 11 and wounding 2-3 dozen people. (notes) Years later, in 1952, Piscotta and eleven other members of the Guiliano band were convicted for the massacre. During the trial, Piscotta named the main conspirators as Leone Marchesano, a Palermo Mafioso and politician, as well as Prince Giuseppe Aliata of Monreale, with politician Cusumano Geloso as their intermediary. (notes)
“On June 19, Pisciotta met with Colonel Luca and agreed to work with him to eliminate Giuliano.” (notes) Pisciotta waited until Giuliano was asleep and shot him twice, killing him instantly. Giuliano’s corpse was moved to a nearby courtyard, and shot with several rounds. (notes)