Primers of Treachery
A startling report on the pre-war Fifth-Columnist activities of Nazi and Fascist schools in Canada
ALMOST to the very day that Mussolini drew his dagger to stab the Allies in the back, a large group of Canadian-born children of Italian parentage, residing in Ottawa, were attending after-school classes to "study the Italian language." For so elementary a job, their teacher was a surprisingly eminent personage. His name was Dr. Lorenzo Baiocchi. Perhaps a retired professor endeavoring to eke out a meagre pension? Not at all. His official residence was the Italian consulate, his immediate superior was Marquis Alberto Rossi Longhi. his "home office" the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Rome. Far from being old and retired, Dr. Baiocchi was young. handsome, up-and-coming. When he came to Canada in 1937, this "language teacher" replaced a charming young woman, Elda Ruggieri-daughter of an Italian generalwho had come to Canada to set up "Italian type" sc~hools throughout the Dominion. She had been immensely successful. In the town of Windsor alone, for example, with an Italian population of 25,000, more than 1,800 attended schools set up under Miss Ruggieri's guidance. She was the Canadian delegate of the `Italian Youth Movement, and after Dr. Baiocchi's arrival she left to do similar work in France. mi-.. .~.-.A 41,~ 1 OAt~ ..(
The Ottawa Fascist school, and the 1.800 students of Windsor, formed but a small part of the Fascist and Nazi organization for bending Canadian-born twigs to grow in totalitarian direction. Literally tens of thousands of children have had implanted in their minds at impressionable age the desirability of Hitler’s and Mussolini’s “ideals.” For no one can now pretend to believe that the governments of Germany and Italy were seriously interested in nationals of other countries learning their language as a cultural asset.
These schools are closed today. But their effect is something for government and education authorities to ponder.
For years these young Canadian men and women have had drilled into them the doctrine: “Hitler and Mussolini are destined to control the world.” How many thousands, of the thousands who heard that, still believe it—more firmly and blindly, perhaps, because of recent events?
The existence of “old homeland language” schools and other similar organizations was well known for years, to politicians, press and pulpit. They were treated as a perfectly normal manifestation of democracy. Perhaps we, as a nation, were even a little proud of them, proud that they could exist in our free land.
It is true that numerous German and Italian schools had existed prior to the rise of Hitler, but it was only after the coming of the Nazi regime that they were co-ordinated into a brown network spread throughout the world to serve the expansionist aims of the two masters of aggression. Hitler and Mussolini knew that the more than 500.000 children attending Fascist and Nazi schools abroad would do yeoman service as an unexcelled Fifth Column. It was through these children that the German and Italian propaganda departments planned spreading totalitarian ideas among the native-born citizens of other countries.
By the end of 1937, there remained no German or Italian community of any size where a Nazi or Fascist school was not at work. Canada and the United States were permeated with these “educational institutions.” In Brazil, nearly 1.500 German schools had been set up by 1938; in the Argentine 200; in Chile more than 50. To every Nazi school, there were two Italian schools functioning. It can be safely said that, on the American continent, 3,000 schools were engaged in teaching half a million children the rudiments of Fascist ideology. In the Brazil state of Rio Grande do Sul alone, by the end of 1937, there were more than 3,000 German schoolteachers.
The main point of concentration of Nazi “educational activity” in the British Empire was the Union of South Africa. Canada stood second. Dozens of South African English schools were, and still are, the happy hunting ground of Nazi agents.
“Who are the historical people who stood for liberty?” children in one of these schools were asked recently.
“Oom Paul, George Washington, Adolf Hitler,” came the unhesitant reply.
“Do you learn South African or German history?”
“German history has an influence on South African history as our culture is Aryan and we and the Germans are the only Aryans.”
These replies were given by British subjects in a British country at a time of war !
Canadian Children in Nazi Schools
THE GESTAPO, which controls German activities abroad, spares no effort in forcing parents to send their children to Nazi schools. An example of this in Canada occurred on December 30, 1936. when the Nazi Winnipegpublished Deutsche Zeitung fuer Kanada (since suppressed) published the Nazi Four-Year Plan for the Dominion. The salient point of the plan, approved by Hitler and published at Goering’s orders, read:
“All parents belonging to the Bund are required to send their children to the German schools so that they may learn
the language and the history of the Reich. Teaching personnel of the German schools shall be composed of National-Socialists (Nazis) . . .
“It is particularly required of the parents that they make their children from ten to eighteen years of age join Deutsches Bund youth groups . .
Point seven of the plan was captioned “Concluding Command,” and stated: “The Four-Year Plan of the Deutsches Bund comes into force with this publication. We command the members of the Bund to place themselves unconditionally behind their leaders in order that we may accomplish the task that we place before ourselves without any omissions. In this spirit we greet all the members of the Bund with Heil Hitler!”
The order was signed by Hans Grabowsky, leader of the Bund, and G. Hittler. secretary, both of Montreal. Many Bund members, incidentally, were Canadian-born or naturalized.
Following the publication of this document, Nazi schools were set up in Toronto, Kitchener, Winnipeg, Montreal, Regina and many other cities.
Hitler’s orders were, that special care be taken in selecting teachers, all of whom had to be, or become, members of the Foreign Gau (division) of the National Socialist Teachers’ League. Their task, explains B. Eichinger in the Voelkischer Beobachter (August 19, 1937), is
to “educate the foreign-born German youth to be NationalSocialists (Nazis) and the foreign youth to be intelligent friends of Germanism.”
Extreme co-ordination, the by-word of Nazi policy, is also clearly manifested in the leadership given these schools. The textbooks issued were printed in Hamburg and Leipzig. The standard primer formerly used at Kitchener and elsewhere reproduced on its first page a marching column of storm troopers carrying a swastika banner. A group of children was portrayed giving the Nazi salute. The words “Heil, Heil!” were printed below in heavy black type.
A two-page spread showed portraits of Hitler and Von Hindenburg with a verse printed below.
“Will you follow me, my German child?” Hitler was asking. The child replied:
“I am just a poor, little, ignorant child.
My eyes behold you with believing trust.
Because your deeds are as yet too great for me and beyond my understanding.
But from father’s arms and mother’s lap. I shall tear myself away at your call.
Oh. how I wish I were grown up!
For my Fatherland and all who died for us I want to
I am a German child." Conlinued on page 30
Primers of Treachery
Continued from page 9 -
Hundreds of Canadian-born children of German parentage were made to learn this poem by heart !
“It follows naturally that we shall bring up the young generation to think and feel like Germans,” said Nazi Vice-Consul Chancellor Otto Jansen, addressing a graduating class of a Winnipeg school. “It is the duty of the parents to bring up their children in the German spirit.”
And the children stood and cheered his speech by chanting in chorus another paragraph learned in their books:
“We greet our beloved homeland, our great Germany and call across the sea: the German People and Our Great Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler, Sieg Heil!”
Fascist Schools in Canada
ITALIAN Fascist schools were established in scores of communities from Vancouver to Halifax. Classes were held in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Hamilton, Mimico, Niagara Falls, Ottawa, Welland, Winnipeg, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, St. Catharines, North Bay, Timmins, Fort William and other localities. Their total attendance was in the neighborhood of eight or ten thousand.
In most cities and towns Italian schools made use of the so-called “Italian Homes” built largely with financial help from Rome. In Toronto and Montreal, however, as well as in a few other cities, the Italian Fascists succeeded in worming their way into Separate Schools, obtaining the use of school buildings under the guise of conducting classes of the Italian language. This is shown, for example, by the speech reviewing the work of the Fascist Party (Fascio) in Ontario, given by one Magi, former party secretary. Magi made no pretense of hiding the fact that Italian schools w-ere controlled by the Fascist party. He showed that the Italian consuls directly participated in the work of the Fascio and were especially interested in the F'ascist youth activities. Said Magi (// Bolleltino, Nov. 12. 1937):
“In the year XV (of the F'ascist Regime) we have tried ... to keep pace with the speed of the dynamic process of moral, material, social and political advance of the Italian people brought about under the Fascist regime ...
“We have had the good fortune of being guided by men who are really worthy of the mission entrusted to them: first, the Consul-General Pétrucci and Chevalier Tiberi (Pétrucci preceded Alberti Rossi Longhi at Ottawa, and Tiberi preceded Prince Colonna as vice-consul in Toronto); then Marquis Alberti Rossi Longhi and Prince Colonna pointed out the path for us to follow-.
“To them all our gratitude, because without their guidance we would have been disorientated, without their support, defeated. Thanks to their help, therefore, we have witnessed the formation of the Dopo Lavoro (After Work organization) and of two new F'ascist groups and one youth group.
“We have also witnessed an equally comforting development in the schools and in the youth organizations. The day and evening classes, the meetings of youth groups in the city and in the province increased notably in number, in attendance and in results.
“During the year XV we had five dayclasses at St. F'rancis, three at Dufferin, one at St. Basil’s, one at St. Mary's, and three evening classes in the Casa d'Italia (Italian Home), two at Mimico and two at Welland.
“At the beginning of the year XVI we have five day-classes at St. Francis, four at St. Mary’s of the Angels, three at St. Paul’s, one at St. Basil’s, and two evening classes at the Casa d'Italia and four at Welland, without counting the schools that the Sons of Italy organized in Niagara Falls. St. Catharines and Thorold.”
And all this "patriotic” activity in
schools built at the expense of the taxpayers of Canada!
Any doubt concerning the centre of control of these Italian schools was dispelled by the following order published in II Bolleltino of Nov. 26, 1937: “A
decree of His Excellency, the Minister of Foreign Affairs . . . established that all services concerning the ‘Fasci,’ the Fascist organizations, institutions of culture, the schools, and the work in the exterior, pass under the direct supervision of the undersecretary of the exterior.”
A few months earlier, June 11, 1937, Mussolini’s son-in-law, Count Ciano, was quoted by the same paper as saying: “In the cultural field, the Fascist sections abroad have in a very conspicuous manner helped the diffusion of the Italian language by means of linguistic schools and by enriching and creating selected libraries at their headquarters . . .
“From Rome, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs is paying particular attention to the schools abroad. The governmental and subsidized schools have contributed, and are contributing, efficiently to the material and spiritual assistance of the ten million Italians living outside of Italy.”
This statement is but one of many indicating that the Mussolini regime has been spending large sums of money for Fascist education-propaganda abroad. A goodly portion has been spent in Canada, as is admitted in the following eulogy to the Toronto vice-consul Tiberi, published in the II Bolleltino. March 26, 1937:
"... Consul Tiberi has done as much as he could, especially if one takes into consideration the fact that there are no government subsidies with the exception of two teachers and part of the school materials.”
Without exception, teachers selected to guide these schools were deeply-convinced Fascists, members of the Fascist Party. Frequently teachers were sent from Rome to “improve” the work and broaden its scope.
Teachers Paid From Rome
rT'HUS the leader of Fascist schools in Ontario was Arnaldo Miclet, consular employee. Italian Army officer and vicecommander of the Italian Youth Legion Abroad. Another instructor, Zaganelli, formerly of Mimico. Ontario, was brought to Canada under the guise of being an exchange student. Montreal classes were led by Mr. and Mrs. Pizzari, who arrived from Italy on the Conte di Savoia on October 19, 1938. Their passports did not describe them as “propagandists.”
Mr. and Mrs. Pizzari, Zaganelli. Miclet and others are part of the “1,000 teachers who are doing this work efficiently in the schools abroad.” (Agency of Italy and the Empire, April 21. 1938.)
Their remuneration came from Rome, it was admitted in another part of the same dispatch:
“The Ministry for Foreign Affairs subsidizes regular schools, after-work groups, clubs, and courses in the Italian language in foreign countries.
"The Ministry for Foreign Affairs, besides giving subsidies in money or in school supplies to the schools, is sending regular professional teachers to guarantee the maximum utilization of these institutions for the purpose of regimenting the pupils into the Italian Fascist Youth Movement.”
These teachers were legally admitted into Canada and other democratic countries !
Many of the teachers were members of the O.V.R.A.—Italian espionage organization for the Repression of Anti-Fascism. Arrigo di Bernardo, until recently director of schools in Montreal, and Cesare Porrotto, who taught at Windsor, were known members of this organization.
He who pays the piper calls the tune. The Italian Government, in subsidizing the schools, was determined to obtain its money’s worth.
In January, 1936, Pietro Parini, former director of schools abroad, visited Toronto and Hamilton and upon leaving the country addressed this letter to the children:
“My dear little friends of Toronto and Flamilton schools: You certainly must
know that in these months war is being waged in Africa between the Italians and Abyssinians, and you undoubtedly knowhow noble and just are the rights of Italy . . . But perhaps you do not know that our cause is so just that thousands in the exterior have joined us. and with these volunteers I have formed a strong legion of soldiers with whom I will leave within the next few days for Africa. I wish to tell you . . . students of my schools in the exterior whom I love so much, you whom I consider my clearest friends and my fondest hopes as Italians and Fascists, of my enthusiasm in being able to command young volunteers who w-ere in the not-toodistant past children such as you, students in the schools abroad, w-ho spent their youth outside of Italy while in their souls burned a devouring passion for the Fatherland.”
Strangely enough the Italian language actually w-as taught in these schools. Skilfully the lessons w-ere couched in language well calculated to give a thorough Fascist background and conviction. Proof of their success is the fact, for example, that the organizer of the Youth Section of the Canadian Union of Fascists was Ben D’Urbano, a graduate of an Italian school ! Nor is it surprising to learn that many members of the Fascios and the Dopo Lavoro groups had the same training in their childhood.
The method of education applied in all Italian Fascist schools abroad was very carefully planned. Take the textbooks as an example. The four readers used in Canadian schools were printed in many colors on expensive coated-stock paper. Obvious propaganda was avoided as much as possible in favor of stories of the Italian countryside, industry and heroes. But after rather casual analysis, the violently antidemocratic nature of these books, all of them printed in Rome, became evident.
Love for Italy was inculcated from the very beginning:
“Italy, my land, I love you much! We all love you!” children read on page twenty-one of the First Reader. On page thirty-six, dissimulation is dropped for a moment: “Aide leaves; he is gay, he
smiles. He crosses the mountains, the sea and will go to Italy. He will be a soldier for two years. Good-by, Aide. Greet our far-away country for us.”
It should be remembered throughout, that these books were studied by Canadian-born children, many of them sons and daughters of naturalized British subjects.
On pages forty-two and forty-three we see a little child. Mimmo, standing erect— a young Fascist. His arms are raised in Fascist salute. The text reads: “All the boys are gathered to salute the flag. They salute the flag thinking of the Fatherland over the seas.”
At the bottom of the page heavy black letters proclaim :
“Help me, O, God. to become a good Italian!”
The heights of propaganda are attained on page eighty-nine. Here, below the heroic likeness of II Duce, we read:
“All Italian children love Mussolini. Mussolini loves them because they are the beautiful essence of Italy, because they will grow up to be strong and as a result Italy will be powerful and happy.”
And although Mimmo is Canadian-born he (page ninety-five) “know-s that even w-hen he doesn’t wear the Balilla uniform
he is a little soldier of Italy and that soldiers must always be strong, loyal and courageous.”
Open Advocacy of Fascism
'T'HE second, third and fourth readers become progressively more open in their advocacy of Fascism. “Fight for II Duce!” is the appeal on page ninety-one of the second reader. On page twentynine. of the third, Mussolini says to Canadian children: “We feel that if
tomorrow again we are called to the colors, the sage King of Italy, the Victorious King, would head the regiments and lead the legions. We feel that the sage King . . . will always be present in the souls of his people. Let us hail him with powerful, threefold cry: Long Live the King (of Italy).”
And on pages thirty and thirty-one of the same book the Canadian-born child is made to read: “When I am big, when
finally 1 am a soldier, I, too, like my father, will fight for my country and I shall win: I will wrest from the enemy flags and prisoners, and I shall gain many medals. That is the dream of all Italian children and this is also your dream, O. child.”
The Fourth Reader (page fifty-four) proclaims the Decalogue of the Balilla (Italian Children’s Movement). The last words of the eighth and ninth commandments read :
"... think of Italy and make a vow to be ready to give her all your blood.
"... today Italy is free, but some day she may need even your life to become bigger; be one of the first to answer the call.”
However, even this type of concentrated Fascist propaganda w-as not good enough for II Duce. Therefore, there were organized summer tours, to Fascist Italy, for groups of selected Canadian-born children of Italian parentage.
From 1934 to 1939 more than 500 children left the shores of Canada to partake of Mussolinian hospitality in Fascist camps, to meet with Italian Fascist youth leaders, and to become imbibed with the “glory” of Fascism. Upon their return to Canada the children w-ere expected to become enthusiastic propagandists for Italy.
In 1934, the group was led by the O.V.R.A. agent A. de Bernardo. In 1938 the group was headed by Tommaso Mari, leader of the “Sons of Italy” and director of the Fascist II Bolleltino. A member of the 1938 group reported later that while in Rome he was closely questioned regarding the location of the Niagara Falls power plants.
In this way Italian and German schools have prepared the basis for reinforcements for the Fifth Column. Those w-ho had attended their classes in 1934, ’35, ’36, are children no longer, but adult young men and women. Many of them, it is true, have become convinced that Fascism is a danger and a delusion. Some may yet remain willing tools of totalitarianism.
The poison has been injected. All that can be done now is to stand on guard and learn the lesson.
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