Alcide De Gasperi: Prime Minister of Italy (1945-1953)

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Alcide De Gasperi was born on April 3,1881 in Pieve Tesino, Tyrol, Austria-Hungary (now today in present day Trentino, Italy). He was raised as a devout Catholic and remained so his entire life. From 1896, he was active in the Social Christian movement. In 1900 he joined the Faculty of Literature and Philosophy in Vienna, where he played an important role in the inception of the Christian student movement. He was strongly inspired by Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical “Rerum novarum”. In 1905, he began work as the editor of the newspaper, “La Voce Cattolica” which was replaced by “Il Trentino” in September 1906, and worked as its editor for a short time. In 1911, he became a member of Parliament representing Popular Political Union of Trentino in the Austrian Reichsrat, a post he held until 1917. During World War I, he was politically neutral and spent time in Vienna. He was sympathetic to the ultimately unsuccessful efforts of Pope Benedict XV and King Charles I of Austria to obtain an honorable peace to end World War I. After the war, Tyrol was transferred to Italy and became Trentino. He obtained Italian citizenship. He never hid his love for Austria and German culture and often preferring to speak German to his family, most of his family spoke German. In 1919, he co-founded the Catholic Italian People’s Party with Father Luigi Sturzo. He served as a deputy in the Italian Parliament from 1921 to 1924. When Benito Mussolini and his Fascist Party came to power in 1922, he initially supported Mussolini. By 1924, he broke with Mussolini and spoke against Mussolini and his Fascist government. By November 1926, the Italian People’s Party was dissolved and in March 1927, he was arrested by the regime and given a 4 year prison sentence. The Vatican negotiated his release and in July 1928, he was released. He was unemployed and in serious financial hardship. In 1929, he was hired as a cataloger in the Vatican Library serving until 1943. After, the fall of Mussolini and the Fascist regime, in December 1943, he founded the Italian Christian Democratic Party and served as its first secretary general in 1944. On December 10,1945, he became Prime Minister of Italy. He served until August 10,1953. He was a staunch anti-Communist. He died on August 19,1954 in Borgo Valsugana, Trentino, Italy. He is a candidate for beatification in the Catholic Church.

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