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09 July1960
The dead of Reggio Emilia
Franco Cigarini
Ludwig van Beethoven, Terza Sinfonia "Eroica", performed by NBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Arturo Toscanini

'Comrade Ovidio Franchi, comrade Afro Tondelli, and you, Marino Serri, Reverberi and Farioli, we will all have to have, from now on, you people at our side, so that we do not feel alone'. The verses of the famous song addressed the dead of Reggio Emilia, naming them one by one. On 9 July 1960, the five coffins of the workers killed by the forces of law and order during the demonstration two days earlier were carried through the streets of the Emilian town. They will be remembered as 'the martyrs of 7 July': this very name will be given to the square dedicated to them, the very square where they fell while exercising their right to demonstrate. "The deaths in Reggio Emilia are the culmination - not the conclusion - of two weeks of clashes with the police, to whom the head of the government, Tambroni, gave freedom to open fire in "emergency situations": in the end there will be eleven dead and hundreds injured. These deaths forced the resignation of the Tambroni government, a single Christian Democrat government with the decisive external support of the M.S.I. and the monarchists, and opened the way for future centre-left governments" (Girolamo De Michele). The 8mm footage of the funeral in Reggio Emilia, of the crowd, of the procession of the emotion aroused by that event is taken from a film by Franco Cigarini. The sequence we show is shot on that day. Even more than their value as a document and civil commitment, these images by Cigarini testify to the liturgy and secular sacredness, the collective participation, of that moment. Parading among others are the political representatives in defence of democracy (first and foremost Palmiro Togliatti and Ferruccio Parri). Cigarini captures the serious and firm attitude of the participants (a lesson in dignity and civil conscience) and the composed grief, especially that of the mothers and widows. The camera returns these glances. These images, which are a representation of one of the high points of Italian democracy, make us feel at their side.