Eugenio Curiel



Eugenio Curiel was one of the most brilliant and tragic figures of the Italian Resistance. A brilliant scientist but a restless thinker, he was personally committed to the dialogue between the anti-fascist left and the development of a modern political proposal. His violent death stripped the Fronte della Gioventù (Youth Front) of its natural leader (he founded the association), but bequeathed it a great example of bravery and dedication.

Eugenio Curiel was born in 1912 in Trieste. Coming from a wealthy Jewish family, he stood out in his studies from an early age.

In 1929, he enrolled at the Faculty of Engineering in Florence and moved to the Tuscan capital, where he was a guest of his uncle Ludovico Limentani, an anti-fascist philosopher. In 1931, he went to the Milan Polytechnic and then to the Faculty of Physics, obtaining his teacher's diploma in the meantime. He then returned to Florence, following his thesis advisor to Padua. He graduated in 1933 and immediately became a university assistant and contributor to Il Bò, a university magazine linked to the University of Padua.

In the meantime, after a diligent reading of Croce and a meeting with Atto Braun, he had discovered Marxism and came into contact with the undercover PCI (Italian Communist Party). In 1938, he was released from service due to the new racial laws. He moved between Switzerland and France, making contacts with the Socialist Resistance, but was arrested by the Ovra in Trieste in 1939.

After a spell in San Vittore prison (Milan), he was sentenced to confinement on the small island of Ventotene, where he arrived in January 1940. Here, he resumed contacts with communists, while also lecturing for the exiles. 

Having been released a few days before the armistice, he returned to Veneto and from here he went to Milan, where he joined the party's northern leadership, the underground 'L'Unità' leadership and the general command of the Garibaldi Brigades.

He conceived, founded and led the Fronte della Gioventù per l'indipendenza e per la libertà (Youth Front for Independence and Freedom), the new cross-party youth organisation promoted by the PCI. On 24 February 1945, he was caught in Piazza Baracca by a fascist patrol, made an attempt to escape and was killed by machine-gun fire.

Curiel's writings on 'progressive democracy', which were collected after his death, are an essential theoretical contribution to anti-fascism and a shining example of civic commitment.