World War II

Giovanni di Lorenzo

Italian Army

Giovanni di Lorenzo (Vizzini, November 29, 1907 – Rome, April 26, 1973) was an Italian general and politician.

He was head of SIFAR (1955-1962), general commander of the Carabinieri (October 15, 1962 – January 31, 1966) and Chief of Staff of the Italian Army (February 1, 1966 – April 15, 1967).

He became known for the role he played in the development of the Solo Plan.

The son of a career officer of the Artillery Weapon, he still followed his father as a child from his native Sicilia to Genoa, where he graduated in naval engineering. Later he became an artillery officer. Promoted major at the outbreak of World War II, in 1942 with the rank of lieutenant colonel he left for Russia with the AMIR, as deputy head of the operations office.

After September 8, 1943, he became a partisan, working first on the Alpine front, then in occupied Rome, as commander of the Center of the Military Information Service: as such, he entered into direct and confidential relations with the leaders of the CLN and the CLNAI, from which many important exponents of republican politics came. Participation in the Resistance gave him the sympathies of left-wing circles and was decorated with the silver medal.

In 1947, he was promoted to colonel on the merits of war, and in 1954 he became a brigadier general.

On December 27, 1955, he assumed command of SIFAR. During his long command (seven years), Di Lorenzo had begun a gigantic work of cataloging the most prominent exponents of all institutions and all social groups. From the approximately two thousand dossiers drawn up shortly after his appointment, it went to about 17,000 in 1960, until in 1962 the number of dossiers amounted to 117,000, estimated at 157,000 by the Beolchini commission: the (political) judgment of the commission on the quality of the files would in fact have been not very flattering, having defined them forcibly emphasized on defects. The files were destroyed by Andreotti in 1974, upon his return to the Ministry of Defense. Having become a general of division, he remained at the head of the Service, thanks to which the command of the Service was equated with the command of a large unit, allowing him to retain its leadership and to derive career advantages, such as the possibility of accessing prestigious commands. In 1961 he was promoted to Major of the Army Corps.

According to journalist Renzo Trionfera, Enrico Mattei, in favor of a second term for the outgoing President (with whom he had made friends when he was minister of industry and was struggling not to close the Agip), would have offered a billion lire to Gronchi to bribe some voters in order to re-elect him. Di Lorenzo, again according to this thesis, would have been the one who would have materially taken care of the distribution of the bribes. But the story was much more complex: the outgoing President Gronchi, historical sponsor of the rise of Mattei, competed for the Quirinale with Antonio Segni and, with less chance and only as a possible outsider, with Amintore Fanfani, then President of the Council. On March 28, 1962, Di Lorenzo’s SIFAR noted that Giuseppe Saragat had promised the Socialist International that Mattei would be downsized and that the non-reelection of Gronchi would be a condition opposed by the social democratic leader to Amintore Fanfani, ‘not really unfavorable’ to a replacement at the top of Amintore Fanfani.

On October 15, 1962 he was appointed general commander of the Carabinieri, at an international juncture of maximum alert (in the imminence of the Cuban crisis) and, as far as Italy is concerned, only a few days after the opening of the Second Vatican Council (which recorded a certain coldness between the Holy See and the United States). The appointment of Di Lorenzo seemed to meet the general approval of the left, the moderates, and the conservatives. As for the United States, Fanfani immediately sent on a very confidential and urgent mission the trusted Ettore Bernabei, president of Rai, to confer with Arthur Schlesinger, officially to deal with the United States-Vatican relations.

Di Lorenzo took up his place with care and determination, determined to put order in a gigantic disorganized structure. From his new post he managed to always maintain a leading role, continuing to have continuous contacts with SIFAR and the Quirinale. This is evidenced by the events that took place in July 1964 following the crisis of the first Moro government. On July 15, Di Lorenzo was in fact received by President Antonio Segni as part of the consultations for the formation of the new government. Antonio Segni received him (actually together with other soldiers superior to him) to find out if in his opinion any early elections could have disturbed public order and Di Lorenzo replied that ‘the situation is controlled and controllable without doing anything, without making plans’.

Of plans, specifically of contingency plans, De Lorenzo was well understood, being considered the greatest architect of the programming and development of the Solo plan.

In December 1965, he was appointed chief of staff of the Italian Army.

In 1967, there was a new structure of the secret service, renamed SID, which no longer maintained the lid on the dossier activities dear to Di Lorenzo. In particular, it was fatal to him to have systematically spied on and registered the Head of State himself.

In January 1967, the Minister of Defence Roberto Tremelloni, answering some parliamentary questions on the personal files collected by the old SIFAR, admitted that ‘deviations’ of the secret services had occurred.

On April 15, 1967, after he had refused a more discreet and honorable exit (he had been offered the appointment as ambassador to South America as a reward for his spontaneous resignation, which Di Lorenzo however did not intended to resign), Di Lorenzo was dismissed from the post of Chief of the Army General Staff.

A parliamentary commission, established in March 1969, was punctuated by several singular deaths of witnesses (on April 27, 1969, that of General Ciglieri in a strange car accident, on June 25 of the same year General Manes caught in illness before opening his mouth in committee). The commission (with a majority report of 1410 pages) aimed to reduce the severity of the anomalies found: it censured Di Lorenzo’s behavior with harsh expressions, but considered that his illegitimate plan (because prepared without the knowledge of the responsible government and other law enforcement agencies and entrusted only to the carabinieri) was unfeasible and fanciating, branding it as ‘In 1971 the President of the Council Emilio Colombo, who had the approval of Parliament after a debate, stated that ‘the irregularities of certain measures in the field of public order’ did not pose a threat to the institutions.

Among other things, the destruction of the thirty-four thousand illegal files was ordered there, but evidently the words were not followed by the facts until 1974, when Andreotti ordered them to be really burned, and it is not known whether in any case copies were circulated even long after.

Di Lorenzo’s closest collaborators, even those whose involvement in unorthodox actions had emerged, were instead all promoted to important leadership roles in the Carabinieri.

Leaving the staff, Di Lorenzo was assigned to the Ministry of Defense for special assignments. He went on leave in 1970.

In the general elections of May 19, 1968, Di Lorenzo was elected to the Chamber of Deputies among the ranks of the Italian Democratic Party of Monarchical Unity.

In 1971, he left the monarchies and joined the MSI group, where he was re-elected in 1972 until his death in 1973..

According to some journalistic evidence, Di Lorenzo in the 70s would have been enrolled in the P2 Masonic lodge of Licio Gelli.

Shortly before his death, Di Lorenzo was revoked the honorary citizenship of the municipality of Cotignola, conferred for the merits acquired during the Resistance.

Di Lorenzo’s Honors:

Silver Medal for Military Valor

‘Higher officer of the Royal Army General Staff distinguished himself from the first days after the armistice in the fight against the occupying enemy. Appointed by the Italian Supreme Command to carry out information activities in the interest of operations as deputy head of the information center located in the capital, he dedicated himself with great self-sacrifice to the new task, managing to collect and send valuable news for their immediate war exploitation. Although actively sought after and despite the fact that the multiplication of arrests and denunciations made the conduct of his activity more and more risky, he managed to escape with skillful decision from arrest, so as not to stop the continuing information current – high example for his collaborators – unperturbed in his delicate and important mission until the liberation of the Capital.”

— Rome, March-June 1944.

Knight of the Great Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic

— Rome, 22 May 1964.

Vizzini, Italy