A historian of the Risorgimento with anti-clerical, socialist leanings, who was killed in France in 1937 with his brother Carlo, on the orders of the Italian Fascist authorities.
Nello Rosselli was born in Rome on November 29, 1900 and he was assassinated in Bagnoles-de-l'Orne on June 9, 1937.
He was the son of Joe Rosselli and Amelia Pincherle; he married Maria Todesco in Florence on December 22, 1926; children: Silvia, Paola, Aldo and Alberto.
N.R. first emerged in 1917 in Florence when he and his brother Carlo founded the student newspaper “Noi giovani”. He was enrolled at the University, where he met Gaetano Salvemini, with whom he shared a long friendship and mutual respect that included his brother Carlo, and led to the creation, with Nello Niccoli, Ernesto Rossi, Piero Calamandrei, Piero Jahier and other intellectuals, of the Circolo di Cultura, which was closed by the Prefect of Florence on January 5, 1925 “for reasons of public order”.
On March 21, 1923 Rosselli graduated with Salvemini, with a thesis on Mazzini and the workers’ movement in Italy from 1861 to 1872 (published in the “Nuova Rivista Storica” in 1924).
On November 3, 1924 he spoke at the 4th Young Jewish Congress in Livorno, where he expounded a secular position that opposed the position of extremist Zionism.
In January he and his brother Carlo founded the clandestine paper “Non mollare”, which continued to be printed until the “St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre” in October, when several antifascists were killed.
In March N.R. went to Berlin to continue his studies of the workers’ movement; his studies also focused on the figure of Carlo Pisacane.
From March 1926 he collaborated with the magazine “Il Quarto Stato” edited by Pietro Nenni and Carlo Rosselli, and from July with the magazine “Critica politica”.
In 1927 N.R. published Mazzini e Bakounine: 12 anni di movimento operaio in Italia (1860-1872), which won him a scholarship to the School of modern and contemporary history run by Gioacchino Volpe.
As an “individual who is a danger to the State”, he was arrested in Florence on June 1, 1927 and sentenced to 5 years internment on the island of Ustica.
On February 1, 1928, thanks to the intervention of Gioacchino Volpe and Enrico Boselli on behalf of the National Committee for the history of the Risorgimento, he was granted parole, and was able to leave Ustica and resume his research activities.
In July 1929, N.R. and his sister-in-law Marion Rosselli were arrested and accused of complicity in Carlo Rosselli’s flight from internment on Lipari; Rosselli was sentenced to internment and sent first to Ustica and then to Ponza; on November 5, he was “freed as an act of clemency by il Duce”.
In June 1930 he left for London to continue his study of diplomatic relations between Italy and the United Kingdom in the 20th century, which was commissioned by the Italian Historical Institute for the modern and contemporary age, and was published after his death (Inghilterra e Regno di Sardegna dal 1815 al 1847, Einaudi, Turin 1954).
That same year he collaborated with Enciclopedia Italiana which was directed by Gioacchino Volpe, writing the entry about Michail Bakunin.
In 1932 Rosselli drafted the programme for a “Magazine of European history to be published in French, possibly in Geneva, with international collaboration”, but the project never got off the ground.
In September 1932 he published Carlo Pisacane nel Risorgimento italiano.
In August 1933 he attended the International Congress of historical science in Krakow, representing Italy.
In August 1934, he visited Britain where he continued his historical research.
In April 1936 he took part at the meeting of the International Commission of the history of social movements and of the International Committee of historical science, held in Bucharest. That same year he published La politica inglese in Italia nell'età del Risorgimento in “Rivista storica italiana” and Giuseppe Montanelli e il problema Toscano nel 1859 in “Archivio storico italiano”.
On June 5, 1937 he joined his brother Carlo in Bagnoles-de-l'Orne in Normandy; Nello and Carlo were assassinated there on June 9 by the French Fascist group La Cagoule, on the orders of the Italian Fascist authorities; their bodies were found on June 11.
In 1946 a collection of Rosselli’s writings, Saggi sul Risorgimento e altri scritti, was published by Einaudi.
On April 29, 1951, when the corpses of Carlo and Nello Rosselli were returned to Florence from Paris to be buried in Trespiano cemetery, a memorial service was held for the two brothers at Palazzo Vecchio; Salvemini gave the commemorative speech in the presence of Italian President Luigi Einaudi.
Texts edited by Carla Ceresa and Valeria Mosca
The Rosselli Archive
I Rosselli. Epistolario familiare 1914-1937, a cura di Zeffiro Ciuffoletti, Mondadori, Milano 1997
Politica e affetti familiari. Lettere dei Rosselli ai Ferrero (1917-1943), a cura di Marina Calloni e Lorella Cedroni, Feltrinelli, Milano 1997
Giuseppe Fiori, Casa Rosselli, Einaudi, Torino 1999
Amelia Rosselli, Memorie, a cura di Marina Calloni, Il Mulino, Bologna 2001
Lessico familiare. Vita, cultura e politica della famiglia Rosselli all'insegna della libertà, Catalogo a cura di Zeffiro Ciuffoletti e Gian Luca Corradi, Edimond, Città di Castello 2002
Un'altra Italia nell'Italia del fascismo. Carlo e Nello Rosselli nella documentazione dell'Archivio Centarle dello Stato, Catalogo a cura di Marina Giannetto, Edimond, Città di Castello 2002
Politica, valori, idealità. Carlo e Nello Rosselli maestri dell'Italia civile, a cura di Lauro Rossi, Carocci, Roma 2003.