Augusto Castrucci (1872-1952)

Augusto Castrucci was born in Pisa in 1872. By 1891 he was on file as an anarchist and was soon working on the railways. He joined the Railway League, the earliest railway workers’ union, in 1897. A respected representative of his co-workers, during the railway workers’ general strike he was one of the most pugnacious figures and this brought him in for special attention from the police. After the establishment of the Italian Rail Union (SFI), he launched the glorious newspaper In Marcia! in 1908, becoming its director and one of its most regular contributors. In the turbulent times marked by frequent conflict and campaigns and factionalism within the union over whether it ought or ought not to affiliate to the General Labour Confederation (CGdL), Castrucci initially lobbied for union autonomy before flirting after the “Red Week” with the Italian Syndicalist Union (USI) and sharing in the revolutionary approach by which it was set apart. Not that participation in the trade union movement took him away from the anarchist movement proper: in fact he was present at the First Italian Anarchist Congress held in Rome in 1907 and the national convention in Pisa in 1915 at which “the anarchists’ unrelenting aversion to all conflict” was reiterated. In the wake of the First World War, during the “red biennium”, Castrucci was among the most prominent of his workmates, not merely because of his organisational talents but also in terms of the respect and confidence he inspired from those around him. He continued to put the case for keeping the SFI independent of the CGdL and this, of course, was scarcely calculated to win him the friendship of reformist socialists and “revolutionary” communists. After he suffered a very violent assault by fascists in Pisa in 1922, he moved to Milan and the following year he was dismissed from the railways for his beliefs. He carried on as director of In Marcia! however, until it ceased publication in 1926. Under the fascists he was repeatedly reported, stopped, arrests and interned and this harassment continued until 1944. After the fall of fascism he returned to his place in the rail union, becoming its honorary general secretary. He died in Milan in 1952 at the age of 80, leaving behind a reputation among his colleagues as a man of the highest integrity.

From: A Rivista Anarchica, No 277, December 2001. Translated by: Paul Sharkey.