Keywords: Postwar Italian political history - Paramilitary Organizations - Anticommunism
The article outlines the history of manifold paramilitary organizations active in Italy after 1945. Supported by a large documental basis, it demonstrates that anti-communist armed groups operated long before the constitution of Gladio (the Italian name for Stay behind) in 1956. Some of them originated from special forces connected to the post-fascist governments or to the Italian army, other originated mainly from catholic or anticommunist partisans brigades. Among the latest, the "osovani" played a fundamental role, since they reorganised themselves already in summer 1945, aiming to defend the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia from the supposed threat of the Yugoslavian expansionism. Once obtained the support of the allied authorities, those organisations coalesced in the so-called "Terzo corpo volontari della libertà", perhaps the main pillar of the next constituency of Gladio.