How a Charismatic Populist Destroyed Christmas

One Hundred Years Ago, Italian Nationalists Went to War With Their Own Country, Bringing the Border City of Fiume a ‘Christmas of Blood’

In 1920, in a small town outside Turin, Italy, 17-year-old Luigi De Michelis was everything his middle-class parents could have asked for. His teachers liked him, which was important to his father, a teacher. His priest liked him, which was important to his mother, who wrote Catholic children’s books.

But soon Luigi started following the news a little too avidly. Then he started going to meetings on the sly. Suddenly the De Michelis’ good boy was more interested in the man the newspapers called “Comandante” than in the approval of …