Caroline Foulke Urie to Emily Greene Balch, February 28, 1921


Copy from letter from Caroline Foulke Urie. Rome, 28/II/1921

My dear Miss Balch,

I am very sorry to have such poor success to report you. I've been all over Rome, have seen, or tried to see, most of the people on your list, to have not had a glimmer of encouragement from any of them as to the possibility of reviving the Italian branch of the League here in Rome. Whether any new group could be assembled in its stead I can't make out. The person who could tell best about that would probably be the Signora Chiaraviglio-Giolitti, who has, I fancy, wider contacts than any of the other women I have seen and might be able to reach other people. I have not been able to see her yet but have asked for an appointment, and if she has any one [encouragement] to give I'll write you again after seeing her. If not, I'm afraid Rome is hopeless.

I don't know what better success you may have with Signora Genoni in [Milan]. The whole psychology of Italy just now appears to be that of Civil War. There is apparently no central ground left of mere humanitarianism apart from the heat and bitterness of social conflict. The elements of which the Italian group was composed can no longer exist side by side (a bad omen, [illegible] alas, for the cause of peace in the world!)

The group which stood firm from the outset and straight through in opposition to the war, the socialist women, gave their adherence at the time of the Z├╝rich Congress, so they say, mainly as a protest against the Versailles peace -terms. Save for these and a few members of Austrian or German birth (the Signora Grassi and her daughter, The Marchesa [Lucifero] [etc.]). The other members of the league were all, so I am told, interventionists during the war, and would doubtless be so again (the Socialists say) in the event of another war.

Meanwhile the post-war developments in Italy have so intensified the social conflict that the socialist women are no longer disposed to affiliate with a non-revolutionary international organization -- considering it futile and unrealistic.

Moreover the mere presence of Socialists in such an organization automatically alienates (so the Signora Grassi informs me) other so-called "liberal" groups. The Signora Grassi thought it barely possible that (if the socialist women were [eliminated]) it might be possible to interest some of the members of the clerical party, or "Popolari" -- the least nationalistic group after the Socialists. If so, the Signora Chiaraviglio-Giolitti would probably know how to reach them.

March 3d. I have delayed sending this letter in order to report on my interview with the Signora Chiaraviglio, whom I say [today].

She, [though] herself an ardent pacifist and internationalist, was quite as discouraging as all the others I had seen over the present situation among Italian women. She says that, save among the inarticulate and ignorant women of the people, workers and peasants, there is practically no pacifist or international sentiment among Italian women at all [today], that time and education and organization are needed to create it. [page 2]

The Signora Aresti, whom you especially asked me to see (but who is away in America for three months) was "intervenzionistissima" -- not in any sense a pacifist during the war, says the Signora Chiaraviglio.

Signora Lollini as a Socialist told me she could take no active part in the league at present. The Signora Rambelli, also a Socialist is unwilling, as a matter of party discipline to even continue membership -- and as Signora Mazzi, Dr. [Kuliscioff] and Prof. Dobelli-Zampetti are Socialists (I am told) the same would probably be true of them, [though] I have not seen them.

I saw also Miss Hobhouse, who is now in Rome, and she appeared, like me, to have got a discouraging impression of the local situation and to agree with the others that it would be quite useless for you to come to Rome just now.

Whether Signora Genoni in Milan has a real group to work with I cannot say -- the Signora Chiaraviglio could not tell me.

I am exceedingly sorry to have to give you such a discouraging report!

I myself am leaving Rome in a few days and so shall be unable to do anything further here.

I do hope you will have more cheerful news from Milan!

Very sincerely yours

Caroline Foulke Urie.