Enzo Bettiza

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Person.png Enzo Bettiza  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(novelist, journalist, politician, polyglot)
Enzo Bettiza.jpg
Born7 June 1927
Split, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Died28 July 2017 (Age 90)
Rome, Italy
Member ofCommittee for the Free World
InterestsCongress for Cultural Freedom

Vincenzo Bettiza was a Yugoslavian-born Italian novelist, journalist and politician.[1][2] Earlier a Moscow correspondent, he attended the 1974 Bilderberg meeting. He was a member of the Committee for the Free World, a continuation of the Congress for Cultural Freedom.


His father was from the Italian minority in Dalmatia. The economic fortune of the Smacchia Bettiza family dates back to the Napoleonic era, when the French government of the Illyrian provinces contracted the construction of the driveway from Split to Ragusa to the writer's great-grandfather. The economic success contiued during Austro-Hungarian rule until 1918, when the province went to Yugoslavia. Still in the twenties the Gilardi and Bettiza cement factory was the most important industry in Dalmatia. In the twenties, as permitted by the Treaty of Rapallo, the family had opted for Italian citizenship, despite residing in Yugoslavia. After World War II the industry was nationalized by the new communist government, the family lost everything, and moved to Italy. [3]"

Arriving in Italy on "a makeshift Apulian fishing boat, dangerously overloaded with Hungarian, Slovak, Polish, Romanian Jews who fled from the East" [4], the young Bettiza fled from a refugee camp in Apulia and stopped in Rome. He enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts of the capital with the intention of becoming a painter, but did not find his way there and lived for a few years in precarious jobs, including smuggler, poker player and book seller in installments.[5]

Foreign correspondent for La Stampa and Corriere della Sera

Polyglot (he spoke Venetian, Italian, Serbian, German,Russian and French), of refined manners and boundless passion for reading and discussions[6], in 1953 he was hired by the weekly Epoca and in 1957 he moved to the newspaper La Stampa, for which he was a correspondent from Vienna and then from Moscow, from where he was the first Western correspondent to write not only that the Soviets had broken with the Chinese but also that that rift would help the United States win the Cold War.[7] He assessed Khrushchev as: "He was a Ukrainian peasant who played the overrated Kennedy. He erected the Berlin Wall under his nose and avoided nuclear war, despite Castro urging it: he was ready to see Cuba destroyed in order to destroy America".[7] He remained in Moscow until he was dismissed by the director Giulio De Benedetti for "too much activism" in 1964.[5]

Bettiza then went to Corriere della Sera for which he worked, always as a foreign correspondent, for ten years, until leaving after personal and professional conflicts with editor-in-chief Piero Ottone].


In the sixties, his literary production, fiction and non-fiction took shape. His work is mainly focused on the study of Central European countries and criticism of communist ideology and Eastern European governments. In 1970 he won the Isola d'Elba literary prize with the book Diario di Mosca (Moscow Diary). His work of greatest theoretical commitment is The Mystery of Lenin, an anthropology of homo sovieticus (Soviet man) starting from the figure of the founder of Bolshevism, which Bettiza contemptuously defines "a mechanical hominid, hard, opaque, able to exist solely and entirely in the socialist present, devoid of memory, doubts, remorse". Later he is particularly skeptical of the reform experiences of Mikhail Gorbachev.[8]

The years with Montanelli at Il Giornale

In 1974 Indro Montanelli asked Bettiza to help him establish an independent newspaper. Bettiza accepted. Bettiza founded with Indro Montanelli Il Giornale, of which he was co-editor from 1974 to 1983. The partnership lasted almost ten years. It broke up due to some contrasts on the political line. After a mutual break, Bettiza and Montanelli did not talk to each other for years, until 1996.

Senator and MEP

While still at Il Giornale he entered politics. He was elected senator from 1976 to 1979 for the liberal PLI. From 1979 to 1989 he represented the Liberals in the European Parliament, before being a candidate and elected MEP in 1989 directly on the PSI lists.

Meanwhile, in 1987 he began to again collaborate with the newspaper La Stampa, becoming a columnist and political commentator until his death.[5] In the nineties and two thousand Bettiza devoted himself completely to writing, with various texts, dedicated to the events of Eastern Europe and the end of the Soviet Bloc.

Among his literary works are Exile, a memory of childhood and adolescence in his native Dalmatia from the twenties to the Second World War, and the novel The Ghosts of Moscow (1993), reflection on totalitarianism in the years of the Stalinist purges, considered the longest novel ever written in the Italian language.[8]

In 1997, following the resignation of Vittorio Feltri, Silvio Berlusconi offered him the direction of Il Giornale, but Bettiza refused.

Bettiza was among the few intellectuals and journalists to offer political support to the Northern League.


Event Participated in

Bilderberg/197419 April 197421 April 1974France
Hotel Mont d' Arbois
The 23rd Bilderberg, held in France


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