The XXth Century’s Robin Hood

“Salvatore Giuliano (November 16, 1922 – July 5, 1950) was a Sicilian peasant. The subjugated social status of his class led him to become a bandit and separatist who has been mythologised during his life and after his death.  He is commonly compared to the legend of Robin Hood in popular culture, due to stories pertaining to him helping the poor villagers in his area by taking from the rich.

In the Sagana mountains, Giuliano collected a gang of approximately fifty bandits, criminals, deserters, and homeless men under his leadership and gave them military-style marksmanship training. The gang took to robbery and burglary for the money they needed for food and weapons.

Giuliano led small-scale attacks on government and police targets in the name of this movement. Reputedly, Giuliano himself would have liked to have seen Sicily become a state within the United States of America. He sent president Harry S. Truman a letter in which he urged him to annex Sicily.

Giuliano also fostered a number of myths around himself. One tale tells how he discovered a postal worker was stealing letters that contained money Sicilian families had sent to their relatives in the USA; he killed the postal worker and assured the letters continued to their correct destinations. When he robbed the duchess of Pratameno, he left her with her wedding ring and borrowed a book she was reading; he returned it later with compliments. He fostered cooperation of poor tenant farmers by sending them money and food. Contrary to some claims, he was not a Mafioso.”

“The Sicilian bandit Salvatore Giuliano entered legend in 1950 when his bullet-riddled body was found in the courtyard of a house in Castelvetrano, having apparently died in a shoot-out with the Carabinieri.

A controversial figure in life – seen by some as a Robin Hood-type figure and by others, more realistically, as a terrorist – Giuliano appears to have become even more mysterious in death.

Far from being a romantic “Sicilian Robin Hood”, Casarrubea says, Giuliano’s gang worked first at the orders of a German SS Colonel, Herbert Kappler, before switching at the end of the war to the service of the US intelligence agency.

The band’s most infamous exploit was the Portella della Ginestra massacre, a response to an electoral victory by the leftist People’s Bloc.

The massacre, on Labour Day 1947, claimed the lives of 11 Socialist party supporters and injured 71 others.

By the end of his criminal career Giuliano was believed to have been responsible for some 430 murders, his victims distributed promiscuously among the police, the mafia and civilians.”

SOURCES: 1 and 2

Followup:

“The remains were exhumed in order to ascertain, once and for all, whether Salvatore Giuliano had a lookalike buried in his place and then escaped Italy for a new life in the United States. If still alive, he would be 88.

Surviving relatives of Italy’s most famous bandit chieftain insist that he was at least 5ft 9in tall.

But the skeleton found in his grave in Montelpre, in western Sicily, belongs to someone who was between 5ft 2in and 5ft 5in tall, investigators said.

A local coroner has instructed police to check documents which may record Giuliano’s exact height in order to confirm the apparent discrepancy.

The remains were exhumed last week, 60 years after the man dubbed The King of Montelpre was supposed to have been murdered by his cousin, one of his most trusted lieutenants.

Experts plan to carry out DNA tests on the skeleton and to match the samples with those of Giuliano’s living relatives. ” Source

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