A short biography of Italian anarchist active in Australia, Boris Franteschini.
On August 26, 1986 Boris Franteschini died due to complications caused by lung cancer.
Boris was one of the last active members of the Italian Anarchist Movement in Melbourne. His commitment and enthusiasm for anarchism was something he maintained until his death.
Boris was born in 1914 in the United States, into a family of anarchist militants. At the age of 7 he returned to Italy with his family. In 1927 due to the increasing repression in Italy associated with the rise of fascism, Boris and his family immigrated to Melbourne.
He worked for a time on his father’s small crop farm in Narre Warren, then latter as a woodcutter; a concreter; and finally settling into the marble business.
In the 1930’s and 1940’s Boris was active in the Italian anarchist Movement in exile in Melbourne. This group worked amoung the Melbourne Italian community, put out a newspaper and were involved in anti-fascist activity. They also gave support to anarchists in need overseas, particularly in Italy and Spain.
With the death of the older more experienced comrades Boris eventually found himself as a centre-point for Italian anarchist activity in Melbourne after the Second World War.
Between 1950 and 1965 there were about 30 people involved in the Italian Anarchist Movement in Melbourne – most of them were anarchists who had migrated to Australia.
Unfortunately this group carried out its activities in relative isolation. They didn’t speak much English, there was no indigenous Australian Anarchist movement, and amoung the second and third generations of Australian-Italians there was little interest in Anarchism.
The group held monthly meetings. They raised money for the Italian Anarchist Press. In their more active years they raised thousands of dollars and made an important contribution to the propogation of anarchist ideas in Italy. They assisted overseas anarchists, especially refugees from Franco’s Spain. And to those who made their way to Australia, they offered solidarity, orientation and friendship.
Since 1965 the group has dwindled in size. Some have died, some have moved interstate or returned to Italy. With the death of Boris Franteschini only four members of the group remained: Amendu Ceccaroni, Jack Farrello, Raphaele Turco, and Bruno Vannini.
Although the group had contact with the Spanish and Bulgarian anarchists in exile, it was only a few years ago that a link was made with the local “Australian” anarchist movement.
This contact was strengthened in 1985-86 with the organisation of the Australian Centenary Celebrations. The Italian Anarchist Movement in Melbourne donated money for the celebrations, and Boris Franteschini, along with Bruno Vannini, attended a number of the pre-Centenary meetings.
On May 3, and despite the pain his illness was causing him, he came to the Australian Anarchist Centenary Celebrations to participate in a workshop on the Italian Anarchist Movement in Melbourne (pictured, below). He was obviously pleased with the gathering and for the opportunity to renew old contacts. At last the effort of the Italian Anarchists in Melbourne had bridged the language barrier and gained local recognition as well as giving us roots spanning 60 years.
Boris Franteschini will be remembered as a kind, generous and intelligent person. Full of energy and enthusiasm in our common struggle, he kept the flame of Anarchism alive over many decades in an environment that was often hostile to those ideas.
Italian Anarchism in Melbourne session at the Australian Anarchist Centenary Celebration, 3 May, 1986.
Attendees pictured are:
Back Row: Miura Seiichi (Japan), unknown, unknown, Peter Sheldon, Joe Toscano
Front Row: Ha Ki Rak (korea), Boris Franteschini, Amenda Ceccaroni,
Bruno Vannini and Raphaele Turco
by S. Russell
With thanks to Joe Toscano and Bruno Vannini for providing me with information.
Published in Rebel Worker, Sydney, Vol 5 No 7 (31) October 1986, edited by libcom.
Melbourne conference photo taken with thanks from takver.com