“I am a soldier of the ideal”: 72 Years Ago Today Anti-Fascist Carlo Tresca Was Assassinated

PM Daily, January 14, 1943, p.2

PM Daily, January 13, 1943, pp.2-3

Three Theories on the Tresca Assassination:
Police today had three theories – but no evidence – as to the motive for the murder of Carlo Tresca, anti-fascist editor and radical, on Fifth Ave. Monday night The theories are:
1. That a political enemy killed him.
2. That an Italian fifth column ordered it, possibly to head off an expose of its activities in this country.
3. That he was killed by a man who had personal difference with him.

Photo captions, p. 2:
This abandoned automobile is believed to be the car in which Tresca’s killer escaped. It is sprinkled with fingerprint powder.
Interior of Carlo Tresca’s office, where he edited Il Martello.
Copies of the last issue of Il Martello (The Hammer), hand-wrapped for mailing, were piled up in Tresca’s office when he left for the last time. Photos by Bernie Aumuller, PM.
Photo captions, p. 3:
For a short time after the assassination of Carlo Tresca, above, his body was mistaken for… Arturo Giovannitti, Italian poet and writer, above, an old friend of the murdered Italian leftist.
Carlo Tresca, rarely photographed in recent years, was caught in these bits of horseplay two Summers ago, when a PM photographer visited Unity House, the ILGWU Summer camp. Above he roughs up David Dubinsky. At right he shakes up Luigi Antonini, ILG vice president. Photos by Martin Harris, PM.

PM Daily, January 14, 1943, p.2

PM Daily, January 14, 1943, p. 2
Tresca Probe Indicates Ambush by Murder Mob
Carlo Tresca, veteran radical and anti-fascist editor was murdered Monday night in an elaborate, carefully planned ambush, police now believe. He had not a ghost of a chance to escape the bullets of the assassins waiting for him.
Police emphasized these points:
1. Two bullets from a .32-caliber pistol fired into his back and face killed Tresca.
2. Another slug, badly mashed from ricocheting, was found near the body.
3. An unfired .38-caliber revolver was found near the scene, indicating that a second gunman was lurking nearby.
4. The getaway car had motor running and a driver waiting at the wheel.
That indicates that at least three, and maybe more, were in the murder mob. The slaying had all the appearances of a “professional” crime with hired killers.

PM Daily, January 15, 1943, p. 2
Tresca Planned Return to Italy To Lead a People’s Revolution After War Had Chased Il Duce
Carlo Tresca, veteran radical and anti-Fascist editor of Il Martello (The Hammer), shortly before his murder had discussed with his associated plans to return to Italy after the fall of Mussolini to work for the establishment of a people’s postwar Government there.
That was learned yesterday while police and District Attorney Hogan were continuing their inquiry into the slaying Monday night. Tresca was shot and kiled across the street from his offices at 2 W. 15th St.
The re-shaping of Italy, Tresca said, would be: “Not for the King, not for Mussolini, not for the Pope, but for the working man.”

PM Daily, January 17, 1943, pp. 4-5
Tresca Funeral Cortege Passes Scene of Murder…
Funeral cortege of Carlo Tresca, assassinated anti-Fascist, took a route to bring it past the corner where he was murdered. Large crowds were waiting there. Photo is from Tresca’s office widow.
Exact spot where Tresca died was marked with flowers as the funeral cortege passed 15th St. and Fifth Ave. Shot by an unidentified gunman, Tresca died almost at once. Photos by John DeBiase, PM.

3500 Mourners at Services for Assassin Victim
Luigi Antonini, president of the Italian Labor Council, delivers a eulogy over the body of Carlo Tresca, murdered anti-Fascist.
Arturo Giovannitti, poet, passes casket containing friend’s body.
Here are some of the 2500 who got inside Manhattan Center. Another 1000 stood outside. PM Photos by Irving Haberman.

Carlo Tresca (1879-1943), radical, anti-fascist, anti-Communist, “anarchist,” journalist, editor (of Il Martello, The Hammer), and labor organizer, was shot, across the street from his office, 2 West 15th Street at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 15th Street at 9:40 PM on January 11, 1943. Tresca, an extremist full of contradictions and many enemies, a radicals’ radical, described by the New York Times in 1943 as a “Militant Anti-Fascist Leader” and an “internationally known revolutionary syndicalist writer, militant leader of Italian anti-Fascists and colorful figure in American radical circles for more than a generation.”
Carmine Galante was arrested (while exiting a gambling den that operated behind a candy store on Elizabeth Street) for the murder but never prosecuted (although he was executed in 1979). The crime remains unsolved.

From Carlo Tresca: The Dilemma of an Anti-Communist Radical, by Gerald Meyer, published in Public Affairs Magazine:

Carlo Tresca (1879-1943) is best remembered as a labor agitator and journalist who played a major role in the pre-World War I labor uprisings in Pennsylvania’s coalfields, in Paterson, New Jersey, on Minnesota’s Mesabi Range, and elsewhere. Less well known is Tresca’s courageous and effective leadership in the anti-Fascist struggle within the Italian American community. As an organizer and a journalist, Tresca fought in the front trenches of the fiercest battles of class struggle in the United States. Repeatedly, Tresca came face-to-face with the country’s elaborate and unrelenting repressive apparatus−and sometimes won.

Carlo Tresca, Portrait of a Rebel, by Nunzio Pernicone, published in 2010 by AK Press, PDF

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Bread – Acquiring

Regards, Notre Pain, May 12, 1938 (2007.18.42)

Underwood and Underwood publisher, Baking division of British Commissariat at work in France, 1914-1918 (2011.36.16)

Leon Levinstein, Bread Line, Bowery, 1950-1959 (2011.53.37)

Leonard Freed, [Man walking with his bike and carrying a baguette in a bag on his back], 1971 (2014.56.26)

Leonard Freed, [Three nudists buying groceries, Cote d’Azur, France], 1980 (2014.56.17)

Bernard Plossu, Turkey, 1989 (211.1995)

Ed Kashi, The Ishikveren Refugee Camp in Turkey was home to 2000,000 Kurds from Iraq who fled after the Gulf War in 1991, from “When the Borders Bleed: The Struggle of the Kurds,” 1991 (2006.40.38) (EdKashi.com)

This is the second (the first is here) in a projected four part series of posts featuring photos of, or focusing on, one of the most significant and fundamental (and one of my favorite) foods: bread!

brauð – Icelandic
nri – Igbo
roti – Indonesian
arán – Irish
pane – Italian
roti – Javanese
panem – Latin
maize – Latvian
duona – Lithuanian
roti – Malay
ħobż – Maltese
taro – Maori
талх – Mongolian
brød – Norwegian

(Bread in different languages from Google translate and the link is a Google image search – just another half baked experiment).

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Look Again! The Community Photographs of Mike Disfarmer

Mike Disfarmer
,  [Ed and Mamie Barger], ca. 1939-46 (2008.60.2)

portrait, studio portrait
Mike Disfarmer,  [Unidentified Woman with Baby], ca. 1940 (2008.92.20)

Say NO to Bullies - Say NO to Harrasment
Mike DisfarmerIrene Verser Beasley & Irma Dean, ca. 1940 (2012.116.2)

Mike Disfarmer
Arthur, Doreney, Artisee, Patsy, Oneda, Darlen, 1940s (2009.90.3)

One of the key figures in any discussion of vernacular photography is the somewhat mysterious figure of Mike Disfarmer (1882–1959), a community photographer in the small Arkansas town of Heber Springs. Disfarmer is noted for the disarmingly frank and surprisingly modernist portraits that he made of local townspeople during the 1930s and 1940s. Posed straightforwardly against a neutral black backdrop, these sitters reveal all the hope and hardship of their rural, Depression-era upbringings. In the portrait of “Ed and Mamie Barger” (ca. 1939–46), from the ICP Collection, for example, the rough work clothes and sunburnt faces are softened by the loving way they wrap their arms around each other’s shoulders. Such images would have been lost save for the farsighted vision of Peter Miller, photo editor for a local newspaper and a former New York fashion photographer. In 1974, he rescued more than 5,000 discarded glass negatives by Disfarmer, published them in a landmark book (with the Bargers as the cover image), and showed them for the first time at the International Center of Photography in 1977. Now, a new exhibition, titled Becoming Disfarmer, at the Neuberger Museum of Art at SUNY Purchase through March 22, 2015, looks closely at the Heber Springs photographer, drawing in part on the ICP Collection, which includes more than 800 Disfarmer photographs.

Brian Wallis, Chief Curator

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Make a New Year’s Revolution, Kids!

Happy and healthy New Year from the Archives of the International Center of Photography!

Sharon Avery,  Make a New Year’s Revolution, Kids!, ca. 1970 (875.2002)

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“That’s Magic!”

Martin Munkasci, glass plate negatives
Martin Munkácsi, [Man demonstrating magic trick, Budapest], 1928 (2007.110.298)

Martin Munkasci, glass plate negatives
Martin Munkácsi, [Man demonstrating magic trick, Budapest], 1928 (2007.110.299)

Tune in next week for a few more revealing photos in this macabre and magical series of glass plate negatives made by the magnificent Martin Munkácsi…

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“Blind Wizard of the Piano”


W. L. Germon’s Temple of Art, [Thomas Wiggins], ca. 1865 (823.1990)

“Academy of Music Phila[delphia] Dec 28th [18]65
Blind Tom played Yankee Doodle with his
right hand – Fishers Hornpipe with his left.
and sang Tramp, Tramp, all at the same time
In response to the Encore which
his performance occasioned, He said
Ladies and Gentleman… I will now play for you
Yankee Doodle with my right hand and
… With my left, and I wish it dis-
tinctly understood that Yankee Doodle
on top…”
(Words on the back of the photo.)

Unfortunately this carte de visite has been misguggled a bit, and the edges are trimmed, nevertheless, it’s exciting to read a presumably first hand account of a Blind Tom performance on December 28th, 1865, at the eight year old Academy of Music in Philadelphia.

The inspiration for this post was an edifying conversation between Jeffery Renard Allen, the author of a new novel, Song of the Shank, and Leonard Lopate on WNYC.

Fortunately the web is awash in great Blind Tom resources:

Who was Blind Tom? Blindtom.org

twainquotes.com The Story of Thomas Bethune also known as Thomas Wiggins also known as “Blind Tom.”

“Wagner. Yes. Wagner. Mr. Wagner. Richard Wagner. Wagner. Mr. Wagner is is dead. Yes. He is dead. Dead. His last opera. Yes. His opera. His last opera was “Parisfal.’ His last opera.” “Blind Tom As He Is To-Day” Ladies Home Journal, September 1898.

Pianist John Davis Plays Blind Tom.”
“More popularly known as Blind Tom, Wiggins was the first black superstar performer in America, this country’s first documented outsider artist, and the first in a long line of African-American musicians, including many of the bluesmen that followed, to have been canonized in life and marginalized and all but forgotten in death.” johndavispianist.com/blindtom

Blind Tom’s Battle of Manassas can be heard here and here.

Several versions of the Civil War song Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! can be heard here.
Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! (The Prisoner’s Hope) (Wikipedia)
“In the prison cell I sit,
Thinking Mother dear, of you,
And our bright and happy home so far away,
And the tears they fill my eyes
Spite of all that I can do,
Tho’ I try to cheer my comrades and be gay.
Tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys are marching,
Cheer up comrades they will come,
And beneath the starry flag
We shall breathe the air again,
Of the freeland in our own beloved home”

W. L. Germon’s Temple of Art was here.

Not surprisingly Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library have three Blind Tom objects online.

Blind Tom on youtube: Blind Tom, Slave Pianist & Autistic Savant

“On Blind Tom, Essence of Creativity, Autism and Jazz,” by Hrayr Attarian on allaboutjazz.com

Blind Tom came out of retirement in December 1903 to perform at the Orpheum in Brooklyn, (as reported in this PDF from the NY Times).

New Yorker piece on Blind Tom, from July 2002, written by Elizabeth Kolbert.

“Where is Blind Tom Buried? – twainquotes.com

Thomas Wiggins is (presumably) buried in Brooklyn, in the Evergreens Cemetery (as is Lester Young!!!).

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Merry Christmas from the Archives of the International Center of Photography!

Peter Garfield
, Untitled (Christmas Tree), 1996-98 (17.2005)

Malick Sidibé, Nuit de Noël, 1962 (22.2004)

Bill Wood, “Greetings from our house to your house, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year.” Photo shoot for 25 Christmas cards.  Mr. and Mrs. Ray and Naymond Meyers, 1947 (2010.14.29)

Holiday, December 1954 (2010.101.12)

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