Alessandria, Ananrchism, Banda Bonnot, Bank Robbery, Bologna, Brigate Rosse, Enzo Monteleone, Fossano, France, Generale Della Chiesa, Germany, Heroin, Horst Fantazzini, Italy, Mannheim, Marseille, Prisons, Red Brigades, Saint Tropez, Scarlet Pimpernel, Soccorso Rosso
Horst Fantazzini was born in Altenkessel (in the region of Saar, Germany, at the border with France) on the 4th of March 1939, son of Alfonso “Libero” Fantazzini, an anarchist from Bologna, and Bertha Heinz. Horst means “shelter”: this name was chosen by his father, a political refugee. His father wasn’t able to take care of his family properly, as he was a fugitive, a bank robber financing the resistance against fascism. Bertha, his mother, tried to survive in Germany working at the fruit and vegetables market during the day and sewing purses at night. Horst spent his first years under the bombs and in 1945 went to Italy to join the rest of his family. Bologna was destroyed. That experience was very tough for him and marked him for life. He tried to be successful with boxing and cylclism, and he obtained very good amateur results, winning few races. He was also a brilliant student, a good reader and a good painter. Due to the poor condition of his family he had to conciliate his studies with various jobs as delivery boy, worker or clerk. The miserable wage and the humbling work condition induced him to leave his wage earning status for other ambitions. So he started with minor thefts, stealing bicycles, motorcycles, then cars. He was fatally attracted by the “Banda Bonnot” story, a French criminal anarchist group that operated in France and Belgium. When he was 18 years old he married Anna (only 17 y.o.). In 1960, in order to give her a holiday gift, he carried out a robbery in a Post Office with a toy gun. He’s been arrested while escaping on a stolen car and he’s been sentenced to 5 years prison detention. He had his first son while he was in prison, and during a leave in 1965 they conceived the second one, Anna suffering for his absence and the lack of money got ill and left him during his second pregnancy, she went back to her parents in Naples. Horst was freed few months later and he found a job in a ‘bar pizzeria’, but his legal life wouldn’t last longer than few months. He went soon back to his bank-robbery career. Horst considered banks to be the first oppressor of the poor people.
“Horst Fantazzini lives in every robbed bank”
Again, with no luck. In an attempt in Genova, he was arrested even before to accomplish the robbery. He spent few months in prison, during this period he was informed that his mother died for an heart attack, but he was denied the permit to go to her funeral. It was after this detention that he decided to never step back from this criminal life, because that’s was the only way, for him, to resist against the repressed bourgeois way of life. In 1967 he carried out many robberies, during one of these, he was so mortify by a teller that faint, that the next day he sent her a nice flower bouquet, becoming for all the newspaper ‘the gentle robber’. Following this fame he decided to expatriate, in order to take refuge in Germany. Between 1967 and 1968 he used to write constantly to the Italian police, mocking them with irreverent and disrespectful letters. Newspapers kept talking about him, and this time they labelled him as the ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’.
So, what the fugitive Horst was doing while many European states Police were hunting him? He was living in Mannheim (Germany) indulging in the good life, living in a huge villa with his new young girlfriend. Always on tour between France, Germany and Italy, selling luxury stolen cars he got to earn a lot of money, that he used to spent in his first class travels. In 1968 he was arrested again while he was trying to rob a bank in posh touristic port of Saint Tropez (south of France). Life in French prisons was particularly difficult and harsh. Rules were really tough, following a riot by inmates, some of them were guillotined in Clairveaux. Horst was transferred to Baumettes prison in Marseille, where he tried again to escape to Aix en Provence with his feet and wrists chained, unfortunately he got caught immediately and from that moment he won’t be able again to be completely free. Horst kept to mock judges during trials and for this reason they added more years to his detention. In 1972 lawyer Mario Giulio Leone, interested in his case, worked in order to had him transferred back to Italy, near his wife and kids. He was then moved to Italy, in Fossano (Cuneo) where he tried to escape again with a spectacular action. He wounded three prison officers, before being assaulted by dogs and shot by many sniper bullets while he was going oput of prison with two hostages. He didn’t die because some of the shots that could have been lethal, shoot one of the dogs instead of him. He was in very serious condition, deaf in his right ear, but he managed to stay alive somehow. He went under surgery but doctors didn’t extract all bullets in his body. This gave him many problems, forcing him to a tour in several prison infirmaries of the country. He was never cured as his physical problems deserved, transferred from a prison to another without informing neither his lawyer or his family as the law requested. A year later in Sulmona he tried his last escape from prison. He jumped from a five meters wall, breaking his feet, he crawled to the closest church kidnapping the priest, asking to have the surgical operation he needed. He was caught, the operation was again denied. In 1975 Giorgio Bertani a publisher in Verona, thanks to the Franca Rame (Red Relief / Soccorso Rosso) interest, published “Now it’s done! A Jailbreak Chronicle”, Horst’s lucid narration of his ‘73’ escape action in Fossano prison. During hi 1970’s Italy detention, he started a political battle with institutions and newspapers in order to obtain better life conditions for all political prisoners. He had the solidarity of many activists, both communists and anarchists. During a day leave in Bologna he managed to escape, only in order to occupy the central Asinelli Towers, to protest against the state that imprisoned his comrades everywhere, many times with no reasons. His girlfriend Valeria Vecchi was sentenced to seven years prison only because caught to organize his escape from prison, without even having to pass to any action. The battle between the state and the political protesters got worst year after year. The Head of Anti-Terrorism, General Dalla Chiesa, organised the Bunker Prison in Asinara Island, only for political detainees. Therefore it started a collaboration between different areas of the political protest, communists and anarchists worked together in ordr to obtain a better condition in their detention. Newspapers started to write that Fantazzini was getting closer to the Red Brigades (communist terrorists), but this was absolutely false. He only cooperate with them fort heir mutual fight for the life during detention. He remained, though, always an individualist anarchist, as their caused was too far from his ideals. In 1978 during a prison uprising in the special prison of Asinara, he was massacred by police. After that, he secretly released, without waiting BR’s advice, a booklet called Asinara Special, about the recent uprising in that prison. It was published by publisher “Anarchismo”. Following to that struggle, he share his imprisonment with Sante Notarnicola (another anarchist bandit). The detention was even tougher than before for many years. Outside the prisons the protest was annihilated by the state violent repression that brought many to repent and with the flood of heroin that completely destroyed a generation. Things in prison started to go a bit sfter only in 1985 when the protest was completely ended and a new law softened prison rules for political detainees. Horst criticized both issues, detainees collaboration with state and the use of drugs. He wrote bitter poetries regarding this issues and the end of the political struggle.
In 1989 he started to study in prison, he was enrolled at the Literature University of Bologna, but his love for escapes was stronger than the one for the books. He took advantage of a leave permit and he escaped. He was then fugitive for a little bit more than one year, then he was again arrested near Rome and transferred to prison in Alessandria, where he will stay for ten years, writing letters to comrades, helping other detainees in their studies and writing also beautiful tales, one of which gave him an important Literature award in 1995 with the book “The deleted man”. He started a relation in the prison of Alessandria with anarchist Patrizia Diamante, called ‘Pralina’. In 1999, the umpteenth transfer to another prison. He was moved to Bologna.
Book Cover “Ormai è fatta” – “It’s done now” (the man covered in blood is Horst Fantazzini)
Thanks to his book “It’s done now” many, leaded by ‘Pralina’ started a campaign to help him to have the grace from President of the Republic. Enzo Monteleone made a movie out of his book. Horst approved the script. He was interviewed by many medias, his unlucky story became known to most of the audience. He never received the grace, but he obtained at least to have more leave permit and he eventually started to work in communist publishing cooperative Altercoop, working in their warehouse, help them in their recycling paper project.
Confirming his amazingly powerful will of being free, he escaped again in 2001 trying to rob one of the first banks he robbed when he was young in Bologna. He got caught while he was trying to escape by bicycle in an impossible and incredibly poetic run away. His conditions were getting worst after his attempt. He died at the end of the same year, on the 24th of December. He’s been cremated by his own wish, the only one the state ever respected.
Written by MarcoPres
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