Propaganda Due — The Italian Crisis

Wayne D. Anderson

Markland Lodge No. 99
Kingston, Ontario

Brethren, in the presentation I am about to give you, you will hear references to Freemasons, Masonic Lodges, and particularly a Lodge called P2. These lodges that I am speaking about are in no way like the Lodges that we attend each month. they were Power Brokers and do not have the V.S.L. on their altar as we do, and no requirement to believe in a Supreme Being as we are required.

A Masonic conspiracy of gigantic proportions rocked Italy to its foundations in the spring and summer of 1981. Known as the 'P2' case, this conflagration of corruption, blackmail and murder brought down the coalition government of Premier Arnaldo Forlani and decimated the upper echelons of Italian power.

P2 is the popular abbreviation of Masonic Lodge Propaganda Due, which had become, in the words of the leader of Italy's Republican Party, "the centre of pollution of national life — secret, perverse and corrupting."

The moment this scandal hit the headlines, individual members of the United Grand Lodge of England hastened to point out that English Freemasonry was fundamentally different from that practised in Italy.

Freemasonry was introduced to Italy in or about 1733 by an Englishman, Lord Sackville, but because of its open involvement in politics and religion Italian Freemasonry was not recognized by the United Grand Lodge of England until 1973.

A 'Propaganda' Lodge was constituted in Turin a century ago under the Grand Orient of Italy. This was an elite Lodge, in some ways similar to the English Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076 in that its purpose was to further research into Masonry. Despite several reports to the contrary, there was no connection save the name between this Lodge and the sinister Masonic group of the present day. In fact, Lodge Propaganda Due was not even a Lodge in the true sense. It was a secret grouping of Masons but it was never officially constituted and never held regular meetings of all members.

P2 was formed in 1966 at the behest of the then Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Italy, Giordana Gamberini. The Grand Master's plan was to establish a group of eminent men who would be sympathetic and useful to Freemasonry. The man chosen to create this elite band was a rich textile manufacturer from the town of Arezzo in Tuscany. He had entered Masonry two years before and had risen to the Italian equivalent of a Master Mason. His name was Licio Gelli.

Licio Gelli was born in Pistoia in central Italy on April 21, 1919. His formal education ceased when he was expelled from school in his mid-teens. A story from Gelli's school days indicates that a peculiar kind of cunning came to him early. There was a youth in one of Gelli's classes, who was the school bully, admired by many but feared by all. One day Gelli stole the bully's lunch and during the ensuing uproar said to him, "I know who stole your food, but I have no wish to get the boy in trouble. You'll find it hidden under the third bench." The youth became Gelli's friend and protector from that day, and Gelli had learned the art of manipulation.

During the early stages of World War II Gelli fought in Albania, he received a commission in the SS of Italy and worked for the Nazis as a "Liaison Officer". His work involved spying on the partisans and betraying them to his German masters. The foundation of Gelli's wealth is from his plundering of Yugoslavia's treasures that were hidden in the town of Cattaro where Gelli then made his headquarters. At the end of the War Gelli saved his life by agreeing to spy for the Communists. Once cleared he organized a "RAT LINE" for Nazis wishing to flee to South America, he charged 40 percent of their money.

Gelli, the first Italian to have been accredited with dual Italian-Argentinean nationality, had fought for the Fascists in the Spanish Civil War and later had been a passionate supporter of Mussolini. Later, having been involved in the torture of Italian partisans, he was forced to flee the country, winding up in Argentina. There he met President Juan Peron and a long and close friendship began. Licio Gelli's contacts and associates eventually spread far and wide in South America. He was closely associated with the ex-Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie. Barbie had a private army operating out of Bolivia and called themselves the "Fiances of Death". Political assassinations were performed to order, and this private army was responsible for General Garcia Meza coming to power in Bolivia in 1980. Barbie's activities also included selling arms and it was through the arms sales that Barbie and Gelli become business partners. Barbie, the man who between May 1940 and April 1942 was responsible for the liquidation of all known Freemasons in Amsterdam, was now a business partner with Licio Gelli, Grand Master of Masonic Lodge P2. Peron eventually appointed Gelli to the position of Argentine's economic adviser to Italy. Years passed, and Gelli returned to his native country, settled at Arezzo and became a Freemason.

The group of men Gelli was getting together on behalf of Grand Master Gamberini was called Raggruppamento Gelli Propaganda Due — P2 for short. The members came to be known as Piduisti — "P2-ists". Gelli had ambitions for P2 which the Grand Master had never so much as imagined. Gelli's P2 is not a world conspiracy with the aim of preventing the spread of Marxism or its many variations. It is an international group with a number of diverse aims. It combines an attitude of mind with a community of self-interest, its main goals being not the destruction of a particular ideology but the acquisition of unlimited power and wealth and the furtherance of self. These goals hide behind the acceptable face of "defenders of the free world". In the world of P2, however, nothing is free. Everything has a price.

By 1969, P2 was being spoken of as a Lodge, and Gelli as its Venerable Master. He had a genius for convincing people he had immense influence in public affairs, and many men joined P2 because they believed the Venerable Master's patronage was indispensable to the furtherance of their careers. By this self-perpetuating process, Gelli's purported power became real. Others joined the Lodge because Gelli used ruthless blackmail. The "Masonic Dues" Gelli extracted from the brethren of Lodge P2 were not primarily financial. What the Venerable Master demanded — and got — were secrets; official secrets which he could use to consolidate and extend his power, and personal secrets he could use to blackmail others into joining his Lodge. This most sensitive information from all areas of government was passed to him by his members, who seem to have obeyed him with unquestioning devotion. In 1976 a legitimate Freemason, Francesco Siniscalchi, made a statement at the office of the Rome Public Prosecutor, alleging that Gelli was involved in criminal activities. He was ignored, partly because of Gelli's already formidable reputation, which intimidated two officers responsible for processing the complaint.

Soon after this, Gelli came to the notice of the police after his friend and P2 member Michele Sindona, Italy's most influential private banker, head fled to the United States leaving financial chaos behind him. (Sindona was reportedly stealing from the Vatican Bank.) Wanted on charges of fraud in Italy, Sindona was arrested in New York. Gelli flew to America and testified that Sindona was an innocent victim of Communist intrigue. It was Sindona, widely believed to have links with the Mafia, who introduced Gelli in Washington, D.C. to Philip Guarino, Ronald Regan's campaign manager in the 1980 Presidential Election, and Gelli attended the inauguration of President Regan in January 1981, two months before the P2 bomb exploded.

One of Sindona's partners and a member of P2, Roberto Calvi, quickly left Italy for London where he met author David A. Yallop. Hoping to expunge himself from the Banking Fraud charges he made an appointment with Mr. Yallop to tell his story, but 24 hours before the meeting was to take place he was found hanging under the Blackfriars Bridge in the City of London. Within a day of Roberto Calvi's "suicide" a hole was discovered in Banco Ambrosiano Milan, a $1.3 billion hole.

In 1980, facing fraud charges in New York following the collapse of his Franklin National Bank, reputedly America's worst banking disaster — Sindona appealed to his Venerable Master for help. Meanwhile in Italy, magistrates were still investigating Sindona's fraudulent activities and also the event behind the murder of the liquidator of his financial empire. After the appeal to Gelli, a fake kidnapping was staged in New York and Sindona disappeared. Sindona was recaptured a few days later and on March 27, 1980, he was found guilty on 65 counts, including fraud, conspiracy, perjury, false bank statements and misappropriation of bank funds. On May 13, two days before he was due to be sentenced, Sindona attempted to commit suicide. He slashed his wrists and took a dose of digitalis; acting on Grand Master Gelli's advice, Sindona always carried a lethal dose of digitalis. Also, many members of P2 Lodge carried a lethal dose of digitalis.

His attempted suicide failed and on June 13, 1980, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison and fined over $200,000; he also received an additional 2 1/2 years for faking a kidnapping.

Evidence came to light that implicated Gelli in the fake kidnapping of Sindona and two Milan magistrates ordered a police raid on his villa outside Arezzo. Gelli as always had been one step ahead and by the time the police reached the villa, he had disappeared. A warrant was later issued for Gelli's arrest on charges of political, military and industrial espionage, and endangering the security of the state.

Among the documents left behind at the abandoned villa were the membership files of P2. A list of members drawn up by Gelli contained the names of nearly a thousand of Italy's most powerful men. One prosecutor's report later stated: "Lodge Propaganda Due is a secret sect that has combined business and politics with the intention of destroying the country's constitutional order."

The tentacles of the P2 Lodge touched every part of the Italian government and military, from the Minister of Education through to the Minister of State, and the heads of the Army, Navy and Air Force were all members of P2 Lodge. The P2 Lodge was so secret and so expertly run by Gelli that even its own members did not know who belonged to it. Those who knew most were the cell leaders and they knew only their own grouping. Not even the Grand Secretary of the Grand Orient of Italy knew the entire membership of the Lodge, only Licio Gelli knew that.

Because of the names on these lists the magistrates finally presented the Gelli papers to the Italian Parliament in May 1981, and they were sorted into ten heavy piles. These documents and what they contained caused the fall of Aldo Forlani and his government. The Generals and Admirals that were implicated in the lists met to work out a common strategy. They decided to declare themselves victims of a plot and to sit tight, defying investigators to find concrete evidence against them. NATO was forced to support the attitude of the corrupt P2 members in Italy's Armed Forces. Officials in Brussels and Washington suggested discreetly that it was not the right moment to create a vacuum of power in the Italian Armed Forces.

Gelli was in hiding in Argentina, and every time he tried to transfer money from his Swiss Bank accounts, he was stalled and he was told by his bank in Geneva that he would have to come in person to set the problem right. Using a fake Argentinean passport, Gelli flew to Madrid and then to Geneva on September 13, 1982. At the bank he presented his false documentation and was told there would be a short delay. Minutes later he was arrested. He had walked into a carefully prepared trap. The account had been frozen at the request of the Italian government.

Gelli was imprisoned in Camp Dollon outside Geneva but he escaped on August 10, 1983. By the time the Swiss authorities approved the extradition to Italy, Gelli was gone. He as taken to France by his son, from there to Monte Carlo by helicopter, the excuse given to the pilot was that Gelli as in need of dental surgery. From Monte Carlo he made his way to Uruguay on a private yacht belonging to Francesco Pazienza, a P2 member.

If (and it is indeed a very large IF) Licio Gelli ever is handed over alive to the Italian government, he faces a variety of criminal charges. They include the following: extortion, blackmail, drug smuggling, arms smuggling, conspiracy to overthrow the legal government, political espionage, military espionage, illegal possession of state secrets, and involvement in a series of bombings, including the Bologna station attack in which 84 people died. There is also circumstantial evidence that he was indirectly involved in the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II.

Tina Anselmi, who chaired the commission made up of Italian Government officials said of P2 after Gelli disappeared, "P2 is by no means dead. It still has power. It is working in the institutions. It is moving in society. It has money, means, and instruments still at its disposal. It still has fully operative power centers in South America. It is also still able to condition, at least in part, Italian political life."

The escape of Licio Gelli confirms that the Grand Master of P2 Lodge has a network of powerful friends. Gelli still lives in Uruguay, pulling his strings from a ranch a few miles north of Montevideo. He is wanted in many countries for many crimes, but the mass of information that he has so diligently acquired over the years ensures that he continues to be protected.