Seaside holiday camps for workers and employees in the 1930s

07/15/2005 - 00:00 AM

  • Seaside holiday camps for workers and employees in the 1930s
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From the STIPEL annual reports submitted to AGMs we learn that in 1932 the workers sick pay fund sent 172 workers' children to seaside holiday camps for a month-long vacation; this number rose to 209 in 1933 (in Liguria), 263 in 1934, 285 in 1935 on the Adriatic, 338 in 1936 and 384 in 1937.We find out more from the Board Meeting minutes. From 1937 clerical workers were allowed to send their children to holiday camps, though they had to make a 100 lire contribution.
The number of applications rose to 464 in 1938. The 64 children above the holiday camp's maximum capacity of 400 - two hundred each in July and August - were dispatched to the Milan Fasci di Combattimento Federation. The number of applications peaked in 1939 at 524, before falling in 1940... the year that the holiday camps closed down "owing to orders from above". On June 10 of that year Mussolini had declared war on France and Great Britain; a few days later, on June 14, Genoa was bombarded from the sea by the British and French Navy. The Italian Fascist Party commandeered the holiday accommodation at Misano Mare, which for years had welcomed the children of telephone company employees.
Seaside holiday camps were first set up in the 1800s for poor children by so-called "lay religion" philanthropists, who firmly believed that scientific progress would bring happiness, social peace and the deliverance of the working classes. In the mid-1800s Florentine doctor Giuseppe Barellai became an early proponent of "taking the seas" as the best possible protection against tuberculosis, which at the time, known as scrophulosis, was decimating poor children. The first seaside holiday camps - and, later, camps in the mountains too - were founded by aristocratic and bourgeois philanthropists in the late 1800s. In the early 1900s, local councils and later workers' co-operatives began sending poor children to the camps for a month of abundant food, good hygiene and strict discipline. After the First World War large companies joined in too, as did the Fascist party through its Balilla organization. The first holiday camps for Fiat workers opened their doors in 1924; the SIP Group started in 1927.

Sources: Stipel, Board Meeting Reports to the Annual Shareholders' Meeting, 1932-1937 and Stipel, Board Meeting minutes, 1937-1941