Umberto Broccoli

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Person.png Umberto BroccoliRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(spook, soldier)
No image available (photo).jpg
RelativesUmberto Broccoli (historian)
Italian officer and spook who was involved in the establishment of Gladio

Employment.png SIFAR/Director

In office
March 1951 - September 1952
Preceded byGiovanni Carlo
Succeeded byEttore Musco

General Umberto Broccoli was an Italian spook involved in the establishment of Gladio.


During World War 2 Broccoli was involved in the occupation of Greece as commander of the Athens garrison, before becoming a prisoner of war in Germany after the 1943 armistice.[1]

In 1951 Broccoli was made Director of the military intelligence service SIFAR and as a member of a 'Secret Committee' regularly met with CIA representatives, the representative of the NATO Command for southern Europe, as well as the representatives of the Italian Army, Navy and Air Force. SIFAR had to guarantee Italy's stability as NATO feared the strong Italian PCI.


Daniele Ganser writes[2]:

General Umberto Broccoli, one of the first Directors of the Italian military secret service SIFAR, on October 8, 1951 wrote to the Italian Defence Minister Efisio Marras to discuss issues concerning the Italian stay-behind and the training of Gladiators. Broccoli explained that the British had already created such stay-behind networks in the Netherlands, Belgium 'and presumably also in Denmark and Norway'. Broccoli was happy to confirm that Great Britain 'has made its vast experience in the field available to us' and the Americans have 'offered to collaborate actively with our organisation by providing men, material (presumably free of charge or almost free of charge) and maybe funds'. Broccoli highlighted how useful it would be to send seven specially selected Italian officers for special training to England from November 1951 to February 1952, for these officers would upon return direct the training of Italian Gladiators. Chief of the military secret service Broccoli asked Defence Minister Marras to 'give his approval for this course because, unknown to the British, I am in agreement with the American secret service on us going to the course'.

British Gladio training was not for free, but a serious business, and Broccoli confessed that 'one can imagine that the costs will amount to about 500 million Lira which can not be taken on the budget of the SIFAR and which should be dealt with in the budgets of the Armed Forces'. The MI6, as Broccoli specified, had offered the training of Italian Gladio officers on the condition that Italy bought arms from the British. At the same time, however, in what could be interpreted as a combat for spheres of influence the rich CIA was offering Gladio arms for free.

In the end the Italians decided to take the best of both. They sent their officers to the highly reputable British Special Training Schools, but at the same time secretly made a deal with the Americans who provided them with arms for free. The British were not amused. And when General Ettore Musco, successor of Broccoli at the head of SIFAR, visited the British Fort Monckton near Portsmouth where Gladio training took place the atmosphere was tense: 'In 1953 the British realised that they have been fooled and angrily reproached General Musco, protesting that "his service was delivering itself hook, line and sinker to the Americans".


His grandson with the same name,Umberto Broccoli, is archaeologist, television presenter, essayist and Italian academic, who from 2008 to 2013 was Superintendent of Cultural Heritage of Rome. He also writes on intelligence matters.[3]