Francesco Kolletzek

“A worthy son of the people,” he contributed to the emancipation of the working world and the social and cultural growth of citizens.
Paola Furlan

Francesco Kolletzek was born in Bologna on February 4, 1879, in a family of Hungarian descent. “Intrepid fighter of the working class,” since the early twentieth century he participated in the early experiences of spreading socialist thought, contributing to the emancipation of the world of labour “in every province, in every district, in every village.” In 1913, he was a provincial secretary of the Postal Telegraphers’ Union, where he worked as a postal officer. The following year he actively participated in the campaign for the June 28, 1914 local elections, when the Socialist Party came up with a majority list electing Francesco Zanardi as mayor and Francesco Kolletzek as city councillor, from 1914 to 1920. “Bread and Alphabet” is the name of the program that won the election where schooling and knowledge were the goals of a municipal policy aimed at the social and cultural growth of citizens. This was an experience pursued for many years by Kolletzek, “a confident and passionate educator,” as secretary of Bologna’s school Giuseppe Garibaldi where he worked for the empowerment of workers. 

Francesco Kolletzek - copyrighted picture of the Kolletzek family

“Loyal anti-fascist,”2 he was persecuted by the regime and suffered the consequences. On November 5, 1918, he was arrested for participating in a popular demonstration celebrating the end of the war. Enrolled in the lists of subversives because he was a socialist and the provincial secretary of the Postal Telegraphers’ Union, he was under special surveillance, “for failing to give concrete and reliable evidence of repentance.”3


In the fall of 1920, after his municipal experience, Kolletzek was elected to the Bologna Provincial Council. After World War II, following the first free local elections with universal suffrage on March 24, 1946, he was appointed alderman in the council of Mayor Giuseppe Dozza. He was entrusted with the civil status delegations at a time of a democratic and collective revival of the city. Kolletzek committed himself to the establishment of the new office, with special attention to the election section, which was practically destroyed after fascism and the war. At the same time, he resumed his role as head of the Postal Telegraphers’ Union, always present “at all the particular actions,” fighting for the unity of the labour world, as opposed to the union split that would develop in July 1948. In the 1950s, after the experience of reconstructing the electoral rolls, he turned his attention to researching the first forms of mechanization in the field, committing the city council and junta in the direction of automated rationalization of data storage systems. In April 1966, he was awarded the Gold Medal of Remembrance on the 20th anniversary of the first democratic election of the City Council after fascism. He died in Bologna on December 6, 1955, and was commemorated in the City Council a few days later. This is how the manifesto The Bologna Federation of the Socialist Party remembers him: “A socialist of firm and long-standing conviction and an experienced trade unionist, he has defended the idea of freedom and democracy against fascist contempt without ever giving up even in the difficult environment of postal administration of which he had been an expert and respected civil servant.


Urban park dedicated to Francesco Kolletzek - Bologna, picture by Paola Furlan

Already in the early days, as a provincial councillor in Bologna, he had after the Liberation been called to hold the position of our community’s alderman always bringing a contribution of sagacity, experience, and humanity. To his memory all Bolognese socialists pay the most moving and reverent tribute and point his example of dedication and faith to the youth.” On June 29, 2012, the City of Bologna dedicated the urban park between Zanardi, Bertalia and Borre streets to Francesco Kolletzek. This was not a coincidental proximity that ideally united the figure of Mayor Zanardi with that of Francis Kolletzek, a faithful interpreter of renewal in municipal administration as an expression of socialist reformism in defence of the social classes of the poorest and of workers.


1. Bologna City Council, Council condolences on the death of former alderman Kolletzek, City Council meeting, December 10, 1955.

2. Ibidem

3. Gli antifascisti, I partigiani e le vittime del fascismo nel Bolognese (1919-1945) [Antifascists, partisans and victims of fascism in the Bologna area (1919-1945)], edited by Alessandro Albertazzi, Luigi Arbizzani, Nazario Sauro Onofri.


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