Since the 1960s the Resistance has held pride of place in public ceremonial, political debate and to a point also in historcial writing in Italy. The emphasis on its popular and national character transformed the Resistance into the struggle of the whole country to rid Italy of the German invaders and the small number of Italian fascists who remained their allies, but in ways that took no account of the complexity of people’s reactions and the different ways in which Italians experienced the years immediately after the fall of fascism. In the last decade, however, numerous accounts have been published that contradict the images of the Resistance that for 30 years have constituted the ‘official’ memory of the Italian Republic. As a result, the Resistance offers a classic example of the ‘public use of history’, in which historical interpretation has served primarily to justify party political, instutitional and idelogical ends. It is now clear, however, that the supposed unity against fascism was more the result of agreement that there were limits beyond which political differences could not be pressed rather than of a deeper political unity that might have provided the basis for the political and institutional reform of the Italian Republic. The contrasting memories and interpretations of that period that have recently re-emerged for the same reason make it more difficult to project a new Italian democracy for the future.