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Italy’s ‘Miss Hitler’ Francesca Rizzi Among 19 Investigated for Starting New Nazi Party in Italy

ROME–The tattoo of a shoulder-to-shoulder Nazi eagle above a swastika spanning the back of Francesca Rizzi leaves little to the imagination about her political ideology. The 36-year-old winner of an online beauty pageant in which she was crowned “Miss Hitler” was one of 19 people across Italy put under formal investigation this week for illegally forming a Nazi political party. Her co-collaborators include a 50-year-old female civil servant named Antonella Pavia from Padua who dubbed herself “Hitler’s Sergeant Major” and a former mobster from the Calabria ‘Ndrangheta mafia who was allegedly in charge of militant training.

Italy’s anti-mafia and anti-terrorism forces spent two years investigating the group, which has ties to a number of other far-right clusters across Europe, including the U.K.’s Combat 18 and similar hate groups in Portugal, Spain and Greece.

Armed special forces carried out the sting operation dubbed “Black Shadows” in 16 cities from Palermo to Milan Thursday morning after someone alerted “Miss Hitler” that police were monitoring the group. Fearful she and others involved might destroy or hide evidence, they swooped in. 

What they found was more than troubling. In 16 of the homes searched, they found similar caches of weapons including grenades and semi automatic rifles, explosives, Nazi and fascist memorabilia adorned with swastikas and the faces of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler along side militant training texts designed to teach new members how to target Jewish people and gays. Their party motto, “Invisible, Silent and Lethal,” was scrawled on the material. 

Prosecutors who led the investigation from Caltanissetta, Sicily, said Thursday that the suspects were creating “an openly pro-Nazi, xenophobic, anti Semitic group called the Italian National Socialst Workers’ Party.” Pavin posted a notice with the group’s logo on her Facebook page in July 2018 in which she said the group would start “military training” in August.