Ciro Giovanni Caldera was born in Bussoleno (Turin) on December 12th 1886 to Giuseppe, commanding officer of the Carabinieri, and to Caterina Giacone (25). After his degree in Medicine, in Turin in 1910, he devoted himself to the study of otolaryngology under the guidance of Giuseppe Gradenigo, working as an assistant at the ENT Clinic of the University of Turin directed by his same mentor.
Gradenigo appreciated the expertise of his student and was a guiding light in his career up until he achieved a Libera Docenza (recognized university teacher but not on the regular staff) in 1915 and taught at the ENT Clinic at the University of Modena (1917-1922). The young specialist also gained the esteem of Professor V. Grazzi, collaborating, starting from 1910, with the Bollettino delle Malattie, dell'Orecchio, della Gola e del Naso (Bulletin of Ear, Nose and Throat Diseases) with hundreds of reviews on foreign articles and with numerous personal contributions. Grazzi also in 1928 and 1929 demonstrated his friendship, publishing in the Bulletin two works sent from Australia and by including his name in the list of collaborators printed on the cover. Unfortunately, Professor Grazzi died that same year and when the Bulletin reappeared, re-launched under the direction of A. Orlandino, Ciro Caldera's name had disappeared from the magazine cover once and for all (35).
In 1915, Ciro Caldera put his name down to be chief physician at the ENT hospital in Verona together with U. Turrini, C. Bruzzone and G. Marcato, a selection that did not take place due to the beginning of the war. At the end of the war, in which he took part in with the rank of captain as a medical officer, a royal decree on September 1919 interrupted the suspension and the selection took place. The examining committee, made up of V. Grazzi, F. Brunetti and L. Silvagni, found Ciro Caldera, who had remained the only candidate due to the withdrawal of the others, appropriate for the position, that was assigned to him beginning in 1920 up until 1923 (35).
In 1922 Ciro Caldera, already author of a number of publications on different subjects relating to his specialization, was a speaker at the 29th National Convention in Perugia of the Italian ENT Association (at the time called S.I.L.O.R.). On that occasion, he made a very innovative presentation for the time: Organic methods of treating sarcoma in the primary breathing tracts. His presentation proved to be exacting and well balanced, receiving general appreciation and approval as evidenced in the subsequent energetic debate that terminated the meeting (34).
Later in 1923, Ciro Caldera was summoned to manage, as an extraordinary Professor, the ENT Clinic of the University of Pavia, after being selected by a commission made up of G. Gradenigo, S. Citelli, V. Grazzi, Gh Ferreri and G. Pagliani. This accomplishment, as the former, was mentioned by Professor Grazzi in the Bulletin.
At the age of 37, he reached the apex of his professional career, holding one of the most prestigious Chairs. Everything seemed to be going in the right direction and a promising future was already foreseen, both from the scientific and professional point of view, but it was not to be.
Due to his socialist political beliefs and being a Freemason - he was a member of the Loggia di Palazzo Giustiniani with the rank 32 - he began to experience the hostility of the fascist regime. He, on the other hand, did nothing to hide his ideals and his opposition towards a political party that, at the time arbiter of absolute power, did not permit free speech contrary to that of the regime (15).
For Ciro Caldera, as for the other opponents, life became very difficult, threats and intimidation forced him to resign, after only one academic year, and to go back to Verona dedicating himself to private profession. His decision was not enough to halt the persecutions that reached a peak when in 1925 his house was burnt down, according to his Turin colleague Vincenzo Palumbo his assistant at the time and then, for years, devoted friend (29). Finally, in 1926, seeing no other option, although reluctantly, he decided to leave Italy on a ship leaving from Genoa and he disembarked for Perth, in Western Australia, on May 31st of that same year (27). There, he found a job in the hospital of Fremantle and then in the Mount Hospital, working at the same time also privately and, within a few years, he became one of the most renown specialists in the city (14, 24, 46, 47). Ciro Caldera was allowed to work as a doctor thanks to the agreement of reciprocity of the degrees in medicine between Great Britain, Japan and Italy signed at the end of the 19th century and still valid in the 1930s. In 1931, he applied for and was given Australian citizenship (14) but, despite this, during the 1930s, the Italian political police continued to keep an eye on him to see if even in Australia he was carrying on antifascist propaganda (records from 14 to 24). In a letter of 1945, in which he wrote about his life in Australia in the previous decade (9), Ciro Caldera also told of attempts to sabotage his car with the intention, according to him, of prejudicing his safety. He also added that in those same years, he was asked to go back to Italy with the promise of a university Chair in Rome or Naples provided he joined the fascist party. From the history of Fascism, it is well-known that in the early 1930s similar offers were often made to and accepted by leading personalities, giving the impression that the regime had consolidated and, in some measure, become more moderate. This information from Ciro Caldera himself is not confirmed by other sources but, in the files on him still kept in the General National Archives (records from 14 to 24) and examined by us for information on Cresciani (39, 40) we found that he, during the 1930s, was kept under surveillance by the staff of the Italian embassy in Australia and by the consulate in Perth. In reality, although these offices denied any such documentation (31, 32) when D. Celestino asked them, copies of their reports (preserved in the aforementioned archives) without doubt demonstrate that Ciro Caldera, up until 1939, continued to declare himself antifascist (24) and was a Freemason (dissolved in 1925 in Italy) and attended the Loggia in Perth (15), he subscribed to the Free Italy Association (15), and ideologically he was close to the movement of Justice and Freedom (23) and he earned substantially from his private medical profession (24). Those who wrote these reports declared that he could not be considered dangerous for the regime due to the fact that, even in private conversation, he did not express negative judgements on Italy. The Fascist authorities manifested their hostility against the exiled during the 1930s by the use at least four pointless and loathsome measures:
Pressure on relatives in order to convince him to renounce his ideals (14, 15, 16);
Land registry inspection for eventual expropriation of his property (14);
Tight censorship of correspondence sent to Italy (19);
The instruction for refusal of entry at the frontier for any possible attempt to enter the country (21).
Regarding the land registry check for the property of Ciro Caldera, we can add that it did not give rise to any outcome because these had been sold two or three years before leaving Italy. For this check we must thank Dr Riccardi Di Pasquale who carried it out at the Provincial Land Registry in Turin (30).
Meanwhile (February 11th 1939), at the Registrar's office in Perth, Caldera married Irene Hilda Smith of 34. The couple did not have children and the widow lived until May 13th 1996 (27).
With the beginning of the war the surveillance of the Italian consulate on Ciro Caldera came to an end. From Australian sources, we know that he actively assisted fellow citizens prisoners of war in Australia and helped the settlement in Perth of Dr Elnihovici, who had obtained his degree in Pavia in 1924 with a thesis assigned to him by Ciro Caldera himself. This refugee was a Ukrainian Jew which explains why he had fled so far for shelter. He arrived in Perth on August 8th 1939 on the passenger ship Città di Genova but when, at war terminated, he returned to Italy he could not travel onboard of the same ship as it had been torpedoed in the Ionian Sea on January 23rd 1943 (45) *. In 1949, he returned indefinitely to Australia where he found his mentor and where they both died in old age (47). As Gentili recalls (43), the two exiles were held in high esteem not only for their professional competence but also for their cultural activities and for their generosity towards poor patients.
After the fall of Fascism and the liberation of Rome, Ciro Caldera (13) wrote to the Ministry of Education (in November 1944), asking to have his job back. Evidently, he thought a radical change had come about in Italy and that nepotism, favouritism, corruption and collusion had suddenly ended. He ingenuously thought that a new era had been born based on honesty and aiming at compensating the wrongdoing thanks to an effective and rapid system of justice and a trustworthy and efficient bureaucracy. As is more than clear today, it was a colossal disillusion that led him, in the autumn of 1944, to resign from the group of honorary doctors of the hospital of Fremantle for "health reasons" (42, 46). His request was accepted but, nevertheless, Ciro Caldera continued to work until 1973 with that same role. His letters addressed to the Ministry had only generic replies and nothing more than those sent to colleagues and politicians. He only received vague replies on competent bodies at disposal to examine his requests, with the promise that, when the situation would allow, he would have seen his request accepted. In fact, Ciro Caldera did not have important letters of recommendation, or influential friends who could intercede on his behalf, and it is still evident today how important these are for the public administration of Italy.
As appears from the testimony of those who knew him, the official records of the Police and the consular authorities, Caldera was always shy, reserved and dignified, had few friends and he did not get involved in politics, although firmly and constantly being of his own ideas. He was not accustomed to compromise, or to beg for favours, but he just believed that what he was asking for was his right. Maybe he was just incapable of believing that in Italy, under any regime and in any era, the classic mentality would have survived, that both in the past and today nepotism is more important than merit. And this is what in fact happened: probably the contemporary ministers, V. Arangio-Ruiz and R. Molè (the former a member of the Liberal Party and the latter a member of the Democratic Labour and ministers from 1944 to 1946 of Public Education in the governments of Iv. Bonomi, F. Parri and A. De Gasperi) left the matter to be solved by the important ministerial bureaucrats who pronounced a negative judgment on his request for reinstatement to his job. The refusal was justified by the fact that Caldera had now British citizenship and by the alleged spontaneous resignation in 1924 (13). All of this despite the honest and the unambiguous report by Plinion Fraccaro ** Chancellor of Pavia University who stated (10): 1) those resignations were only formally voluntary; 2) that Ciro Caldera suffered political persecution and 3) he was well-known in Australia as a "dignified anti-fascist".
The supposed lack of evidence on the persecution he suffered was only an evident excuse due to the fact that it is evident from our research that this proof had never been conscientiously searched for. Just one morning was enough for D. Celestino at the National Archives in Rome to find the official and indisputable records about the whole story in the space of a couple of hours (Ministry of Internal Affairs Central Political Casebook, file no. 6903). Remembering that the return of the exiled in some ways would have caused trouble to other aspiring candidates to that Chair, it is evident that the entire matter had been handled by ministries and directors of Public Education with the sole aim of maintaining the status quo. Unfortunately once again, the new democratic Italy proved to be similar to the Italietta of the Fascist period, and more than ever determined not to become the homeland of righteousness but the homeland of its opposite.
Frustrated and upset by these replies, Ciro Caldera did not want to return to Italy and spent the rest of his long life in Perth, cultivating his profession to such a an extent that he was considered one of the best Australian specialists. He worked as a Honorary Doctor in the Hospital of Fremantle until 1973, also dedicating himself to stamp collecting and the study of Esperanto for which he organized in Melbourne the world convention in 1959 (38), further to the activities of the Dante Alighieri Association and the Italo- Australian Cultural Association in Perth (27). He died on August 9th 1984 at nearly the age of 100 and his ashes are in the Karrakatta cemetery. At the funeral a great number of Italians living in Australia and Australians, who held him in high esteem attended, from the official Italy neither a flower nor a word.