Following the events of September 8, 1943 in Ferrara, Fascist party hierarchy was re-ordered. The clash was between the moderate, federal wing and Carlo Aretusi's more violent and unyielding faction. Aretusi sought to gain the upper hand by hiring a killer to assassinate his federal counterpart, and accusing anti-Fascists of the crime. In a violent retaliation, eleven people were murdered before a firing squad. In the post-war climate, there is no clear distinction between murderers and victims. Based on a story by Bassani, adapted for the screen with the assistance of Pasolini.