The first draft of the Manifesto was written by Spinelli and Rossi in June 1941, after a wide debate with Eugenio Colorni (a philosophy professor leader of the Italian Socialist Party), his wife Ursula Hirschmann (a German anti-fascist activist) and a little group of other confined activists. This first draft circulated secretly and in August of the same year was followed by a second draft with minor modifications and smoothing the political judgment on USSR, attacked by the Germany in June. The Manifesto was circulated within the Italian Resistance by Ursula Hirschmann and Ada Rossi (Rossi’s wife) as they were not confined and free to travel (two Spinelli’s sisters, Gigliola and Fiorella, helped to keep the contacts among the activists confined in Ventotene and the other ones in the mainland). Both the drafts (handwritten by Rossi on rolling papers) and the typewritten and mimeograph copies taken from are lost. The exact contributions of Spinelli, Rossi and Colorni to the Manifesto and its clandestine diffusion are still to investigate.
A printed edition of the Manifesto was published in August 1943 following the foundation of the Movimento Federalista Europeo in Milan. This version is preceded by an unascribed introduction and divided in four sections, the third one being by Rossi. In January 1944 Colorni published in Rome a new edition of the Manifesto in a book entitled ‘Problemi della Federazione Europea’ containing a new preface by himself, a new version of the Manifesto divided in three section and the two essays written by Spinelli in Ventotene: ‘The United States of Europe and the Various Political Tendencies’ and ‘Marxist Policy and Federalist Policy’.
Colorni edited the three-section version of the Manifesto from the four-section one inserting the first part of the IV section, ‘The revolutionary situation: old and new trends’, in the II section, ‘Post-war tasks: European unity’; while the second part of the IV section is inserted at the end of the III section, ‘Post-war duties: reform of society’. More, Colorni improved the style and made some little cuts in the phrases against the USSR and the Holy See.
The book ‘Problemi della Federazione Europea’ has been republished as ‘Il Manifesto di Ventotene’ several times with new presentations and essays. The three-section version of the Manifesto is the most known and the most translated one.