Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Il Duce and anti-Semitism

Here's an interesting post from the Capitain's Quarters. It has to do with a new book from an Italian historian stating that Mussolini was a bit more anti-Semitic than he lead others to believe. As the resident Italian Football Expert, I guess I'll throw my two cents into the debate.

The prevailing wisdom up now has been that Mussolini and the Italian people went along with Hitler's persecution of the Jews just to curry favor with the Nazis. They were not active participants (unlike the French and Germans) and only did what they actually did under duress. According to the historian, correspondence between Mussolini and the Fascists from the Republic of Salo (the area of northern Italy where Mussolini fled to after the surrender of Italy) suggest a pact where the fascists would transfer Jews to the Germans and eventual death in the camps.

Since I'm not Jewish, I can't really be a complete judge of anti-semitism, but as far as I have seen and heard, I have yet to encounter any here in Italy. As in every culture, I am sure that anti-semitism exists in Italy, but it seems that it's only limited to small groups of radicals. If this is not the case, Italians hide their anti-semitism very, very well. I hear more talk against the Arabs and Moroccans than anything else. I tend to think that the historian's conclusions are not correct and that the prevailing wisdom is still what everyone up to now has always believed, that the Italians were not active participants in the Holocaust. More research may prove otherwise, but I tend to think not.


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