The “Duce” And the Jews. An Assessment of the Literature on Italian Jewry under Fascism 1922-1945
Between 1870 and 1922, Italy’s 50,000 Jews suffered no anti-Semitism whatsoever. With the rise of Fascism in 1922, the movement displayed some temporary latent antagonism. Tens of thousands of refugees from Nazi Germany crowded into Italy during the late 1930s. Following the formation of the Rome–Berlin Axis in 1938, Mussolini enacted anti-Jewish laws and until 1945, life for Jews was bitter indeed. Yet, Italian civil and military authorities often actively opposed Hitler’s anti-Jewish policies within their jurisdictions. Mussolini did not approve of the Final Solution and opposed deportation of Italian citizens to death camps in the East. The Italian masses frequently demonstrated pro-Jewish attitudes. During the latter years of the war, most Jews were placed in concentration camps. Historians continue to debate among themselves many points regarding this subject.