The Holocaust in Italy

The Holocaust in Italy was the persecution, deportation, and murder of Jews between 1943 and 1945 in the Italian Social Republic, the part of the Kingdom of Italy occupied by Nazi Germany after the Italian surrender on September 8, 1943, during World War II.

The oppression of Italian Jews began in 1938 with the enactment of Racial Laws of segregation by the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini. Before the Italian surrender in 1943, however, Italy and the Italian occupation zones in Greece, France and Yugoslavia had been places of relative safety for local Jews and European Jewish refugees. This changed in September 1943, when German forces occupied the country, installed the puppet state of the Italian Social Republic and immediately began persecuting and deporting the Jews found there. Italy had a pre-war Jewish population of 40,000 but, through evacuation and refugees, this number increased during the war. Of the estimated 50,000 Jews living in Italy before September 1943, some 8,000 died during the Holocaust (mostly at Auschwitz), while 40,000 survived. In this, the Italian police and Fascist militia played an integral role as the Germans' accessories.

While most Italian concentration camps were police and transit camps, one camp, the Risiera di San Sabba in Trieste, was also an extermination camp. It is estimated that up to 5,000 mostly political prisoners were murdered there.

The Holocaust in Italy has received comparatively little attention. For example, until the 1990s, no publication dealt with the history of the Italian concentration camps.[1]

The Holocaust in Italy
Italian-social-republic-and-civil-war
Overview
PeriodSeptember 1943 – May 1945
TerritoryItalian Social Republic
Major perpetrators
UnitsSS-Totenkopfverbände
Einsatzgruppen
Fascist Italian Police
Victims
Killed8,000
Pre-war population40,000

Situation prior to September 8, 1943

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Jews were a well-integrated minority in Italy.[2] They had lived in the country for over two thousand years. After Benito Mussolini seized power in 1922, Italian Jews initially suffered far less persecution if no persecution at all in Fascist Italy than the Jews in Nazi Germany in the lead up to World War II.[3] Some Fascist leaders, such as Achille Starace and Roberto Farinacci, were indeed antisemites, but others, such as Italo Balbo, were not, and until 1938 antisemitism was not the official policy of the party. Like the rest of Italians, Jews divided between fascists and anti-fascists. Some were sympathetic to the regime, joined the party and occupied significant offices and positions in politics and economy (Aldo Finzi, Renzo Ravenna, Margherita Sarfatti, Ettore Ovazza, Guido Jung). Others were active in anti-fascist organizations (Carlo Rosselli, Nello Rosselli, Leone Ginzburg, Umberto Terracini).

In 1938, under the Italian Racial Laws, Italian Jews lost their civil rights, including those to property, education and employment.[4] They were removed from government jobs, the armed forces, and public schools (both as teachers and students). To escape persecution, around 6,000 Italian Jews emigrated to other countries in 1938-39. Among them were intellectuals such as Emilio Segrè, Bruno Rossi, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Franco Modigliani, Arnaldo Momigliano, Ugo Fano, Robert Fano, and many others. Enrico Fermi also moved to the United States, as his wife was Jewish.

In June 1940, after the outbreak of World War II, the Fascist Italian government opened around 50 concentration camps.[5] These were used predominantly to hold political prisoners but also around 2,200 Jews of foreign nationality (Italian Jews were not interned). The Jews in these camps were treated no differently than political prisoners. While living conditions and food were often basic, prisoners were not subject to violent treatment.[6] The Fascist regime even allowed a Jewish-Italian organization (DELASEM) to operate legally in support of the Jewish internees.[7]

Conditions for non-Jews were much worse. Italian authorities perceived that imprisoned Roma were used to a harsh life, and they received much lower food allowances and more basic accommodation.[8] After the occupation of Greece and Yugoslavia in 1941, Italy opened concentration camps in its occupation zones there. These held a total of up to 150,000 people, mostly Slavs. Living conditions were very harsh, and the mortality rates in these camps far exceeded those of the camps in Italy.[9]

Unlike Jews in other Axis-aligned countries, no Jews in Italy or Italian-occupied areas were murdered or deported to concentration camps in Germany before September 1943.[10][11] In the territories occupied by the Italian Army in Greece, France and Yugoslavia, Jews even found protection from persecution.[12] The Italian Army actively protected Jews in occupation zones, to the frustration of Nazi Germany, and to the point where the Italian sector in Croatia was referred to as the "Promised Land".[13] Up to September 1943, Germany made no serious attempt to force Mussolini and Fascist Italy into handing over Italian Jews. It was nevertheless irritated with the Italian refusal to arrest and deport its Jewish population, feeling it encouraged other countries allied with the Axis powers to refuse as well.[14]

On July 25, 1943, with the fall of the Fascist Regime and the arrest of Benito Mussolini, the situation in the Italian concentration camps changed. Inmates, including Jewish prisoners, were gradually released. However, this process was not completed by the time German authorities took over the camps in northern-central Italy on September 8, 1943.[9] Luckily, hundreds of Jewish refugees who were imprisoned in the major camps in the South (Campagna internment camp and Ferramonti di Tarsia) were liberated by the Allies before the arrival of the Germans, but 43,000 Jews (35,000 Italians and 8,000 refugees from other countries) were trapped in the territories now under control of the Italian Social Republic.[15]

In general, the fate and persecution of Jews in Italy between 1938 and 1943 has received only very limited attention in the Italian media.[11] Lists of Jews drawn up to enforce the racial laws would be used to round them up after the Italian surrender on September 8, 1943.[16]

The Holocaust in Italy

The murdering of Jews in Italy began on September 8, 1943, after German troops seized control of Northern and Central Italy, freed Benito Mussolini from prison and installed him as the head of the puppet state of the Italian Social Republic.

Organisation

Tasked with overseeing SS operations and, thereby, the final solution, the genocide of the Jews, was SS-Obergruppenführer Karl Wolff, who was appointed as the highest SS and Police leader in Italy. Wolff assembled a group of SS personnel under him with vast experience in the extermination of Jews in Eastern Europe. Odilo Globocnik, appointed as police leader for the coastal area, was responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews and Gypsies in Lublin, Poland, before being sent to Italy.[17] Karl Brunner was appointed as SS and police leader in Bolzano, South Tyrol, Willy Tensfeld in Monza for upper and western Italy and Karl-Heinz Bürger was placed in charge of anti-partisan operations.[18]

The security police and the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) came under the command of Wilhelm Harster, based in Verona. He had held the same position in the Netherlands.[19] Theodor Dannecker, previously active in the deportation of Greek Jews in the part of Greece occupied by Bulgaria, was made chief of the Judenreferat of the SD and was tasked with the deportation of the Italian Jews. Not seen as efficient enough, he was replaced by Friedrich Boßhammer, who like Dannecker, was closely associated with Adolf Eichmann.[20][21]

Martin Sandberger was appointed as the head of the Gestapo in Verona and played a vital role in the arrest and deportation of the Italian Jews.[16]

As in other German-occupied areas, and in the Reich Main Security Office itself, the persecution of the Nazis' undesirable minorities and political opponents fell under Section IV of the Security Police and SD. In turn, Section IV was subdivided into further departments, of which department IV–4b was responsible for Jewish affairs. Dannecker, then Boßhammer headed this department.[22]

The Congress of Verona

The attitude of the Italian Fascists towards Italian Jews changed drastically in November 1943, after the Fascist authorities declared them to be of "enemy nationality" during the Congress of Verona and began to participate actively in the prosecution and arrest of Jews.[23] Initially, after the Italian surrender, the Italian police had only assisted in the round-up of Jews when requested to do so by German authorities. With the Manifest of Verona, in which Jews were declared foreigners, and in times of war enemies, this changed. Police Order No. 5 on November 30, 1943, issued by Guido Buffarini Guidi, minister of the interior of the RSI, ordered the Italian police to arrest Jews and confiscate their property.[24][25] This order, however, exempted Jews over the age of 70 or of mixed marriages, which frustrated the Germans who wanted to arrest and deport all Italian Jews.[9]

Deportation and murder

The arrest and deportation of Jews in German-occupied Italy can be separated into two distinct phases. The first, under Dannecker, from September 1943 to January 1944, saw mobile Einsatzkommandos target Jews in major Italian cities. The second phase took place under Boßhammer, who had replaced Dannecker in early 1944. Boßhammer set up a centralised persecution system, using all available German and Fascist Italian police resources, to arrest and deport Italian Jews.[16][26]

The arrest of Jewish Italians and Jewish refugees began almost immediately after the surrender, in October 1943. This took place in all major Italian cities under German control, albeit with limited success. The Italian police offered little cooperation, and ninety percent of Rome's 10,000 Jews escaped arrest. Arrested Jews were taken to the transit camps at Borgo San Dalmazzo, Fossoli and Bolzano, and from there to Auschwitz. Of the 4,800 deported from the camps by the end of 1943 only 314 survived.[27]

Approximately half of all Jews arrested during the Holocaust in Italy were arrested in 1944 by the Italian police.[28]

Altogether, by the end of the war, almost 8,600 Jews from Italy and Italian-controlled areas in France and Greece were deported to Auschwitz; all but 1,000 were murdered. Only 506 were sent to other camps (Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Ravensbrück, and Flossenbürg) as hostages or political prisoners. Among them were a few hundred Jews from Libya, an Italian colony before the war, who had been deported to mainland Italy in 1942, and were sent to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Most of them held British and French citizenship and most survived the war.[27]

A further 300 Jews were shot or died of other causes in transit camps in Italy.[27] Of those executed in Italy, almost half were killed at the Ardeatine massacre in March 1944 alone.[27] The 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler killed over 50 Jewish civilians, refugees and Italian nationals, at the Lake Maggiore massacres—the first massacres of Jews by Germany in Italy during the war. These were committed immediately after the Italian surrender, and the bodies sunk in the lake.[29] This occurred despite strict orders at the time not to commit any violence against the civilian population.[30]

In the nineteen months of German occupation, from September 1943 to May 1945, twenty percent of Italy's pre-war Jewish population was killed by the Nazis.[31] The actual Jewish population in Italy during the war was, however, higher than the initial 40,000 as the Italian government had evacuated 4,000 Jewish refugees from its occupation zones to southern Italy alone. By September 1943, 43,000 Jews were present in northern Italy and, by the end of the war, 40,000 Jews in Italy had survived the Holocaust.[27]

Romani people

Unlike Italian Jews, the Romani people faced discrimination by Fascist Italy almost from the start of the regime. In 1926 it ordered that all "foreign Gypsies" should be expelled from the country and, from September 1940, Romani people of Italian nationality were held in designated camps. With the start of the German occupation many of these camps came under German control. The impact the German occupation had on the Romani people in Italy has seen little research. The number of Romani who died in Italian camps or were deported to concentration camps is uncertain.[32] The number of Romani people who died from hunger and exposure during the Fascist Italian period is also unknown but is estimated to be in the thousands.[33]

While Italy observes January 27 as Remembrance Day for the Holocaust and its Jewish Italian victims, efforts to extend this official recognition to the Italian Romani people killed by the Fascist regime, or deported to extermination camps, have been rejected.[34]

Role of the Catholic Church and the Vatican

Before the Raid of the Ghetto of Rome Germany had been warned that such an action could raise the displeasure of Pope Pius XII, but the pope never spoke out against the deportation of the Jews of Rome during the war, something that has since sparked controversy. At the same time, members of the Catholic Church provided assistance to Jews and helped them survive the Holocaust in Italy.[16]

Camps

German and Italian run transit camps for Jews, political prisoners and forced labour existed in Italy. These included:[35]

  • Bolzano Transit Camp, in the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol region, then part of the Operational Zone of the Alpine Foothills, operating as a German-controlled transit camp from summer 1944 to May 1945.[36][37]
  • Borgo San Dalmazzo concentration camp, in the Piedmont region, operating as a German-controlled transit camp from September 1943 to November 1943 and, under Italian control, from December 1943 to February 1944.[38][39]
  • Fossoli di Carpi, in the Emilia-Romagna region, operating as a prisoner of war camp under Italian control from May 1942 to September 1943, then as a transit camp, still under Italian control until March 1944 and, from then until November 1944 under German control.[40]

Apart from these transit camps, Germany also operated the Risiera di San Sabba camp in Trieste, then part of the Operational Zone of the Adriatic Littoral, which simultaneously functioned as an extermination and transit camp. It was the only extermination camp in Italy during World War II. It operated from October 1943 to April 1945, with up to 5,000 people killed there[41][42] —most of those being political prisoners.[27]

In addition to the designated camps, Jews and political prisoners were held in common prisons, like the San Vittore Prison in Milan, which gained notoriety during the war through the inhumane treatment of inmates by the SS guards and the torture carried out there.[43] From San Vittore Prison, which served as a transit station for Jews arrested in northern Italy, prisoners were taken to the Milano Centrale railway station. There they were loaded onto freight cars on a secret track underneath the station and deported.[28]

Looting of Jewish property

Apart from the extermination of the Jews, Nazi Germany was also extremely interested in appropriating Jewish property. A 2010 estimate set the value of Jewish property looted in Italy during the Holocaust between 1943 and 1945 at US$1 billion.[11]

Among the most priceless artifacts lost this way are the contents of the Biblioteca della Comunità Israelitica and the Collegio Rabbinico Italiano, the two Jewish libraries in Rome. Of the former, all of its contents remain missing, while some of the latter's contents were returned after the war.[44]

Weeks before the Raid of the Ghetto of Rome, Herbert Kappler forced Rome's Jewish community to hand over 50 kilograms (110 lb) of gold in exchange for safety. Despite doing so on September 28, 1943, over 1,000 of its members were arrested on October 16 and deported to Auschwitz where all but 16 died.[45]

Perpetrators

Very few German or Italian perpetrators of the Holocaust in Italy were tried or jailed after the war.[27]

Post-war trials

Of the war crimes committed by the Nazis in Italy the Ardeatine massacre saw arguably the most perpetrators convicted. High-ranking Wehrmacht officials Albert Kesselring, field marshal and commander of all Axis forces in the Mediterranean theatre, Eberhard von Mackensen, commander of the 14th German Army and Kurt Mälzer, military commander of Rome, were all sentenced to death. They were pardoned and released in 1952; Mälzer died before he could be released. Of the perpetrators from the SS, police chief of Rome Herbert Kappler was sentenced in 1948 but latter escaped jail. Erich Priebke and Karl Hass long escaped justice but were eventually tried in 1997.[46]

Theodor Dannecker, in charge of the Judenreferat in Italy, committed suicide after being captured in December 1945, thereby avoiding a possible trial.[20] His successor, Friedrich Boßhammer, disappeared at the end of the war in 1945 and subsequently worked as a lawyer in Wuppertal. He was arrested in West Germany in 1968 and eventually sentenced to life in prison for his involvement in the deportation of 3,300 Jews from Italy to Auschwitz. During the Holocaust almost 8,000 of the 45,000 Jews living in Italy perished.[47] During his trial over 200 witnesses were heard before he was sentenced in April 1972. He died a few months after the verdict without having spent any time in prison.[21][48]

Karl Friedrich Titho's role as camp commander at the Fossoli di Carpi Transit Camp and the Bolzano Transit Camp in the deportation of Jewish camp inmates to Auschwitz was investigated by the state prosecutor in Dortmund, Germany, in the early 1970s. The investigation was eventually terminated because it could not be proven that Titho knew the Jews deported to Auschwitz would be killed there and that, given the late state of the war, they were killed at all. He was also tried for the execution of 67 prisoners as reprisal for a partisan attack. It was ruled that this did not classify as being murder but, at most, as manslaughter. As such the charge had exceeded the statute of limitations. The two heads of the department investigating Titho had been members of the Nazi Party from an early date.[49]

In 1964, six members of the Leibstandarte division were charged with the Lago Maggiore massacre, carried out near Meina, as the statute of limitation laws in Germany at the time, twenty years for murder, meant the perpetrators could soon no longer be prosecuted. All the accused were found guilty, and three received life sentences for murder. Two others received a jail sentence of three years for having been accessories to the murders, while the sixth one died during the trial. The sentences were appealed and Germany's highest court, the Bundesgerichtshof, while not overturning the guilty verdict, ruled that the perpetrators had to be freed on a technicality. As the crimes had been committed in 1943 and were investigated by the division at that time without a conclusion, the usual start date for the statute of limitations for Nazi crimes, the date of the German surrender in 1945, did not apply. Since the defendants were charged more than twenty years after the 1943 massacre, the statute of limitations had expired.[50][30]

This verdict caused much frustration for a younger generation of German state prosecutors who were interested in prosecuting Nazi crimes and their perpetrators. The ruling by the Bundesgerichtshof had further repercussions. It stated perpetrators could only be charged with murder if direct involvement in killing could be proven. In any other cases the charge could only be manslaughter. This meant that after 1960, under German law, the statute of limitations for manslaughter crimes had expired.[50]

In 1969 Germany revoked the statute of limitations for murder altogether, allowing direct murder charges to be prosecuted indefinitely. This was not always applied to Nazi war crimes which were judged by pre-1969 laws. Some like Wolfgang Lehnigk-Emden escaped a jail sentence despite having been found guilty in the case of the Caiazzo massacre.[51]

Italian role in the Holocaust

The role of Italians as collaborators of the Germans in the Holocaust in Italy has rarely been reflected upon in the country after World War II. A 2015 book by Simon Levis Sullam, a professor of modern history at the Ca' Foscari University of Venice, titled The Italian Executioners: The Genocide of the Jews of Italy examined the role of Italians in the genocide and found half of the Italian Jews killed in the Holocaust were arrested by Italians and not Germans. Many of these arrests could only be carried out because of tip-offs by civilians. Sullam argued that Italy ignored what he called its "era of the executioner", rehabilitated Italian participants in the Holocaust through a 1946 amnesty, and continued to focus on its role as saviours of the Jews rather than to reflect on the persecution Jews suffered in Fascist Italy.[52]

Michele Sarfatti, one of most important historians of Italian Jewry in the country, stated his believe that, up until the 1970s, Italians generally believed their country was not involved in the Holocaust, and that it was exclusively the work of the German occupiers instead. This only began to change in the 1990s after the publication of Il Libro Della Memoria by Jewish-Italian historian Liliana Picciotto, and the Italian Racial Laws in book form in the early 2000s. These laws highlighted the fact that Italy's anti-Semitic laws were distinctly independent from those in Nazi Germany and, in some instances, more severe than the early anti-Semitic laws Germany had enacted.[28]

Commemoration

Muro dei Nomi
The wall of names at the Memoriale della Shoah

Memoriale della Shoah

The Memoriale della Shoah is a Holocaust memorial in Milano Centrale railway station, dedicated to the Jewish people deported from a secret platform underneath the station to the extermination camps. It was opened in January 2013.[43][28]

Borgo San Dalmazzo camp

No trace remains of the former Borgo San Dalmazzo concentration camp, but two monuments were erected to mark the events that took place there. In 2006 a memorial was erected at the Borgo San Dalmazzo railway station to commemorate the deportations. The memorial contains the names, ages and countries of origin of the victims as well as those of the few survivors. It also has some freight cars of the type used in the deportations.[38][39][35]

Fossoli Camp

In 1996 a foundation was formed to preserve the former camp. From 1998 to 2003 volunteers rebuilt the fencing around the Campo Nuovo and, in 2004, one of the barracks that was used to house Jewish inmates was reconstructed.[35]

Italian Righteous Among the Nations

As of 2018, 694 Italians have been recognised as Righteous Among the Nations, an honorific used by the State of Israel to describe non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis.[53]

The first Italians to be honoured in this fashion were Don Arrigo Beccari, Doctor Giuseppe Moreali and Ezio Giorgetti in 1964.[54] Arguably the most famous of these is cyclist Gino Bartali, winner of the 1938 and 1948 Tour de France, who was honoured posthumously for his role in saving Italian Jews during the Holocaust in 2014, never having spoken about it during his lifetime.[55]

The Italian Holocaust in literature and the media

Literature

Primo Levi, an Italian Jewish Auschwitz survivor, published his experience of the Holocaust in Italy in his books If This is a Man and The Periodic Table. The novel The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani deals with the fate of the Jews of Ferrara during the Holocaust and was made into a movie of the same name.

  • Appelbaum, Eva. Flight from WWII Yugoslavia and Coming of Age in Italy (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018) ISBN 978-1719015172
  • Bassani, Giorgio. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Everyman's Library, 2005) ISBN 978-1400044221
  • Bassani, Giorgio. The Novel of Ferrara (W. W. Norton & Company, 2018) ISBN 978-0393080155
  • Debenedetti, Giacomo. October 16, 1943 - Eight Jews (University of Notre Dame Press, 2001).
  • Goldman, Louis. Friends for Life: The Story of a Holocaust Survivor and His Rescuers (Paulist Press, 2008) ISBN 978-0809145348
  • Harmon, Amy. From Sand and Ash (Lake Union Publishing, 2016)
  • Levi, Primo. Survival in Auschwitz (Simon & Schuster, 1996) ISBN 978-0684826806
  • Levi, Primo. The Drowned and the Saved (Simon & Schuster, 2017) ISBN 978-1501167638
  • Levi, Primo. The Reawakening (Touchstone, 1995) ISBN 978-0684826356
  • Loy, Rosetta. First Words: A Childhood in Fascist Italy (Metropolitan Books, 2014)
  • Marchione, Margherita. Yours Is a Precious Witness: Memoirs of Jews and Catholics in Wartime Italy (Paulist Press, 1997) ISBN 978-0809104857
  • Millu, Liana. Smoke over Birkenau (Northwestern University Press, 1998) ISBN 978-0810115699
  • Russo, Marisabina. I Will Come Back for You: A Family in Hiding in World War II (Dragonfly Books, 2014) ISBN 978-0385391498
  • Segre, Dan Vittorio. Memoirs of a Fortunate Jew: An Italian Story (University of Chicago Press, 2008).
  • Stille, Alexander. Benevolence and Betrayal: Five Italian Jewish Families Under Fascism (Summit Books, 1991).
  • Vitale Ben Bassat, Dafna. Vittoria: A Historical Drama Based on A True Story (2016).
  • Wolff, Walter. Bad Times, Good People: A Holocaust Survivor Recounts His Life in Italy During World War II (Whittier Pubn, 1999) ISBN 978-1576040911

Films

The Oscar-winners The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Vittorio De Sica (1970) and Life Is Beautiful by Roberto Benigni (1997) are the two most famous movies on the Holocaust in Italy. Many more have been produced on the subject.[56]

References

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Bibliography

  • Bettina, Elizabeth, It Happened in Italy: Untold Stories of How the People of Italy Defied the Horrors of the Holocaust (Thomas Nelson Inc, 2011) ISBN 9781595551023
  • Caracciolo, Nicola. Uncertain Refuge: Italy and the Jews during the Holocaust (University of Illinois Press, 1995).
  • De Felice, Renzo. The Jews in Fascist Italy: A History (Enigma Books, 2001) ISBN 978-1929631018
  • Gentile, Carlo. The Police Transit Camps in Fossoli and Bolzano – Historical report in connection with the trial of Manfred Seifert. Cologne.
  • Klein, Shira. Italy's Jews from Emancipation to Fascism (Cambridge University Press, 2018).
  • Livingston, Michael A. The Fascists and the Jews of Italy: Mussolini's Race Laws, 1938-1943 (Cambridge University Press, 2013).
  • Megargee, Geoffrey P., ed. (2012). Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933–1945 - Volume III - Camps and Ghettos under European Regimes Aligned with Nazi Germany. in association with United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-02373-5.
  • Michaelis, Meir. Mussolini and the Jews: German-Italian Relations and the Jewish Question, 1922-1945 (Oxford University Press, 1979)
  • O'Reilly, Charles T. Jews of Italy,1938-1945: An Analysis of Revisionist Histories (McFarland & Company, 2007) ISBN 978-0786430024
  • Perra, Emiliano. Conflicts of Memory: The Reception of Holocaust Films and TV Programmes in Italy, 1945 to the Present (Peter Lang AG, 2010) ISBN 978-3039118809
  • Sarfatti, Michele. The Jews in Mussolini's Italy: From Equality to Persecution (Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 2006) (Series in Modern European Cultural and Intellectual History).
  • Sullam, Simon Levis, The Italian Executioners: The Genocide of the Jews of Italy (Princeton University Press, 2018).
  • Zimmerman, Joshua D. (ed.), The Jews of Italy under Fascist and Nazi Rule, 1922–1945 (Cambridge, CUP, 2005).
  • Zuccotti, Susan. The Italians and the Holocaust: Persecution, Rescue and Survival (1987; repr. University of Nebraska Press, 1996).
  • Zuccotti, Susan. Under His Very Windows: The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000).

External links

12th SS Police Regiment

The 12th SS Police Regiment (German: SS-Polizei-Regiment 3) was initially named the 12th Police Regiment (Polizei-Regiment 12) when it was formed in 1942 from existing Order Police units (Ordnungspolizei) in Germany. It was redesignated as an SS unit in early 1943. The regimental headquarters was disbanded in early 1944, but its battalions remained in service.

Axis war crimes in Italy

Two of the three Axis powers of World War II—Nazi Germany and their Fascist Italian allies—committed war crimes in the Kingdom of Italy.

Research in 2016 funded by the German government found the number of victims of Nazi war crimes in Italy to be 22,000, double the previously estimated figure. The victims were primarily Italian civilians, sometimes in retaliation for partisan attacks, and Italian Jews. This figure does not include Italian military internees, of whom approximately 40,000 died in German captivity.Also not included in the number are the estimated 30,000 Italian partisans who were killed during the war. In comparison, the Italian partisans killed approximately 3,000 German policemen and soldiers over the same time period.The killing of Italian civilians by frontline units of the Wehrmacht and SS has sometimes been seen as stemming from a sense of betrayal the Germans felt by the Italian surrender and by a feeling of racial superiority, but historians have argued that the reasons for atrocities and the brutal behaviour were more complex, often resulting from the military crisis caused by the German retreats and the fear of ambushes.Only a few perpetrators were ever tried for these war crimes. Few of these served prison sentences because of Germany's refusal to prosecute and extradite war criminals to Italy. The successive Italian governments, in the early postwar decades, also made little effort in prosecuting German war crimes and demanding extradition as it feared that such demands would in turn encourage other countries to demand the extradition of Italian citizens accused of war crimes committed while Italy was allied with Nazi Germany.

Biblioteca della Comunità Israelitica

The Biblioteca della Comunità Israelitica was the library of the Jewish community of Rome, Italy. Established in the early 20th century, it housed approximately 7,000 rare or unique books and manuscripts dating back to at least the 16th century. According to the Central Registry of Looted Art, it was the most important Jewish library in Italy and one of the most important in the world. The contents of the library were looted by Nazi Germany shortly after the Raid of the Ghetto of Rome in October 1943, and have never been recovered. Two months later, the contents of the Collegio Rabbinico Italiano, the Italian Rabbinical College's library located in the same building, were also looted; only part of the contents of the latter library have been recovered.

Congress of Verona (1943)

The Congress of Verona in November 1943 was the only congress of the Italian Republican Fascist Party, the successor of the National Fascist Party. At the time, the Republican Fascist Party was nominally in charge of the Italian Social Republic, a fascist state set up in Northern Italy after the Italian government signed an armistice with the Allies and fled to Southern Italy. The Salò Republic was in fact a German puppet state and most of its internal and external policies were dictated by German military commanders. Nevertheless, Italian fascists were allowed to keep the trappings of sovereignty. It was under these conditions that they organized the Congress of Verona, ostensibly for the purpose of charting a new political course and rejuvenating the Italian fascist movement. The attitude of the Italian Fascists towards Italian Jews also drastically changed after the Congress of Verona, when Fascist authorities declared them to be of "enemy nationality" and begun to actively participate in the prosecution and arrest of Jews.

Jadu, Libya

Jadu ( JAH-doo; Arabic: جادو‎, Berber languages: ⵊⴰⴷⵓ), in other languages also: Giado (Italian) and Gado, is a mountain town in western Libya, in the Jabal al Gharbi District and the Nafusa Mountains. Jadu was the site of an Italian concentration camp during the Second World War. In 1942, about 2,000 Jews and other people, who were considered undesirables, were rounded up throughout Libya and sent to the Jadu camp.

564 died from typhus and other privations. The camp was liberated by the British Army in January 1943.

Jews of Libya during the Holocaust

Conditions worsened for the Jews of Libya after the passage of Italy's Manifesto of Race in 1938. Following the German intervention in 1941, some of the Jews of Libya were sent to camps in continental Europe, where those who survived stayed until the end of World War II.Italian Libya had two large Jewish communities, one in the western district of Tripolitania, and mainly in its capital Tripoli, and the other in the eastern district of Barka (Cyrenaica) and its capital Benghazi. During the Holocaust hundreds of Jews died of starvation. With approximately 40,000 Jews living in Libya before the war, as a result of the later Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries, there are no Jews left in the country today.

Leonardo de Benedetti

Leonardo de Benedetti (born September 15, 1898 in Turin, Italy; died October 16, 1983) was an Italian Jew and physician who was interned in the Auschwitz concentration camp from February 1944 until its liberation in January 1945. After the end of the Second World War he and fellow inmate Primo Levi wrote Auschwitz Report, a factual report of conditions inside the camp.

List of Germans convicted of war crimes committed in Italy during World War II

This is a list of Germans convicted of war crimes committed in Italy during World War II. War crimes in Italy were committed by both the Wehrmacht and the SS, which in turn was sub-divided into the combat forces of the Waffen-SS and the security and police forces of the Allgemeine-SS. Research in 2016 in the form of the Atlas of Nazi and Fascist Massacres in Italy, funded by the German government, found the number of victims of Nazi German and Fascist Italian war crimes to be 22,000. The victims were primarily Italian civilians, sometimes in retaliation to partisan attacks. Thousands of others were murdered because they were Jewish.The perpetrators of most documented war crimes are unknown. Of those whose identities are known, only a small number were ever tried. After the war, both governments focused on improving Germany-Italy relations, rather than bringing war criminals to justice. This tendency was exacerbated by the prominence of former Nazis in the West German government and Italy's fears that its own citizens would be held accountable for crimes committed while Italy was part of the Axis. In addition, the Christian Democracy party in power in Italy after the war would not have benefitted politically from drawing attention to the Communist-dominated Italian resistance.Recently, Italy has tried a number of German war criminals in absentia due to Germany's refusal to extradite them. These convicted criminals can avoid serving their prison sentences by remaining in Germany. Germany's refusal to extradite war criminals to Italy or prosecute them in German courts has ignited controversy. The response to Germany's refusal to extradite eight Germans convicted in absentia for the murder of 560 Italian civilians at Sant'Anna di Stazzema led to the German government's decision to fund research into war crimes committed by Axis forces in Italy.Only a very small number of German military personnel were placed on trial in Italy in the first five years after the war, up to 1951. After 1951 only a hand full of trials were conducted until 1996, when the case against Erich Priebke started a new wave of court cases. By then, in many cases, because decades elapsed between the crimes and their prosecution, the accused either had died already, died during the court case or were deemed too old to be extradited or serve time in jail. An example of those is the San Cesario sul Panaro massacre, where twelve civilians were killed and where three of the four officers accused died before the trial commenced in 2004 and the fourth one died on the second day of the trial, leaving the massacre without legal repercussions for the perpetrators.

List of Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS divisions that committed war crimes in Italy

This is a list of Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS divisions that committed war crimes in Italy during World War II. War crimes by German combat divisions in Italy were committed by the Waffen-SS and the Wehrmacht, with its sub-branches, the army, Luftwaffe (air force) and Kriegsmarine (navy). Historically, the view existed that the Wehrmacht fought a clean campaign there and the atrocities and war crimes were committed only by the SS, and in the latter case predominantly by the Einsatzgruppen and concentration camp guards, not by the Waffen-SS. This view has been refuted by modern research, which found that the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS were equally involved in war crimes.

Memoriale della Shoah

The Memoriale della Shoah is a Holocaust memorial at the Milano Centrale railway station commemorating the Jewish prisoners deported from there during the Holocaust in Italy. Jewish prisoners from the San Vittore Prison, Milan, were taken from there to a secret underground platform, Platform 21 (Italian: Binario 21), to be loaded on freight cars and taken on Holocaust trains to extermination camps, either directly or via other transit camps. Twenty trains and up to 1,200 Jewish prisoners left Milan in this fashion to be murdered, predominantly at Auschwitz.

Museo della Deportazione

The Museo e Centro di Documentazione della Deportazione e Resistenza ("Museum and Centre of Documentation of Deportation and Italian Resistance") is a museum in Prato, central Italy, dedicated to the history of Fascism’s occurrence and rise to power in Italy. The director of the foundation is Camilla Brunelli.It records the political, racial, and religious persecution and deportation of people in concentration and extermination camps and with resistance during World War II.

Palazzo Cesi-Gaddi war crimes archive

The Palazzo Cesi-Gaddi war crimes archive or armoire of shame (Italian: armadio della vergogna) is a wooden cabinet discovered in 1994 inside a large storage room in Palazzo Cesi-Gaddi, Rome which, at the time, housed the chancellery of the military attorney's office. The cabinet contained an archive of 695 files documenting war crimes perpetrated on Italian soil under fascist rule and during Nazi occupation after the September 8, 1943 armistice between Italy and Allied armed forces. The actions described in the records spanned several years and took place in various areas of the country, from the southern city of Acerra to the northern province of Trieste and as far east as the Balkans; it remains unclear, to this day, how the archive remained concealed for so long, and who gave the order to hide the files in the immediate post-war period.

Pope Pius XII and the raid on the Roman ghetto

Pope Pius XII's response to the Roman razzia (Italian for roundup) or mass deportation of Jews on October 16, 1943 is a significant issue relating to Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust. Under Mussolini, no policy of abduction of Jews had been implemented in Italy. Following the capitulation of Italy in 1943, Nazi forces invaded and occupied much of the country, and began deportations of Jews to extermination camps. Pius XII protested at diplomatic levels, while several thousand Jews found refuge in Catholic networks, institutions and homes across Italy - including in the Vatican City and Pope Pius' Summer Residence. The Catholic Church and some historians have credited this rescue in large part to the direction of Pope Pius XII, however, Susan Zuccotti researched the matter in detail and discovered that although the pope was aware of The Holocaust, he did not issue a rescue order. Zuccotti states that there is, in fact, "considerable evidence of papal disapproval of the hiding of Jews and other fugitives in Vatican properties."Various historians have given different emphases to accounts of Pius' actions. According to Michael Phayer, "the question of the pope's silence has become the focus of intense historical debate and analysis" because the deportations occurred "under his very windows". The term "under his very windows" was used as the title of a book on the subject by Zuccotti. The phrase is based on an actual quotation from the report of Ernst von Weizsäcker, the German ambassador to the Vatican, who reported to Berlin that the razzia had taken place "under the Pope's windows". It also echoes the reported words of the protest made to von Weizsäcker by the pope's Secretary of State on the morning of the round up: "It is sad for the Holy Father, sad beyond imagination, that here in Rome, under the very eyes of the Common Father, that so many people should suffer only because they belong to a specific race."

Phayer and Zuccotti's emphasis on "papal silence" can be contrasted with Jewish historian of the Holocaust, Sir Martin Gilbert's, emphasis on "papal action" in relation to the roundup. By Gilbert's account, when the Nazis came to Rome in search of Jews, Pius had already "A few days earlier... personally ordered the Vatican clergy to open the sanctuaries of the Vatican City to all 'non-Aryans' in need of refuge."

Susan Zucotti points out that there is no written evidence of this supposed papal directive. She further asserts that claims of its existence only began to be made after the 1963 production of a play critical of Pius' failure to protest the Holocaust. However, as Pius defender Gary Krupp writes, "it was not only normal but essential for any incriminating documents, even slips of paper, to be destroyed lest they fall into Nazi hands and endanger the carrier or the referee. In fact, as [writer Ronald] Rychlak points out, Zuccotti had spelt this out herself in an earlier book...: 'Any direct personal order would have had to be kept very quiet to protect those who were actually sheltered' ('The Italians and the Holocaust,' 1987)."

RSI Police Order No. 5

The RSI Police Order No. 5 (Italian: Ordinanza di polizia RSI n.5) was an order issued on 30 November 1943 in the Italian Social Republic (Italian: Repubblica Sociale Italiana,, the RSI) to the Italian police in German-occupied northern Italy to arrest all Jews except those born of mixed marriages, which were required to be monitored by the police.

The order marked the final change of attitude of Fascist Italy towards the Jewish minority in the country, having gone from allowing active participation in the Fascist movement to the, official, start of discrimination with the Italian Racial Laws of 1938, to declaring them as of "enemy nationality" at the Congress of Verona in early November 1943 and, ultimately, to arrest and deportation to extermination camps with the Police Order No. 5 at the end of November.

The impact of the order can be judged by the fact that approximately half of the Jews arrested in Italy during the Holocaust were arrest by Italian police and the fact that Fascist Italy opened a number of concentration camps for arrested Jews immediately following the issue of the police order.

Raid of the Ghetto of Rome

The Raid of the Ghetto of Rome took place on 16 October 1943. A total of 1,259 members of the Jewish community–numbering 363 men, 689 women, and 207 children–were initially captured by the Gestapo. Of these, 1,023 were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Only fifteen men and one woman survived.

Stolperstein

A Stolperstein (German pronunciation: [ˈʃtɔlpɐˌʃtaɪn]; plural Stolpersteine; literally "stumbling stone", metaphorically a "stumbling block") is a sett-size, 10 by 10 centimetres (3.9 in × 3.9 in) concrete cube bearing a brass plate inscribed with the name and life dates of victims of Nazi extermination or persecution.

The Stolpersteine project, initiated by the German artist Gunter Demnig in 1992, aims to commemorate individuals at exactly the last place of residency—or, sometimes, work—which was freely chosen by the person before he or she fell victim to Nazi terror, euthanasia, eugenics, was deported to a concentration or extermination camp, or escaped persecution by emigration or suicide. As of 23 October 2018, 70,000 Stolpersteine have been laid making the Stolpersteine project the world's largest decentralized memorial.The majority of Stolpersteine commemorate Jewish victims of the Holocaust

. Others have been placed for Sinti and Romani people (then also called "gypsies"), homosexuals, the physically or mentally disabled, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, black people, members of the Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party, and the anti-Nazi Resistance, the Christian opposition (both Protestants and Catholics), and Freemasons, along with International Brigade soldiers in the Spanish Civil War, military deserters, conscientious objectors, escape helpers, capitulators, "habitual criminals", looters, and others charged with treason, military disobedience, or undermining the Nazi military, as well as Allied soldiers.

Theo Saevecke

Theodor Emil Saevecke ((1911-03-22)22 March 1911–(2004-12-15)15 December 2004) was an SS officer and perpetrator of the Holocaust in Poland and the Holocaust in Italy.

Under His Very Windows

Under His Very Windows: The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy (2000, Yale University Press) is a book by Susan Zuccotti which examines the role of the Catholic Church in providing aid to Jews in Italy during the Holocaust, and is critical of the actions of the papacy in this regard.

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