Friday, November 5, 2010

NY TIMES: Changing Assessment of Treatment of Jews in Italy During 1930s, 40s

Paul Vitello reports in the New York Times on new scholarship and research which suggests deeper complexities, conflicts and truths in the experience of Italian Jews during the Fascist era:


"The new findings contradict the conventional belief that Italians began to enforce anti-Semitic laws only after German troops occupied the country in 1943, and then reluctantly. In a spate of studies, many of them based on a little-publicized Italian government report commissioned in 1999, researchers have uncovered a vast wartime record detailing a systematic disenfranchisement of Italy’s Jews, beginning in the summer of 1938, shortly before the Kristallnacht attacks in November. ...

After the war, encouraged in part by Italy’s American occupiers, Italians embraced a spirit of national reconciliation that “allowed the construction of a sanitized collective memory,” said Alessandro Cassin, the publishing director of the Centro Primo Levi, a research institute in Manhattan that promotes the study of Italian Jewish history, and that organized the panel discussion.

Michele Sarfatti, the author of several books on Italian Fascist anti-Semitism, said a higher portion of Italy’s Jews survived the war than their counterparts in most other European countries."


But Italian culpability for the persecution of Jews remains relatively unknown, and largely unacknowledged by Italians, Professor Pavan said. “People were made destitute, people were turned into ghostly nonentities in their own country,” she said. “This is also true.”


Full article here



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