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Internetresources: Holocaust and Resistance in Italy

By Prof. Hanns-Fred Rathenow

When King Victor Emmanuel III appointed Benito Mussolini, the leader of the Italian fascist party, for the office of Prime Minister in October 1922, this marked the beginning of a period of discrimination, oppression and deportation to the death camps for the Italian Jews. This period lasted until 1943, when the Allies landed.

During the 1930ies, when the about 50,000 Italian Jews did not yet have to fear repression, they were fully integrated into the Italian society. Starting from September 1938, when Mussolini published his ideas about "fascism and the race question", the Jewish population had to suffer repression, e.g. the extradition of all foreign Jews within six months or the exclusion of all Jewish teachers and students.

The situation changed when Northern Italy was occupied by the Germans. In October and November 1943, many Jews, especially from the big North Italian cities and Rome were interned at transitory camps like Fossoli di Carpi and Bolzano (http://www.deportati.it/static/pdf/libri/testo_tedesco.pdf), from where they were deported to Auschwitz. There are varying figures about the numbers of Jews murdered, but it seems to be certain that a minimum of 40,000 Jews did not survive the Holocaust in Italy.

The following website provides information on the Italian victims of the Holocaust: http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/index.php?ModuleId=10005455&Type=normal

Hints for further reading about the Jewish resistance are available at: http://www.ushmm.org/research/center/lerman/bibliography/bibliography.php?country=italy

The German-language website http://www.partigiani.de/ refers to the Italian resistance against German occupation. It informs about the massacres committed by the German army against the Italian population, about women in the resistance and also about the many court trials - which started as late as the end of the 1990ies - against former army officer of the German Wehrmacht involved in retaliation operations.

The web site of the national association of Italian partisans, an organisation which was founded already in 1944 in Rome (http://www.anpi.it/saluto.htm), shows that the memory of the resistance against the German occupation and the lives that it claimed is still alive. It should be mentioned that almost every bigger Italian city has its "Istituto storico della Resistenza" (institute for the history of resistance).

A good example of keeping alive the memory of the history of resistance are the hiking tours through the Apennines organised by the "Istoreco: Istituto per la storia della Resistenza e della società contemporanea in provincia di Reggio Emilia" (Institute for the history of resistance and contemporary history of the Reggion Emilia province). Each hiking tour includes a meeting with a contemporary witness.

A publication in German is, for example Marco Comello: Jetzt sind wir an der Reihe. Das Massaker von Cumiana und der Widerstand im Piemont unter deutscher Besatzung 1943 - 1945 [Now it is our turn. The massacre of Cumiana and the resistance in Piedmont under the German occupation 1943-1945]. This book and other publications in German about the Italian resistance are available from:

Verein zur Förderung alternativer Medien
Feldstr. 22
D-91052 Erlangen,
Fax: +49 (0) 9131 205 020
mail [at] resistenza [dot] de

Quite often, music has been added to websites dealing with the Italian resistance, e.g. songs like "Bella Ciao". For examples see the portal of the liberation war at http://www.resistenzaitaliana.it/ or the website http://digilander.libero.it/CentroSantaMarina, which is about the resistance at Santa Marina in Feltre (Belluno).

The national association of persons who were deported to Nazi camps for political reasons (Associazione Nazionale Ex Deportati politici nei campi Nazis - ANED) estimates that about 40,000 Italians (political prisoners, Jews, Sinti and Roma, homosexuals, Jehova's Witnesses) were deported to the camps that the Germans had set up in the occupied territories. According to the figures provided by ANED, only 4,000 of them returned (http://www.deportati.it/english/default.html).

 

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