Often overshadowed by the persecution of Jews in Germany, the treatment of Jews in fascist Italy comes into sharp focus in this volume by Italian historian Michele Sarfatti. Using thorough and careful statistical evidence to document how the Italian social climate changed from relatively just to irredeemably prejudicial, Sarfatti begins with a history of Italian Jews in the decades before fascism—when Jews were fully integrated into Italian national life—and provides a deft and comprehensive history from fascism’s rise in 1922 to its defeat in 1945.
Tracking the plight of Italian Jews from Fascism's rise to power in 1922 to its defeat in 1945, historian Sarfatti asserts that Mussolini and his regime, rather than being passive participants in Hitler's master plan, were actively responsible for passing and enacting anti-Jewish legislation in Italy. Jews, who numbered from 40,000 to 50,000, had been so fully integrated as equals into Italian society since the second half of the 19th century and held such diverse political views that in two key 1921 rampages that birthed Fascism-in Pisa and Modena-Jews figured prominently among the sparring Fascists, Socialists and monarchists. Yet the Fascist government that was established in October 1922 and headed by the pragmatically anti-Semitic Mussolini immediately gave dominance to Catholicism over minority religions, and in 1927, Mussolini announced his intention to "nurture the Italian race." By 1937, various industries were aryanized; Mussolini initiated a search for Jewish surnames among the higher army officers; and a new anti-Semitic weekly humor magazine began publishing. By 1943, Italy was confiscating Jewish property and partnering with the Nazis in the Final Solution. Although this tome is prodigiously documented and definitive, its dry, opaque prose and high price tag unfortunately preclude a lay readership. Illus. (Aug. 15) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.