History of Italy

Italy and the Holocaust

Italian Insight

The German lager of the Risiera di San Sabba in Trieste, Italy.

Despite a strong Catholic tradition which was not benevolent towards “the deicides”, before the enactment by the fascist Government of the 1938 Antisemitic Laws Italy was not a hostile country for Jews. They were relatively few, but very well integrated.

The Laws themselves, enacted after Hitler’s official visit and strong pressures by Germany, were lenient compared to the Nazi ones, but most of all they were disapproved by the general public and laxly enforced.

Even more importantly, during the first phase of the war Italy was known for shielding Jews, so much that Italian occupation zones were considered safe havens.

Unfortunately, due to military unpreparedness the Italian position in the Axis became weaker and weaker, until in 1943 Germany took control of two-thirds of the Peninsula and installed the puppet Government of the Italian Social Republic. Such Government…

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