What was Italy’s role in the Holocaust? Why is it that Italy is known as the Axis power that was benevolent to Jews, despite a scholarly consensus that many Italians actively participated in anti-Jewish persecution? In Italy’s Jews from Emancipation to Fascism
(Cambridge University Press, 2018), Shira Klein
skillfully narrates the historical developments that belie this myth, and the complex process that have led to its perpetuation. By examining the experiences of Italian Jews during the Second World War from a wide chronological lens, Klein shows how the particular history of Italian Jews in the century prior to the Holocaust helped to mold their positive perception of Italy during and in the aftermath of genocide. Drawing from oral testimonies as well as unpublished memoirs, Klein reveals how a uniquely Jewish Italian patriotism was fostered in the decades leading up to (and even during) Fascism. Through their allegiance to Italy, she explains, many Jewish exiles and survivors themselves helped to spread the myth of Italian innocence.
Shira Klein is Assistant Professor of History at Chapman University.
Robin Buller is a PhD Candidate in History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill