This program is organized through
This program is organized through a partnership between Centro Primo Levi and the Columbia Seminar in Modern Italian Studies. It is held at the Italian Academy and is meant for students and faculty. Reservation os required. Visit the Seminar’s webpage for details.
Luca Fenoglio (Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Leicester). Respondent: Susan Zuccotti (author of Père Marie-Benoît and Jewish Rescue and Holocaust Odysseys: The Jews of Saint-Martin-Vésubie and Their Flight through France and Italy).
This paper will discuss the rationale behind the Fascist government’s controversial refusals to hand over to its Nazi ally foreign Jewish refugees in Italian-occupied territories and thereby to collaborate in their extermination before September 8, 1943. It will focus on the often-neglected ten departments of southeastern France that the Italian Army occupied as part of the Axis powers’ invasion of Vichy France in November 1942 until September 1943. In February 1943, there were some 15,000 Jews from all over Europe in the Italian-occupied region of Nice alone, thus making the Fascist government’s approach to the ‘Jewish problem’ a constant source of friction between the Axis partners. At the same time, it was in southern France that Fascist Italy came closer to hand over non-Italian Jews to the Nazis, when the Fascist chief of Police ordered the surrender – which, however, did not take place eventually – of German Jews in July 1943.
The paper will retrace the decision-making process concerning the treatment of foreign Jews in Italian-occupied southeastern France and thereby show that the refusal to hand them over and the partial reversal of that policy in July 1943 were only one portion of a larger Jewish policy that Fascist Italy implemented between November 1942 and September 1943. As a result, the paper will simultaneously build upon and move beyond the existing opposing arguments that interpret the Fascist government’s refusal to hand over foreign Jews either as a humanitarian rescue or as a self-interested ‘pragmatic’ choice, and offer a new interpretation that places emphasis on the distinct Italian-Fascist understanding of the ‘Jewish problem’. Further ramifications of the paper will concern the relationship between racism and violence in Fascist Italy’s quest for a Mediterranean Empire during World War Two.
Nation-Building through Antisemitism: Fascist Italy
Nation-Building through Antisemitism: Fascist Italy and the Jew as Internal Enemy
Ernest Ialongo, Associate Professor of History at Hostos Community College of The City University of New York.
In 1938, Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini institutionalized antisemitism in his country with the Racial Laws, and set in motion events that culminated in the Holocaust in Italy. Scholars have put forward a number of reasons for this new policy. However, all such reasons are specific to the life of Fascism itself. In his talk, Dr. Ialongo will propose that Mussolini’s attack on the Jews was also rooted in a longer-term trend in modern Italy since its unification in 1861, wherein the state sought to bolster a weak national consciousness by rallying the nation around purported internal enemies. Thus, the persecution of Italian Jews was disturbingly similar to the Liberal government’s marginalization and assault on southern Italian rebels in the 1860s, anarchists in the 1870s, and Sicilian rebels in the 1890s—and, we continue to see this trend in the populist, anti-migrant movements in Italy today.
Ernest Ialongo is Associate Professor of History at Hostos Community College in The City University of New York and Chair of the Columbia University Seminar in Modern Italian Studies. He holds a PhD in Modern European History from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and an MA and BA in History from York University (Toronto, Canada). He is the author of various articles dealing with Futurism, politics, and culture in Liberal and Fascist Italy, and has published the book Filippo Tommaso Marinetti: The Artist and his Politics with Fairleigh Dickinson University Press (2015). Additionally, he is the co-editor of New Directions in Italian and Italian American History: Selected Essays from the Conference in Honor of Philip Cannistraro (2013), and co-editor of two special sections of the Journal of Modern Italian Studiesentitled “Reconsidering Futurism” (September 2013) and “Multi/Interdisciplinary Investigations into Italy and World War I” (March 2016).
Full professional details are available at: http://hostos.digication.com/ialongo
Groundbreaking research project opens new
Groundbreaking research project opens new avenues to understand survival.
Welcoming remarks: Consul General of Italy Min. Francesco Genuardi
Introduction: Andrew Viterbi.
Liliana Picciotto (Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation), Susan Zuccotti (author of Père Marie-Benoît And Jewish Rescue How A French Priest Together With Jewish Friends Saved Thousands During The Holocaust), Mordechai Paldiel (Historian And Former Director Of The Institute Of The Righteous At Yad Vashem)
Presented by Centro Primo Levi, the Consulate General of Italy and the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation in Milan.
During the past ten years historian Liliana Picciotto has lead a groundbreaking research project at the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation in Milan: the development of a database of case-studies to analyze the ways in which Jews survived in Italy during the Fascist and Nazi persecution. The project, funded by a grant from Andrew Viterbi and Erna Finci Viterbi z”l, resulted in a database and a book Salvarsi, published by Einaudi in 2017.
Liliana Picciotto has previously lead to completion the research on the Jews deported from Italy and the Italian territories. Her work provides historians with essential information on the mechanism of arrest that lead to Auschwitz nearly 10,000 Jews who had remained under the control of the Italian Social Republic.
The new project challenges long-established canons in the understanding of rescue which, for the first time, is addressed as an integral aspect of the history of persecution and as the result of complex dynamics in which Jews and non-Jews were active participants.
Survival has mostly been considered by scholars and lay observers in an ethical and political frame which reduces it to rescue, an act of charity casted by heroes upon victims. The redefinition of survival as rescue facilitated a clear separation of the society that “persecuted” from the society that “saved” ultimately inscribing a history of religious, racial and political discrimination into a martyrological narrative and providing post-war Europe with a tool of secular redemption and and a new form of exemplary literature.
Reconstructing the historical context, logistic circumstances, decisions made by those who tried to escape and those who surrounded them, rethinking survival and demise as consequences of relations and interactions, opens a new chapter in the study of the anti-Jewish persecution.
It emancipates the evaluation of survival from politically-motivated efforts and helps better understand the nature of collaboration and indifference, the use and abuse of categories such gratitude, danger, protection, and rights.
Besides political motivations, the difficulty of fully grasping the conditions and perception of the individuals who went through these experiences facilitates the inclination to celebrate survival as mere result of heroism.
Celebration however, can significantly simplify the questions asked and ultimately limit our understanding of how totalitarian societies used the dispossessed seeking to have the same control over the means of persecution and survival.
This panel of experts will discuss the Italian database and its implication in offering new perspective in the field.