Welcome to Centro Primo Levi’s video page. Here you can find a selection of video clips and movies about the history of Italian Jews, recordings of many of our programs and seminars, and a link to CPL minidocs, a series of short web documentaries designed as introductions to our books.
Primo Levi at the National Book Festival
Multimedia artist Cynthia Madansky produced this short film in tribute to Primo Levi as an introduction to the program at the National Book
Il sesto giorno
After much debate over how to design the human, a committee ends up implementing a design dictated by “management”. “Storie naturali, of which this text is part, provide another
La bella addormentata nel frigo
A young woman subjects herself to voluntary freezing to be awaken only to witness landmark events. “Through surreal inventions, Levi pointed
In Il Versificatore, an American salesman, Simpson, presents the versifier as an automated solution to a poet’s rising work levels, setting in
Reading. John Turturro and Joan Acocella. Levi talks about his fascination with knowledge, the discovery of the world, and the secrets of matter.
In Procacciatori d’affari, where some bureaucrats try to convince souls to enter in living bodies, as human being has inexplicable defects: “I think you
Opening at Vanni’s: 130 Years After
Centro Primo Levi launched CPL Editions at SF Vanni, historical Village bookstore and publisher, symbol of independent publishing that has flourished
Israeli Radio on Italian Jewish Music
Avraham Soltes talks about Jewish liturgical and secular music in Italy tracing the history of the Italian Jewish communities from antiquity to the present. The segment continues with a portrait of Mario Castelnuovo Tedesco, his work and the legacy of his
The Italian Synagogue in Jerusalem
The Italian synagogue in Jerusalem was originally the synagogue of Conegliano Veneto, a small town located between Padua and Venice. Jews lived in Conegliano Veneto from the 16th century. To this period belong the golden Rococo wings
Jewish treasures in Italian Regions
Choir of the Tempio Maggiore in Rome
Jewish Museum of Rome
Yafuzu Oyevecha (And it came to pass, when the Ark set forward, that Moses said, rise up, Lord, and let your enemies be scattered) is sung on Shabbat
Rabbi Elio Toaff
Elio Toaff (30 April, 1915 – 19 April, 2015) was the Chief Rabbi of Rome from 1951 to 2002. He served as a rabbi in Venice from 1947,
Rabbi Dario Disegni
“Rabbi Dario Disegni, a 20th-Century Story”, produced by the Archivio Terracini of Turin. Born in Florence, Rabbi Dario Disegni (1878-1967),
Fascism and the Shoah
Fascist Italy and the Jews
Dr. Iael Nidam-Orvieto, the Editor-in-Chief of Yad Vashem Publications discusses the topic of: “Fascist Italy and the Jews: myth versus reality”.
This is the first part of this talk, for the second part click here. The video is part of the series Insights and Perspectives from Holocaust Researchers and Historians” supported by the Claims Conference.
Il Ragazzo di Via Sacchi, Emanuele Artom
Emanuele Artom was a young anti-Fascist raised in Turin who joined the Resistance in the “Giustizia e Libertà“
The Rosselli Case
Paris, 19th June 1937. A funeral cortege of 150,000 people accompanies the caskets of Carlo and Nello Rosselli, Italian anti-fascists in exile,
Ferramonti: The Largest Concentration Camp in Italy
“Children imprisoned behind barbed wire! Here is one of the typical symptoms of this heroic age of ours. Some of these kids were born in
The DP Camp of Cinecittà
On June 6th 1944, the “City of Cinema” was taken over by the Allied Control Commission, as a holding station meant to house thousands of refugees. The partially bombed modernist movie
A film by Ruggero Gabbai, Liliana Picciotto and Marcello Pezzetti. “Memoria”, regia di Ruggero Gabbai. “Memoria” presented for the first time the testimonies of Italian survivors
Seminar in Italian Jewish Studies
After Mussolini: The Reintegration of Italian Jews in Post-War Italy
Gary Schwarz (University of Pisa)
In recent years the history of European Jewry in the aftermath of racial persecutions has been the object of several studies. The post-war situation has been studied with a main focus on the German case – from various perspectives, ranging from the persistence of anti-Semitism, to the economic consequences and the problems connected to restitution and reparations, the issues of memory, the new distribution of Jewish presences across the continent, life in Displaced Persons Camps, migration to Palestine and the State of Israel, reorganization of community life. The aim of this book is to offer a reconstruction of the consequences of Fascist anti-Semitic policies, analyzing the rebirth of Jewish life in post-war Italy, concentrating on the process of social and cultural re-integration.
Beyond National Mythology
Susan Zuccotti (author of The Italians and the Holocaust), Federico Finkelstein (The New School), Respondent Franklin Hugh Adler (Macalester College)
Why does publication of these massive volumes signify a turning point? Because with finality it puts to rest, with the full weight of scholarly authority, those mythical, folkloric, auto-exculpatory, and false truisms that went largely unchallenged until the late 1980s: that the anti-Semitic laws, never effectuated with commitment and rigor, were enacted simply to please the German ally; that Italians did whatever they could under the German occupation to protect and save Jews; and that the “good Italian” had to be clearly distinguished from the “bad German,” the basis of what came to be understood in the popular expressionItalianibravagente.
The Pope and Mussolini
David Kertzer (Brown University), Ruth Ben-Ghiat (New York University), Robert Maryks (Journal of Jesuit Studies & Series of Jesuit Studies, Editor-in-Chief), Mark Weitzman (Simon Wiesenthal Center).
The Pope and Mussolini tells the story of two men who came to power in 1922, and together changed the course of twentieth-century history. In most respects, they could not have been more different. One was scholarly and devout, the other thuggish and profane. Yet Pius XI and “Il Duce” had many things in common. They shared a distrust of democracy and a visceral hatred of Communism. Both were prone to sudden fits of temper and were fiercely protective of the prerogatives of their office. (“We have many interests to protect,” the Pope declared, soon after Mussolini seized control of the government in 1922.) Each relied on the other to consolidate his power and achieve his political goals.
Of the Jewish Race: Race, Law and Identity in Fascist Italy
Ariela Gross (University of Southern California), David Kertzer (Brown University), Michael Livingston (Rutgers University). Introduced and
What the documents – Italian legal, administrative, and judicial sources – showcase emphatically is the central role of lawyers in the Race Laws implementation, laws that address who could own radios or homes, who could operate a business, who could marry whom, and of course, who is legally Jewish.
The legal approach is novel to the historical discourse on this time period, which has previously focused on political and social perspectives. Livingston writes in the book: “As compared to Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia, Fascist Italy offered at least a limited amount of independence to judges and lawyers, and a courageous few used this independence to ameliorate or limit the damage resulting from the laws. But many others expanded them and, by providing technical assistance in drafting and interpreting the Race Laws, lawyers were indispensable in making the laws effective.
The Lateran Pacts
Francesco Margiotta Broglio (University of Florence), Giorgio Fabre (independent scholar), Elena Mazzini (University of Florence), Ilaria Pavan (Scuola Normale Superiore–Pisa) and Michele
The Lateran Pacts were the first of a series of concordats the Vatican signed with European totalitarian regimes: it was followed by the Reichskonkordat with Hitler’s Germany in 1933. The Pacts deeply affected many aspects of Italian society and changed the ethical parameters that had shaped social welfare, scientific research, medical practice and the Italian education system up to that moment. They also impacted family law and the penal and civil codes. Most significantly, the Lateran Pacts restricted the status of religious minorities, which at the time were primarily the Jews and the Valdesians. Italian Jews had participated at all levels in the process of unification of the country. The creation of the liberal state between 1861 and 1870 had forever abolished ghettos and established the equality of all citizens. Since the early 20th century, Jews had held high positions in Italian public life, with a disproportionate representation in Parliament – two prime ministers and many prominent exponents not only in politics, but in academia, science and the arts.
Père Marie Benoît and the Rescue of Jews in World War II
Susan Zuccotti narrates the life and work of Père Marie-Benoît, a courageous French Capuchin priest who risked everything to hide Jews in France and Italy during the Holocaust. Who was this extraordinary priest and how did he become adept at hiding Jews, providing them with false papers, and helping them to elude their persecutors? From monasteries first in Marseille and later in Rome, Père Marie-Benoît worked with Jewish co-conspirators to build remarkably effective Jewish-Christian rescue networks. Acting independently without Vatican support but with help from some priests, nuns, and local citizens, he and his friends persisted in their clandestine work until the Allies liberated Rome. After the conflict, Père Marie-Benoît maintained his wartime Jewish friendships and devoted the rest of his life to Jewish-Christian reconciliation. Papal officials viewed both activities unfavorably until after the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), 1962-1965.
Science and Dystopia: Primo Levi on Science Fiction
Paola Mieli (psychoanalyst, New York, Paris), Gérard Haddad (psychoanalyst, Paris), Daniela Schiller (neuroscientist, Mount Sinai, NY).
Beyond the Ghetto
Marina Caffiero (University of Rome La Sapienza) and Serena Di Nepi (University of Rome La Sapienza)
Unrecovered Memory: The Jewish Communal Library of Rome
Serena Di Nepi, University of Rome La Sapienza and Jewish Museum of Rome,
Americordo: The Italian Jewish Exiles in America
Gianna Pontecorboli (Journalist and author), Judge Guido Calabresi, Alessandro Cassin
Fascism and Italian American Culture
Ruth Ben Ghiat (New York University), Fraser Ottanelli (University of South Florida),
Honoring War Criminals: The Monument to Rodolfo Graziani
Lidia Santarelli (Brown University), Yemane Demissie
Primo Levi on Poetry
André Naffis-Sahely in conversation with Jonathan Galassi
Jonathan Galassi, novelist, publisher and distinguished translator of Giacomo Leopardi and Eugenio Montale, in
To Be or Not: Considering Primo Levi’s Death
Uri Cohen (Tel Aviv University)
We will never know what exactly took place thirty years ago when Primo Levi fell to his death in the stairwell
Museums and the Memory of Nazi-Fascism, the Holocaust and World War II
Guri Schwarz, University of Pisa, Aline Sierp (University of Maastricht), Jan Grabowski (University of Ottawa), Laure Neumayer,
Magnifico in New York
Raffaele Bedarida on Corrado Cagli
In 1948, the New York City Ballet presented The Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne, a Renaissance poem
When the American Press Flirted With Fascism
American correspondents were baffled by the rise of Mussolini’s movement and had little reference through which to analyze it. Some related it to Italy’s recent past, others proposed audacious and rather imaginative comparisons between the Duce and modern American leaders. Still, others tried to picture an Italian archetype based on a superficial understanding of Italian history and on stereotypes of Italians that came from American popular culture and Italian immigration. Echoes of the victorious Bolshevik revolution was also evident in their writing. The “red scare” and the fear of global upheaval influenced the initial positive reaction to Mussolini.
Fascism and Italian American Culture
In the past two decades, with a large amount of primary sources still untapped, research has began to investigate the modalities through which Fascism sought to control Italians abroad and, through them, maintain relations with countries that were not under totalitarian rule. Italian Americans’ self-images during those years were shaped by propaganda, foreign press reports, economic interests, and the establishment of the Fascist League of North America on the one hand, and by the Regime’s cultural and educational showcases along with a network of local police informants, on the other. Fascism, however, was forced to adapt its methods to the requirements and style of the American society and values producing ambiguous cultural and political categories that continued to operate after Mussolini’s fall and the end of World War II.