By Jonathan Steinberg

Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy have been united in a 'brutal friendship'. either had savage racial legislation: either Hitler and Mussolini viciously denounced the 'Jewish menace'. but each one country taken care of the Jews rather otherwise. when Jews who fell into the palms of the German military have been consigned, virtually with out exception to focus camps, no longer one Jew taken by means of the Italians suffered an analogous destiny. Italian officials secure not only Italian Jews, yet Jewish refugees of each nationality. Jonathan Steinberg makes use of this extraordinary and poignant tale to resolve the reasons and forces underpinning either Nazism and Fascism in an try to get to the bottom of the underlying query: Why?

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The generation of Englishmen who fought the Second World War never seriously entertained the thought that they would lose it. They knew that they were superior to all foreigners and would win in the end. The generation of Italians who fought the same war had no such certainty; after February 1941 they knew Italy must lose whatever the outcome. m on 6 April 1941 the Wehrmacht crossed the frontiers of Yugoslavia and Greece from the north and the east. The 2nd Army under Generaloberst von Weichs invaded Yugoslavia from the north; the 12th Army under Field Marshall List and the 1st Armoured Group under Generaloberst von Kleist invaded from Bulgaria and headed west into Yugoslavia and south into Greece; the Hungarian 3rd Army occupied the Banat in the north while the 4th UNSYSTEMATIC MURDER 23 German Air Fleet under General Alexander Löhr used its 400 bombers, 210 fighters and 170 reconnaissance planes to destroy the Yugoslav air force on the ground.

None of it was part of my past. I had spent the war safely in the United States. My grandparents had emigrated in time from Eastern Europe but there I was, an American Jew in Germany, in a place where my right to exist was denied only a few years before. More than thirty years later the question still haunts me. The motto of my life has been that Heine phrase, Denke ich an Deutschland in der Nacht, Dann bin ich um den Schlaf gebracht. ) I learned Italian and studied fascism for the same reason, to understand ‘how it could have happened’.

Many of those active in saving Jews committed acts later judged to be war crimes. After October 1943 Hitler established Mussolini in a puppet regime in northern Italy known as the ‘Republic of Salò’. 22 Italian police and militia THE PROBLEM 7 rounded up Jews with as much ferocity as the most rabid anti-semites in Hungary. Fossoli was an Italian concentration camp but a real one. There were Italians who hated Jews; Salò put them in power. Even before Salò there were paradoxes in Italian treatment of the Jews.

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