The Italian Response to the Holocaust

A majority of Italy’s small Jewish population survived the Holocaust, a fact often attributed to a relative lack of anti-Semitism, as well as the Italians’ anarchic spirit and distrust of Germany. Yet, this history exists alongside the highly problematic role played by the Vatican—some have argued that its Concordat with Hitler helped facilitate the dictator’s rise and, ultimately, the Holocaust. In this course, we explore the complexities of Italian history before and during the Holocaust and try to explain why, despite the collaboration of Italy’s most militant fascists in the roundup of Jews, so many other Italians, including army officers, police and clerics, risked their lives to help Jews. Topics include Mussolini’s relationship with the Jews as it changed over time; the similarities and differences between the Nuremberg Laws and the Italian racial laws; and the revisiting of the myth of “the good Italian.”

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You'll Walk Away with

  • An understanding of Italians’ complex and contradictory Holocaust responses
  • Historic and cultural context for Italy before and during World War II

Ideal for

  • The culturally engaged
  • Professionals who use critical thinking
NO open sections available for this course at the moment. Please check back next semester.