Italian Fascism and racism
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Fascist Italy was not officially racist, unlike its World War II Axis partner of Nazi Germany. Its leader Benito Mussolini had contrasting views on the importance of race throughout his lifetime, at times speaking of alarm towards a possible extinction of White people, while at other times denying the theory of race. Consolidation of gained territory in the northeast of Italy led to state-sanctioned persecution and ethnic cleansing of Slovenes, while closer ties with Hitler caused Mussolini to collaborate in sending Italian Jews to die in the Holocaust.
Although Fascism was officially not racist, racism against native minority populations was encouraged by Italian Fascism, first of all against Slovenes, who became the first victims of Fascism.
In September 1920, Benito Mussolini stated:
When dealing with such a race as Slavic - inferior and barbarian - we must not pursue the carrot, but the stick policy.... We should not be afraid of new victims.... The Italian border should run across the Brenner Pass, Monte Nevoso and the Dinaric Alps.... I would say we can easily sacrifice 500,000 barbaric Slavs for 50,000 Italians....— Benito Mussolini, speech held in Pula, 20 September 1920
As noted by Minister of Foreign Affairs in Mussolini government, Galeazzo Ciano, when describing a meeting with secretary general of the Fascist party who wanted Italian army to kill all the Slovenes:
(...) I took the liberty of saying they (the Slovenes) totaled one million. It doesn't matter - he replied firmly - we should model ourselves upon ascari (auxiliary Eritrean troops infamous for their cruelty) and wipe them out".
The Province of Ljubljana saw the deportation of 25,000 people, which equaled 7.5% of the total population. The operation, one of the most drastic in the Europe, filled up Italian concentration camps on the island Rab, in Gonars, Monigo (Treviso), Renicci d'Anghiari, Chiesanuova and elsewhere.
Mario Roatta's "Circular 3C" (Circolare 3C), tantamount to a declaration of war on the Slovene civil population, involved him in war crimes while he was the commander of the 2nd Italian Army in Province of Ljubljana.
In 1942, the Italians put the barbed wire fence (which is now the Trail of Remembrance and Comradeship) around Ljubljana in order to prevent communication between the Liberation Front in the city and the partisans in the surrounding countryside.
On 25 February 1942, only two days after the Italian Fascist regime established Gonars concentration camp the first transport of 5,343 internees (1,643 of whom were children) arrived from - at the time already overpopulated - Rab concentration camp, from the Province of Ljubljana itself and from another Italian concentration camp in Monigo (near Treviso).
The violence against the Slovene civil population easily matched the German. For every major military operation, General M. Roatta issued additional special instructions, including one that the orders must be "carried out most energetically and without any false compassion".
One of Roatta's soldiers wrote home on 1 July 1942: "We have destroyed everything from top to bottom without sparing the innocent. We kill entire families every night, beating them to death or shooting them."
After the war Roatta was on the list of the most sought after Italian war criminals indicted by Yugoslavia and other countries, but never saw anything like Nurnberg trial because the British government with the beginning of cold war saw in the Pietro Badoglio, also on the list, a guarantee of an anti-communist post-war Italy.
At the 1934 Fascist International Congress, the issue of anti-Semitism was debated amongst various fascist parties, with some more favourable to it, and others less favourable. Two final compromises were adopted, creating the official stance of the Fascist International:
"[T]he Jewish question cannot be converted into a universal campaign of hatred against the Jews [...] Considering that in many places certain groups of Jews are installed in conquered countries, exercising in an open and occult manner an influence injurious to the material and moral interests of the country which harbors them, constituting a sort of state within a state, profiting by all benefits and refusing all duties, considering that they have furnished and are inclined to furnish, elements conducive to international revolution which would be destructive to the idea of patriotism and Christian civilization, the Conference denounces the nefarious action of these elements and is ready to combat them."
The Manifesto of Race published on 14 July 1938, prepared for the enactment of racial laws to be introduced. The Italian Racial Laws were passed on 18 November 1938, excluding Jews from the civil service, the armed forces, and the National Fascist Party, and restricting Jewish ownership of certain companies and property; intermarriage was also prohibited.
In a 1921 speech in Bologna (Italy), Mussolini stated, "Fascism was born... out of a profound, perennial need of this our Aryan and Mediterranean race". Mussolini was concerned with the low birth rates of the white race in contrast to the African and Asian races. In 1928 he noted the high birth-rate of blacks in the United States, and that they had surpassed the population of whites in certain areas, such as Harlem in New York City. He described their greater racial consciousness in comparison with American whites as contributing to their growing strength.
In a 1919 speech denouncing Soviet Russia, Mussolini claimed that Jewish bankers in London and New York City were bound by the chains of race to Moscow and that 80% of the Soviet Union leaders were Jews.
On the issue of the low birth rate of whites, Mussolini said in 1928: "[When the] city dies, the nation – deprived of the young life-blood of new generations – is now made up of people who are old and degenerate and cannot defend itself against a younger people which launches an attack on the now unguarded frontiers [...] This will happen, and not just to cities and nations, but on an infinitely greater scale: the whole White race, the Western race can be submerged by other coloured races which are multiplying at a rate unknown in our race."
During the Great Depression Mussolini again expressed his alarm at the low birth rate among whites, saying "The singular, enormous problem is the destiny of the white race. Europe is truly towards the end of its destiny as the leader of civilization." He went on to say that under the circumstances, "the white race is sickly", "morally and physically in ruin", and that, in combination with the "progress in numbers and in expansion of yellow and black races, the civilization of the white man is destined to perish." According to Mussolini, only through promoting natality and eugenics could this be reversed.
In 1933, Mussolini contradicted his earlier statements on race, saying, "Race! It is a feeling, not a reality: ninety-five percent, at least, is a feeling. Nothing will ever make me believe that biologically pure races can be shown to exist today. ... National pride has no need of the delirium of race."
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