Monday, August 24, 2009
An Army of Shindlers From Italy
My Previous Report re:"The Benevolence of Italians toward Jews" stirred up a tumult, in of all places, the H-ITAM ( History - Italian American), which is an Academic Forum (History Bulletin Board of Michigan State University) , where there seems to be cadre of Self Loathing Italians who do not miss an opportunity to ridicule Italy. Also, surprisingly the H-ITAM Hierarchy are resistant to print corrections to Myths that are spewed. While ALL other Ethnic Studies Programs Nationwide, both University and Private, engage in instilling Pride in their Ethnicity. H-ITAM under the cover of fear of "Filiopietism" (Cheerleading) seem to concentrate on Self Flagellation, justified or not. 
The following was sent to me by Comm. Dominic Di Frisco, a Director of Society of the Italian Legions of Merit, President Emeritus of JCCIA 
(Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans- Chicago), Director of public affairs at Burson Marsteller, a Chicago-based public relations firm.

An Army of Shindlers From Italy- By Dorothy Rabinowitz - Wall Street Journal

Dorothy Rabinowitz, is a Pulitzer Prize winning (nominated three previous times) American conservative journalist and commentator. She was educated at Queens College and New York University. She has worked as editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal since June 1990 and has been a member of their editorial board since May 1996.


By Dorothy Rabinowitz

Oskar Schindler, flawed hero of Steven Spielberg's monumental 11m, "Schindler's list," came to Poland a profiteer and ended up a rescuer of many hundreds of Jewish lives. His story's entry into the world, via Mr. Spielberg's justly celebrated film, calls to mind a number of other unlikely rescuers of whose exploits little has yet been heard, however much they are known to historians.

I haw in mind, namely, Hitlerís allies, the Italians, whose government ministries and army and highest political circles moved heaven and earth to see to it that not a single Jew was deported tram Italy. They schemed, they plotted, they resorted to the wiliest of strategies and delaying efforts-including the invention of the most wonderfully complicated "census-taking" known to man - to ensure that no Jews under their govemance fell into German hands. Not for nothing does the history of these plots sometimes read like farce.

None of this can mitigate the facts of the unspeakable fate that ultimately befell some 8,000 Italian Jews when the Germans finally marched in-nor the harsh anti-Jewish legislation Mussolini introduced in 1938. Still, there is no doubt that, were it not for what the Germans so bitterly described, in their cables, as the peculiar "Italian attitude" of protection toward the Jews, far more than the 20% of the Italian Jewish population that was annihilated would haw been shipped to their deaths.

Unlike countries like Bulgaria and, for a time at least, France-which resisted deporting their Jewish nationals but were prepared to deliver their foreign-bom Jews-the Italians refused to deport Jews, period.
Their refusal (like that of Hitlerís other temporary ally. the Finns) was based on a full awareness of what awaited any Jew deported for "resettlement." Berlin was naturally was naturally bitter over this intransigence. The telegrams from Bureau IV of the Reich Security Head Office-command post for the final Solution - flew thick and fast with inquiries as to when Italy could be expected to begin handling its Jews OWL The answer from the Italians was an unbending - if silent "Never." And indeed, so long as Fascist Italy remained independent, and until its occupation by the Germans in 1943, the answer was the same.

Not only would the Italian government - reflecting the popular attitude of the citizenry at large - resist deportation, its army and consuls undertook extraordinary efforts to rescue Jews in their zones of occupation. As an Axis partner, Italy's forces occupied a large sector of Greece, part of Yugoslavia and eight sectors of southeastern France, including Nice.

The attitude of the occupying Italians with regard to Germanyís extermination plans for the Jews was made immaculately clear, to the great distress and confusion of the Germans and their French allies.
For, as soon as the Vichy police in these areas busied themselves rounding up Jews for 8nest and deportation, the Italian military and foreign ministry demanded - and obtained - a stop to the arrests and deportations .
In Annecy, the French police, who had rounded up a trainload of Jews for deportation, found them Selves looking at the barrels of guns trained on them by soldiers of the Italian Fourth Army. Yielding to this forceful persuasion, the French released the Jews.

In Salonika as elsewhere, as historians Leon Poliakov and Jacques Sabile document, the Italians offered more than tolerant protection. In Greece, the Italian consuls and military - witness to the brutal deportations taking place before their eyes - busied them selves handing out phony certificates of "Italian nationality" to the hunted Jews. Italian officers spirited Jews away to safety on military trains and, as survivors haves attested, they undertook, in every possible way, to cheer them on and assure them of their protection. In Poland, Italian troops gave aid and comfort to the hunted Jews.

In Nice, the Italian commandant stationed carabinieri outside the Jewish communal center and synagogue to make certain that Vichy police could not enter to make arrests. Elsewhere in southeastern France where the Vichyite police (on orders from the Germans) decreed that the Jews be made to wear the yellow star, the Italian generals countermanded the order. It was. they answered, "inconsistent with the dignity of the Italian army" that in areas of its control Jews should be made to wear "this stigmatizing badge."

The dignity of the army. Such a quaintly improbable ring the words have in the context of the unrivaled honors being inflicted daily by the armies of the Reich and their accomplices. They' were flawed heroes of a kind different from Schindler, these servants of Mussolini's Fascist state. It has been argued that there were elements of political concern in Rome's refusal to cooperate in the murder of the Jews - but no one can attribute anything but humanitarian revulsion at the Germans' policies in the activates of the Italians who strove so assiduously to save lives in the territories they occupied.

What there was in the character of the Italians that made their resistance to mass murder so implacable, so different from that of the Vichyite French, is a question we may ponder - and one- for whose existence we can be grateful.

Ms. Rabinowitz Wall Street Journal, 22, December, 1993

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