1962: Hitler Überall

Anni d’Europa. Storia del Terzo Reich, Part 3, Hitler Überall (Years of Europe. The History of the Third Reich, pt.3, Hitler Überall; clip ID: C1471)
was broadcast on Friday October 19,1962 on the Second Channel at 9.05 p.m.
It was directed by Liliana Cavani with texts by Boris Ulianich, a historian who later became a senator within the ranks of the Italian Independent Left Parliamentary group.

This is the extract that had previously been mistakenly considered by scholars the first televised mention of the Racial Laws. As part of her series on the history of Nazism, the young director Liliana Cavani inserted a reference to Fascist anti-Semitism (albeit brief, only twenty seconds, also due to the thematic context), presenting it as a mere imitation of Nazism.

1963: Tv7. Piazza Giudia

Tv7. Piazza Giudia. By Sergio Zavoli. Broadcast on October 21, 1963, at 9.05 p.m., on Programma Nazionale, the first national channel (ID Teca: F326433).

Twenty years after the roundup on October 16, 1943, Sergio Zavoli brings the cameras of the program “TV7” to the Jewish quarter of Rome and finds several survivors ready to talk of the incident. The result is an inquiry lasting about 16 minutes, an excerpt of which is included here. This material is precious from a historical point of view and masterful from a television point of view. Noteworthy are the shots of the ball from above, the elegant camera movements, the editing cut that passes from one arm to the other as well as the cameras following an inhabitant in the inner courtyard and on the roofs behind the houses. Thus, the viewer is not only drawn into the daily life of the “ghetto” but also witnesses the improvised escape routes and the intimacy that was violated at the dawn of that 'Black Saturday'. From a historical point of view, the television report does not sustain a predefined thesis but documents in a sober yet humane manner the vivid memory of the pain and of the help given or received.

1965: La lotta per la libertà

‘La lotta per la libertà. Vent’anni di opposizione al fascismo’ (The struggle for freedom. 20 years of opposition to Fascism), pt.3 (Clip ID: C5077). Aired on May 8, 1965, at 10.30 p.m., on Programma Nazionale, the first national channel. It was curated by Manlio Del Bosco, a militant of the Radical party, with the collaboration of the well-known journalist Andrea Barbato, and directed by Giuliano Tomei. Public feedback was excellent both in terms of approval rating, 73%, and audience numbers, 3.5 million. (Data from the Opinion Service).

This represents the first broad treatment of the racial laws (beyond Zavoli's specific investigation into the roundup of Rome). 8 minutes out of the episode total of 48. The anti-Semitic measures are framed within the history of Anti-Fascism. They would have constituted, as the synopsis given on national radio program 'Radiocorriere' well summarized (no.18, 1965, pp. 60-61), “one of the most unpopular acts committed by the Fascist Regime [that] the Italian people, including some of Mussolini’s followers, do not feel acceptable", as they constituted an " infamy contrary to the traditions of the country". The idea behind these comments is that of laws being handed down from on high by the Regime but not accepted by the population which, in fact, would have instinctively rebelled against it. It is the seductive interpretation of events which absolves the Italian population of any offences or responsibility and is summarized in the trope "Italiani brava gente ("Italians are decent people") later also known as the "myth of the Good Italian". This idea is clearly expressed in the documentary by the historian Renzo De Felice, interviewed in his study, and can be heard in the voiceover, prepared on the advice of the two historians, Gaetano Arfé and Gabriele De Rosa, from the Socialist and Christian Democratic parties, respectively. (De Rosa himself, by the way, in his youth, in 1938, had written an anti-Semitic pamphlet, which he later regretted).

Historiography and Memorials

Storia degli ebrei italiani sotto il fascismo

1961: The first scientific monograph on the subject is published by Einaudi. It is titled Storia degli ebrei sotto il fascismo (“The Jews under Fascist Rule”). The author, Renzo De Felice, is a young historian who was commissioned by the Union of Israelite Communities and up to that moment he has never dealt with Fascism. In the book he refutes the idea that the anti-Jewish legislation was a direct Nazi imposition (p. 192). However, compared to others, he defines it as "anything but personally oppressive" (p.256). He also adds that "the first measures and the very idea of them had been rejected by the overwhelming majority of Italians, united in their disagreement, for once in a really totalitarian manner" (p. 345). 

Renzo De Felice



Culture and Politics

1961: The Eichmann Trial, held in Jerusalem against the Nazi official Adolf Eichmann, brought the issue of the Jewish genocide (until then largely ignored) to the center of international attention. During the trial, the Attorney General and the Italian witness underlined the great solidarity given by the Italians to the Jews. The philosopher Hannah Arendt did the same in her famous essay inspired by that trial, The Banality of Evil (1963).

1961: Another newsreel referring to the Eichmann trial, underlined "the work of great humanity done by the Italians in defense of the Jews hunted by the SS and the Gestapo". ('Rome an Italian Rescuer of Jews', " Caleidoscopio Ciac no. 1311, April 27, 1961)

1961: The film Gold of Rome (“L’oro di Roma”) by Carlo Lizzani, is released. It deals with how the Jews, also with the help of Roman Gentiles, managed to gather the 50kg of gold that was extorted from them by the Nazis.

1962: The era of center-left politics begins, with the inclusion of the Italian Socialist Party in the government. This brings greater emphasis on anti-fascist resistance as a unifying and founding value of the Republic, an epic redemptive act to atone for all past guilt.

1962: Giorgio Bassani's The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, a novel on the persecution of the Jews of Ferrara, is published. It wins the Viareggio Prize.

1964: The film Italiani brava gente (“Italians are Decent People”), directed by Giuseppe De Santis, is released. It contributes to spreading myth of the "Good Italian".

Amount of gold in kg extorted by the Nazi command from the Jewish community of Rome threatened with deportation (later carried out regardless)

Jews deported to Auschwitz from the ghetto of Rome on the 'Black Saturday' raid of October 16, 1943

The sole survivors to return alive, of which only 1 woman (women made up 1.6% of survivors)

Percentage of those deportees killed immediately in the gas chambers upon arrival in Auschwitz

Italians who rescued Jews recognized as 'Righteous among the Nations' by Yad Vashem (out of 27,712 total)

Italian Holocaust survivors currently still alive