1954: On January 3rd, Rai TV begins its service of regular broadcastings.

1959: Cinquant’anni, 1898-1948

Fifty years: 1898-1948, episode 7 (1938-1940: The Eve of the War), was broadcast on January 25, 1959 at 10.05 pm (Clip ID: C27). The series, RaiTV's first historical genre, took three years to prepare. It was broadcast as of December 1958 and was widely viewed. The series was curated by the acclaimed Vaticanist and liberal essayist Silvio Negro.

This excerpt, as yet unknown even to specialists on the subject, is to be considered the very first mention of racial laws in the history of Italian television.
Despite its brevity, it is important because it testifies and immediately sets the tone that will dominate for decades, that is, the belief that the laws were an initiative of the regime actively rejected by the population, all intent on saving the Jews. It represented a sad but self-absolutory account for the country.
The short continuation of the excerpt on the subject (not included here for copyright reasons) mentions the physicist Enrico Fermi’s emigration to the USA due to the Racial Laws and closed with the truthful but minimizing and consolatory remark that “under Hitler much worse things were happening since a long time”.

Historiography and Memorials

Le persecuzioni razziali in Italia, in «Il Ponte»

1952: A second study on the subject, published in installments (n. 7,8,11, 1952 and n.7, 1953) in the authoritative journal of politics and literature Il Ponte (A.Spinosa, The racial persecutions in Italy) once again presented Fascist anti-Semitism as being "imposed on Mussolini" by Hitler.



Antonio Spinosa



Se questo è un uomo

1958: After having rejected it again in 1952 (because despite it being a "good book (…) it wouldn't have much chance of success"), Einaudi finally backtracks on his decision and publishes Levi’s If This is a Man. The book soon becomes a classic and a worldwide success being translated into over 40 different languages.



Primo Levi

Gli ebrei sotto l'occupazione italiana

1956: The CDJC (Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine) publishes The Jews under the Italian occupation, a collection of documents of Nazi Gestapo. They indicate the help provided to the Jews by the Italian authorities in the areas they occupied during the war (Southern France, Croatia, Greece). "The credit" for this, the book states, "goes to the Italian people, that is a fundamentally human and Christian people" (p.30). Despite the racial laws, "the Italian people, with its mediterranean wiseness, was in great part absolutely hostile to those [antisemitic] tendencies, unlike the German people." (p.5) 



Léon Poliakov

Jacques Sabille

Culture and Politics

1957: Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial, opened in Jerusalem.

1957: In Rome Sergio Piperno, the President of the Union of Italian Israelite Communities (UCII), declares that "Everyone did their utmost" and gives thanks to "all Roman citizens who, with very few exceptions, solidarized with the Jews".

1957: Gaetano Azzariti, former editor of the racial laws and President of the “Tribunal of the Race” is appointed president of the Constitutional Court and remains in this post until his death in 1961, without anyone raising much objections to his appointment.

1958: A newsreel ("The Incom Week" n. 01659, May 29), mentions Racial Legislation in Italy for the first time. However, it makes a significant error in referring to it as "Nazi Laws" rather than Fascist Laws, evidently reflecting the belief of the times that fascist anti-Semitism was Hitler's imposition.