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July 09, 1982 - Image 64

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-07-09

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64 Friday, July 9, 1982


Mussolini's Imitation of Hitler's Anti-Semitic Racism Revealed

Dennis Mack Smith, as
the recognized and widely
acclaimed historian whose
works on Italy are viewed
among the most authoritat-
ive adds to his significant
works on the subject in his
biography of "Mussolini"
While this biographer
emphasizes that this is not a
history of fascist Italy but a
political biography, the av-
erage reader will feel
enriched by it on both
In process of dealing with
the personality of. Musso-
lini, Smith also provides a
history of the events which
elevate this "Mussolini"
volume as a valuable addi-
tion to world history in rela-
tion to the fascist and Nazi
While other groups had
used the term, Mussolini
appropriated the fascist
name to himself and the
party he was mobilizing,
it is indicated by Smith.

While Mussolini is de-
scribed as "neither born
great nor had greatness
thrust on him," Smith de-
fines him as "a person of
shrewd political intelli-
gence, but had the ability to
fascinate and charm
whenever he set his mind to
it, and he led a movement
that he could be dressed up
to look plausible."
Smith's definition: "Fas-
cism was an Italian word for
an Italian invention which
as a body of ideas and prac-
tices reached its classic form
in Italy as perhaps nowhere
else; but great numbers of
people in other countries
had their lives altered by it,
and either looked hopefully
towards what they took as a
promising solution to the
problems of the 20th Cen-
tury, or were so repelled
that they fought against it
in a world war."
Adolf Hitler learned from
Mussolini and copied from
his views. Smith shows how

Hitler admired him from
first to last. But Mussolini
also learned from Hitler.
While he had, at the outset,
given the impression he was
not anti-Semitic, he soon
adopted the Hitler methods
and yielded to the extremist
forms of persecution of
Jews, sending them to death
camps, imitating Nazism.
"Mussolini was in-
terested mainly in ap-
pearances: he wanted the
appearance of being
greatly favored by the
Pope but, at the same
time, the appearance of
being subordinate to no
one. He wanted to con-
vince the Americans that
he believed in absolute
freedom of conscience
and was actively helping
Jews and Protestants,
though in practice he
pleased the Pope - by
showing he was ready to
persecute the Walden-
sians, the Pentecos-
talists, and the Salvation

Early Solar Energy Research
Pays Off for Israeli Consumers

Israel Scene


JERUSALEM — Israel is
one of the largest consumers
of solar energy in the world.
About 500,000 Israeli
households receive their hot
water from solar energy,
which accounts for about 50
percent of total domestic
water heating. The potash
industry saves the equiv-
alent of three times the total
oil imports each year by
using solar evaporation in
potash production.
The history of Israel's
solar energy exploitation
goes back to the early stages
of the state, some 20 years
before the energy crisis
broke on an unsuspecting
Iprael's first prime
minister, David Ben-
Gurion, aided in the es-
tablishment of a solar
energy development
program within the Na-
tional Physical Labora-
tory (NPLI).
In 1955, Israel exhibited
the results of its research
work on solar collectors at
the first world symposium
on solar energy, held in
Of special interest was a
new black coating for the
heat collectors which
demonstrated a very high
degree of efficiency in ab-
sorbing heat from the sun's
rays. The coating was in-
vented by Dr. Harry Tabor,
then director of the NPLI.
With help from the NPLI,
a commercial factory,
Miromit, began mass-
producing solar collectors
for the public, and in 1966,

Israel scored an interna- waste into methane gas,
tional first by publishing which is then burned as
standard specifications for fuel. A full-scale plant has
solar collectors to protect been set up for the purpose
the buying public. Today, $3 and a local industry is grow-
million worth of solar col- ing aroung the system. It is
lectors is exported an- estimated that farms could
produce 50 percent of their
heating, cooking and elec-
In 1958, work started tricity needs in this way.
both on the solar pond
In the Negev, algae is
program and on the tur- being grown in saline water
bines which would turn in the sunlight, which
the hot water energy promises to produce protein
from the ponds into elec- and energy in the form of an
tricity. Commercial oil-like substance, and a
production of the tur- major oil company is show-
bines started in 1964 at ing serious interest in the
the Ormat Turbine com- project.
pany, and exports to 40
At the Ben-Gurion Uni-
countries now amount to versity of the Negev in
$6 million annually.
Beersheva, research is
Serious research is also under way into the design of
proceeding into many other buildings which utilize
uses of solar energy. For solar energy to produce a
example, Kibutz Kfar comfortable indoor climate
Giladi is using solar radia- with virtually no machin-
tion to convert agricultural ery.

This spherical-shaped high-temperature solar
collector is being developed in Israel for heating and
cooling applications and hot water heating.

Army; before long, also
the Jews.
"He needed to persuade
Catholics that fascism was
Catholic and he himself a
believer who spent some of
each day in prayer, while he
said something very differ-
ent to other people and took
care to exclude from the
newspapers any photo-
graphs of himself kneeling
or showing deference to the
While he had begun by
stating the Italian Jews
were "no problem," he
commenced his anti-
Semitic campaign in 1938
when he announced that he
was introducing "racial
laws on the German model."
Smith asserts: "Many
Jews had been close col-
leagues of his in the fascist
movement and for a time he
had encouraged Zionism in
the hope of exploiting it for
anti-British purposes."
He began to propagate
the notion that Italians
belonged to an Aryan
race that was superior to
The road Mussolini trek-
ked towards racial anti-
Semitism is thus described
b_y Smith:
"He talked early in 1936
of starting an anti-Jewish
campaign and by the end of
1936 was already dis-
criminating against Jews
by discouraging their em-
ployment. Soon afterwards
he began to call himself a
full-blooded racialist and
looked forward to the day
when the Italian and Ger-
man master races, which
alone would be free froth
corruption by the Jews,
would be generally recog-
nized for their superior
"Possibly it was during
his four days in Germany in
1937 that he saw the politi-
cal usefulness of anti-
Semitism, and his views de-
veloped rapidly in 1938 as
he moved closer to a Ger-
man alliance.
Subsequently he tried
to excuse himself by ac-
cusing the Germans of
exerting pressure to push
him into a racialist pol-
icy, but it is hard to dis-
cover evidence of any
such pressure; the motive
was rather his own spon-
taneous decision to show
solidarity with Nazism
and provide a convenient
scapegoat for the years of
austerity that he meant to
impose on Italy.
"He was, however, fairly
cynical about what was a
merely tactical move and
occasionally continued to
state that there was no real
Jewish problem in Italy.
Then, by the beginning of
1938, the press was
encouraged to inform the
public that the Jews had
wormed their way into
strategic positions in Ita-
lian life.
"Already he was thinking
out the principles of the
`Charter of Race' which was
published in July 1938 and
which he claimed was
largely drafted by himself.
He continued to assert that
possession of an East Afri-

can empire was what forced
him to bring these racial
questions into the open, yet
the charter made it abun-
dantly clear that not just
Arabs and Ethiopians, but
Jews too were an inferior


Smith emphasizes that
the racial policy was not
generally approved by the
public in spite of the
unanimous action on the
subject by parliament. Pro-
tests by the Pope (Pius XI)
were ignored in the press
which acted on orders from
Mussolini. There is this in-
teresting comment on Mus-
solini's anti-Semitism as
well as his anti-Papacy
"When news arrived of
some quite exceptionally
savage persecutions by
the Germans, he simply
noted that in their place
he would have been even
more brutal. He was
going to teach Italians to
behave with severity
until there were no more
Jews left in Europe.
"This exodus, he pre-
tended, was essential and
urgent in order to preserve
the purity of the Italian
race: though he personally
thought the idea of racial
purity was nonsense, it was
politically expedient that
others should think differ-
"He used to boast, and
justifiably, that the cruel-
ties of fascism were on a
small scale compared to
what was happening
elsewhere. Nevertheless he
gloried in fascist deeds of
bloodshed and, in the late
1930s, described himself as
the same man of violence he
had been in 1921-1922; he
talked of unleashing the
squads again and said he
was not averse to breaking a
few heads to show that fas-
cism was the same as ever.
"The man who ordered
prisoners of war to be exe-
cuted, and the gassing of
whole villages in Libya and
Ethiopia, who was sorry
that so few Italians had
been killed in East Africa
and who, according to
Ciano, would not think
twice before firing on a
crowd of hunger demon-
strators, was not a man to
stop short if he thought Hit-
ler wished him to expel the
Jews from Italy.

"When the Vatican re-
monstrated strongly,
Mussolini warned that
racialism was by now a

basic fascist dogma that
left no room for com-
promise. To spite the
Pope — whose death, he
said, he was hoping for
soon — he tried to per-
suade himself that reli-
gion, and indeed any be-
lief in God, was on the de-
cline: if Italians still went
to church, that was
merely because t
knew that the
wanted them to'; t
were anti-clerical at
heart, and if he gave the
word, were ready to get
rid of the Pope for good.
clericalism was thus areas-
serting itself. Sometimes he
now acknowledged that he
was an outright disbeliever,
and once told a startled
cabinet that Islam was per-
haps a more effective reli-
gion than Christianity. The
papacy was a malignant
tumor in the body of Italy
and must 'be rooted out once
and for all', because there
was no room in Rome for
both the Pope and himself.
"When some of the
younger fascists took him at
his word and launched a
furious campaign against
religion, he backed down
and repudiated them; but
privately continued to talk
in the same vein."

Smith's "Mussolini"
has an interesting refer-
ence to Arturo Toscanini
who had been a fascist
for a couple of years but
left the party in 1921. The
following from Smith's
account is an historical
note of great signifi-
"His favorite conductor
was Toscanini — 'a great ar-
tist but a contemptible
man'. Toscanini had been a
fascist in 1919 but quickly
defected and, as early as De-
cember 1922, made a scene
at the Scala theater by re-
fusing to play (Giovinezza'.
"In 1926, Mussolini had
arranged to be present in
the Scala for the first night
of Puccini's `Turandot'
until he realized that Tos-
canini would persist in his
refusal. So plans were
abruptly changed and, at
the very moment the opera
was starting, the Duce
began an extempore ad-
dress to a huge crowd hur-
riedly assembled just out-
side the theater in pouring
"Toscanini was one of
those creative artists who
categorically refuse' •
compromise; he suffei
public beating from fascist
hooligans and then de-
parted to work in the more
congenial atmosphere of the
United States. Just possibly
it says something for fas-
cism that he was allowed to
Smith's "Mussolini" is re-
vealing, as biography, as
historical analysis. It serves
as a valuable addendum to
this study of all factors of
World War II, the persecu-
tions, mass murders, as well
as the relationships be-
tween dictators.

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