Take the 2-minute tour ×
History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for historians and history buffs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_Is_Beautiful

It is portrayed, in the movie, how that protagonist jew is sent to extermination camp in Italy.

I thought jews in Italy are not usually sent to concentration camps. Those who are usually survive. I thought Italians are not as anti semitic as hitler (something I do not know).

So I wonder if the story is historically accurate or how accurate its.

share|improve this question
    
Change extermination camp to concentration camp (which is synonymous in german) –  Jim Thio Mar 13 '13 at 3:57
1  
In Polish language there are both "obóz koncentracyjny" (concentration camp) and "obóz śmierci" (death camp) in use. Can you tell the difference between words "Vernichtungslager" and "Konzentrationslager"? I don't speak German unfortunately, but those are names of German Wikipedia versions of "Extermination camp" and "Concentration camp" articles. –  Darek Wędrychowski Mar 13 '13 at 4:08
2  
Literally "Vernichtung" translates to destruction and annihilation whereas "Konzentration" simply means aggregation. In the historical context, of course, in both sort of camps million of people died and differentiation is blurry but the "Vernichtungslager" where built with the purpose of systematically destroying human life and were constructed later than "Konzentrationslager". –  Stockfisch Mar 13 '13 at 11:03
1  
I don't understand why the qeustion was so heavily downvoted... –  Felix Goldberg Mar 14 '13 at 11:19
3  
I may have made the mistake early. Also many may have thought that I am some sort of holocaust denier. Well, holocaust did happen, but in German and Balkan instead of Italy. –  Jim Thio Mar 14 '13 at 22:42

1 Answer 1

up vote 10 down vote accepted

The movie is loosely based on a real story of Rubino Romeo Salmoni, Italian Jew who was kept in Fossoli Camp and later moved from there to Auschwitz (as 700 other Jews). Luckily he managed to survive the war and passed away in 2011 at the age of 91.

Italians, being on Axis side, could follow their own politic about Jews. There were concentration camps and restrictive law against Jews all over the country, but in contrary to Germany, Italian politic didn't envisage mass extermination.

In July 1943 Allies invaded Italy from the south and the Fascist regime collapsed. This paradoxically caused the situation of many Jews to become worse, because in consequence, Hitler took over the north of the country, Mussolini came out of prison and Italian Social Republic was created.

Concentration camps in Italy were used both for Jews and politic prisoners (as in many other places) as a work camp or a temporary place. The Sicilian camp in Farramonti, which was the biggest from all 15 internment camps, thankfully was taken by Allies at the beginning of Italian Campaign.

But from the camps on the north, that were took over by Germans, many of prisoners were transported from there to further camps in other countries, in order to die. Also many Jews have been killed in the camps in Italy. For example, as Frediano Sessi writes in his book Non dimenticare l'Olocausto, on 12th of July, 1944, 67 Jews and political prisoners were shot in the already mentioned Fossoli Camp.

The worst situation was in Risiera di San Sabba. The same source describes that those Jews who couldn't been transported to Auschwitz, were killed at the place. Together with politic and war prisoners, there were 3000-4000 people killed. In this aim there was built special crematory connected with 17 death cells, in which prisoners were killed with car exhaust, after torturing.

This way I find the movie quite reasonable, speaking of historical accurateness.

As for the second question about the percentage of Italian Jews killed during II World War. Depending on the source, there were only 40000-44000 Jews in Italy before the war, which is a very small number in comparison to other countries. Around 7500-8000 of them were killed, what gives 15-20 percent. Here and here you'll find the tables comparing particular countries.

share|improve this answer
    
+1. You should probably expand a bit on the last paragraph - it's probably the most important to understand the big picture visavi Italy and Holocaust. –  DVK Mar 13 '13 at 13:37
    
Thank, I'll expand it a bit later. I decided to made it short because I didn't want to write too obvious things, but I didn't think about others who can look here for such informations. –  Darek Wędrychowski Mar 13 '13 at 15:57
    
It's not obvious to me. I thought the number of jews killed in Italy is around 1-2 % (every body dies anyway during that time, jewish or not). That last paragraph shows what happen. –  Jim Thio Mar 14 '13 at 6:23
1  
For the record - I've rewritten whole answer to give some more details, so the mentioned paragraph is no longer in the text. –  Darek Wędrychowski Mar 14 '13 at 8:07

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.