I once read that Mussolini was reluctant to implement anti-Jewish legislation despite German pressure but agreed to do so in exchange for the expulsion of Germans from Northern Italy (including South Tyrol).

The claim is that Northern Italy had a dense German population and, given the territorial demands of Germany to adjacent states such as Poland and Czechoslovakia to cede the areas populated with Germans, Mussolini had good reason to be afraid of the possibility of similar demands to Italy.

After the deal was done, the Germans were forcibly expelled to Germany while a minority had to sign declarations that they were in fact Italians.

Germany did not resist the expulsion because, for Hitler, anti-Jewish measures were more important than protecting Germans.

I wonder how much truth there is in this story.


A relevant Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Tyrol_Option_Agreement

  • 1
    Downvote for uncited source "I once read".
    – MCW
    Commented May 12, 2018 at 10:56

1 Answer 1


There is at least a tiny germ of truth here, in that the people who live in the Alpine regions in Europe tend to be German-speaking. Mountains making natural barriers, European countries like to put their borders on them, which naturally gives all such countries a small German-speaking minority.

Also, there were large expulsions of Germans from non-German speaking countries at the end of World War II.

However, I was unable to find any reference to anyone expelling Germans from Italy (before or after the war). If it indeed ever happened, they did a crappy job, as German is the majority language in the Italian province of South Tyrol, spoken by more than a quarter of a million people as their native tongue.

In 1938, Mussolini did pass a series of anti-Semitic laws. However, these laws were never popular in Italy, and seem to have just been Mussolini's one concession to his ally's racism. As near as I can tell, the laws only affected "non-Aryans", so any ethnically German Italian citizens would not have been affected in the slightest.

Italy did set up an internment camp for Jewish refugees. However, it was not a "death camp", and native Italian jews were not sent there. Also, it appears that Italian authorities never cooperated with German requests for transfers of native Jewish people to their "care" until after the Italian government capitulated to the invading allies and the German army took over the north of the country.

My guess is that the story you heard is actually a mis-statement of what happened with the Italian Racial Laws.

  • Does it mean that South Tyrol Option Agreement en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Tyrol_Option_Agreement did not exist?
    – Anixx
    Commented Aug 10, 2012 at 15:47
  • @Anixx - Ahh, good find. I was looking for something like that, but couldn't find it. I'll read it over and see how I can incorporate it.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 10, 2012 at 18:39
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    @T.E.D. did you? :P
    – o0'.
    Commented Dec 11, 2013 at 13:44
  • Also: although Mussolini's regime was a dictatorship, many Italians looked at it as if it was the only chance to have things actually working in the industrial and administrative field. When the racist laws were approved Mussolini lost almost all the admiration he had gained and the "dictatorship" became a true, unwanted and blamed, dictatorship government.
    – Marco A.
    Commented Mar 9, 2014 at 20:12

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