What is the Shoah?
The Shoah is the murder of around six millions of Jews by Nazis and their collaborators. Between the invasion of Soviet Union in the summer of 1941 and the end of the war in Europe in May 1945, Nazi Germany took aim at murdering every Jew who fell under its rule. As modern persecution against Jews began since Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, some historians suggest that date as the beginning of the Shoah. Jews weren’t the only victims of Nazi regime, but they were the only group who was subjected to such a radical and total war.
Holocaust or Shoah?
‘Holocaust’ is the word which has been widespread since 1960s in the anglo-Saxon world; in the 1980s it has been replaced by the more proper word ‘Shoah’. ‘Holocaust’ comes from the Greek word ‘Olokaustos’, which means ‘burning all at one time’ and indicates the ancient Greek usage of sacrificing 100 head of cattle at one time to honour the deity.
‘Holocaust’ includes a sacrificial and religious connotation which is conveyed to the massacre of the Jewish people. The word ‘Shoah’ means ‘catastrophe’ in Hebrew and it doesn’t have any religious reference.
How many Jews were murdered in Europe?
Unfortunately the exact figure of Jews who were killed in the Shoah is unknown. Specialized historical researches have determined the number of victims to be between 5 and 6 millions. Main sources for this complex count are based on the comparison between pre-war and post-war Jewish population censuses, on numerical reports about murders by “special troops” (Einsatztruppen), on transport lists from the various countries.
Who are the Jews who were persecuted during the Shoah in Italy?
All the Italian Jews who lived under the fascist and nazi regimes were persecuted and had to hide or flee to survive: there were about 40.000 of them.
How did a large part of Jews survive the Shoah in Italy?
Jews tried to find several ways of rescue: they hid themselves behind fake identities, leaving their homes, their goods and their world or they tried to cross the Italian – Swiss border northward to pass into neutral Helvetic Confederation, or to head south where Allied troops hardly advanced. In any case, families had to face uneasiness, fear, hunger, cold, any kind of physical and mental stress to devise a rescue strategy. None was spared, neither elderly people nor children. For everyone, living into the open was a mortal danger. Their lives were saved thanks primarily to heads of households who managed to devise rescue strategies through creativity and cleverness, to the surrounding society which wasn’t hostile to Jews, to the ecclesiastical world which applied the Christian charity principle, to friends who squeezed up in their homes to give room for Jews in danger, to obliging doctors who sheltered Jews in their clinics and hospitals, to town clerks who provided Jews with fake identity cards, to maids who offered themselves to look after the children, and other examples.
Shoah in Rhodes and Kos Islands (Dodecanese) is part of Italian Shoah?
Dodecanese was in every respect Italian territory, it was ruled by a Governor whose decrees had law effectiveness and it was managed by an administration full of men coming from the motherland. Moreover, the court, the schools and the ruling culture were Italian. Also the toponymy of Rhodes had been adapted to this regime and modified in 1939 with names of Italian personalities. Most of Dodecanese Jews had chosen Italian citizenship (the so-called “small citizenship”) after the Lausanne Treaty on 1924. From the political point of view, after September, 8 1943 (date of beginning of German occupation of Italy) Dodecanese became an Italian territory occupied by Germans. Therefore, Dodecanese Shoah is considered to be part of Italian Shoah. The deportees from that Jewish community must be considered in the same way as deportees from Italy and CDEC Foundation is carrying out a specific research on them. Next year the names of Dodecanese deportees will be included in this database.
Were there slaughters of Jews in Italy?
Slaughter is the name given to a killing which caused two or more victims at the same time. There were slaughters which specifically targeted Jews like the Lago Maggiore massacre or slaughters of civilians among whom there were Jews. The most important are:
Lago Maggiore, September 15-23 1943, October 9-11 1943: 54 Jews; Ferrara, November 14 1943: 4 Jews (out of 14 victims); San Pietro, contrada Ari (Chieti), January 11 1944: 4 Jews; Fosse Ardeatine, Rome, March 24 1944: 76 Jews (out of 335 victims); Pardo Roques’s home, Pisa, August 1 1944: 7 Jews (out of 12 victims); Forlì airfield, September 5, September 17, September 28 1944: 17 Jews (out of approximately 30 victims); Cuneo, April 26 1945: 5 Jews; Fiume in unknown date: 8 Jews.
Other Jews died in Italy, after having been arrested and before their deportation, from abuse, fright or by taking their own lives.