By Robert Eagle, on 3 May 2012
I have always thought that the Italian military from the 1920s until 1943 were simply fascists and puppets of the Nazis. At UCL on 24 April, Holocaust survivor Imre Rochlitz and his son Joseph presented the easily forgotten account of many Italian soldiers’ determination to thwart the transfer of up to 30,000 Jews into German hands during WWII.
Titled Honouring the Righteous, in recognition of both Holocaust survivors and those who saved their lives, the event was organised by the UCL European Institute, the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) and the UCL Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies.
Joseph Rochlitz screened his 1994 documentary, The Righteous Enemy, which illuminated how Italian soldiers repeatedly disobeyed demands from Nazi officials to hand over Jews from Italian-occupied Croatia, Greece and southern France. Interviews with Italian commanders revealed their determination to undermine even direct orders from Mussolini to comply with Nazi directives.