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The Italian Executioners


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About the Author

Simon Levis Sullam is associate professor of modern history at Ca' Foscari University of Venice. His previous books include Giuseppe Mazzini and the Origins of Fascism.


"An illuminating addition to Holocaust history." * Publishers Weekly *
"The Holocaust-related book that had the greatest impact on me was The Italian Executioners: The Genocide of the Jews of Italy by Simon Levis Sullam. This short study challenges the common understanding that Italians did not share in the genocidal intentions of their Nazi allies. Sullam details the many ways in which Italians at all levels of society participated in the persecution of Jews, and he explains how the memory of these efforts was suppressed in the aftermath of World War II."---Howard Freedman, Jewish News of Northern California
"Short but hard-hitting book."---Giuseppe Finaldi, European History Quarterly
"Brilliant and authoritative. . . . [Simon Levis Sullam's] book is short, but it is important for its impressive presentation of factual, largely unknown material and its damning conclusion that Italy failed to come to terms with its complex political and moral responsibilities."---Michael Curtis, American Thinker
"[A] devastating historiographical counterblast. . . . The picture Levis Sullam paints is layered and locally inflected, rich with regional variation and human stories. . . . The result is an important, proportionate, by turns angry and moving corrective: a call to complete the picture of Italy's Holocaust, to set alongside the stories of witnesses and righteous rescuers, the portraits of the perpetrators."---Robert Gordon, Times Literary Supplement
"Sullam describes in painstaking detail how ordinary Italians, in collaboration with the fascist police and military, enthusiastically participated in the arrest and persecution of Italian Jews, and how this has been erased from public memory and discourse, replaced by the myth of italiani brava gente-the 'good Italians.'"---Giulia Miller, Times Higher Education
"[A] vigorously revisionist history." * The Economist *
"Although this is a relatively short book of 142 pages of text, author Simon Levis Sullam has provided enough research, data and accounts to put the lie to the idea of the 'good Italians,' though surely there were some, and has produced a serious indictment and revisionist history of Italy's collaboration with Germany in committing genocide." * New York Journal of Books *
The Italian Executioners
is a short book. But it's long enough to make a convincing argument for how frequently ordinary Italians, in Sullam's words, served as 'agents and accomplices of the Holocaust.' There's an understandable tone of anger, but it's certainly warranted."---Gordon Haber, Forward
"[A] trailblazing book."---Janet Levy, Jerusalem Post
"After decades of silence about Italian citizens' role in the Holocaust, author Simon Levis Sullam restores the record."---Matt Lebovic, Times of Israel
"Simon Levis Sullam shatters myths of WWII Italy. . . . Whereas Nazism is completely taboo in Germany, fascism's symbols and ideas remain in full view in contemporary Italy. Right and far right political leaders in recent times, including Silvio Berlusconi, have tried to promote the myth of italiani brava gente in order to obscure the horrific aspects of the Fascism past. In effect, Levis Sullam's Italian Executioners warns against any attempt to make fascism appear normal."---Nick Doumanis, Sydney Morning Herald
"A tight, focused history. . . . Stories of individuals rescuing Jews fill popular histories of that period, but Sullam's fresh, pointed research makes it depressingly clear that most Italians kept quiet and officials followed orders." * Kirkus *
"A well-researched book that shatters the widely-held belief that Italians were brava gente, 'good people,' who protected their Jewish fellow citizens from the horrors of the Holocaust. . . . The Italian Executioners was painful reading for me because my 32 years of international interreligious work took me many times to Italy and the Vatican, where I grew to know and admire many leaders of the historic Italian Jewish community who had suffered such great losses. . . . Sullam's meticulous scholarship, enhanced by his use of Italian language source material, has cast light on a sordid record of bigotry, prejudice, and hatred that until now has remained largely in the shadows. With the current rise of overt anti-Semitism in many parts of Europe, Sullam's book is a powerful call for Italians to confront their troubled past."---Rabbi A. James Rudin,
"It is a short book, but hopefully it will be widely read as it is an important contribution to the Holocaust studies and hopefully it will encourage students to look at what happened in other European countries."---Kevin Winter, Manhattan Book Review
"One of the Best Jewish Books of 2018 (Howard Freedman, Jewish News of Northern California)"
"At a time when some would prefer to keep ugly facts in the shadows, it is good that Levis Sullam and scholars like him keep working to shine the light of truth."---Michael M. Rosen, Weekly Standard
"A detailed, harrowing account of the active participation of ordinary Italians in the deportation of Italian Jews between 1943 and 1945, as well as of the subsequent erasure of their responsibilities and absolution of all guilt during the postwar years."---Sergio Parussa, EuropeNow
"These stories are thoroughly sourced and written engagingly, with the myriad anecdotes combining to paint an important picture of Italian complicity in the Nazi-led genocide. The Italian Executioners is a valuable addition to the literature on the Holocaust and a crucial reminder that fascist Italy was no safe haven."---Jeff Fleischer, Foreword Reviews

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