ONTD Political

Berlusconi Defends Mussolini For Supporting Hitler At Holocaust Memorial

6:27 pm - 01/29/2013
ROME — Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi praised Benito Mussolini for "having done good" despite the Fascist dictator's anti-Jewish laws, immediately sparking expressions of outrage as Europe on Sunday held Holocaust remembrances.

Berlusconi also defended Mussolini for allying himself with Hitler, saying he likely reasoned that it would be better to be on the winning side.

The media mogul, whose conservative forces are polling second in voter surveys ahead of next month's election, spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a ceremony in Milan to commemorate the Holocaust.

In 1938, before the outbreak of World War II, Mussolini's regime passed the so-called "racial laws," barring Jews from Italy's universities and many professions, among other bans. When Germany's Nazi regime occupied Italy during the war, thousands from the tiny Italian Jewish community were deported to death camps.

"It is difficult now to put oneself in the shoes of who was making decisions back then," Berlusconi said of Mussolini's support for Hitler. "Certainly the (Italian) government then, fearing that German power would turn into a general victory, preferred to be allied with Hitler's Germany rather than oppose it."

Berlusconi added that "within this alliance came the imposition of the fight against, and extermination of, the Jews. Thus, the racial laws are the worst fault of Mussolini, who, in so many other aspects, did good."

More than 7,000 Jews were deported under Mussolini's regime, and nearly 6,000 of them were killed.

Outrage, along with a demand that Berlusconi be prosecuted for promoting Fascism, quickly followed his words.

Among those voicing condemnation were prominent Jewish figures abroad.

Mussolini `'modeled his anti-Jewish laws after the Nazi Nuremberg Laws barring Jews from civil service," Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said in a statement.

`'It is the height of revisionism to try to reinstate an Italian dictator who helped legitimize and prop up Hitler as a `reincarnated good guy,'" said the rabbi, whose organization monitors anti-Semitic incidents worldwide.

Berlusconi's praise of Mussolini constitutes "an insult to the democratic conscience of Italy," said Rosy Bindi, a center-left leader. "Only Berlusconi's political cynicism, combined with the worst historic revisionism, could separate the shame of the racist laws from the Fascist dictatorship."

Italian laws enacted following the country's disastrous experience in the war forbid the defense of Fascism. A candidate for local elections, Gianfranco Mascia, pledged that he and his supporters will present a formal complaint on Monday to Italian prosecutors, seeking to have Berlusconi prosecuted.

Hours later, Berlusconi issued a statement saying he `'regretted" that he didn't make clear in his earlier comments that his historical analyses `'are always based on condemnation of dictatorships," the Italian news agency LaPresse reported.

He also contended that the political left was trying to exploit his comment about Mussolini for election campaign fodder.

Advocating aggressive nationalism, Mussolini used brutish force and populist appeal evoking ancient Rome's glories to achieve and keep his dictatorial grip on power, starting in the early `20s and lasting well into World War II. His Fascist "blackshirt" loyalists cracked down on dissidents, through beatings and jailings.

He encouraged big families to propagate the Italian population, established a sprawling state economy and erected monumental buildings and statues to evoke ancient Rome. Mussolini sought to impose order on a generally individualistic-minded people, and Italians sometimes note trains ran on time during Fascism.

With dreams of an empire, he sent Italian troops on missions to attack or occupy foreign lands, including Ethiopia and Albania. Eventually, Italian military failures in Africa and in Greece fostered rebellion among Fascist officials, and in 1943 he was placed under arrest by orders of the Italian king. His end came at the vengeful hands of partisan fighters, who shot him and his mistress, and left their bodies to hang in a Milan square in April 1945.

Berlusconi's former government allies have included political heirs to neo-fascist movements admiring Mussolini.

In 2010, he told world leaders at a Paris conference that he had been reading Mussolini's journals, and years earlier Berlusconi had claimed that Mussolini "never killed anyone."

Berlusconi is running in Feb. 24-25 Parliamentary elections and has repeatedly changed his mind on whether he is seeking a fourth term as premier. Monti is also running, but polls put him far behind front-runner Pier Luigi Bersani, a center-left leader who supported Monti's austerity measures to save Italy from the Eurozone debt crisis.

Polls show about one-third of eligible voters are undecided.

the_gabih 29th-Jan-2013 09:35 am (UTC)
chocolatescum 29th-Jan-2013 09:40 am (UTC)
"Berlusconi also defended Mussolini for allying himself with Hitler, saying he likely reasoned that it would be better to be on the winning side."
But they didn't even win........ No fucking words for this.
freeze_i_say 29th-Jan-2013 01:03 pm (UTC)
"But they didn't even win"

Compared to Germany, Italy was never held accountable in the same way as WW2 aggressors. Most Italians are extremely delusional and arrogant about what their country did in WW2.
ljtaylor 29th-Jan-2013 05:21 pm (UTC)
I suppose he's making a reference to the fact (suggestion?) that Germany probably *could* have won if they hadn't tried to take on Russia. but still, nope, they didn't win.
ultra_obscene84 29th-Jan-2013 10:55 am (UTC)
What a douchelord.
suzycat 29th-Jan-2013 10:56 am (UTC)
Oh SILVIO. How I have missed you.
one_hoopy_frood 30th-Jan-2013 02:07 am (UTC)
Right? I just read this and sighed and thought "Oh you"
tabaqui 29th-Jan-2013 11:38 am (UTC)
Blech. Just...wtf,dude.
urplesquirrel 29th-Jan-2013 12:30 pm (UTC)
Oh, Berlusconi. He's almost like a sitcom character with his consistently bad decisions and offensive statements, except he's a real person and ran an entire country.
freeze_i_say 29th-Jan-2013 12:59 pm (UTC)
He's a real person who keeps getting re-elected through the votes of real Italians - Berlusconi is one of the most long-serving Prime Ministers Italy has ever had post-WW2, which speaks volumes about Italians lbr.
intrikate88 29th-Jan-2013 04:34 pm (UTC)
I glumly checked this for an Onion tag, but didn't find one, as expected. It's like he's going for a Guinness record on how much of an asswipe he can be and he just keeps trying harder to make it.
freeze_i_say 29th-Jan-2013 12:57 pm (UTC)
"an insult to the democratic conscience of Italy,"

you can't insult something that doesn't exist though

Italy has never been held accountable for its WW2 atrocities, has never really been made to make reparations and most Italians are extremely dihsonest about their country's fascist past and present as a result. No surprises here.
clevermanka 29th-Jan-2013 02:16 pm (UTC)
ultra_obscene84 29th-Jan-2013 05:48 pm (UTC)
IA, Queen Eartha.
kittymink 30th-Jan-2013 05:32 am (UTC)
awfulbliss 29th-Jan-2013 03:46 pm (UTC)
From my own experiences in Italy (used to spend every summer there as both of my parents are immigrants with all of their extended family remaining there) and with my own grandparents who fought for the Axis powers, there is a truly unfortunate amount of Mussolini-apologizing in Italy. A lot of them seem to be nostalgic for the "law and order" days of the period.
romp 30th-Jan-2013 05:53 am (UTC)
But he made the trains run on time, I guess.

furrygreen 29th-Jan-2013 04:30 pm (UTC)
But Mussolini was a push over. He didn't really support Hitler once the war started. He was just too chicken shit to try and get out of it. Every time he tried to bring it up, Hitler just steamrolled him. It's probably why Mussolini was the only ally of his that he "trusted" to any extent.

You want to praise Mussolini for being the worst of both worlds? Pft.
akashasheiress 29th-Jan-2013 04:57 pm (UTC)

Incidentally, Winston Churchill adored Mussolini pre-WWII.
poetic_pixie_13 29th-Jan-2013 05:07 pm (UTC)
Sometimes, like this post, I'm reminded that Silvio Berlusconi is an actual person that exists and was elected multiple times by other actual people that exist to run an entire country.

Like, sometimes I go from disgust to all out disbelief.
ljtaylor 29th-Jan-2013 05:18 pm (UTC)
Berlusconi also defended Mussolini for allying himself with Hitler, saying he likely reasoned that it would be better to be on the winning side.

that's no defence, Berlusconi. it just makes Mussolini sound even weaker.

this reminds me of some of the sympathy garnering and hand wringing I've read or heard for those pooooor ex-Nazis who were just FORCED to be cruel in the camps. don't tell me there weren't - and aren't - people out there who'd relish the chance to be paid-up, legal sadists.
romp 30th-Jan-2013 06:07 am (UTC)
My father fought in Europe and recognized that he was a farm boy fighting other farm boys. But when he and a friend opened a sub-camp in Austria (they were scouts so alone), they went to the nearest farm and pretty much raided it. He was furious with people in that town and ones like it who claimed to have had no idea what was going on. There were Germans trying to stay alone and then there were people aiding in atrocities.

OTOH, I got slammed in this comm for judging those who committed participated in killings in Cambodia so maybe I'm judgy/naive.
ljtaylor 30th-Jan-2013 07:20 am (UTC)
yeah I remember watching a documentary about nazi Germany in high school, and how people just...pretended like nothing was going on. like if you just shut your mouth and were obedient, you would be left alone.

idk, I have no idea how I would react if I was placed in that situation so maybe I am being naive too, but I know violence would not be an option for me personally. having visited Auschitwz and heard and read about the atrocities committed there by the guards and the doctors, I am not convinced there were many there doing what they did purely because "they were made to".
jettakd 29th-Jan-2013 05:30 pm (UTC)
Oh God, they stil let that man speak in public?
zinnia_rose 29th-Jan-2013 07:36 pm (UTC)
kittymink 30th-Jan-2013 05:35 am (UTC)
Can someone hang him upside down and pee on him?
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