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PAX, LUX ET VERITAS SINCE 1965
Post Concentration Camps in Italy for Italian Civilians
Created by John Eipper on 10/31/13 6:12 AM

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Concentration Camps in Italy for Italian Civilians (David Pike, France, 10/31/13 6:12 am)

Eugenio Battaglia moves into denial mode (October 27) in questioning the existence of "concentration camps for civilians of Italy in 1940." Long before 1940, Mussolini sent his Italian civilian opponents to places such as the Lipari Islands. The prison created in September 1943 in the Risiera San Saaba outside Trieste became the only SS camp to be created in Italy, but Italian fascists certainly took part in its creation and in its operation until the very last weeks of the war. A brief look in Wikipedia gives you a score of concentration camps set up in Italy for Italians.

JE comments:  I think this is the link we seek:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Italian_concentration_camps

I'm especially curious about the Nocra camp in Eritrea, which operated for more than 50 years (1890-1941).  To be sure, the establishment of this camp predates Mussolini.  Another camp I knew nothing about:  Danane outside Mogadishu, Somalia (1935-'41), where over 3000 prisoners died.


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  • Concentration Camps in Italy for Italian Civilians (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 11/01/13 2:14 AM)
    With reference to the post of David Pike (October 31), the political opponents (practically all of them communists) sent by Mussolini to Lipari and other small islands (a fate that happened to Mussolini too in 1943) were not sent to concentration camps, but for the most part to houses where they received pay. Some could stay with their families and according to them could maintain contact with their political colleagues. They were practically the same residences which now are being sought out by tourists.

    The problem is not with concentration camps per se, as each nation had concentration camps for POWs. The problem is that some view the Victors of WWII as not having concentration camps for military or civilians, when we well know the truth of their existence. As just one example, we know the terrible fate of the Germans and International Waffen SS who, per Eisenhower's order, at the end of the war were not considered POWs but DEFs (Disarmed Enemy Forces) without the protection of any international rules. Among them there were also German civilians. The terrible conditions in the camps for said DEFs caused one million deaths, according to James Bacque in his book Other Losses; of course this does not include the concentration camps of the USSR.


    About the concentration camp of Arbe for Jews, it was only for their protection as they escaped from Croatia to the area occupied by the Italians in order not to fall into the hands of the Germans or the Croatian Ustashas. Many Jews escaped to the Italian-occupied zones in Greece and France as well, but in these cases they were not placed in concentration camps but just in apartments in the towns. On September 8, 1943 many Jews passed to Italy from France.


    In spite of all German (and Ustasha and Vichy) protests, until 1943 no Jew who escaped to the Italian zones ended up in German hands. There are plenty of testimonies from Jews in favor of the Italian Army.


    Anyway it is an old and predictable story. For instance, everybody remembers the gassing ordered by Mussolini during the war against Ethiopia. These few episodes were retaliation against the enemy for its use of Dum Dum bullets, supplied by a Western Country, and their barbaric treatment of the POWs, but nobody wishes to remember what Churchill said after the gassing of the Iraqis in 1920: "I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas as a permanent method of warfare. I am strongly in favor of using poison gas against uncivilized tribes."


    JE comments:  Could these island prison dachas really have been so comfortable--and with a stipend to boot?  If so (and throw in WiFi so I can edit WAIS), sign me up to be Mussolini's political prisoner!


    Eugenio Battaglia does bring up an uncomfortable historical truth:  poison gas was seen as somehow "fitting" for non-white peoples.  The first deployment of chlorine, at Ypres by the Germans in 1915, was against a largely Senegalese brigade in the French army.

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    • Italian Concentration Camps; on Poison Gas Use (David Pike, France 11/01/13 10:00 AM)
      Eugenio Battaglia began this exchange by questioning the existence of Italian concentration camps "for Italian civilians" (October 27). In reply I referred to the island of Lipari, whose Italian civilian prisoners included some notable anarchists: Curzio Malaparte and the founders of Giustizia e Libertà: Carlo Rosselli (murdered by Mussolini) and Emilio Lussù (the latter a novelist of sufficient repute to be required reading in the senior Italian course at McGill). A favorite treatment of prisoners on Lipari was massive doses of castor oil. Having made his point quite clearly, Eugenio now slides away from it, into something quite different: prisoner of war camps. Such camps amount to the concentration of military prisoners, yes, but they are known as POW camps (Stalag/Oflag, etc), and they abide by the Geneva Convention. They are not to be referred to as concentration camps. As for the SS (whether Waffen or Allgemeine /Totenkopfverbände), it was not Eisenhower but the top Allied leaders in unison that classified them as a criminal organization whose members were denied the presumption of innocence. I hope we don't have a discussion about that.

      Eugenio then trundles out James Bacque, and only Bacque, as an historical source, without looking into what academic historians have concluded about Bacque. Bringing up Bacque is based on the principle that if you are politically incorrect, then you have something important to say. Then we come to a whitewash of Italian fascist atrocities in Slovenia and Croatia, where the surviving records (in Trieste I studied them) are abundant.


      I am glad I can agree with Eugenio in another area, where he refers to Southeastern France under its ten-month Italian occupation. Both French and non-French Jews who were living in the Italian Zone have made it clear that they were far better treated by the Italians than by the Vichy French, not to mention the Germans who took their place in September 1943.


      A final reply to our editor where he wrote that "poison gas was seen as somehow ‘fitting' for non-white peoples." A study of the press in the Western democracies in the 1930s would show that people were indeed horrified by the use of poison gas in Abyssinia. You can learn a great deal from the study of the press.


      JE comments: I was trying to make a more modest point: that it may have weighed less on the German conscience that their first "experiment" with chlorine gas was against the Senegalese.



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      • Italian Concentration Camps Revisited; Response to David W. Pike (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 11/02/13 4:50 AM)
        With reference to the 1 November post of David Pike, I'd like to clear up a few points:

        Carlo Rosselli was not murdered by Mussolini but by the French Cagoule. Some will say that the murder was probably at the request of Ciano; see, for example, Wikipedia. Others have speculated that communists were responsible, because the Rosselli brothers wanted to return in Italy and denounce the crimes of the Communists in Spain. In any case, in 1937 the Rossellis were absolutely not a problem for Mussolini or Ciano, who really had no reason whatsoever to have them killed. Furthermore Mussolini never ordered the killing of any of his enemies. The other case charged to Mussolini was Matteotti, who was murdered in 1924, but this crime was arranged by some ambiguous fellows who might have been connected with the oil companies and the Monarchy. They were caught in few days and ended up in jail, but if you hate Mussolini you may say anything, including that he had a very cold penis so he had to wrap it in rabbit fur.


        That the imprisoned people, like Rosselli, Malaparte, Lussu etc., were treated with castor oil is not even alleged by the Italian Communists. Castor oil was used as a weapon by the Fascists during the "biennio rosso"--two red years--1919-1921, when there was a de facto civil war in Italy.


        The DEFs were all German soldiers and not only SS.  More DEFs died (1,000,000) than the actual number of SS. I do not care what academics think about Bacque. What is important is that he brings a crime out in the open, as you cannot deny the presumption of innocence to an Army and condemn millions of people, including some civilians, to starvation without shelter.


        The so-called atrocities of the Italian forces in Slovenia and Croatia were retaliations against the atrocities committed by the communist partisans, but one should remember that the Croatians started killing Italians in 1869, when 14 seamen of the hydrographic ship Momzambano at Sebenico were lynched, while Italian properties/shops/fields in Dalmatia were destroyed. Mussolini had not yet been born.


        JE comments: Mussolini never ordered the killing of any of his enemies? I suspect we'll have some pushback to Eugenio Battaglia's claim.  And we'll probably see a reference or two to rabbit fur...


        In any case, I must be away from the computer for the next 28 hours, so I wish all of WAISdom a pleasant weekend. Postings will resume tomorrow afternoon (Sunday, 3 November.) Pax et lux to all!



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