Unsolved:Italiani brava gente

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Italian troops watch the burning of a Croat farmhouse in 1941

"Italians, the good people" (Italian: Italiani brava gente) is a phrase adopted by historians to refer to Italian popular beliefs about the allegedly limited, even non-existent, participation of Fascist Italy and the Royal Italian Army in the Holocaust and war crimes committed by Axis soldiers during World War II. The phenomenon is also known as the myth of the good Italian.[1][2]

A form of historical revisionism which emerged under the post-war republic, it was argued that Italian soldiers had been "good" or "decent people" (brava gente) who had acted with humanity and compassion, supposedly inherent Italian values, in contrast to their ideologically motivated and brutal German allies.[3] In particular, it argued that the Italians had not participated in, or even had opposed, the Nazi persecution of Jews in occupied parts of Eastern Europe.[4][5] By extension, the term is sometimes applied to describe popular beliefs about the Italo-Ethiopian War (1935–36) or non-Jewish responses to the Holocaust in Italy.[6]

Notable examples of the phenomenon in popular culture are the film Mediterraneo (1991) directed by Gabriele Salvatores and the novel Captain Corelli's Mandolin (1994) by Louis de Bernières which was also adapted into a film in 2001.[4] The myth avoided "a public debate on collective responsibility, guilt and denial, repentance and pardon" but has recently been challenged by historians.[4] The myth parallels the popular beliefs about the "Clean Wehrmacht" popular in post-war West Germany or the "victim theory" in Austria.

The 2012 report of the Italian-German Historical Commission noted that "Just as today the myth of the decent behavior of the Wehrmacht on Italian soil cannot survive in Germany, the survival of the myth of Italiani brava gente in reference to the Second World War is equally unacceptable."[7]

See also


  1. Paolo Favero, Italians, the “Good People”: Reflections on National Self-Representation in Contemporary Italian Debates on Xenophobia and War, in Outlines - Critical practice studies, No. 2 (2010), p. 138-153
  2. Diego Guzzi, The myth of the "Good Italian", the antisemitism and the colonial crimes, in Constelaciones - Revista de Teoría Crítica, No. 4 (2012), p. 255-264
  3. Bartolini, Guido (2 October 2018). "'Italiani brava gente' as a Transmedial Phenomenon". Arts and Humanities Research Council. http://www.interdisciplinaryitaly.org/italiani-brava-gente-transmedial-phenomenon/. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Petrusewicz, Marta (2004). "The hidden pages of contemporary Italian history: War crimes, war guilt and collective memory". Journal of Modern Italian Studies 9 (3): 269–270. doi:10.1080/1354571042000254700. 
  5. Rodogno, Davide (2005). "Italiani brava gente? Fascist Italy's Policy Toward the Jews in the Balkans, April 1941-July 1943". European History Quarterly 35 (2): 213–240. doi:10.1177/0265691405051464. https://www.academia.edu/4870635. 
  6. Wilcox, Vanda (2021). "Imperial Thinking and Colonial Combat in the Early Twentieth-Century Italian Army" (in en). The Historical Journal 65 (5): 1333–1353. doi:10.1017/S0018246X21000741. ISSN 0018-246X. 
  7. Caprara, Maurizio (20 December 2012). ""Italiani brava gente" Un mito da sfatare al pari della Wehrmacht" (in it). Corriere della Sera. https://www.corriere.it/cultura/12_dicembre_20/caprara-italiani-brava-gente_9750095c-4aa7-11e2-bd66-a2d11be54edf.shtml. 

Further reading

  • Focardi, Filippo; Klinkhammer, Lutz (2004). "The Question of Fascist Italy's War Crimes: The Construction of a Self-Acquitting Myth (1943 – 1948)". Journal of Modern Italian Studies 9 (3): 330–348. doi:10.1080/1354571042000254755. 
  • Del Boca, Angelo (2011). Italiani, brava gente? Un mito duro a morire (5th ed.). Venice: Neri Pozza. ISBN 9788854503199. 
  • Fogu, Claudio (2006). "Italiani brava gente: The Legacy of Fascist Historical Culture on Italian Politics of Memory". in Lebow, Richard Ned; Kansteiner, Wulf; Fogu, Claudio. The Politics of Memory in Postwar Europe. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. pp. 147–176. ISBN 978-0-8223-8833-3. 

External links