The Historical Journal



HISTORY AND MEMORY OF THE ITALIAN CONCENTRATION CAMPS


JAMES WALSTON a1
a1 American University of Rome

Abstract

The history of fascism in Italy has been extensively covered while fascist Italy's role in colonies before the war, and occupied areas during it, have only been touched upon. There has been little or no coming to terms with fascist crimes comparable to the French concern with Vichy or even the Japanese recognition of its wartime and pre-war responsibilities. This article uses Italy's internment policy in Africa before the war and in the Balkans and Italy during the war to illustrate the repression of historical memory. On the one hand, foreign Jews were interned to protect them from deportation by German, Croatian or Vichy French forces. The reasons were political and humanitarian. On the other, Balkan civilians were interned in conditions that led to the death of thousands. Similar and worse policies had been carried out in Africa before the war. There is some excellent specialist work on Africa which is not part of general knowledge; the Balkans have not even been covered by specialists. This article puts forward some explanations for the repression of the recent past.